Catsachusetts is a boys club. Meet Baloo and Howard (Howie, to his friends). Come on. Who didn't see this coming?

  • View pictures of both cats together, go to
  • Baloo's Pictures: Howard's Pictures:
    Click on the picture of Baloo to see more pictures of him Click on the picture of Howard to see more pictures of him
    Name: Baloo Name: Howard
    Birthday: January 18, 2006 Birthday: January 18, 2000
    Adopted: January 18, 2009 Adopted: January 18, 2009
    Age: Three years old Age: Nine years old
    Breed: Domestic Medium Hair Breed: Domestic Short Hair
    Coloring: Orange & White Coloring: Grey & White
    Weight: 18 pounds Weight: 13 pounds
    Likes: Laps, laps, and plenty more laps, following Howard to see what he's up to Likes: Naps, licking Baloo
    Dislikes: Change, being without a friend Dislikes: Loud noises (and loud noises means anything over a chinchilla burp from the next room... no, wait. That's too loud, too)
    Talents: Being able to spot a free lap a mile away, a master of the sleeper hold Talents: Being able to lick moving objects
    Motto: If the lap won't come to you, make the lap come to you Motto: Everything needs cleaning
    What's in a Name: Baloo was named after the BIG lovable bear from The Jungle Book. The resemblance is uncanny. What's in a Name: Howard was named after Howard Hughes, a man obsessed with hygiene and a leader in his field. Baloo loves to follow Howard.
    Pictures: Go to Puerto Baloo Pictures: Go to Howard Prairie
    History: Baloo was left in a carrier on the doorstep of the Feline Rescue Organization in Saint Paul, MN. No note, no explanation, no story. He was about a year old at the time. He was left at the shelter a little before Halloween in 2007. For several months, Baloo (whom the shelter temporarily named Jack O'Lantern) was too scared to let anyone touch him. And then, overnight, he decided to be a lap cat. He can sit on a lap for hours, purring up a storm. He's incredibly mild-mannered. He doesn't mind being brushed, having his nails clipped, or his mats cut out. As long as you give him your lap, he's happy. He was adopted but that only lasted a month before he was returned to the shelter. The woman who adopted him complained that the sweet cat who loved laps at the shelter was not the same cat after she brought him home. He was scared. He hid. He wouldn't eat. Baloo was at the shelter from October 2007 until January 2009, with just a brief month away. History: Howard was a stray that someone brought to the Feline Rescue Organization in Saint Paul, MN. He arrived in February of 2008. He was quickly adopted out and spent a few months in that home before being returned. The man who adopted him lived near the 35W bridge that had collapsed but was now being rebuilt. Hundreds of trucks rumbled by each day, making a horrible ruckus. It scared poor Howard (whom the shelter had temporarily named Grey Schma). He let his owner know that he was unhappy by pottying in places other than his litter box. Howard spent several more months at the shelter with nary an accident. Howard was at the shelter from February 2008 until January 2009, with 2 months away.

    Their Story
    View pictures of the cats together in their own little island called Nantuckat.

    When Sirbie died, it was the first time in almost 17 years when there was no cat around me. Falling asleep that night, my ears listened for familiar sounds of feet padding across the bedroom floor, crunching coming from the kitchen, tags jingling in the living room, or a soft coo expelled after jumping. Of course, these sounds never came. It was odd. It was sad. It was lonely. It was so different. When I got up in the middle of the night, I could almost feel a soft paw squish under my bare feet as I stepped on something I wasn't expecting to be so underfoot. I didn't feel it because it wasn't there. I was so used to it that it was hard for my mind to accept its absence.

    The next day, I badgered Jeff about getting that dog he always said we could have if we had no cats. We had no cats. Time for a dog. I only wanted to look. I needed to look, I needed to be able to make progress towards hearing the sounds of a furry four legged creature roaming about the house. Sure, Rufus was willing to be that free roamer, but our house certainly wasn't prepared for him to be on the loose. Finally, as Jeff made his way out of the house for four hours of tax training, he relented and said, "Go get a cat. Go get a couple of cats." What about a dog? "We'll look at one in the Spring." Being the smart woman that I am, I knew Jeff wasn't serious about the plural of cats. One cat was fine. He added, "Make sure you get a good one."

    A little while later, I headed off to the Feline Rescue Organization, a no kill shelter a few blocks away from our house. I pass by it each Tuesday on my way to my movie. After Wensley had died, I dropped off a bunch of medical supplies there. They were closed to visitors. That was probably an omen. I headed off a little after eleven o'clock, knowing I was only looking. I didn't bring the cat carrier. I didn't even have enough cash to finalize the adoption (and they only take cash). They were closing at noon (or so I thought). Not enough time to find one that I would love. I purposely did that - gave myself only about a half hour - so that I wouldn't come home with the first cat I saw. There wouldn't be enough time to fill out all the paperwork.

    There were a ton of cats wandering about the shelter. One greeted me at the door with a soft cry and let me pet it with a loud burst of purring. Very sweet. A few minutes later, that cat made me bleed. It was a bit of an angry cat. Not the one for me. After about a half hour of wandering about myself, I was about to leave when a volunteer (they're all volunteers) asked me if I had been to the big room. I didn't realize there was more. The door to the big room wasn't marked.

