Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | September 4, 2011

Fluffy

Fluffy

Fluffy came to us because of some divine intervention.

See, it had been well over a year since we had a lovey-dovey cat in the house. The kind of cat you can go up to at any time, in any location, and get some “furry lovin” in the form of hugs and kisses. Yes, we had other cats, but none of them were affectionate and I was missing that… badly. So I sent up a message to the universe and asked for an affectionate, older cat that I can hug on whenever I wanted.

About one week later I heard about a cat that might be coming into the rescue where I volunteer. Fluffy was a 13 year old Maine Coon whose “mommy” had died and whose “daddy” had gone into a nursing home. He was declawed and putting him in with the general population at the cat house was a concern of mine.

Immediately, of course, I began to consider bringing him home if indeed he did arrive at the shelter. One mission of The Cat Spa is to give a loving home to older kitties whose people have died and no one else wants them. Most people don’t like adopting an adult cat let alone a senior or geriatric one!

When I met Fluffy at the shelter he was in one of the rooms with all the young kittens, running around and jumping and having a good time… the kittens were, Fluffy was not. He spent his time in his carrier safe from all the commotion. But when a person came into the room, he emerged looking for some attention. He was large, of course, being a Maine Coon, and with all the fur next to the kittens, he looked enormous. He immediately head-butted and circled me, rubbing his body against mine the whole time. It was evident he was quite affectionate, healthy and strong for a 13 year old cat!

So Fluffy came home as a foster to The Cat Spa were he wouldn’t be subjected to a rescue full of younger, more spry cats with claws. He could stay with us until another home was found… or he could just stay with us.

The first week with Fluffy was quite interesting while we tried to learn each other’s “ways”. He liked to be petted, but apparently a certain way. He also liked it best when I would sit on the floor and let him circle me a couple of times, rubbing against me as he went. Then he would lie down on the floor directly in front of me and gaze at me. However, if I tried to pet him at this point, anywhere, he would snap at me! I learned that I was simply supposed to admire him, tell him how beautiful he is, how lovely his fur is, and what a good boy he is — but no touching! He also likes a morning hug, the kind where I pick him up off the floor and love on him. He also likes to be held in my arms, again, a certain way, where he can drape his arms and head on my shoulders and nuzzle my neck.

I’ll admit, though, it wasn’t the easiest integration of Fluffy into our household with three existing cats — two of which were males. I didn’t see it coming, but the next five months were very challenging. Not only were there cat disagreements and fights, there was spraying and marking going on. Fluffy came from an only-cat house and he just wanted to be left alone, but Weaver saw Fluffy as an intruder in his domain.  Eventually, Fluffy was returned to the “safe room” full time (which is where he lived the first couple of weeks until I thought everyone could get along) and it became known as his “private suite”. It became so bad that I seriously began considering finding Fluffy another home… and FAST, which I just hated to do. However, after doing some research and convincing my husband, we installed a wooden-framed screen door to Fluffy’s suite (aka my home office) so that he could see into the house and the other kitties could see in — they could all see that they weren’t “missing anything”. And suddenly the tensions died down a bit. Whew!

So as it stands now, Fluffy spends most of his time perfectly content in his “private suite”, watching the humming birds and bunnies from the sliding glass door or the double windows he doesn’t have to share with anyone else. He eats at his own leisure pace because he doesn’t have to worry about someone else mooching in on his meal. He can come and go from the litter pans without being jumped by Weaver. And he can sleep anywhere he wants. Best of all, when we (the Cat Spa servants) are working on our computers (for me, that’s all day), he has us all to himself. He’s appears to be very happy with this arrangement! Don’t worry, he’s allowed into the house whenever he wants, but usually it’s just to look around and make sure nothing has changed, and then he asks to go back into his room.

All in all, I would say Fluffy is the best-behaved cat in the house and I’m so very happy we gave him the chance to move in… and stay… with us.

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Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | May 14, 2011

Almost a lap cat

I’m so excited… Roxanne is turning into a lap cat!

I don’t even know where to start.

Over the past few weeks, I had been spending some extra special time with Roxanne, sitting on the floor with her and sharing some lovin’. She’d become very affectionate over the seven months we’ve had her. She loves to be petted and circles around me to rub her body against mine.

Two weeks ago, she began standing on my legs while getting her cheeks rubbed or during a good neck scratch. First it was one foot, then two, then three, and then all four. For only a moment at first, but eventually up to several minutes at a time she would “stand” on me. One of these times she even head-butted my chin… almost. Her being “formerly feral”, I had to be careful not to look directly at her while she did these things or she would feel intimidated and back off. Mostly, though, I had to just resist the urge to lean down and kiss her on the head!

