My” Cats: So, my two guys are a little over three years old now, born April of 2017. Unneutered females can have litters six months apart, generally as a spring (specifically, April) litter and then a late fall set. My pair – a sister and brother whom I’ve named Bluesy and Jazzy, respectively – were part of a Spring litter that was born under a neighbors porch. It had been almost a year since the passing of my last kitty, Groucho, and it was time to look into adopting again. The neighbor had been handling these kittens almost from birth, so they were no longer feral in the strictest terms. They were, in act, as tame as any fuzzy set of murder mittens could ever be, and I chose the above mentioned two.

Bluesy & Jazzy today

Bluesy is solid black, more black than any other cat I can recall having seen – most black cats will have at least a small white blaze on their chest, but not Bluesy. I confess I was thinking of music when I brought them home, and my first thought with this little girl was Lady Sings The Blues. Bluesy is a good sized cat, an easy ten pounds, but sleek and athletic. Of the two, she is killer. When playing with various cat-dancer types of toys, Jazzy will bat it around with great excitement, but Bluesy will do these firecreacker leaps to capture the feather tip, and then hold onto it without any interest in compromise. I can only surmise she is the primary responsible party for the occasional, ill-advised mouse that adventured into my home, but is now blending into the cheap carpet waiting for me to step on it, as well. Neither cat is interested in eating such kills. Once the “toy” is broken, they lose interest.

Jazzy is a tuxedo cat, although the black is blended more toward gray. Jazzy could play defensive lineman for a professional football team: weighing in at well over 22 lbs, he is larger than half the dogs in the neighborhood, without being fat. I’ve been told that cats have an unusually short chromosomal chain, and thus can manifest phenotypic characteristics that vary widely from their siblings and parents. (Being short, trivial changes express themselves as significant variations.) I can believe this, because while I know they are siblings from the same litter, to see them you’d never guess Jazzy and Bluesy were brother and sister. Indeed, Jazzy shows signs of Maine Coon heritage: not just his body size, but the disproportionate size of his paws, the shape of his face, the feathering and layering of his fur, etc. When he gets a case of the ‘oogity-boogities’ and starts dashing everywhere with no purpose or destination in mind, your best hope of survival is to just freeze in place and hope he doesn’t land on you, because those aforementioned murder-mittens are fully deployed.

The Floor is Lava: Some few months back, both cats simultaneously decided that the floor is lava. No explanation for this change has ever presented itself. Happily, they do continue to use the litter box (which stays on the floor, of course), and generally seem willing enough to eat their kibble from the bowls on the floor. (Oh, yes, “bowls” plural: Jazzy starts growling like a dog if Bluesy is to close to him when he’s eating.) But a serving of canned food will not entice Jazzy to the floor (Bluesy will still risk it), and I’ve had to leave a bowl of water in the kitchen sink, because I can’t trust them to drink enough water from the bowl on the floor.

I’ve also had to move the scratching post up onto the couch, just to get them to use it as an occasional alternative to the window treatments. They still want to get from one side of my abode to the other, which necessitates some floor travel. But that travel is accomplished in a series of dashes and leaps, which can be a tad unnerving when the terminal spot for that final frantic leap is the back of my chair while I’m working at the computer (such as happened just now, as I was typing.)

My(?) Cat: Without going into details, I live on the same property as my dear friend Toni did. But she died last October, leaving me in charge of the property, her house, her dogs, and … her cat.

I’ve known this cat its entire life; I was, in fact, that TNR’d it (Trap-Neuter-Return) it sixteen years ago, when it was born feral under the trailer I was then living in. (Some “trailer trash” have Ph.D.’s) Toni was living in the same trailer park at that time (we knew each other for almost 40 years), so when I moved away – pursuing a hopeless dream of an academic career – she continued to feed this one, as well as others that I’d TNR’d. (The kitty has gone through multiple iterations of names; he doesn’t care. But he is likely to come if you call “KiKi!”, and have food. So his name now is “KiKi.”) So, fourteen years after I’d moved away, I find myself back with Toni as one of my neighbors, and KiKi still prowling the yard.

KiKi has had many years to get used to be so that now, even though he really is feral, I can pick him up and carry him short distances. He prefers to choose when he’s near me, but when I let him in, he likes to be in my lap getting scritchied and petted. He also likes snapping in the trash. I haven’t had the heart to tell him that isn’t going to be there the next time I empty it.

KiKi in his comfort zone

Bluesy and Jazzy are altogether puzzled by this visitor, but not in the least outraged or angry. They don’t hiss, nor show any sign of hostility; mostly they sniff the visitor and offer an occasional perplexed meow. I tell them it is OK, and they seem to be content with that assurance. KiKi, for his part, has always wanted to make friends with other cats. Probably why he likes me: I’ve had a number of ferals in my life over the years, and they don’t seem to view me as a human so much as a funny looking cat. That works.

While I’ve set up a heated, waterproof shelter outside for him, I’ve also been experimenting with letting KiKi come inside, which he seems to like. The first experiment with an overnighter did not end well, but I’ll spare you the details. (No one was hurt.) Still, I worry about KiKi’s health – he’s very skinny, and 16 years is an exceptionally long age for a feral, outdoors cat. So, along with everything else, I am trying to steel myself for that inevitable moment when he no longer comes bouncing over to the door, pushing and worming his way in, checking out all the food bowls indoors even though his bowl outside is being filled, yelling at me to attend to him.

So, these are my cats. Their lives are vivid, even when they are sleeping. They all come with joy and heartache, as do all lives. I hope this little moment of nothing else gives you a brief respite.