Henry is a speckled tortoise-shell male cat, aged seven. Sedate in all circumstances, he sees more deeply into almost every situation even than most humans. Though he spends most of his time asleep on stacks of trashy romances in the back corner of the Opportunity Shop’s book section, he hears and sees everything going on in the shop. Vanessa Abbot relies on him to gauge the emotions and needs of the other cats. His steady temperament and attention to the minutest detail makes him an asset in the shop and in solving murder mysteries. He takes his job of assisting Vanessa very seriously, and he does his keenest observing when most people think he’s sound asleep.
Henry came into the care of the Cat Protection League after he was hit by a car that broke almost every bone in his body. The vet warned Vanessa he might never walk again, but he miraculously recovered to become a leader among Vanessa’s cats.
Henry takes special care of hurt and vulnerable cats, especially those younger than himself. When a new cat comes into the care of the Cat Protection League, Henry takes responsibility for making the cat welcome and comfortable. At the same time, Henry keeps his own company. He disdains eating with the other cats, and he waits until they all finish before he comes to Vanessa for his share. Curiously, he and Vanessa experience their closest communication at this time.
Henry networks with other cats around Caspar Crossing and farther afield. He communicates with them about happenings in town and nationwide, and often gains information from them faster than humans can communicate using phones and internet.
Henry ventures out of the apartment after Vanessa and the other cats go to bed, but he doesn’t spend his time carousing, fighting, or rummaging in dumpsters as other male cats do when on the prowl. He holds himself above all that. He spends this time meeting with his contacts, exchanging information, and smelling which way the wind is blowing, in more ways than one.
Henry is neutered, so he has never had a mate. His natural leadership ability makes up for what he lacks in biological dominance, however, and leaves him free to focus on more important things, such as keeping Caspar Crossing and the rest of the world safe from nefarious criminals.
AngelPie is a white female cat with pink highlights, aged three. AngelPie is an affectionate and sociable cat. She is especially attracted to men. She greets customers in the Opportunity Shop from her favorite place on the electronics shelf above the front counter, but she doesn’t often come down. She prefers to watch and converse with people from a safe distance.AngelPie came to the Cat Protection League from the local pound, where she was left by her unknown previous owners. Vanessa knew nothing about them, but found AngelPie in a malnourished state with open sores on her skin and signs of past abuse. In spite of her mistreatment, AngelPie always loved people and bonded instantly with Vanessa. She also goes out of her way to make friends with other people.Her natural outgoing personality makes her a perfect addition to the shop team. Customers come into the shop especially to visit AngelPie and to get a shot of her positive, radiant energy. AngelPie gets along well with other cats, but the more intellectual and serious ones like Henry don’t let her get too close. They seem to find her difficult to take seriously. Even though she’s not as astute or observant as others, AngelPie nonetheless finds ways to contribute in her own way to the murder investigations and does her part to bring the murderers to justice.AngelPie has a mischievous streak and intentionally does things against Vanessa’s rules to see whether the rules will be enforced consistently. She takes advantage of Vanessa’s forgiving and tolerant nature to snitch food from the kitchen, jump up on counters and tables, and make messes in the shop. If she catches Vanessa in a pensive moment, she will exploit the momentary lack of vigilance to get what she wants. Often, what she wants is the thrill of getting away with something the other cats wouldn’t dare to try.AngelPie’s beauty and poise make her especially attractive to people looking for a cat to adopt, but she has never been able to settle with any other people. Vanessa tried three times to find AngelPie a new home, and every attempt ended in disaster with AngelPie coming back to Vanessa distraught and sick. After the third time, Vanessa promised AngelPie they would stay together for the rest of their days. AngelPie responded by recovering more quickly than usual, and Vanessa kept her promise, to the disappointment of AngelPie’s countless fans.
Teddy is a silver-gray Abyssinian male cat, aged three. Teddy also acts as a gate-keeper in the Opportunity Shop, but he performs this function in secret from his blanket bed under the front counter. He observes the coming and going of Vanessa and her customers, but he makes his role much less obvious than Flossy does. Many people visiting the shop never know he is there.
Teddy is intelligent and a natural sleuth, even though some of the other cats might look down on him because of his youth and inexperience. Henry often upstages him when it comes to discussing cases and strategies with Vanessa, but Teddy’s sensitivity and attention to detail gives Vanessa unique insights into the characters of the people with whom she deals. Teddy’s comments on people and situations have been astute enough to tip cases in Vanessa’s favor. When he does get involved with cases, he proves himself to be a fearless crime-fighter. He never hesitates to jump into the thick of a fight with a murderer on the loose.