Sometimes when she was really enjoying the pets, she would plop down by my feet and roll to expose her belly, but also motion as if she were going to grab my ankles and wrestle. Her claws are super, razor sharp, so I very quietly discouraged that action each time.

But, as you can tell, her trust has been building quite a bit lately.

Tonight she came looking for me and I knew she wanted her special love session. But when I sat on the floor and began petting her, she did not circle my body and rub on me. She didn’t even sniff at my hands and direct whether I scratched her cheeks or ears. She just sat there on the floor in front of me, enjoying what I was doing but not participating. I noticed she looked a little tired. After a few minutes she laid down at my feet, which were side by side and flat on the floor. Instead of the belly up and fake-grab, she lay on her side a bit, tucked in, and put her shoulder on my toes. Yes, ON my toes!

I didn’t know what to do at first, but after she settled, I gave her a couple of strokes down her back, and then let her doze on my toes. She looked so sweet and relaxed. Noises would prompt her to peek around her, and those ears didn’t ever really stop moving, but she seemed pretty content with her situation. I decided I would sit like that as long as I could so as not to disturb her first ever almost sitting on me experience!

Well, after about 15 minutes my foot began to fall asleep, and I had to change positions which I did ever so slowly. She took the hint and readjusted so that she curled up in a ball with her back snug up against the outside of my other leg. Again, I stroked her cheeks and chin a bit to show her I was okay with what she was doing. And then she put her head down and dozed again.

Talk about progress!

After another 15 minutes of sitting on the floor and trying very hard not to disturb her, I had to readjust my position again. This time she got up and moved a few feet away, so I thought she was done. I had one foot flat on the floor with my arm draped over my bent knee, and my other leg was also bent, but more on the floor. I was looking away and felt something move in the small space between my legs — when I looked, THERE was Roxanne! She was tucking down in between my legs, in a small and somewhat “confined” area! All by herself! Her back was to me and she was facing out, so I could watch in bewilderment as she got cozy. Then a moment later she stretched out her neck to lay her chin on my ankle! It was a bit of an odd position, I could tell, so she adjusted once or twice, but got as comfortable as she could and settled in for another doze.

By this time my heart was just exploding with pure joy! So much so that I almost cried… I did certainly tear up. I just couldn’t believe that this kitty who was so afraid of people and hid under a dresser for the first three weeks in my house, was now taking the initiative to cuddle and sleep touching me. She’s my “almost a lap cat” that I never thought would happen. Absolutely I wanted it to and hoped it would, but didn’t expect it to happen for years and years. And here she was, her body basically being cradled on all four sides by my body… by her choice.

Wow.

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | March 10, 2011

Little Miss Roxanne

Little Miss Roxanne

Roxanne came to live with us essentially because I finally found my calling in life.

See, one day I realized that we’d been doing our own form of cat rescue for 18 years, and I’d been a cat lover for far longer than that. It was something I hadn’t acknowledged before and I suddenly realized it was time to take a stand and tell everyone, “Yeah, I do cat rescue. If you don’t like cats, keep your comments to yourself.” It was time for me to learn about “real” rescues and volunteer my time to learn the ins and outs so that one day I could possibly run my own.

So onto the Internet I went, looking for local rescues. Now… what animal lover can go onto websites that show “Pets for Adoption” and resist the urge to look? You just can’t. I found myself scrolling through 50-odd kitties available at Castaway Critters Rescue in Blairsville, Georgia. Fortunately for me most of the write-ups were pretty basic so none of them were tugging at my heart stings – good thing, since I wasn’t shopping for a cat anyway! But then (you knew it would happen), the third to the last kitty was Roxanne.

The write-up about Roxanne was a little more wordy than the rest, but included the fact that Roxanne was a special needs cat because she was frightened of most people and had spent the last year and a half living (by choice) behind the washing machine in the rescue.  I burst out in tears! Literally! I remember my husband was walking past my office door and him seeing the moment I turned into a babbling, sobbing fool. He rushed into the room asking what was wrong, and all I could do was point at the computer screen so he could read it for himself.

What kind of life could that be for a kitty, living behind a washing machine! That was just unacceptable! She needed to come home with us and if she wanted to live out her life under our bed, well, that would be far better than behind a washer!

