Once upon a time not so very long ago, Toothless and Nermal left their little metal cages at the pound and came to live with us, a big busy family out in the country. This is their story, well, so far anyway.

Our house was missing something. A certain catty presence. Kittens are adorable, but need training, and are hyper, and, well, we just weren't interested in going back to kitten days. You see, we'd had the same cat in our family from the moment he was born in my closet, through the house fire where he lost his momma, and then through the 10 times we moved over the 16 years that he was our treasured furball. One day some years ago, he suddenly up and relocated to the Kitty Hotel down the road (which is what I tell myself because it hurts to say that he died). After some time to get through the pain of missing him, I decided that I wanted another cat, specifically, an older cat. Giving it more thought, I decided that I wanted two older cats. My reasoning was that with two cats, they'd at least have a comrade in arms to fight against the forces of little girls, dress-up tea parties and bows in their fur.

Hi! Can I be your friend?

I had heard a story on the radio a while ago about a cat named Gumsy who got to have his teeth removed because of some extra funds that had been donated to help a dog. I would often hear announcements for adoptable pets on the radio while driving here and there, and on that one particular day, that part of the show really stood out. I thought it was very special that someone in Edmonton had donated from so far away, especially such a sizable amount of money too. It was nice that so many animals were getting helped because of it, including this cat they mentioned called Gumsy.

There are lots of cats available for free, but we decided to go to the pound to find our new and soon-to-be treasured furballs. As anybody who watches animal movies knows, once a cat goes to the pound, they never come back out. (At least, that's what they always seem to think when they're in there.) I wanted to ensure that two got out. Plus, we'd adopted the best dog in the world from the pound and she had been a loving friend for many years before old age took her to doggy heaven, so we already knew that the very best animals can be found at the pound.

Having set my heart on getting two cats, and ruling out the possibility of doing this secretly without hubby knowing about it, we had to talk it over. It took a while to convince my husband to let me get a cat again. I'd had my previous cat when we met, so the cat was part of the package you could say. He was never fond of cats though. My dear husband is a dog lover, and mildly allergic to cats as well. His allergies usually only act up if he touches the cat though, and since he really doesn't like cats, this isn't typically a problem. He lived without any problems all those years with our previous cat. However, it did take some effort to talk him into letting me get a cat, and some downright begging to get him to agree to getting two.

Once I had hubby's agreement, we were off to the pound. We had to fill out a paper, and then had to wait to be approved, and not really thinking about the wait time in between, I went and prematurely fell in love with two cats. By the time we were given the okay to adopt, the two kitties who had touched my heart the first time I went in were gone; one to his new home, and one, well, I guess he moved on to the Kitty Hotel too.

I was sad, I probably cried a bit because I'm wimpy that way, and not wanting to risk more heartbreak, I debated on giving up entirely on adding felines to my household again. Some friends reminded me that I could still save two cats though, and so I went back to the pound in search of the two new furballs I would bring home.

At the pound, we went into the first room full of cats. I was drawn to a sleek black cat who came over to the door of his cage to greet me. He looked like the puddy-tat I'd had as a teenager, and this fellow was every bit as friendly as my childhood cat had been too. We connected, this black cat and I, and it was then that I looked at his little identification card on the cage to find out a bit more about him. I couldn't help but smile when I saw his name, he was Gumsy. This was the cat I'd heard about on the radio. I was really shocked that he was still there, I mean, he was a celebrity. Since he'd been on the radio, I had expected he would have been adopted quickly, but there he was. Apparently, he was waiting all that time for just the right family. They said that he had been at the shelter the longest.

Gumsy saying hello to me at the pound in his little cage

I looked in some other cages, but didn't instantly bond with any other kitties in that room, so I moved on to a new room and spotted a big huge gray fluffball of a cat with gorgeous green eyes. I'm partial to green, and to fluffballs. He came right over to say hello to me, and I noticed on his card that it said he was affectionate. I believe it said his name was Kronos. He didn't look much like a Kronos to me. I also noticed that he was an older cat too. This one was 4 years old, and the other cat had been 12. Both older, both sweethearts. My two cats had chosen me, and it was time to take them home.

