Sunday, October 4, 2009


Snafu is one of the most engaging cats I’ve ever known. His name is derived from all the health problems he had as a kitten (in case you didn’t know [as I did not] SNAFU is a military acronym meaning Situation Normal All F***ed Up).

He was most certainly a rescued shelter throw-away. Sickly kittens found without mothers were systematically euthanized. When DP saw him in his holding kennel in the “blue room,” he was barely 4 weeks old, snotty nosed and teary eyed with a sparsely furred, over extended belly. Every time she walked by his kennel, this big eyed, bat looking creature would stand and knead huge catcher’s mitts, marching band high, purring like a lion, chirping and staring at DP to get her attention.

We’d been on the look out for a double-pawed kitten, and because of his straight in the eye boldness, DP scooped the ugly little creature right out of the arms of the grim reaper. He was so sick with upper respiratory infection, worms, mites and kitten diarrhea, we had to quarantine him at home for several weeks.

My office, which has traditionally been used to sequester kittens until they can deal with the dogs, became an infirmary. Normally we’d have one of the adult cats stay with a kitten in the office overnight (generally Nick or Wizard as they are great nurturers), but scrawny little Snafu was just too sick in the beginning, and so to protect everyone else, he slept by himself. We spent a good deal of time together during the days as I did my writing and cleaned up kitten poop. I called him Mr. Ugly because his body didn’t seem to be growing normally due to his malnutrition. We thought he looked like anything from a bat, a space alien, a muppet, or a little old Asian, kung-fu master, with his pointy thin whiskered chin.

His digestive issues seemed to drag on not matter what the vet suggested, and we feared little Snafu would not thrive. DP did some of her own research on the solutions to kitten diarrhea, and switching his food from the Prescription Diet canned kitten food to Science Diet dry kitten kibble, finally did the trick. After a thriving period, we began introducing him to the adult cats, but within days, Snafu became subdued and started just sitting on our laps when we brought him out to play.

One night we noticed his breathing was thick, and faster than it should be. We knew he’d been coughing off and on, but that hadn’t seemed to change. The breathing scared us and at 9:00 on a Sunday night, we drove him to the emergency veterinary clinic, forty-five minutes from home. It was a good thing we did because he had a high fever and was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was able to come home with us, but it was really scary for a couple of days and I was preparing myself to appreciate the time I’d had with him. However, scrawny Snafu took his medications without fuss and endured his upside down light chest pummeling, bringing on frightening, but healthy bouts of coughing. As the vet recommended, we also placed him in a crate in the bathroom during our hot and steamy showers to help loosen the deathly phlegm. Snafu was quite good natured about his lot and we were amazed as he finally got stronger.

As he has grown, Snafu has acquired some handsome features with his solid gray medium length fur and white “ascot.” I read where this patch is referred to as a locket in the cat world of coat terminology. To me, Snafu looks like a Victorian schoolboy in a uniform with a ruffled shirt or Little Boy Blue with his spot of white puff and daredevil eyes. He has massive paws with fourteen toes in front and twelve toes in back – all with varying degrees of claws. A couple toes have a clump of claw that does not retract, but curls into itself and clicks when he walks, if they get too long. A couple toes have claws that are feathery strands like wax paper way down deep between his pads. DP has become pretty adept at clipping them, but Snafu gets tired of it by the time she gets to the last few digits.

Just over a year old now, Snafu is still keenly interested in everything we are doing. He loves water at the kitchen faucet, especially when I’m trying to do dishes or wash and cut vegetables. He pushes the edge of naughtiness laying sink side with legs tucked to watch water drops and suds with fascination.

He’d pounce on the sliding drops of soap running down the sides of the sink, if I let him. He knows, with a sideways half blink, that there are boundaries on that particular countertop. When all the people food and dishes are away, I let him play under the running faucet.

Snaf, Snafus or Foo-foo still boldly demands our attention. Any picture we take of the cats that happens to have him in it, he is looking directly at the camera.

He is a very chirpy boy, whose learned how to get our attention positively and negatively. He loves to tease us and play hide and go seek with us, chirping and loping around the room. If we haven’t noticed him, he jumps onto a shelf and rattles dogs collars or starts knocking things off table tops, chirping, then he jumps down and canters passed us with a “chase me” grin. It appeared to us that he very much wanted to be a part of our human activities more than the kitty colony.