I contacted the rescue and got Roxanne’s full story… as full a story as a rescue kitty can have. A year and a half earlier Roxanne and her kittens were saved from a person who was going to poison the stray cats on his property. But after Roxanne and her babies were vetted and fixed and brought to the rescue house (these kitties have free roam of a three-bedroom home…no cages here), Roxanne promptly went into hiding. She was terrified of people, and when anyone was at the house she retreated to her favorite spot behind the washer. Volunteers did see her out and about in the house when they first arrived, so Roxanne did at least mingle with the others and got some fresh air. She just wasn’t comfortable with people.

Roxanne came to our house and was given her own room (my office) with several ready-made hiding spots under and behind furniture and a carrier or two with soft blankets. She found the spot that suited her the most (under a dresser) and essentially lived there for several days. We used a flashlight to make sure she was there and put her food under the dresser for her. If she felt we were getting too close, she would back further away into the corner.

Over the next couple of days, my husband would catch glimpses of her dashing from the litter box or the water dish back under the dresser. I would be in the office with her during the day, and talked to her, but never approached her or did anything to frighten her. But she would not come out to drink or go potty as long as I was there. And then on day three, she decided she wanted OUT of this room because, by golly, there were other cats in the house and she wanted to be around other cats! So her hiding spot during the day became the place under our bed, but when the house was quiet, she would come out to explore and to meet the boys (Buford and Weaver). She and Weaver hit it off immediately, though she was more affectionate than Weaver knew how to handle. It was so exciting to see her sneak out of the bedroom into the living room and look around, sniffing everything, brushing up against Weaver, and discovering cat toys. But the moment she realized one of the humans was around, she’d dash back to her hiding place.

Over time she hid less and less, and we always talked to her when we saw her. When she began joining the others in the kitchen during the dishing out of meals, we began petting her. It started with one pet down her back as she walked by and the rule became that she had to allow us to pet her before she could eat.

At the writing of this story, she’s been in the house with us going on five months and she is a totally different kitty! She lives among us, she sleeps on the sofa, she loves to be petted, and she’s the loudest cat in the house. We can’t pick her up or kiss her, and she certainly isn’t a lap cat (though I have a feeling one day she might be), but she is very affectionate in her own way. As a matter of fact, after meals is her favorite time for her private kitty-love fest.

She’s certainly our little success story!

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | January 24, 2011

Wobblin’ Weaver

Weaver

The story of this kitty coming into our lives is probably the most pitiful we’ve experienced yet. No worries, it turns out all good!

Friends of ours had been introduced to a kitten who had been abandoned at a local vet. This kitten, according to the vet, was a “bobble-head” and apparently no one wanted him. After a bit of time, my friends decided to adopt “Bobby” and make a barn cat out of him – the thought was that Bobby would have a better life chasing mice than living in a cage in the vet’s lobby.

He was a scrawny little tabby, just a couple of months old, and very curious and affectionate. But his head bobbled and bounced and swung around in what appeared to be an uncontrollable manner. And when he walked from here to there, Bobby basically walked in circles to do it. The best description I can give is that his world titled to the right and he just went with the flow.

Like I said, he was affectionate. He always wanted to be with the people, but of course we had to be extra careful walking around him because you never knew where he would be, or who he would wobble into. Picking him up and holding him wasn’t a good alternative either because when he decided he wanted down, we had to be extra careful to set him down squarely on all four feet or he would fall.

I’d never seen a kitty like this and it was heartbreaking to watch him… even though he didn’t seem affected by any of it at all.

So Bobby lived at the barn. At night he was put inside where he was safe. When there was a lot of activity or horses being moved around, Bobby went into a dog kennel for safe-keeping. But during the day when no one was around, he had free roam of the barn and the property.

But I’ll tell you, he did not like being alone! Whenever we put him in at night or got out of his sight, he would let out the most monstrous screams I have ever heard come of out a cat, let alone a kitten! The first time I heard it, I thought a wild animal had grabbed him through the bars of the kennel! However, I guess we all eventually got accustomed to it.

He also slept like a rock! If he was sleeping somewhere, he usually would not wake up until we touched him.

So one day someone realized that maybe Bobby wasn’t hearing too well, and a test was conducted. When a large wrench was dropped on the concrete floor and rattled around… Bobby didn’t react in any way. Jingling keys didn’t attract his attention either or clapping our hands.

Wow. Talk about the odds being stacked against this cute little boy – a head that he can’t control, horrible balance, and now no hearing. A barn really was not the best possible place for him to live. There were horses, dogs, a tractor, lots of cars, lots of people, neighbors who were notorious for not being friendly to cats… not to mention the foxes, the hawks and the owls.

