Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flood o' Fuzz

I've said so before, but our place seems to have an uncanny tendency to attract abandoned cats. It has been suggested that maybe word has gotten out through the grapevine that we're like some sort of volunteer humane society or something. It may also be something psychic, sorcerous, or spiritual. I don't know, but we seem to get more than our fair share of furry refugees. For as long as I've lived here, every cat kept by our nuclear and/or extended family was someone else's cast off. A number have come and gone over the twelve years that I've lived here, but this past year in particular has been something of a spike. The fuzzy faces that have graced(?) us during that period include:


Tora 9-2009

Tora has been with us for two years now. He was first dumped off as a kitten together with one sibling and his mother at my kids' school. The mother was promptly hit by a car and killed, but the two kittens were cared for by the students until it was decided that they should be given a home. My kids begged us to take him in. He has been our resident fuzz ever since, and he's still everyone's best buddy. His recent de-nuggeting has mellowed him a lot, but he still has a lot of mixed feelings about all the other felines showing up in his realm. (Read on...)


I never did get a picture of this lovable fellow. His name is meant to be a play on the French word "gateau" (confection) and the Spanish "gato" (cat). He suddenly showed up about a year ago and made himself at home in my father-in-law's greenhouse. A roly-poly black cat with a quick smile (Sorry..."slow blink") and even quicker purr, he was such a friendly sort and had such an agreeable personality that we more or less took him in, though he was never let in the house. Mild-mannered to a fault, he never started fights with any other cats that came by, but he was big and strong enough to finish them, as Tora found out the hard way before finally learning to leave the big, black lug alone. Gateau stayed in and around the greenhouse all summer and early fall, but by late fall he started doing what male cats do best: wander off. He would disappear for days before coming back, sometimes with reports coming later of his having taken up temporary residence at someone else's house. He settled down again during the winter, where he continued to greet us pleasantly every time we hung up our laundry in the greenhouse on rainy or snowy days. However, in the spring he started wandering off again, and eventually he never came back. We have no idea what happened to him.

Shiro (The White Cat)

This was another stray tomcat that showed up and took up residence in the greenhouse. He arrived right at the tail end of summer just before Gateau started wandering off, though the two cats got along with each other so well - and had certain similarities in appearance - that we wondered if they might be siblings. However, as his name suggests, Shiro was white as opposed to Gateau's black. Also, though he was a similarly quiet and even-tempered cat, he wasn't anywhere near as friendly as Gateau. In fact, it took weeks before he would let anyone come closer than three meters except to feed him. After a while he warmed up enough to let my father-in-law pet him, but he always had a degree of skittishness. My father-in-law fell totally in love with Shiro, mainly because he was so unobtrusive, but though Shiro stayed with us through the winter and spring, in summer he started being intimidated by the other cats that were showing up, and he disappeared. He has started coming back again recently, but only infrequently, and basically only to eat before taking off again.


Hana fuzz 1

(I'll post a better picture if and when she holds still long enough for me to take one...)
In early summer we found ourselves with yet another visitor. This time it was a female kitten. It just suddenly turned up hanging around in the various bushes and gardens around our house crying almost constantly. Clearly accustomed to human companionship, it would immediately run out to anyone who came near, crying if not planting itself between their feet. My daughter said it looked just like a small kitten she and her friends had been feeding at the elementary school (just like Tora) a couple of months earlier but had disappeared. If so, it must have followed one of my kids home. At first the kitten was a horribly scrawny, scraggly-looking thing, and both my wife and my father-in-law insisted that we should just drive it away, but once my daughter started feeding it it filled out nicely and became quite the charmer. My daughter fell hopelessly in love with it, buying it its own special food and a collar with her own allowance money. My wife was totally against the idea of keeping another cat beyond simply placing food out in the greenhouse, but since the kitten had already pretty much won over everyone else in the family, it was perhaps inevitable. By the end of August it had moved inside, becoming house cat #2.

My daughter named her Hana (flower), and she really does have the run of the household. Now clean and healthy, she looks completely different from the pathetic thing that wandered into our yard a few months ago. She still has a broken squeaker, though; unless she really tries hard to say something, most of the time all that comes out is either a sort of cracked "Myah-ah" or "Ow", or else just a hoarse whisper. What's amazing is how remarkably patient Tora has been with her; at first his most aggressive act was a low "MWOWWWW" when Hana pounced on his tail. Now he'll cuff her if she pushes him too far, so she tends to keep her distance. However, she's a cheeky little thing. One of her favorite games is to charge Tora, stop halfway there, arch her back and puff out her tail, and then dance around a bit before going back and doing it again. (Tora usually just sits and watches her impassively.) However, if she ever catches Tora with his back turned, it's pretty much a given that she'll pounce on him. Sometimes he'll respond with a single, irritable swat that sends her skittering off; at other times he'll run, the little upstart hot on his heels. Although he's generally being a good boy, it's safe to say that Tora is rather less than amused, and he is tending to spend most of his time sleeping either upstairs (where Hana doesn't usually go) or over at my father-in-law's house. It's hard for Hana to sneak up on him in any case. The collar my daughter bought for her has a bell on it, and that cheerful jingling is a dead giveaway.

