August 15, 1995 - December 29, 2009

This text will have two parts. The first was written by Stumpy's owner and true Mother, my daughter Joy, speaking for herself and her husband Mark.. My recollections of finding Stumpy follow.

In our opinion, Stumpy was the best cat that ever lived. There are probably other pet owners who will disagree, so we'll make the concession that he falls into the category of the top 100 cats of all time. Stumpy was special from the moment we realized he only had 3 legs. Although my mother said, "Ewww" when she saw that he only had 3 legs, I knew that meant he needed extra attention and I gave it to him. Because he was the runt of the litter, Stumpy lost out to his sister and brother when trying to get to the bowl of KMR. Thus, I bottle fed him on my chest every night that I could. Pretty ironic, because he ended up being an overweight cat in his middle and old age.

In fact, Stumpy lived for food. Mark liked to imitate Stumpy's cries by saying, "Mommy, I'm HUNgry." Stumpy was always waiting for the next meal. If his food bowl was empty then he pushed it around the floor trying to lick up the last morsel of dried food goodness that clung to the bottom of the bowl. If we were asleep, Stumpy came to find us to let us know it was time to eat. When he was younger and more agile, Stumpy would jump up near a window so he could bat at the blinds to wake me up. If that didn't work, he'd come over to the nightstand and deliberately knock everything off to make a loud racket so we would get up. We got a new bed just two years before Stumpy died and we purposefully set the mattress low to the floor so Stumpy could get into bed with us (he was losing his jumping abilities and had to pull himself up onto the bed with his claws). Sometimes he'd get into bed to wake us up by licking our faces. If there was a plastic bag around, he'd find it and lick that because he knew that noise grated on my nerves and I'd have to get up.

The second thing Stumpy lived for was loving and sleeping with his mommy and daddy. He watched more movies sitting on my lap than I can count. If he wore my legs out with his tremendous weight (well, 14 pounds is a lot to hold for 2 hours), I'd move him to the afghan beside me or he'd shift over to sit with Mark. When we headed into the bedroom for the night, one of us always grabbed Stumpy and dropped him on the bed. He'd sit there for a while but quickly lost patience with us while we brushed our teeth. One of us invariably would have to play with him or stroke him to keep him in the bed til we got there. If we could get him to sit still then he'd settle down between our torsos and rest for a while. For some reason, he always decided he needed water after about 10 minutes, though, and thank heavens the water was on Mark's side of the bed in the bathroom. Stumpy would bulldoze over Mark to get to the bathroom and then roam around for a bit. If it was cold out, he'd always find his way back to the bed and would sleep between us or under my arm for the rest of the night.

A Christmas Kiss

Stumpy wanted to go outside so much that I made him a promise that we'd move to a house with a screened in porch. I fulfilled that promise for a while when we owned the townhouse in Clemson. Stumpy and Casey spent many many hours sitting out on the porch watching the birds on the feeders and bird bath near the woodline. Stumpy also liked to stare at the birds on the forsythia bush by the porch and he marveled at his first lizard encounters as anoles often basked outside on the 2 x 4s that made up the porch. Our house in Aiken had two special features that enabled Stumpy to "experience" the outdoors. The first came with the house - a window seat in our bedroom that the cats immediately claimed. Both cats had pillows and blankets to sit on and we often propped the blinds and windows open for them. We also built a deck off the back of our house, which I use quite frequently. When I needed a break from the drudgery of the computer, I'd grab some required reading and Stumpy and head outside. This was only possible when it was relatively cool because neither Stumpy nor I could stand the mosquitoes. I'd sit in one chair and Stumpy and my feet would fill the other chair. Sometimes I'd take Stumpy outside when I had a bit of gardening to do. Because the backyard is fenced, I didn't have to worry about him running away. Nonetheless, I made him promise me that he'd stay in the chair and threatened him with having to go inside if he got down twice. Stumpy knew the deal and he'd stay in the chair for hours just basking in the sun. I regret that he didn't get to do that as much in his last fall because I was away for work a lot.

"Ah, my first screened porch!" -- August 2001

We'll always have Stumpy in our hearts and our memories. He brought Mark and me together and the three of us felt like a family. Some have ridiculed my love for my cats, but I think that's just cause they never got to spend time with Stumpy. Everyone who did realized how special he was. Mark's nieces met Stumpy once but they never stopped asking about him after that.


