In our house, herding cats isn't just an expression, it's a way of life. We're currently at our maximum capacity herd, which consists of seven indoor beasts rescued from shelters and two ferals that have adopted our yard as home. The kitties are all different ages and personality types, and getting them to cooperate with anything we want to do is a massive endeavor.
The indoor herd consists of:
- The elder members of the pack are Woof, a 13 year old black Bombay, and Moo, out 12 year old medium-haired, cow cat (both in size and coloration). These two have been with me since they were ten week old kittens. They are the cuddlers of the bunch, and prefer hanging out where they can touch their humans to just about anything else. Both of these boys have faced severe health threats. At one point, Moo lost the use of his hind legs, and we discovered that he has diabetes. He now gets insulin shots twice a day, and has fully regained the use of his back end. Woof has had several battles with urinary crystallization, one so severe that we were only hours from losing him that required surgery to treat. Our vet told us a lot of cats die from this, so Woof takes after me in beating medical odds that say he probably shouldn't be asleep next to me right now.
- Next in line is Misha, a gorgeous brown tabby who will turned six this year. She is the Sybil of the bunch -- a living terror to the house and other cats one minute and giving you head bonks and curling up in you lap the next. She remains the only cat in the bunch who has figured out that me sitting in my wheelchair creates a permanent lap that's a great place to curl up and get petted. She is also our resident flight risk, and actually managed to disappear outdoors for seven terrifying days right after we moved here.
- Right after we moved to St. Croix, we adopted siblings Pudding (aka Puddy) and Pumpkin, who will turn three this month. Pumpkin is a rare female orange tabby, while her brother looks mostly like a blue-eyed Siamese except for his orange striped tail and very faint orange stripes on his legs. We originally thought that Pumpkin would be "my girl" and Puddy would be the hubby's boy, but as cats are prone to do, it ended up just the opposite. This duo was found in the bushes somewhere on island and brought to the shelter, where we found them when they were only six or seven weeks old. Both were very sick from a parasite infection and required hospitalization before we could bring them home. Puddy needed to be at the vet's for three weeks, and our vet told us that our little boy had the worse infestation he had ever seen. Now, these two are healthy, typical young adults who bounce rapidly between playing, fighting, and curling up and looking downright adorable.
- The latest two additions are another brother and sister pair, Pepper and Clove. These guys were born in our yard last summer, and bringing them in where they are safe, have good care, and love is one of the really good things I've done. Pepper, an all black boy except for a tiny white patch on his chest and a white belly, is a shy little guy when it comes to people but can tear it up like a pro when it comes to being a cat. Clove is a medium-haired black girl with beautiful flecks of caramel and some white fur on her belly and mixed into on her chest She also has a fabulously fluffy tail, and struts it around like the world is her catwalk has been nicknamed "The Shadow" because she has adopted Pumpkin as her indoor mama and tends to be glued to Pumpkin's side, especially when petting is imminent.
In addition, we also care for two feral kitties who started showing up a regulars in our yard last year. The female of the pair is Pepper and Clove's mother, and has thus been dubbed Mama. Mama is the blue print for Clove with one big difference: instead of a gorgeous fluffy tail, Mama has a little tail stub. We don't know if it's part of a Manx heritage or from some misfortune that comes with being an outdoor cat, but it definitely makes her easily identifiable. The male, who we assume is the kittens' father, is a big ol' tom cat who I named Comet because when he first showed up, his pale gray and white tabby coloring made him look like a dirty snowball with a tail moving at a high rate of speed. Comet has almond-shaped, crossed, brilliant blue eyes that hint of a bit of Siamese in his background. He started visiting us quite a while before Mama allowed herself to be seen by making this wonderful trill noise -- half purr and half gentle meow -- before jumping up on the ledge of our screened-in porch to spend time nose to nose with the indoor cats. The resemblance of Comet's markings and eyes with Puddy's, and the similarity of his trill to the one that Pumpkin makes, makes us wonder if he might be part of their family tree. We've tried repeatedly to catch these two to get them spayed/neutered with no luck.
A lot of people think we're nuts to have taken responsibility for so many furry little lives. But we have the space and the means to give them a good life, and the love and joy they bring adds greatly to my quality of life.
(Note: Photos added on May 25, 2007.)