Please know that I am not as cold-hearted as you might be thinking. Believe me, from the moment I met this kitty, I wanted to bring him home. But just a couple months before I had taken home the last mouser cat my friends had brought to the barn (Buford), and I really didn’t think it would go over well — with them or my husband — to do it again!

Just about two months after Bobby arrived at the barn, my husband finally had a chance to spend some time with him and see what challenges he (and we) were up against. Almost immediately Rob said, “He’s coming home with us” and my friends readily agreed!

We knew we had to change his name from Bobby, since my husband ‘s name is Rob. We went through a list of names  — but when I said, “It has to be a name that represents his special ways, since he bobs and weaves when he walks” and bingo, I had the name…Weaver.

So little Weaver came home to live at the Cat Spa. Buford and Natasha-Fuzzy were a bit intimidated by his weird ways, but the good news is that no one ever hurt him. Weaver settled into house life quiet easily and having other cats to play with and learn from was probably the best thing for him and his development.

And he has developed and improved. He doesn’t walk in complete circles to get from point A to point B, but sometimes he will if he’s very excited. He will, however, circle large objects like the kitchen island or the recliner, sometimes up to ten times in a row! Picking up and holding him is a great challenge and we still have to keep him from jumping out of our arms because generally he’ll fall over when he lands. But remarkably he does quite well jumping up and off of furniture – stationery objects that don’t move and which he is accustomed to. And he has better control over his head than he did as a baby, but it’s still not “normal”.

As far as being deaf… yep, he is. That was a bit of an adjustment for us in learning how to communicate with him, but it’s been a little over a year and we’ve got it all figured out. However, I do believe he has hearing on some level. I have observed him react to certain sounds, like the metal lid being unscrewed from the glass cat food storage container or other high frequency, squeally sounds. Rob disagrees with me.

The most interesting thing we’ve observed about how he copes with being deaf is how he utilizes reflections to watch what is going on around him. He watches reflections in the sliding glass doors, the windows, and the curio cabinet — it’s amazing to see.

There will be plenty more stories about Weaver as he is the most entertaining cat we’ve ever had. I could write about him all night.

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | January 15, 2011

Big Bad Buford

Buford

Big Bad Buford started out as just a little guy dumped in a field, who made it across a major road to a restaurant (food was extremely important to him even back then), where he lived on handouts and leftovers for a bit of time. Friends of ours befriended him and decided to bring him to their property as a barn cat. But since he was still so little, the plan was to keep him in a dog kennel for a few days until he got his bearings.

Well… I never could stand to see a cat in a cage, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of this little itty bitty kitten (I believe he was three months old at the time) learning to live by himself among horses and cars and tractors and hawks and raccoons… well, you get the picture. And he was just so cute! He was a lover and just wanted to be held.

Ultimately it was mutually decided (by the barn owners and my hubby) that Buford could come home with us. It was around this time that I realized he had a wound on his throat. It looked like a hole and had green nasty ooze coming out of it. It wasn’t real pleasant to look at (go figure), so of course a trip to the vet was the first order of business. Upon examination it was discovered that Buford actually had two wounds, the second one being on the side of his neck, near his shoulder.  Very odd.  But our vet solved the mystery for us… Buford had maggots. Well, that wasn’t the technical terminology, but when it came down to it, that’s what it was.

It turns out that flies like to target small, young animals (and those that are confined) to lay their eggs. Of course, their eggs eventually hatch, and well, you’ve got maggots. In Buford’s case they were Bott flies or Wolf flies (we heard different variations) and there was one maggot per hole. But I’ll tell you what… those were some big maggots! The holes in Buford’s neck were the size of a pencil eraser, I mean, you could stick the cap end of a pen into his neck if it weren’t a cruel thing to do… and the maggots were just as round!!! The length of the one our vet showed us was about as long as my pinky nail… I kid you not. It was like a mutant maggot from some 1950’s horror flick.

So Buford was sent home with antibiotics and ointments… oh joy, what a way for a kitten to start his new life at The Cat Spa… with medications!

Keep in mind, Readers, this was also the first actual kitten we have had since, well, Miles… 17 years earlier. What a rude re-awakening we had! After Buford got comfortable in our home and with the other kitties and recovered from his “maggot neck”… he turned into The Flying Squirrel. It had been so long since we’d had a kitty with that much energy bouncing off the walls…and the furniture and the countertops. He was non-stop crazy for the next four or five months!

He did continue to be a sweet little lover-boy to us humans, when he was sleepy — but a boy he was, and all he wanted to do was wrestle with the other kitties. Unfortunately, the other kitties were Angel and Natasha-Fuzzy, and much older, and they didn’t want anything to do with him. You could say our house was not in harmony for quite a while.

