The general kittystate chez nous. (Kitty updates!)

Several of you request more frequent kitty updates, and I’m sorry I haven’t gotten better at this. I like to oblige when you make requests, so I’ll work on posting about the fur-kids more often! For now, every five-six weeks continues to be the norm.

So what have been the main points of interest around here?

1). We went out of town for Thanksgiving. While we were gone, our kitty-sitters never saw Nenette. Not. Even. Once.

We weren’t surprised. We were satisfied to hear that her food was disappearing between visits, and that her litter box was being used.

While she’s continued to get more comfortable with Callaghan and in the house, in general, poor Nenette still has a crippling fear of men and strangers.

If you remember, it was for this precise reason that our Feline Behaviorist recommended keeping Nenette here and giving someone else a chance to take Nounours home to an only-cat situation. Because of their comfort levels with humans, Nenette was deemed “not as adoptable,” while Nounours was evaluated as “very adoptable.”

(How right she was. Because of his personality, Nounours was indeed Mr. Popular at the shelter, and he was adopted by his ideal cat mom within two months.)

When we adopted Nenette, she was confined to a small see-through container in a window at PetSmart with nowhere to hide, so we couldn’t fathom how afraid she was. At the shelter, where visitors get to wander amongst the many available cats, she wouldn’t have been seen. Or she would’ve been seen cowering in a corner. Either way, people would overlook her. People are naturally drawn to cats who come up to say hello and ask for pets, like Nounours the Snuggle-Monster, who loves all humans indiscriminately.

Nounours is in Nounours Paradise with his doting Mom and no competition, but Nenette is still working on overcoming her severe social anxiety. At least our Thanksgiving kitty-sitters have seen pics of her!

That aside, she’s very happy when it’s just us.

2). On her part, Cita is very happy in the winter cabin we’ve created for her in her laundry room. I lined and padded the spacious, highest shelf and covered it with a soft blanket, and she loves it. She has little pillows up there, and at night, we make a cozy bed with a kitty bed (she likes to sleep against it rather than in it, which works well because of its high sides), her pillows, and her bouillotte (soft hot water bottle covered in cozy fabric). She has a space heater and a cat door and a lamp for lower, warm lighting. I spend the working hours of my days in there with her, as I use the washing machine as a standing work station. As far as she’s concerned, Cita is indoors.

She still goes out and gets beat up now and again, talking trash to other cats in the hood. She cannot tolerate other cats (unlike Nounours, who simply resented competition). Twice, we had prospective families for her, and both times, they fell through. But looking at the situation with clear eyes, we can see that she’s simply happy here, on her property, with us. We do what we can to minimize her chances of getting hurt.

Without further ado, enjoy some pics!

Inside fur-child (evidence that Nenette exists):

 

Nenette's favorite place to sleep: In her kitty bed. On her chair. Next to my side of the bed.

Nenette’s favorite place to sleep: In her kitty bed. On her chair. Next to my side of the bed.

 

It’s chilly now, and kitties are in full-on snuggle mode.

 

Nenette reached out to touch my face just as I was about to take this picture.

Nenette reached out to touch my face just as I was about to take this picture.

 

We put up a Christmas tree in anticipation of family from Europe coming to visit for the holidays. As far as we know, Nenette had never seen a Christmas tree. We haven’t decorated it yet… so far, it just has the lights that came with it.

 

Nenette doesn't know what to do with this fake tree in the house.

Nenette doesn’t know what to do with this fake tree in the house.

 

As for Cita, our outdoor fur-child:

 

Cita reminds me of a cartoon character in this pic. I just can't think of which one.

Cita reminds me of a cartoon character in this pic. I just can’t think of which one.

 

She loves plants more than anything.

 

Plants are Cita's favorite things on earth.

Plants are Cita’s favorite things on earth.

 

And she loves her bed in the laundry room!

 

A sudden sound outside caused Cita to make this face just as I was about to take her picture.

A sudden sound outside caused Cita to make this face just as I was about to take her picture.

 

That’s it for now! I’ll try to post kitty updates more often in 2017. I can’t believe we’re within weeks of the new year. Yikes.

“Who saved who?” Nounours’ happy beginning! (Kitty updates.)

Nounours. Precious Nounours.

When we gave him up for adoption, our dream scenario for Nounours was that he’d go home with an older lady who lived alone and loved cats and wanted just one cat on whom she could lavish all of her love and attention, all day long.

