The house of many cats

Welcome to all who enter here! This site is dedicated to all of us deviants who own more than two cats. Of course, you folks who only have one or two are welcome also, but beware, I can't be held responsible if you have a sudden urge to get another cat or two.....or three.

It is also dedicated to Dr. John Black, D.V.M. and ALL the girls at the Monroe Veterinary Clinic, who probably had to get a separate floppy disk, just for all my cats, the ones I have kept and the ones who have found their way to new homes.                             (See I DON'T keep them all!)

You have how many??
How many times has this happened to you?? A co-worker, looking at the pictures pinned up in your cubicle at work, asks, "How many cats do you have, anyway?" The standard, patented answer is, "Oh, not that many, a lot of these pictures are the same cat." OR "To many, but I am looking for homes for a couple of them." (This is, of course, a blatant lie, but better to lie than let them know your horrible secret.) Judging the person quickly, you assess that she would NEVER want a cat, so to make "home hunting" lie sound even more convincing, ask her if she would like one. She will beat a hasty retreat, almost always saying, "Can't, I'm allergic." She won't be back.

It's a strange thing in our society, but people would less dumbstruck to hear that you are the missing Heir to the Russian throne, Anastasia, frozen for 70 years in a glacier in Siberia, just recently discovered and thawed out, than to hear you say, "I have 18 cats in my house." Family members make excuses for you and you find yourself trying to fool your own Mother into believing all the different cats she keeps seeing is, actually, the same cat.  Now I can't speak about your Mom, or Dad, or Sister, or whatever, but mine is not that easily fooled. She may not remember all their names, but she does notice a difference between a fat, full grown, long haired, black cat who lumbers by, and a trim, shorthaired 6 month old who races by. Of course, it is a little more difficult when you have about 12 that are all different colors. You might be able to fool people if they are all the same color, but when one is white and one is black, it's a little tougher. Once you have exhausted all the excuses such as, "I'm cat-sitting for my neighbor," or "The vet asked me to keep it for while," and no one is buying it anymore, you have to bare your soul, and confess. "YES, YES, they are ALL mine!!"

Stand proud!
Once you have purged your soul and refused all counseling; straighten your shoulders, throw out your chest, hold your head up high, look them dead in the eye and firmly state: " And I am proud of it." Once the initial shock is over, no one will clutch their chest and keel over. They may sputter a little, so have a tissue handy, but other than that, nothing terrible happens. Depending on your situation, you may hear what I heard. "All these cats.....and dogs too???"

I also have a dog.  An aging Standard Poodle named Abby.   Abby has a live and let live attitude, and the truth is, dogs and cats can live together very well.   The worst threat Abby is to them is stepping on them because her eyesight is not very good anymore.   Abby is 14 years old now and is doing pretty well considering she shares the house with 18 cats.

What's in the color?

I have often been asked, "Does the color of the cat make a difference in their personality?" The answer is "YES!

BLACK CATS: Black cats get a bad wrap. In many cultures, past and present, they are considered good luck, not bad. But throughout history, they have been tortured, burned at the stake, associated with witches and people still cross the street to keep from having one cross their path. In truth, I have found them to be the most loving and gentle of cats. Mine love to be held, cuddled and will look lovingly at you whenever you give them the chance. They snuggle in at night, want to be put in a bear hug and go to sleep that way. Black cats are my favorite and I have four of them. My dearest cat friend Newton, was black and I will miss him as long as I am alive. They tend to be shoulder sitters and love to watch you play cards, dominos or do the dishes. They sit on the sink with worried looks on their faces while you shower, convinced the evil water will harm you somehow and are overjoyed when you emerge, alive once again. Black cats are special.

CALICOS: Calico cats come in two varieties. One that is mostly white with small splashes of orange and black and those that have fairly equal amounts of color and white. I only have one calico. She is the mostly white variety. She is a snob. She is vain. She seeks out mirrors so that she can admire herself. She stands on a chair in the kitchen and looks at her own picture on the wall. I moved her picture once and she was quite distressed. It was obvious to me, as I watched her, that she was scanning the wall, looking for HER picture, which was now directly above where it had been. She doesn't like where it is now. She can't see it as well. The other type, the equal amounts of color variety, seem to be more turbo-charged. They don't believe in being subtle in their seeking of attention, with coy looks and cooing sounds, no, they are in your face, here I am, love me, I am cat, hear me roar. By the way, most, in fact, almost all, calico's are females. A male calico is a very rare cat indeed.

