Almendra (Spanish for "Almond") is our 17 1/2 year-old tri-color tabby Maine Coon girl, very sweet, gentle-mannered and a great pet. She was my daughter’s loyal companion for four years, while she was attending UMass getting her PhD. Almendra definitely thinks she is royalty -her nickname is "Quennie"-and it took some time for her to get used to living with our other kitties. But they all live in harmony now and she has adjusted really well to being part of a big feline family.

Freddy is our brown tabby Maine Coon cross boy, the most scaredy feline I have met. He was living in a cage at the animal shelter, terrified of people and noises and everything. He was very aggressive, nobody could approach or even walk by his cage, you could hear the hiss and the spit from a mile away! I could not stand seeing him so unhappy and I brought him home. He lived under our bed for about 6 months, he would only come out at night, to eat and use the litter box. It was very sad. Slowly but surely, he decided to take a chance on us and started to come out of his shell. Twelve years later, he has come a long way and is now one of the most affectionate of all my guys. He is truly a miracle of love! He is still insecure, nervous and shy but he has bonded with me and has learned to trust me … that's my best reward!

Tigger is our domestic short hair orange classic tabby. He and sister Luna are the only two we got as kittens. Very sensitive to moods changes (like most orange cats) he is also very affectionate. He will rub his cheeks against your legs, the furniture, the walls, and anything that comes his way to let you know that he feels happy and safe and secure in our home environment.

Luna is our domestic short hair calico girl. She is a little bit of an independent girl but she is a total sweetheart. She loves to groom all the other guys, to give them face washes, neck washes and ear washes.

Sunny is our domestic long hair buff color feline. He is “THE BOSS”! and walks around the house with his tail up and that confidence that tells you he knows he is one who rules the house! And the others knows that and respect it. Because Sunny is the top cat, everybody grooms him and he’ll let them do that but he won't groom anybody … except his human mom, Angie. Early in the morning, he'll jump on my pillow and lick my nose with his rough tongue, reminding me it's time to get up and feed everybody!

Tammy is our 14-ish year-old Himalayan cross, kind of silver tabby color. She is our special needs girl, she has severe food allergies. Tammy needs to be on prescription food, meds, special fish-oil for her skin, Lysine supplement to support her immune system… you name it, she needs it! But in spite of all her issues she is such a happy girl and a purring machine! We love her dearly and we would not trade her for the world. She must have been a dog in another life because she loves to go for walks on a harness and leash and she also loves going on car rides.

Angelo is our gorgeous 15 year-old purebred Himalayan, who comes from the rescue organization "Fabulous Felines" here in Albuquerque, where I have been volunteering for a while. He was very close to being "on death row" at the city shelter because he was very sick when he got there, but the lady who runs Fabulous Felines saved his life! He is now happily living with us, he is very laid back and, like most Himmies, has a very funny personality and always finds the way to give us a daily laugh.

Yes! We do have a canine companion: Benjamin of Alika Cotons. He is our sweet 11 year-old Coton de Tulear, a rare breed originally from Madagascar, Africa, that we found after a lot of research, looking for a dog with the low prey drive who would never see the kitties as prey, nor would he harass or chase them to hurt them. Benji is such a sweet guy, but nothing is perfect and, unfortunately, he was diagnosed with epilepsy 6 years ago. It hasn't been easy for him (and for me) and even though he is being treated and on heavy drugs, he still gets seizures every now and then. But he still is a dream dog! Calmed, laid back, goofy and funny, gentle-mannered, I could have not wished for a better companion for my felines. Want to learn more about this wonderful breed? Please visit: www.cotonclub.org

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