He watches everything we do so closely, and prefers to stay in the house and help me make the bed in the morning rather than go outside in the cat enclosure with the others. His eagerness to engage us prompted DP to consider training him with commands.

A professional dog trainer, DP took to the task and Snafu instantly began to respond. He easily goes where you ask him to, sits on command and will lie down on command as well. We know we could do more with it, but we do have nine cats that all want to know what’s going on, so we try not to over-do his singular attention (I think that is his strategy). Snafu is the jealous sort and doesn’t like the other kitties butting in during his attention time.

He tends to easily get over-stimulated if we pet him too long. He simply adores our petting and likes to participate by walking around back and forth and rubbing on everything in sight. When we brush him we have to use two brushes, one to distract him that he bites and rubs on, and the other for us to actually brush him. When he gets bitey and grabby, heaven forbid another cat happens by. He’s been known to attack them. We’ve learned to keep it simple and give him a few loving strokes and then move on. Snafu remains a bold cat who loves visitors and has zero fear of the vacuum cleaner. In fact, he follows me around with it and loves to stick his paw on the hose or bite it as it sucks his whiskers and cheeks in. It’s not a real strong suction and I’m careful to limit his access.

While we are all still trying to figure him out, to some of the other kitties in our colony, Snafu is a holy terror to be avoided. His other nickname is Bastid Cat. Although he is the smallest feline in the colony, plain and simple – he is a bully. Even if we are not brushing him, he can get in his riled up mood, seek out, chase and attack certain other cats. Our method of long distance discipline, the squirt bottle of water, barely fazes him. He’s quite willing to take a squirt or three for his misdeeds. Unfortunately BJ and Angus get the brunt of his terrorism, mostly because they run from him.

He doesn’t seem to mess with Yukon, who is about three times his weight. I’ve seen them face off, and Yukon just stares him down without even cocking his head. Snafu just lopes away chirping…la-tee-da. We’ve seen Wizard play with Snafu a few times, but Penny won’t tolerate Snafu’s teasing at all. She will actually go after him on occasion. He goes back and forth with her, between paw batting battles and hissing run aways, after which Penny pursues him ‘til he hides or we rescue him. Sometimes I think she wants to play with him, but he doesn’t seem to trust her at all and hisses back if she makes a move. Moseley seems to frighten Snafu. I think Moseley probably clobbered him when we weren’t looking and Snafu remembers it well. When Moseley is out of his room and walks by Snafu, he’ll flatten down his ears and yowl and hiss at him until he passes. Moseley just hisses in reply and keeps walking. As long as they don’t get too close, everyone is fine.

Snafu is a member of the Moo Club, doesn’t like cheese, but does love peanut butter and dog food bits tossed to him at feeding time. He bats it around for a while with his mitts then eats it. Due to the size of his paws, you will often find him hanging off the edge of where he’s sitting, otherwise he has to put his mitts one on top of the other. We call it crossed-paws. Sometimes we catch other kittes with crossed-paws, but it’s the way Snafu rests most of the time, otherwise he folds them across each other against his chest, rather than tucked under him. Snafu is very snuggly with us and loves to sleep overnight, staying directly between us, reaching out periodically to drape a mitt over DP’s arm. He does tend to get bored after awhile and may start to explore bureaus or sniff dog crates causing a ruckus, after which we thrust him upon the household’s meek and defenseless and close the door.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Snafu.


  1. Wow what an amazing and heartwarming story!

    We're pleased to have met Snafu and gotten to know him a little better!

  2. All your kitties have such great stories, and wonderful personalities. Snafu, we're so happy that you made it through your initial health problems and it sounds like none of them have left any long-term complications. You're a gorgeous mancat now!

    Purrs and hugs,
    The Kitty Krew

  3. Snafu is a very beautiful kitty who was very lucky to have been found by you and taken to his forever home.

  4. wow! what a story! I am happy it have happy ending!

  5. what a splendid story and a splendid kitty (and a pretty pawsome fambly, too!) thank you fur being the wonderful beans you are!!

