Do all of [your cats] have distinctive purrs, or meows? They definitely have distinctive meows – you can always tell who’s meowing! Spot has a squeaky, jagged meow. When he was a kitten, he showed up on Fred’s patio (this is before I moved to Alabama) and howled all night long. We suspect that this scarred his vocal chords, and as a result, he can’t produce a long meow the way most of the other cats can. He rarely meows, but usually when he does, it means he’s about to put the smack down on one of the other cats. Spanky has a high-pitched meow, and he’s really the only one who howls for long periods of time. You can never tell why he’s howling – I suspect he just likes to hear himself “talk” – but he’ll eventually shut up if you talk back to him. Tubby has a short, husky, bitchy meow that I always spell as “Meh. MEH! Meh.” And that’s pretty much how it sounds. He never just gives one “Meh”, but they come in sets of three or more, some of them more emphasized than others. Usually when he meows, it’s because he wants something, and if you tell him to hush, he can turn the “Meh” into a “Meeeeeeeeeeeh”, with it sounding more demanding and husky as the sound draws out. Fancypants has the highest-pitched meow of the bunch, and there’s no mistaking who’s meowing when you hear it. When he meows, he usually flounces back and forth, rubbing on anything in the area. In the evening when we’re watching TV, if Fancypants is flopped on the floor, Fred will lisp “Who’s a Fancypants?” at him, and Fancypants will respond with a soundless meow. It’s pretty damn funny. Miz Poo has a meow similar to Spanky’s, and they’re the only two I ever mix up. She doesn’t howl like he does unless she wants to be picked up, and then she adds a little trill to the end. She’ll also howl with an almost keening noise if she’s carrying a toy from one part of the house to the other. The only two cats with really distinctive purrs are Spot, who purrs so loud you can hear him from a room away, and Spanky, who – when he’s really happy – has a purr that sounds exactly like a cricket. Reader Elizabeth asks: In your mind, go back in time to when you met Fred online and say everything was the same except for one thing: he hated, despised, and loathed cats, and was even ALLERGIC to them. Would you still be where you are today? You know, I have no idea. I’m trying to think of more to add, but I can’t think of anything. I have no idea on earth how things would have worked out – and I’m VERY glad that he loves cats as much, if not more, than I do! I will say that when I moved down here, we each only had a single cat apiece. He’s really indulged my kitty jones, and I’m still thrilled that he caved in on the Miz Poo issue (go back to mid-November of 1999 to read about it). How’s that for a non-answer? Reader Shannon asks: I’d love to know all [your cats’] names/sexes/& nicknames! Going oldest to youngest, we have: Spot: Male. We usually call him “Buhhhhddy”, because he’s such a buddy. Spanky: Male. We call him “Skitty-boo”, because although he’s the happiest of the cats, he’s also the most skittish. Stimpy: Male. We always call him “Mr. Fancypants”, or just plain “Fancypants”, ’cause he’s such a fancy thang. We never ever call him by his “given” name, and if I’m making an appointment for him, I have to stop and think what his given name IS. Snoopy: Male. We always call him “Tubby”, for obvious reasons. I always forget his “real” name, too. Scrappy: Female, the only girl of the bunch. We call her “Miz Poo”, and I always have to stop and wonder who the vet is talking about when he uses her name! Reader Anne asks: Why is Tubby so tubby when your other cats seem to be lean? Well, ok, why are Tubby and Miz Poo fat and the other three not? Do some cats just eat like pigs and there’s not much you can do about it? Excuuuuuuuse me? Are you implying that my Poo is portly? Well, maybe she is, just a little. But if she’s tubby, then Tubby is in a whole separate class, as we see below. Right now, Tubby weighs more than 20 pounds, and Miz Poo weighs just over 10 pounds, so she’s literally half the size of him. But I digress. I think that Tubby has gotten so big because when he was a baby, he lived on the streets until the shelter brought him in, and as a result, in his subconscious he remembers not being able to eat, and is making up for that as an adult. Or he could just be a pig for no particular reason – he won’t tell me. As for Miz Poo, I have no idea. She was hand-fed as a baby, and certainly never went hungry, so your guess is as good as mine. We do leave dry food out all the time for the cats, so they can eat whenever they want, and surely having food available to them at all times has helped contribute to their tubby portliness. For a few days a couple of years ago, we decided to change the way we fed them, and went to feeding them twice a day, leaving the food out for 15 minutes, and then putting the food away. This didn’t work because Fred was the one feeding them when he got up in the morning, and the cats were waking him up earlier and earlier. We didn’t do that for long before we went back to the old way of leaving food available all the time. Interestingly, it was Spot – the skinniest cat we have – who was most worried about the fact that there was no food where it had always been. Every time we went near the kitchen, he’d try to lead us to the food bowl so we’d know there was no food. And: And about Miz Poo’s tongue shaving: Does that mean she can’t taste any more and will always have a slick tongue? How is poor Miz Poo and her sneer and her slick tongue? Actually, no. Her taste buds grew back pretty quickly, and she’s able to taste as well as she ever could. Thank god, because she was having one hell of a time grooming herself. She’ll always have a sneer, even if the lip heals, because of the plug the vet removed and sent off for testing. Overall, she’s doing fine. We started her on essential fatty acids last Sunday, and already there’s a remarkable improvement in her dry skin. She’s stopped grooming constantly, and her dandruff has almost completely gone away. She’s not the most beautiful cat in the world to everyone, but she is to me. Reader Lena asks: Where, when and how, did you get Tubby? How old was he when he got fat? We got Tubby at a store that the people who run the no-kill shelter were running, in June of 1997. Back then, all they had was a store, and not the entire house they have now. (We got Miz Poo at the same place) As for how old he was when he got fat – well, it’s really been a lifelong process. He’s always been a voracious eater and was never really skinny. Got a burning question? Ask!]]>