...because home doesn't happen overnight.

cheetah

It’s hard to believe it has been a year since we spontaneously adopted Cheetah. I can still remember the entire family driving to pick her up. We had no idea what we were doing. At the time, we had no experience with cats and quite frankly we were skeptical of, even frightened by, them. But she needed a good home and I couldn’t think of a really good reason not to take her in. Plus, she had the saddest lil’ eyes. I couldn’t say no.

layne + cheetah

I’m so happy I didn’t say no. Cheetah has been the best pet ever for our family. She’s protective, mild-mannered, hilarious, cuddly, intuitive, well-behaved, quiet, independent, lazy and at times playful. Personally, I think she’s waaaaay easier than any dog I’ve ever encountered even though she is very dog-like. Coming from “not a cat person” whose family bred beagles growing up, that’s saying a lot. I would have never guessed in a million years that we would own a cat and love her as much as we do. Cheetah has converted many cat skeptics over the last year including family members, friends and complete strangers.

cheetah morning

Cheetah has her own little daily routine which cracks me up. She starts the morning by coming into our bedroom when she hears Steve getting ready for work. She sits on the bed and waits patiently for him to scratch behind her ears and rub her face. Then she bounds down the hallway (seriously, you can hear her galloping these days) to the kitchen and quietly mews at the doors to the backyard until someone opens them so she can watch the birds and squirrels. She stays in the kitchen while we eat breakfast. The boys tell her “goodbye, be a good girl” before heading out to catch the bus. She follows them to the mudroom and sees them off.

mabrey + cheetah

cheetah + nursery

cheetah in a basket

cheetah + play kitchen

legos cheetah

After the morning rush, Cheetah spends most of the day playing with Mabrey and napping in random places. She’s so great with Mabrey who can sometimes be rough. If I were Cheetah I think I would have scratched her by now, but she hasn’t. Some of the places I find her sleeping are quite comical: the kids’ beds, in baskets / bags / boxes galore, on the mantel, in closets, on Mabrey’s play kitchen and even in the kids’ Legos bag. She will sleep almost anywhere. Her favorite spot is wherever she is at the moment. On the weekends, she follows the kids around lounging while they play. During the week, she greets the boys after school by flopping down and rolling over for belly rubs. Everett always asks her how her day was and then asks me if she was good.

While I’m making dinner, a neighborhood cat usually strolls through our backyard. Cheetah follows it from the mudroom to the kitchen to the master bedroom, watching through the french doors and windows. It’s the fastest she moves all day.

cheetah tub

For not liking baths, she sure likes the clawfoot tub – especially right after the kids have bathed or showered. Similarly, if a glass of water is left within her reach, she gently splashes her front paws in it and gives herself a bath. We can’t leave drinking glasses unattended!

everett + cheetah

cheetah cuddle

In the evenings, Cheetah is extra cuddly. The less time we spend at home during the day, the more cuddly she is. She accompanies Steve and me as we make the bedtime rounds. She sits quietly in the boys’ room as we tell them goodnight. She waits in the hallway just outside Mabrey’s door for a minute or two after we’ve put her to bed to make sure all is well. The way she looks after them is the sweetest. Then she’ll join Steve and me in the living room while we watch Netflix, read or talk. If she’s really exhausted or hot, she rolls onto her back, belly up, to let the ceiling fans cool her fluff. (see first image above) I laugh every time. Before bed, Steve cradles her like a baby and rubs her belly. He’ll probably kill me for sharing that but it’s true! Then we’re off to bed and she has free rein. I have no idea where she sleeps unless she sleeps behind the crook in my knees.

