She’s my orange tabby cat. Orange cats are also known as “ginger” or “marmalade.” Sometimes I call her my Little Orange Girl. I also call her Little Lena.
Most orange cats are male; only 1 in 4 orange cats are female. That makes my Little Lena special.
A couple of famous orange cats are Garfield and Heathcliff. Neither of them are as cute as Helena.
helena in 2008
We adopted Helena on July 12, 2008 from PAWS Chicago, a no kill animal shelter here in the city.
the day we brought her home
She was shy with me and Adam but she loved Aidan and Crookshanks right away. Most kittens run and hide when you bring them home and let them out of the box. Helena did just that… but Crookshanks went into our room and poked his nose under the bed. She came out, they bumped noses, and have been friends ever since.
this was just two days after we brought her home
Even though she used to follow me and purr and roll all around, it took her just under a month to trust me enough to get and stay close to me.
me and lena in august 2008
Helena was quite a challenge at first. She’d come from a hoarder situation–basically a crazy cat lady who had 40 cats. They were not taken care of, and some of the cats had started to eat each other. Apparently, it was a bad situation. She also needed a lot of dental work, which we got done as soon as we could.
Then there were the behavioral problems. She clearly wanted to be petted, but anytime Adam or I would touch her, she’d immediately start biting us. She peed everywhere, including clothing I’d set out to put on when I got out of the shower. We almost took her back to PAWS numerous times, but something told me to hold on. Lots of Nature’s Miracle and splashes from the spray bottle later, she’s finally stopped, for the most part, peeing in naughty places.
Helena calmed down at LOT sometime in 2010. I often wonder if it had more to do with the fact that we switched the cats’ food from whatever was cheapest to Iams, or if she just mellowed the heck out. After all, she was just a baby when we got her (just over a year old) and by then, she’d been with us for a while and she wasn’t a kitten anymore. She started cuddling more and more with me: sleeping on my feet, and scooting next to me and purring. Suddenly, she was my baby girl.
Helena loves the orange afghan that Adam’s grandma Dee made for us. If I want her to sit on my lap, all I have to do is put that afghan across my legs.
She also loves her daily serving of canned food, so much so that she drives Adam absolutely batty until he breaks down and feeds her. She hates it when Crookshanks is allowed to sleep in our bed but she isn’t. (She hasn’t quite learned that our feet are not to be attacked.) When the cats are out of water, she stands by the water dish purposefully, and if that doesn’t get our attention, she puts her paw into the dry dish and taps insistently. She loves to be pet on her head and will stand on her hind legs so you can reach her better. She still follows me into the bathroom, and I swear she purposely holds her poops until I sit down to have dinner, because that is when she decides to hit the litter box.
A lot of noise, strangers, and activity makes her nervous, and she’ll run and hide in a hot minute. People get a kick of seeing her dart across the room and disappear behind the couch. Once the place settles down, though, she comes out cautiously and heads over to take a drink from the water dish. Then she relaxes and settles in for her nine thousandth cat nap of the day.
I love my Little Lena.