Hana fuzz 2

Urusai Neko (The Annoying Cat)

Urusai Neko 1

This gray molly showed up right at about the time we were starting the preparations for my mother-in-law's Shinbon last August. She (I mean the cat) is a serious pain in the arse. She's quite affectionate, but in an obnoxious way, i.e. she's the type that will purposefully plant herself in your path if not wrap herself around your feet to force you to stop. (I have already wound up stepping on her at least twice because of it, and she has tripped my father-in-law at least once.) She has an awful, piercing, nasally meow that is grating enough to hear once, let alone non-stop whenever she's hungry. However, worst of all is her aggressive pluck. Not only did she more or less drive Shiro, Hana, and (later described) Shiro-Kuro from the greenhouse food station, but during the Shinbon observances she had a nasty habit of sneaking into the house and grabbing food off the table. We also discovered that we had to be more careful about making sure the lids of the garbage cans were firmly locked down. She's still around, but is mainly to be found in the greenhouse in late afternoon and early evening, which is also when Shiro tends to come by. Father-in-law tries to drive her away while Shiro is eating, but she's a very persistent thing. It's also a given that she'll be back to eat Shiro's leftovers.

Shiro-Kuro (White & Black)

Shiro-Kuro 1

This was another cat that showed up during the Shinbon observances. At first it tended to keep itself hidden, such as under a car or a bush, and meowed constantly. As in all day and all night. Together with that nasally screech of Urusai Neko (above), it created quite an obnoxious cacophony while guests were arriving for Shinbon. Slowly but surely it started venturing out to plead to passing humans, but it would never let people approach closer than about two meters. At first we tried to drive it off (and so did Urusai Neko), but then we noticed that it had a badly-injured leg.

Trying to take care of it was difficult. Obviously in pain, it resisted all attempts to get close to it, and still tended to cry non-stop from hiding. Feeding it meant having to stand guard to keep Urusai Neko and Hana away. Urusai Neko in particular could be quite cruel to it if it came anywhere near the greenhouse. (On the other hand, I might add that I actually saw Tora come to its defense once!) Finally it just went away.

Recently it has come back, and my father-in-law has more or less taken it in, though not in the house. Its leg looks a lot better, but it still favors it. However, now that it is no longer in so much pain, it has become a lot friendlier. In fact, it is really quite a sweetheart of a cat. The merest scratch on its head causes it to double up in purry delight. The non-stop crying is also gone. Now it just meows politely when it's hungry...or gives a cheerful call when someone walks by the bed my father-in-law prepared for it in an old beer crate.

So why is it that all these cats find their way here? Moreover, what kind of cruel jackass has been dumping them off in the first place?


  • Yay! so many cats! Love this post!

    You know what? there's a believe that a house that attract cats, it's a lucky house and the people inside the house are blessed ;)

    By Blogger Selba, at 4:08 PM  

  • I certainly hope so! If that's true, our future should be secure! ;-)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:15 PM  

  • How much per month are you shelling out for kitty litter?

    Cats meow and dogs bark. I can't let my baby climb up in my lap though.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 10:29 PM  

  • Be afraid Moody, be very afraid. You will be not an "old cat lady", but something much much "OLD CAT MAN!!!!"

    (Tee hee).

    By Blogger ladybug, at 11:17 PM  

  • Sounds like a real cast of characters. Somehow I've become allergic to the little guys, but I just wash my hands after handling them. Good post!

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 1:22 AM  

  • Is Tora a Jewish cat?

    By Anonymous Dave, at 5:10 AM  

  • Dave
    Kitty litter hasn't been costing much at all. Remember, only Tora and Hana are allowed in the house. Both we and my father-in-law have been keeping dirt boxes prepared in our respective houses, but the two house cats alternate between them and going outside. Although Shiro-Kuro has also become a more or less regular denizen, as far as I know he just stays outside. Shiro and Urusai Neko come and go, and they're generally found in and around the greenhouse and garden, so they don't use kitty litter.

    Actually, it's food that is costing. Both we and my FIL keep our own stocks, and FIL also gives the cats his meal leftovers, but my daughter has a tendency to sneak food out to Urusai Neko or whatever other cat happens to show up.

    I read a scientific article that suggested that cats infect people with a type of brain parasite that has a mildly tranquilizing effect, thus making the "victim" favorably inclined toward the cat. I'm probably already a chronic case.

    My son is also mildly allergic to cats, and since he's somewhat asthmatic the doctors tried to order us to get rid of our feline family members. We refused, and so far my son has had almost no trouble. We just clean the house frequently and keep the cats off his bed.

    Dave again
    "Tora" is Japanese for "tiger" and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Torah.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:08 AM  

  • Scandalous - a teacher running a cat house!

    Sadly, there are all too many people dumping unwanted animals (that's how we got Momo the Wonder Dog). A couple of months ago there were kittens left in twos and threes around out neighborhood - at least two litters over a month. Don't know what became of them all. "Cruel jackass" indeed.

    WV - spedn: The policeman gave the stenographer a ticket for spedn.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 9:16 PM  

  • Pandabonium

    You can bet we're going to be "fixing" as many of these cats as possible...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:08 PM  

  • Nice cat tale!

    Urusai Neko looks fierce. His shade of light grey is very unusual. I haven't seen one quite like it.

    Good of you and your family to be taking them in.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 7:11 PM  

  • HappySurfer
    Long time no see! :)

    Urusai Neko is a she, and she's actually quite beautiful. She's also definitely a people cat. She always grimaces like that when she meows, and she has kind of an aggressive personality, but she's VERY affectionate. Although a tramp cat, she absolutely hates to be alone. That's one of the reasons why she's so annoying; if she sees someone outside, she'll come running and follow them around meowing that nerve-wracking meow of hers non-stop. She'll also try to wedge herself between people's legs to force them to stop and pet her. On the other hand, when I was outside weeding yesterday, she came over and lay down next to me, planting her head on my shoe as if it were a pillow. Yes, she's a lover-kitty, but an obnoxious one...poor thing.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 8:30 PM  

  • Oops! So UN is a she - no wonder she needs so much attention. LOL!

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 4:19 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home