Twenty years ago today…

I found a little animal in my driveway, curled up just like this.

Sleeping safely, shortly after her rescue

Dirty, malnourished and frightened, she fought me with vigor all the way back to the screened porch.  She turned down the offer of dry kibble, but inhaled the canned tuna I brought her.  She was very tiny, but managed to eat half a can of the fish.  The vet said she was about five weeks old.

The kitten’s pitiful cries did not draw a searching mother cat from the woods.  I didn’t really think the mom was around, but I had to try.  The kitten was too skinny, too dirty to have been recently cared for by her mother.  As she had an injury to her mouth, I wondered if the mother had died trying to protect her kitten, who had somehow escaped.  She clearly  would not have lived much longer if she hadn’t been rescued by me.   There were foxes and birds of prey all over the place.  She wouldn’t have had a chance if one of them decided she would be a tasty snack.

At first, she was terrified of me. When I would go out to visit her on the porch, she would run away from me, fleeing as if her very life was at stake, hiding cornered behind a potted plant until I would pick her up and hold her.  I would talk and sing to her until she fell asleep.  I would put her on a towel on the porch swing and leave her there to dream her kitty dreams, thinking that next time she would not run away from me.  But she did.

On the fifth day, she ran and hid but it slowly dawned on me that she was running not in fear, but in play!   That was when we started to bond. We played games of chase and tag until she was two or so and decided that tag was kitten stuff.

As a wiggling adolescent

Samantha loved having my other cat, Sebastian, as a mentor and he was happy to have a friend.  They would play and wrestle around and chase, then curl up together so you couldn’t tell where one cat ended and the other began.  After a cuddly nap, they would start the play/wrestle/chase cycle all over again.

“Come climb with me”


Samantha and Sebastian waiting for dinner



Samantha and Sebastian were best friends for nine years, until he succumbed to kidney failure in June, 2001 at the age of fourteen.











Samantha was with me for another ten and a half years, calmly accepting the arrival of four other adult cats and more than twenty foster kittens.  Some of the kittens stayed with us, but most found other good homes.

She was a particularly good mother figure to Monty, allowing the kitten to curl up with her. Perhaps they shared stories of being taken from their mothers at too early an age.  Maybe she told him all the best ways to wrap me around their little cat’s fingers.  Maybe they just snored in unison.

With baby Monty, and Cleopatra

Samantha was not a demanding cat, unless she was hungry.  Then her little high-pitched meow was unrelenting until the kibble bowl was refilled or I brought out a can of Wellness chicken or turkey.  Last November, Sam was diagnosed with mast cell sarcoma.  With medication and love, she held on for another couple of months, with the same sweet nature she had radiated her entire life, but she took a turn for the worse in early February.  I held her as she was euthanized on February 6, 2012.  She was nineteen and a half years old.

Such a loving, calm girl.  Such a large part of my life for such a long, long time.

I miss her every day.  The cats seemed confused when she was suddenly gone, but they eventually established new patterns, new relationships.

I still look at her battered, overstuffed, yellow chair and expect to see dear Samantha in it, watching for me.

I will miss her forever.


Goodbye, sweet kitten…

…hello, mischievous adult cat!

A twinge of nostalgic sadness mixes with joy as I acknowledge that little Monty turns his back on kitten-hood today.  He’s one year old!  He’ll be the last kitten, at least for a very long time.

We first met when he was caged in an extremely disturbing impound facility with two other kittens: one a sibling and the other, a kitten who was a couple of weeks older than Monty and his grey sister.   Malnourishment had not robbed the three of their vocal capacity.  If I could have ignored the pleading small faces, I could not ignore their demands to be removed to better quarters.

The little sister did not make it. She was so very weak and was failing when I took her to the vet to be euthanized.  But Monty, scrawny, bony, sparse of fur, had a strong vibrant spirit that kept him going.  I worried about him, and the vet was concerned.  “He’s not out of the woods”, she said.  His appetite was voracious but his four-week old frame did not seem to be using the nutrition he was getting at my house.  It took a long time for him to start developing that sturdy little kitten body that would carry him through many adventures.  It took a glacially long time for his fur to fill in so he would look glossy and sleek.

