We are, clearly, cat people. We have two of them currently: Bellatrix, who is the smartest cat either of us have had, and Scrambles the Death Dealer, who is the sweetest cat either of us have had. And good thing that Scrambles is sweet, because she isn’t what one would call bright. But hey, at least when she gets annoyed she forgets about it within a few seconds and is happy again.
When Chris moved in with me 6+ years ago, I already had a black cat named Beavis. Beavis hated pretty much everybody except me, but he took an immediate liking to Chris (especially his wallet, which he liked to rub his face on). Unfortunately Beavis was very old and had to be put down before we moved to NC back in 2009, so we were petless for a while. I was just thinking of suggesting we get another cat when one night we were watching Planet Terror and Chris asked if I heard a weird noise. I figured it was the credits (the movie had just finished), but we muted it and heard a small voice. We looked out to our deck and saw a little black and white cat meowing at us. Chris got up and said “It’s a cat!” and opened the door to let her in. The cat immediately made herself at home and let us pet her, then ran around the house. It was clear she was an outside cat and was still a kitten. She cried to go out in the middle of the night and I let her out, but she didn’t cry to come back in.
When we got up the next morning she was sitting on the deck, patiently waiting for us to get up. We let her in and gave her food, water, and set up a litter box. After checking lost cat ads in the paper and online, we determined she wasn’t a lost kitty so we officially adopted her and named her Bellatrix. This was after she was being playful and sassy and Chris told her she was acting like a naughty Bellatrix, and the name stuck.
Bella’s tail was bigger than her for most of her young life, and you can see the difference from when we first adopted her to the massive feline presence she is now:
Sometimes Bella will have nightmares (I think it’s from her wandering around in the wilderness when she was a baby) and will wake herself up by meowing and we have to comfort her. Then she’ll howl for treats, because that’s the Bellatrix way.
Tina says: we had a cat once that stood between our toddler and a large dog in a defensive manner. The dog left. ‘Nuff said.
It was only a few months after Bellatrix adopted us that we knew we needed another kitteh. She was too active and was getting bored without enough stimuli, and a bored Bella means trouble. Lo and behold the Macon County Humane Society was having an adoption special, so we headed off to find a new playmate for Bella.
The Humane Society had a room full of a litter of 10 month old kittens, all fixed and chipped and ready to go. There was Luigi, who had a completely black head, with a single white stripe under his nose like a moustache. Another family was in there at the time, with a gentleman suffering from an illness. Luigi jumped right into his lap and made it clear he was going home with them.
There was a loveable grey kitten, who was already on hold for someone else. And there were two tuxedo ones, Grant and Lana. Grant was quite a climber. We picked Lana. We felt it would be better to get another girl kitty. When we took the carrier into the room to load her up a whole host of kittens tried to pile in. It was clear that they had not been subjected to many vet trips yet.
Dottie had a cat “that would get me up during the week by jumping on me but not on the weekend– better than an alarm clock.”
- My Neighbor Totoro (Best. Kids. Movie. Ever.)
- Dewey: A Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World–
We had some trepidation, of course, the day we brought Scrambles home. We set the cat carrier down in the dining room and let Bella sniff around it a bit before opening it up. When we did lower the gate Scrambles darted out and Bellatrix darted into the carrier and sat in there for awhile.
They accepted each other right off, and continue to get along fairly well. They do have issues with each other on occasion, mainly due to Scrambles not knowing how to “cat’ very well. Typically when cats play together they take turns chasing the other one. Scrams has never quite figured this out. Once when she pounced on her sister Bella caught her in midair and body slammed her.
Megan said that she had a cat that once fought a coyote. And won.
Both of our kittehs are people friendly. True, Bellatrix doesn’t like change much, so someone new in the house might mean she is under the bed. But generally speaking they like people, and especially us. Scrambles is very much filled with love. She just doesn’t know how to express it. When she was younger she could not settle down at all. She would get up on the couch with us and twist and turn and squirm. Any attention paid to her made it worse. Even now half the time you pet her or talk to her she gets excited and gets back up. Laps confuse her, so she generally lies between us on the couch, or on the armrests or back of it.