Stumpy was an exceptional cat with the ability to change lives with his presence. He was always there for those who loved him. Walking toward the front door after work, his family knew that he would be waiting. While my daughter worked for years on her Ph.D., Stumpy sat behind her on her desk chair like a lumbar pillow. Mark said that when they shopped for a new desk chair for Joy, they had to allow for a new one to have a deep enough seat to include Stumpy. Stumpy joined Joy and while they watched TV or read. He slept in their bed.

Rescued cats feel deep gratitude. On August 27, 1995 during Tropical Storm Jerry I was lying on our sofa after foot surgery when I heard sounds like the chirps of small birds. Several times I looked up the chimney with a flashlight without seeing anything. Because our two cats heard the sounds, they were on a table staring out of the window looking for the source. Convinced that something was in distress during the storm, I donned rain gear and ventured into the wind and rain. Around the corner of our house, on grey rocks from a Durham, NC, quarry, I saw something black. It was a tiny kitten. Then I saw another one. I went inside to get a crate in which to carry them because I was both limping and holding an umbrella. After I picked up the two 3-inch long kittens and turned, I heard more soft cries. I discovered a third kitten the exact grey color of the rocks. As soon as I got inside, I called my daughter. She rushed home to help. The moment she saw the kittens, each wrapped in a dish cloth, she said that they needed "Kitten Replacement Formula." I knew that a pet store had opened in Cary. Though it was nearly 6 PM and closing time, I called Information for the store telephone number, called the store, and asked them to please stay open until she arrived to prevent three kittens from perishing. They kindly complied.

Before leaving, my daughter Joy ran upstairs to get a heating pad. She told me to line the crate with it and put them on it. Afterwards I called a friend to tell her about the kittens. When Joy was re-entering, I was telling my friend, "Joy does not know this yet, but one of the kittens is missing a leg."

At precisely that moment Joy became Stumpy's mother. She named him within hours. I named the grey kitten Misty. The love affair and work began that night. Joy and two of her college classmates helped feed the cats. Initially the task took four of us. After about six weeks one of the students took the third kitten to his family home in the mountains while Stumpy and Misty lived with Joy and me.

I have three vivid memories of those first weeks. The first was that the kittens slept in a heap with Misty on the bottom. When I did not see Misty, I always feared that she had suffocated. Another was that if when I lay on my back on the floor, they all crawled under my long hair and went to sleep. Because I was uncomfortable, I soon brought out a brown teddy bear. It became an additional surrogate mother. Finally, I learned to get all three kittens to sleep with me in my bed. Just as I had learned with children, the secret was to slowly stop petting them. If I kept stroking my children or petting the kittens, they blissfully stayed awake.

Stumpy was feline through and through. Although he limped dreadfully walking, when he chased one of the girls, he ran full speed with no evidence of disability.

Besides rattling blinds and knocking items off the nightstand, Stumpy had a special skill. He would open a kitchen or bathroom cabinet door and let it bang shut to wake us up. He did this over and over until we got up to feed him. One summer, after Stumpy spent several months at my house, his sister Misty began doing the same thing until I tied the cabinet doors shut.

Stumpy had a family composed of his sister Casey -- a small, frightened cat -- his real mother Joy, his part-time mother (me) and later his father Mark. He and Casey stayed with his blood sister Misty and my other cat while Joy was in the field during graduate school. We called him "the Man" and "the Stud." He was king of our home yet ever so gentle in ruling his kingdom of girls.

I too grieve for Stumpy. During the last 16 months I wanted to visit Joy and Mark mostly to see Stumpy and Casey yet I could not travel because movement has been difficult. I couldn't talk to them on the phone like Joy and Mark. To help me, sometimes Joy put my pal Stump on the phone. He listened, sniffed the phone and sometimes even purred.

The night Stumpy almost lost his second or third life. Keeping count was difficult.
Stumpy with a Halloween witch in front of a mirror, October 1995
Stumpy and Misty
Stumpy and Coco
Stumpy loved boxes and paper
"You scared the @%!* out of me!"
Christmas 2005
"I had not planned on getting up early on Christmas to see what Santa brought." -- Christmas 2005
Stump loved sunshine.
"I do like paper and boxes but I am tired of that flash." -- Christmas 2004