Senior Cat Behavior or What My Fluffy Cat Penelope Taught Me

My fluffy girl Penelope in her favorite spot on the rug in the late afternoon sunshine; the name of this painting is "Relaxation".
My fluffy girl Penelope in her favorite spot on the rug in the late afternoon sunshine; the name of this painting is "Relaxation". | Source

Everything is Not Black & White...but my Cat Is!

My beautiful stray cat Penelope, (I highly suspect a Norwegian Forest Cat), was a wonderful, goofy cat full of life lessons. Let me tell you why. She lived to be eighteen, but right from the time I had her, she was always my "fluffy girl". I found Penelope when I was living with my husband in an apartment in the late 1980s. Probably more aptly, she found me. I came across her curled up in a chair on an old sweatshirt. She definitely was trying to find shelter from the deluge of rain we were having. Funny how that shelter was directly beneath my apartment. Do cats choose people? I think sometimes they do, or, they have a sixth sense of who might be a kindhearted soul. She was so tame, I couldn't imagine anyone just leaving her, but that's apparently what happened. Many stray cats landed at these apartments. I think it was because the complex had lots of trees and hiding places. I guess these people forgot that it sure does get cold in the winter...Penelope became very attached to me and actually would take walks with me and my baby daughter. I didn't use a leash, she walked right beside me. Whenever my infant daughter was being fed, she of course would be curled up in my lap. Penelope would always be near, but would wait until I put my daughter down and then jump up and curl up in my lap. Smart cat.

The Shoestring Game

When Penelope (Penelope Pittstop) wasn't acting sweet and cuddly, she was a bit of a maniac and maverick.  She got her name because she used to take these mad dashes through the house just for the sheer joy of it.  All this cat cared about in the whole world was her shoestring, me, food, a soft place to call home and her favorite ray of sunshine on the living room floor (in that order).  She invented games and one of them was the "shoestring game" which was me basically dangling a shoestring in front of her, then her taking off in a mad dash with the shoestring in her mouth and me running behind her holding onto the other end of the shoestring, I kid you not!  She would hold her big fluffy plume tail straight up, she was so proud of making off with that shoestring.  She played the shoestring game well into her senior years.


Kitty Alzheimer's

In Poie's (pronounced Po ees) later years she somehow developed kitty Alzheimer's on top of kidney disease.  Believe it or not these issues didn't seem to slow her down too much, she just seemed to accept them and go on her merry way.  She wasn't in any pain through any of this and I am quite thankful for that.  Penelope reverted to becoming as needy as a kitten.  She was always underfoot and meowed constantly, especially at night.  The only way to to calm her was to carry her around and sing to her or put Tony Bennett on, and after she heard a little Tony Bennett, she would go right to sleep. I think because she couldn't see too well, she became worried about where we were.  She was fine, as long as she could hear our voices.  We had to make sure we didn't step on her because she was right under foot.  I don't know how many times I did the hop, spin and jump out of the way move to avoid stepping on that cat.  My former ballet classes served me well!

Making Friends with the Vacuum Cleaner

Kitty Alzheimer's can be rough on the "parents" of the cat, but it had many lighter moments too. One day when my husband was vacuuming something up, she decided to make friends with the vacuum cleaner, specifically the hose of the vacuum cleaner.  She followed that vacuum cleaner around whenever we ran it.  She would "track" the hose with her head; I guess because she couldn't see out of one eye, she had to move her head to keep track of her new "friend". Who knows what she thought she was seeing.  Maybe she thought the sound of the vacuum was a giant mommy cat purring. Very funny to watch and very memorable.

