Meet the Cats :

The kitty count was 5 for many years, came down to 3, plus 1 from next-door, went up to 8 (counting visiting strays), and has now settled back to 5 :

Rascal is a big soft long-haired tabby who came to us as a half-grown young cat - he just appeared in the back yard one day, and moved right in.

Rahab was pregnant and starving when she same to us. She had been hanging around for some time, but was too shy to let us near her. Then there came a day when she was too weak to get away from me, and just collapsed in the yard. I got her to the vet right away, and he warned me that she would probably not make it through the night. However, he did manage to save her life, and although she's never grown into a big cat, and still has respiratory problems, she holds her own with the other cats. She's a split-face Tortie, with distinctive gold and black markings.

Ruth is a big grey-and-white girl, whose mother Olga (she looked like a Russian Blue) stayed with us for a while but was very independent. She brought her kittens to us, and then moved on.

Rachel is another grey-and-white girl, another of Olga's kittens, but from a different litter. She's quite shy and doesn't like the other cats very much - she spends most of her time up on the balcony, which she reaches by climbing one of our trees.

Rajah is our newest kitty - and old white cat with blue eyes. He's had to have most of his teeth taken out because they were so decayed - but he still manages to eat cat crackers, which he prefers to the special moist cat food I got for him. He's the only cat to want to come in the house, and he makes a good "bed-cat" - he curls up and keeps my feet warm and stays there all night.

Cats who live on in memory

Our first cat was Jeffrey, named in honour of Christopher Smart's Cat. He was a mackerel tabby, who would come for walks with us - even in the snow. He came to us from a Children's Home - I used to do the grocery shopping for them, and one day I arrived to find that the children had found a stray cat, but were not going to be allowed to keep it because there were already several cats and dogs at the home. So I took it home. John was at work at the time. When he arrive home, the cat walked straight up to him, purring and rubbing against his legs - that cat knew exactly how to make himself welcome

Mompuss came to us very hungry and very pregnant. While I was feeding her, Jeffrey looked at me with such an accusing stare, turned around, and walked out. That was the last we ever saw of him, though we hunted all over the neighbourhood.
In due course Mompuss had her kittens, and we had the problem of finding homes for them. At that time I was working as the manager of a Baskin-Robbins Ice-cream shop, so we decided to pray that the kittens would all get good homes, and then John was going to sit outside the shop one Saturday morning with the kittens and with a can of kitty crackers to give away with each kitten. We'd thought that children coming to the shop with their parents would see the kittens and want one, but that was not how it worked out. I was working in the shop and didn't see who came for the kittens, but every now and then one of the assistants would look out of the window and say something like "Looks like there are only two left". They all found homes - even the mother cat was taken by some folk who had a stables and wanted cats to keep the mice out of the horse-feed.

Then there was Koshka (Russian for "Kitty-Cat"). When Jeffrey walked out on us, I put up ads around the neighborhood, and some-one contacted me saying they'd found a tabby cat. I went and collected what I thought was Jeffrey, being a bit surprised that "he" was a bit smaller - I thought "he" must have starved and lost weight, but then found out that "he" was a "she".
Koshka would go for walks on a leash. She came to Seminary with us, and when we worked for a year in California, she stayed with another seminary family in Ambridge. When we returned from California, Koshka walked up to us, looked at us, and sat down with her back to us. She moved in with the family she'd chosen.

Sally, a black short-hair, was our "Seminary Cat" after Koshka. Her full name was "Salvation". She was one of a litter born on Easter Day to one a Les Fairfield's cats. All the rest of the litter got Greek names such as Anastasia, but they ran out of Greek names before they got to Sally. She moved to California with us, and lived there for many years.

Jeffrey (the Second) was a tabby-cat from the Pound in Clovis, CA. We got him as a mouser for the Mission Church in Clovis. He was a chocaholic - he would steal for chocolate. In everything else he was perfectly well-behaved, but he couldn't resist chocolate.
One day I prepared cup-caked for a Church party. Some had white frosting with a chocolate drop on top, some had chocolate frosting, some were chocolate cakes with colored frosting. I put them high up on top of the fridge. In the morning I found cup-cakes scattered all along the corridor to the kitchen. The chocolate ones were eaten, the chocolate frosting licked off the white ones, and the chocolate drops eaten off the others.
Jeffrey came to Houston with us. He developed an abscess near the brain, had a seizure, and died.

