cats as a pandemic coping mechanism

Danï the Ginger and Zoë the dilute Tortie

When you’re sheltering in place, it takes some creativity to come up with ways to cope. One of my coping mechanisms is the collection of cats that have built up over the past few months. Right now I have five cats, three more than I originally intended to have. I originally started with the Gingersnaps, the two brothers, who were both born in the same litter in 2015. They’ll both turn five years old this October. I’ve certainly written about Bo and Luke (a.k.a. the Gingersnaps) over the past five years in this blog. It was a quiet relationship with just the two boys, and so it would have remained for the foreseeable future

But back in April of this year, my wife read a story in Love Meow about The Runaways Animal Rescue over on the west coast of Florida, just north of Tampa. They’d rescued a mother and her litter of four newborns (who were born on St. Patrick’s Day, no less). What really made all five special is that momma and kittens were polydactyls. My wife sent an email to the young woman who runs The Runaways about the kittens, and before I knew it, we’d been selected as the #1 future forever home for two of the kittens, if that’s what we wanted. After all, two more cats? Two more mouths to feed, to care fore, two more litter boxes to keep clean? On top of that, how would the boys react?

So we finally brought the girls in and set them up in the cat nursery, which was our middle bedroom in the house. For several weeks we kept them in there with the door closed, going in constantly to feed and water them and clean out their litter box, as well as spending time playing with them. We then set up our ‘cat cage’ in the middle of the house, a large wheeled ferret cage where we could put the girls in and let the rest of the animal household see and smell and hear and in general grow used to them. The girls  knew they were safe, especially resting on some of the ledges in the center of the cage. After two more weeks of that, we finally opened the cat nursery up and let the girls out to roam at will inside the house. We never had a single problem out of anybody. As for the boys, it was Bo who decided to look after them. More often than not I’ll find him grooming the girls, and the girls sit there with their eyes closed until he’s finished. So much for worrying…

And Momma Makes Three

Joan Jett, a.k.a. momma Joan, a.k.a. Joanië

By the time we’d picked up the kittens at nine weeks, we’d also come to know (vicariously) their mom, Joan Jett. All four of Joan’s kittens had been placed, and she was the only one left looking for her final home. So we waited, and waited, looking to see who, and when, she was adopted. But she never was.

As the weeks went by we grew more concerned until I finally said, we need to go get Joan. And so we did. We picked her up in early August and brought her home to the cat nursery. By then, the little girls were out and about, and momma could spend time alone getting acclimated to her new digs. After two weeks of getting acclimated, Joan started to venture out of the room more and more each day. Now she’s fully integrated in with the other four. I’ve had people ask if Joan recognizes her kittens. I don’t believe so, but then, there’s no strife within the group either. Everybody is chill. Joan has picked her favorite spots to nap and watch around the house, just like the other four. The spot on the back of the sofa above is unique to her.

And so here I am with five cats. Any problems so far? Not the kind I anticipated, and nothing worth mentioning. They all love their dad (me), with Zoë in particular wanting to come up into my lap and just stare up at me. My wife she has a real bad case of daddy admiration, but give her time, and she’ll grow out of it. They give out all sorts of sweet affection to me and my wife, and they are a hoot to watch as they play with their toys and each other. I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter group of cats. When things get really crazy in the outside world, I turn inward to the five (and the two dogs, Ruby and Annie) and let their sweetness wash all the bitterness from the outside world away.

Momma Joan and her Kittens: The Very Early Days


The house is interesting with five (yes, five) cats now. Three of them are Gingers and have begun to hang out as a gaggle of Gingers, while the other two (mother and kitten) are dilute Torties, and kinda-sorta hang together. Today was Zoë’s turn at cuteness when she jumped up on the bathroom sink and discovered running water. She just stood there, transfixed. I’ve never seen that behavior in any cat I’ve owned before, current or prior.