Annabel the Cat, 2005-2011

All the World's a Cat Toy!
Hosted at RenegadeChickens.com

Welcome to Annabel's Website!

Annabel was my wonderful, beloved cat from 2005 to 2011, not nearly long enough. She developed FIP and died at the age of only about six and a half years. I created this page for her in 2006 and then never updated it much. It remains a tribute to a wonderful cat, whose legacy lives on as I got involved in cat rescue because of her. She did not like other cats, but she has indirectly helped save the lives of many other kitties. I now have two delightful young kitties, but I will always remember my dear Annabel. You can see some cute videos of Annabel and the new kids on my YouTube channel.

Annabel can do Tricks

Click the picture below to see her video on YouTube.
Want to train your cat? Search "clicker training" on the web for loads of information.

What a helpful kitty! Here's a photo of her decorating the tree for me last Christmas.
(No, Annabel, it's not "Chris Mouse.")

Annabel's Story

One evening in October of 2005, I found a scrawny, half-grown stray kitten sleeping on my back porch.
I approached and coaxed her to come to me, and as soon as I touched her she started purring and nuzzling me.

She was so skinny I mooched some cat food from a neighbor and fed her.  Later I bought some cat food and fixed a box on the porch for her to sleep in.  I made her a collar from masking tape with "if you own this cat please call me" written on it.  I also set about trying to find her a home, determined that I was not ready to adopt a cat.  She must have lived with humans before, she was so sweet.  It's hard to imagine somebody turning out such a nice kitty.

Eventually, I decided to take her in for spaying--before any accidents happened--but I still wasn't keeping her!    I was determined!  As soon as she was healed she was going back outside!  I brought here inside the night before to make sure I'd be able to find her in the morning.  She started making herself at home right away.

When a cat is spayed, she needs to stay in for a week or so to heal.  Of course, it didn't take the whole week for me to realize that she was my cat, and I was her human, and I couldn't put her back outside on her own.  Nearly every time I so much as touched her she'd start purring. 

Hear Annabel Purr: 

"I wonder why cats purr," a co-worker remarked to me. "It's a survival thing," I replied, "When they purr, suckers like me take them in."

And then she did a deed worthy of Lassie....
I made a little harness for her out of duct tape (I didn't buy a harness because I wasn't keeping the cat) and took her outside in the garden. She became very interested in an area of ground at the side of my mobilehome.  I noticed the ground was wet--and it shouldn't have been.  It hadn't rained, and I hadn't watered there.  Further investigation revealed that my bathtub drain was broken, and leaking into the subfloor.  If the cat had not showed me this problem, it could have resulted in a lot of long-term damage.  What a sign that I was meant to keep the cat!  (When the plumber came, he accidently let the cat out--perhaps that was her plan?)

At this point I had to admit I'd been taken in by a stray cat. 


The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
- T. S. Elliott

After a couple of weeks, the cat still didn't have a name.  I was almost resigned to just naming her "Kitty."  I thought of names I like, of names of characters in movies, plays, and literature I like, but none seemed to fit.  Then one night the name Annabel simply popped into my head out of nowhere.  "Are you Annabel?" I said to the cat.  She looked up at me and tilted her head.  "You are Annabel, aren't you!" I declared, and she responded as if to say of course she was.  Now, perhaps she would have responded the same way if I'd said "Are you fudge face?"  But I prefer to believe that the cat revealed her name to me.

I needed to adapt my fairly small mobilehome to accommodate the two of us.  I knew I had to make a way for her to go in and out, but I didn't want her to run loose outside.  This urban environment isn't safe for small animals, and besides, it's against the mobilehome park rules.  In the summer, if I go to work and don't turn on the cooler, the indoor temp can exceed 100 degrees on a really hot day, plus, I didn't fancy sharing my indoor space with a litter box.  I cut a hole in the wall in the utility room and installed a cat door leading out to a large cage or "kitty condo."  After a few pushes through the cat door, followed by treats and praise, she got the idea.  Now she goes outside to use her box and keep tabs on the neighborhood stray cats.  She doesn't like other cats.  When they come around she throws a regular hissy fit, as if to say, "This human is my sucker, you keep away!"

