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Niece was a beautiful, two and a half year old tabby with streaks of gold and orange throughout her coat.  She was an adorable young girl, with movie star looks and eyes that had a unique, Brenda Starr-like sparkle.  She had a happy, playful personality, but she was also quite feral.  She had this combination of sweetness and fierceness; you could tell that she wanted to get closer to you, but then she would dart away, her instincts telling her not to trust, not to get too close. 

Niece was a regular visitor to my yard, seldom missing breakfast or dinner.  I was always happy to see her, though she was rarely alone.  While she was not part of Big Stripe’s litter, she was extremely close to all of Stripe’s kittens, especially White and Black.  Together these two roamed the alley, searching for some form of amusement.  Bird watching was their primary sport, but they also just enjoyed hanging out on top of walls and balconies, basking in the sun.  They were inseparable and adorable together.

Next to Old Orange (a.k.a. Chandler), Niece was one of the most playful cats in the alley.  I can still picture her last year when we had one of the first snows, a wonderfully dry, light snow.  Niece started pushing snow from side to side with her arms—she couldn’t believe this amazing thing!  It was light, not wet, and moved whichever way you wanted.  She flailed around in the snow for at least 10 minutes, ecstatic over this sudden windfall of entertainment.  I watched from inside, laughing out loud at this endearing display of wonder and play. 

And Niece infected others with her playfulness.  Last Christmas, we gave our outside kitties various toys to play with.  Some of the cats seemed at first suspicious or shy, but not Niece.  She was the first to grab the little stuffed animal and toss it in the air, pounce on it and toss it around some more.  Once she started playing, others joined in.  We made a video of this which we will post on this site. 

For Niece, almost anything was a toy, including Old Man Grey’s tail.  As they waited for their breakfast, Neice would lay behind him, amusing herself with the little grey thing that swished from side to side.  Old Grey never seemed to mind, and soon the other young cats would join in on the action.

Niece was the niece of Romeo, who was once a part of this colony until I brought him inside about two years ago.  Though born a feral, Romeo was one of the gentlest and least feral cats I have ever met.  I could pet him and even lift him off the ground.  Niece’s mom was also gentle like Romeo, but Niece herself was much more feral.  I am not sure who Niece’s father was, but I suspect it was one of the ginger cats, either Old Orange or a cat we called Rough Orange. Whoever it was, she inherited from him a little wild streak, much like the bright orange splashes in her luxuriously thick, healthy coat.  In temperament, Niece was one of the big cats, who just happened to have a little cat’s body.

Niece under the lounge, with best friend White & Black on top (left) and his sister, Simba.

seeking justice for 7 beloved alley cats