When we first brought Cheetah home, I worried about her destroying our furniture and/or rugs. I worried she would have accidents. I worried I wouldn’t be able to handle the cat hair. But so far, she hasn’t destroyed anything or had any accidents. The DIY hidden litter box has been awesome. We still have the cardboard lounger and carpet tree found in this post. The latter is beginning to come undone so a tweak is on the horizon. As long as I brush her regularly, Cheetah doesn’t shed too badly and when she does it’s mostly clumps that can be easily picked up or swept up. (I still swear by the vacuums I mentioned here.) She sometimes gets on the countertops which I really don’t like but it’s usually because she’s hungry or thirsty and needs food or water. The kids take turns feeding her. Once you feed her, she’s a friend for life ;)

I don’t really know the point of this post except to say that I never thought rescuing a pet could be so great and maybe more people should try it if they can. And if you think you aren’t a “cat person,” think again. Our vet guesses Cheetah is at least part Maine Coon. I’ve heard from so many Maine Coon owners professing their doglike qualities and kid-friendliness. If a dog-cat sounds like a good fit for your family, maybe give Maine Coon varieties a look.

Have you ever adopted a pet? Were you surprised by how much they improved your family life? Here’s to many more happy cativersaries!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

38 Comments

09.September.2015

Cheetah really seems like the best cat. I had a cat growing up that was half tabby and half manx. She had this stubby little tail and was just the cutest kitten. When she grew up, she was completely comfortable with my family but hated strangers and small children. It never ceased to amaze me how she would hide while company was over but as soon as the last person stepped out the door, she would come right out and socialize with us. I was the only one who could pick her up and hold her like a baby. If anyone else did it, she’s claw their eyes out. She actually looked a lot like Cheetah except her chest was all white. My husband is allergic to cats so we can’t get one but every so often, the desire the get a cat comes over me. Thanks for sharing Cheetah with us readers. It’s just the cat fix I need.

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09.September.2015

My husband and I just adopted a kitten and we love her so much! She gets along with our two dogs super well and it is such a joy to see them play together. I never thought I was a cat person and neither did my husband and your positive experiences with Cheetah did, in part, make me open to having her come stay with us for a trial. Of course within an hour we were all smitten with her and now we couldn’t imagine not having her around!

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09.September.2015

What an incredibly sweet post!!! We had our Labrador for 14 years and lost him in 2011 and still miss him every day. Then two adorable feral kitten sisters came into our life (and then two males, both rescues). We are now at four (max capacity) — and this coming from someone who never thought they would have one cat! They are truly special, as all animals are. Thank you for advocating for rescue and adoption!

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09.September.2015

Our 10yr old Orange Tabby is the best big brother 4yr Liam could have.
Many similarities to your Cheetah story – Fred came to live @ a neighbors & soon was living with us! I’d never had a cat prior. My fuzzy saved me from much sadness during yrs of Infertility….
Cats Rock!

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09.September.2015

Cheetah seems like the greatest cat. Congrats on getting such a cuty!

I really love our cat, just wish he would let me cuddle him more!

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09.September.2015

OMG. So precious! We have three cats with completely separate personalities. They each have their thing they do every day, and their favorite spots, and favorite person. Our cat, Henry, LOVES drinking water from the bathtub faucet. It’s insane.

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09.September.2015

I’m so glad that you gave her a chance and it sounds like she was a perfect fit for your family! I’ve sworn for years that furry creatures touch our hearts in ways no human ever could. :)

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09.September.2015

I grew up with dogs, but was introduced to cats when my roommate had one in university and have never wanted a dog since. I LOVE puupies but they’re so much more work!

We just got a new kitty in the spring who looks just like Cheetah. She is in love with our orange tabby cat, who spends most of the day outside. When I let him out, she’ll go to the window and meow after him. When he comes home, she’ll follow him around the house like little sister would. It’s adorable!

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09.September.2015

I really enjoyed your post. Your story mirrors my family’s. Last June we rescued an abandoned kitty, who looks very similar to your cutie minus a tail, she’s a Manx named Lilly and although we didn’t anticipate an addition to our family, she’s definitely become a integral part of it . I enjoy your blog, Thanks so much for sharing such wonderful ideas and your family with us .

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09.September.2015

We also have a Maine Coon (he looks purebred, but we found him as a one-month-old stray on the street, so I’m sure he is a mix). He is also acts like such a puppy, and exhibits all of the behaviors you describe above: dipping his paws in water glasses, hanging out in the bathtub after we shower, begging for food scraps, and following us absolutely everywhere. Maine Coons are the best!

