I have a sign hanging in my kitchen that says, “Cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one”. Being that I can eat almost the whole bag of chips, I guess it isn’t that strange that I would have 15 cats. The strange part is that I never had a cat growing up.

When I got married 22 years ago, my husband had one cat and one dog.

KaChooWe were content with this and if a psychic had told me our family would consist of 15 cats, I would have laughed. My hubby’s cat was sweet, but mainly outdoors. When she got older I insisted she stay in after I saw her almost get hit by a car. A couple years later, my mom’s cat had kittens. Her cat had been a stray and she had her for years assuming she was already spayed (she did get that done once the kittens were weaned). One of them looked just like the Mama cat and I had to have her. 

I named her KaChoo and she was a spoiled indoor cat that was an only child until she was 7, then Patches had passed away at the age of 19. I adopted Lucy in 2001 when a friend of mine had a baby and was afraid she would harm the baby. I love Lucy, but she will use her claws at any chance. My hubby wasn’t thrilled and KaChoo wasn’t either. Lucy was a birthday gift that KaChoo wanted to regift. She has actually turned out to be a very loving lap cat and snuggler, but has a short temper.

All was calm until the Fall of 2002. I was tutoring a boy and a stray black kitten was outside his house. The family didn’t want it so I took him in and named him Jinxy (from the cat in Meet the Parents). I had stated not that many months before that I wanted to own a black cat someday- well, now I have 3. I should state that I want millions of dollars to donate to cat shelters (I will let you know if that works out!).

Then someone dropped off a beautiful gray and white long haired cat. We have a barn and for some reason people think it is fine to abandon cats near one. We named her Barney and brought her inside. Then the following summer, my friend had a friend that was moving and needed to bring her cat to a shelter. I took the ride to the shelter and fell in love with Phoebe so she joined our crew too. Mind you, my hubby was not OK with all this and I had to beg to keep Phoebe. She is one of his favorites now as she is sweet and full of personality.

More drop offs showed up in January of 2004, so we added Stinky and Prancie to the mix. My sister was moving and going through a divorce so I took 2 of her older cats so they wouldn’t have to go to a shelter and one belonged to my niece. I wish I could have helped them all. Then another student I was tutoring had a baby and wanted to get rid of her cat, Noel, so I took her too.

Then another black kitty showed up outside, we thought Jinxy had gotten loose, but it was another drop off.  We named her Tallulah. Then I found a deaf stray outside a house that I was cat sitting for someone for so I named him Polar Bear.

A year later when my niece was at college, her kitty passed away. She ended up adopting a Maine Coon kitten a month later, but dorms don’t allow pets- so can you guess what happened? Nixon lived with us until she got her own apartment in 2011 and it killed me to let him move.

While Nixon was here, my niece fostered a kitty named Smudge. I wanted to keep him, but she didn’t want to annoy my husband (she knew he was at his limit with cats) so she placed Smudge in a good home. That broke my heart and I ended up adopting Sammy because he looked like Smudge. Of course nothing is ever simple and when I went to get him, I discovered he had a sister. I hate to break up a family so I adopted her too. I am so glad I didn’t leave Joanie behind because she is an absolute love.

At this point, I did become concerned about my mental health. I don’t ever want to be a hoarder and I realize there is a point that one is not helping cats just by taking them in. I still go to therapy weekly and have not surpassed my 15 since that time. My husband would like less cats, but he does love them all and has accepted that this is our life. Some would say that my going to therapy has not helped me because I still have 15 cats. My goal was not to get more than 15 because I can financially handle that many and our home is big enough for them.

Sadly, some have passed away in the last few years. KaChoo died of CRF in November 2010, Brina (my sister’s cat) died of old age in 2011 and Barney died of liver problem last year. We miss them all terribly and didn’t try to replace them, but more cats showed up. Penny, a gorgeous Tortie just appeared one day like a penny from heaven. Spooky was a neighborhood cat and we decided it was time for him to live an indoor life.

I did miss having a tabby like KaChoo so I looked on Petfinder and found one that was similar named Little Tiger. My mom and I drove several hours away to get her in New Jersey and I named her KaTwo. She looks similar, but doesn’t act it. While I was at the shelter I spotted a Snowball. I wouldn’t have even noticed except that everyone calls my Polar Bear, Snowball by mistake. I kept tabs on Snowball and she was still at the shelter a year later. Barney had passed away last April so in July, I used my birthday as the perfect excuse to rescue Snowball.

I decided that in addition to therapy that I would start a blog called 15andmeowing so I would have the perfect excuse to not get another cat (other than an annoyed husband). I used to always feel shameful when someone asked how many cats I had as if I am committing some crime. Now I say it with pride (my hubby and mom wish I wouldn’t tell people though).

For some, 15 is too many, especially if one lives in an apartment or has a limited income. I am fortunate that we can afford to get veterinary care when needed as well as getting rabies shots every 3 years. Ideally, they would all get their teeth cleaned annually, but I would need to be a millionaire for that so we rotate years with that.

My life didn’t turn out as planned, but I am glad it didn’t. I truly feel like this is my calling in life. It is the only thing I have ever had such passion for.

I don’t volunteer at shelters because I know any extra exposure to cats would either break my heart or turn me into a hoarder. I do crochet cat toys that get sold at a local vet clinic and all monies go to a local shelter. I also try to make monetary donations when I can afford it.

I was delighted to be asked to write for The Daily Mews. In the coming months, I will go into more detail about each kitty and their unique personalities. Anyone with a cat knows that they are like snowflakes, no 2 are alike - maybe I should get a sign that says that. If you want to read more about us please visit http://15andmeowing.com . We have giveaways weekly as well as making a donation to needy cats. You can also find medical and behavioural tips and fun ideas to keep your cat amused.

A Cats Prayer

Lead me down all the right paths,
Keep me from fleas, bees, and baths.
Let me in should it storm,
Keep me safe, fed, and warm.