  6. Snafu is a wonderful cat! I really enjoyed getting to know him better!

  7. We really enjoyed Snafu's story! What a lucky little miracle kitty!!!

  8. Wow, what an amazing story!
    He is definitely a testament to the miracles that love can do!
    Thank you for giving him your all - he is one lucky kitty ~

  9. what a great story! he has sure turned into a handsome mancat!

  10. What an interesting story. Snafu was sure a lucky kitty to be snatched from the jaws of one death and nursed to health.

  11. Glad you brought Snafu home - he needed lots of medical attention and love to bloom! Maybe all that attention went to his head - bringing out the bully in him. I have seen that happen with cats. altho he is loveable just the same!

  12. So, so wonderful to hear Snafu's story. He is a very lucky kitty to have been found and cared for by you. You are a great story teller :)

  13. What an adorable face! Ohmygosh, a cutie pie if I ever saw one☺

  14. I's glad you resqued SNAFU. He aminds me a bit of... ME! I's worked wif Mom on a few tricks, too. I'd advice him to learn to sleep (or seem to sleep) more of da nite insteada raisin a ruckus.

  15. Snafu
    you are a character, aren't you? After your auspicious begining I don't blame you one bit! We all certainly enjoyed hearing your story and we are so glad you had those extra paws and that steely eye. You've kept that steely eye from the very start and it has served you well.


  16. What a wonderful story. As my mom read it she had the tears coming down the cheeks.
    There should be so many more like you in the world to help all Snafu's that need help.
    Snafu has such a loving and caring family. What a lucky kitty he is.

  17. We loved Snafu's story!! And he has grown into being a beautiful mancat!!!

    pee ess. hey, you got big feets like me!


  18. Thank you for sharing such a heart warming story. It was fun to read and so nice to get to know Snafu. What a strong and determined little fighter!

    Glogirly & Katie

  19. It's very very nice to meet you ,Snafu!!!!!

  20. I loved meeting Snafu! Thank you for sharing his story!

  21. nise ta meet ya. yoo sownd lyk hafe of us. yur spunkiness mustve helped yoo alot as a baby. yur a bery cute kitty.

  22. Well my goodness, after a very shaky start, Snafu certainly turned into a handsome Mancat who can hold his own!

  23. LOVED meeting you, Snafu! What a beautiful cat you have become after such a shaky start. You have very good folks.

  24. That was one of the best posts I've seen in a while. What a story Snafu has to tell. That one really made my whiskers grin!

  25. Hello Snafu...glad to meet you and read your story, it was quite interesting!=^Y^=

  26. Ahh, Lisa--Tommy melted when she first saw Snafu and said, "Bat"--then later she thought he looked like Yoda from Star Wars! What a story Snafu has and such a handsome mancant he's grown into. The last photo is stunning!


  27. Yet another cool kitty, with an interesting tale to tell. Snafu certainly doesn't resemble the terribly sick kitten that you brought home! Even though I still think he was cute during his "ugly" phase, he is certainly very handsome now. Actually all of your cats are very good looking. I attribute that, actually, to being well loved.
    (People comment all the time how my 3-Ds are so attractive, and I think that's why.)

    Snafu certainly is distinctive, too, with his huge double paws. I think he would like to be the boss, but other dominant kitties preceded him. It's so cute the way he always looks right into the camera. He certainly likes to be noticed. And he also appears to be very intelligent. I'm so glad there was no permanent damage from all of the illnesses he went through.

    I love his ascot and his tail -- very floofy. You never could have figured that one when he was tiny. By the way, that belly shot of Snafu when he was a kitten is just adorable -- even though he was so thin at the time.

    Hooray for Snafu! I love a good survival story.

  28. Whats a wondurfull boy! Him iz glads to havs a home!

    us Katie Katz

  29. What a cool cat you are Snafu. Really enjoyed reading your story. You are something else.
    Also you are very Beautiful too.

    Paws & Whiskers

  30. What a sweet story. You did a great job making him better. I am amazed he is a bully to some of the other kitties though, he looks so sweet.

  31. We loved hearing Snafu's story and know he is lucky to have been taken in my you as such a tiny kitten. We think he must be a joy to look after as he settles in to his forever home.
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx


Thank you for taking the time to comment. We read every one of them!