 MOZART                                                                           NICK

TUXEDO CATS: Tuxedo cats have very distinct markings. White down their face, chest, tummy and socks on their feet. They get the name because they have the appearance of always being ready for any formal affair. They are dignified and stoic. In the perfect tuxedo cat, one side is a mirror image of the other. They hold their heads high and mine at least take no back talk from anyone, no matter how big. While this is, for the most part, a humorous look at the trials and tribulations of have so many cats, there is the occasional sad story. But it will, perhaps, give you some insight into the strong personality of the tuxedo cat. My dear Kallie was dying of Lymphosarcoma. I had done everything I could think of to keep her alive and make her healthy again. It was not to be. It was 10 am on a Sunday morning and I knew it had to end. A vet in a nearby town would open for a few hours at 1 pm. I decided to take her there and let her have some peace. She was lying on the couch and as I sat on the floor next to her, she suddenly sat up, threw her head back and let out the loudest scream I have ever heard from a cat. It was not a scream of pain, but of anger and it startled me. She then laid back down, tucked in her front paws, as cats do, put her head down and stopped breathing. Just like that, she died. But she was angry about it. Like a Klingon, she let the Gods know a warrior was coming. Thus is the strength of the tuxedo cat.

TABBY CATS: Tabby cats come in several colors and patterns. The one determining factor is that they have an "M" on their foreheads. The more perfect the M, the better it is....or so I am told. I have an orange tabby named Oliver, and a brother- sister combo grey tabby's.  They are very loving and great cats.   They can come in almost any color.
     They can be striped or have "bullseyes" on them.  But they are one of the oldest colors with a good survivablilty rate due to their built in camouflage
.  Dexster is pictured.

SIAMESE: I have two siamese. A sealpoint called Einstein and a bluepoint called Sagan. Einstein is named after..well that's pretty obvious and Sagan, after Carl, of course. Einstein is the typical siamese. Sleek, svelte, beautiful seal brown points and incredible blue eyes. He is not terribly big, about 8 lbs. Sagan, in comparison, is huge. He has ice blue eyes and why they call them blue point I'm not sure. His points are gun metal grey, not blue. He barks, like a cheetah and loves to talk. Siamese don't have to be nasty. Many people say they wouldn't have one on a bet. They got a bad reputation in "The Lady and the Tramp" and never recovered. Mine are smart, loving and even though Einstein is one of the smallest cats in the house, he is the top banana. He rules with iron paw. Sagan is totally subservient. Steiner loves kittens and will thump anyone who gets to rough with one. Sagan hates kittens. As cats go, Siamese are the aristocrats, I think. They add class, beauty and elegance.