The name “Big Bad Buford” came from his desire at an early age to rule the house. He was quite brutal sometimes with Angel and Fuzzy, as alpha cats will sometimes be. But it was amusing, on some level, that he knew right away he wanted to be “boss”. Like he knew he was going to turn into a big, muscular boy and needed to assert his authority early. And then the name “Big Bad Buford” turned into something more sarcastic because we brought home someone that intimidated him, Weaver. And we also realized that Buford is the second biggest scaredy-cat we’ve ever had, but those are stories for another time.

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | January 14, 2011

Seymour

Seymour

Seymour … what an odd name for the cat we “saw less” rather than more, but… we didn’t name him. He didn’t start out as our cat.

Seymour’s story with us began in the middle of his life. We had moved to a new neighborhood with some nice, animal-friendly neighbors. They were renters and had a dog and essentially two cats – one indoors and one outdoors. Of course we saw Seymour around their yard and asked about him… we like to know the neighborhood cats and where the belong.

Our neighbors told us the story of how Seymour came into their lives. They had previously lived at another house that had cement block walls around their back yard, and one day, there was Seymour in their back yard. They never knew if someone dumped him back there or if the little guy (he was just a bitty kitten at the time) had scaled the walls to find a safe haven. Also, there were neighborhood kids who, well, probably didn’t need access to a defenseless kitten. So our future neighbors took Seymour in and had him fixed and declawed. However, Seymour apparently had other ideas and tore up curtains and carpets and other things in an effort to get out of the house. Eventually our future neighbors complied and let him live outside. Then they moved to what eventually would be our shared neighborhood where we all met each other.

Meanwhile, Seymour is a scardey cat. Yes, we would see Seymour, but usually he was hiding behind something or dashing from one place to another. He was friendly with his human-man and the dog, but Seymour just didn’t trust anybody else. He was almost a non-event, taking care of himself and staying out of everyone’s way.

Well, one day our neighbors told us they bought a house and were moving. They were only moving two blocks away, but would be located on a busier, main road. They were concerned about taking Seymour with them because he had been at this house most of his life and they were afraid he would try to return to this house and/or get run over by a car on the busy road. Additionally, they had a pond butting up to their back yard so they were worried Seymour might just get snatched up by the resident alligator (yes, we lived in Florida at the time). So our soon-to-not-be-neighbors-anymore asked if we — being cat lovers — would take care of Seymour. No, they never took him to the vet, it was just a matter of feeding him. Hmmm.

Of course we said yes… like we would let anyone abandon a cat!

But I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to befriend this cautious guy!

Over the course of several months (fortunately their house remained empty) I had to gain Seymour’s trust and slowly lure him into our yard. It started with calling his name and shaking his kibble, and setting it down on the far side of the neighbor’s yard from my house. Then I would retreat to my house and watch until Seymour would crawl out from under a shed and come for his food. Each day I stayed a little bit closer to him, talking to him the entire time he ate. And every couple of days I would move the food dish closer to my house. If I moved it too much in one attempt or if I was too close for comfort, he wouldn’t eat. I believe it took about a month to get him eating on our back step.

Touching him, well, that wasn’t happening. I think it was another two months before I was first able to touch him. But throughout all of this, he learned that we were now the ones caring for him and we fed him like clockwork. He learned the routine and even began bringing us delights like dead birds and snakes.

Then hurricane season picked up and we became concerned for Seymour’s safety. We’d never actually had an outside cat before and well, yes, we were attached to him! He was such a sweet boy, you could just see it in his eyes. He was just really shy and cautious and who could fault a guy for that! So the decision was made we needed to trap him, get him checked out at the vet, and bring him in.

After several failed attempts and also the landfall of Hurricane Charley, we finally got Seymour trapped, vetted, and returned to our home.

We kept him in my office separate from the others. That first night, I took a book and sat on the floor to read, just to be in the room with him. And would you believe that he came right to me? At first I was a bit cautious because  I’d hardly been able to give this kitty any love or affection while he was outside (I said “touch” earlier, I never said “pet”). But he came over to me, sniffed me and my book, and proceeded to curl up next to my leg on the floor — touching me!  I couldn’t believe it!  It brought tears to my eyes!  His first night in our home he came to me like he’d been doing it all his life. What a special boy!