“Everyone wants that for their cat,” said the adoption manager. “But unfortunately, that very rarely happens.” She imparted the reality gently, with careful kindness.

But six weeks later, our perfect dream for Nounours came true.

A group of donors visited the cattery, as groups of donors do, meeting and interacting with the cats. One of them emerged from Nounours’ room and remarked that he would be perfect for her mother-in-law, who lived alone and wanted a cat who would sit quietly on her lap. After just a short visit, it was clear that sitting quietly on a lap was Nounours’ area of expertise.

The mother-in-law came to visit Nounours. She went into his room and stayed for an hour. Then she came out and said that Nounours was The One. When she returned to complete the adoption process and take him home, they opened the kitty carrier, and he “strolled right in.”

Nounours had spent six weeks snuggling and purring his way into everyone’s hearts. He had been very popular at the cattery. He was a rock star, literally… because of his personality, looks, and ability to sit still, he’d been chosen to appear in the shelter’s 2017 calendar. The photographer loved him. All of the shelter workers and volunteers loved him. They were happy for him when he met his Mom and went home with her, but they were sad to see him go, too.

That is Nounours. He is an angel with healing gifts.  We knew that Nounours would be the one saving a life… and he did.

Nounours had several other adoption opportunities, but because of the shelter’s excellent vetting and matching-up process, he went home with exactly the right person for him. Nounours now has all the love, lap-time, and undivided attention he deserves. We are grateful beyond words.

 

Sweet Nounours.

Sweet Nounours.

 

…and we still love him and miss him so, so much.

As for updates chez nous, things have come full circle. Cita has returned to ruling her backyard, where she has the run of the land… and Nenette now has the run of the house.

We gave it a good shot, a solid shot, but all of our procedural efforts were to no avail. Cita is fearful and defensive and cannot cohabit peacefully with another cat. As always, our goal is for everyone to be happy, and her happy place is her (our) backyard. So we took her back to the vet for her booster shots and a flea & tick treatment. She’s now fully vaccinated, flea & tick’d, microchipped, and name/phone number tagged, and she’s back to rolling in the dirt, as happy as a clam. She truly loves to roll in the dirt.

 

Trend-setter!

Trend-setter!

 

But she does clean up nicely.

 

Cita: Methinks the bougainvillea pot is incomplete without me.

Cita: Methinks the bougainvillea pot is incomplete without me.

 

And this lawn.

And this lawn.

 

And this cinder block.

And this cinder block.

 

She rarely leaves her beloved backyard. It is her kingdom, and the patio we’ve begun to enclose in greenery is her house. She eats on the cloth-covered table, and for sleeping, she has her choice of four chairs, two barstools, and a cushioned seat. Her preferred bed of the moment is one of the barstools. It’s cool enough for her to go into her laundry room, now, too. We keep that door open for her.

So that is Cita.

And here’s the current state of Nenette:

 

Nenette's "Why aren't you playing with me" face.

Nenette’s “Why aren’t you playing with me” face.

 

Testing out the new rug under Mommy's "desk" (dining room table)

Testing out the new rug under Mommy’s “desk” (dining room table)

 

Mom! IS NOTHING SACRED?

Mom! IS NOTHING SACRED?

 

 

The end.

Nounours: Noon rising. (Kitty updates.)

It’s time for a kitty update, and I don’t know where to begin.

It’s been an emotionally turbulent summer.

We wanted to do everything right for our cats, and in the end, it was recommended that we allow our beloved Nounours to be an Only Cat in a household with no other cats.

But it’s not “in the end.” Because for him, it’s the beginning. It took weeks of gentle encouragement and sometimes bizarre twists and turns as we navigated our confusion to come to terms with this, and I’m still grieving his absence from our lives.

It started in June when I called a Feline Behaviorist to ask one question: “How can we get Cita to stop growling?” We thought there would be a straightforward answer to our straightforward question, but she asked more questions about each cat, which led her to focus on Nounours.

Her questioning took us back to the beginning. Nounours loved his Ronnie James (Wrah-Wrah). Wrah-Wrah had been ill the whole time we had them both, though we didn’t know it until he arrived at his last nine months as a cat.

What we mostly saw – and what we mostly remembered – was Nounours nurturing his brother during that time of advanced illness. We remembered the depth of his grief after Wrah-Wrah passed. We remembered his magical love that he continued to express by cuddling with Wrah-Wrah’s urn. Our hearts broke even more as we saw that Nounours’ heart was broken, too.

