I would consider myself to be a lover of all animals, but I would definitely classify myself as a cat person. I'm sure this stems from the fact that my childhood pet was a cat that lived a long and loving 17 years. It just seemed natural that I would look towards the felines once I was ready to have pets of my own in adulthood.
After college, I moved in to a large two-story house with three other friends. One of the guys brought along his two furry ones that I had come to know and love: Göst, an all-white male Scottish Fold, and Cali, a female Calico. It was great having these four-legged critters sharing space with us, but they naturally gravitated towards their master's bedroom. Since we had so much space in our house, I decided to get a kitten of my own and introduced Betty (a female with tortoise shell coloring) to the mix. In a four-bedroom home, there was plenty of space for the elders to escape the psycho kitten when necessary, so Betty's assimilation into the household was (mostly) smooth sailing.
As with most roommate situations, there came a time for us to move on with our lives. Göst and Cali's owner was the first to depart, but the cats weren't going with him. He moved out with his girlfriend and claimed he could not have pets at his new place, but I knew that was just a cover-up story for his mate's desire not to have them. So, I gladly volunteered to take over kitty care, which wasn't that big a stretch since I did most of the cat maintenance in the first place.
Fast forward to the winter of 2005; Göst is 15-years-old, Cali 13-years old and Betty is 10-years old. They have moved three times with me and have become accustomed to one-bedroom apartments. Unfortunately, in February, Cali fell ill and passed away. I was saddened more than I ever imagined, but grateful to have the other two around to help ease the pain. As I was not looking forward to experiencing more loss, I decided I would just go forward with Ghost and Betty and not get a new kitten. That gameplan did not last for long.
In the days following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I saw the numerous news reports on the pets that were in need of rescue. Many of these scared animals were being brought to shelters near me in California, and the big softie in me inquired about adopting a kitty in need of a new home. The logistics of doing so proved to be not so simple, so I did the next best thing and decided to adopt a baby they already had in residence to make room for the incoming rescues.
I consulted my vet before moving forward with my plans, and she recommended I get a male since a female would drive Betty more nuts that she was already in store for. When I went to the shelter, I saw an orange tabby and it was love at first sight for both of us. He head-butted the glass partition when I took my first peek at him, and he rushed over and jumped onto my lap when I got to play with him in the private room. Done deal... the little fellow became known as Otis and it was time to bring him to his new home to meet his new siblings.
Needless to say, Göst and Betty were less than thrilled with the new addition, especially Betty since she was no longer "the baby." We live in tight quarters, so there are no second-story rooms for hiding and avoidance. Göst warmed up to Otis first, which may have been a move he has come to regret. Having another cat climbing all over you and chewing on various appendages may be fine when the other cat is a small kitten, but not so much after said kitten has tripled in size and captured the energetic spirit of a wild boar. Göst still has a little more time before he loses the size battle, but I can tell from his meows that he is getting frustrated with being tackled. I hate to hear him whine, but it's been fun to see this geriatric acting like a kid again.
The love-fest between Betty and Otis has been, and will continue to be, a slow work in progress. From day one, just the sight of Otis threw Betty into a literal hissy fit. They have progressed to the point where they can share the same space (like my bed) and the hissing has been reserved for when Otis channels his inner spaz and gets in her face. As much as I would like them to get along better, their banter has been good in that it has given Betty some much-needed exercise.
It's this same energetic spirit that keeps me up during the wee hours of the morning - Otis zips around the apartment, crashing into walls and furniture, and getting into everything in sight while trying to see how fast he can cover 700 square feet of space. I've gotten wiser with each passing day, and have developed rituals in attempt to avoid these nocturnal transgressions. We play fetch with his favorite toy about an hour before I plan to hit the sheets so that he is nice and tired and ready for bed at the same time I am nice and tired and ready for bed. I also put away all pens on my desk, elevate his toys, and empty my wastebasket of its contents. This doesn't work perfectly every night, and it's impossible to prevent the playful, meow-inducing attacks on Göst, but I have gotten a little more sleep.
When not observing cat behavior, Brian Kohlmeier is a co-founder of SwapThing.com, which changes the way people exchange goods and services through the Internet. SwapThing [http://www.SwapThing.com] is a site focused on building a strong swap community online. The ShareThing [http://www.swapthing.com/user/Nonprofit.jsp] program helps non-profits get access to item & cash donations as well as volunteers and professional services. This article comes with reprint rights. You are free to reprint and distribute as you like. All that we ask is that you do not make any changes, that this resource text is included, and that the links above are intact.