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09.September.2015

November will be a year since we took in our beautiful, gray fluffy cat, Nora. We had had bad experiences and were skeptical but a friend was desperate to have her go due to a child’s allergies and our kids wanted one so badly. We agreed on a month trial…and here we are almost a year later. She’s our favorite pet ever, which we didn’t think possible. She lays on her back similar to Cheetah. She just turned 4 and we hope she’s around for many more years! Cheers to Cheetah :)

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09.September.2015

I have an orange cat that looks like he is part Siberian, part Maine Coon. I actually realized / started thinking he might be part Maine Coon when you mentioned that your vet told you there is a small M on Cheetah’s forehead, between her eyes!

I had my first cat when I was in my first year of college and when I moved to the US, that cat stayed back home with my parents. I wanted a cat so bad for many years but my husband was always skeptical and preferred a dog. We’ve had our ginger fluff for almost a year now and my husband keeps saying he is “the best dog with the shape of a cat” he has ever had. Which is great, coming from such a huge dog person! Congrats on this first year with Cheetah, she sounds amazing!

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09.September.2015

Cheetah looks so much like my Elvis! He is also part Maine Coon and loves to flop over for belly rubs/fluff cooling. We call it “beaching” (he’s enormous haha). In his old age he’s stopped getting out of the way if someone needs to walk by where he’s beached, so everyone has to be extra careful not to tread on the giant fluff pile in the middle of the floor. I’m definitely more of a dog person, but the way he follows me around chittering and answering me back when I talk to him is just the best. <3

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replied on September 15th, 2015

Cheetah does the same thing! She won’t move for anyone.

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been a year! She sounds like she’s a real keeper. We lucked out with our cat too! She’s a good hefty size like Cheetah.:-) She is a long hair calico and is very patient with the kids. Congrats on your cativersary, Dana!!:-)

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09.September.2015

I have had many cats throughout my 63 years of life and heartily recommend them. Oh, a few have been a handful, but most brought oodles of life and love to me! My cat, Kala, who graces my life right now is the most loving, cuddling and purring 20 pound baby ever! I, too, can hear her as she walks! I am happy to hear that your big ball of fluff is a delight in your family!

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09.September.2015

I rescued my cat Norman in 2009 and he is the best find ever:) My friends and family make fun of me for spoiling him, but he spoils me right back with his love, cuddles, and hilarious personality!

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09.September.2015

I adopted a huge Maine Coon-like cat from a relative who couldn’t keep him anymore. Best thing I ever did. He died on this auspicious day 16 years ago. Yes, on 09/09/99. He was special that way.

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09.September.2015

She has gotten so big!!! Where did your black/white striped shirt come from? I haven’t been able to find the perfect one. :)

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replied on September 15th, 2015

Marshall’s!

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09.September.2015

I’m so glad you wrote this post! So many people don’t realize how much joy cats can bring to your life. And all too often I have heard of people pushing their animals aside once they have kids because now their pet is just another thing to take care of. My husband swore he wasn’t a cat person until we adopted a stray. She definitely was not the most well behaved cat but she loved my husband and he loved her. We had to put her to sleep a couple of years ago due to illness but to this day he still has a hard time talking about her. We still have our Charlie, whom we adopted from the feral cat foundation and he is the absolute best! He brings so much joy to our lives and is just the sweetest orange tabby a person could have.

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09.September.2015

I loved reading this post as well as the comments! My husband and I have 2 kitties (Siamese brothers) from a rescue shelter, and they bring an indescribable amount of joy to our lives!!!! I laugh when people describe cats as aloof. The cats I have had have, like Cheetah sounds, been the opposite of aloof. Our boys love constant companionship and have the sweetest, most loving hearts imaginable. So glad your family and Cheetah are such a great match. :-)

PS: I couldn’t agree more about the value of adopting animals from shelters-it’s tragic how many wonderful animals are euthanized because they don’t have a home.

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10.September.2015

I hope she can go out one day and live a real cats’ live!!

