Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Anyone who knows me knows that I love cats. Three lovely cats live with Masashi and me: Tora-chan (a.k.a. Tiger), Mike-chan, and Hana-chan. Tora-chan, who you can see at the left, has been with me for 12 years now, even since he was found by the side of the road as a tiny kitten no bigger than the palm of my hand. He's been my faithful campanion through many rough times... and he even meets me at the door when I come home .

Mike-chan (below) was rescued by a group that helps abandoned and stray cats. She had been found wandering with her eyes glued shut! The forms that came with her showing her health check-up just listed her as a "mike-neko" (calico cat), so I just called her Mike. (That's pronounced like a Japanese name: "mi", which means "3", as in 3 colors, and "ke" which means "hair").
Mike-chan is about the same age as Tora-chan, and has lived with us for 9 years now; originally, I got her to be Tora-chan's pet because he was so lonely when I was gone at work. Origin As you can see, she likes to eat... she's definitely overweight. The short little tail is a feature often found in Japanese cats--the tail bones are all bunched up and fused together, giving her the short tail.

Hana-chan has come to live with us much more recently.
She came to live with us in 2005, after her mother (see below) brought her to the front of our house in a snow storm, to eat and get dry. When the mother and kittens didn't leave, I began to panic--what would the neighbors think about 6 cats in front of the house? What would happen when those cats all had kittens? A neighbor organized a capture of the cats, and a volunteer tames the kittens and found homes for them, all except Hana-chan. I promised to find a home for her, and she ended up with us! Masashi wasn't sure about getting another cat, but now she is his favorite. This picture shows her in one of her favorite sleeping spots, a box that is too small for Tora-chan or Mike-chan to fit in.

Hana-chan's mother and (probable) father live outside in our neighborhood. They spend a lot of time eating and sleeping in front of our house, but they are not "our" cats. This beautiful gray cat came first, taking shelter from a typhoon in an empty cardboard box in front of our house, and while he accepted the food I gave him, he had to hiss first, just to make sure that I wouldn't get too close--so we called him "Hisser" (also,"Hissy-chan" or "Mr. Hissy"). Now he's become very friendly and tame, and so everyone else calls him "Gray", and most people comment on his unusual coloring.

When Hisser had been visiting out house regularly for a few months, I heard him meowing loudly one morning after I had given him some food. He was calling another cat, a rather ordinary brown one, who came and ate most of the food. I didn't really like the idea of feeding two cats, but I was intrigued by the fact that Hisser had called her. I saw her now and then, but she always ran away when I tried to get close. Then one cold snowy morning, she came with four kittens! The rest of the neighborhood knew her well, and already were calling her "Mama-chan". The two cats spend most of their time together, but they have now been "fixed" so that there won't be any more kittens. Most people find Hisser to be friendly than Mama-chan, but Mama-chan is always friendlier to me. She knows that her kitten (Hana-chan) is living in the house, and I think that she is glad that I helped her kittens.