Most people visiting the site can tell right away that I have a lot of tattoos, but not everyone is aware that I also have a lot of pets!  I only think it's normal, since I grew up on a farm as a child, and with my dad working in the woods all day (and bringing home every injured animal he found so we could nurse them back to health) I naturally developed a healthy respect and a strong affection for all types of critters.  It shouldn't be surprising, then, that as an adult (well, mostly an adult) I've collected quite a menagerie.  Just about the only type of pet I haven't had is a reptile, but that's only because I'm not quite ready to handle live food just yet.  Plus, it would be slightly hypocritical of me... "I'm sorry, but that mouse is good enough to be my pet and you're only good enough for a mid-morning snack... maybe a late lunch at best."

And now an introduction to my own personal zoo...


I've had Princess Momo the longest, and it's very fitting that she's the boss since she's obviously a Mongolian Raiding Cat.  She has the cutest little tufts of fur sticking out from the ends of her ears, and her eyes are so huge and round (and even reflective) that people frequently think she's going blind until she bites the middle of their nose with unerring accuracy.  The only time I really have to keep an eye on her is when she's scaling the side of the bird cage (probably she wants to eat them, but I suppose it's possible she only wants to release them from captivity)... other than that, she's super sweet and completely content to cuddle in whatever lap she's placed.  I've often thought of joining one of those programs where I would take Momo to visit senior citizens or hospital-bound children, but I already have to worry about people I know trying to steal her... I don't want to worry about strangers stealing her as well.  Coincidentally, Momo is the only 'possession' that any of my friends or relatives have ever brought up in reference to my will.

When I adopted Momo from the Humane Society, she was barely pregnant with a litter of kittens that had to be aborted in an effort to keep her alive... she was so malnourished that if you looked down on her from above she was only an inch wide once you got past her rib cage.  I felt sad about the procedure, but not only did it save Momo's life (for which I'm utterly grateful), it also kept the feline population from becoming even more overpopulated than it already was.  I think Momo always regretted missing her chance to be a mother, though, and that's why she so readily adopted Shin-Shin and Suki when I was fostering them as kittens.  In fact, perhaps she only wants to 'adopt' one of the birds when she's scaling the side of the bird cage, yes?

Shin-Shin (the white one) and her sister, Suki (the grey one), were originally both foster kittens that I was caring for on behalf of the local Humane Society.  At the time there was another kitten, too, a little black and white tuxedo that I named Squeaky Kitten because of his squeaky (and frequent) meow (Shin-Shin and Suki were originally known as Snowy Kitten and Smokey Kitten... I tried not to give the foster kittens permanent names in an effort to stay reasonably unattached).  Unfortunately, it was determined at a routine veterinary visit that Squeaky Kitten had a hole in his heart, and as the Humane Society couldn't afford to have it fixed, he was going to be put to sleep rather than allowing him to suffer.  Foster parents, though, are always allowed the option of adopting their kittens or puppies, so without a second thought I had adopted the Squeaky Kitten and was selling most of my worldly possessions to pay for his thousand dollar operation.  Sadly, it wasn't successful, and the Squeaky Kitten didn't make it, but now that there were only two kittens remaining (and since Momo had pretty much adopted them as her own) I had more than enough room to adopt Snowy little and Smokey little.

Shin-Shin and Suki are both fairly unusual in that they like their tummies to be rubbed (and they don't ever get tired of it and mutilate your hand); Shin-Shin takes it one step further and demands that you hold her like a baby the whole time you're rubbing.  They do have some differences, though... for one thing, Shin-Shin likes to burrow into piles of clothing and Suki likes to pee on them (I just consider this good incentive not to leave piles of clothes lying around on the floor, since Suki won't pee on anything else).  Also, Suki resembles a type of temple cat similar to the Siamese, and has picked up their same habit of launching herself from the floor (or any convenient furniture) onto my shoulder or head.  I think the ancient temple animal-trainers must have used screaming and falling down as some kind of positive reinforcement for this, because no matter how many times I do it she's never the slightest bit deterred from jumping on me again.

