Who is Auntie?
Iím a petite, spirited brunette. I am of Mexican decent, raised in Chicago. When I was 10 years old we moved to a home where our tenants on the first floor had a cat named Tex and a 4 year old daughter named Debbie. As all cats will do when annoyed by small children, Tex scratched Debbie and the owners threw him outside. My parents wouldnít let me have him inside so I started feeding him outside. He soon found a single mother raising her babies, she brought them to the yard and then her daughter had babies at the same time that she did and we had more cats. Well to me that was heaven. I would spend hours after school playing with them and just spending time with them.
Eventually my father took pity on them and made them an indoor cage which had access through a pet door. The first female mother cat was feral, she eventually learned to trust me. Enough that when I would come home from school and go down to feed them in the cage, she would leave me to babysit the kittens while she went out to stretch. Even at that young age I felt this was quite the honor.
Until that point I had had a series of other pets, rabbit, birds, hamsters, turtles, guinea pigs, fish. Then finally a dog, my sister came home with a tiny Pekinese puppy named Angel, small enough to fit into her purse. She took her out and placed her in my fathersí lap and said "look at what I had left over from lunch". He instantly fell in love and let us keep her. Phew! They had never let us have indoor cats or dogs.
Eventually the neighbors complained about all the cats and the parents took away my cats, which had become my family. The hardest thing was when they made me catch the feral cats and put them into cages to take to the shelter. They never understood how much those cats meant to me. So to this day there isnít much I wonít do for a cat, they are all family to me.
MY First Official Indoor Cats
Finally when I had grown and moved away I found an apartment that allowed cats. I got my first cat, a calico we took off the street, I named her Fillet. Donít know why I just always wanted to have a cat and to name her Fillet. She was quite the little princess. But lonely, so I went in search of a buddy. At Felines a shelter for cats, the only small enough cat to have with her was a scraggly long haired orange tabby. Years later I found out he must have been a Maine Coone. He was such a mess, dirty and full of fleas, he was sneezing, getting over a bad respiratory infection that made him loose his voice. But when they put him in my arms, all he wanted to do was play with the string of my jacket and he just batted that thing around like it was Christmas. I took him on the spot, dirty and all. What did I name him? Oinky Pig.
He had a wonderful temperment for Fillet. Easy going, and patient. She was all besides herself that this strange dirty cat was now there. He would try to play with her and sheíd hiss, heís sit back and wait and try again. Eventually they were fine and turned into buddies.
Bad News with Oinky
When Oinky was 10 we found out he had a bad heart. At the time the vet didnít tell me the whole truth which was he didnít expect Oinky to live beyond a few weeks from diagnosis. Well my cats are as stubborn as their mommy and he lived for several months after his diagnosis. It was as if God knew I wasnít ready to loose him. I launched a massive research study to find anything that would help him. I tried regular medicine, herbs and made him special foods. At one point he stopped eating and I had to force feed him. Once he got past that he was just not gonna leave me. Eventually the outside of his lungs kept filling with fluid and the vet had to keep draining him with a needle through the ribs. He was such a good boy and never fought, would lay there on his belly with his little oxygen mask on while they drained him.
Turned out the vet didnít know how to treat him either, he was a heart specialist but he had never had a cat live this long in this condition. So we were basically experimenting with dosages of medicines. It got to the point where the fluid was filling faster than we could drain it and we were afraid Oinky would suffocate while we were at work. I had to make the hardest decision of my life, to have him put to sleep. By this time I had done everything humanly possible for him so it gave me peace of mind when the time came. Still loosing the first one was the most painful.