Seymour was a special boy.  He never figured out why the other cats liked cat grass or played with toys, and it took him a long time to understand that it was okay to get comfy on the sofa or the bed. He never meowed… he was the silent cat. And he was very well-behaved around all the others (I’ll tell you more about him and Natasha-Fuzzy some other time). And even though he eventually trusted Rob and I as much as he could possibly trust anyone… whenever someone else entered our home, he would go into hiding and stay hid. If it was a woman, it would sometimes take him a few days to be relaxed around me again. But fortunately we didn’t have a lot of visitors, so this wasn’t a problem. He was the closest thing to a feral cat we had ever dealt with up until that time, and I have to say that it was not a bad experience at all. We’re so glad we gave that boy a chance even though his previous owners said Seymour wanted to be outside and would tear up the house — we never ever saw that behavior in him. As a matter of fact, when a door to the outside of the house would open, he would run in the opposite direction! If ever a kitty wanted to be a house cat – Seymour was the one.

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | January 5, 2011

Angel Nubby Cake

Angel

Sounds yummy doesn’t it? Angel Nubby Cake. Maybe you’re envisioning something like a cross between angel cake and monkey bread… and I’ll tell you what, our Angel Nubby Cake was just as sweet as both of those tasty treats!

Angel’s story is also special, but in a different way, and it’s tied very closely to Polly’s.

If you read Polly’s story, you’ll recall that we had taken a tour of the local animal shelter’s facility and had been taken into the adult cat room full of cats in cages. It absolutely broke my heart to see so many beautiful, full of life kitties being restricted to cages lining the walls of this room. But what broke my heart even more was when my eyes landed on Angel.

Angel was actually in one of the first cages as you entered the room. Pure white and already quite large, she was sleeping in her litter pan, back to the room, face in the corner. To me the position just screamed, “I’m so sad! I don’t want to be here.” She didn’t even respond when I initially looked into her cage… which incidentally is when I noticed she didn’t have a tail, just a little nub.

But at that time I wasn’t there to see Angel or anyone other than Polly, whose cage I proceeded directly to because I just couldn’t stand to look at all those longing-for-homes kitties. So even though I moved on, Angel was already embedded in my brain.

Later on at home Rob and I talked (and I cried) about Polly… and all the other kitties. We agreed that we could probably adopt a second kitty along with Polly, just because we were so overwhelmed with how many were there. I actually went back to the shelter with a note book to find the right kitty. At that time it was important that a newcomer would have to be female (Miles would not have tolerated another male) and she had to be declawed because everyone else in the house was. Yes, I visited every female kitty in a cage at the shelter and narrowed it down to three – guess who was on that list? Angel.

And for that second visit she was just as sad looking as the first. This time she at least looked at me and had the largest, roundest, most sad eyes I ever had been subjected to. I almost broke out in tears at that very moment. She’d only been at the shelter for four months.  There was a story behind her reason for being there, some lame excuse that didn’t make sense.

It was a no-brainer. There was no way to deny that something about Angel grabbed me from the moment I saw her. I instinctively knew there was something special about her and that she needed to come home with me. I also was afraid no one else would want a kitty without a tail (I had never seen one before). So I told the volunteers that I wanted to adopt her as well.

So Angel came home with us alongside Polly, and they were housed separately in the guest bedroom to allow everyone’s scents to mingle under the door. But after just one week, we decided it was time to open the door and see how everyone reacted – and something amazing happened.

Miles and Natasha – the king and queen – were on the far side of the living room (Boris eventually wandered in but stayed casually off to the side) when we let Polly and Angel out. Polly, being the assertive one, came right out and sat down across the room from Miles and Natasha, giving them “that look”… and they both gave it right back to her. There were a few tense moments. And then out comes Angel – sweet and innocent as can be. She tiptoed past Polly, all the way across the living room, right around and behind Miles and Natasha, and sat down. It was like she was saying, ” Don’t worry about me, guys. I’m one of you!” And do you know what? Miles and Natasha hardly even gave her a glance. They both were more concerned with Polly, the warrior, who was still sitting there all prim and proper just looking like she was going to take over the house by force if it came to it.

That was our first clue that Angel was special. She was an absolute lover to the very core of her soul and no one – human or animal – could resist her charming ways! She never had an argument with another kitty in the house. And every person who met her immediately fell in love. How could you not? Angel greeted everyone who entered the house and always wanted to be where the people and the conversation was.  She amused many people by rotating her little nub in circles.  And she was always ready for a hug any time of day, anywhere at all. So if you needed a hug, you could find her and get a good one. And sometimes she needed a hug, by golly, and she would seek you out and look at you with those big sad eyes, and immediately you were compelled to stop doing whatever you were doing and give her a hug!

How foolish her previous owners were to give her up! But how fortunate we were to have her!

