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On Becoming a Cat Lady | Cat Lady Tails

My life plan never included cats.

Maybe some dogs... I really love dogs.

But never cats. And certainly not five of them.


Which is one of the many reasons why I find it so humorous to be here, writing to you as a now self-proclaimed (and most certainly certifiable) cat lady, on my new website called Cat Lady Tails.


Growing up, both my mom and dad were allergic to cats, so it made sense that dogs were the only pets we were allowed to have.


When I was in middle school, my family adopted a super-sweet, super-special-needs, inbred Lhasa Apso that we named Shelby. She was rescued from a puppy mill and--as such--was born with water on her brain, her eyes comically bugged out at all times, and a complete inability to see directly in front of her. I immediately fell in love with her, and she in love with me.


Shelby was my furry and weird best friend all throughout the challenging, awkward years of my primary education. Everyday I would come home to a wagging tail, lots of kisses, and unconditional love. It broke my heart to leave her when I went off to college, where pets weren't allowed; yet every single time I returned home, Shelby was always there to greet me with unmatched excitement, no matter what.


I could not wait to bring her home with me once I graduated, and we soon moved into a shared house with a good friend of mine. Said good friend also had a pet, a cat named Keeda. As it just so happens, cats are pretty low-key, Shelby didn't mind them/couldn't see them, and thus we all got along in the house quite well.


A few months later, my roommate sends me a text from out of town that said something along the lines of:

Hey, do you want a cat? She's got kind of a weird jaw but she's super cute. If you don't adopt her, I will.

Unused to receiving random texts offering me free pets, I responded:

Uh, tentatively yes. Let me meet the cat and then I'll decide. But probably yes.

Turns out, Gremlin and her siblings had been found abandoned in a cardboard box in a Walgreens parking lot. Her siblings had all been spoken for, but Gremlin needed a home. And although I wasn't mentally prepared to adopt another pet so fresh out of college, the very second that I met Gremlin I fell in love and knew that she was meant to be mine.




I went back and forth on what her name would be, but ultimately settled on Gremlin after the soot gremlin/soot sprites from the Miyazaki movies Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Gremlin's tortoiseshell fur looks a lot like a little ginger kitty who played in the soot.


Gremlin's adorable and fluffy namesake

I never realized how much I could love a cat until I met Gremlin, who I am fairly certain is secretly an angel trapped in a tiny, furry body. She's so sweet, loving, chill, and overall one of the best cats I will ever have the pleasure of knowing. For the first couple years of this new kitty's life, Gremlin and Shelby were my only fur children, and they moved with me into one other shared house, before we finally settled into an apartment with just the three of us.


Shelby & Gremlin had a very ruff apartment life /sarcasm

Although apartment life was nice for a while, my small business was beginning to grow, and the management of the apartment complex went completely downhill (stay far, far away from Shadow Lake Apartments in Little Rock, Arkansas, if you know what's good for you) so I began to look for new places to live.


Thanks to the help of a family friend, I moved into a nice little three bedroom rental house and brought Shelby and Gremlin right along with me. At this point in time though, Shelby was really starting to show her ever-increasing age. She was always on bathroom alert, often having accidents in the house, and spending most of her time asleep. I began to mentally prepare for what I knew would be a super painful loss.


After about a year in the new place, I started to worry Shelby wasn't going to be with us much longer, and thus, also started to become worried about Gremlin--who had always had Shelby by her side, her entire life.

They always got along so well 🥺

In August of 2019, I saw that the Pulaski County Humane Society was having a $25-adoption clear the shelter event, and it helped me finalize the decision to adopt a new cat. I knew I wanted Gremlin to have a friend if (and when) Shelby would pass on, and I wanted to make sure they knew each other beforehand, so it wouldn't be as dramatic of an introduction. Shelby had started having seizures around this time, and I unfortunately knew it wouldn't be long...


With an already established pet hierarchy in my house--Shelby the Queen and Gremlin the Princess--I knew I wanted to adopt a kitten, so it would be easier to integrate them into our home. Other than that, I had zero expectations as to what kind of cat I would adopt when I arrived at the shelter.


Although the Humane Society had plenty of kittens to choose from, the volunteer that was working at the time seemed very intent on sending me home with a super-cuddly, very-cute, orange tabby kitten named Creek.


With a house full of girls, I was hesitant to bring a boy home... but this six month old ginger cat was purring nonstop, making air biscuits, and flopping over rather adorably. It didn't take too much more convincing for me to make up my mind and bring him home. He had a great many opinions about the car ride home, and it wasn't very long until I decided upon his new name: Calcifer, after the sassy, hilarious, endearing fire demon in the Studio Ghibli film Howl's Moving Castle.


If you haven't seen Howl's Moving Castle, I strongly recommend it, it's easily one of my favorite Miyazaki films!

How cute was this little boy?! How could I say no to that face?? And those biscuits?! Ahhhhh!!!!


It had been a WHILE since I had a kitten in the house, let alone a boy kitten, and my goodness was Calcifer high energy! For the most part, Calcifer left my Shelby girl alone, and instead was constantly antagonizing Gremlin. At six years old, it turns out that Gremlin wasn't interested in playing with her new brother, but would rather tolerate him and observe him from afar.


Just two months later, Shelby had multiple seizures in one night and I had to make the incredibly painful decision to let her go. My first pet, my only dog, one of my best friends for life... crossed the Rainbow Bridge in October 2019. I was truly devastated, and still miss her every single day.



