At approximately eight months old, Herman arrived with a blizzard that shut down Lexington, Kentucky and the nearby town where we lived. As a sticky substance had hardened his long hair like a turtle’s shell, I ran him to my vet during a lull in the storm. I picked him up two days later. Herman was nekked! When his hair grew in with dark-ginger markings and a lush feathery tail, we were perplexed as to how such a gorgeous cat became a stray. Then spring arrived, and Herman demonstrated how that happened by bolting out the door.
In October 2011, Herman joined Twitter’s Anipal community as @TattleCat and catapulted from exasperating to exceptional. My dad suggested I write a children’s book about Herm, saying his “stuffed toy” appearance would appeal to kids. That book became Finding Mya. But it wasn’t Herman’s face that made him exceptional. It was his remarkable love of riding with me on long drives from Tennessee to Michigan, seated in my lap throughout the night, fascinated by brightly lit trucks as they roared past. He then sat beside me on the flight to Las Vegas for Blogpaws 2014, and walked on a leash for the first time around the hotel grounds, as well as on the red carpet for the awards dinner.
Herm continues to amaze me with his human-like perception, and animated facial features that clearly reveal his joy, boredom, anger or disgust. He is the most amazing cat I’ve ever known, and that’s why he has three exclamation marks after his name.
Herman has gone into the hardboiled detective business and opened the Wonderpurr Detective Agency. Read Sherlock Herms Purranormal Mystery Series »
She makes the day brighter, she leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes. And because she’s high-spirited, clumsy, and loves to climb, she also leaves a trail of broken tchotchkes. Yet her happy-go-lucky personality and beautiful face charms me, even as I sweep up the pieces of my lost treasures. Dori arrived in my yard as a kitten accompanied by her mom, dad, twin sister and two brothers. I threw myself on the mercy of a rescue group to find them homes. Dori had five offers, but when my husband began calling her ‘Peanut,’ I knew she wasn’t going anywhere. I named her Adorapurr for her adorable face before I discovered she’s a tomboy who loves to wrassle. I should have called her Elly Mae [Clampett]. I thought she’d outgrow it, but she still loves to Indian leg-wrestle her fur-sibs, with bunny kicks to the groin.
She shadowed Herman during her first year to learn the protocols required of living inside a house. Now, with the addition of Candy, it’s Dori’s turn to teach her indoor etiquette. Dori tweets as @Adorapurr and recently joined Sherlock Herm’s Purranormal Detective Agency. I have to warn her not to take over the series. Herman is Sherlock Herms, after all.
I thought the tiny orange kitten in my yard, eating kibble alongside raccoons and opossums, was feral. When he trotted toward a mama fox and her kit, I stopped him from becoming dessert. He wasn’t feral, just scared, and his undernourished body made him look younger than three months. For the first week he ate lettuce, spinach, greens of any kind as he had survived on plants. Today he is sixteen pounds, so clearly he suffered no lingering harm from early starvation. His sweetheart is Peaches and he has a bromance going with Jack. However, Opie is jealous of the attention Herman receives, and will step on his tail or poke him in the ribs if he thinks I’m not looking.
About Chauncie Marie
Chauncie began her life as a stray called ‘Chauncy’ by my neighbor who thought she was a boy cat. Chauncie had to prove she was a girl by having kittens. As motherhood wasn’t her thang, she left her kittens with my neighbor and moved into my yard. There she would hide in the bushes, and then jump out to smack Peaches or Opie on the bottom, sending them flipping tail over head with surprise. She had a good life as a yard cat. She lounged in the empty 3-tier fountain, nommed my rubber flip-flops, and shredded fragile plants for pure enjoyment. In winter she had a cozy shelter on our porch with a deep camp chair, blankets and a heat lamp. When we had a vacancy, she applied, was accepted, and moved indoors where Opie and Peaches eventually forgave her for smacking their bottoms. Her kittens, Bucket and Barney, still live with my neighbor. They are both girls.
What do you do if you are an unwed mother of two and just lost your home? You move in with me, of course. After giving birth under my neighbor’s deck in 2009, Peaches found the entrance and exits blocked to keep her out. So she moved her kittens to my porch where she gradually learned that not all people have cat issues. She soon requested permission to enter our house, and would come and go at her leisure. When she moved indoors permanently, she became the first female Alpha of the Wonderpurr Gang. Though loving and easygoing, she never forgot her Mom-skills and uses them to keep the peace. She extends her dominance to include me if I’m not fixing her breakfast by six a.m., and will launch onto my chest to wake me. Peaches is the mother of Jack and Jesse, and possibly the grandma of Gidget. While her sweetie is Opie, she doesn’t play favorites and is friends with all of the cats, including the new girl, Candy.
Born under my neighbor’s deck to Peaches, the tabby kitten I’d named Jack accepted my attention right away, and allowed me to carry him inside the house to cuddle, especially during storms. With a full belly, shelter, and no reason to be afraid, Jack had a good life. A year later, he disappeared. When he returned weeks later, he walked in circles, off-balance. Diagnosed with a double ear infection that damaged his inner ear canals and left his neck permanently crooked with a head tilt, he had no coordination and would run into walls. The lengthy stay at the hospital also damaged his ability to trust people, including me. When Jack made friends with Opie, my husband, Ray, and I used that relationship to show Jack he had no reason to be afraid. He would watch Opie enjoy our attention, and seem no worse for it. It took three years, but Jack’s fears finally faded. Not enough to receive physical attention, but he no longer runs if we look at him or talk to him. Ray had a breakthrough last fall when Jack willingly stretched out his paw to touch Ray’s finger. Jack has also begun to dance on his back legs in hungry anticipation of dinner, and will allow me a quick neck rub while his attention is on his food. He seems genuinely happy. He gets along with all of his fur sibs, but his friendship with Opie is beyond special. Every night the two of them crawl into their chair and sleep wrapped in each other’s arms. It’s been slow progress, but we are certain Jack will eventually learn to trust again.