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | January 1, 2011

Miss Polly Esther

 

Miss Polly

Polly’s story is a special one… well, a little more special than the others.

 

There was a time I worked for a woman who was a director for the local humane society and occasionally I would go on the humane society’s website to see which animal my boss was currently sponsoring. One day it was Polly… and a year later, it was still Polly. Her human had died and the human’s daughter didn’t want Polly, so she landed at the shelter. The biggest problem was that Polly was 10 years old at the time!

About this time, we decided we would foster some young kittens from the humane society until they were grown enough to be adopted. We figured we wouldn’t get attached to kittens because we knew they had a better chance for adoption at the shelter. When the time came to return the kittens to the shelter, Rob wanted to get a tour of the facility, to see where the kittens would be when people came for adoptions. Then we got a tour of the adult cat room… it was all over for me at that point. We were in a room full of cats in cages and it torn my heart wide open. But I held it together long enough to ask, “Where’s Polly?” I figured I was there, I might as well meet the poor kitty who had been on the website for a year.

The volunteer pointed me to the correct cage and as I stuck my fingers through the bars the volunteer warned that Polly bites. But I’ll tell you what. I believe Polly heard me walk into that room and ask for her, and she knew this was her chance. She came right to the front of her cage and rubbed her body on it like the most lovable cat you can imagine. My heart melted.

Who was going to adopt a, now, 11-year-old cat? Especially one who was known to bite people? And just looking at her… she looked mean! She had a square forehead and a heavy brow that made her look like she was grumpy all the time. Not to mention her war paint! Her striking calico colors were patterned in a way that made her look fierce. So who was going to adopt this cat? Ever?

I’m sure I bawled my eyes out when we left there.

It was either later that same day or the next that I returned to the shelter to inquire about adopting Polly. Yes, she was standoffish in the visiting room with me, but I didn’t care. She was coming home to live out the rest of her life with me — biter or no biter. She deserved to have a home – not a cage – so she could be comfortable in her old age. She could only benefit from having people around her to serve her and spoil her. It wasn’t her fault her human died!

So into our home she came. Even though she was accustomed to being an only cat, she settled in fine to our home and the existing kitties. She eventually became very fond of Boris and even though no fighting ever took place, she slipped right into alpha female position. We ended up calling Polly “the police” because she was so much older than the others that she didn’t join in, or appreciate, their antics. Often we would see her give the rowdy young ‘uns the squished-down-forehead-look like she was going to come after them with a wooden spoon if they didn’t just settle down right now!

The moral to this story, however, is that Polly turned into a very lovable cat! Yes, she nipped at us a few times in the beginning but it was purely out of fear. She wasn’t a “lap cat” as her preference was to be on the sofa next to you, as close as possible. She loved being covered in soft blankets and getting kisses on her head. And what’s more? She knew who rescued her, without a doubt.  I was her human and she always liked to keep tabs on me. When I sat on the sofa, she joined me. If I read in bed, she joined me. Her attention to me was so endearing! Bringing her into our lives was one of the best decisions we ever made.

It also opened my eyes to the fact that not all cats looking to be adopted are kittens! I really wish people would be more open to adopting an older cat. That’s something to be worked on in the future – educating the public about the benefits and rewards of giving a forever home to senior kitties.

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | December 31, 2010

The Evil Princess Natasha Fuzzy

Fuzzy

Aw, well, she wasn’t really evil… she just looked like it.

Princess started her life living across the street from us with another family. She was an indoor/outdoor kitty and would come over to visit our yard because we had a bird bath where she could stalk birds and plenty of bushes and trees where lizards hung out. We made friends with her, of course, and became concerned for her safety in crossing our busy street each day.  But the girls who owned her – three young sisters – adored her and told us they brushed her daily and bathed her often. For obvious reasons they had named her “Princess” — she was gorgeous! We always told the girls that if ever they wanted to give her away, we would take her.

About a year later, we moved away and Princess stayed with her owners.

Six months after that we came back to our old neighborhood to visit our friends who had lived next door, and the young girls that owned Princess saw us. They came over and asked, “Do you still want Princess? We can’t keep her.” Needless to say, we were quite surprised! We never expected those young girls to ever give up that beautiful kitten! Sadly the reason the girls gave us for not being able to keep her was because they had a relative who was coming to visit but was highly allergic to cats. To us, that was a lame excuse, but the reality still remained that Princess needed a new home.

The next day Princess came to live with us. She was the perfect little lady when we brought her in. She loved the attention we gave her and let us brush her and treat her like a little princess. She was shy around Rob to begin with so we were concerned that the men in her life might not have been real kind to her.