Nounours’ boundless love and caring for his brother crowded out other memories. We didn’t remember things like Nounours always trying to eat Wrah-Wrah’s food, and taking over playtime so Wrah-Wrah would be chased out of the game, and pushing Wrah-Wrah aside to make room for himself on our laps, even though there was more than enough love and food and playtime and lap-time to go around.

Our expert consultant explained that these things weren’t the little, petty things we thought they were. They were indicators that Nounours would be happiest in a house with no competition, and we should let him have that chance. She explained how we could enter him into the best no-kill shelter with the best adoption placement program in Arizona.

Both times I had this conversation with her, I sobbed, and both times (and in emails, too), she reminded me that none of this was about us, Callaghan and me. It was about Nounours, and what would be the right thing for him, rather than for ourselves. We had to leave ourselves and our own desires out of the equation.

So Nounours has embarked on a new journey. Sending him off was one of the most difficult things I’ve – we’ve – ever done. I have never done it before, and I never thought that I would.

I wrote my last kitty update post in the middle of July, and the next day, we put Nounours into the arms of a compassionate woman who assured us that he’ll be matched with the perfect family for him. We went to the vet first so we could deliver him with a complete copy of his medical records. We gave a monetary donation to the organization on his behalf. I asked if I could write Nounours’ blurb for his gallery profile, and they told me that I could. I was grateful to be able to do.

Nounours is staying in a new, state-of-the-art cattery, where he has a small room all to himself with a revolving door of volunteers and visitors who go in to lavish attention on him. We were very, very lucky to be able to secure this space for him. He is not in a cage. He is not on death row. He is not unloved or forgotten. But neither is he with us, and selfishly, I wish that that could be different.

Hindsight is the cruelest beast. If we could travel back through time, the one thing we would do differently is we wouldn’t have adopted Nenette. We adopted her for Nounours thinking that giving him another sibling to love would help to ease the pain of his loss. We made the wrong decision with the best intentions. Had we not adopted Nenette, Nounours would be the Only Cat he needed to be. We mistook his despondence for grief and loneliness, but it was just grief. We didn’t know then what we know now.

Unfortunately, life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book where you can go back to change your decisions if you don’t like the ending you got. You can only go forward.

We always promised Nounours that we would make sure he’s happy and safe. I didn’t think that honoring that promise could ever mean giving him up for adoption. No matter how true it is when someone says, “You have to do what’s right for him,” or “You have to take yourself out of the equation… it’s not about you,” I still feel like we failed him.

We miss Nounours beyond words. We miss our big teddy bear who is such a formidable armful of cuddly love. But now it’s someone else’s turn to hug him, kiss him, and stroke his pink nose. We had our turn, and we have our memories, and we’re grateful.

We’re grateful to have had Nounours for the time that we had him, and we’re grateful for the beautiful facility that took him in. We’re grateful for the Feline Behaviorist whose compassionate wisdom, counsel, and encouragement helped us through this difficult realization and process. We’re grateful for the love and understanding of those of you who already know about this.

This might seem like a silly comparison, but it’s meaningful to me, since I’ll always only have furbabies: As an adopted person, I now have a renewed and stronger sense of empathy, appreciation, and respect for my mother who put me in a foster home when a social worker told her that it would be the best thing for me. I now have an inkling of how she must have felt. She relented to let me have a chance at a better life, and I am eternally grateful to her for having had the strength to allow for that.

I did not feel strong when we took Nounours to see him off. I fell apart.

No one but Callaghan and I can know what we all went through in the making of this heart-wrenching decision. No one can possibly know or understand the complexity of the situation, the extent of it or the history behind it. There’s much more to our story, and it’s too much to recount here.

All anyone can know and trust is that we did as advised to complete Nounours, and that it was tremendously hard, and that we did it with tremendous love.

We requested to have Nounours addressed by others as “Noon” because it’s less confusing and easier to pronounce. He can answer to it. We didn’t want the sight of his name to stymie visitors. But that’s neither here nor there. We were told that with his outgoing personality, Nounours will be adopted, no problem. Socially outgoing cats attract would-be cat parents much more readily than skittish cats who are fearful of humans. Nounours is a lover-boy who adores everybody, and he’s afraid of no one. These traits make him very adoptable.

We’ve also been assured that the adoption placement program’s protocols include the screening of potential cat parents. Nounours will start his new life in a healthy and stable environment; he will not be given indiscriminately to just anyone.

