It's become apparent in recent weeks and interacations with friends and family whom I have not seen in recent months that I am a cat lover/cat collector (Do not tell, Henrietta — I think she suspects but let's not announce it too publicly).
When I am greeted by a friend or family member and one of the first things they say to me is, "So, how many cats do you have now?" It gets a person to wondering… am I cat collector?! Actually, no. I do feel thought that cats are like potato chips and who can truly enjoy just one?
Growing up we lived on a farmette — we had a few acres of land, I had a pony then got a horse, we had at least two dogs at all times and had a couple of indoor cats and a plethora of outdoor/barn cats. I think when you live in a rural area and have a large garage/barn people feel that they can simply drop off unwanted cats and kittens and they will fare well. At our home they did fare well. We did take many of the cats to the vets to get neutered or spayed and we did fix them a place in the barn that was warm, hay-filled, and safe from the elements or other strays. They ate well and were probably as happy as our indoor cats and they certainly helped with the mouse population.
Each of the cats that made their way into our barn, and into our hearts were all named, loved and mourned when they passed. When I got older and moved into my own place I adopted one cat… and then another. I admit that at one time we had six indoor cats. I find it hard to say "no" when I see a cat that needs to be adopted and typically I don't.
Thankfully, I have never had too many issues with introducing a new cat to the menagerie — there are a few days of hissing and ill-tempered behavior but it typically clears itself up in a day or two and then everyone is happily sharing a food dish and sleeping areas. I've never had any litter box issues with the kitties or even much scratching. The cats have all gravitated toward one particular kitchen chair and we have kept that available for them and they're content to scratch that, their scratching posts and nothing else — I call that a win!
Currently (for those of you keeping count!) I have four cats: Jessie is our talkative tortie — she craves attention, drools when you pet her and rarely breaks eye contact. As I said, she is a talker; if you look at her she will follow you around the house chattering away.
Parker is the "old man" of the house. He is relatively aloof but he has taken every new kitten that has come in under his wing, trained them, spent hours washing and grooming them and loves to sit on the bar in the shower staring out the skylight. In fact, he loves to stare at his reflection in any shiny surface he comes across. Parker spends a bit of time every day howling — we don't know why but he wanders around the house making a mournful noise then stops — no rhyme or reason.
Clyde, is my daughter's cat. She rescued him when she saw a box of kittens on the side of the road at a fruit stand that said "take us." She took him. When he came home he was infested with fleas, his hair was matted, his eyes were goopy and he was generally a mess. I had no compulsion to pick him up and love on him until he was cleaned up. He is now the friendliest cat in the house. He also plays fetch. If you throw a tiny ball or piece of paper he will spend hours chasing it, retrieving it, dropping it at your feet and waiting for the fun to begin again. When he walks into a room where there are people he throws himself on his back, splays out and simply lays there purring. He is also a begger at the dinner table. When we're eating a paw will simply appear on the table and Clyde will be patting around the table to see what he can snag. In the two years Clyde has been in the house he meowed fewer than a dozen times — he is not a talker.
Lucy is the last kitten I adopted. My daughter showed me a picture of her that the local shelter had posted on Instagram and I was smitten. I went to the shelter (and refrained from adopting her other three siblings) and brought her home that afternoon. She is what I consider a "typical cat" she lets you pet her when she wants attention and no time sooner. If I'm petting her for too long she will bite. I am the only one she will allow to pick her up and mine is the only lap that she sits on. She rubs on me constantly as if to make certain everyone knows she has marked me as hers. She will chirp on occasion when you talk to her or when the food dish is empty.
Each of the cats is as unique as a person. Unique personalities, unique quirks and ways of interacting with each other and the family. Just like potato chips that are all different shapes and levels of salt or flavor, my cats make the house fun and interesting, full of snuggles and a lot fewer calories than collecting and eating chips!