Every June, the American Humane Society celebrates Adopt-A-Cat Month, which is also the height of “kitten season.” Villa Finale has a history of adopting cats, so we thought we’d veer away from the “educational” posts for the day to appreciate the feline friends who have come through this wonderful place, beginning with Cupcake Mathis.
Cupcake, a little calico, first showed up at Villa Finale while Walter Mathis still lived here in the early 2000s. Apparently, Mr. Mathis had never had a pet before so when she strolled into his gardens, his first instinct was to ignore her. But as animal lovers know, cats will not be ignored! After a few days, a friend suggested he put some food out for the calico. Mathis’ response was, “Fine! But she will have to eat outside.” After a few days, Mr. Mathis moved Cupcake’s food just inside the door off his rear porch. And as cats have a habit of doing, Cupcake had the run of the house after a few weeks! Cupcake could do nothing wrong in Mathis’ eyes. Something was knocked over in the house? Well, someone else had to be responsible. Certainly NOT Cupcake! After Mathis died in 2005, Cupcake went to live out her golden years with his good friend, Edward Schroeder.
Keeping up with the tradition set by Cupcake, the staff at Villa Finale has adopted a few cats since I’ve been on staff. In 2008, the year I was hired, a little black and white cat made himself at home here. Not only at the site, but in our office. This was a time when we were not open to the public so the cat, who we named Beauregard Cogswell Norton III, or BooBoo for short (“Beauregard” was in honor of a street in King William and “Cogswell” after Villa Finale’s first owner).
After BooBoo Norton, a big orange tabby we named “Bowie” (after the knife) came straddling along. This was around 2010 or so. He stuck around about a year until another black and white kitty made her way to us. The staff named her “Cello.” Cello enjoyed sleeping on Villa Finale’s front porch, right in the baskets where the museum “booties” we used to have visitors wear before entering the house were stored.
All three of the site kitties I mentioned didn’t stick around too long, that is until around 2014 when Miss Kitty appeared at the site (very original name, we know). We thought she was a bit feral at first because, unlike the three felines before her, Miss Kitty wasn’t as friendly. She didn’t like to be picked up or petted. However, she enjoyed being around us as well as the shaded gardens, fresh water, and the abundance of food we all left in her bowl! After a few weeks, she allowed herself to be petted and eventually, even picked up! When we took her to be fixed, the vet let us know she had already been spayed. We guessed she was mostly likely abandoned by a previous owner. No matter: she made herself right at home at Villa Finale – where she is welcomed – and where she continues to live happily to this day! Miss Kitty even has her own heated cat house to use in the winter. What a spoiled cat! If you visit us, you will probably see her asleep under the car port or lounging under the shade of the gardens. Miss Kitty has become very accustomed to visitors and the constant activity.
Then came June 4, 2017. My husband and I went out for an extra long walk that day along Medina Base Road, near Lackland Air Force Base. We were walking along when we heard a tiny “meow” behind us. It turned out we were being followed by a little back and white kitten! He let me pick him up but I put him down thinking his mama was probably nearby, but the little guy continued to trail behind us for a mile, all the way home! My heart melted at this point. I know, what a sucker! We gave him a bath outside in a cooler – closest bin we had handy – then fed him. That little fella was hungry as can be! Because we already had two indoor cats at home that we were trying to assimilate with my husband’s corgi, we couldn’t keep him, as much as we wanted to! I reached out to my friends on Facebook to see who could give him a good home; that’s when Jane Lewis, Villa Finale’s Executive Director said, bring him to the office! Well, this is where the hungry kitty, now named Billy K. (after Billy Keilman, who owned Villa Finale from 1924 – 1925), continues to this day! We welcomed him onto the staff and gave him a title that reflects his talents: Director of Leisure & Recreation. While Miss Kitty’s domain remains Villa Finale’s gardens, Billy has the run of the Carriage House. He will join in on Friday staff meetings and entertain visitors with his long naps against his favorite window. What a life! If you visit, you’ll probably see him lounging in the Carriage House, belly up. Make sure you tell him how cute he is if you see him. He LOVES the attention!
As you can see, here at Villa Finale we have a long and cherished tradition adopting felines. Both Miss Kitty and Billy get regular checkups at the vet and our staff – a bunch of soft-hearted animal lovers – takes turns cleaning litter boxes as well as feeding these unforgiving hungry little mouths!
On behalf of our staff, in honor of Adopt-A-Cat Month, we would like to ask those of you who have a little room in your home and in your heart to adopt a feline from your local shelter or Humane Society. There are so many loving kitties, like Miss Kitty and Billy, that need forever homes (and don’t forget, if you can’t adopt, you can also donate to your local organization). Among our little staff of seven, we have 14 cats and 6 dogs so we are “meowy” BIG on pet adoptions! I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight our kitties at home (all rescues). What a purrfect bunch!
Here are some links to local organizations if you would like to adopt or donate!
San Antonio Humane Society https://sahumane.org/