Ahasuerus, named for the Persian king in the Book of Esther, was also from the Pound in Clovis, CA.
When we went to choose a mouser for the Church, I noticed a poor old cat cowering at the back of his cage. We chose Jeffrey, but when I went back the next week to get some tests on Jeffrey, I saw the old cat still huddled at the back of his cage. The girls at the Pound told me he was just about at the end of his time for adoption, so I phoned up John and asked if I could have the old cat as a Birthday present.
He was a "semi-siamese" - had the coloring, except for white paws. We had to pay an extra dollar at the Pound because he was classed as Siamese.
He was a miserable-looking cat - it was mainly his coloring, but he seemed always to have his mouth turned down. He had his own ideas about what was suitable food - when he came to us first he refused cat food and went on hunger-strike for days, and hid under the couch. We were both worried about him, but said he'd eventually give in and eat when he was really hungry - but the hunger-strike went on and on. Finally one day both John and I gave in - without checking with one another - I came home with some fish for the cat, and John came home with some steak!
When we went back to Seminary, we left him with friends in California, and he moved in and lived with them

Esther was a fluffy grey kitten. "She" turned out to be a male, but we still kept the name. "She" also went to live with friends when we went back to Seminary

Palanca was a battered old stray who came to us for help in Clovis, CA. He came to me on the back porch of our house, and sat there looking at me. He had been in a fight, and his throat was torn badly.
He healed up and became a wonderful house-cat. He was a long-haired grey Manx - no tail, just a little stub, and the longer back legs typical of Manx.
He came to Houston with us, and then to Clovis, NM. He became our "Number One Bed-Cat". He would go upstairs to bed when told to, though he would pause on every step and say "grump-grump" as he went.
If he was scolded, or thought himself in trouble, he'd hold up one leg as if to say "I'm a poor wounded cat" - but then he'd forget which leg it was that was supposed to be injured, and hold up the other one.

Thomas Cat, a pale buff-yellow shorthair was named for St. Thomas' Church in Houston. He walked into the Church as the Morning Prayer Service was starting. He was ushered out, the doors closed, and the people had their Service. The Service ended, the doors opened, the people went out, and the cat walked in again. He was about 6 months old, had been declawed and neutered, and was obviously a pet house-cat. We searched for his owner all around the neighbourhood, but no-one knew him. So John brought him home, and in due time he moved to Clovis with us. He had a favorite chair on the front porch, which caught the early morning sun, and he just loved to climb up in a lap and have his ears rubbed.

James, a dark tabby long-hair, was left behind to starve by a family who moved out of town. By the time I found the abandoned kittens, his brother was too weak to survive, but James hung on, to become the largest and heaviest of our cats. At one point he had such a low-slung belly that I thought he had a tumor, so I took him to the vet, who up-ended him, probed around, then said "Nah - good healthy fat - but then all your cats are fat!" They were mostly healthy 12-13 pounders, not really gross, but hearty eaters. James liked to think of himself as the senior cat, and tried to run off any visiting cats by doing the "gunfighter strut" towards them - like when the gunfighter in a western movie walks down the street towards his opponent. James walked, front legs bowed, shoulders swinging, nice and slowly, with his coat puffed out and tail up, as if to say "Git outta town!" James, too, tested positive for Feline AIDS, and had to be put to sleep.

Peterkin was a black shorthair who came to us as a stray at the beginning of December many years ago, right around the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6). In Germany, St. Nicholas has a black servant called Schwarzer Peter (Black Peter). Peterkin was very much the pushy irrepressible teenager : he would climb up into Thomas' chair or push his head into the feeding dish alongside any of the other cats, and play pounce and swat with anyone he could catch. He settled down into a staid old gentleman, while newcomers such as Leo and Xerxes became "Boss Cats". Peterkin spent more time at the neighbor's than with us - they fed him, and he seemed to prefer eating on their porch. One day I noticed that one of his eyes was brown instead of golden - it turned out to be a melanoma. The vet had to take his eye out, but the cancer had probably already spread, because he died only a year-or-so after that.

Shulamit (Song of Songs, "I am black but beautiful") came to us as an 8-year-old black lady-cat when friends moved and couldn't take her with them. She was our Number One Bed Cat - snuggled up and purred all night (all day too if we'd let her). Poor Shulamit got Feline AIDS. She probably caught it from a poor white stray kitty who used to come and scrounge food from the cat feeder - by the time I realized he was a stray, and not one of the neighbor's cats, he had become very ill, and also infected two of our cats.

Whisper was a tabby and white kitty to whom we gave a home while his family were posted abroad for a couple of years. He was quite shy, and spent most of his time over at the Presbyterian Manse rather than with our pushy crew.

Sam was a seal-point siamese who came as a stray and who only lived a year-or-so with us

Solomon was with us for several years - he was wise enough to come to us when he needed help, with an injured front leg. He was an old gentleman cat whose black coat had quite a few grey hairs. He only had one front tooth (but quite a few in back) - so he used to get special treats of moist cat food and a dish of milk every now and then. He'd had a rough life as a tough old stray, but was fitting in OK with the rest of the family when finally old age caught up with him.