PENELOPE                                                                                                   MISHA

TORTIES: ( Tortoise Shell) Torties come in all shades. Their unusual distinctive marking is the line of demarcation they usually have that runs down the middle of their face. Unlike calicos, they look like a painters drop cloth. The colors all run together. This gives them an odd appearance. Not everyone likes Torties. I had a grey tortie and she lived to be an amazing 22 years old. How she managed this I don't know. She was pushy, nosy and bossy. I used to raise Standard Poodles and had 5 of them. On occasion, two of the girls would have a "difference of opinion" about something. Now, anyone who knows anything about dogs will know, if two males fight, it is noisy, brief and rarely has any injury as a result. Females are a different story. You must break it up. When this would happen, we would grab a tail and pull them apart, not wanting to stick our hands in the middle of all those teeth. The old cat didn't like it when they fought. She would run right in the middle of it all and start swatting them in the face, telling them off all the while. This little 10 lb cat, right there in middle of snapping jaws, never got bit. For those who may not know, Standard Poodles weigh about 55 to 65 lbs. They are not little fluff balls. She took no backtalk from anyone, human or otherwise. I have two dark torties now, a mother and daughter combo. I had brought Megan in one day because I had been feeding her on my porch for the entire summer and decided it was time. She tore my room apart and demanded to be let out. So I let her out. She is a very smart cat. She came back that night with her two kittens in tow. She is just like my grey one. Nosey, bossy and fearless. I guess it's the color. Or my old grey cat reincarnated.
BI-COLORS: I don't have any bi's, so I don't know about them except to say they are probably like the color they have the most of. I don't have any white cat either. Not that I wouldn't have one, but they usually get snapped up and you don't see to many of them as strays. Everybody likes them.
The long and the short of it
I have only one true long hair, Macbeth. He is black, lazy and fat. But I love him anyway. He to was nearly starved to death when I got him and he has an over bite that makes him look a little like Bugs Bunny. When he walks, he rolls back and forth like a raccoon. But, being black, he is as sweet as the day is long. Long haired cats have to spend more time grooming and bring up more fur-balls for you to step in on your way to the bathroom at night. Yes, there is no feeling quite like it.   Squishing a furball up between your toes in the dark. I also have two semi-long haired tabbies. By that I mean they have pantaloons and long hair on their tails, sort of like angora cats. One is even a polydactil, whom I have named, amazingly, summoning all my creative talents, Polly.
What's in a name?
I love naming my cats. I put a lot of thought into it. Their names are: Einstein, Sagan, Ariel, Chelsea, Lor, Macbeth, Shannara, Sabrina, Dexster, Polly, Zackary, Megan, Penelope, Mozart, Misha, Jack, Nickolas and my baby, Indiana Jones.   My cats do NOT answer to kitty kitty. They all know their names and answer to them. I have the name Garbo reserved for some fem-fatale I come across someday. Maybe a long haired pure white one, that would be pretty good, don't you think? I guess the important thing is make the name fit the cat. It should not be something stupid or common. Give it a few days, something will come to you.
Is there always peace in paradise?

Can 18 cats co-exist in the same house without problems??

No, they can not. I was watching a PBS show on Lions one night, and this large pride turned on one female and threw her out. Just zeroed in on her and drove her off. If she tried to return, they attacked her. It didn't matter how much she groveled, they wanted her gone. She eventually joined another pride. If she hadn't, she would have died. They speculated as to why she was singled out. Was the pride to big? Was this natures way of preventing inbreeding? Possibly is was both. It is amazing how similar our domestic friends are to their very large cousins.
     Lor was a feral cat rescued from the pound. For a very long time, he was accepted in the group and there were no problems. However, as the number of cats grew, a serious thing happened. Lor was thrown out of the pride. For some reason, unknown to me, he was singled out and shunned. He began living under the couch. I would have to pull him out and make sure he ate and got water. It got so bad they began to harass him even under the couch. I had to take action. When my son got his own house, his bedroom was turned into a room I call "The Lair". My brother even made a plaque for the door. I made cat ledges for him to perch on, high up and has his own bed, a window and most of all, he has peace. Some of the cats that are still friendly with him visit him during the day and spend the night. Every once and a while I try to bring him out to the living room just to see if he wants to try to rejoin the group, but he wants no part of it. I truly believe he will never be accepted in the group like he was before. But he is happy in his room, or he seems to be, so I guess I have to accept that. He doesn't mind sharing the room with my Mom when she visits and she doesn't mind him, so it works out ok.
There can only be one true leader of the pride and it must be you. If a bully starts in on one of the more timid ones, you must put a quick end to it. I didn't see it coming in time to help Lor, but I have learned. I no longer tolerate the singling out and tormenting of one cat. My exerting of my dominance has stopped any further "shunning". Now, a word from me, my voice raised, and a scolding using the offenders name, usually stops them dead in their tracks. A quick shake finishes the job if the word is not enough. You must exert your place as head of the pride. If you don't, chaos will follow. It is a constant job so if you find yourself with several cats, be prepared to be ever vigilant or pay the price.
 LOR UPDATE :  Lor has now moved into my room.  When I go to bed and close the doors, he comes out, stretches and eats and plays with the "friendlies" I allow in the room at night.