We will be notified when he’s adopted.

Finally, we’re comforted to know that Nounours’ new life will save someone else’s. Nounours is truly magical. His love and purrs have powerful healing properties. Some lucky person or people will hug him and kiss him and snuggle him and bury their face in his fur and come to know that power, and they will have it in their lives to cherish and be grateful for, as we were grateful. As we’ll always be grateful.

 

Nounours-Noon.

Nounours-Noon.

 

B*tch, please. (July kitty updates.)

If you follow here, you might be wondering how things are going with the furkids. The short answer is, it’s going. Everyone is healthy. There’s more than enough love, affection, and laser-beam entertainment to go around. We’re all getting used to playing musical kitties between rooms and areas of the house, but this is not the ideal situation; it’s temporary.

Sporadic and very vocal skirmishes did lead us to a point, though. We finally had to decide on a course of action, and it was the only rational one: Set them up for rap battles.

Rap battles are battles that cats can wage without claws.

Such as it is that all three kitties now have rap names.

  • Nounours: MC Nooner-Noonerz.
  • Nenette: MC PlayaLot.
  • Cita: MCita NightJamz.

 

Here’s how these cool cats are faring:

MC Nooner-Noonerz (Nounours)

 

B*tch, please.

B*tch, please.

 

MC Nooner-Noonerz drinking water between rounds.

MC Nooner-Noonerz drinking water between rounds.

 

MC PlayaLot (Nenette)

 

Rapping with her good-luck feathers on the mic.

Rapping with her good-luck feathers on the mic.

 

MC PlayaLot chillin' like a villain.

MC PlayaLot chillin’ like a villain.

 

MCita NightJamz (Cita)

 

MCita NightJamz warming up backstage.

MCita NightJamz warming up backstage.

 

(Like Nenette, Cita immediately developed a fondness for this silly porcelain cat on my desk. The appeal of said porcelain cat to real cats will remain one of life’s great mysteries.)

 

Talking trash: "Choke! Choke!"

Talking trash: “Choke! Choke!”

 

It was a draw. They’re all so determined!

Not sure if any of this answered questions you may have had about these little guys. It answers a lot for us, though.

By the way, none of the above pics was photo-shopped. Here’s my favorite example of a photo-shopped cat pic:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-TheMagicOfPhotoshop

 

Until next time, then.

How I manage my mental illness.

I’ve touched on some of this in various posts in the past, but I’ve been asked to share an actual list of tactics I use to maintain my mental health.

First of all, I accept that PTSD and clinical depression are a part of who I am. Mental illness and the management of it are “my normal,” and this acceptance helps a lot.

It also helps to accept the fact that just as there are great days, there are horrible days, and days ranging between the two. Sometimes, all the meds and talk therapy and things on the list below just aren’t enough. When this happens, I try to recognize that “this, too, shall pass,” keeping it all in perspective. (I know that this is so much easier said than done. I can say it easily now, when I’m not at the bottom of the abyss of hopelessness and despair. All we can do is try.)

That being said, here’s my list… things I do to manage my mental illness:

1). I avoid alcohol (with few exceptions).

Alcohol is a depressant. It also counters or otherwise negatively interacts with medications taken for mental illness. Consuming alcohol on a regular basis is never advisable for the mentally ill.

2). I take medication and talk to my therapist on a regular basis.

Meds and talk therapy are basic, first-line tactics of controlling mental illness. It’s critically important to adhere to such a routine and to have my external resources at hand. I regularly visit my doctor at the V.A. hospital, and I know that I always have access to emergency help at a national veterans’ crisis line.

3). I work out and try to eat well (within reason, making sure to maintain a healthy balance).

Exercise heightens our mood by way of its effect on our brain chemistry. It leads to improved physical fitness, which improves our physical health. (For this reason, more and more companies are including gym membership coverage fees in their employees’ benefits packages.) Improved physical health reduces stress and makes us feel more energetic and better about ourselves, in general. Choosing healthier food options most of the time comprises the other half of this picture.

4). I have routines, and I stick to them.

Routines are underestimated and even sneered upon. We like to say that spontaneity is critical to quality of life, and there is certainly something to that, but the fact is that routine can provide us with mental health benefits, too. Routines are valuable. They can be soothing when everything else is chaos. Routines can give us a sense of control and accomplishment.

5). I eliminate toxic factors in my life (to the best of my ability).