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10.September.2015

So happy Cheetah is such a great cat for your family! She sure is pretty. As I’m reading your blog, I’m petting my oldest daughter’s cat, Lily. They are staying here while my daughter’s broken foot recovers from a work/steps fall. My daughter adopted Lily at a college adoption event when Lily was just 7 weeks old. A cat is a great pet for a busy, young professional. My childhood cat, Opie, was very loved by me and my brothers. He was an outdoor/indoor cat and a good friend and protector. He brought lil lil kittens to our back porch one day. Turns out the mother cat had died delivering them. So, he was a good dad, too. Love cats!!

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10.September.2015

Love her! She sounds so much like our Perny…he has made some cat-haters into cat-lovers! I can’t really blame them…he’s the best cat-who-acts-like-a-dog ever! I have a feeling he and Cheetah would be good snuggle buddies. :)

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replied on September 15th, 2015

I bet they would!

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10.September.2015

Ohmygosh…we have a very funny little bunny who has to come indoors during our hot, northern Cal summers..His cage is right where all the action is in our family room/kitchen and our 8 year old always tells him goodnight and asks me after school how his day was and whether he was a good boy! So cute..and so happy that Cheetah has been such a wonderful addition to your family.: ) We were a “no pet” family for many years, and now cannot imagine our lives without the bunny (and 4 chickens!!haha).
Leah

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replied on September 15th, 2015

Aw, so cute!

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10.September.2015

Cheetah could seriously be a twin with the first cat we ever had. I think I have a picture if him exactly like the first one in this post! Cats can be finicky and we’ve had lots (20+) but there are some that are very “dog-like” and others who can care less who you are… unless you don’t feed them on time and they decide to pay you back with an “accident” on your bed/clean clothes/etc :D

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10.September.2015

I looked at her and immediately thought Maine Coon, too. We have had 2 of them and they are the best. Calm and friendly and affectionate, and great with kids.

Gomez, our last one, died last year at the age of 16. I still miss him. Gomez had a ‘schedule,’ too. And he was our ‘solar cat’. He would lie in pools of sunshine on the floor in the house, moving as the sun moved so he was never in the shade.

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replied on September 15th, 2015

Cheetah does the same thing, following the sun around the house. So sorry to hear about your lil’ Gomez.

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11.September.2015

Cheetah is definitely part (or possibly all) Maine Coon! My aunt is a breeder and they are wonderful cats, definitely quite dog-like at times. Another very dog-like breed is Ragamuffins (a derivative of the Ragdoll breed), which is what one of my cats most likely is – they have distinctive eyes and medium-length coats, so despite being a rescue we’re pretty confident about his breed. He greets us at the door when we come home from work, follows me around the house, and in general is always within a ten foot radius of me while I’m at home (which is adorable and great for giving him lots of pets, but can be problematic when I’m trying to cook in the kitchen).

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11.September.2015

I love this post – and I love that a cat stole the heart of a dog-person! We have a dog and two cats — all shelter pets. My husband and I love cats, but our son begged for a dog, and like you, we couldn’t think of a really good reason to say no. We took the leap and that crazy, smelly dog ended up winning our hearts.

Cheetah’s personality reminds me of our cat Dizzy, who several non-cat people have said is the only cat they like. :)

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13.September.2015

Thank you for your beautiful blog Dana! There is nothing better than a story about a family’s love for their faithful pet. Cheetah is a good soul.

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13.September.2015

So happy you all are enjoying Cheetah so much! It’s really amazing the way pets can bring such joy to a home.

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13.September.2015

She’s so adorable. We have the male version of Cheetah! A lot of fun and definitely part of the family.

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19.September.2015

As the owner of another Maine Coon mix, they are the BEST. (Both according to my reading and from my sample size of one). Smart, talkative, sweet, beautiful and playful. Plus, they’re big enough you can “roughhouse” with them like you might a small dog, and they seem to enjoy it – unlike many other cats.

I’m so glad Cheetah is such an amazing part of your family!

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15.October.2016

Cheetah is so grand looking with her chunky paws. Her coat looks so luxurious and warm, what a stunner!

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