1-1-16 – 2015 in Review

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2015 in Review.

We began 2015 with eight unadopted fosters. Returnees Creed, Sookie and Mr. Stripey were at the shelter or at Petsmart.

In residence, we had:

Molly Hatchett.


Pat Benatar.

Stevie Nicks.

Lita Ford.

The girls all went off to Petsmart on January 15th.

On January 18th, we very unexpectedly lost Corbie. The post about him is here.

On January 17th, Sookie was adopted, and then a week later Stevie Nicks and Lita Ford were both adopted, separately.

Lizzy was also adopted at some point in there, but returned a few days later.

On January 26th, I introduced the new guys to you.

Garfunkel and Paul Simon.

They came from the same apartment complex as Lizzy, Molly, Jethro Tull and Thunderclap Newman, but were a little older. They were about 5 months old when they came to us, but unlike their half siblings (we expect they shared the same father), Simon and Garfunkel were friendly and within 24 hours were coming to me for love. They were in great shape, and basically only came to us long enough to have their neuter surgeries, and to wait out the time until they could get their last shots.

At the end of January, Fred took what continues to be one of my favorite pictures EVER, of Archie out in the back forty.

Also at the end of January, Molly and Pat were adopted, separately.

At the beginning of February, I posted a picture and caption that made me snort Diet Coke out my nose just now when I saw it again.

(“Use a sharp tooth, Ruth”)

On February 3rd, Lizzy was adopted.

On February 9th, I officially introduced Archie, who had decided that it was high time he become an inside cat. After spending the weekend trying to stop him from coming inside, we gave in, and these days Archie spends about 2/3 of his time inside. He and Stefan still face off every now and then and hate each other, but I have hopes that they’ll work out their differences eventually.

On February 12th, Simon and Garfunkel went off to Petsmart.

On February 23, I introduced y’all to the new fosters:


Paul (who I referred to as a “rare diamond-bellied tuxie”, and some of you actually believed that was a thing, which I just love love love.)


They were 6 1/2 weeks old and half-siblings to Lita Ford, Stevie Nicks, and Pat Benatar. They were a delightful, active trio who got over their initial skittishness pretty quickly.

At the beginning of March, this amazing event occurred:

Alice and Jake, snuggled up together!

In March, we had snow – quite a bit of it – and the cats were not impressed.

On March 5th, I shared the video of Spitty Mary, which remains one of my favorite videos of the year.

YouTube link.

On March 5th, Paul Simon was adopted. It had been almost a month since I’d dropped Simon and Garfunkel off at Petsmart, so I was glad to finally have one of them adopted. And then, on March 10th, Garfunkel was adopted.

In mid-March, Peter, Paul, and Mary had a visitor in the form of Uncle Dennis. They were pretty fascinated by him, and Mary especially wanted to be friends with this beautiful stranger, but after checking out the foster room, Uncle Dennis left for more interesting pastures. They had another visit with him a few days later, and it went pretty well – though I think Uncle Dennis’s interest was mostly in checking out the beds and toys in that room rather than the occupants.

Not long after, there was a naptime with Uncle Dennis.

He’s such a good uncle when he wants to be.

On March 20th, I announced that Peter, Paul and Mary were off to be spayed and neutered, and then they were going off to another foster home. We needed the room, you see…

For Lucille Ball and her stomach stuffed full of babies.

Lucy (who wasn’t named until she had her babies) seemed huge and ready to pop, but she waited… and she waited… and she waited some more. On March 30th, I announced in all-caps that SHE WAS NEVER GOING TO HAVE THOSE BABIES.

Two days later, late in the day on April 1st, after acting exactly the same as she had been acting, and after eating THREE cans of food, Lucy went into labor. I posted pictures to Facebook/Instagram as labor was going on (and then posted all those pictures in the Saturday Roundup post). A couple of days later, I posted her birth story here. I expected her to have a pretty large litter, given her size, but I didn’t expect SEVEN kittens.

Lucy was a wonderful mother, though her first day was pretty rough. She was pretty hissy and growly – overwhelmed, I think – but once she settled into a routine, she was fine. When they were five days old, I introduced the Fools.

Gilda (girl).

Roseanne (girl).

Belushi (boy).

Louis (boy).

Rickles (boy).

Skelton (boy).

Shecky (boy).

