Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Demi

Our sweet old matriarch...

Demi is a low-key cat but she was smart enough or lucky enough to come to our door when she found herself pregnant and abandoned in 1991. Now a healthy eighteen years old, she will probably outlive her kittens, Frieda and Cissy. She has been content to be in the background, not as out-going as her offspring but every bit as loving.

Demi's Page

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Frieda

I fear Frieda's time with us is drawing toward its inevitable closing. She is diminished these days as she fights chronic and progressive kidney failure, but her spirit is unbowed. She is the undisputed queen in the shop and will be right until the end.

Frieda's Page

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Cissy

Cissy (aka Little Sister) has been a sweetheart all of her sixteen years. She has grown more fragile-appearing with age but retains her zest for life and her unwavering affection.

Cissy's Page

Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Maggie

Despite her fierce-looking face, Maggie has a very sweet temperament. She usually defers to the other cats in the shop but after Fred died in September, she moved up onto the mezzanine--where he spent most of his time in his latter years--and claimed it as her space.

On her own turf, she has gained confidence and cows even Twitch, the big bruiser.

In cat society, everything depends on finding one's niche, apparently.

Maggie's Page

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Snickers

Snickers has a lot of personality but for some reason she is universally disliked by all the cats that know her. I suspect that she can be a bit of a sh*t when it suits her.

Snickers' Page

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Grendel

This is Grendel, resting in her cardboard box sanctuary, located in the corner of the upstairs sitting room. She comes out when the house is quiet and watches us from the hallway or goes downstairs to the cat condo or the spare bedroom.

She gets as much human interaction as she wants. And sometimes more than she wants. We haul her into the vet clinic every six weeks to get an injection for her asthma.

I guess that she is thirteen years old.

Grendel's Page

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Punkin

My sweet, pushy, hard-headed little soul-mate...

Punkin's Page

Friday, December 21, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Bunny

Blind Bunny has been walking in circles for two years.

She came down with vestibular disease in July of 2005. Normally, a cat will recover or compensate for this disorder in a matter of weeks but because Bunny can't see to orient herself, she has been walking around with a list to starboard ever since. It hasn't really changed her daily grind--which was never demanding in the first place--but she is more careful when climbing up onto or down from the bed.

Aside from that, Bunny's life is pretty uneventful. She doesn't go downstairs much any more and spends most of her time either sleeping on the bed, staking out the food dish in the bathroom or sleeping in the sitting room in a cat bed strategically-placed to catch the sunlight.

I was heartened to see her walking in left-handed circles the other day. Maybe she is starting to get things straightened out.

Bunny's Webpage

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Houdini

Nash and Houdini
Houdini--or as we call him--Houdi is a quiet, well-mannered cat about which we know very little.

He appeared on the scene abandoned in our neighborhood and for a year or two lived in our yard, eating the food we put out but disappearing if he saw any sign of us. I worried for his continued health and safety, so after much effort, managed to capture him and bring him inside.

He has turned out to be a very nice cat. He is probably ten year old by now and asks very little of us but warmth, food and affection. His demands aren't hard to meet.

Houdini's Webpage

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Nash

Nash is a bit of a cry-baby.

He first appeared in human record as a young cat--less than a year old--found crying under someone's deck out ast End Road. He was brought to the Animal Shelter. Where he sat in a cage and cried.

He caught my eye because his coloring reminded me of Cissy--and at that time he was about the same size as she was. Only later did he grow to his line-backer-like proportions.

I brought him home as a foster-care cat and when my cousin was looking for a cat, I offered Nash to her family. He lived with them for a couple years and seemed content with his life.

Then family live was sundered and Nash found himself with his housemate Raider back at the Animal Shelter. So he came back home with us, where he has finally found a lifetime home.

Yet he still finds a lot to complain about. Poor dear thing.

Nashley's Webpage

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Raider

Raider is one of our gentle giants--weighing in at twenty-two pounds the last time we got him on a scale. He is a quiet cat but very perceptive. And he is a good boy. You can almost see him trying to figure out what it is we expect from him and trying to provide it.

He was originally my cousin's cat and ended up--with Nash--at the Animal Shelter when she had to relocate after her divorce. I couldn't stand to see Nash and Raider in cages so brought them home, where they have been well-behaved and affectionate. Sometime in the course of years, they went from being her cats to being ours.

Nash and Raider, along with Houdini, form the core of the "Boys in the Back"--a social group of cats that live in three small room off our bedroom and have little interaction with the other cats in the house.

Raider's Webpage

Monday, December 17, 2007

2007 Roll Call - BeBe

BeBe was Bennie's boy before he was ours. He belonged to the older gentleman who lived across the road from us, a ghostly-glimpse of a cat that we watched--from a distance--grow from kitten to adult.