Bellatrix is definitely more independent, and will cuddle only when she wants to. She knows how to be a lap cat, although her size can make that problematic at times. When it is colder outside she often wants to get in the “cave”–getting under the covers and lying between my legs. Scrambles will hear her purring under there and gets confused. Scrams will often go under the covers, but she comes right back out. And then wants to go in again.
Dorry points out that birds are not the only ones that sit on shoulders.
- Dewey’s Nine Lives
- Do cats always land on their feet? : 101 of the most perplexing questions answered about feline unfathomables, medical mysteries & befuddling behaviors
Our girls (we call them “the girls”) are both intelligent when it comes to one thing – food. Scrambles knows when it’s 7:00 and begins to howl for her dinner (although she’ll cry for it well before dinner time), and both her and Bellatrix know what it means when they’re offered treats. I have to admit I spoil them with treats and now they yell at me if I go into the kitchen and they get nothing from it.
At dinner time Scrambles gets very excited, and hence gets underfoot. Bellatrix waits until she knows that you are actually getting them their food before coming into the kitchen. She has on occasion bopped Scrambles on the head to try and calm her down while waiting for their bowls!
They both respond to the words “treats” and “Caturday”. Caturday is when they get special wet food for dinner, instead of the boring old Meow Mix.
Deb relates: “I have a cat who loves potato chips and Cheetos. Every time she hears the bag rattle she comes running.” (Chris once had a rabbit that liked Doritos and Kool-Aid.)
Scrambles never fails to provide us with crazy stories. She makes me wish we had cameras going, kind of like in Paranormal Activity so we can show proof that she really is as nutty as we describe her to be.
One night Chris had gone to bed early and Scrambles was lying at the foot of the bed (which she likes to do). I’d finished watching TV and went in to go to bed and made the mistake of petting her in her sleep. She jumped up, bounced off Chris’s foot, waking him up, then dove off the bed, did a perfect front flip, then landed on the carpet with her eyes wide, clearly terrified. This was around the Olympics, so maybe that was her influence.
Jessica recently learned that to take a cat’s blood sugar reading, you nick the cat’s ear for the blood sample. Certain brands human blood sugar meters work for cats, but others do not, so you have to check with your vet. Who knew??
- Life lessons from your cat : we’re so vain, we probably think this book is about us
- That Darn Cat (Film)
Bella is very determined when it comes to play time. If you are up and about and she wants attention she will yowl and stand on your feet. If you are sitting down she will come over and stare at you, and will reach out and poke you with a single claw. She will keep doing this until you play with her.
She also knows that her claws are sharp. If I get her belly and she wraps up around my arm and starts kicking with those back paws, she will keep her claws in if I have bare arms. If I have sleeves she will use them.
Serenity points out that cats can’t taste sweet, so when they beg for your cookie, they are lying. (Scrambles loves to lick the wrappers of our ice cream sandwiches.)
- A Lion Called Christian (I never would have believed this story if it wasn’t, you know, true)
- 101 cataclysms : for the love of cats
Most cats are quite astute, but our Scrambles is the exception. With fall turning into winter, we’ve stopped opening up the house, much to the disappointment of the cats. One afternoon I’d just finished closing the window in the living room, where Scrambles likes to sit on the ledge and stare outside. She watched me close the window, and just after I turned I heard a crash and saw Scrammies standing awkwardly on the carpet, looking dazed. Maybe she thought if she jumped hard enough, she could still sit on the ledge.
Poor Scrambles. We really had some concerns that perhaps she was a “simple” cat, much like the dog here.
Deb had a 20 pound tom cat that was afraid of the bird next door because it would attack him on sight.
- Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
- Wild discovery guide to your cat : understanding and caring for the tiger within
Bellatrix loves her sunbeams. At the old house we would get nice ones right across the living room floor. If I dared stick my feet in one while sitting there playing Xbox she would attack it. And once Scrambles came into the scene Bella would aggressively defend “her” sunbeams. Luckily our current abode has plenty of sunny spots and she has mellowed on the subject.
