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2/20/2005 - We are cat lovers. There are five of the little darlings who allow us to share their home and look after them.
This is our oldest kitty, Honeybear. He's 12 now. He was born in our bedroom, along with his 4 littermates. From the beginning he was Toni's baby, and chances are you can find him cuddled up to her in her recliner purring contentedly or sleeping in her arms.
When he was 7 months old, he got into an argument with a car, and as a result, his left hip was broken in 19 places. After a lengthy operation and 6 weeks of immobilization, he was left with a bad limp in that leg, but no one ever told him he was crippled. To this day, he gets around just fine. He's also missing a canine tooth, is blind in one eye, and has a notch in his left ear where he had an infection from a foxtail. But he just keeps going and we're glad to have him.
Here is Pearl, a lovely Siamese-Tabby who looks at you with her wide sky-blue eyes, and begs in her tiny little voice for whatever morsel she can finagle from your plate. She's 11 now, just about 6 months younger than Honeybear. She's a sedate, quiet lady, asking only to be fed and loved. However, she can be a pest when Toni's trying to work on her computer as she's always looking for attention.
This is The Gray, named after the little aliens of Art Bell fame. Comparing the photo on the right with the one in the center, you can see where he got his name. He's a polydactyl, which means he has 6 toes on each front paw, which makes him look sort of like he's wearing a catcher's mitt on each foot. He has a rather grouchy look, but that's because he has a heavy brow that makes him look like he's mad all the time. He's kind of an old fuddy-duddy with the other cats, but he's very loving with his humans. He just appeared one day about 7 years ago and moved right in and made himself at home.
Who wouldn't love this dear little face? Meet Marie LaVeau on her first day home. She was so feisty at 6 weeks, that her owners made us take her early! Because she was weaned from her mother a little too soon, she has a habit of sucking on her upper front legs, which we call sucking her thumb. I suspect she'll do it for the rest of her life.
From the day she came to live with us, she took over and started bossing all the other cats around! They say this is normal for a calico, but it was comical to watch this tiny little creature trying to establish herself as the alpha cat! She was full of boundless energy and wanted to play with the other cats, but the only one who would have anything to do with her was Honeybear, who acted very protective of her, as though she was his own. She would cuddle up to him and he would lick her. It was very endearing. However, just like a kid, she wanted him to play with her and made a nuisance of herself. Poor old guy's old and crippled, and her constant bugging was hard on him. Nevertheless, he patiently tried to put up with her, but he would soon tire of her and walk away.
Here is Honeybear with his new friend, Bubba. Bubba is Marie's brother, and their mama cat belongs to the family who lives in the house next door to our business location. Their mother, Su-nee (more on her later), had a litter of 5 kittens. They were born around the middle of April 2004. When Charles first saw Marie, he fell in love with her instantly and so we adopted her as soon as she could leave her mother. A week later, we went and got Bubba so she would have a playmate her own age to keep her from pestering Honeybear to death! From the beginning, Honeybear took a liking to the two kittens, and would give them a bath whenever they snuggled against him. From what I understand, this is very unusual behavior with altered male cats, but then Honeybear is a very special cat!
From the day they arrived, the kittens took to both of us, and we enjoyed having little ones around again. Here are the babies at 8 weeks old in one of their quiet moments having a nap with Papa.
Bubba is shown here with his arm lovingly embracing his little sister. This adorable picture was taken when they were 10 weeks old, and demonstrates the close bond between these two little ones. They settled into their new home quickly, and established their place among the other cats with relative ease. They are affectionately referred to around our house as The Whippersnappers!
Bubba at 12 weeks. He's just a happy little guy, making friends with everyone who comes in, and is curious about everything we're doing.
Marie at 12 weeks cuddled up to Charles' leg. She loves her Papa! Note the scratch marks, where two little furry tornadoes would blow across and leave their marks as they chased and bounded around the room! At one point, they scratched Toni's leg so badly that it infected and she had to see the doctor for it. Kids just have too much energy for old geezers like us!
Bubba and Marie at 3 months, posing pretty for the camera!
The Whippersnappers at 6 months. They're growing so fast!
Marie cuddling up to her Bubba, on Toni's lap. They are both very loving kitties.
A portrait of sweet Marie at 9 months. She has grown into a lovely, distinctly-marked calico with a regal demeanor, and is the darling of our household. She is small, only 5-1/2 pounds, but she has a mighty attitude! She has no idea she's little and she definitely rules the roost here! She is an accomplished mouser, and as such, has all but rid our house of the pesky rodents. She earns her keep around here!
She's very agile and athletic, and often leaps great distances like a thoroughbred horse clearing a hurdle. She has been known to do a flip 3 feet in the air when her brother is after her! Watching them play together is real entertaining and quite comical!
A portrait of Bubba at 9 months. He has grown into a very handsome cat who acts more like a dog! He'll tag us everywhere we go in the house. He sits on the counter next to the sink when Toni is fixing dinner or doing the dishes, supervising everything that's going on. He'll sit on the edge of the tub when Charles is taking a bath, wondering all the while why in the world anyone would want to get all wet like that! He's the happiest cat you've ever seen, and virtually nothing ruffles him. He makes friends with everyone, and is totally trusting of humans. Which is one of the reasons he's strictly an indoor cat, as are all of our kitties.
His coat is coal-black and snow white, and soft as velvet. It shines like patent leather, and the tuxedo appearance makes him look quite dapper, totally belying his slightly clumsy demeanor. This picture clearly shows his one white eyebrow. He has an eyebrow on the other side, but it's shorter and black, giving him a rather asymmetrical look. He's full of energy, bounding rather than walking, and we often suddenly find ourselves with a 10 pound black and white ball of fur landing on our chest! Clunk! He's a cuddler, and is often found sleeping on one of us, mostly Toni. Bubba likes Charles, but seems to prefer to sit on Toni. Marie on the other hand, likes Toni but prefers to sit on Charles. We love them both, and we're real glad they came to live with us.
6/9/05 - We have lost Pearl. After almost 12 years, she got outside about 3 weeks ago, and never came back. We've finally had to admit she is gone for good. We hope she has found another home where animal-loving people have welcomed her. I hate to think of any other alternatives, but if she passed away, I hope she died peacefully. She was a nice cat and we will miss her.
11/3/05 - This is a sad day indeed. We had to have Honeybear put to sleep today. Our vet diagnosed him with probable FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis), which is the leading cause of infectious cat death. Unfortunately, there is no definitive diagnosis, and no cure for this diabolical disease. After performing a couple of tests, it was our vet's opinion that Honeybear was suffering from FIP. His best recommendation was to end the cat's suffering. We reluctantly agreed. Afterward, Toni was inconsolable. She is grieving for her special little friend. Honeybear was her bestest buddy for almost 13 years, and it was very hard for her to let him go. But he had a good life and lots of love here with us, and we are grateful for the time we had with him.
The Gray has been having some pretty bad seizures lately, and we expect he will have to be put down sooner or later. But we still have Bubba and Marie, and we are grateful they are active and healthy...at least so far.
It's always difficult to lose those you love, even if what you love is only a little furry creature who is totally dependent on you. Only those who have lost a beloved pet will understand the special sadness we are feeling.
It's a sad fact that hearts are breakable. There's an empty place in our house and our hearts that will always be there. But all things must end, and life goes on.