RIP Sweet Monabelle


RIP Sweet Monabelle

Mona in the garden—her favorite place.

Before I get back to blogging more regularly this winter I needed to pay homage to Mona. She left us in late August after a short bout with cancer. I rarely mentioned her here on the blog because she was the mostly feral ghost cat. This meant she lived in my garden, but to be honest, she loved it more than any other creature.

I found her as a kitten in the parking lot of a large mall nearby. She may have been a feral kitten, or an abandoned kitten, I don’t know. She was alone under some bushes, starving, and it was a cold and rainy night. I had to bring her home. This was years ago when I first moved into this house.

A few years back she gave up the garden and moved into the house. Most of the time, she was in the basement, surrounded by my plants—or else sitting on a ledge looking out of the window. She was happy with us, but she just couldn’t always get along with the other cats. In her final months, she came upstairs more and spent time on the bed with them though. They developed an understanding. Like Maurice before him, Felix also bonded a bit with her. They’d often sit together in the basement.

It’s been difficult for me to write this. It was a complicated and quiet relationship I had with Mona. Part of me wants to say so much more, but another part of me wants to respect her privacy. She was my wild love, my garden cat, and sometimes we were a bit feral together. I’m going to miss that.

The Cat Crew at Campiello Maurizio


I’ve been sitting here for hours unsure of what to write about. Last week I was low. This week I’m just emerging slowing into December. I work shorter days in the cold but it is still difficult to recover from once I’m home. My body hates the cold. I’ve also decided to make Italian food each day this month so that has taken a lot of my free time and energy.

What’s left then? The cats of course!

Long ago I found Mona under some bushes in a parking lot at a strip mall when she was a kitten. She was alone and it was a dark and rainy night. She was starving. I think she is around 16 now. Up until this year she liked to be outside a lot, but as of a few months ago, she is now a full-time housecat living in the basement with all of my plants and a lot of privacy. We used to keep her apart from the other 3 because she’s part-feral but she is no longer upset by the younger 3 cats and they all seem to get along.

Her best friend was the cat I named the garden after, Maurice, and he passed away several years ago now. Just before he passed away here at home, they spent his last few hours together in the garden. I’m still too sad to post the photo, but the garden is no longer hers. She has passed it on to the younger three.

LuLu is 5 now. I bought her off of the internet. She’s part small ferocious barn cat, part Turkish Angora, part linebacker, and part diva. She rules with an iron paw, will beat up the boys for treats, and she likes to have her lion cuts done at the cat spa. She has very soft hair and it gets into knots easily. She hates to be combed, she dislikes being held, she hates this, she won’t tolerate that, but overall, she knows she’s incredibly pretty so that’s all that matters.

Did I mention that Piggy is difficult? Did that come through clearly? She loves to snap her tail around and catnip makes her go psycho, but each night she grooms my chin and curls up under the blankets right next to me or above my head on her pillow. She’s our angel.

It feels odd introducing Felix. He is 4 and has a huge personality. He was hand raised and this makes him different. He loves attacking dogs that go by the house, he likes car rides, and he loves attention. He loves people. He wants to be in the action, on the go, in the middle of the noise. He likes to knock things over, eat my food, and keep an eye on me at all times. If I work too much away from home, he pouts. He wants each day to go his way and he will let me know that from the moment when I wake up and put on my pants for the day. He has a huge vocabulary. When he hears the word “work”, you can see his irritation. “I have to go to work today Felix.” Big eyes stare back at me and I can read in them, “Didn’t you do that yesterday? How dare you.”

The baby cat is the baby of the bunch. Oliver is now 3 and he is huge. Beneath the fur he’s rather skinny but he’s huge because he is fluffy and full of love. Oliver is nothing but love. He has a huge heart. First and foremost he loves Felix, but Felix does not return the love, mostly he picks on Oliver. Their relationship is complicated though. The dudes or the boys as we call them are buddies in the garden. Outside they protect the palace. Oliver does most of the protecting though while Felix wanders around his territory. Oliver doesn’t attack though. He flies at things. He has never been in a fight. All he has to do is run at another cat and they run away. His speed and size are intimidating and he is very fast.

In the house he is Snuggie. He loves to snuggle and is an aggressive snuggler. We call him Yoda Bear too. When he was a kitten his ears were so big he could barely hold them up. He looked like baby Yoda and a bear. He even knows that name. I love that cat.

Their first album cover.

Every so often the cats all come together. While this fall and winter season may be challenging, I have this crew to keep me going. I’m good with cats. I am a cat person. Believe it or not I can herd cats. It turns out you just need to give them treats and train them.

The crew with their catnip.

That means grow your own catnip too. All four of them love their catnip plants and I always have 2-3 plants growing year round. It’s another way to keep them in line.

But this cat crew, they’re good.

I think we’ll keep them.