On April 9th, at 8 days old, we got our first view of a baby kitten eyeball – Shecky’s:

After waiting out the time for their last vaccinations at another foster home, Peter, Paul and Mary went to Petsmart on April 11th. No sooner did they get there than two of them were adopted – together!

On April 14th, I posted pictures of all the new eyeballs in the foster room. They were plinkin’ all over the place!

Also on April 14th, Paul was adopted!

The kittens grew so fast that, I swear, you could just sit and see them growing. At three weeks old, they were wandering around the room, never too far from their Mama. Here’s Louis at three weeks old:

And here they are, nursing:

On April 23rd, I posted pictures of each of the kittens at 3 days old and 3 weeks old. They grow so FAST!

At the end of April, this finally happened:

Kathy, who lives in Birmingham and had adopted Reacher back in 2011, had recently lost her other kitty, Beau. She decided to adopt another Challenger’s House kitty, and Mr. Stripey was who she chose. Things are going great, he’s getting along well with Reacher and the dogs, and he’s been renamed Gladstone Cairy after a departed friend.

I posted pictures of the Fools at 4 weeks old on April 30th. Have I mentioned that they grow SO fast? Here they are, nursing at 4 weeks old:

At the beginning of May, I posted about Rhyme – brother to Corbie – who was adopted in February 2011. I posted about him because he had been returned in February of this year, went to the shelter for a little while, and then to Petsmart. I finally got a chance to go see him, and then he was adopted pretty quickly.

If I posted every picture and video of the Fools that I adore so very much we’d be here all month, but I just love this one I made of kittens falling asleep SO SO MUCH.

YouTube link.

And of course, I have to share my most-watched kitten video ever, the one wherein Rickles goes wild. The video’s had 71,000+ views, and there have been gifs made from the section where Rickles does his flip and jazz paws. (This reminds me of the episode in The Killing wherein someone posted a video of mayoral candidate Billy Campbell (who was in a wheelchair) on YouTube. His campaign manager said “It’s gone viral!” – and it had 2,000 views. Fred and I still mock that line, to this day. If we see a video that’s had 5 views, one of us will exclaim “It’s gone viral!”)

YouTube link.

On May 14th were the six-week pictures of the Fools. When they were seven weeks old, I posted pictures of each of their tummies. On May 22nd, Lucy went for her spay surgery, and I teased y’all by asking if you had any idea who this was…

That’s Carlin, of course, who was found roadside in Tennessee with a dead sibling nearby. Lucky for him, people spotted him and stopped to pick him up. He was estimated to be about 2 1/2 weeks younger than the Fools, and he needed to have other kittens to play with and to teach him his manners. We hoped that Lucy would take on the task of mothering him, and at first she was pretty dramatic about the NOPE of it all, but eventually…

That’s Carlin draped across the middle of her. There’s a long post with more details here. I don’t think she ever really fully accepted him, but she allowed him to nurse and to occasionally snuggle with her, and I think he needed that.

(And yes, mother cats can still produce milk after they’ve been spayed.)

The pictures of the Fools at 2 months old are in this post.

I posted this picture of the Fools nursing. You can barely see Lucy under all those kittens!

On June 2nd, I posted one of my favorite pictures ever.


On June 9th, I got a shot of all the Fools, lined up.

And on June 11th, I posted the Fools’ 10-week pictures.

On June 15th, the Fools all went for their spays and neuters, and they came through just fine.

We said goodbye to our beloved Miz Poo on June 22nd – the post about her is here. We knew her time was coming, so this wasn’t a complete shock to us, but she’d rallied so often that I hoped she’d continue to do so. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and we knew it was time to let her go.

At the end of June, there was one last picture of the Fools together before they headed off to Petsmart.

Gilda, Roseanne, Belushi and Shecky went to Petsmart the morning of the 27th, and only a few hours later I got word that Gilda had been adopted! I took Rickles to Petsmart to keep Roseanne (who’d been in the cage with Gilda) company. That left Lucy, Carlin, Skelton and Louis here. Just a few days later, on June 30th, Rickles was adopted, and Louis went to Petsmart to join his siblings. on July 7th, Belushi was adopted.

On July 9th, Lucy – with her milk having dried up – went to Petsmart, and so did Carlin and Skelton. I told y’all that I had “a very good feeling about adoptions,” and that’s because I had some inside info.

