Sidebar: My Furry Family

I'd always intended to have a family of rescue cats in my new home. After all, a house is not a home without a cat, so the saying goes (of course, that's something appreciated only by cat fanciers). But, as with everything else in my life lately, things didn't go exactly as planned...

Shortly after moving into the camper, I was out having dinner with friends at our favorite restaurant. It was a wonderful, pleasant late summer evening, and we were enjoying the outdoor dining area. The restaurant owner had come over to chat with us, whereupon a friendly, adorable kitten joined in. The owner remarked that she was a frequent visitor—and thus a problem, since health inspectors don't take kindly to such guests. He added that he already had too many pets, or else he'd have taken the little girl home.

Having a massive soft spot for cats, I confessed that I'd take her in a heartbeat if I wasn't living in a camper. But some days later, upon reflection, I realized that my living arrangement perhaps wasn't as restrictive as it seemed; after all, what's one little kitty in a camper made to sleep seven humans? The next week I returned to the restaurant with a pet carrier, and the rest, as they say...

Life with my new little daughter was just fine until, a few weeks later, I noticed she was gaining weight at a rather startling rate. I thought perhaps she was just getting "fat and happy," until I examined her more closely... her nipples had become enormous—at which point I got a sinking feeling in my stomach... yes, Katie (a.k.a. Mommy) was pregnant.

And so, around Thanksgiving of 2014, my little slut of a pre-teen daughter gave birth to four tiny grandfurbabies (one of which died a day after birth). They came into the world in my bathtub, which I'd converted into the nursery. I've been handling them since the day they were born—with Mommy's complete approval—which may explain why they're the friendliest, most affectionate creatures I've ever known.

Above left is Pris, a.k.a. Teeny-Tiny, a precious little girl with two different color eyes! Above right is Zack, a.k.a. Zack the Knife, a green-eyed goofball. Below left is Roy, a.k.a. Big Boy, since he was the biggest kitten (although Zack has since outgrown him).

As all youngsters do, they grew up entirely too quickly, and before I knew it I had a wonderful feline family, exactly what I'd hoped to have—just a year or two sooner than I'd have preferred. But as it happened, the timing tuned out to be just right, as I might have otherwise lost my mind without them.

Their obsessively doting grandfather made sure they all had everything they could ever possibly need. In fact, since I now live in the guest cabin, they have the camper all to themselves—how many cats have a home of their own?

It was quite the challenge selecting these images from the nearly 2,000 I've taken so far. To this day they still sleep together in a pile of heads, tails and 16 feet. And I still have dinner with their godparents, Jim and Idella, at our favorite restaurant.

Then, last fall, their little cousin arrived—coincidentally on an evening I'd returned home from dinner at the same restaurant with my same friends. As I got out of my car, I caught fleeting glimpses of a little kitty-like figure flitting around in the dark... which was still there the next morning. It would seem the stray saw my "Sucker for Cats" sign over the driveway, and promptly adopted me as his grampaw.

It took a couple of weeks to gain his trust. At first I couldn't get within twenty feet of him, but now Bobby, a.k.a. Little Buddy, follows me everywhere like a shadow, and adores cuddling on my lap. He will remain an outdoor kitty until the house is finished, when we can all settle into our new home together.

My cats are an integral and crucial part of my life: they're very much my children, and I'd do anything for their well-being. Indeed, when Zack required surgery recently, I postponed getting electricity for several weeks so I could cover the cost. I just hope there will be a home we can move into someday...

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