My cats?? No, they're darlings..
     One cat can cause some trouble with curtains, wallpaper and other household items. Two, are double trouble, but 18 is an amazingly destructive force. They have learned that wallpaper can be pealed off and when it does it is great fun to see how much they can remove. I think they have turned it into a competition. They have shredded my shower curtain and attack me through the holes while I am showering. They have a beautiful cat pole that goes from floor to ceiling, with ledges and a house to hide in. However, my woodwork, doorframes and cupboards are more fun to sharpen claws on. I have managed to keep them from destroying most of the furniture. They like to watch TV, especially hockey when the puck is lit up. Needless to say, you can buy every toy ever made, invent a few yourself and they will still amuse themselves anyway they feel like it.

I personally don't believe in declawing, but many people do. Just remember, be extra careful your cat can't get outside if you do declaw. I can only hope they are all spayed and neutered by 6 months. If you don't, you will be hip deep in kittens in nothing flat. The last thing we need is more unwanted kittens. My vet had a poster up that had 10 of the cutest kittens on it you will ever see. The caption said, "Take one and kiss the rest goodbye." On average, only one out of ten kittens born survives to adulthood. These are tragic numbers. The shelters and pounds destroy tens of thousands of cats and kittens all over the country every year. Not to mention the ones that starve, are hit by cars or die of disease. Be a responsible cat owner. Spay and neuter your cats.
Tears among the smiles
I would be irresponsible if I made no mention of the heartache that can accompany having so many cats. Most of us don't set out to have so many. It sort of just happens. In my case, my job seems to lead me to the unwanted, the hungry and the abused. I can't resist bringing them home. Having the best of intentions, I brought disaster and death into my home. I brought home a beautiful black kitten we named Socrates.
After some calming down and love, he turned into a wonderful young cat. Just before his appointment to be neutered at 6 months, he developed large lumps on both sides of his neck. Being quite ignorant at the time about cat diseases, I took him in thinking infected saliva glands or something. Something that an antibiotic would take of quickly.

The nightmare that started that day has not ended. I had brought the plague into my home and to all my cats. They were not vaccinated at that time and each and everyone of them was exposed to one of the most dreaded of cat diseases; Feline Leukemia. Before the dying stopped, five were dead. Three we know were because of FeLV and two that are possible but not proven. Socrates, Newton and Kallie all died because of FeLV. Felix was an old cat that had been having thyroid problems for several months and the medication seemed to making him worse, not better. Mitscha died suddenly, catching us all off guard. One day she was normal then next she was dead.

While it is certainly possible FeLV hurried or caused their ultimate deaths, I can not directly attribute it to the disease. At this writing, I still have two that are positive.  The others are now vaccinated and I hold my breath all the time. Someone sneezes or sleeps a little more than normal and I start to worry. I still have three that were exposed to the original carrier, that tested negative, that could convert to positive at any time. I watch their every move. Are they losing any weight? Aren't they shedding a little more than normal? Who sneezed? Are there any bumps on their necks? You can become neurotic worrying about it.

I have two simple words for you: ISOLATE and VACCINATE. No matter how healthy that cat or kitten appears to be, isolate them until you can take them to your vet for a check up and testing. If you are like me and already have some positive cats in the house, you must isolate all newcomers until two weeks after the second FeLV vaccination. There is a mixed opinion about allowing positive cats around negative ones. Some vets say the vaccination will protect them. Some say the odds of infection are increased, even if the cat has it's vaccination. I had to decide what I wanted to do. Obviously, the only sure way is to have all infected cats put to sleep or remove them from the home. Neither of these was an option for me.

After the death of the third cat, Kallie, from Lymphosarcoma, I decide to take matters in my own hands and see what was out there that can be done to help FeLV positive cats. I had tried a drug call ImmunoRegulin on Kallie, but found out afterwards that it is ineffective against tumors.  I  put the positives on this drug and two are alive and healthy after a year. Totally symptom free. There are no guarantees in life and I take it one day at a time, grateful for each one. In my case, with the exception of the two siamese, all would have dead if I had not taken them. They were on death row, or starving or going to dumped by someone who didn't want them. I KNEW the risk. I isolated and vaccinated and then turned them loose. How happy would they be segregated? Or should I put all the positives in one room and isolate them? Who gets to be alone, feeling as though they are still unwanted and unloved? Everything I have read about the vaccine says they are at least 70% effective up to 99% effective. Every day these cats are alive is one more day than they would have had. They are never hungry, cold or alone. They have toys and poles to climb and play on. If one of them gets sick, I will be upset, I will treat them and do everything in my power to make them well again. But I take comfort in knowing that whether they live a year or 20 years, it was a wonderful life.