Carlin (now Georgie) and Skelton (now Red) were adopted together by Ann and Rich, who had adopted Bill of the True Blood 6 back in 2009. They’d come to the house a few weeks earlier in hopes of meeting Belushi and adding him to their family. Belushi, however, wanted none of it and instead Carlin stomped his way into their hearts. They came back the next weekend for a visit, and fell in love with Skelton, too. They even have their very own Instagram right here, and it’s been a pleasure getting to watch them grow.

The same day I posted about Carlin and Skelton being adopted, I introduced y’all to River.

I was about to head off on vacation and while Fred prefers not to deal with gaggles of small kittens while I’m gone, he’s fine with one or two older kittens. River had been at Petsmart for a while and needed a break from the cage, so I suggested she come here while I was gone.

On July 8th, we unexpectedly lost Sugarbutt. The post about what happened is here; my tribute post to him is here.

On July 12th, Shecky was adopted. Not ONLY was he adopted, but I’d already gotten an update about him on Facebook. Shecky was renamed Gir. On the 14th, Roseanne was adopted – by the same people who had adopted Rickles! On the 16th, Louis went home. Lastly, on the 19th, Lucy went home!

Since I was going on vacation, I wrote and scheduled posts ahead of time to automatically publish each morning. I did looks back at Lucy and each of her kittens with lots of pictures, a cat each day. Lucy’s post was first, followed by Belushi, Carlin, Gilda, Louis, Rickles, Roseanne, Shecky, and Skelton.

My vacation in July was longer than it usual. I drove from here to Pennsylvania to help with Nance’s son’s wedding. Then I drove from there to Massachusetts to pick up my daughter, and from there to Maine to stay for a week. While in Maine, I finally got to meet Connie from Tails from the Foster Kittens, and she posted about that on her blog. I posted a few “themed” entries – Mama Love Monday, Nursing Kittens, Random Cuteness, annnnd Random Cuteness Part 2. Then, the following Monday after I arrived home, I posted about what I’d done while I was gone.

(By the time I got home from that vacation, I said “WHAT A STUPID IDEA TO DO ALL THAT DRIVING, I AM NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN”, it’s been a few months and I’m kind of (not seriously, though) thinking about doing it again. Someday. Maybe!)

Belushi was unfortunately returned while I was on vacation due to his high-energy kitten ways.

River went back to Petsmart after her three week vacation from the cage, despite the insistence from many of you that she was going to be a permanent resident. I find that very often when I have a single foster here, y’all think I’m going to keep him or her. River was a sweetheart, but she and Stinkerbelle DID NOT like each other at ALL. I apparently missed quite a few screams of outrage from Stinkerbelle while I was gone.

The foster room remained empty for a while because… the new guys were in the downstairs bathroom!

That’s right, the Squash Bugs (Ambercup, Zucchini/Zuke, Calabash and Pattypan) joined us. I first posted about them on August 4th. They were about 2 1/2 weeks old when I got them from another Challenger’s House foster mom. They were in good shape aside from some slightly goopy eyes, and an abscess on Pattypan’s front right leg. She went to the vet and was put on antibiotics and then had to go back for a re-check. She was on two antibiotics, poor baby, but it didn’t really slow her down. The bandage on her leg didn’t slow her down either, and having a warm compress on her tiny little leg twice a day was really only an annoyance. (Kudos to Fred for helping me with all that.)

Teresa shared some pictures of Belushi and River at Petsmart, as well as some videos of them playing together, here and here. A few days later, on August 8th, Belushi was adopted (River, unfortunately, was not).

On August 10th, I told y’all that I’d moved the Squash Bug upstairs to the foster room, and that I was glad to have my bathroom back. Only, I didn’t really have my bathroom back, because now occupying my tub were The Swimmers!

Spitz, Louganis, Torres and Phelps were left under a bush by their mother. Unfortunately, it started to rain, and they were in a low spot. By the time they were rescued, they were barely holding their heads above water! I immediately said I’d take them, of course.

They were about 3 weeks old, and they were born to the same mother as Paul Simon and Garfunkel (they were finally able to spay her a few weeks later – there’s a picture of her in the September 7th post).

On August 11th, we performed our first-ever kitten enemas on the Squash Bugs (which we really really REALLY didn’t want to do but had to), and none of the kittens and neither of the humans were traumatized.

