September, 1990 - August, 2006

This is Tia Maria. She is the oldest cat in residence at our house. Hence, she is the "alpha cat". She rules the other cats and us humans with an iron paw.

She was born in September, 1990 and started her life as a resident of the Annapolis, Md SPCA. Bob had gone to the SPCA looking for a kitten to give to Kathy as a Christmas gift. After spending some time looking at the cages of kittens, he finally spotted one little tortie kitten quietly laying in a corner of a cage that she shared with several other kittens. Thinking that this kitten would be a quiet lap cat, he selected her. Unfortunately, Bob could not adopt her at that time because he wasn't living with Kathy. Later that day, Bob brought Kathy in to pick out her present. After much debate, Kathy also agreed that this tiny little tortie kitten, who calmly watched her brothers flip kitty litter around would be the kitten to take home. The shelter people claimed that yes she was very quiet, calm kitten and she would probably grow into a petite, gentle lap cat. Little did we know then that it wasn't that Tia was a calm kitten, she was just above playing in kitty litter.

On our way home that same night, we decided to stop and show the precious baby off to Bob's sister, who also loves animals. That is when Tia's true nature started to emerge. As soon as we opened her carrier the two dogs in residence (German Shepards) came over for a look. Within five minutes this tiny two pound fluff of a kitten had one dog cowering up against a wall, trying to crawl into a heat duct. The other dog ran for cover in the basement, not before sustaining several scratches on her nose. Tia certainly left her mark at that house.

Upon arriving at her "one true home", she proceeded to find nooks and crannys to hide in that Kathy never knew existed in a condo. For a brief time we toyed with renaming her Fury or Rambo or Hell on Paws. Eventually, the spirited little Tia did calm down, and grew into a rather large cat. (Contrary to the SPCA's prediction!) Not before leaving her mark (and scars) several places. She is still known to our vet as the first cat he ever had to put a muzzle on in order to examine her.

Tia has adapted well over the years. She dealt moving to another house with little trouble. She also grudgingly allowed Bob to move in when he married Kathy. Sometimes she will even share her favorite blanket with him. She even helped raise the other cats when they joined the household. (Although at first she thought she had gone on a catnip bender and had kittens) But through it all, she still reminds us that she is the boss.

August, 2006: After a brave battle, Tia succombed to a rare but agressive giant cell cancer. Up to the end she acted with dignity and grace. Although she is physically gone, her spirit still runs the shelter, and she is still known as "The Queen".

Tia Maria's Story: The attack of the Fish Pond

The indignities a proper cat has to put up with. I was perfectly happy letting Kathy live in my house when she decided to "make an honest man" out of Bob, marry him and let him move in. I had just about forgiven her for that when her and Bob decided to liven up the outside of the house with a fish pond. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with fish. They're very tastey. It's just, they are so wet! Anyway, construction of the pond started. Being an inside cat, I supervised from the back door. Besides, such manual labor as moving dirt is beneath me.

Eventually the hole was dug, dirt disposed of, the liner in, and water added. Bob and Kathy bought several gold fish and put them in the pond. Because most of the labor was done, I figured it was time for me to go out and inspect. (Besides I hadn't left any regurgitated grass stains on the carpet in a while anyway.) So under strict supervision, I went out to the pond. It looked nice. It was kind of neat watching the fish swim around. I sampled the water, it was nice and cool, with a fishy, gourmet taste to it. Also the fish would not only swim up to me, they would follow me as I went around the pond. (I never said these were smart fish)

This fascination with the fish following me was ultimately my undoing. You see in order to position the plants at the bottom of the pond, Bob had put a board across the pond. However, he never bothered to anchor the board at the end. I was so engrossed by the fish I didn't pay any attention to the board and just walked out onto it. I kept going from side to side of the board watching the fish and drinking the water. Apparently, I was shifting my delicate (hefty - the typist) wieght around enough to make the board a little unstable. What happens next is something of a blur, but I remember hearing Bob say "She's going to fall in". The next thing I knew, I was in the middle of the pond, swimming with the fish! Horrors!! I am always very proud of both my shiny soft fur and my manicure. Going through the splash cycle in the pond is an automatic bad hair day. Furthermore, instead of coming to my aid, Bob and Kathy both just stood there with their mouths hanging open. Saying "I can't believe she fell in the pond", and "Did you see how big her eyes got?". To add insult to injury, I had to kitty paddle my way over to the side of the pond and pull myself out. Upon my exit from the pond, I immediately ran for the door to the house. After all, you never know when a good looking tom could be around and I definitely did not want to be seen. Of course the door to the house was shut, so I had to wait for the "humans" who were now laughing at me to open the door. Once inside, I wanted to do what any respectable cat in my situation would, check on my food supply. As I was running for the kitchen, I made another startling discovery: Slate tile and wet kitty feet don't mix. As I was rounding the corner in the foyer, I lost all traction, wiped out and skidded into the wall. This was too much. I finally made it into the kitchen and checked on my food, (the food was still there) I kind of stood there, dripping, trying to figure out what to do next. By then Kathy and Bob caught up with me, and threw a towel around me. Fat good a towel would do, my coiffed appearance was already ruined! Plus they were still laughing at me, and saying something about a drowned rat! I was getting mad! After all, it was Bob that put that thing in the back yard, so he was the one who would pay for it! So I went upstairs (still dripping) and situated my wet self on Bob's side of the bed. Once there I started the arduous task of cleaning up.