When my husband mentioned the cat from the first room, he couldn't remember his name quite right, so he'd called him Toothless. We had seen the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" several times with the kids, and Toothless was the name of the main dragon in that movie. I guess it was fresh on hubby's mind that day. The name stuck, and Gumsy has been known as Toothless ever since. Kronos needed a new name too. I just couldn't see myself calling him Kronos. He was the most affectionate cat I'd ever seen, he even licked us, constantly! For a while we joked that maybe he thought he was a dog because he licked us so much. He was certainly very cute, and so he came to be called Nermal. Nermal was the ridiculously cute kitten in the Garfield comic strip, and the name suited this guy perfectly.

Their first adventure was the car ride home. They each had a little cardboard carrier and sat quietly next to one another on the drive. They didn't meow or fuss, and I could even hear purring from inside those little boxes.

A couple of furballs with a side order of loving

The kitties patiently waited as we stopped by the grocery store to pick up some food and litter for them too. Surprisingly Toothless likes dry hard cat food, and we were told Nermal needed soft cat food, I would have expected the opposite. Hubby ran into the store while I waited with the cats and he got them both kinds of food. When we got home, our two German Shepherds greeted us at the car. They were curious about the funny smelling boxes we were carrying. I'm sure they could smell the cats, but they didn't cause any sort of a fuss. When we got inside, we opened up the boxes and introduced the cats to one another. They immediately snuggled, and soon after, went off to inspect the house. We put the food and water down for them and got their litter box set up. Nermal chowed down on the hard cat food and Toothless enjoyed the soft! What they choose to eat seems to depend on what they feel like eating that day.

They both love the soft food though and whenever Toothless feels like canned cat food he'll go meow at my husband. They seem to take turns, and Nermal's usually a gentleman and lets Toothless eat first. Toothless is a social eater, and only seems to have a snack when one of us is in the kitchen. Nermal isn't opposed to eating other foods, and one day got a hold of a balled up gum wrapper and wouldn't let me have it, he chewed and chewed on it, and then it was gone. He swallowed it, and then brought it back up a moment later, covered in kitty slobbers, but at least it still smelled minty fresh! I preferred that to the wake up call Nermal gave me one morning though. He hopped up on my bed, started to gag, and then threw up on my blanket before I barely had my eyes open. What a way to wake up! "Good morning Ma'am, excuse me while I yack up my breakfast on your bed." He's so darned cute though, and I'm sure he did-n't do it on purpose.

Perhaps being a celebrity has made Toothless a bit camera shy, he doesn't seem to like posing for the camera and typically puts his head down. I sneaked this picture as he was dozing off on my bed one day. He was almost asleep.

Secrit Kitty Hideout - No Girls Allowed!
In the early days, I think the cats made a secret “No Kids Allowed” hideout under our bed. It was the only place they could get to where most of the girls could-n't reach them. Maybe they also like the company of the dust bunnies who live under there, I'm not sure. They don't seem to use their hideout so much these days though. It didn't take them long to figure out that our 3-year-old loves cats, and that our 3-yearold will chase them down for a hug. They eventually discovered though that our 3-year-old can get to their hideout, so maybe that's why they stopped going. The dust bunnies probably miss them. They learned the little people = RUN rule fairly quickly though, I must give them credit for that. At night snuggle with them on their beds. I guess the girls are good at keeping them company at night, they just aren't so fond of bows and tea parties and being chased around the house.

I wonder if perhaps the imaginary tea in those girly tea parties was spiked with something because a few times I've gone to the washroom only to find Nermal with his front legs on either side of the toilet seat with his head over the toilet bowl. I've seen humans do that after too much to drink. The look Nermal gives me when I find him like that is similar to the look the humans have given me too. Nermal has fresh water in his dish to drink, so it must be that he's partied too hard with the girls and just isn't feeling well. I haven't seen him do that since the girls went off to visit their grandparents, so that must be it.

