When I was a kid my mother had adopted a cat named Cassie. Cassie's mother was Cleo, the cat of a
man my mum was dating. She disappeared within her first year with us and we never saw her again. Eventually mum decided that I needed the companionship of cats again (this was not long after dad moved out and they divorced). So she took me to the Humane Society to adopt another.
I was just 9 and had taken a small doll with me. The doll accompanied me as I went from cage to cage looking at all of the cats. One special little calico came forward and started chewing on the doll's feet. She was an adorable kitten in a cage with her litter mate, another little calico. When I called out to mum that I had found the right kitten, she came, looked over my shoulder, and uttered the most magic of words:
"We'll take them both."
The cage was opened and the kittens loaded into my arms. They had been taken from their mother too young, so they were barely a handful apiece. I carried them to the desk where mum was filling out the necessary paperwork and paying the adoption fee. The second kitten noticed the gerbil cage on the counter and before I could stop her she did a face plant on the glass side of the cage and fell to the floor.
It was kismet. I was now smitten with both felines. For the moment. When we got them home we found a problem with our new family members -- they had been taken from their mother before they had learned a very, very important thing from her. Neither one of them knew how to use the litter box. We entered into a round of cleaning up piles and hunting them down behind the furniture, and trying in vain to teach them to use the box.
There was no question that they were home to stay, despite this little hitch. I was given with the task of naming them. The first became Ramona Felicia after two of my favorite books at the time. The second received the name Tabitha Samantha after my favorite television show. (Yes, I'm old.)
They sorted themselves out between the two of us. Ramona adopted mum and would sleep with her at night. Tabitha would sleep with me. She loved to tuck herself into my left armpit and pretend to nurse. I spent the next couple of years wandering around with a soggy armpit. Thankfully she eventually outgrew that habit. She also never meowed for about the first five years. Apparently it took her that log to have something to say.
A gray and white stray showed up outside the back door. A godsend, though we didn't know it at first. She started getting a big belly and I implored mum to let her in, pointing out that she must be pregnant. So we took her in. That night the young man who rented our spare room made the mistake of looking away from his dinner. One of the kittens stole a chicken leg from his plate. He dove under the table to retrieve it, knowing full well that he couldn't eat it now. Once he had it he jumped to his feet and dramatically said he wasn't going to let that poor cat starve out there. There was some confusion as he ran for the door and we tried to stop him because that poor cat was now inside. In his rush the kittens went outside and still received the chicken leg.
This cat I named Amanda Victoria because it meant "lovable victor." One of the most lovable things about her was that she taught the kittens to use the litter box within a day. She never managed to teach them to cover it, but we could live with that part (by constantly cleaning the box).
The kittens lived long and healthy lives with us, and eventually with me. Tabitha lived to be 17 and Ramona lived to be 18. Strangely we kept calling them "the kittens" until they were little old geriatric cats. They started a long parade of cats in my life. Each cat is a tribute to all the cats who came before.
"Cats rule. If you don't believe me just ask the cat." -- fridge magnet.