And so, just like that... I became a cat lady.

And like I said, it wasn't intentional.


Flash forward just a couple of months, and this little thing you may have heard of called the COVID-19 pandemic begins. The United States goes into full lockdown in March 2020, and I am now spending all my waking hours with two cats who have a pretty significant age gap. And now, without Shelby around as a buffer, I begin to notice that Calcifer is pretty much bullying Gremlin all day long. Absolutely not what I wanted.


As a proud member of approximately 12 million cat groups on Facebook, one of the most oft-given pieces of advice for cats that don't get along is to simply get another cat. Considering the fact that Gremlin was truly an adult cat, while Calcifer a true kitten, I began to think that adding another cat into the mix might actually calm everyone down.


So in June of 2020, I began my online search for a new family member to adopt. With COVID-19 raging, especially in the South, all of our local shelters had gone to online-only adoptions, meaning that you didn't get to meet the pets before adopting them. This made me a bit wary, I've always wanted to meet my pets to get a general feel for their personality before adopting them... but I was determined to bring peace to my home.

This is her actual PetFinder ad, I couldn't believe she was available

That's when I stumbled upon "Trixie," one of the CUTEST little fluff balls I had ever seen. I couldn't put in an application fast enough for this little bean, and honestly thought there was no way that she would be mine. Because just LOOK AT HER. So freaking cute!!!


I figured the shelter would let me know one way or the other, and went about the rest of my weekend. I applied for this girl on Saturday morning. Two days later, I got a call saying that I had been selected to adopt Trixie, and to schedule a time to pick her up. Not only that, Trixie was too young to receive her rabies shot, and so they were going to waive her adoption fee. Which means this cat was literally free 😂


Driving home with my new fur child, I wracked my brain trying to figure out a great name from the Ghibli canon to complete my anime trio! I let the small girl out of her carrier to ride home with me and she quickly climbed up my arm and perched on my shoulder. It reminded me of Jiji, the sassy black cat from Kiki's Delivery Service who rides on the back of Kiki's broom--but I then remembered that Jiji is a boy cat in the movie. However, a quick Google search let me know that Jiji is actually a girl cat in the original Japanese script! And thus, Jiji earned her namesake.


Kiki's Delivery Service is another excellent Miyazaki film to add to your list if you haven't seen it.


Something about bringing a kitten into the house quelled the tumultuous dynamic and made everything copacetic for once. Jiji's youthful presence not only gave Calcifer someone to play with, it also gave him someone to cuddle with and love.


These two became fast friends, way faster than I was expecting

And now, with three cats, I felt like my household was full and complete. With two younger "children" and one older "child," I was now always kept busy, but also always entertained. I said to myself, "Three cats is perfect. You don't need more!" I even believed myself, for the most part.


I fully embraced my new lifestyle as a cat lady, filled my house with cat trees, toys, and even invested in an automatic litter box called a Litter Robot for my furry little poop monsters. I started a cat TikTok account, purely for fun, mostly as a joke, and named it @catladytails. And all was well in the cat kingdom...


Until one day, when I was out driving around and taking some pictures for my small business.


I was literally out in the middle of nowhere, thankful I had a mostly full tank of gas and a crisp, clear November day on which to take photos. Driving along, minding my own business, I see two small fluff balls (one orange, one black) fly across the road, and I instantly knew they were kittens. I slammed on my brakes in the middle of this empty two-lane road, threw the car into park, quickly turned my hazards on, and got out of the car to find two small cats frantically meowing on the side of the road.


Upon calling out to them, the orange kitten ran straight to me and I scooped him up and placed him in my car almost immediately. The tortie, on the other hand, kept hiding under my car just out of reach. At one point I am lying on my stomach in the actual middle of the road trying to coax this kitten out from under my car while praying another car doesn't come around the corner and hit us.


Out of exasperation, I finally get up, open the car door, grab the orange kitten, and show this tortie, "LOOK! I have your sibling! You are safe!!" And with that, this screaming kitten FINALLY lets me grab her so I can get her inside. It was a crazy whirlwind of a few minutes and I am so glad I was able to grab them. For those concerned, I looked around the area for other kittens and their mother, but they simply couldn't be found. With how quickly they ran to me, I have to assume they were dumped.

My first photo with the roadside kittens

I had every single intention of taking these babies to the Humane Society, paying for their adoption fees, and heading back home. But not even five minutes later, I knew they would be mine. It tickled me pink that they were basically tiny versions of the cats I already have, and after literally finding them and saving them, I never wanted them to feel unsafe ever again. I drove them straight to Petsmart and got them their first round of shots, dewormer, and flea meds. A brother and sister duo, I quickly decided to name them after one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Schitt's Creek, and named the orange boy David Rose, and the tortoiseshell girl Alexis Rose.


Almost a whole year later, I have managed to keep my cat collection steady at the nice odd number of 5, though I would be lying if I said there haven't been a handful of temptations :) But I also must admit things have changed quite a bit. We've hit over half a million followers on TikTok, over thirty thousand Instagram friends, and are just now starting this website as a hub & home for all things Cat Lady Tails. So whether you're new to our page, or have been following for a while--I hope you enjoy these tales from a cat lady. All kitties deserve lots of love and a great life. ❤️


My life plan never included cats. And certainly not five of them.

But I wouldn't change this cat-filled life for anything.


Thanks so much for being here,
Mauren Sparrow
aka Cat Lady Tails

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Mauren, the human behind Cat Lady Tails. Thanks so much for being here🐾 

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