Like Flossy, Teddy never suffered mistreatment at the hands of human beings. A building inspector discovered Teddy’s mother in a nest when he inspected the foundation of a building next door to the Opportunity Shop. The mother cat and her nine kittens came to stay with Vanessa until she found homes for the mother and Teddy’s siblings. For some reason no one understands, no one ever chose to adopt Teddy, so he stayed with Vanessa.
He came to the Cat Protection League early enough in his life to get a good social start with Vanessa and her other cats. As a result, he is affectionate, attentive, and caring of others. Some people think he is shy and retiring because he spend so much time out of sight and doesn’t come out to greet everyone who comes into the shop. But this is not the case.
Teddy has his own special friends. These are two disabled boys named Jason and Jeremy Templeton. They both suffer from terminal Muscular Dystrophy and are confined to wheelchairs. They don’t come into the shop very often, as they require constant care in a special rehabilitation facility outside Caspar Crossing. When they do come, though, they receive so much love and care from Teddy that he lights up their day.
Twice, Teddy went to stay with Jason and Jeremy when they were laid low with pneumonia and could not come to visit him. He slept alternately in their hospital beds and nursed them back to health
Foxle is a striped orange male cat, aged two. While still a kitten, he came into the care of a family with two young boys, who treated him very roughly and brutalized him to the point that human beings terrified him. After he was rescued and brought to the Cat Protection League, Vanessa won his heart with her usual attentive care. But Foxle never let any other human being close to him again. He refused to leave Vanessa’s apartment and kept company only with cats ever after. He could never bring himself to believe that other people could be as kind as Vanessa, and he never gave them a chance to mistreat him the way his first owners’ children did.
Foxle got his name from his first owners. The father of the family loved boats, and adapted the word ‘foc’sle’ to match the cat’s appearance and nature. Most people think that Teddy has Foxle’s disposition. Foxle stays hidden when strangers and even friends come to Vanessa’s apartment; he never even lets them see him, let alone touch him or come near him.
Vanessa understands the way he feels and never pushes him to make contact with other people. She views her role as a protective one. She gives Foxle a safe home where he can stay clear of the people who frighten him so much with out the social pressure to change. She would never take him out of the apartment except in the direst emergency, and she even gets the vet to give him check-ups in the apartment when they are absolutely necessary.
In spite of his fear of people, Foxle became socialized to human beings while still a young cat. He would never turn feral; he requires the presence of people to feed him, clean up after him, and keep him company. Vanessa fills this function in his life and provides the touchstone for Foxle to keep his social skills alive.
In spite of his withdrawal from people, Foxle is not a submissive or withdrawn cat. He maintains a healthy presence among Vanessa’s other cats, and he permits none of them to push him around, not even bossy Flossy. He will stand up for himself at a moment’s notice, and he will defend his place at Vanessa’s side on her bed at night against any other cat who thinks they can take it away from him.
Bronwyn is a black and white british shorthair patterned female cat, aged ten. Though she has spent her entire life around people, Bronwyn never became socialized to them. She runs away from people when they try to pet her, and she has been known to scratch them if they corner or catch her.
Bronwyn went through a revolving door of owners early in her life as one person after another tried to love and befriend her with no success. Bronwyn shunned them all, and some of these situations ended with people shutting her up for long periods by herself with inadequate food, water, and air. This made Bronwyn even more mistrustful of people than she already was.
Bronwyn’s last owner before she came to the Cat Protection League was a very kind and gentle old man who ran an art gallery on the outskirts of Caspar Crossing. He knew Bronwyn’s history when he adopted her, and he made up his mind to give her all the space she wanted. He never tried to touch her, and he would leave her food out for her so she could come back for it when he wasn’t around. She roamed the art gallery and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place, but she never made friends with her owner.
One hot summer day, Bronwyn ran away. The old man couldn’t find her anywhere, and he reported her missing to the local animal control officer, who informed Vanessa. Sure enough, Bronwyn turned up at Vanessa’s kitchen window a few days later. She came in through the cat door and had a meal with Vanessa’s other cats. She then settled down in front of the fire in a heap with Amber and Henry.