Within a few weeks of moving to my yard with Peaches and Jack, the black kitten I’d named Jesse disappeared during a tornado that fell a huge tree on our roof. I feared the worst. About three months had passed when I saw Peaches on the porch, staring into the woods. Her body language implied danger, but then she shot across the yard with Jack in tow to greet a young black cat. Jesse had returned! He never did say where he went, but his homecoming was celebrated with his mom and brother licking him clean of his adventure stink. He continued to come and go for a couple weeks, but when he returned for good, he brought with him a tiny black female kitten. Quiet and dignified, he isn’t one to roam far from the yard. He gave up his carefree lifestyle when Yum Yum, a semi-feral Siamese stray, bedazzled him with her exotic looks and ocean-blue eyes. They had two glorious years together. Then, as suddenly as she arrived, she left. I tried to explain how wild women just can’t be tamed, but his heart was broken. Today he shares a garage bachelor apartment with Dori’s dad, Nikolas; content to bask in sun puddles in summertime, and heat lamps in winter. He tells me he’s done with women for good.
The kitten Jesse brought home looked like him, sleek and black with bright green-gold eyes. Though shy, she had an affectionate personality with quirky, non-stop movements that made photographing her nearly impossible. For the first year all I got was blurry pictures of her lying on her side, because she would start flip-flopping the moment she saw me. My vet said her miniscule size made her a target for hawks, so inside she came.
Until we adopted Dori, Gidget was “the baby.” But Dori’s arrival upset Gidget. They ignored each other, but on occasion will have slappy-paw girlie fights with closed eyes and turned heads. Now with the arrival of Candy, Gidget has transferred her dislike of Dori to Candy. She take advantage of when I’m seated on the sofa to perch behind me and head-butt my hair. She will do the same at night, flip-flopping across my pillow…head-butting my hair. It’s sweet but…enough already!
Nik brought his family to my yard one dreary winter evening. While he waited for adoption, he hung out in my spare bedroom with his baby mama and four kittens that included Dori. Sweet and silly, he loves to play laser light chase, surf a rug I pull around the room, and flip-flop when he sees me. His high-pitched squeal of delight reminds me of my beloved Nicholas who had died in 2012. I’ve never given two cats the same name, but I wanted to honor Nick’s memory, so this time I did with a slight change in spelling. Nikolas’s favorite perch is atop my neighbor’s roof where he surveys his territory, and will occasionally jog through the house to see what everyone is up to, then jog back outside to see what he’s missed. His goofball personality gained him the nickname, Nikolas Ridikolas. He look so similar to Jesse that I cannot tell them apart until Nik opens his mouth. Nik is a talker. He’s also long-winded. I hate to be rude, but sometimes when he’s droning on and on…describing his day on patrol in infinite detail, I really need to be elsewhere. But when I try to excuse myself, he will grab my ankle and hold on to keep me from leaving. Nikolas enjoyed a close relationship with his daughter, Patsy – Dori’s twin – but when she moved in with a neighbor, Nik found companionship with Jesse. They became a couple of bachelors, eating together, sunning together; arguing their Repawblicat and Democat differences with loud pawlitical debates at dawn. Life was good. Then a shabby tabby named Frank rolled into town.
One spring, a rough-looking tomcat swaggered into my yard with the attitude of an outlaw. Clearly he had won a few brawls, despite his chipped ear. Nik and Jesse blamed Frank for their womenfolk leaving, but since neither of them were trained in combat, they did no more than sit atop the fence and cuss at him. Meanwhile, a sick ginger cat named Joshua arrived. Territorial with a capital ‘T’, Frank decided to take him out…and I don’t mean for bacon beers. He wanted him dead or gone. Didn’t care which. Whatever Joshua had been through in his life had taught him to be wary of strangers, and he would flee when he saw me. He also had cage phobia, so until I figured out how to trap him, he was at Frank’s mercy. I recall the day Frank was hell bent on mauling poor Joshua. I grabbed a broom to sweep Frank back while he tried to dodge me to get to Joshua. At one point, Frank became so enraged, he decided to attack me. Still, I continued to sweep him back until, after a good twenty minutes, he heaved a big sigh, and flopped down. I then offered him lunch and he followed me to the house.
It took months of patience, and a good snip to his personal business, but Frank gave up his outlaw lifestyle to join the Wonderpurr Gang. Today he has the best of both worlds. As an outdoor cat he patrols the borders for stray toms, and joins Nik and Jesse in their sunrise pawlitical debates as an Indepawndent. As an indoor cat, he enjoys privileged access to Ray’s Man Cave where he used to sleep until he recently crawled into our bed to sprawl between us. His former lifestyle took a physical toll in the form of hip dysplasia and arthritis that makes him walk real slow in cold weather. He didn’t have a good start in life, but Frank now has a life worth meowing about.
Candy slid into lives like a baseball player sliding into home plate. We never before had a cat who walked from the life of a pregnant stray to a tame house cat, accepted by all. Everyone…except Gidget…loves her. While outside Candy ran in fear from Frank, who is serious about his job patrolling our property for wayward strays. But once inside, she didn’t seem to recognize him, nor did he recognize her. Now he gazes her at with a sloppy grin on his face and his tongue hanging out. Sigh! Thank goodness they’re both neutered! Candy adores Dori the most, and while Dori loves having an active little sisfur to play with, I’ve noticed Candy can be relentless, so we now have a kitty time out tent, and yes, Candy spends about an hour a day inside it. Candy is currently in training to attend Blogpaws.