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Gypsy - the Stray Cat Who Came to Stay

Updated on March 19, 2015

Gypsy Is Gone Now, But I Wanted to Share Her Story with You

Gypsy was a wild cat. Well, not actually a wildcat, but one who had been abandoned. She lived a desperate life in the alleys and yards of Baltimore; finding food and shelter wherever she could.

When she came into my life, her multi-colored fur was matted, lack-luster and dirty. She was thin and fearful of people. Her tail, a short stub, might indicate abuse or perhaps an accident during her stray cat days.

Photo by Virginia Allain.

Did I Need Another Cat?

I already had two cats at the time that Gypsy came into my life. It would have been sensible to have given her some food and sent her on her way. I was going through a divorce at the time and feeling overwhelmed and unwanted.

How could I turn away a cat who was in a much worse situation than I was? I had a roof over my head and plenty of food to eat, so Gypsy was invited into my house.

Photo by Virginia Allain.

The First Meeting with Gypsy the Stray Cat

First I had to entice her from under the bush where she crouched in the alley. A neighbor had spotted her there and called out, "Hey, there's a cat over here." Then he noticed her stubby tail and scruffy looks and said warningly, "it's a wild cat."

I called, "here, kitty, kitty." She didn't run, but she didn't come out from the safety of the scrubby bush. From her small size and shape, I was sure she was a domestic cat and not a wildcat, though the colors of her coat and the stub of a tail looked a little like a bobcat. The fact that she hadn't bolted, told me that at some time she had been a pet. A feral cat would have been long gone.

Despite the length of time she must have been on the street and any mistreatment she had suffered, she still remembered the food and comfort of a home with humans. I was able to lure her out with a dish of cat food. Once she had eaten, she trusted me enough to be taken into the house.

Need Help Naming Your Cat? - A book of cat names from Amazon

Sometimes a cat comes with a name already attached. My cats often get a name that references their appearance.

We took in one stray cat that alternated between being nice and then seriously trying to hurt us. His name became Jeckyll after Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Jeckyll eventually had to go to the animal shelter as he was too dangerous to have around us or the other cats, not to mention terrorizing the humans.

The Cat Just Looked Like a Gypsy

How she got her name

Because she had been living a rambling life, the name "Gypsy" came to my mind. Her many-patterned coat also reminded me of the colorful clothes a gypsy might wear. In addition, she had a somewhat wild, untamed look to her that seemed similar to the unconventional look of a gypsy.

It Took Time for Gypsy to Feel Comfortable around People

Gypsy spent the first few months looking for good hiding places around the house. When visitors came, she disappeared under the sofa, behind the drapes or down the stairs to the basement.

She is looking a little fearful in this photo.

(photo by Virginia Allain)

Gypsy the Cat Had a "Coat of Many Colors" - Just Like Dolly Parton's Song

This song always touches me. Gypsy was a tabby, but had blends of orange in with the grays and browns in her coat. This Coat of Many Colors song makes me think of Gypsy's patchy colors.

I Taught Her How to Play Again - Gypsy learns to trust again after being a stray cat

Kittens instinctively pounce on anything that moves. People love playing with them with feathers or a string, just to see them leap after it. Of course, it is behavior that over the centuries provided the cat with food as they pounced on mice and other small prey.

Even though housecats don't need to hunt for their food, most cats keep that playful pounce into adulthood. At first, it puzzled me that Gypsy wouldn't follow a piece of yarn or bat at some enticing cat toy dangled for her. Then I realized that she was too busy watching me and the other cats with fearful eyes to participate in playful behavior. It took weeks and even months of feeding, stroking and soft talk to build up her confidence.

This is an old photo of Gypsy that I finally found

This is an old photo of Gypsy that I finally found
This is an old photo of Gypsy that I finally found

I felt real elation the first time Gypsy felt safe enough to bat at a piece of yarn that I wiggled teasingly in front of her.

Photos of My Cat, Gypsy - From my own album

Click thumbnail to view full-size

A Cat Tree Lets the Cat Exercise and Perch up High

Cats really like being up where they can see what's going on or what's sneaking up on them. This kind of cat tree gives them that kind of place so maybe they will leave the sofa alone.

I tried to discourage the cats from sleeping on the sofa. It was a real chore getting the fur off of it. They found it hard to understand my shooing them off the sofa which seemed perfect to them for a day of lounging around while I was at work.

Armarkat Cat Tree Model A6202, Beige
Armarkat Cat Tree Model A6202, Beige

I wish I'd had something like this for my cats to exercise on and to have a safe spot to retreat to.


