Present: Charlie and Sunny
In early November 2018, I accidentally came across a complete stranger’s tweet that someone else I’m following on Twitter had liked or commented on … and they were looking for a new home for their cats. And they were living in my area.
After exchanging a few messages with the two fur babies’ then-owner over the course of the following week, I finally was invited to come and meet them. We — the cats and me — were instant friends. (OK, the toys, treats and tuna I took may have helped … but chiefly, it was all about love and attention.) I hadn’t brought any cat carriers, the idea of the visit having been nothing more than an initial get-to-know-you meeting, and of course, I hadn’t been the only person to communicate my interest, either … but by the end of my visit, it was clear how the chips had fallen. So, they immediately came home with me after all, and I made a second trip to their former home that evening, returning their empty carriers.
Charlie and Sunny spent the first night in hiding but started exploring their new home the very next day — and the rest, as they say, is history. They were 15 months old when I adopted them, so I hope we’ll be together for a looong time yet. They’re brothers from the same litter; born on a farm, but have grown up as indoor cats. And they’re just best and most affectionate little boys ever! Charlie’s name just fits him perfectly; he is a veritable little character: fiercely intelligent and devoted, but also very much “his own man” — he wants the world to be the way he wants it, and there’s an end to the matter! Sunny had been given the “Man with No Name”‘s first name (Clint) by his previous family, because they initially couldn’t make up their minds how to name him … to me, his loving and cheerful personality suggested a different name rather quickly: I had started calling and thinking of him as my little sunshine virtually right from the start — he simply lives and breathes love and affection in everything he does.
The photos on this page are all from their first week or so in my home — obviously, in the interim there have been plenty more where these came from!
In early summer 2017, I let myself get talked into adopting one of our local animal shelter’s “experienced owners only” special needs cats — I guess that goes to show what happens if, in dire need of cuddly creatures and kitty love, you innocently inquire about a pair of kittens that have, alas, been decided to go to other new parents in the interim. He was extremely bright, but had evidently grown up as a stray, was totally unused to (and distrustful of) humans — hair trigger default communication mode: monster hiss and razor-sharp claws … so much for the “cuddly creatures and kitty love” thing — and had been diagnosed as FIV positive to boot. It was quite a while until he was finally ready to come home with me, and unfortunately, he was not even destined to stay with me for an entire year; I lost him again in April 2018. As he’d had quite a difficult life and thus required a fair amount of “investment”, emotionally and otherwise, it also took quite a while for me to get over his loss — and and my heart still bleeds whenever I think of him.
The last survivor of what once used to be a trio of adoptees, she finally left me, alas, on December 27, 2016 – I had her from age 6 weeks onwards. Like all of my cats prior to the present duo (Charlie and Sunny), a rescue: She was born in Grand Canyon National Park, where some unfeeling people had left her pregnant mama behind to give birth alone, in the wild. Mom and most of the litter unfortunately didn’t make it, but two adorable identical twins (later named Holly and Molly) were taken to the shelter where visitors to the park have to drop off their pets during their stay. One of those visitors was me. From the first moment I saw her, there was not an iota of doubt that she was going to come home with me.
Holly was a complete and total snuggle bunny, incredibly affectionate, and frequently incredibly funny, a downright little clown (and I am firmly convinced, totally on purpose) – never mind that from early on, she also appropriated the alpha role in my four-pawed family and she was clearly of the opinion that humankind’s true role in life is to serve their feline princes(ses). But she did it all with so much charm and love, you just couldn’t help but love her back and fulfil her every wish! 🙂
Holly’s kidneys started ailing in early 2016, and they finally failed her over Christmas of that year. She bravely fought a losing battle, and I will never forget her love of her humans which she conveyed to us until her very last breath. She is now resting in our building’s ample garden, very near the spot where we already buried Gypsy and Tiger (see portraits below). I want to believe that they are reunited in a happy place.
Gypsy was my very first cat — he showed up one day towards the end of the spring term in my neighborhood at university: a scrawny, dusty gray furball who had obviously spent a considerable amount of time outside; long enough to start being scared of humans, however desperately he needed to be fed. My landlady, a cat owner herself, eventually managed to coax him close enough to the house in order to be able to pick him up and give him a new temporary home on her (fenced-in) back porch, where she, her boyfriend and I proceeded to take turns spending time with him and slowly earning his trust. Once properly taken care of by the vet and brushed, he revealed himself to be a darling creature with shiny, soft black fur, and the gentlest and most unassuming tomcat that ever breathed.
When it came time for me to move away, there was no question but that Gypsy (who by that time had long moved into my own room) was going to accompany me. When, a little over year later, Holly came to join us, he at first registered marked (and for him, extremely rare) dissent, but tiny little creature that she was, she didn’t give up trying to win him over, literally getting closer to him inch by inch and day by day, until finally — within approximately a month — one day I came home to find them curled together ying-yang style. From that day on, she was the (other) great love of his life, and he became a total pushover for her every whim, though most of the time all she really wanted was his love and attention … and she generally got it, too!
I never knew Gypsy’s exact age, but he was with me for almost 10 years, and his last vet thought that he had probably lived to a downright biblical age for cats — almost certainly 19, if not even 20 or 21 years. He died in April 2008, and there’s not a day that I don’t miss him.
I didn’t want a third cat. For two years I kept telling my petsitter, who was active in all sorts of animal rescue charities, that I thought it would be unfair to Gypsy and Holly, and probably also to the new cat, to add one more to their company. I very much doubted that the changed dynamics were going to work. For two years, my petsitter kept telling me about every new rescued litter she had temporarily taken in and urged me to come and take a look at them. For two years I refused, knowing full well that it would take me about a nanosecond to cave and change my mind.
One day, I stopped by her place to drop off something — and it turned out she had just taken in another mama cat and her newborn litter; this one literally rescued from a dustbin.
I took one look at them. I caved instantly. (It even took less than a nanosecond, I believe in hindsight.)
So, Tiger came to stay with us. Like Holly, she was about 6 weeks old when I adopted her. Gypsy, as in Holly’s case, initially played Mr. Grumpy, but accepted her much quicker than it had taken him to accept Holly (having concluded, obviously, that the addition of a new cat to the household wasn’t going to deprive him of my love and might even have its advantages, in providing him with a new little playmate). Holly, on the other hand, was furious — at me, first and foremost, for daring to inflict competition for my love on her. Wasn’t she the cutest cat on the planet? Was her love suddenly not enough for me any longer? — It took some serious talking to her and a lot of love, pets and treats to make her understand that she was not being sidelined. Eventually she grudgingly accepted Tiger’s presence, even though she and Tiger never grew nearly as close as she and Gypsy had become at this point.
Tiger was, like Holly, extremely affectionate as a kitten, but became a downright tomboy as she grew up; without ever losing her fondness for pets and attention, though.
She suddenly started to lose weight in early spring of 2012, but was at first declared in no serious state by her vet. The vet prescribed pills for her liver, which was showing slightly less than normal test results (“but nothing truly worrying,” I was told). Within a week, she was so ill that she could hardly move. I took her to the emergency vet service. Ultimately, she was diagnosed (by the same vet who only a week earlier had told me that there was nothing seriously wrong with her!) to have advanced cancer of the liver; so advanced, in fact, that nothing could be done for her.
She, too, has been missed every single day, ever since.