When the old art gallery owner came to pick her up, he found Bronwyn asleep on a chair across the fire from Vanessa, along with a handful of her new friends. He realized that, although she couldn’t make friends with people, Bronwyn needed the company of other cats. He asked Vanessa to take her in, and that is how Bronwyn came to the Cat Protection League.
She spent more than five years with Vanessa, and after about half that time, Bronwyn finally managed to warm up to Vanessa. She understood that Vanessa would never pressure her to do anything she wasn’t comfortable doing. As a result, she occasionally comes to sit on Vanessa’s lap, and she enjoys the collective sleeping arrangement on Vanessa’s bed at night.
Aurora is a tiny gray female kitten with black stripes, aged four months. Though young, she is wise beyond her years, and joins the other cats in drawing Vanessa’s attention to anything out of the ordinary that might assist in solving the strange events around Caspar Crossing. She also develops a ready communication with Vanessa, in part due to her youthful innocence.
The town vet brought Aurora to the Cat Protection League after passing motorists found her emaciated and dehydrated at a roadside stop. Unable to move, she lay in a bed of blankets in the back corner of the Opportunity Shop. She would not let Vanessa come close enough even to give her food to eat, but Henry curled up in her nest with her and comforted her in a way no human could.
When she regained her strength, Aurora told Vanessa she didn’t want to stay with the Cat Protection League. She needed the energy of young people and the personal attention of her own family. She didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in Vanessa’s apartment with twelve other cats.
Vanessa found a home for Aurora with Alexis Fleetwood, Ollie Fleetwood’s wife, and her two children, after Ollie was arrested for the murders of Angus Furley and Sergio the restaurant owner. This placement fell through, however, when Alexis decided to move back to Ohio to live closer to her own parents. Aurora came back to Vanessa’s. The chance to move to the cat sanctuary outside of town opens up new possibilities for Aurora for interaction with people and adventures in the open places around the property.
Aurora became especially attached to Henry after he took care of her during her first days at the Cat Protection League. She now holds him as her role model, and she hopes to be just like him when she grows up. She tries to tag along with him when he goes on his nightly networking runs, but he usually leaves her in the dust. He doesn’t want a kitten hanging around.
Aurora also took special note of Henry’s involvement with Vanessa’s crime fighting activities, and she does her best to join in. She has a long way to go, though, before she can contribute the way the big cats do. Her baby zeal and frisky energy don’t always work when it comes to observing the details and nuances of human interactions. In future years, though, she could grow into a crime-fighting powerhouse like her friend.
Tapioca & Ambrosia…
Tapioca and Ambrosia are twin female gold-pointed Siamese cats, aged 13. They were the first cats to come to the Cat Protection League when Vanessa first started the organization. They were given to Vanessa and her young son Tom by a neighbor when the neighbor’s cat gave birth to kittens and the neighbor had to find homes for them. Vanessa and Tom raised the two female kittens, who became part of their family.
Word spread, and more people in Caspar Crossing contacted Vanessa about other cats and kittens in need of homes. Vanessa found she couldn’t say no to these cats, and the Cat Protection League was born. Tapioca and Ambrosia welcomed the new additions, but they kept their special place in Vanessa’s life, especially after Tom left home.
Tapioca and Ambrosia never really took to the Opportunity Shop, even though they possess the same solid temperaments as Henry and the other shop cats. Perhaps because they came into Vanessa’s life before she opened the shop, these two cats prefer to remain at home. They became close to friends of Tom’s when he was young, but when they grew up and left home the way he did, Tapioca and Ambrosia withdrew into the isolated world of Vanessa’s apartment.
Even though they get along well enough with other cats, Tapioca and Ambrosia like to stick together. They sleep together, and they usually nestle into Vanessa’s lap at the same time. Tapioca is slightly more outgoing than Ambrosia, but their bond with each other keeps her from straying too far from her sister.
Tapioca and Ambrosia have both had multiple litters of kittens, all of whom have found homes through Vanessa’s hard work. Vanessa’s son Tom has one of these kittens, and Penny Cartwright, the wedding planner has another. Walter Connelly’s wife adopted one of them before Walter was arrested for Alfred Botchweather’s murder, and she still loves it.