Luke’s story: “when my son was little, he had a cat that would go on walks with us. He wasn’t on a leash, he’d just trot along beside us, even for long walks.”
Most cat owners can attest to their kittehs becoming enraptured with something on TV. Scrambles likes to sit with us while we watch TV. Sometimes she gets spooked by noises from the TV (we love horror movies, she doesn’t), but she seems to enjoy wrestling, especially Smackdown. Maybe it’s because cats are better at picking up certain colors, like blues and purples , and Smackdown uses a lot of blue in their show.
A couple of times, Scrambles actually jumped off the couch and ran up to the tv, batting at what was on the screen. The first time she did this was with the show Louie when a little girl was practicing her violin. Maybe it was the movement that caught her eye, but Scrams sure enjoyed this scene (warning – a curse word is uttered at the end of the clip, so if you don’t want to hear it, turn off the clip or sound after the little girl leaves the room).
Another scene that had Scrambles utterly fascinated was part of a special feature on the Dr. Horrible DVD. It has a puppet “The Reverend” trying to apply for a membership in the Evil League of Evil.
Scrambles definitely would have given The Reverend her vote.
Deb had a cat that cured himself of diabetes by getting and surviving pancreatitis.
Bellatrix will play fetch. And I mean this in quite a literal way. If you throw certain toy mice she will gallop after them and bring them back. Throw it so that she can’t see where it goes, she will track it down and bring it back. I have never seen a cat do this before, but this was one of the clues that lead us to identifying her breed. Okay, technically the vet classifies her as a “domestic short hair”, but we have determined that she has immediate Maine Coon ancestry.
Of course when she brings the mouse back she doesn’t usually bring directly to you. She’ll drop it a few feet away and make you get up to get it and throw it again. She is after all a cat.
Ellen has also encountered a fetching cat: “my aunt had a cat that actually played fetch like a dog. You could throw a ball (those small bouncy balls were a favorite) and the cat would chase it down and return it to you, clenched between its teeth. It was really not your typical cat behavior.”
- I can has cheeseburger : a LOLcat colleckshun
- The new encyclopedia of the cat (We used this book to help determine Bellatrix’s ancestry, when we realized that she was no ordinary cat. Like any cat is truly “ordinary”.)
Both cats like playing with mice. Well, at least toy ones. At our old house we had a mouse problem before Bella moved in. Last time I saw one it poked its head out from next to the stove. Bella spotted it, and we saw no more mice after that.
Scrambles loves to throw the toy mice around in the air, but she has no spatial cognizance, so when they are out of her line of sight she loses track of them. I literally saw her lose one that was directly under her feet. Bellatrix doesn’t have this problem. In fact, if you say are pulling a ribbon that she is tracking around the ottoman, she sometimes will circle around it the other way, because even though it is out of sight, she still knows exactly where it is.
Ronda shared this: “many years back, we had two patrons, a man & his wife, who brought in a snapshot to show me of their cat doing his favorite thing – pulling a long piece of yarn through the wife’s open-toed shoes in the closet – sandals, flip flops, dress shoes – through one shoe and on to the next. It’s got to be one of the weirdest things I’ve seen.”
Bella will actually talk to us (not in English, mind you), and especially likes talking to Chris since she’s a Daddy’s girl. She uses different tones and meows, and if you talk to her she’ll “talk” back. Sometimes she’ll do this when we’re on the phone, much to the delight of the other person on the line. This is very common for Maine Coons, as they are quite the vocal breed.
Another odd characteristic of Bella’s is her love of water. Maine Coons adore water and her habit of knocking over their water fountain has made us have to take certain measures, like placing the fountain in an empty litter box so that when she inevitably knocks it over, it won’t spill all over the floor like it used to.
Copper and Scrabble (Dorry’s cats) love drinking fresh water from the tub.
And as a final note, Bellatrix has inspired many a nickname through the years. We thought we would share some of them with you.
All of the nifty cat titles mentioned in this blog can be found here: