• StevenF

Meet The Gang

Updated: Apr 12

So those of you who have migrated over here from my Facebook account already know about Isaias' and my cat family. And tomorrow's post will be about a dilemma we are facing concerning a wanna-be new member of that furry clan. Stay tuned! But for those of you new to my life or to the blog, let me share with you that Isaias and I are pretty much on our way to becoming "old cats ladies."

These are our girls and boy:

Our oldest was Trooper. She passed away on December 1 this past year at nearly 17 years old.

I have told this story many times on Facebook:

On October 8, 2008 we got the keys to our new house. I was working in Utah at the time so Isaias moved in on his own with his three cats, Kelly, Trooper, and Blondie. While moving in the first day Isaias brought them here, Trooper managed to escape out the open garage door and ran away (presumably to try to get back to her old house).

Trooper was missing for five months and Isaias was so very sad during this time. He looked for her everywhere and searched all over the neighborhood and where he drove, different shelters and pet adoption places like PetSmart. He prayed and weeped over that cat, but was convinced he would find her again.

To make matters worse, Kelly died about a month after Trooper disappeared. Isaias would call me and lament the loss of Trooper.

After months of this, I tried to be sympathetic, but the realist in me didn't understand why Isaias couldn't just face facts and realize that Trooper was likely gone for good. I never voiced these feelings to him, but I was convinced that Isaias would not find Trooper.

In March of 2009, Isaias' mom saw an adoption notice for "Miss Meow" through Petco, one place Isaias hadn't checked. She thought it looked like Trooper, and when Isaias saw it, he knew it was her.

In the notice, it says "Miss Meow" jumped in the volunteer's car, which was a PT Cruiser, the car Isaias drove at the time. She was found somewhere near the Las Vegas Strip, which is not terribly close to our house.

Isaias went to PetCo on March 14, 2009 to see about whether it really was Trooper. He had been told to get there early as there were people interested in adopting her. Isaias brought pictures and knew it was, indeed, Trooper, by her extra toes and the fact that she recognized her name and snuggled against his shoulder as she once had.

I happened to be in town when Isaias got Trooper back. She was scared, but home. And she was with us together for 13 wonderful years. We loved her so much.

Blondie is Trooper's daughter and one year younger than she was.

Blondie has always been the perpetual "middle child." She has always been the lowest-maintenance of our cats, and as a result, she has often probably been the most neglected. Since Trooper's death, though, she and I have bonded a lot more. We can tell she misses her mom.

When Isaias and I first moved in together 13 years ago, Blondie couldn't stand me. I was definitely the unwanted stepparent in Blondie's eyes. It actually hurt my feelings because I am really good with animals, and most take to me pretty quickly.

Not Blondie. She would avoid me and growl at me. If I tried to pet her—nothing. She definitely was not my biggest fan.

I remember the breakthrough I finally had with her several months—maybe even a year—after I came into her life. She was sitting on the bed, and I started scratching and petting her. As always, she just sat there, grumpy and annoyed. I probably sat there for a half hour, just petting her. I remember my hands were getting tired. And then, something miraculous happened: Bondie started purring.

After that, Blondie became more friendly to me, and over the years, she has really grown to love me. She will often headbutt my arm or hand when she wants love, snuggles, and petting. If I sit down, she excitedly hurtles her fat body over to sit beside me because she knows that's when she is most likely to get some lovin'. She and I have come a long way.

Chaplin or Chappy, as we are more likely to call her, is our third cat.

I did not want a third cat when Chappy came into our lives. I was just fine with Trooper and Blondie. in November or December of 2009, Isaias said his mom's cat had had kittens and wanted to take one in. I said I didn't want another cat.

One night, Isaias said he had a surprise for me but that I might not like it. He told me to come outside. He was in his truck and sheepishly looked at me, pulled out two kittens, and said, "I couldn't let them go to the pound."

I wasn't terribly pleased, but the kittens were cute. But four cats felt like to much to me. I told Isaias I would compromise by allowing us to keep one of the cats, provided I could name it. The black and white cat had an interesting, Charlie Chaplin-esque mustache, so I named it Chaplin.

We thought the cat was a boy, but she wasn't. What she was was a little ball of energy and very hyper and liked to jump around. She was very curious and was a bit of a playful, but hard, biter. She also liked to walk on the banister of our loft, which made us incredibly nervous. She used to give us heart attacks.

Chappy has always been a bit ... well, weird. She loves to sleep on her back but hates having her stomach touched. She craves affection but does not like to be held. She licks herself like a crazy person any time we scratch her chin. If you tap her behind, she becomes Satan. She eats anything if we don't watch her: lint, fur, comforter stuffing, string, her own vomit. She is the most skittish cat you've ever seen; if you move an inch, she freaks out.