On August 12th, I did a very long and exhaustive A Day in the Life post. This included possibly the best picture of the year.

I started offering the Swimmers canned food, and that went well.

We got a look at the heart on Calabash’s back end:

On August 14th, we unexpectedly lost Tommy. I posted an announcement about that, and copied Fred’s Facebook post about it here. My tribute to Tommy is here.

Only four days later, on August 18th, we unexpectedly lost our Gracie. I posted about that and reprinted Fred’s Facebook post here. My tribute to her is here.

On August 24th, after having their tests, which were fine, we introduced the Squash Bugs and the Swimmers to each other. Ready for some big-time drama and floofing, I had the camera at the ready, and… NO DRAMA. Ain’t it always the way? It was so drama-free that after a few short visits, the Swimmers got to just stay in the foster room with the Squash Bugs.

Near the end of August, we met Cletus van Damme, who just wandered onto the property one day. He was sweet and friendly, we asked around if anyone knew his origins, and no one did, so off to Petsmart and then to the shelter he went to wait out the time ’til he could have his last vaccinations.

I announced that all of the Squash Bugs and the Swimmers were off the bottle and eating on their own, yay!

But a few weeks later, Susan sent out an email asking if anyone could take some bottle babies, and y’all got to meet Badger and Skinny Pete. They were about a week old, found near a steam vent, appearing to be abandoned by their mother.

On September 9th, I posted that River had been adopted, and all the adoption counselors and volunteer cleaners at Petsmart cheered!

Also on September 9th, the Squash Bugs and the Swimmers (collectively, the SwimBugs) met Dennis, and I posted another of my favorite pictures of the year.


On September 15th, the foster-balance shifted from 50% House Panthers to a House Panther majority when Combo joined Badger and Skinny Pete.

He was found in the same way as the other two, abandoned near a steam pipe. I basically just put him into the crate with the other two, and they shrugged and piled up together. Again, no drama.

On September 17th, I posted a list of all the bottle babies I’d ever had (36, plus three who went to another foster home).

I got a picture of all 8 SwimBugs in one picture!

I love this picture of Badger, Combo and Skinny Pete together – I called the three of them the BeeBees, since they were named after Breaking Bad characters.

This picture (but especially the caption) made me snicker just now when I saw it.

In the interest of privacy I won’t name any names, but a certain bad boy kitty used the #CatSelfie app to take a picture of his butthole, and before I realized what was going on, he had the Facebook app open and I am 99% sure he was trying to post said picture. So glad I stopped him because NO ONE needs to see that. #clingons #SorryNotSorry #ItWasZuke #TheyGrowUpSoFast #KittyPorn

This picture of the SwimBugs meeting Stefan cracks me up.

All 8 SwimBugs in one picture!

On September 28th, I announced that I’d realized we did not, in fact, have three boy BeeBees. Skinny Pete is a girl! (But we kept her name as Skinny Pete.)

I cracked myself up with these “album covers.”

The BeeBees and I did some post-bottle snuggling (and seeing all these bottle babies again is just killing me dead and want more of them!)

The Squash Bugs went off for their spays and neuter on October 1st, came through surgery just fine, and on October 6th they headed off to Petsmart. Because I had some more inside knowledge, I said “Five bucks says at least one of them gets adopted tonight” – and one did!

The young man who adopted Pattypan is the same one who had bottle-fed all the Squash Bugs for a couple of days before they were turned over to Challenger’s House. Very often when people find bottle babies or young kittens or a pregnant mama cat, they express interest in adopting the kittens when they’re raised and then we don’t really hear anything else; I think once time has passed, they’ve had time to change their minds. So to have someone fall in love with a kitten and actually come back and adopt her was really cool.

On October 9th, the BeeBees went to live with their new foster mom, Kathie. I was heading out of town for a few days to Myrtle Beach, and at first asked Kathie to babysit. Then, since I was having shoulder surgery at the beginning of November, I asked if she could keep them until they were ready to go to Petsmart. She had the space and was willing, so off they went. We got updates on them on October 19th and December 16th.

Since I was on vacation, I pre-wrote and scheduled posts while I was gone with looks back at each Squash Bug. This was SUPER hard to do, because I got a LOT of really good pictures of those babies! Ambercup was first, followed by Calabash, Pattypan, and then Zuke. Then I did a Random Squash Bugs post.