Tapioca got her name when Tom left a bowl of apple and raisin tapioca sitting on the kitchen table. The kitten, who had only just come to stay with Tom and Vanessa the previous week, jumped up onto the table and devoured the tapioca while Tom went to the bathroom. When he returned, he found his bowl empty and the kitten looking pleased with itself but interested in more. After the subsequent hubbub died down, Tom and Vanessa named the larger of their new kittens Tapioca, a name which fit perfectly with her creamy color.
After Tom and Vanessa named Tapioca, they turned their attention to her sister, who also needed a name. They decided Tapioca’s twin should also be named after a food, but they couldn’t agree on anything that had the same color as the kitten. Tom didn’t like the name Honey, and Vanessa didn’t like the name Oatmeal. When Vanessa suggested Ambrosia, Tom asked, “What’s that?”
Vanessa explained the name as originally being the food of the gods in Greek mythology. She also explained that the modern mixture of Jell-O, yogurt, fruit, marshmallows, and loads of sugar is also called Ambrosia. Tom’s eyes lit up, and he agreed to call their other kitten by that name.
BettyLou is a black kitten of indeterminate breed, aged one. BettyLou’s mother came to the Cat Protection League heavily pregnant after falling into a toxic pond at a fish hatchery. She gave birth, but BettyLou was the only kitten to survive. The mother cat also died of poisoning. Vanessa raised the kitten on a bottle, and as a result, she became especially attached to Vanessa.
BettyLou always sleeps on Vanessa’s pillow next to her head. She takes no interest in sleuthing matters, and she doesn’t particularly care about the activities or affairs of people other than Vanessa. In a way, she doesn’t really consider Vanessa a person. Vanessa functions as food provider and bed warmer to BettyLou, but BettyLou doesn’t return the favor with affection or attention to Vanessa’s concerns.
Though a social and outgoing cat, BettyLou doesn’t get close to other cats, either. Her interactions remain superficial, and her flighty energy and rambunctious character often make the other cats want to keep their distance from her. Vanessa hasn’t formed the deep and personal connection with BettyLou she formed with the other cats, although she loves her dearly. For this reason, and because BettyLou never lets herself get very close to anyone, Vanessa never tried to find BettyLou another home. People who come to the Cat Protection League to adopt a cat somehow seem to overlook BettyLou, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
BettyLou often annoys the other cats by trying to play with them when they aren’t in the mood. She will hide behind a potted plant and wait for an unsuspecting cat to stroll by. She will leap out and bowl the other cat over. She will pretend to dive for the cat’s neck, biting and hissing, and give the cat a scare. Needless to say, this little game does nothing to win her friends and has even earned her a few permanent enemies among those cats whose nerves are already frayed from the experiences they’ve suffered in life.
All Vanessa’s efforts to explain this to BettyLou have failed. BettyLou finds the game too funny to stop, and she couldn’t care less about making enemies. She knows she will always have a secure home at the Cat Protection League, and if other cats don’t have a sense of humor, that’s not her problem.
Meet Amber …
Amber is an orange, long-haired Persian female cat, aged five. Although she looks grouchy, she is actually gentle-hearted and loves people and other cats. Amber was a prize-winning show cat before coming to the Cat Protection League. She was traveling through the area of Caspar Crossing in a crate in the back of her owners’ car when a logging truck crossed the center highway divider and plowed into the car head-on. The two owners died on impact, and the car was totally destroyed.
When the emergency crew cut the car apart to try to save the owners, they found a cat crate in the back seat with a petrified cat inside. The investigating police officer brought the cat to Vanessa to take care of while he tried to find the drivers’ relatives. Amber stayed with Vanessa for six months before her owners’ daughter could be contacted about taking possession of the cat. By that time, Amber had bonded with Vanessa.
When the daughter came to Caspar Crossing to take Amber home, Vanessa broke down and cried. She hugged Amber and told her how much she would miss having her around. The daughter also broke down in tears and remarked that only her parents cared for Amber that much. She asked Vanessa to keep Amber with her, and Vanessa gladly agreed.
Like Henry, Amber cares deeply for other cats and goes out of her way to comfort them when they feel distressed. She loves people, especially children, but for some reason, the Opportunity Shop never suited her. She comes down to the shop to eat, but while Vanessa encouraged her to stay and meet new people, she always goes home to the apartment after a while. She prefers the security and familiarity of the place she calls home. Some visitors don’t understand that the grumpy expression on Amber’s face is a unique feature of this breed, and they fear she might be dangerous. One knowledgeable tourist, however, instantly recognized Amber’s value as a show cat and offered Vanessa extraordinary sums of money if she would sell Amber to him.