First Portrait, September 11, 2011.

At first, I carried him around in my hand, or put him in a cat carrier on the kitchen counter so he could see me and be a part of the household.  I was afraid the other four foster kittens were too big and consequently too rough for this tiny bold boy.  After two or three weeks, he was able to hang around with the others, but he was always the little kid brother who tagged along with great good nature and high hopes, but never could quite catch up with the bigger kids.

Snuggling with fellow foster kittens Marshmallow (left) and Meeka (top); and Samantha.

When the time came to adopt him out, I couldn’t go through with it.  I had carried him along from spindly kitten of uncertain longevity to a spunky, curious and entertaining young cat.  I would have missed him too much if he had left, but more crucially,  I was not able to cope with more goodbyes after losing Daisy the German shepherd and Samantha, the non-representative torti**, exactly six weeks apart last winter.

“Dishwasher inspection complete. It passed.”

So, Monty and his elder cat-brother Marlowe, another black feline, are going to live their lives out with me.  I’m a little wistful about having no more kittens, but I’ve vowed that no more will come into my house until Monty is twelve or so. I have a horrible habit of adopting my foster kittens, and now my house is full. There is no more room at this inn.

Meanwhile, Monty entertains.  Instead of playing with a catnip mouse, he plays with the mouse and with the rungs of the kitchen chair.   Rather than push the ball-in the-circle like every other cat I’ve ever met, he plays with the plastic circle.  He likes to stir things up, make them more challenging and more fun.

With the Circle of Fun


Welcome to adulthood, Monty.  I suspect that your kitten antics are going to be a part of you for a long time.  Being an adult is just a number, anyway, and I’ve never let numbers or age dictate my behavior. Why should you?


**Non-represtentative torti:  tortoiseshell cat.  Tortis are black cats with beige, rust, and tan highlights.  They are known in the cat world for being difficult, for having ‘torti-tude’.  In a delightful case of false advertising, through the nineteen and a half years of her life, Samantha never showed even a smidgeon of the torti personality, but was always sweet, accepting and gentle; thus she was highly non-representative of her type.


Meet the Dog: Luna

Some fun facts about my best pal.

Birthday:  July 19, 2009

Breed: German Shepherd Dog

Came From:  A local rescue group.  She was given as a gift to a young girl who wasn’t really interested in taking care of a little puppy.  At five months of age, Luna was surrendered to rescue.  I brought her home as a foster pup where she was a model of false advertising — perfect manners, no barking, ignoring the cats — so I adopted her after a couple of weeks.  Her biggest selling point was that she was totally submissive, in a fun, spirited way, to Daisy, my dominating shepherd. They were great playmates for two years, until Daisy’s premature demise from hermangiosarcoma at the age of eight.  Now Luna is a happy and spoiled only dog-child.

Having fun with her squeaky football

Tired out after a mischief-filled day


LIkes: Luna likes nearly everything but especially: Dairy Queen Pup Cups: car rides to get same (and to go anywhere, really); chasing after balls thrown by me, even with my feeble throwing arm; refusing to relinquish ball so I can throw it again; rolling in the grass, or snow, as the season dictates.

Dislikes:  Nothing.  Well, maybe the neighbor cat, judging from the barking the poor feline elicits when she prowls about her own yard,  but I bet if she could catch it, Luna would just want to play.

Fears:  Those little white flags that mark where the Invisible Fence is.

Personality traits:  Silly.  Happy.  Playful.  Did I mention Silly?

Educational level attained:  Obedience I & II (passed) and Agility for Fun (Pretty much a fail.  Did you know dogs can be afraid of heights?)

Hopes and Dreams:  “That all the world’s doggies can someday live in peace and harmony.” (ed: Say, you know you’re not joining that pageant, right?) “Oh, right.  Well, I’d like a diet of Solid Gold Tiny Tots (a chewy dog treat) and never to be told not to bark at the lawn mowing man again.”

Future plans:  “I just really want to catch that cat.  And maybe the lawn mowing man.  That’s it for now!”