My Little Kitties

For most of my life, I have been owned by at least one cat. When I was an adolescent in the 1960s, brother and sister kittens came to live with us. We named them Sonny and Cher. Cher lived to be 20 years old, in spite of the fact that she was struck by lightning twice and attacked by dogs once.

When I was in college, a calico kitten adopted me. I called her C.C. (for Calico Cat). C.C. was not a cuddly cat, but she was affectionate on her own terms. She was also quite smart. My (now adult) son remembers a day when he was sitting on the floor playing checkers with a friend. C.C. was sitting to one side of the checkerboard. As my son's friend pondered which move to make, C.C. reached out with her paw and moved one checker exactly one space diagonally. I know this actually happened because I was watching at the time!

Today, five felines live with my husband and me. Here is a little bit about each of them:

Gizmo as a baby
Gizmo at age 16

Gizmo was about 8 weeks old in 1997 when he caught my attention. I was in my basement doing laundry when I heard loud, plaintive cries coming from outside. It sounded like the catbird I had heard many times, but very close to the house. It turned out that the racket was coming from a tiny kitten who was huddled under the woodpile. Instead of a long tail he had a very short one with a bloody stump on the end. Clearly something bad had happened.

We welcomed Gizmo (nicknamed "Baby") into the family. Sadly, Gizmo left us in 2013, at age 16. We will never forget him.


"Monday" - shelter photo
We adopted Karma (at age 1) and Buckles (at about 1-1/2) from a no-kill shelter in Pekin, Illinois. We knew we wanted two cats when we went there, and I knew I wanted a black, short-haired, female cat. The minute we walked into the Cat Room, a mostly-white cat with black markings began to twine himself around my husband's legs. I sat down on the couch in the room and almost immediately, a little black cat climbed onto my lap, curled up, and went to sleep.

Karma today
After taking a break for lunch and discussion, we returned to the Cat Room, whereupon the white cat greeted my husband with great affection. The shelter had named the black-and-white cat "Arbuckle" and the little black cat "Monday." On the way home with them, we decided that "Arbuckle" didn't really suit my husband's new best friend, but "Buckles" sounded perfect. I wanted to give "Monday" a more mysterious name, and "Karma" came to mind.

"Arbuckle" - shelter photo
Unfortunately, Gizmo was horrified by Karma (even though we took steps to introduce them very gradually). She chased him at every opportunity, and we feared he might never come out from under the bed. Eventually, they sorted things out and we began to see them curled up on the same bed. Buckles turned out to be a fairly submissive cat, so he got along with everyone.

Buckles today

Buckles continues to be my husband's cat. Karma likes both of us, but especially enjoys hopping up on my computer desk for attention and/or a taste of whatever I happen to be eating at the time.

Karma's nicknames are Karmi, Karmalita, Karz, and Karzby. Buckles is sometimes called Bucky, Count Buckula, Buck-ells, or Buckita.


Sofie and Sammy - July 2008
Although I had not ruled out the possibility of adding another cat or two to our family, I bravely resisted the impulse, which struck every time I saw kittens anywhere. Our veterinarian often had kittens for sale at his office. Somehow I refrained from snatching them up and taking them home with me. For many years I refrained. Then one day, I went to the vet's office to pick up some prescription food for Gizmo. There they were: a fluffy, dark gray kitten with piercing gold eyes and, looking over her shoulder, a fluffy buff-and-white kitten, also with gold eyes. I can't explain what happened or why, but a few days later, we brought them home with us.

Sofia - January 2011
Naming them was an interesting process. They are brother and sister, and I wanted to give them names that began with the same letter. The male kitten seemed timid at first. Then one day, to our surprise, he started behaving more aggressively. We thought of the name Samson, as if he had suddenly become a "big, strong man." I turned my attention to his dark gray sister with her imperious nature and regal bearing. I thought of the name Sophia -- and then decided to spell it with an "f": Sofia.

Sammy - spring 2011
Sofia and Samson grew and grew... and became quite large. So large, in fact, that we teasingly call Sofia "Sofa." She sometimes reminds us of an iron-gray battleship rolling deliberately through the house. Her other nickname is Sofita. Samson has become "Sammy" for the most part. He is also known as Sambolini, Samboni, or Mr. Sam.