On October 17th, Calabash was adopted. Zuke went home on October 24th.

On October 22nd, I posted about former foster Catelyn, and how she’d been returned. She’d only gotten floofier and more fabulous in the year since we’d last seen her. In the same post, I announced that the Swimmers were off to Petsmart that night, which would render us kittenless for the foreseeable future due to my upcoming shoulder surgery.

The week of the 26th, I did posts that looked back at the Swimmers as they grew. First Louganis, then Phelps, Spitz, and Torres. On Friday, I did “themed” Swimmers collages.

On October 29th, Ambercup was adopted.

As mentioned at the top of the post for October 30th, after I’d harassed y’all to vote for Frog Alice in a costume contest for several days (or… a couple of weeks? A week? Something like that.), and despite the fact that Alice was in first or second place the entire time, she didn’t win a thing. The same general thing happened with a picture of Gracie a few years back – she was at the top, voting-wise, and then they had judges who made the decision without (it seemed) taking the votes into account. Clearly the company’s goal in having people vote for pictures and then not considering those votes is simply to drive traffic to their site, so that’s the last contest I’ll enter any pictures into. (Though I will happily vote for YOUR pictures!)

On October 31st, the Crooked Acres Gang (well, some of them) dressed up for Halloween. I reposted my favorite Dennis picture, because it kills me dead every time.

“HUMANS! Come to the dark side! We have CRUNCHIES!”

We started November with the announcement that we took George to the vet for a general wellness checkup; he checked out fine, and we got a weight on him: 157.5 pounds. What I didn’t tell y’all was that we actually put him in our largest carrier (which we had to take apart to get him into and rebuild around him) and thought we were going to lift him into the back of the truck. We got him about 2 inches off the ground before I said “Yeah, this isn’t going to happen.” We took the carrier apart and Fred half-lifted, half-pushed George into the back seat of the truck. George loved being at the vet, because all the vet techs and support staff made a fuss over him.

On November 4th, I headed off for shoulder surgery. It went just fine (though the waiting around for surgery to start was the WORST). I did not tell my surgeon that he reminds me of Sam the Eagle, and the nerve block that caused my arm to be completely without feeling (and which creeped me out, BIG TIME) only lasted about 18 hours.

On November 7th, Torres was adopted. Then Louganis and Spitz were adopted together on October 10th. A little later on the evening of the 10th, while I was still seriously dithering over whether to suggest we go get Phelps, he was adopted, too!

November posts were basically posts about the permanent residents, with other random pictures thrown in. There was good news in the fact that Cletus van Damme had finally been adopted.

Toward the end of November, I shared a list of all the “ferals” (ie, cats who were not instantly friendly) who showed up at Crooked Acres and were charmed by Fred.

On Thanksgiving Day, we put a turkey hat on some of the Crooked Acres Gang and took pictures of them. Post-Thanksgiving, I posted a State of the Shelter letter from Sherry and Susan, and mentioned other ways to help out Challenger’s House. On the last day of November, I introduced y’all to the newest feral to show up at Crooked Acres, FancypantsV2 (Fred has made no inroads to taming him; he doesn’t show up on any kind of regular basis, and he zooms off the instant he hears either of us open the door).

On December 3, you got to read about Fred being bitten by a squirrel in 2007.

On December 4th, after having had no fosters in forEVER, I introduced you to Adele the Floomp. She’d been dumped at an apartment complex and was nearly struck by a car before Byron and Sue rescued her. She was guesstimated to be about 9 months old. She’d been with Winnie for a few days, and when I picked her up, Winnie warned me that Adele did NOT want to be alone. She wasn’t kidding – Adele got the run of the upstairs pretty much the same day she came home with me, and it wasn’t much longer before she was getting the run of the whole house.

Which was good, because we needed the foster room for Pink! Pink was running around a church parking lot, dodging cars, and was rescued by Selena (mom to Hook and Flynn, who also volunteers for Challenger’s House). She came to us on December 10th, and I introduced her in this post. Her guesstimated age is 6 months, and she is TINY for her age.

After a few hissy-spitty days, Pink and Adele became buddies.