After I adopted Shin-Shin and Suki I took myself out of the Humane Society's foster program because I figured I couldn't adopt any more kittens and I didn't want a situation to come up like Squeaky Kitten's health problem without being able to do something about it.  I did continue to volunteer at the Humane Society, though, by taking photos of the available pets to upload to their website.  I only went in to do this one day each week (which was good considering my health at the time) and one night before I went in I had the oddest dream concerning a kitten that was a dark gray tabby with orange polka dots all over.  I, of course, chalked up the weird coloring to dream nonsense, but when I went in to take photos later that day there was the exact kitten from my dream... a gray tabby with pale orange spots scattered here and there across her fur.  Well, I figured it was meant to be and adopted my little Ichimu, and then I figured I'd better stop volunteering at the Humane Society until I could reign in my adoption habits or until I moved into a larger house...

Edward (the son) and Scooper (his mother) had been visiting my apartment the entire time I've lived in this neighborhood but only became a permanent part of my family recently when their owners offered to let me adopt them.  Scooper and Edward (especially Ed) had always been fairly skittish cats, so it wasn't surprising to me when I moved into the neighborhood and noticed that they didn't want to hang out at their own home very much with two huge dogs and a teenage boy.  After I'd cleared it with their owners and made sure they had all their shots I allowed them to come into my apartment, which they much preferred since I was neither loud nor active, and it wasn't long before you could tell they considered my apartment to be their home.  

I felt a little guilty at the fact that somebody else's cats were living at my place nearly full-time, but I also felt guilty on the rare occasions when I encouraged them to go home... it was obvious that this only upset and confused them.  So, that's how it happened that just before Christmas a few years ago I asked if I could adopt them and their (previous) owners agreed.  That was the best Christmas present I got, and I'm pretty sure Scooper enjoyed it too since she lives to be an inside lap cat.  Edward wasn't quite as happy about being inside full-time at first, but I think he's happy enough not to give up sleeping on my bed and eating whenever he wants.  Just the other day, in fact, I saw him learning how to play with a toy mouse, and I'd never seen him play just for fun before.  Six cats may seem like a lot, but it's not really any more than I had before, since I was practically taking care of them anyway.  Big families are good, right?

So I was going to stop at six cats... and then Appolonius was beaten half to death and dumped outside my apartment.  He was incredibly wily for a half-dead cat, and it actually took me a year and a half to catch him.  When I finally did I learned he was completely deaf from the head trauma (yeah, I know, it took me a year and a half to catch a crippled deaf cat... I'm not exactly in top form myself, heh).  His teeth were all broken in half and had to be surgically removed and his back joints were fused together in such a way that he could only groom his face and front paws.  This results in some pretty bad matting if I don't keep him shaved, but luckily the clippers don't frighten a deaf cat as much.  He's also FIV positive, but this isn't as contagious as a lot of people think.  Another cat will pretty much only catch FIV from mating or a bloody fight (which is almost like mating to some folk) and whereas Apple isn't cat-aggressive and all of my cats are loving balls of fluff, this isn't much of a risk.

Apple (Appolonius is a mouthful sometimes) spent about eight months in my bathroom with a specially constructed window-shelf and disabled-cat-ramp before he would even let me pet him.  What finally succeeded was petting Shin-Shin right in front of him... it's feline nature to want what another cat has even if you don't really want it.  These days Apple lives in the rest of the apartment with the whole family and will even sit on my lap, although once in a while you can see the fear sneak in around the edges and he hides in the bedroom for an evening or two.

And then... and then I was going to stop at seven, but... erm.. odd numbers are so inconvenient, and... um... and well my landlords asked me if I would be willing to take in an eighth cat.  So Lilith came to live with us.  Lilith is tiny, and has no voice but a giant purr, and terrorizes my cats.  She never really learned how to play with conventional cat toys, so her favorite toys are plastic spoons and half of any pair of shoes.  I don't know how a four pound cat juggles a giant shoe across the room, but she does.

When Lilith first arrived she was skin and bones and was missing not only huge patches of fur but also sizeable amounts of skin due to being shut in a closet with no food and five million fleas.  The first few days she was here she was so worried that someone would take her food away that she slept face-planted in her food dish.  I'm happy to report that she is immensely fluffy at this point in time, and no longer feels the need to guard her food since she's finally realized that cats who live here get to eat anything they want (much unlike humans who live here).