It also came to our attention that Princess had poor eyesight. When running through the house, there were numerous times she would run straight into chair legs… over and over and over again. If she saw something that made her curious, she would squint and move her head in a way that you could just tell she was struggling to make out whatever it was she was looking at. Treats and food were found quicker by her sense of smell than by her vision. So we marveled at how she had managed to cross our busy road every day, several times a day, for a year and a half and not ever get hit by a car. We were also grateful that she was one of ours now, an indoor only kitty.

We renamed her to Natasha – to go along with Boris (you know, Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle) and because we wanted to stick with the theme we already had going in that all of our kitties had people names. However, in her case her official name became “Princess Natasha”.

Two weeks later – the real Princess Natasha surfaced. Our new little girl had attitude! She no longer wanted to be doted upon, no more brushing, and no more hugs and kisses. She also decided she wanted to be top cat in our house and put up arguments with Miles and Boris to prove her status. I think she used to torment Boris because he was just too kind to fight back. She would run up on him, let out her little battle cry and swat. But Miles put her in her place every time she tried anything on him.

Meanwhile, Princess Natasha decided to adopt Rob as her human and didn’t want anything to do with me at all. I wasn’t even worthy of being her servant as far as she was concerned. What was amusing is that when Rob would sit in his recliner, she would perch on the arm of the chair next to him, as if he were the King and she was his evil sidekick.

Thus the title “Evil” got added to her official name.

The addition of Fuzzy came along sometime after only because, well, she was fuzzy!

So that’s the story of how The Evil Princess Natasha Fuzzy came into The Cat Spa.

Posted by: Kimberly J. McCloskey | December 26, 2010

Miles Traveled

Miles

Miles was the official ambassador of The Cat Spa… he is the reason it actually came into existence. Here is the story of how he came into our lives.

One Saturday morning back in 1992, during a tropical depression, I opened the front door to my apartment to find a small orange and white cat hanging around the driveway. He was very friendly and came right to me, so of course, I befriended him but eventually went about my business back inside the house. However, a couple hours later, the little guy was still there with no food or water, so I invited him in.

I had a pet ferret at the time and the little kitten went right over to Shandie’s cage to check her out… Shandie and her food and her litter pan. He was a curious little guy (surprise!) and checked out the entire apartment. He had giant ears; they just looked too large for his little head. But he was cute!

I was curious where kitty came from. My apartment was in a rural area with few houses near us, and I couldn’t imagine where he came from. Early in the afternoon my neighbor in the apartment came out and I asked her about the kitten. She said he has shown up the night before and she let him into her place because of the rain, but couldn’t keep him and thought when she let him out in the morning he would go back home, wherever that was. I told her he ended up at my place.

Rob eventually came home for lunch and I introduced him to the kitten, “Honey, look what I found.” Rob was a bit indifferent until he made himself a tuna sandwich and the kitten proceeded to climb Rob’s unclothed leg to get to the tuna – not good! We agreed we needed to return the kitten to his rightful owners.

After lunch, Rob and I went to the very few houses within a mile radius of our apartment, and no one claimed to have ever seen the kitten before. We even went to the local corner store and inquired there – again, no one claimed the little guy. So now what do we do?

Back home the orange and white kitten had made himself comfortable, I guess he decided we were going to be people. But we still weren’t certain about that as we weren’t supposed to have cats or dogs in the rental! We decided to keep him until Monday and take him to the shelter if that’s what we needed to do.

But before that could ever happen, the little kitten proved his worth and demonstrated his intelligence.

Monday morning the rain from the tropical depression continued, and Rob and I both went to work leaving the kitten in the house for us to deal with later. But when Rob came home for lunch… everything changed. When Rob entered the house, he could see the kitten in the kitchen staring intently at the window looking over the back yard. Even when Rob began to make lunch, the kitten would not take his eyes off the window. Rob decided to investigate what it was that held the kitten’s attention. When Rob pulled back the curtain, he could see a rattle snake intertwined with the jalousies windows and pushing very hard at the edged of the screen desperately trying to get in! (Mind you, the yard was flooded from all the rain from the tropical depression). So Rob was able to deal with the rattle snake without it finding its way into our home, and the orange and white kitten found himself a permanent home.

So it was time to name the little guy if he was staying!

The kitten couldn’t have gotten out to our remote area on his own, so after a little bit of thought, Rob came to the conclusion that we couldn’t know how many miles the car traveled before dumping the kitten, but that was obviously what had happened. And suddenly the name “Miles Traveled” was born.

And so was The Cat Spa, but we didn’t know it at the time.

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