The word “toxic” is overused in our current vocabulary (instigated, I suspect, by self-help gurus, but that’s beside the point) – and yet, it captures this point well. In a nutshell, a toxic factor is that which makes us feel badly about ourselves. It’s a negative and destructive force and presence in our lives.

Toxic factors can include situations, places, and/or people and relationships. It’s not always possible to eliminate such factors; when we can’t, we can seek out ways to lessen their negative impact. I recently liberated myself from an utterly demoralizing situation, and that leap hugely improved my mental health and quality of life.

6). I engage my creative energy to the fullest extent possible.

If you have creative juices, let them flow. If you have hobbies, indulge in them. If you don’t have a hobby, get one. Losing ourselves in the physical act of doing something we enjoy goes beyond mere escapism. It often involves honing talents with which we’ve been blessed. The act of doing something physical that requires the creative part of our brains is beneficial to our mental health. There’s a reason why occupational therapy is a part of an in-patient mental illness patient’s prescribed agenda.

7). I have cats.

Connecting with animals on an emotional level and caring for them has proven to be a powerful stress reducer, improving our mental and physical health. Our relationships with our pets can actually extend our lives, improve the quality of our lives, and even save our lives. I can’t think of anything that can compare to cultivating the love and trust of an animal. (I say “animal,” but this applies to birds and fish, too.)

 

Nounours: Please to not underestimate the healing powers of my purrs.

Nounours: Please to not underestimate the healing powers of my purrs.

 

8). I actively express my compassion for others in one way or another, however small.

Example: I don’t have time to physically go and volunteer at homeless shelters, so I choose to do my part by providing with water. I make sure to have one or two small bottles of cold water with me when I leave the house, especially in the hot months.

We buy generic water in bulk, keep the bottles in the refrigerator, and give them to the homeless when we see them on the street or at a red light. (Admittedly, I try to identify those homeless who are vets, though I’ll give water to any homeless person, of course.) Every time, without fail, the person takes the bottle of cold water with visible – sometimes overwhelming – gratitude and joy, which they express in such an open and heartfelt manner that I’m instantly put in empathetic touch with their plight. Water is never an unwelcome thing. The person usually opens it and chugs it immediately.

Kindness is invaluable for the human spirit.

Giving water to drink means and accomplishes much more than giving change or a dollar. Giving water with a smile is an act that says, “I recognize that you’re a human being and deserving of this basic, life-saving thing. Someone cares about you and your well-being.” I don’t think it’s necessary to explain how showing compassion to the needy can be anything but beneficial to all involved.

9). I set goals for myself and plan things to anticipate.

I believe I devoted an entire blog post to this. Having agenda items to look forward to is a pleasurable thing. It can also, in the worst of times, give us a reason to keep on keeping on.

10). I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. (Still trying. Still mostly failing. But still trying).

This can’t be stressed enough: Adequate sleep and quality sleep are important for optimal physical and mental health and well-being.

11). I count my blessings and nurture my relationships with loved ones.

One word: Gratitude.

Being grateful for what we have – and who we have – is an incredibly powerful reminder that things could always be worse.

 

Keeping it real.

Keeping it real.

 

That sums it up: In addition to acceptance, meds, and professional talk therapy, I manage my mental illness by working on physical health, stress reduction, and gratitude. I try.

Changes in the hizzy. (Kitty updates)

I usually present my kitty updates on the positive end of the spectrum of current feline happenings. Today, I’m here on a more subdued note, but a positive one nonetheless. Things are not always sunshine and happy bunnies throughout. Things are sometimes dark rain and miserable bunnies, but even on those days, you can usually find a sun-splashed cloud somewhere.

[/cheesy metaphor intro]

After my kitty update post last week, things amongst the felines took a turn from the challenging to the Very Challenging. But we are working through it.

It’s funny. I thought I was knowledgeable about cats and inter-cat relationships, and my knowledge was on point at one time… but now it’s out of date. I mean, it’s funny how you don’t realize that your information is outdated until you trip and fall on the evidence right in front of you. With my knowledge lagging back in the Dark Ages, and Callaghan following my lead, we’ve made some mistakes in the last two weeks.

In short, it’s been a Rumble in the KittyHood.

It’s been the KittyPocalypse.

It’s been exhausting.

It was time to call an expert.

I consulted a renowned Feline Behaviorist, and with her compassion, talent, expert analysis, and guidance, we’re heading back to the ol’ drawing board  (cats in hand) to start afresh. As far as we’re concerned, no one up in here knows anyone.