By the way, it wasn’t until I started this post and ran across the post from June that I realized that the Fizzgig of the amazing tail is the same Fizzgig (formerly Linus) that Warriorinside adopted back in June. No wonder the name sounded so familiar!

On December 18th, I mentioned that I’d closed Adele and Pink out of the foster room… and then introduced the Coaches.




They were left in a carrier by the side of the road in rural Madison county here in Alabama. They were about 7 1/2 weeks old. They were pretty much instantly friendly, and every time I walk into the room, they all race over to me for love.

On December 25th, we wished you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Then, on the evening of December 29th, we got one more little foster added in before the end of the year; y’all got to meet Pharrell. He was dumped near a feral feeding station in Huntsville and trapped by the caregivers. He’s a scared little guy, but he loves being snuggled, and once he’s through with his medication (the poor guy was loaded with parasites), he’ll get to meet the rest of the Coaches.

If you include the kittens we started the year with (Molly Hatchett, Lizzy, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks and Lita Ford), and the ones we’re ending the year with (Pink, Adele, Stefani, Shelton, Levine and Pharrell), we had 37 fosters move through here. There are 9 currently unadopted (Pink, Adele, Stefani, Shelton, Levine, Pharrell and the three we co-fostered with Kathie: Badger, Skinny Pete and Combo), so we’ve had 28 adoptions this year. Terry and Sookie – returned in 2014 – were adopted in 2015. Mr. Stripey, who was returned in 2013, was also adopted out. Rhyme and Catelyn were both returned this year, but both adopted out again pretty quickly. Creed, who was returned in 2014, remains at the shelter, and is still available for adoption.

We have now fostered a total of 288 cats and kittens (which does not include Cletus van Damme, because he didn’t spend any time with us as a foster).

Want to see this year’s fosters in one place? You know you do! Here they are – click on the picture below to see the full-sized version over at Flickr.


Former Foster Updates we received this year.
(Arranged, roughly, in the order in which we fostered them.)

Terry: January 7, March 24, September 1, December 23.

Gladstone Cairy (formerly Mr. Stripey) and Reacher: April 28, September 29.

Maggie: February 4, May 4, August 31.

Stompers: December 14.

Flynn (formerly Kohle) and Hook (formerly Puff): March 9, December 24.

Artemis (formerly Lilybet): January 5, November 24.

Sooty (formerly Jareth) and Toby (formerly Charming): February 16.

Khaleesi: April 10, September 3, December 1.

Norbie: March 9, May 1, September 21, November 23.

Orlando (and eventually his sister Pickles and his brother Hobo) : January 5, January 10, January 13, February 5, March 5, April 27.

Sherman (formerly Trader Joe): March 12, May 26, October 19, December 28.

Von and Winn Dixie: March 12, December 28.

Jethro Tull (JT) and Thunderclap Newman (TC): January 2, January 8, February 3, December 30.

Lizzy: February 11.

Molly Hatchett: April 7.

Gilly (formerly Lucille Ball/Lucy): August 12th, December 29, December 30.

Gypsy (formerly Gilda): August 6.

Connor (formerly Louis): August 6.

Gir (formerly Shecky): August 12, November 27.

Carly (formerly River): October 26.

Amber (formerly Ambercup): November 13.

Calliope (Cali for short – formerly Calabash): October 30.

Peanut (formerly Pattypan): October 28, November 4, November 25, December 22.


The state of the permanent residents in 2015.

What a terrible, terrible year this was for our permanent resident population. We started the year with 13 official permanent residents, and I halfheartedly considered Archie (who hadn’t yet been inside the house) as one, too, for a total of 14 cats and 2 dogs.

We lost Corbie unexpectedly in January; he was gone so quickly that we didn’t even get to the door before he was gone. We determined later that it was likely a saddle thrombus.

In February Archie decided that it was time for him to become an indoor cat. We fought it for an entire weekend, but literally could not stop him from coming inside, so I threw up my hands and gave up. It’s gone surprisingly well, though he and Stefan alternately hate and ignore each other.

Things calmed down for a few months, and then Miz Poo started going downhill. She’d rallied so often before that I hoped she would again, but it wasn’t to be. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was heartbreaking all the same. We said goodbye to her near the end of June.

Losing Corbie and Miz Poo in the same year was enough to make it a bad year, but we had no idea what was coming.