Saying Goodbye

Penelope was a wonderful, funny, affectionate sweetheart.  What more could I ask for.  Well, she gave one last perfect gift.  About a week before she died, she made one last mad dash through the house.  What a great memory.  Thank-you, Poe

Live by the Penelope Rules

  • There's always time to play.
  • Enjoy whatever the day brings.
  • Search out every ray of sunshine
  • Know that you are not here by mistake; you're meant to be here; have great expectations; take a stand or, raise a paw as the case may be!
  • Meow like you mean it!
  • Be an expert purrer...make your own happiness
  • Demur only when necessary.
  • Growl when necessary!
  • Always always tell your most treasured people in your life how much you love them. (Mroww, mroww, meow!)
  • Be sooo memorable that people will be talking about you for years!
  • Be flexible and open minded, there is always the next opportunity just around the corner.
  • Know how to be a charmer
  • Be independent; enjoy your friends, but always keep your own counsel
  • Be a goof, clown around, don't stomp around:)
  • Fly through the air like a ballerina, no matter what shape you're in!

Comments 13 comments

thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 2 months ago from East Coast Author

Thank-you for reading the hub, Penelope was a beautiful, and funny cat, still miss her.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 months ago from the short journey

What a lovely read. Thanks for sharing your memories and for listing what Penelope taught you. To have a cat become your friend is to have had a true friend.


thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 3 years ago from East Coast Author

They are wonderful, goofy creatures! To the irreverent, inscrutable cats of the world!


CurrentScience303 3 years ago from HighPoint, N.C.

I've got a few photos of my "Russian Blue", posted on one of my hubs. He appears to be doing calisthenic exercises!


thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 3 years ago from East Coast Author

Penelope truly did make friends with the vacuum cleaner. I'm not quite sure why, but it was quite charming while it lasted. I will always miss "my fluffy girl".


CurrentScience303 3 years ago from HighPoint, N.C.

The #1 Nightmarish/Threat to an indoor cat is the VACUUM Cleaner! The loud-noises it makes, on ground-level! /// This hub is the 1st thing I've ever read about a cat "making friends" with a vacuum! Interesting to hear, indeed!


thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago from East Coast Author

Hi Ruth Pieterse,

Thank you for checking out the hub What my Cat Penelope Taught me. I will be sure to check out your pictures on Pin-it. Have a wonderful day, thoughtfulgirl2:)


Ruth Pieterse 4 years ago

Pets are wonderful. So nice to read Penelope's story. Voted up.


thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago from East Coast Author

Hi there, jeyaramd,

I think I replied to your comment, but when I looked on the comments page, I didn't reply back, so thank-you for your comments. Penelope was quite wonderful and funny:)


jeyaramd profile image

jeyaramd 4 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

Thank you for sharing this inspiring story about your cat. Eighteen years is a long time together. I think its destiny that you came across your cat. Your cat is definitely a fighter. Thank you for sharing what you had learned about your cat. That was beautiful. We definitely learn so much from our pets about life. Pets teach us how to appreciate the present moment. Great hub. Voted up.


jeyaramd profile image

jeyaramd 4 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

Thank you for sharing this hub. That was a beautiful story. Its hard to say who found who. You both found each other. 18 years is a long time together. You both must have been very close. Your cat is definitely a fighter.

That was so nice of you to include a list of beautiful things you learned from your cat. That was awe inspiring. We definitely learn to appreciate the present moment when we live with our cats. Thank you for sharing. Great hub.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story from start to finish. It was well written and engaging. Voted up.


thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast Author

Hi Nicole,

We already had 4 others when she passed and still have them Tucker Tabby, BooBear, Pepper Jennifer aka Glamour Girl and Chi, plus a bunch of other names for them all


Nicole Winter profile image

Nicole Winter 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

This is so sweet, thank-you for publishing this, she sounds like a grand old cat who you guys loved dearly and who loved you, immensely. I wrote a hub on how long one should wait until after the passing of a pet to get a new one, and I'm curious, you guys seem like you've such love in your hearts... did you ever get another cat after Penelope?

I truly do believe that cats choose us. I saw on television once that cats were truly wild, feral animals who basically decided to come hang out with humans and eventually became domesticated this way. Isn't that incredible?!? What other wild animal decides to allow themselves to become domesticated?

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