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Even and Odd Couples


Our next-door neighbors are away for a month, and they have two outdoor cats that a visiting house-sitter feeds. The short-haired gray tabby and long-haired gray tabby have long considered our yard part of their turf, but during the last month we’ve noticed that one of them (short-haired “Rocko”) has been spending hours at a time curled up in our bamboo grove. At first we thought he was hurt or sick, but it turned out he just liked nesting in the fallen leaves, and the close-packed stalks made him feel safe. That started several weeks ago, when the weather was still mild.

As it got colder we noticed that Rocko had started curling up against the side of our house, where the fallen bamboo leaves are sheltered by a roof overhang and a protruding chimney. Over the weekend we realized that winter was going to finally arrive this week, so we decided to spend part of New Year’s Day building an insulated house for Rocko and his long-haired pal, who we call RP (Rocko’s pal).

After scouting designs online, we went to Home Depot and bought two Rubbermaid bins of the same design but different sizes, a small roll of fiberglass insulation, a linoleum knife, and a roll of Gorilla Tape.

We cut a round portal in the larger bin.

Laid in the insulation.

Nested the bins and traced the portal onto the inner bin, then cut it out…

…and used the Gorilla Tape to join the two portals together.

We ran out of fiberglass, so we put bubble wrap between the top surfaces of the bins. That beats handling fiberglass anyway when we want to disassemble and clean the bins.

Then we stuffed the inner bin with Rocko’s dried bamboo leaves and shredded newspaper.


Rocko and RP figured it out right away. With both of them in there, it’s probably pretty toasty. And for the first few days, Chez Rocko has been serving a free hot breakfast.

Back indoors, the villa hissiness dissipated along with the bubbles on New Year’s Eve, and the Sluggers have been singing kumbaya with Bonnie and Clyde ever since. They might as well part on friendly terms, since this gang of six will be breaking up this weekend.

Willow and Albert are going home together, to a nice apartment where their new mom has already set up a swank kitten room. They'll get lots of attention and TLC, so things couldn’t have worked out better for them.

And Bonnie and Clyde will be going home together Saturday morning as well, with another great young cat-savvy mom.

B and C are awesome kittens who go together like PB and J. And they were like that when we met them, for which the person out there who rescued and nurtured them deserves a lot of credit.

Albert is an alpha-male kitten who isn’t afraid to show his snuggly side. When he’s not crawling on our laps or curled up with Molina, he’s busy showing Clyde, Cruz, Willow and the gang that he’s still the biggest and strongest kitten in the villa.

Willow is a 50-50 girl who likes to split her time between romping and lap-crawling, with peep-hair styling a special side interest. Bonnie and Clyde also strike a nice balance between fun and games and social networking.

When those two evenly-matched pairs go home this weekend, we’ll be left with the two kittens whose personalities diverge the most.

Cruz has her foot on the accelerator more often than any of her villa-mates…

…while Molina likes to shift into neutral, turn on the heated driver’s seat, and listen to the radio.

Cruz is a problem-solver who knows how to entertain herself…

…or jump into the feline scrum. From which she’s likely to emerge with sole possession of the ball.

But she’s not a total maniac – she does like to downshift and hang with her peeps after an extended play session.

Though you wouldn’t catch Cruz in this pose for more than ten seconds.

All of which has us wondering how things will go when we’re down to a single odd couple in the villa.

Cruz is in great shape and ready to sail home with a lucky family. Molina is still an undersized princess who needs to gain weight and eat more predictably. We hope we can pair Cruz with another high-energy Homeward Trails kitten while we try to figure out the right path for Molina.

filed by: TS



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