Spot and Timid    We have two cats who live with us, named Timid and Spot. They are both Calicos, and they are sisters. They are a year old as of July 28, 1999. We got these cats when our daughter was staying with us for a few months when she was between jobs. She has two cats, and one of them was very pregnant when she moved in. We decided to keep these two from that litter.

Spot    Yes, Spot is a dog's name. Spot got her name first of all from the fact that she has a black spot over one eye just like dogs sometimes do. The name is also a nod to Star Trek and the orange tabby that Data had (I'm a Trekkie).
Spot is the dominant cat, and is noticeably aggressive in much of what she does. She is like this with us too, although mostly in a young, innocent, cute way, coming across more as enthusiastic than anything else.

Timid    We were trying to find some name to match Spot, using some phrase where both names were used but could only think of Wrinkle, and the reference in the Bible to both being missing when we got to heaven was the opposite to what we wanted to associate with them. Timid is the runt of the litter and is noticeably smaller than Spot. Her personality tends to be more toward the shy, hands-off, adore me from afar kind, so we finally decided on Timid.

    An example of Spot being dominant and Timid being submissive is when I am in bed at night reading before going to sleep. The cats tag-team me in trying to divert my attention away from the book and to petting them, doing the usual standing in front of the book, nuzzling the edge of the book so it's jiggling too much to read, etc. You know, the usual cat actions. But where Timid will jump from one side of my head to the other, Spot just walks across my face, planting her feet wherever is convenient - cheek, nose, mouth, you name it. And you know how four-legged animals walk, the rear paw being placed close behind where the front paw was, so it's a double-whammy each time. Spot also thinks chewing the edge of the book is fun, which of course I strongly discourage.
    Timid has this very strange thing she does when I'm lying in bed with my arms up over my head. You know how cats are scent-oriented, well, Timid puts her nose in my armpit and breathes, and breathes... Then she starts to purr... Then she starts to knead... The kneading while she's doing this will get pretty drastic, so I have to move my arm at this point - the first time she did this and I wasn't prepared I got a nasty shock the next time I sprayed on my deodorant.

Spot and Timid settled down on my legs for a nap    Night-time is not just for sleeping with cats. After all, they nap during the day so they don't need nearly as much sleep at night as humans do. That means they're coming and going, they're playing, they're looking for attention, all the normal cat things they do at times during the day. Of course, both cats sleep on the bed, cuddled up behind our knees or thereabouts, so the coming and going is often across our legs. We've gotten used to that of course so it doesn't wake us any more. Night-time play is another matter. The bedroom is downstairs, and two cats chasing each other around the house upstairs make an amazing amount of noise for animals so small. That only wakes me now when I'm sleeping lightly anyway. Playing on the bed is another matter entirely. Spot loves to carry toys around, and will often drag the toy onto the bed to play. That means she's jumping, swatting, kicking, lunging, biting and tearing, on and on with this toy - either right on top of me or right beside me, depending on which second we're referring to. Grabbing the toy and throwing it off the bed is no help - now I'm part of the play. You see, true to her dog-name, Spot fetches. She will happily run after the toy I've thrown, bring it back and set it down near me in the hope that I will throw it again. Kicking at her from under the covers to make her stop also doesn't work, it only changes the game. I've found taking the toy away and hiding it under the covers is the only way to stop her for the night. As long as she doesn't manage to snag the toy when she goes swatting around for the lost toy as far as she can reach under the covers...  Yeah, I know, we spoil them rotten.

  Timid has a trick for waking us up if she wants attention. She gently places her paw on our cheek, sort of like patting it. If we don't react after a couple of these, her claws come out just barely enough that you can feel them on the next touch. There's definitely a message there. I've found flipping the covers over my face discourages her.

Here's a picture of Spot playing fetch with me. This is the usual toy she uses for fetch these days, what's left of a toy mouse, mostly just the hard plastic form underneath and a few bits of rabbit fur still hanging on. That pose, by the way, is just after she dropped the toy and looked up at me, waiting for me to throw it again.

    My standard phrase in our house when referring to the cats is, 'everything is a toy'. It's interesting, though, to see what else they play with, and how they play. Paper bags and cardboard boxes are obvious cat-toys, but candy wrappers? Timid especially will perk her ears if she hears a candy wrapper being taken off. There are times when she's arrived before you're finished unwrapping. She will carry it in her mouth, bat it around, lay on it and kick furiously, sit on the couch and drop it so it falls off the edge, then pounce on it from her perch, leave it beside her and look away as if distracted and then suddenly pounce as if the wrapper was trying to sneak away when she wasn't looking - in short, all the typical cat-play things. At Christmas time we had little chocolates wrapped in aluminum foil. Timid loved to play with a ball made from several of those wrappers rolled together and would carry it in her mouth all over the house. It's not that I don't buy toys for them because I do, but it seems sometimes like the other objects they play with are enjoyed the most. These cats even snagged a small potato from the sack when Barb was cooking and played with that - I found it downstairs. It was covered with little punctures...