We've often wondered if she has some sort of cat autism. She seems to get overstimulated by touch and she just acts very different than our other cats. She is also our most behaviorally-problematic cat. We love her very much. We keep her confined to her own room, which she seems to love, and then we let her out for exercise and the limited amount of social time she enjoys.

Chappy would be 12 years old now, I guess. Wow, time flies!

This is Grizzabella. She is a princess, and she knows it.

To tell you about Grizzabella, I have to tell you about Milagro. Milagro is not our cat.

Milagro was a stray (we thought) who showed up in our backyard around the end of 2018, I believe. He would visit our backyard often. He was dirty, hungry, and would sleep on our patio furniture. I remember in February of 2019 I wrote, "Two days ago it was raining really hard and [Milagro] was camped out under a hand truck we have in our backyard. He looked like he had been in a fight. His nose was bloody, his left eye was shut, and something was wrong with his paw. He also might have been having respiratory issues. He was scared and sick and wouldn't come out. After the rain stopped when we weren't aware he limped away and we haven't seen him since.

"We hope he's okay. We hope someone found him and helped him. We hope he isn't hurt or dead. We really care about the little guy and it makes us sad to not know what has become of our furry friend."

He was gone for about a month. We were afraid he had died. But he came back, and it appeared someone had taken care of him and released him. He continued using our backyard as his home base. We couldn't take him in because we didn't think he would do well with our girls. But we continued to care for him.

I can't remember when Isaias named him Milagro, which means "miracle," but he sure has lived up to that name.

Another stray cat who had come to our yard regularly was a Siamese cat named Morty. At first, Morty and Milagro would fight, but eventually they became more friendly.

Sadly, Morty disappeared, and we do not know what happened to him. But around the time, he and Milagro were still fighting, Milagro brought us Grizzabella. Her fur was incredibly matted, and she wasn't in great shape. Milagro was very protective of her and made sure Morty didn't bother her and that she got fed by us before he would take any. Grizzabella was a very scared, but sweet cat, and she knew we were trying to help her. Isaias and I would try our best to cut her matted fur, and she was very good about letting us do so. She stuck very close to the house, and I eventually decided we should adopt her.

She was extremely grateful, turned out to have a very good bill of health, and we got her shaved and integrated. Sadly, even after all this time—it's been almost two years now—Chappy still doesn't like her, and Blondie, while tolerant, doesn't care for her either. Trooper was the only one who really got along with her somewhat, and now that she's gone, the other cats have gotten more aggressive with her because Trooper isn't here to break up the fights.

What's sad is Grizzabella is such a sweet cat. She is a true lap cat, and she is my absolute shadow, following me everywhere, crying when I'm gone, greeting me at the door when I get home (almost without fail), and sleeping with me (usually on me). She is a bit of a ninja, suddenly appearing when you least expect it. And she does have a very dominant side. I think she will be the alpha cat now that Trooper is gone. She eats like a horse—probably a residual effect from her stray days. She does definitely have separation anxiety. But she is so lovable. She has made Trooper's passing more bearable for me.

Oh, and she has resting b*tch face. She looks like she's annoyed all the time, but she is so sweet. She is also a clean freak.

At the beginning of 2021, Milagro came into our yard in pretty bad shape. He had ingested something that caused corrosion in his mouth and he was having respiratory issues. We took him to the vet and took him in, although it was clear he was an outdoor cat who missed being outdoors. But while he was healing, Isaias discovered that he had a family nearly the whole time he had been coming to our yard, and because he was in our house, they had been missing him. So we reunited Milagro with his family and discovered his name is actually Cookies. The little con artist.

He'll always be Milagro to me. His family keeps a closer eye on him now, but he still visits us from time to time, and he always seems to come when we are having a hard time. He is a very special cat.

Which brings me to another special cat: our little Jasper.

We miss this guy so, so much. He passed away on October 8.

Jasper was also a stray and was in terrible shape when he came to our yard. He was malnourished, dehydrated, covered in his own feces, had matted fur, and was so sick. It turned out he was FIV+. We took him in, and for five and half challenging, but blessed months, we nursed him and got him to love and trust us. More importantly, this cat loved us unconditionally. And more important than that, he taught us how great the power of love to care for a being that is in bad shape elevates both the one being cared for and the ones doing the caring.

We were absolutely devastated when he passed rather suddenly. He was just becoming integrated with the girls at that point. I actually think he and Grizzabella would eventually have gotten along.

We also have/had to cat nephews, Donnie and Romeo. Sadly, Donny also recently passed away, but Romeo is still with my niece and nephew and their kids. We love him very much. And these two guys loved each other very much.

So that is our family.

And now this one wants to join:

More on this one in my next post.

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