Since the girls left for their grandparents where they venture off to the cottage and have a grand ol' time, the cats at first wandered the house aimlessly, meowing here and there. I think they felt lonely and actually missed the girls. In the girls' absence, my 19-year-old son will sometimes literally chase after the cats, he finds it highly amusing watching Nermal frantically try to get away. Nermal basically runs in place for a few seconds because his feet slip and slide on the hardwood as he tries to get moving to top speed for a quick escape. My son says Nermal's back legs go out sideways as he tries to get traction. At times like that, Toothless just quickly makes for the secret hideout while Nermal spins his wheels.

Toothless looking for signs of little girls and finds a Dora pillow

On any given day, it's not a surprise to hear a big THUD and look to see Nermal bug hunting. He's very proficient at it, swatting at them in mid-air, pouncing on them and stomping mosquitoes with his front paws. Being in the country, and the amount of mosquitoes out this summer, he's had lots to hunt! He also quite enjoys sitting in the window at night and swatting at the moths on the other side of the glass. He doesn't seem to understand he'll never catch those ones though. He seems to enjoy himself so we haven't told him, we didn't want to burst his bubble.

Our 9-year-old used to be chronically late for the bus. She would dilly-dally in the morning, taking her sweet time to get ready for school. Thiswouldn't have been a problem, if she would have gotten up on time, but she would also sleep late which made for frequent missed buses and driven trips to school. Nermal solved that problem for us. He would go into her room every morning at 5:00 to wake her up. She had lots of time to dilly-dally then, and surprisingly, by the time the bus arrived, she was dressed and ready and waiting for it! Thank you Nermal!

Toothless has no fear of our dogs whatsoever, he regularly goes downstairs to hang out with the dogs when they're in at night, well the dogs and my 19-year-old son when he's in at night. Nermal on the other hand, he isn't so sure that the dogs don't want to eat him for a late night snack. He does venture downstairs at night to purr my son to sleep, but then he quietly wanders back upstairs to my room sometime during the night. There seemed to be a bit of a silent war between Nermal and our female dog. Our male dog isn't even interested in the cats, he's just a sweet easy-going sort of dog. Our female though, she's as curious as a cat. Well, one day, I heard a hissing and noise at the front door and went to look and there was Nermal, swatting repeatedly at the window with our female dog on the other side with her nose pressed to the glass. I guess Nermal showed her who's boss! He's had to do that a few times now, just to keep her in her place I suppose. Always through the glass though. I don't want to burst his bubble about that one either.

Nermal sitting in the window watchign the outside world

Toothless istting at the other end of the window having a nap in the sunshine

One day when I was in my room Nermal came to visit me and hopped up onto my bed. I noticed he was very close to the edge and I warned him that if he wasn't careful, he'd fall right off the side. Well, not too much time after that, there he went over the side of the bed. As cats do, he landed on his feet, and then he sauntered off like the Fonz, so cool and macho, as if to say, "I meant for that to happen".

I must admit, we have had a bit of a problem with Nermal. He doesn't seem to understand yet that he isn't allowed on tables. Or counters. The day I discovered the butter had been cat-licked, I wasn't sure which one had done it until I noticed some time later that it's Nermal who just likes to jump up on things all the time. He jumps up when I'm at the table, he jumps up when I'm sewing, he jumps up on my bed, my lap, the couch, the window sill. We're working on him understanding that tables and counters are a no-no. I quietly tossed the butter, I don't think the girls would like kitty slobbers on their toast. The butter now has a lid on it again too, just in case.

The cats get along very well with one another. Sitting at my husband's desk one day I just happened to look as Toothless launched himself off of the stairs onto an unsuspecting Nermal who'd been innocently cleaning his fur in the hallway. Toothless attacked all stealth-like, and then was gone before Nermal had a chance to even realize what had happened. Hubby tells me that he's seen Nermal attack Toothless too. I also witnessed another time when Toothless licked Nermal on the head, the way a momma cat cares for her babies, so I guess their pouncing is all in fun.