Although intelligent and attentive, Amber never got involved with Vanessa’s sleuthing activities. She prefers to concentrate on the emotional aspects of human life, and she gets special satisfaction out of making people and other animals feel comfortable and loved. She also doesn’t bother with Henry’s national network of intrigue. She has enough to keep her busy managing the personalities of the cats in Vanessa’s apartment.
Porcupine is a tabby male cat, aged seven. Porcupine was the beloved pet of a country vet in the county neighboring Caspar Crossing. He kept many animals company in his owner’s practice and welcomed people into the reception area when they entered his owner’s office. Porcupine dominated the whole building and went home with the vet at night.
Everything went well until the owner died of a massive heart attack one night. Porcupine was trapped in the house for almost a week until someone found the vet’s body and brought Porcupine to the Cat Protection League.
Porcupine is a confident cat with the ability to sense when another animal is upset or out of sorts. He has all Henry’s leadership ability, but he prefers to remain upstairs in Vanessa’s apartment, where he can keep tabs on the other cats, rather than spend his days downstairs in the Opportunity Shop. Between refereeing conflicts between other cats and comforting the less confident like Bronwyn and Foxle, Porcupine manages the apartment in Vanessa’s absence.
Vanessa places her trust in Porcupine when a new cat comes to the Cat Protection League in a fragile or distressed state. She knows she can leave the cat alone in the apartment with Porcupine and he will comfort and welcome the cat in her absence. Cats with socialization problems can also look to Porcupine for guidance when they need to learn to trust Vanessa. Bronwyn learned to trust Vanessa enough to sit on her lap by watching Porcupine.
Porcupine is uniquely able to give every cat exactly what it needs in terms of affection, attention, or space. He can move seamlessly from cuddling on a chair with Amber to frisking around the room with BettyLou. He also grooms other cats, especially young kittens, to give them special attention when they need mothering.
Felicity is a blue-point Siamese female cat, aged four. Felicity was rescued from a Siamese Cat breeding farm when the owners were arrested for neglect and abuse. The animal control officer who exposed the mistreatment at the farm reported the owners would routinely euthanize dozens of cats whose markings did not match international showing standards.
Felicity came to the Cat Protection League with little socialization skills with regard to cats or humans. Vanessa spent many months working to win her confidence, but managed only to strike a tentative truce with the cat. Felicity warmed up to the other cats more easily, but even those relationships remained strained and distant. Felicity does not cuddle with Vanessa or the other cats, and only reluctantly sleeps on Vanessa’s bed with the others on cold winter nights. In good weather, she sleeps alone.
Due to her isolated character, Felicity never comes to the Opportunity Shop except to eat. She never sits on Vanessa’s lap or rubs against her legs. Though Vanessa wishes she could get closer to Felicity, she understands that some cats can never get over their early negative experiences. If a cat does not develop social connections with humans and other cats in its early kittenhood, it can never bridge that gap later in life. Vanessa is happy to give Felicity a safe and caring home, since almost no one else would understand Felicity’s need to keep to herself.
Felicity takes no interest in the affairs of human beings, so she does not participate in solving Vanessa’s mysteries. She also does not interact with other cats well enough to participate in Henry’s information network. She lives a lonely life, even in the busy environment of Vanessa’s apartment. Her loneliness makes Vanessa sad, but she can only keep her distance.
Although she doesn’t much care for people, several people around Caspar Crossing love her and admire her. She has one idiosyncrasy that endears her to people as soon as they see her. She likes to sit in people’s gardens and smell the flowers. She will stick her nose right into the center of a flower and take a deep breath. She will sit for hours in one spot and smell the flowers to her heart’s content.
One of Vanessa’s neighbors, Martina Monroe, is a young female banking executive who gardens on the side. She appreciates Felicity’s love of flowers and even plants special flowerbeds just for her. She plants the most fragrant flowers she can find and surrounds them with carpets of catnip. Felicity loves coming to Martina’s garden and spends whole days there in spring and summer.
Vanessa’s other cats know nothing about this, and Vanessa would never betray Felicity’s confidence by telling them. They would tease her and ruin the whole experience for her, and Vanessa wouldn’t dream of depriving Felicity of one of the rare pleasures in her life.