Well then it was just me and Fillet. We both missed having another kitty. I went in search of a playmate for her. I "interviewed" many cats at Tree House, none seemed to fit the bill. Against my better judgment, this little calico had charmed the guy that was with me. Before I knew it she was coming home. It was like the southern Belle meeting the street gang, leather clad gang member. The new kitty I chose to call Mardigras because of the lovely splash of party paints all over her face, was the little "leather girl" and she hated Fillet the southern Belle. Serious fights broke out. On a number of occasions I had to rescue Mardigras from the clutches a remorseful guy that had once been charmed by her. Once a cat came into my house I did not believe in returning it like a pair of shoes. I kept her and went in search of a solution. That lead me toÖ..
I figured if I got a young male he would distract both females from fighting. Again I was at the shelter, this time Orphans of the Storm, again studying many, many cats. Just as I was getting ready to leave and they were closing the shelter. Suddenly in the middle of the room I saw this young, small, teenage sized black and white cat. Looking half asleep. I scooped up the cat and put him on the counter and asked one of the shelter workers what he knew about the cat. The kindly older man in tall rubber boots, jeans with suspenders and t-shirt informed me that it was a male about 8 months old, newly fixed. I ran my personality test on him. While I had been watching the cats I knew which ones were scrappers and which ones were not, I know it sounds mean but I needed to know that he would not be a fighter and that he would be willing to be slapped around by a feisty street cat. So I carried him over to one of the scrappers and when the cat went to swipe at him, Holstein wasnít fazed by it one bit. BINGO! I had the right cat.
Sure enough I got him home and all he wanted to do was PLAY. Each time Mardigras slapped him he thought it was a game and wasnít bothered by it. This took the focus off of Fillet and the girls didnít fight as much anymore.
God Knows What Heís Doing
My happy home soon got sad again. It had only been about a year since I lost my Oinky when Fillet was diagnosed with cancer in the leg. We amputated her leg hoping that it would stop the cancer. Then the next month I found tumors in Mardigras mammary glands, also cancer. Also had as many removed as possible, but she had too many. It turned into a matter of waiting, for them to die, simultaneously. I gave them both the best of care, I prepared the best foods, read all the books I could on herbs to help them. Thank god, that around this time I had met my wonderful, now husband, Bill. He was a tremendous help during this time. When I would come home from work everyday and take a head count of who was still alive. Maridgras got so bad we had to take her in to be put to sleep, Bill was so courageous, enough to stay with her to the end. She sure loved him. Fillet died within 2 months, at home. God spared me the decision.
As we drove Fillet to the vets I asked God, "Please, I know that you give me these sick animals because you know how well I can take care of them, but my heart is shredding, it hurts so much. Please give me some healthy cats again so that I can feel the happiness I once felt long ago."
So there we were, me, Bill and Holstein. It was lonely without our girls. I went to many shelters looking for the right companion for Holstein. I found one at Felines in Chicago. A little orange and white tabby named Peaches, she was 6 months old. She was a charmer. The thing was they would not split her up from her brother a buff and white tabby. But I only wanted one more? I went home and tried to put it out of my head while I decided to make trips to the other shelters. Eventually I went back to Felines in the hopes of finding another young kitty that I could take alone. As soon as I sat down in the middle of the room, over came little Peaches. She was all over me and this time her brother came with her, he too was so friendly. Again they were firm, "you have to take both."
After playing with them for a while, I said "Okay whatís it I gonna take to get them both outta here today?" All I needed was a referral, which was a cinch since their shelter vet was the vet that had taken care of Mardigras while she was dying. He saw how I made the long drive deep into the city every 2 weeks with her, there was nothing I didnít do for her. He once told them when he died he wanted to come back as my cat.
Off we went, packed up the 2 kittens, in the dark and in the rain. There was one problem, I had not run this past Bill, which was living with me at the time in our new home. But how could I have left the shelter without them that day? He was a bit upset with me but once I put the "Babies" into his lap, he melted. We named them Peachie and Zebo. Zebo came from Gazebo, which was the first place in which Bill and I had seen each other.
So thatís our present family. Though I must admit I am feeling the "maternal" instinct tugging at me. NO, not for a human baby, for a furry one, a homeless furry one.