At my Blogspot, this vintage post seems to be attracting a lot of visitors. I’d add one minor update. Since 2011, the kittens born to Cat Sanctuary cats (Heather, Ivy, and unfortunately Irene) have grown up indoors. Just about all kittens spend the first six weeks of their lives indoors, usually in a small dark cave or a small dark corner behind a large stored object. Heather and Irene have chosen to allow me to see their babies from birth on; Ivy, more traditionalist, has chosen to hide them behind the dead refrigerator for the first six weeks, and then there was a non-resident litter Heather and Ivy helped to rear and socialize, in the woodshed, in autumn. (Ivy induced lactation for them, too.) And Irene prefers to hang out indoors. But it’s still the cats’ choice that they’re porch and mud room cats more than real barn cats. They’re not confined.
Belated note in observation of Black Cat Appreciation Day, which was Monday but can be celebrated belatedly if you’re going to adopt a cat: Jean Craighead George, the naturalist and friend to feral cats, observed (wow, I have the collectors’ edition!) that some cats have what may function as illusive “eyes in the back of their head”–patches of thinner and/or lighter-colored fur on the backs of their ears, which may work like insects’ “eye spots” to confuse predators.
I hadn’t really noticed that effect, in all these years, until our little Imp (the black kitten in the April Fools’ Joke combined litter) came along. She never was really solid black–had a few random individual white hairs, a pale grey undercoat, and pink-white skin from birth. As a half-grown kitten, she has more scattered white hairs in her fluffy outer coat, and the pale undercoat is growing thicker and more noticeable. Having the black fur gene from Heather and the Siamese-type partial albinism gene from her father, Imp might be described as the darkest blue-grey cat you ever saw rather than a true black cat…but she still basically looks black from a distance. Except for her ears, which have a few long, silky black hairs sticking out from the furry part of the insides, and patches where the white hairs are thick enough to form grey “eye spots” on the backs of the ears. She has my vote as the World’s Cutest Kitten. And does she ever know it.
No, she’s not available for adoption. I’m strictly bragging…and urging those who are able to support a real cat sanctuary (hurrah!) or an ethically tolerable shelter (meh…if that’s what you have) to consider looking for a black cat, or dark-toned tortoise-shell or calico cat. They tend to fade into the shadows of a row of cages, but once they become pets they may have the very nicest purrsonalities–likely to be less wild than gray tabbies, calmer than orange tabbies, hardier than the albino types, quieter than Siamese, and more modest than calicos. Oh, well…regardless of color, any cat who loves you will be a great pet. But I started learning to appreciate cats with a black one.
If you can find a black female mixed-breed cat with amber eyes and teach her to answer to the name of “Priscilla,” in honor of any of my online avatars, I’ll appreciate the honor:
Now the graphic, from Miphoto at www.morguefile.com/archive/display/903779 :