Poquita was a black and white fluffy long-haired girl-kitty who was dropped off in the back-alley as a tiny little kitten who could fit in the palm of my hand. I was out in the garden, talking to one of the neighbours, when we saw a car drive down the alley, stop, the door open, and then drive off in a hurry, The next thing I knew, there was a tiny black and white kitten rubbing round my ankles and purring. When I got her to the Vet we found she was full of fleas and ear-mites, but otherwise healthy. Although all the other cats were so much bigger than she was, she walked right up to them nose-to-nose, and moved right in as if she owned the place. However, she got a bit too bossy, and some of the others eventually turned and swatted her in return. She would come running to us squealing as if to say "He hit me" but she didn't get much sympathy.

Xerxes came to us from the Vet's, who has a contract with the Cannon Air Force Base MPs, so that when they pick up a stray or abandoned cat at the Base they take it to him rather than to the Clovis Animal Shelter. They'd brought in a big yellow cat, and he'd stayed the length of time allowed for rescue, so the Vet's assistant phoned and asked if we could give him a home. He was a great big affectionate lap-cat who spent much of his time on the chair on the front porch.
Xerxes and Leo were so alike, that we had to keep different-colored flea-collars on them so that we could tell them apart easily.

Sheba was a calico who hung around for a while

Petunia was a black-and-white girl kitty who only lived with us a couple of years and then disappeared

Princess was another black-and-white girl-kitty, who did not live with us for very long.

Silver had all the attributes of a siamese, without the markings. He was determined to get into the house through the upstairs windows - he would tear the screens off, and even jump from the balcony onto a window-ledge several feet away. He got fed up of having to share with all the others, and walked out on them and us

Cleopatra was a short-haired calico girl-kitty from Portales. She was a stray who came to be fed at Trinity Center, at a time when I was teaching a course on the Inter-Testamental Era. My students named her Cleopatra, because she always kept herself clean and beautiful. She eventually became tame enough to become a "Trinity Cat", and when classes were over for the summer, I brought her home to Clovis, where she moved right in with the other cats.

Smokey came to us as an adult stray, who just hung around and scrounged food until he got tame enough for us to catch and get to the Vet's for neutering and shots. He was all grey, with a very short dense coat. He didn't really get along with the other cats, so moved next door for his food. He got into a fight one night, and got his eye clawed, so it had to be taken out. The vet sewed his eye-socket up with bright pink nylon - it was quite striking.

Wow was a large dark tabby who hung around the back yard for a year or so, scrounging food, but for a long time was too shy to come to us. All he ever said was "Wow", so I reckoned he was telling us his name. He was very shy, and avoided the other cats. Although he was bigger than the others he was very sweet-natured and not at all aggressive, and would turn and run when they chased him off. He came down with FIV and we had him put to sleep rather than let him suffer.

April was a cat from Trinity - she came to us in the month of April, hence the name. She was a calico, and only half-grown when she was killed by stray dogs.

Bear aka Scrag was an old long-haired black guy who lived up to his name. He had a chronic sinus infection, so his nose was always running. He was with us for a few years, until old age and sickness caught up with him

Big Yellow was another yellow stray who settled in with us for a while. Like most of the bigger cats, he was mild-mannered and didn't cause any trouble. He didn't seem to be ill, but one day I found him dead in the back yard.

Ginger was a kitten that some of the students at ENMU found - he was lying on the ground and they thought he was dead. I got him to the vet, and he recovered and was frisky for several months. Then he started having seizures and died quite suddenly

Pepper was a black kitten I got from the Pound. He was probably already sick when we got him, because he never seemed to grow or thrive. He died when he was only a few months old

Mr. Black was a very, very shy long-haired black, who also came from Trinity. He was a sweet-natured old guy, who let the other cats go to the food dish before him, and who never got into a fight with any of them. This year he suddenly became very ill, and we let him be put to sleep rather than try to keep him hooked up to IVs and in pain.

Leo came to us as a little yellow kitten whom John rescued from a parking lot in the pouring rain in Portales. He grew into a big and bossy cat, who loved to climb up into a lap and get a cuddle.

Paws was a tabby with white paws, who came to Trinity as a half-grown stray, and who then came to Clovis when the folk at Trinity wanted to get rid of the cats.
Before he came to us he must have been hit by a car or been in some other accident. The end of his tail was kinked and the hair didn't grow regularly, and one side of his mouth had been cut and then healed so that the lip was curled up - he had a perpetual smile.
He grew into a good solid cat who always wanted to be near us in the yard, and loved to be stroked or rubbed, but not picked up. He would come to the front door, ask (insist) to be let in, walk inside, and straight through to the kitchen door, where he would ask to be let out again.

For several years there were two cats next door - Negrita, who, despite the name, was black and white, and her full-grown son Sleepy, a long-haired black-and-white who lived up to his name. We don't have a fence between the two houses, just a lawn and a pine tree which the cats try to climb after the birds. There's a well-worn path in the grass, from both sets of cats walking across to check out the others' food dishes.

I've never really had much success with it (but then I haven't made a great effort either), but you might want to check out "How to toilet-train your cat" and Toilet training FAQ

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Last updated : February 9, 2017

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