After Domino, I was not sure I wanted another cat. That didn't last long. After a lot of online searches for no-kill rescue shelters, on October 26, 2014 I went to Nine Lives Foundation in Redwood City. Hundreds of cats. A volunteer showed me around several large community cages, and there were a couple of very young ones who climbed up my jeans, but none of them clicked. One last look into the single-cat cages which line the room, and I saw the most beautiful calico.

I was looking for a male (they are usually more affectionate), but this one was female. But she was so beautiful, and so well groomed, I asked to hold her. The volunteer took her out of the cage, handed her to me, and in one lightning-fast leap, she was back in the cage. The cats in the cages around her obviously scared the crap out of her, so the volunteer arranged to have her put into a carrier, and let me into a small exam room, closed the door, and I took the cat out of the carrier.

She was not at all interested in being there, and though she let me pet her a little, at the first opportunity she jumped down to the floor and hid under the table. It took a while to get her out and back into the carrier.

Somewhat against my gut feeling, my brain told me that this is a cat who needs to get out of the cages, and have a big house to herself. I figured she would hide under the bed or somewhere like that for a few days, and be sharing the bed in a couple of weeks.

So I paid the adoption fee, which was minimal because they had a special on Halloween-colored cats. But at 9Lives they send you away, do a backgroud check, have the cat examined by the vet, and then you come back to pick the cat up in a week or so.

They called on October 29, a lot quicker than I expected. She had already been renamed once when she was brought to the shelter in April. They named her Juno, which I didn't think fit her. So on the paperwork I filled in "Spook" as her new name. A good choice for a Halloween cat, especially one who is silent and likes to hide. The final check-out was easy, I drove back home, kitty was totally silent.

And that's when I made the first Big Mistake. I opened the carrier in the laundry room, near the litter box. Should have let her loose in the kitchen where the food and water was, or better still, the bedroom.

For several days she hid behind the dryer. I had to finally pull out the washer and dryer to get to her. And then she bolted for the bedroom, and I had no idea where she was hiding for about a week. Found her squished under the bed - she couldn't get out. I had to take off the big heavy matress and lift up the steel frame to get her free (it's a heavy duty adjustable frame).

Little by little she has become used to the house. At first, Spook only made little squeaking noises - I thought it was the smoke alarm's low battery chirp. Over the months she has become more vocal, and whines for 15 minutes if I don't get up when my alarm goes off. Mostly Spook wants her treats. She likes to be petted a little, loves jumping onto window sills to look outside, and after 4 months she will sometimes be on the bed when I wake up. But she probably will never be a lap cat.

9Lives has a 2-week shakedown period, and before that time they won't give a full history of the cat. The vet had said Spook was a mom, which surprised me because in April 2014 they marked down her age as only 1 year old. There was not much more on her history, except this: She had given birth to 5 kittens, only 3 survived. She is still a kitten herself. A very large kitten.

The ravages of old age caught up with Domino, and after two weeks of hiding under furniture in dark corners, losing her balance, and symptoms of kidney failure the writing was on the wall. Two days of not eating -not even her treats - and evidence of Catzheimers - I found her wandering around the shower looking lost - on October 19, 2014 I finally took her to the vet, who agreed it was her time. She went very quickly, no fight left in her.

D o m i n o

She was found abandoned behind a pizza parlor in September, 1997 and given to the Humane Society of Seattle/King County in Bellevue to put up for adoption, which is where I found her at about the age of 10 months.

Named "Sophia" by the shelter folk, but that's no name for a cat. And what else can you call a black and white cat with a white spot on her forehead and another on her back, with a pizza parlor connection but
D o m i n o?

Moving to a house in a retirement community meant reducing the cat population to 1. Kaan/Milo was surrendered back to the Humane Society, where he was adopted out in a matter of days. It was all for the best, he had been terrorizng Domino, he was too big and strong and fast for her and after a year never got the message to play nice.


In October 2012 I moved to an apartment a couple of miles up the road, and expected Domino to settle in, but she was howling and moaning, still missing Pumpkin (see below). By mid-December I had enough of that, and went to all the local shelters looking for a companion for her.

The Humane Society of Silicon Valley had opened satellite adoption centers in the Petco stores, as well and a huge new facility in nearby Milpitas. I also visited a couple of other agencies. Toward the middle of my search I went to the Sunnyvale Petco, and saw this huge blue-eyed sealpoint Siamese in the window of one of the viewing rooms. He took up the whole window platform, and he followed me as I walked across the facility. The rep said he had been given up by a couple who had him for his whole life, and his name was Milo.

As soon as she let me into the room, Milo leaped into my arms and nose-butted my face. It was my lunch hour and there were still two more shelters to look at, but I knew he was It unless there was a fluffy orange cat to win my heart elsewhere. That Saturday I brought my carrier and adopted Milo.

But he didn't strike me as a Milo, he's more active than that, and as a Siamese I wanted to give him a Thai name. My first thought was "seal" or "sea lion" because he looks a lot like one, but those words are awkward to pronounce. After a lot of research, I chose Kaan, which is an ancient Siamese word for the horroscope "tiger". I was born in the year of the tiger, which nailed it for me.

In late 2011, Pumpkin was diagnosed as diabetic, but they did not recognize tests which showed an underlying liver disease. After a painful struggle and a week of shuttling him between the vet and the overnight clinic, Pumpkin was put to sleep February 5, 2012.


In late October of 1998, after Domino brought in a family of mice and invited them to live in the sofa, it was time to close the cat door and find someone to keep her company, and maybe teach her how to hunt. After two weeks of looking in every shelter in King County, I finally found Pumpkin in the PAWS shelter in Lynnwood. It took three trips to adopt him, but it was worth it. He's playful and friendly and has already made history of two toy mice.

It was a week before Halloween, and he was the only orange cat in the place, so they of course named him Pumpkin.