Sugarbutt became sick in early July and at first we thought he’d pull through. He didn’t, and seeing him so sick and scared at the vet the day we said goodbye was awful.

Just over a month later, Tommy suffered a saddle thrombus, the same thing that took Corbie. We were able to get him to the emergency vet, but there was truly nothing they could do. I had been so sure that our Ambassador would live to be an old and grumpy man. We could never have expected our two brothers – the first fosters we’d ever adopted – to leave us a month apart.

In one last blow, four days after we lost Tommy, we lost Gracie in the most horrifying way I could possibly think of.

Losing Miz Poo, Sugarbutt, Tommy, and Gracie so close together made me paranoid that we’d just keep losing cats and George until they were all gone. It made us both wonder if we were living under a dark cloud. How many times and how many ways is it possible to say that this is terrible and awful, we are sad and heartbroken, grieving and reeling? Please, 2016, give us a minute to catch our breath.

Many of you have asked how Stinkerbelle (who adored her Tommy so very much) and George (who lost his sister and companion) are doing. Stinkerbelle is doing much better than I expected. I always think that animals know more than we do. Maybe she knew that he was leaving her, and had made her peace with the idea. I had hoped that perhaps she and Jake (who is clearly missing Tommy) would strike up a friendship, but she’s made it pretty clear that that isn’t going to happen. Lucky for Jake, Dennis has stepped up to comfort Jake and they can be found hanging out together. I’m sure Jake would like it if Dennis would clean his ears, but Dennis is not inclined to do so.

George is doing well, but I’ll admit that he looks so old to me now. He does his job and he does it happily, but he looks like he’s aged a decade. We give him more attention, we watch him worriedly, but he checked out well at the vet. Despite his weight of 157.5 pounds (Fred won’t let me leave that .5 off the number), he’s not at all overweight. Great Pyrs, like all big dogs, do not live long lives. Their life expectancy is 10 – 12 years, and George is 7 years old. We do what we can to keep him comfortable (he’s on supplements for his hips, Fred has piled extra straw in the corners of the chicken coop). He’s happy – he’s just old. And I’m sure he misses Gracie; so do I.

We’re all adjusting, and it will take time. It’s so strange that these lives so much a part of ours can just be gone without warning. Every so often, realizing how many we’ve lost this year can still take me by surprise. You know that feeling when you’re going up a set of steps, you reach the top without realizing it, and you put your foot down expecting a step to be there – only your foot keeps going down, and for a moment it feels like you’re falling? That’s how it feels when I remember again that Tommy, our sweet, patient Ambassador, is gone. That our laid-back surfer in cat’s fur, Sugarbutt, left us. That Miz Poo won’t come down the hallway calling for me or wake me in the morning by sneezing in my face. That I won’t walk into the front room to see Corbie’s slow-blink of love as I tell him yet again what a beautiful boy he is. That Gracie won’t spot me coming toward her dance over to greet me at the gate.

When we adopt them, we know on some level that one day we’ll lose them. We hope it’ll be when they’re very very old. But that’s not a guarantee, of course. We get the time we get. Time will pass, the pain will become more bearable, and the love will be worth the loss.

We end 2015 and begin 2016 with 10 cats and one dog: Maxi, Newt, Stinkerbelle, Kara, Joe Bob, Jake, Alice, Stefan, Dennis, Archie, and George. I hope so very much that all who are with us today are still with us when we begin 2017.


I’m just going to go ahead and repeat what I said last year, and the year before, and the year before that.

As we begin this new year, I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for reading. I know that a lot of you say that you like to start (or end) your day at Love & Hisses, reading about the kittens and the permanent residents. You give me (and each other) advice, ask and answer questions, fall in love with the kittens we foster and our permanent residents, and grieve with us as we’ve lost permanent residents. I started this site because I can’t shut my face about cats and kittens, and to have y’all enjoy the pictures and stories I post means more than I could ever begin to express. I appreciate each and every one of you, whether you’re here every day or just come by every now and then. We’ve built an amazing community here, and I certainly could never have done it alone.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all so very very much!


2015: 2014 in review.
2014: 2013 in review.
2013: 2012 in review.
2012: No entry.
2011: No entry.
2010: No entry.
2009: This is going to be hard – it always is – but I have to trust that they’ll end up in fantastic homes with people who spoil them as rotten as we do.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.