    Here is a selection of pictures. Click on the small picture to see the larger version. Also, I have started an album of these cats on WebShots, a screensaver/wallpaper Windows application that uses pictures. View the pictures online or download them to use in WebShots.

Spot playingSpot: What's moving inside that box?Timid playing in the tubSpot playing while Timid watchesSpot playing with BeccaSpot drinkingTimid curled up on my lapTimid curled up even moreTimid mostly curled up on my lapTimid: Are you going to flash that thing in my face again?Timid jumping for a hanging (by elastic) toy.Timid getting serious air on this jump.

  Our two cats like to unroll the toilet paper as well. I have found keeping the roll set with no tail of paper hanging down mostly stops them from
playing with it. If they bat at it and no unrolling occurs, they quickly get tired of it.
  Our cats really hate being locked out of any room we are in, the bathroom being no exception. Timid can open doors herself if they're not latched, by hooking her paw under the door and pulling if it opens toward her, and by standing on her hind legs and pushing with both front paws if it opens away from her. Spot hasn't figured this out yet; she just makes a lot of noise on the other side of the door. So, when I'm on the toilet myself, I have the choice of listening to the clamour or of having them in the bathroom with me. I have chosen the latter. Mostly they don't do much except look for a little attention, chat with me a little, check out what I'm doing and then leave the room again.
  Trying to stop them every time they were unrolling the tp gave our cats the impression they shouldn't even touch the roll. One day Spot is in the bathroom with me and looks over at the roll. This time she decides her exit from the room is going to be a little more dramatic than other times: she jumps up and hangs upside down from the roll of tp, putting four sets of deep gouges in the roll, then bites it hard, and quickly vanishes out the door. It was all over in a second; there was no chance of me doing anything before she was long gone. Later as I try to make use of the shredded roll she left behind, I can see she made a very thorough job of it.

The cats typically run to this window facing the driveway when I leave them alone in the house. I guess they're watching me leave. Kind of tugs at my heart-strings though.

Our cats are strange
    Not only does Timid like to play with wrappers, she likes to lick plastic! Now it could be there's some lingering taste, but the number of times she's done this, and the different things these pieces of plastic have held lead me to the conclusion there's something else going on here. She will just sit there and lick, lick, lick.
    You know how cats usually curl their tails? Well, Timid makes question-marks with her tail, she curls it so much. This isn't really so strange, but it's quite a contrast to Spot, who, true to her dog-name again, almost always doesn't curl her tail - she just keeps it straight and wags it by bending it at the base.
    I have a room set aside in our home for my computer business. The doors stay closed so the cats don't get into the equipment or knock things off the shelves. Besides, Spot thinks chasing the mouse cursor on the screen is a wonderful game! Ever try working with a cat attacking the screen every time you move the mouse? It's distracting, it's hard to see around her, and seeing gets harder as the streaks of cat-slobber start to show. Anyway, ever have a cat walk across the keyboard? It's possible for them, in under two seconds, to make the computer just sit there and emit this long, steady beeeep, not respond to keyboard or mouse, and require you to hit the reset or the power button to recover - losing any work in progress. Does this sound like the voice of experience speaking? It should.
    So, like I say, mostly the cats stay out of the computer room now. They still want to be in the room with me, of course. Occasionally they sit outside the door and meow. Nothing strange about that. Timid's paw under the doorThen they stick their paws under the door, reaching as far as they can. It's open floor there of course, but still they move the paw around and bend the wrist as if hoping to reach something in the room. It looks like they're waving for attention. I have seen Timid put both a front leg and a hind leg under the door at the same time. If I go over and touch a paw, usually the immediate response is for the paw to be hastily withdrawn. It's usually for only a few seconds, though, then it's back in the hopes that I want to play.

    Our cats' mother is very paw-oriented. She usually doesn't drink directly from the dish. She dips her paw in, then licks it dry. She also often doesn't eat her food directly from the dish, either. It's not unusual for her to first wet her paw, then dip it in the food dish (the food sticks to the wet paw) and eat the food off her paw. It's really quite a production. Well, Timid is starting to display this same behaviour, in that she sometimes dips her paw in the water bowl and licks it rather than drink directly. I'm pretty sure I saw her the first time she did this, as the drinking went fine but she wasn't too careful about getting all the water off her paw when she was finished drinking. Her walk away from the water bowl was a sort of step, shake, step, shake routine. Now she takes more care in drying her paw, but I still see her at times sitting somewhere licking the rest off her paw, with the expected wet-paw-tracks to where she sat down. That's the case in this shot.