Gypsy finally gained confidence that she was loved and had found a safe haven. She often curled up on my lap as I read a book.

Tell Me about the Cat That Captured Your Heart

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @delia-delia: My older cat became quite jealous of the attention Gypsy was getting. They would compete for room on my lap while I read.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      Awwww - Gypsy is long did she live with you? My feral cat named Kitty was feral and we took her in...he mother looked a lot like Gypsy, she was feral also. Thank You for taking Gypsy into your home and giving her a life with love.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      The official Cat Universe thanks you for giving Gypsy a home. Meow.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      Harmony, the tabby, thinks Gypsy looks just like her, except not orange. Love this lens!!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 5 years ago from Shanghai, China

      My cat looked a lot like the tabby above - his name was Meander, and the name came because, like Gypsy, he had lived a life wandering around in New York streets before he came to me. He was a fantastic cat - and we had lots of good years together. Great lens!

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 5 years ago from Covington, LA

      I'm so glad that Gypsy found her forever home with you. She does look a little like our Blaze (Cat Eyes). Congrats on making the 50 Cats We Love MB. Blessings upon this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Congratulations for being featured on Squidoo's 50 Cats We Love Monster Board

      Blessed by a Squidoo Angel

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Gypsy looks like she was a sweetheart!

    • priscillab profile image

      priscillab 6 years ago

      AWWWW! Loved your story of Gypsy. I would have taken her in also. You did right by her and it sounds like she took to you also. I have my Ava whose story is sadly similar. Thanks for this sweet story of Gypsy. Love the name.

    • ajtyne profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from North Carolina

      What a wonderful story! I love happy endings -- and I never tire of them. I'm glad she found you when you both needed each other. ;)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Gypsy had found her place with you, and she was loved and lived in comfort the rest of her days. This is a beautiful story, and thank you for sharing.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you for sharing Gypsy's story. Our cat showed up on the doorstep about 10 years ago, and hasn't left since. She is a short haired and jet black, and of course our five-year-old daughter named her: Fluffy.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      My cat, trouble, lived up to her name, but I was more attached to her than I knew. She was the tamest feral cat we've ever had because she had been fed by our neighbors until they moved. She is featured in my lens Cats I Have Known, along with the other felines in my life. It also features my mom's cat , Soci, a tuxedo shelter cat that reminds me a bit of your Jeckyll . She would be the most affectionate cat you could imagine, purring in you lap, and then would suddenly turn mean and bite for no reason we could see. She slept with Mom, and sometimes would attack if Mom turned over in bed. I wanted to find a new home for her, but, of course, Mom wouldn't hear of it and always made excused for her, even though the "love" bites were sometimes pretty deep, and once Soci aimed for the throat when Mom was asleep. Fortunately, in Mom's last days, she slept affectionately beside her, and stayed with her as she was dying.

    • Ellen Mitchell profile image

      Ellen Mitchell 6 years ago

      Touching story. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 6 years ago

      My cat Cloe came into the neighborhood, following a flurry of hurricanes in 2004, and soon captured my heart. She is an inside cat, and a delight every day ... Sweet story in tribute to your cat Gypsy. Loved the name!

    • cdcraftee profile image

      Christine Larsen 7 years ago from South Australia

      Hallo again Vallain,

      Our new little cat 'Missy' (named because of MIScellaneous and MYSterious parentage!) is our first cat for 11 years, because of our love of wild birds. (Hadn't considered that the introduced 'sparrow' population would spread like wildfire in our vicinity - now keeping us poverty stricken whilst attempting to keep the fox from the door of our chooks!)

      Missy has stolen our hearts - as did our beloved Gypsy the dog - many years ago. So, this lens has double appeal to me. Thank you.


    • jodijoyous profile image

      jodijoyous 7 years ago from New York

      Awww... My first cat found me like that. I was home sick with the chicken pox and heard "meow" under my window. I looked down and there was a small gray cat. We fed him, built him an outdoor house (dad was allergic so we couldn't bring him in) and took care of him for months until he just disappeared.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Aww! Your Gypsy sounds like a real find, and she was lucky to find you.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Lovely story. I have always liked cats. I live in a flat now where I am not allowed pets, so I have to enjoy other people's.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      It sounds like Gypsy found herself a wonderful home after all her troubles living wild. Love all those gorgeous cat pictures.

    • profile image

      inkserotica 7 years ago

      I'm just about to write my first squid paws lens ; Gypsy was gorgeous! I'd love to think that she and Turner (my cat) are helping each other right now :) Will lensroll you to mine!