There will always be the guilt over what I did. Because of ignorance, several cats died, and several more might die before it's over. I can't undo what I did, but maybe I can help others not make the same mistake. Everyday brings the new hope of a cure, of better vaccines and a long and healthy life for our friends. It is our responsibility to stay up to date on new treatments and ways to give them a good life. They trust us, and in return, they give us love, comfort, joy, laughter and, when that time comes, tears and a life time of memories. Those that go before us will wait at the bridge, patiently waiting and watching over the ones that remain here with us. Who knows, maybe, from time to time, late at night, they visit.
Cat's meow

Our cats talk to us every day in all kinds of ways. Learn to listen to them. Watch their body language. Look at their eyes and if they meow at you, try to repeat that sound back to the. You may feel silly at first, but they seem to appreciate the attempt. If you have as many as I do, it is important to address each by their names and give each one individual attention every day. It's not easy, but vital. Jealousy can be a huge problem so give lots of attention to all. Cats often head-butt and rub their face on you. The head-butt is a greeting and the rub, well, they are marking you with scent glands they have around their whiskers. But be honored, they are marking you as their property, letting every one know you belong to them. Well, all the other cats can smell it anyway and they don't hesitate to try and cover it with their smell. I have found that after my nightly shower, there is a great deal of head-butting and cat kisses as they busy themselves remarking me. Most of all enjoy them, love them and care for them. They will take good care of you. They will be there when you're happy and when you're sad. And they will always have more fun with the box than the toy inside.

Happy tails
Whether you have one cat or twenty, each is an individual. They all have a distinctive personality. They have good moods and bad. If you are lucky enough to have them with you for 15 or 20 years or only 6 months, that personality has touched you in ways you can't imagine. Learn from them and never forget them. Cherish the time they are with you and when they are gone, always remember this, they are never truly gone as long as there is some kitten cowering in a dark alley or a cat starving and alone in a field. In their memory, take that lost soul into the fold and unlock it's secrets to be shared. After all, there is always room for one more!

Merlin, my magic man, went to the bridge on March 12, 1998 after a valiant fight against feline leukemia.  His magic lives on in my heart.

I would like to mention my brother, Larry and his wife, Bette, themselves owned by 13 cats, for letting me use a picture of their Kaelyn.  Three cheers for them for taking in a blind cat when no one else would. Kaelyn, you are one lucky cat!






















Please visit this site that will give you volumes of information on Feline Leukemia.


You will also find a list group of people who have or have had cats with FeLV and related                                                diseases.  Come join us!

This is Jack.  He has an interesting story.  Jack came to my porch everyday, hoping for food.  He always found some.  But Jack was very wild.  If he even saw me looking out the window at him, he would run away.  One day, I saw that his eye had been badly damaged.  So I live-trapped him.  Thinking he was feral, I figured I would have my hands full.  Well, it turns out Jack was not feral at all.  He had been so abused by humans, he just was to afraid to let anyone near him.  Even tho he was terrified, he let me transfer him from the trap to a carrier and he went to the vet.  There was no hope for his eye.  It was lost.  A BB gun in the hands of some thoughtless, cruel human.  He was neutered, tested and his shots started.  In his weeks of isolation, he let me pet him and then even hold him.  As I pet him, I could feel where he had had his ribs on one side caved in and most of his ribs broken.  When the vet felt it, he said probably a kick when he was young.  Jack has had so much pain and suffering at the hands of humans, but he is happy and safe now.  And he is big lover always wanting held and pet.  Nothing makes me happier than to see him rolling around playing with a toy.  To know that he feels safe enough now, to actually play and enjoy his life.  If you see someone being cruel to an animal, step in and stop it.  Report it.  Do something about it.  Don't wait.  They don't have much time.

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since October 25, 1998.

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