    Our two cats are very different from each other, too, as much as sisters who look so similar can be. Timid, being the runt, is noticeably smaller. She's the vocal one, including at times making this sort of half-purr, half-meow with her mouth closed. Their heritage is Egyptian and whatever else, and fortunately not Siamese so she's still not overly vocal, nor is the tone hard to listen to. Another example of her being the vocal one was one time when she and Spot were play-fighting. Timid got the upper hand briefly, and then there was this pause while both cats sat staring at each other. Slowly the ears on both folded back. Then, as Spot was pouncing in retaliation - but before she had even contacted - Timid was yeowling as if in pain. Where Timid tends toward long drawn out meows, emptying her lungs in long vocalizing, Spot tends more toward the short multiple meows, modulating them differently each time so that it sounds a lot more like there's a message trying to be conveyed. Sort of like, "RrrmmmGeow! Meeoowr! Rrmmeowrrm! Meow! Meow!"

Timid makes a great deal of noise every morning, until I take care of the food dishes. The dishes never get empty (well, one might, but never both) by morning, but she makes a racket from the time I come out of the shower and start to dress to when I finally top up the food dishes. She coaxes me along toward the dishes too, by making this mad dash toward them any time I move in a vaguely dish-facing direction. I have tried filling the dishes before going to bed at night, but it's still a big deal to get me to fill them, even if all they can hold is another half-dozen pieces of the food. For testing purposes I have even just reached into the food dish and stirred the food around instead of adding any. Timid wasn't quite as happy with this as when I actually added food, but it was enough to quiet the clamor. One comment made by a fellow cat-lover in the Cat Terms page of  Flippy's Cat Page refers to their cat wanting fresher cat food, even if what's there is only an hour old. Perhaps this is part of what Timid is getting at...

  Spot often will sit in one or the other of the two downstairs windows facing into our back yard. Not only is she doing the usual cat-type watching for birds and things, she also watches for other cats or dogs, etc. that might wander into our back yard. A neighbor on one side of us has both a cat and a dog, and they both seem to feel our yard is part of their domain and are wandering through a lot. If Spot sees one of them in the back yard, she will watch them with this incredible intensity and even run back and forth between the two windows to get the best view. On rare occasions the dog or cat will get too close to the window Spot is in, and then she goes crazy swatting at them in the window.
  Cat logic is interesting to say the least. Both our cats regularly see us outside in the front yard as we come and go, and occasionally as we do things on the lawn and such. They clearly know it's us because they are right there to greet us when we come in the door. Around mid-April 2000 I was filling the bucket I use to wash my car with at the tap at the back of the house - just under the one window. (In the summer I have a hose on a spool around front, but it was not quite warm enough to hook up the hose yet, so I was just filling the bucket and carrying it to the front.) As I straighten up from filling the bucket, I happen to see Spot watching me in the window - and her eyes are these huge saucers. She appears to not recognize me! I move my head closer to her in the window: she retreats. I move yet closer: she disappears. I wonder if she's gone to the other window, and go check: there she is. My glasses have this auto-tint, maybe that's what has her confused. I take off my glasses and lean toward the window: again Spot vanishes. After I was finished washing the car and came inside through the front door Spot had no trouble recognizing me, tinted glasses and all. Do I neglect the back yard that much?

  One of Spot's nicknames is Slobberpuss. She is so enthusiastic in everything she does, and this includes purring. She purrs on the inhale as well as the exhale. She often doesn't even take time to swallow! This means pretty soon her nuzzling is leaving wet streaks on your chin, face, etc. When she's really into the purring she's soon drooling! If it gets too wet around her mouth she gives her head a little shake, sending cat spit flying. I've never met another cat who does this, only dogs. Maybe this is just another way she's trying to live up to her dog-name?

Update June 7, 2010

Only Mortimer is still with us now.

We had to give Spot away. After she had kittens she started attacking the other two cats, seemingly thinking they were going to hurt her kittens. We kept her sequestered in the workshop all winter, and the behaviour didn't go away so we had no choice. We found a good home for her, someone who clearly loved the cat they used to have.

Timid was quite overweight after her pregnancy. She had one single kitten and it was too large for her to birth naturally so I took her to the vet. They operated to deliver the kitten but it only lived a few minutes. Timid appeared to always want to have that feeling of a kitten in her tummy so she ate a lot.

Eventually her heart gave out. I had the priviledge to be with her as she took her last breath and consciousness faded.

Mortimer is happy and healthy and with us still - or rather again.

Update Jan 8, 2012.
We're having to give Mortimer away. Barb's allergy to cats continues to worsen and I can't put it off any longer. He's 11 now, a senior, but still acts like a middle-age cat. It looks like this is going to be my last cat in this lifetime and I'm giving him away.. More tears.