Goals! Lots of goals.

At present, I’ve got some new kitty pics to share.

Cita:

 

Cita, "Cat with big paw"

Cita, “Cat with big paw”

 

Cita exploring the mysteries of life on the table of death.

Cita exploring the mysteries of life on the table of death.

 

Before I moved my working set-up out to the dining room table...

Before I moved my working set-up out to the dining room table…

 

Nounours:

 

Nounours, our teddy bear with glassy eyes.

Nounours, our teddy bear with glassy eyes.

 

Our beloved Nounours.

Our beloved Nounours.

 

Nenette:

 

When Nenette hears her name.

When Nenette hears her name.

 

When Nenette doesn't hear her name. "Cat draped over a living room speed bump"

When Nenette doesn’t hear her name. “Cat draped over a living room speed bump”

 

Obligatory upside-down kitty pic.

Obligatory upside-down kitty pic.

 

Our goal… all we want!… is for everyone (meaning the cats) to be happy together.

Cita’s in da house. (Cat mom blog/kitty update.)

The short story: Our neighbor didn’t care about his cat. We fostered her in our backyard, and we have her inside now because he moved away and left her homeless. That happened on Saturday.

The long story: To be clear, we never took her and put her in our backyard. She came with the house… I mean, the day we moved in, she greeted us on the doorstep. She was the one-cat welcoming party. We thought she was a stray.

We found an old paper plate holding the remnants of cat food next to the house. We assumed it was for her. Maybe someone who used to rent our house abandoned her…?

She looked to be healthy and well-fed for a stray, but it seemed that she occupied the entire block. We thought maybe she ate off of old paper plates at different houses on the street. She didn’t continue to eat off of paper plates at our house, though. We resisted putting food out for her. If she did have a home somewhere, we didn’t want to encourage her to hang out on our property more than she already did.

The few neighbors we got to know said that they often saw her around in their yards, but no one knew if she belonged to anyone. Everyone thought she was a stray. She was “The Neighborhood Cat.”

She was cute and obviously intelligent. I went out of my way – way out of my way – to ignore her the whole first year we lived here, because I know me. I didn’t want to get attached to someone else’s cat. She was always here… in the front yard, at the front door, on the patio, on the side of the house, in the backyard, at the back door. It was hard to ignore her friendly meows and her soft, furry little body winding around my ankles, but I managed to look the other way. For a long time, I never even looked down at her, because I didn’t want to see her eyes.

We started referring to her as Ronnie James’ girlfriend, as she and the Wrah-Wrah fondly gazed at each other nose-to-nose through our living room window. (Our cats never go outside.)

Ronnie James died in the spring. The little black cat kept hanging around. Renters living in surrounding houses came and went. No one knew her, but everyone knew her.

In the late spring, she appeared to be pregnant. Then she vanished for a month, only to reappear looking not pregnant. She had to have been in some house somewhere, we thought.

At the end of the summer, visiting relatives stayed with us for a couple of weeks. When we gathered on the front patio to enjoy the night monsoons, the little cat would be there, too, purring under the hands of our cousins. She was cute, intelligent, and affectionate.

One afternoon I rounded the corner onto our street as I was walking home from work, and she came sprinting toward me with utter glee from the other end. I was taken aback and amazed that she saw me from so far away, especially since I was still in my ignoring-her phase. That was the day I broke down and petted her. How could I not?

Predictably, I started to fall in love with her as I relaxed my guard. The week of Halloween, I kept a vigilant eye out – black cats on the street tend to be more at-risk during Halloween.

Finally, about seven months ago, Callaghan managed to approach the mysterious occupant of the house next door. (Not the various bros in the house on our other side. We knew them, and they knew nothing about the little cat.)

“Oh yeah, that’s my cat,” the neighbor informed Callaghan.

We never knew the guy’s name. We knew that his house had a revolving door through which different people would pass at random times 24/7, but he himself was hard to pin down. “She comes and goes. Sometimes she’s gone for days. There was this one time my friend saw her at the Circle K,” he said, referencing the convenience store/gas station down the street.

We couldn’t believe that anyone could be so nonchalant about his cat roaming around outside, eating off of old paper plates at different houses and ending up at gas stations.

He also told Callaghan that he’d had her since she was a kitten. (Me to Callaghan: “WTF! How can you have a cat since she was a kitten and then leave her outside to fend for herself?”)