    The big room contained several dozen cats, all bounding about, playing and being friendly. One big orange cat walked right up to me. I petted him and then we both moved on. A little while later, I crouched down for some reason. The big orange cat immediately came over to me, stood up on his hind legs, and pushed me down. Once on the ground, the cat climbed up on my lap, purring loudly, and sat there. We sat together on the floor for a good ten minutes. A little later, I got up, played with some other cats, and then sat on the floor again. The big orange cat climbed up on my lap, licked my face, and purred loudly as I petted him for a good ten more minutes. After the third round of this exact same thing, I finally decided the big orange cat had won me over. I asked a volunteer how the adoption procedure went and she sucked in her breath before explaining hesitantly that the big orange cat had to go home with another cat. He had been adopted out before and didn't do well because he was scared. A friend would make the transition easier. My heart sunk. I didn't want two cats. We were getting a dog in the Spring and a second cat would prevent that from happening. I decided to leave. Something was telling me the orange cat wasn't for me.

    But he was, wasn't he? Inches from the door, I asked the volunteer who the big orange cat was friends with. She replied, "Poncho." I wasn't that familiar with him so I went back to the big room to look for Poncho. He was a black short hair. I'm not a fan of short haired cats. This one had dandruff so bad he looked like a grey cat. His butt was poopy. His eyes were goopy (and I would learn he would need medication for this). He was kind of ugly. I sat down and played with him. He was really friendly. He sat on my lap. When he got off, the orange cat came over and sat on my lap. When he got off, the black cat took his place on my lap. They tag-teamed my lap for a couple of turns. Very sweet. But I just wasn't feeling the connection with Poncho. I felt bad because I knew part of that reason was because he was a short hair... and kinda ugly. I decided to leave again.

    Inches away from the door yet again, I decided to give Poncho a second shot. I really did like that big orange cat and I wasn't being fair to his friend. His friend needed a home, too. I then asked a different volunteer, "Who's Jacko's second best friend?" Without hesitation (meaning Jacko had two really good friends), she pointed to the white and grey cat sleeping next to the big orange cat. When the grey cat licked the orange cat's head, I knew I had found a match. He was sweet. He was cute. And he really was good friends with the big orange guy.

    I was at the shelter for three solid hours, a half hour of which was beyond closing time. I filled out the adoption forms and talked with the adoption agent for a good long time. Now all that was left was making sure Jeffrey really was serious with his quip, "Get a couple of cats." He wasn't but he knew I wanted the big orange guy - and to get the big orange cat, he had to come home with a friend. Two cats. That's a couple.

    The next day, I brought Jeff to meet the big orange cat, who, surprisingly wasn't as friendly as the day before. He still sat on my lap. He still purred while I petted him. Jeff was absolutely surprised by his size and couldn't help laughing at the enormous feline. He wasn't in love but he could tell I was.

    We brought the two boys home and put them in their new room. It had been Rufus' room (which had been the guest room and Sirbie's room, once upon a time). We put Rufus in our walk-in closet to give the cats a room to themselves. True to the shelter's prediction, both cats hid as soon as they climbed out of their carriers. I sat down on the futon and within ten seconds, the grey cat came out of hiding and sat on my lap. He would prove to be the braver of the two and would spend his time out of hiding, as long as I was in the room with him. The orange cat, on the other hand, took quite some time to shed his fear. After spending about a half hour with them in their new environment, Jeff and I left the house for a couple of hours. Upon returning, the grey cat came out of hiding and sat on my lap. Jeff pulled the orange cat out of hiding and set him on my lap. He purred but after a few minutes, he went back to his hiding spot. Jeff left (he went to work). A few minutes after the house grew quiet, the big orange cat crept out of his hiding spot and sat on my lap. After a few minutes, he went back to hiding. A few minutes later, he came back to sit on my lap. A few minutes after that, he went back to his hiding spot. After he ventured out again, he was out for good.

    Bit by bit the two became braver and started exploring the room (of course, that occurred about 1:30 in the morning). After each exploration, they would return to me. The grey guy slept on my pillow (at one point, forcing me off with a thud). The big orange guy tried suffocating me a few times (he laid across my neck) before crawling under the covers and sleeping at my feet. I woke up in the middle of the night to find the grey cat licking my hair. He absolutely loves to lick, particularly his brother. He is constantly bathing. When I woke up in the morning, the grey cat was lying smack dab on my chest. I had two new friends.

    We have a history of letting the new animal pick his own name. Wensley and Fenn did this after selecting the name they liked from scraps of paper placed in front of them. I was going to let the new cats do the same but in the end, what became their names just had to be their names. It took awhile to come up with good names for the boys. I was partial to Clifford for the orange cat (named after the big red dog) and Artemis for the grey cat (named after my favorite literary character Artemis Fowl). Jeff was not fond of these names. He wanted one that popped. Jeff took to calling the big guy things like Gordito (which means little fat one in Spanish) and Chu (which means pig in Chinese). I wasn't happy with this. Yes, the orange guy is enormous but he doesn't need to be made fun of. I laid awake that night, room illuminated by the glow of the laptop as I searched the internet for suitable names. Finally, I landed on Baloo, the big tubby bear from The Jungle Book. Howard took even longer to name. When I saw that Baloo followed the grey cat everywhere, I tried to come up with a leader's name that fit the grey cat. After watching the grey cat bathe himself for the 30th time in less than 12 hours (seriously no exaggeration), I decided to name him after the most notorious hygiene freak I could think of - Howard Hughes. Jeff wasn't wowed by this name but I persisted. It may not pop but it's sooooo incredibly accurate. Not only does he himself need to be spotless but he bathes Baloo AND me and Jeff and probably anyone else who tried to touch him. You can't touch him unless he's licked your hands. He's a bit obsessive. There is no other name for him. He's Howard.

    So that's how Howard and Baloo came to live with us.