A one person cat--because he only knew one person--he learned to follow me to our greenhouse, where there would be a fresh sprig or two of catnip for him. After a few weeks, he decided I wasn't so bad and would come running when he saw me heading for the greenhouse.

I worried about him--that he would come to a sad end with his indoor-outdoor lifestyle. But it was Benny who went first.

It was December, 2000 that we inherited BeBe. He came to our house when his master died. He didn't know anyone else or anywhere else in the neighborhood. But he knew that we were nice to him. So we took him in because we had liked Benny and we wanted to do that much for him--keep his last companion safe and warm and loved. He is a last link to Benny and I often wonder Do you know we have your cat, Benny? That he is in good hands?

BeBe is a character and a handful but I am glad we gave him shelter. I don't think anyone else would appreciate him as much as we do.

BeBe's Webpage

Sunday, December 16, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Slippers

Now that Tiny is gone, little Slippers has taken the best sleeping spot in front of the wood stove.

Slipper's Webpage

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Toby John

We aren't sure exactly how old Toby John is. We rescued him from the Animal Shelter several years ago and believe he is now at least sixteen years old. He continues to do well with twice-daily insulin injections for his diabetes.

He is such a sweet-natured cat I can't imagine why anyone would have given him up.

Toby John's Webpage

Friday, December 14, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Clarence

Clarence has adjusted very well to living in the back with the Boys, becoming a young prince among the older lords. The assertive side of his personality--stifled by Frannie when he was living in the main house--has revealed itself in his confident and relaxed demeanor.

I wish we could bring him in the house but he is a sprayer and his time in the back rooms doesn't seem to have changed that although his "mis-steps" are few now. He seems to have found a niche he is comfortable in, at any rate. Clarence is Lola's brother. Both littermates are Bart's offspring.

Clarence's Webpage

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Frannie

Deaf but devoted.

I am not longer surprised to find Frannie waiting for me when I step from the shower, though it took a long time for it to dawn on me just how devoted she was. She's not demonstrative about like some I could mention (Punkin) but she is always *there*. She usually sleeps at my feet and will follow me from room to room as I go about my chores.

And of all our cats, she is the one waiting on the bathmat while I shower.

Frannie's Webpage

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Lola

Lola, born in our yard in 2003, is still wary of people but she is getting better as she matures. We seduce her with raw chicken.

She has been living with the Boys in the Back for a couple of years now. We would really like to get her to feel comfortable being back in the house. Maybe we can make that our goal in 2008.

Lola's Webpage

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Remembering Sparky

One song that never fails to send a shiver through me and turn my thoughts inward is "Winter, Fire and Snow" by Anuna.

Sometimes it even makes me cry as I sing along.

In winter fire is beautiful
Beautiful like a song--

It's not just the sparse instrumentation and ethereal voices of the performers...

In winter snow is beautiful
All of the winter long... is the sense of longing and loss that fills my heart with memories.

The day gets dark uneasily
Darker and darker still
And you are gone to Carnevale
And I feel the winter chill...

It's been nine years since that December afternoon that I held our gray-and-white cat Sparky as he gave his last gasps. Congestive heart failure had hit him hard and fast. He was not yet five years old.

He had come to live with us four years earlier, half a cat. Half-starved, half-frozen and half grown--a cat casually abandoned when he became an inconvenience.

He was never an inconvenience to us, the little cat with too-many toes and a heart too big for his body. In the too-brief time between his first winter and his last, Sparky had a home with warmth and food and a yard full of exciting things to explore. He knew love and gave love. I guess that's what we are all here for.

But he left us on a darkening December afternoon, marking all Decembers since with the sadness of his loss.

But you little son come safely home
Riding the tail of the wind
May you always come this safely home
In winter, fire and snow.

In my mind's eye, I see a little gray and white cat padding homeward in the early winter dusk, his over-sized paws leaving a neat line of stitches across the pale yard...

Come home to us in winter, Sparky.

Reside with us--if only in memory.


Cross-posted from A Quiet Life

Monday, December 10, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Skinny

Skinny's real name is "Star" but we never call her that.

"Skinny" just suits her.

She is another one of our cats who showed up in our yard, looking for food and safety. And companionship. After she spent several days looking through the screen door at our cats, we invited her inside. She holds herself aloof from us but enjoys the others cats.

Skinny's Webpage

Sunday, December 9, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Bart

No stranger to anyone who follows this blog, Bart is one of those mystery cats.

Where did you come from? I wonder, as he throws himself against my feet in adoration.

No one watching his displays of trust and affection would suspect that he lived in our yard for years while we wrote him off as "hopelessly feral," a cat that could never be tamed.