It’s one thing to let your cat outside. It’s another thing to leave her outside to the point where everyone thinks she’s a stray.

The neighbor went on to confirm that his cat had been pregnant, and he had her spayed after the kittens were born. With this, we had to believe that she belonged to him. (We don’t know what happened to her kittens. We never saw them.)

This last December, the cat appeared in our backyard laundry room on an exceptionally chilly day. What could we do? She seemed hungry and cold. It was too much. Compassion insisted that we drop our demeanor of indifference, neighbor or no neighbor. We lined a cardboard box with blankets, put it against the wall by the dryer, and set out dishes of dry cat food and water. From that day on, she made our property her official home base. She’d go out and make her morning and evening rounds around the neighborhood, and then she’d come back to our house. Always.

At some point, the neighbor acquired two more cats… male cats. He left them outside, too, of course, and they bullied the little black cat, who by then we’d named “Cita.” (If she had a name before, we never knew what it was. The guy never told us, and we never heard him calling for her.)

We habitually chased the other cats off our property when we’d catch them menacing Cita. Ferocious cat fights would wake us up in the middle of the night. One morning, we found her on our back patio with a big, oozing wound on her flank. We were furious. Why didn’t he care?

Recently, I saw her limping after jumping down the fence to get into our yard, so we cut out a little cat door for her at the bottom of the gate. The gratitude she displayed when we showed it to her was heartbreaking.

Cita played with the cat toys we put on the back patio. She used the litter box we put out there, too. Yes, an outdoor cat used a litter box! We spent more and more time with her, just hanging out and bonding. She’d already gotten to know Nounours and Nenette through the windows. I started to tentatively include her in my Kitty Update posts.

Despite everything, we assumed that the neighbor would want her in the end. He didn’t. On Saturday morning, the day after I included her in my last Kitty Update post, he drove off with all of his stuff in a giant U-Haul truck and left her behind. He never came around asking about her. He literally abandoned her.

On the one hand, we were sad for her. On the other hand, we were glad that he didn’t take her away to be neglected somewhere else.

Suddenly, she was officially our responsibility.

We bought her a collar and a tag.

 

Pink and leopard print jewelry for Cita, my cell phone number on the back of the tag being the most important part, of course.

Pink and leopard print jewelry for Cita, my cell phone number on the back of the tag being the most important part, of course.

 

We took her to the vet that same day before we brought her into the house.

 

We agree. Cita is a gorgeous cat, and now she's a vaccinated and microchipped cat, too.

We agree. Cita is a gorgeous cat, and now she’s a vaccinated and microchipped cat, too.

 

Then we brought her home. She’ll never go outside again, because she’s our cat now, and we don’t have outdoor cats.

We thought Cita would rebel and demand to go out, but she didn’t. She politely asked to go out just twice, but she wasn’t upset when we didn’t open the door. It was almost like she was testing us to verify that she wasn’t dreaming.

Cita’s transition from outdoor cat to indoor cat went seamlessly. As for her relationship with Nounours and Nenette… that’s a different story. The first two days went pretty well, but today, Day Three, they took a step (or three) back, which is why this post is late. I’ve spent the morning babysitting, herding, and supervising cats. It will take time. We’ll get through it. We will persevere!

Here is Cita before (outdoors):

 

Cita: "Under my tough street kid exterior I'm really a pampered house cat."

Cita: “Under my tough street kid exterior I’m really a pampered house cat.”

 

And after (indoors):

 

Cita: "See! I AM a pampered house cat."

Cita: “See! I AM a pampered house cat.”

 

Cita’s “before” pic was taken just one week ago! She’s stayed glossy and black since bathing herself for the first time indoors. She’s no longer a dusty desert kitty.

 

Now Cita can bathe without having to lick off layers of desert dust.

Now Cita can bathe without having to lick off layers of desert dust.

 

Here she is after just one night inside:

 

Cita's first morning as an indoor cat.

Cita’s first morning as an indoor cat.

 

It’s wonderful to see her so happy!

 

Nenette and Cita resting together in the dusk.

Nenette and Cita resting together in the dusk.

 

(Don’t let that peaceful picture fool you. It was World War III in here this morning.)

Hopefully, Cita will never have to employ her survival skills again.

Cats are domestic animals. Just because they can survive outside doesn’t mean they should be outside. There are dangers outside! At heart, all cats prefer to be indoor cats. Cita hasn’t looked back.