How did you get all of your cats?
We found Tooley in the alley. He was just a kitten, not
more than a few weeks old, and very hungry. So we took him in and fed him.
Stash didn't like him; she liked being the only cat in the house.
Tooley tried to play with her but she just beat on him!
They eventually learned to get along well enough that they didn't
fight all of the time.
Early one spring Tooley helped us find another stray cat.
He was sitting on the edge of our garage roof looking
intently at something in a narrow passage between our garage
and the one next to it where leaves had piled up from the fall
of the past year. We went to see what he was looking
at and that's how we found Goldie. She did not seem
too happy to have been found. At first we did not notice why she was
so defensive but then we noticed the kittens. She was protecting
four kittens that looked to be no more than a couple of days old.
The kittens were so cute; none of them had their eyes open yet.
You could not tell Sadie from Smokey, both were all white.
Rocky was a cute little tabby and Shadow was all black.
All but Shadow liked being picked up. Shadow was
a fiesty little kitten right from the start.
She hissed and growled at us whenever we tried to pick her
It was going to rain and maybe freeze so we made a little
shelter for Goldie and her kittens so that they could stay warm and dry.
But Goldie did not like being in the box so she moved her
kittens back to the leaves. So we moved her and her kittens
once again to the box and made her stay in the box longer.
It looked like she was going to stay this time so
we left them alone. When we checked on her later,
she and her kittens were gone. But this time she
had not moved them back to where we first found her.
In fact we could not find her anywhere. We
spent hours looking for her in the neighborhood but
she seemed to be gone. We were very sad :(
Later that day I took one last look between the garages
and, as I was passing by an old car wheel leaning up
against the garage, I noticed a cute little cat face
staring up at me through the hole in the middle
of the rim. There she was, quietly hiding
behind the wheel with her kittens not more than
ten feet away from where we first found her
in the leaves! We decided to bring Goldie and
her kittens in the house to make sure that she
didn't take the kittens any farther away.
To keep them away from the other cats we put them in our
"plant room" (a bedroom with lots of
windows that we had our plants in).
As they grew up they proceeded to destroy most of our
I never expected that we would keep them all,
but Allie insisted.
What are your cats' favorite things to do?
Stash's favorite thing to do was to sit in my lap
and watch TV with me. There would never be more than
a couple of minutes, after I sat down to watch TV, before
she would be in my lap. And she would sit in my lap
(or beside me) for hours.
Rocky loves to eat, he is always begging for food,
so this must be his favorite thing to do (or maybe
it is just because he is on a diet).
You can always find Smokey in the tub, right after a shower,
intently watching the faucet waiting for a drop of water to fall.
Shadow likes to closely follow Goldie around (hence the name: Shadow).
You can always find them together.
She is the first one each day to jump up to the window to check
out the bird feeders to see if there are any birds there.
Shadow loves to play hide & seek in the bathtub with the shower
curtain hiding her. She pops up every once in a while to
let you know she is there waiting for you to find her.
Sadie likes to hide under clothes or blankets. If we
see a lump in the bed we know that it is probably Sadie.
She loves to have her chest and front leg pits scratched.
When we do that she stretches way out and really enjoys it.
Normally she is hiding though, because most of
the other cats pick on her. But not Goldie, she is
the only one that Sadie picks on.
Goldie is getting to be a lap cat. Her favorite
thing is to sit behind someone and tangle herself in long hair. She would
love to go outside but we do not let her.
Tooley gets to go outside and that is his favorite thing
to do besides sleep in the basement. Every morning he is at the
back door waiting to go out. Luckily, he almost always comes
back in within a half hour after sundown.
He doesn't seem to like being out after dark.
Can your cats do tricks?
We had two cats, named Stash and Half-stash,
(may they rest in peace) that we trained to do tricks.
They learned to stand up on their hind legs when we said
"stand", to shake hands/paws when we said
"shake", to jump through a hoop when we said
"jump", and I almost had Stash trained to
lay down and roll over --- she learned the lay down
part, but did not get the roll over and stand back up part.
anthropomorphize [click for definition]
that Stash was a very smart cat. She made the
association that standing up and begging got her something
that she wanted --- not just food.
We often found her standing at the door when
she wanted to come in even if we were not there with food
or to prompt her with the command to stand. She made
another association with the shake trick that got her
more attention. If I was reclining in my lazyboy
intently watching TV with Stash resting on my chest she would
often offer her paw to get my attention. I thought
that this was cute so I would give her attention.
Now who was training who? Unfortunately, this
"trick" became annoying. So she learned
that she had to try harder and harder to get attention.
So she reached out farther and farther each time until
she started touching my chin. I thought that this
was cute so I would give her attention. Soon this too
became annoying. But she persisted, it got to the
point where she was gently clawing at my face, usually on the
lip, to get attention. We tried to break her of this
[now bad] habit but it was too late. She also did
this to wake us up while we were sleeping in bed. We never
broke her of this habit so we had to keep her claws clipped
so that she would not cut us on the lip or face.
We have not tried to train our new cats any tricks but
Rocky seems to have learned a few on his own. When
he was just a kitten he loved this little green
foam-rubber ball. On his own he learned to fetch.
We could toss the ball across the room and he would repeatedly
run after it and bring it back.  Then drop it in front
of us hoping that we would throw it again. He would
keep this up until he dropped to the floor exhasted
and panting. Eventually the ball began to deteriorate
and crumble. Rocky would sometimes eat the small
pieces but we thought that this might not be good for
him. So we disposed of the decrepit ball and gave
him a new little green foam-rubber ball just like the old one. But Rocky
did not like the new ball and he never fetched again. :-(
Rocky has learned a couple of other tricks on his own.