She also knows that her cage is a safe and secure place to go.  When Tilly the Dog came to visit, and approached Annabel's cage in an effort to make friends, Annabel sat on the little shelf in her cage as calm as could be, with her paws tucked under herself, fiercely hissing at the dog.

Sometimes I get a little bit worried....  One day Annabel was sitting in the front window when a jogger ran by--and as she watched him, she licked her lips.
(The jogger was wearing a dark grey hooded sweatshirt.  Perhaps he looked like a gigantic mouse.)
So, you think your cat's tough?  My cat eats joggers.


All the world's a cat toy--and that includes furniture.


Puss with Octopuss

Fact:  A falling cat will normally land on its feet.  A cat that rolls off the sofa while clutching a favorite toy in its claws may land flat on its back.

Christmas came, and Annabel was most pleased that I brought a tree inside for her.  She set about removing all of the ornaments, one by one, from the lower branches.  Fortunately, all the ornaments on the lower branches were made of durable plastic.  Perhaps somebody was planning ahead.


I call this picture Vampire Kitty


Miniblinds. Cat toy.


The very best water is what drips from the bathtub tap.
Yummm!  Those mineral deposits add extra flavor!

It's now March of 2006, and Annabel has been living here for over four months.  She's more cat than kitten now. 

Today was mouse hunting day.  That doesn't refer to Annabel hunting for mice, but to me searching the house for her little fur-covered toy mice.  I open the sofa bed, move the fridge, peer under the oven, and search any other place I can think of where a mouse could have been dropped or batted.  At the end of the search there were 22 mice lined up on a shelf--considerably fewer than the number I have purchased.  She can't have eaten them!  This place isn't very big, but somewhere is a cache of another 15 toy mice!  I am at my wit's end trying to figure out where they could be.  Perhaps they have worked their way down inside a chair.  When I was a child we had an armchair that ate things.  One day I reached down the side of the seat cushion and found a large pouch containing an absurdly large number of pens and pencils, no less than three pairs of scissors (that had been missing for ages), some small change (but much less than I'd hoped for), and miscellaneous other small items.  I don't think I have an omniverous chair like that anymore.


Got Mouse?

Did you ever look closely at cat hair?  Some cat hairs have light and dark bands where the pigment is switched on and off as the hair grows.  This is called agouti banding (not to be confused with the South American rodent).


Cat Hair with Agouti Banding

I'll probably never know Annabel's heritage, but she has many characteristics of the Maine Coon breed. These traits include big eyes, big tufted ears, big paws with tufts of fur between the pads, shorter fur on her upper body, longer, fluffier fur on her under-side, and long breeches. She has a beautiful long bushy tail that would be the envy of any squirrel or raccoon. (I measured one of her long tail hairs one day, when it conveniently fell out on my desk. It was over 4" long! I still can hardly believe it! )  She weighs about 10 lbs, which is about average for a Maine Coon female. Maine Coons also are known for being playful clowns, and that sure describes her!  She also makes an interesting variety of vocalizations (as well as the more conventional meow).

Annabel Talks  

One day I wandered into a new local PetSmart store, and what should I find but a Maine Coon cat rescue group! This wasn't long after I figured out that Annabel was probably part Maine Coon, so I was thrilled to find other kitties that shared some of her wonderful traits. Soon I was volunteering with the group and helping bring kitties and loving families together. The group is Maine Coon Adoptions (maincoonadoptions.com). They are based in Northern California, but work with people outside of the area too.


Love that Kitty Grass!

One of Annabel's favorite cat toys that wasn't intended to be one is a collapsible mesh hamper (2 for $5 at Walgreen's). She can crouch in it, persue toy mice inside it, or jump on top of it so it flattens. (Note that I cut the handles so she won't get caught in them.)

Click the picture for a 1-minute movie of Annabel chasing a ball in the hamper.

 

All photos and other page content 2006 Sara Bruce and RenegadeChickens.com. All rights reserved.