Turns out, he was tame all along. It just took us a while to learn that.

Even after he had started to hang out on the back deck and peer through the patio door at all hours, we still thought he was wild. He would retreat with a hiss when we brought him food but his withdrawals were shorter and shorter and he would be back, looking in through the door at our cats and their secure lives, in a matter of minutes.

Even after we lured him inside, he was stand-offish. It took me two months to venture to pet him--and that opened the way. His back curved into the caress with a hunger that made me wonder--how many years has it been since someone touched you with love, little cat?

I look at him now and wonder what his story is. He obviously lived with loving people at some point in his life. Unlike Mimi or Maggie, he doesn't flinch when we lift a hand to pet him, so I don't think he was physically abused.

But somewhere on the long road that led from his first home to our backyard he had learned to be distrustful of human intentions. He spent at least three years living outside through Alaskan winters. The food and water we provided kept him close to our house but didn't earn his trust easily.

Maybe it was seeing how our other cats interacted with us, seeing their trust and fearlessness, that made him want to come a bit closer. And give humans another chance.

Bart has turned out to be a wonderful companion. I'm glad he gave us the chance to love him.

Bart's Webpage

Saturday, December 8, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Twitch

It's been over two years since he showed up in our yard, looking for food and shelter--a young cat who had been roughly handled and neglected before his final abandonment.

Time has soften his rough edges and we rarely refer to him as "The Evil Mr. Twitch" these days. In fact, he is one of my favorite companions when I am working out on the mezzanine or in the shop. He will come and flop down beside me, purring and soaking up affection like a thirsty sponge. It has taken time but he finally seems to believe he is loved.

I love the color of his eyes--a clear greenish yellow that reminds me of peridot.

Twitch's Webpage

Friday, December 7, 2007

2007 Roll Call - Mimi

I thought that I would close out the year by posting a photo and a few words about each of our cats.

I started to do this for Holidailies at Home last December, so apologies to those who may find this a bit redundant.

I tend to list our cats in the order in which they arrived to live with us. So to change things around, I'll start with one of the last cats to join our merry band, Mimi.

Mimi is a big cat. But she is a gentle giant. Since she joined the family back in 2005, she has never made a single aggressive move toward any of the other cats. As you can see from the photo, she has extra toes on all her feet. What the photo doesn't show is her little tail-flap. Mimi is a manx with just a hint of a tail. Combined with her big feet and coloring, it gives her a bobcat-sort of look.

Mimi's family moved away from our neighborhood in July 2005. During the chaos of the move, Mimi--known to them as Me Too--got away and would not be caught. When we trapped Mimi in December, I placed an ad in the local paper and got a call from her former family--in Oregon. They weren't in a position to retrieve her so asked that I ty to find her a good home if I could.

Upon consideration, we decided that she probably had a good home right where she was and kept her.

Mimi's Webpage

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Old Pic - Cissy and the Moose

Cissy must have been only a year or two old at the time. I was fortunate enough to have the camera in hand when she came tearing out of the woods with a curious (not furious) moose behind her.

Once Cissy got closer to the house, the moose lost interest and went back to browsing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quiet Time With the Tree

I haven't found any of the cats sleeping underneath the tree yet but Frannie spends a lot of time on the sofa since I turned it toward the tree.

I love the quiet atmosphere of this picture.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


So lovely and yet so very disturbed.

You would never guess from her pristine appearance what demons haunt poor Frannie. When she isn't folowing Clarence or Mimi around with a single-minded predatory intent, she is pulling her own hair out (usually all over a freshly-vacuumed carpet.) We make allowances for her because we realize the life of a deaf cat is one of isolation and confusion but I have heard of several apparently well-adjusted deaf cats so suspect some of her problems may stem from having had such a chaotic kittenhood.

Still--you would think six years of (relative) sanity and stability with us would count for something.

Not to make any generalizations, but almost all our white cats seem to be psycho to some extent. The only normal white cat we had was the late-lamented Pickle Boy, who was as down-to-earth and sensible a cat as you would want.

One the other hand, there's BeBe, posing in his pretty pink Piddlepants as he helps trim the tree.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mr. Pink Party Pants

Bebe in his Piddlepants

So I have to ask myself why I keep telling him that he's a good boy when it is so obvious that he isn't.

(Gotta love him, though...)

So, the Great Letting-Bebe-Out-In-The-House experiment hit a snag when Denny caught him spraying upstairs. Apparently he isn't as well-adjusted as I thought (Bebe, not Denny)

So out come the old Piddlepants. I can still let Bebe out for a few hours a day but he has to wear The Pants of Shame.