He has learned to stand and/or shake to get attention.
And this is his only reward for standing or shaking.
We don't prompt him to stand or shake and we have
never given him food as a reward like we did when
we trained Stash and Half-stash to do tricks.
I really think that this is a case of Rocky training us
to give him attention when he wants it, rather than the
other way around. BTW,
in the shake department, Rocky is
ambidextrous [click for definition]
while Stash was left pawed and Half-stash was right pawed.
Do all of your cats get along together?
None of the cats get alone with Tooley.
We have to keep Tooley separated from the rest. Have
you ever heard of the term: "scared shitless"? Well, Tooley
has a bit a of problem when he feels cornered by another cat.
So if there is anyone out there that thinks that we should
just put the cats together and let them fight it out
until they learn to at least tolerate each other, then they have to
volunteer to come over and clean up the mess! We will
keep them separated.
Do you use anything special for litter boxes?
We have purchased many different litter boxes for our cats
and have not liked most of them. When you have more than two cats
the little regular litter boxes are way too small.
So we bought bigger litter boxes. But these were still too
short. Some of our cats have the tendency to
stand while urinating (maybe they were spraying, I don't
know, but at least they were doing it while in the box).
Unfortunately, they sometimes did it over the edge and
made a mess on the floor. So we bought those enclosed
litter boxes with the tall covers with a door in the front.
This helped somewhat but the urine sometimes seeped out between
the space where the top of the box met the bottom, and it
didn't stop them from urinating out the door. So we
still ended up with a mess and cleaning the two part boxes
was a hastle.
We finally found a solution to our problem.
I don't know if they are still available, but at Target we found,
"Iris" brand, plastic storage containers, model name:
"Clear Box CB 130" (with snapping handle lock lid),
size: 28 3/4" x 20 3/4" x 17 3/4"
(33 gal.). That's 17 inches tall! We put a whole
40 pound bag of litter in each one and we have three of them
in our house!
This particular box is special because the inside of the box
is flat and smooth on the bottom. This is important
to be able to use the poop-scooper in it and it makes it easier to
clean. Don't get a box with ridges on the bottom, on the
inside of the box --- they are too difficult to clean.
Try as he may, Smokey can no longer pee over the edge of
the litter box because his little behind is several inches
below the top of the box. And luckily, none of the cats
spray anywhere outside of the litter boxes. Of course,
we will keep our fingers crossed.
Do any of your cats know how to use the toilet?
No, none of my cats know how to use the toilet. A friend of mine, Paula, has a cat named Bubba Skinner that knows how to use the toilet and here is proof.  This image is one frame of an AVI video file that shows Bubba Skinner peeing in the toilet. Click on the image or here to download the entire video file. The file is 275KB and will take approximately 1 minute to download (at 5K/sec with a 56K modem).
Do you let your cats go outside of the house?
Tooley gets to go outside. We make sure that
we put a safety breakaway collar, with his tags and a bell,
on him before letting him out.
He goes out in the morning and sometimes stays out all day in
the summertime. He goes out in the late afternoon and usually
comes in on his own as it gets dark. He doesn't seem to like
being out after dark. Goldie always wants to go out
but we don't let her. She only goes out if by accident.
If she does go out she usually does not go far and, so far, she comes
back in when we go out to get her. We don't let the rest
of them go out but Smokey has gotten out at least once.
So now he wants to go out all the time too. The others
don't know how to work the cat door in the back door so they
just stop at it and look out, but don't attempt to open it.
Our house is adjacent to a busy road so we are afraid of what might
happen if the non street-smart cats get out of the house.
So we will keep them in as much as possible.
Do you have any trouble giving pills to your cats?
Let me tell you the story of what we had to do to give pills to Shadow.
Have you ever noticed that the vet never has any trouble giving your cat a pill
while the cat is on the examining table? And when you try
to give the cat a pill at home it is nearly impossible?
Well, this must be because when at the vets the cat is
scared stiff but at home the cat is not afraid to squirm
and fight back. It was nearly impossible to give Shadow a pill.
So we pretended to be taking her to the vet. We put her
in our pet carrier, covered it, then drove up and down the driveway (with her in the car),
took her back into the house into the basement (where she has never been),
I put on a mask to cover my face so she would not recognize me,
dragged her out of the cat carrier, pulled open her jaw, and popped
the pill right in. It worked! She was scared stiff just like at the vets
and it was easy to give her the pill. Try it -- it might work for your cat too.
(See the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.)
How do you know if your cat is overweight?
Our vet told us. If you suspect that your cat is overweight, before bringing your cat to the vet, consult the "Body Condition Scoring System for Cats" which I have re-created on its own page. Also see my cat's Diet Progress page to see Rocky's diet progress and the story about how we found out that Rocky was overweight and what we did about it.
Do you need to separate your cats at feeding time?
Yes we do. Tooley eats by himself with his
food dish either in the kitchen or downstairs and we give him as much as he wants.
Rocky eats buy himself with his food dish in the hallway
outside of the bathroom. Sadie eats by herself
with her food dish in the bathroom. Goldie,
Smokey, and Shadow eat together with their food dishes
in the cat room. I usually feed them twice a day, when I get up
in the morning and when I get home from work. They
each get about a quarter of a cup of dry cat food, twice daily.