It’s inevitable. At least once a week, during the course of a tour of Tabby’s Place, a wide-eyed visitor will ask me, “Do you really know all of the cats’ names?”
I understand their surprise – 100+ cats is a lot. But do you really know all of your friends and family members’ names? I’ll bet you can name more than 100 TV and movie stars. When you consider how much time I’m blessed to spend with these furry souls, and what individuals they are, it would be nothing short of a dishonor not to honor each of them by knowing their unique, personal names.
But some cats seem to have fun making this a bit tricky. If knowing most of the cats’ names is equivalent to passing a kindergarten spelling test, keeping all the shy black cats of Suite C straight is more like passing Ph.D.-level comprehensive exams in astrophysics.
You see, there are no fewer seven all-black or nearly-all-black cats in Suite C, six of whom are varying degrees of shy. With that warning, I’ll give you my best “crib notes” for your next visit to Suite C.
The first and easiest to peg is the one black cat who is decidedly not shy. He’s also not tiny…but he is Tiny. This gregarious guy will be waiting for you on a large crate next to the door. Indeed, this crate stands between peace in the valley and The Wrath of Tiny. As we learned when we once foolishly removed the crate, Tiny needs this throne in order to feel content and in control of the room. In its absence, he’ll whup every tail in sight. Fortunately, the big dude is both a lover and a fighter, and he’ll happily chatter and roll on his back to let you rub his sizable tummy.
Next you’ll want to discern between the two sweeties each bearing a white “star” on the chest. This used to be a bit easier than it is now. Once upon a time, we could confidently say that the bigger, friendlier black cat with the white star was Kurt, while the tiny, terrified one was (appropriately enough) Shy. But these two have been having a bit of fun with us, and as Shy has bulked up and become friendlier, things have gotten a bit trickier. The secret’s in the eyes: Kurt’s wide-set gaze, plus his broader head and leg-rubby ways, will always set him apart from Shy.
Now things get really tricky – and also important. Once you’re down to the four shy all-black cats, you don’t want to mistake Queen for anybody else. This gorgeous, petite girl has a gleaming coat and delicate frame just like Star and Venice…but unlike those sisters, Queen has been known to respond to unwanted attention with a serious bite. (Full disclosure: personally, I’ve had nothing but sweet experiences with Queen. But, based on my friends’ scars and war stories, I know better than to trust her.) You’ll usually find Queen by herself, and she’ll often give you a little underbite-y smile.
When you see two especially tiny black cats together, odds are strong that you’ve spotted the super sisters, Venice and Star. For the life of me, I don’t know what these timid, tender ladies are still doing here. They actually came to Tabby’s Place in the same group as my own Dibbles, way back in the spring of 2006.
They are a bit shy, yes, and may never be the type of cats who like being carried around like rag dolls…but their sweetness is legendary, as is their devotion to one another. It’s that devotion that has wrinkled their adoption possibilities over the years. As bonded as the girls are, we will not allow anyone to adopt one without the other. It’s likely Venice would have been adopted otherwise, as she’s completely “normal” on the medical front. Star, on the other hand, is literally allergic to people – or, rather, our dander. This is easily treated with a once-monthly allergy injection. Still, it’s more than many adopters bargain for. I can only trust that the long wait means an especially amazing adoption ahead for the girls.
And that leaves the tiny dancer with legs like a dachshund’s and a now-famous habit of doing a small “curtsy” for visitors: Mrs. Jinx. Jinxie’s short legs are her physically defining feature, but her sweet, anxious personality will stay with you. Like Star, Venice, Shy and Queen, Mrs. Jinx is likely to run from you at first, but give her a chance and she’ll be your buddy, even tapping you on the shoulder to remind you of your duty to love her if you should slack on the job.
So, friends, you have your mission. Is identifying the shy black cats of Suite C a challenge? Big-time. But is it worth it? Profoundly!