Nothing like Alfred Hitchcock's birds (I hope), I am the proud owner of a pair of finches.  Well, the term 'pair' is misleading, since they don't match... they're actually two individual finches that happen to co-habitate.  The first finch was originally from a pair of owl finches (the top photo), which are so named because of their amazingly owl-like coloring.  Unknown to me when I bought them, owl finches have the ability to make a noise that remarkably resembles a cat's meow.  This drove me crazy the first week, during which I kept them in a separate room and couldn't for the life of me figure out how a cat kept getting in there.  I'd originally hoped that they might breed and hatch chicks, as owl finches are far from overpopulated in this area and all of my friends would want them, but this never happened and I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen now unless my remaining owl finch discovers how to reproduce all by himself.

The second finch is a society finch I picked up when the owl finch's partner died, since they're so social and he was seriously depressed without any company in the cage.  I keep my finches in a large wooden aviary cage that my friend Rick helped me build out of a second-hand stereo cabinet and an old coffee table, and I'm pretty sure the birds are enjoying themselves most of the time.  I'm also pretty sure my birds are gay, as they're both male and don't let this fact deter them from enjoying themselves a lot at all hours of the day and night.  Well, whatever makes them happy...


Currently I've cut down to one aquarium in my apartment...  a fifty-five gallon aquarium that houses four fancy goldfish.  Unfortunately I have to announce the demise of Pete, the one-eyed pirate goldfish, who was a favorite of many of my friends.  He and I went through quite a lot together.  We started out at Wal-Mart, where I purchased Pete despite my disapproval of (and consequently my desire not to support) Wal-Mart fish sales... it turns out that Pete had only one eye and was therefore passed over by every single goldfish shopper that entered the store.  I knew that he would eventually die if left in that environment (nearly all the fish were showing signs of dealing with high ammonia and other poor environmental qualities), so I shoved my Wal-Mart Fish Boycott aside and took him home.  You'd think that would be the end of Pete's troubles, but no... not long afterward Pete had the misfortune to swim inside one of the aquarium's ceramic ornaments and get himself so stuck that he had to be hammered out on the pavement outside.  And still he lived!  You know those pirate-types, they're hard core.  I believe that in the end he finally passed away due to internal deformities, but you never know.

I would love to set up an additional large aquarium for a Nile Puffer (over a foot long) that is living at the local aquarium store, but of course my budget doesn't allow for that right now.  Sometimes I toy with the idea of setting up a tank for some Lion Fish (my father had them when I was little), but then I'd be back to the pet/food dilemma as Lion Fish eat live food (specifically goldfish).  Maybe in my next lifetime...


When I moved into my new apartment (the one I'm living in currently) I decided I'd finally have enough space to acquire some pets I'd wanted for a very long time... a pair of chinchillas.  After doing a lot of research online I contacted some highly reputable breeders in the area and made arrangements to pick up an adorable white baby boy and a slightly older beige/violet female.  The female had already been named Grace, which I kept since it seemed so fitting, and the little boy became Mogwai.  Grace has long since passed away, but since chinchillas are totally addicting I picked up a few more and they managed to make some tiny chinchillas before my impending cancer doom inspired me to rehome most of them.  It was, of course, a very tough call... but I wasn't sure how my health was going to be or who would be available to help me and my top priority was making sure they had the best care possible.  I now have three chinchillas and while they would prefer to live on a diet of raisins and rye bread, that's definitely not what they're getting (they're not entirely raisin deprived, though).


Well, where to start with Degama.  I didn't set out to buy a fennec fox on purpose, although they are adorable.  A good friend had intended to raise them but unfortunately Degama didn't get along with any of the other foxes.  At first I was only going to house her temporarily until my friend could find her another home, but it wasn't long before I fell in love with the little furball and all of the potential adopters seemed to me to be collector-types (although this could have been merely a subconscious desire to convince myself I needed her to stay here, heh).  If you want to know more about fennec foxes, there's a piece I wrote on her in my journal listed under 'a note about Degama the fennec fox, for those that are curious'.  I would suggest that anyone read this before adopting a fennec fox.  Seriously.