"You will tell me if Toothless is going to pounce on me, won't you?"

Toothless seemed a bit jealous in the beginning, so it was nice to see them getting along. One of their first days here, Toothless was on our bed getting some loving and Nermal jumped up too. Nermal saw Toothless and his face lit up and he pounced over enthusiastically to where Toothless was sitting as if to say, "HI!!!" Toothless backed up, the expression on his face was priceless, kind of a raised-eyebrow horrified sort of look, as though he were saying, "Eww get away from me you freak!" Toothless then went and sat on the far corner of our bed, with his back to us. Nermal on the other hand, having taken over the spot Toothless had occupied, stayed put and licked us lots and showed us all his best places to scratch and pet. I think Toothless was a bit miffed that his happy time had been interrupted, but it seems Nermal has been forgiven now and the two play like little kittens. It's hard to believe sometimes that Toothless is as old as he is.

Kitty Loving

Despite the fact that both my husband and my son grumbled and groaned about me getting these cats, almost on day one they were both in love with them. Toothless visits my husband in his office many times throughout the day, and always joins him when he goes to the kitchen to get something to eat. He'll jump up on his lap and purr away as my husband works. One time when my husband laid down to have a nap, Toothless laid down beside him for a nap too - in the exact same position my husband was in. Toothless and my husband seem to have bonded, but he loves Nermal too and I often catch Hubby petting him. He said he doesn't even mind having to take an allergy pill, for the itchy, watery eyes he sometimes gets now. He's said many times that he loves these cats and is so glad we got them. My son has become so fond of these fellows that when he moves into his apartment he wants to get an older cat too.

While Toothless follows people to the kitchen, Nermal follows people to the washroom. If I don't make sure the door is closed tightly, he'll push it open, walk on in and look at me as if to say, "Hey, how's it going?" Mental note - teach Nermal no tables, no counters and no surprise bathroom visits.

Nermal hanging out in the kitchen

Toothless will lick me too, not quite as liberally as Nermal, but if I scratch his right side in just the right spot, he'll lick my arm and my hand over and over as long as I'm scratching, just like a momma cat. For being an older male cat, Toothless is very maternal. We have teased him a few times about his hanging belly, he looks like a nursing momma cat. He's not fond of our teasing though, and just ignores us. You haven't been ignored until you've been ignored by a cat.

"Here's my scritchy spot!"

We really need to get Nermal a scratching post. He was using a box that sat in my room, he had it nearly shredded in no time. There were bits of cardboard hanging off the side when I took it out. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have left the box, because after the box was removed, he decided to start in on the back of the couch. Couch shredding, not so great as box shredding. Maybe I should just fire up the vacuum cleaner whenever I don't want Nermal scratching the couch, that makes him boogie for the secret hideout in no time flat!

I think perhaps the sweetest thing that has happened with these cats since they arrived was the day Toothless bit my husband's finger. Yes, bit. He was on hubby's lap and getting some TLC and maybe hubby scratched in the wrong spot, but whatever the reason, Toothless decided to chomp on hubby's finger. Despite not having any teeth, he gave it his best effort, then looked up at Hubby as if to say, "Look, just pretend it hurt, okay?" You'd really never guess that he doesn't have teeth, he plays and eats and acts just like any other cat I've seen. Nermal shows his pearly whites off with a great big yawn, but I've yet to see Toothless' gums. Perhaps he's a bit shy about it.

They both get their motors going frequently, and their purrs let me know that they are happy with us. On different occasions they have each looked at me as if to say, "Thank you" with their eyes. I love these two furballs. They are sweet, perfect additions to our home. They seem to be having great adventures and make me smile and laugh on a daily basis. I love their personalities, and I'm so very glad that they came to live with us. My home feels more complete since their arrival.

P.S. Before finishing this, both cats hopped up and had a peek at the screen, purring and rubbing their cheeks on my laptop. I guess it meets with their approval.

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