The Cats of University Heights: Mimi

Along Florida Street, near Adams Ave., is a house with spacious yard where live at least three fairly large felines—and quite possibly, from reviewing photos, four, if not more. Two days ago, we met the tiger tabby Tigger. The second, I call Coon. If not a Maine Coon, the longhair is size of one.

Among the three different confirmed cats, Coon is the most frequently seen round about the yard. I have stalked the kitty for more than a month, seeking the right portrait—a task that distance and reach of the Leica Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens hampers. 

I captured the Featured Image more recently than its companions, on May 4, 2018, using Leica M10. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 1600, 1/25 sec, 50mm. I made the portrait at 7:45 p.m. PDT, which was 12 minutes after sunset. Hehe, I should have picked higher ISO given the shutter speed, but looks like Coon sat still and my hands held steady the camera. Whew. During post-production, I decided not to dramatically boost exposure and let dusk’s diminishing light make the ambiance. In the background, you can see another big fluffer chowing down dinner. He (or she) will be next up in the series.

The second portrait is the first taken of Coon, on April 4 at 1:21 p.m. Vitals: f/9.5, ISO 200, 1/350 sec, 50mm. I used Leica M (Typ 262) for this one and the two others.

The third pic also includes Tigger, as both hang out in the shade of their eating area. Vitals: f/4, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, 50mm; April 6, 8:30 a.m.

The last was taken a day later, also in the morning (9:03 a.m.) Vitals: f/9.5, ISO 200, 1/350 sec, 50mm.

As always, you really need to click and make the photos larger to fully appreciate them.

Update, Nov. 24, 2020: Today, I met the lady who cares for the kitty—the mother to four feral kittens born seven years ago. The woman has fed and cared for the outdoor beasties in the backyard they call home but which is a property belonging to a different neighbor. Last month, the gentleman passed away unexpectedly, putting the property’s future into question and quite possibly that of Coon and Ghost, her sole surviving offspring. Sadly, Tigger has died. For now, their caretaker is committed to ensuring the two are well-fed in the luscious lawn habitat that they share.

Update, Aug. 16, 2021: Six days ago, the cats’ habitat was destroyed! Please see posts “Mimi and Sweet Pea are Homeless” and “Why the Maine Coons Lost Their Home” for full explanation.

Update, Sept. 3, 2021: Annie and I saw Coon outside the building next to her old home, on Florida Street. Ghost lives up to her nicknamesake. She is unseen, so far. Their previous residence goes up for auction in 11 days. Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 4:54 p.m. PDT; Leica Q2.

Update, Oct. 16, 2021: While walking past the deforested yard that was once home to the cats, we unexpectedly saw both. Soon after, their caretaker came across the alley and visited. Coon’s real name is Mimi and Ghost is Sweet Pea. The woman originally called the darker kitty Meanie, for her disposition. But the lady’s mother objected, saying it was mean to do so. Hence, she became Mimi.

The property is technically sold, although the online real estate sites list the place as “pending”. Mimi and Sweet Pea still go there; their benefactor speculates to sun and for relative quiet (even if seclusion is impossible). I think territorial instinct plays a role, too. The yard was home for most of Mimi’s life and all of her daughter’s.

The lady has set up welcoming space outside her place, which includes food. From her security cameras she sees that both do come by, usually at night. Mimi mostly is feral and rejects human touch, but Sweet Pea has let her caretaker pick her up—as long as it’s back to.

Mimi surely surprises. She sat still by the now derelict garage where she used to hang out obscured by the backyard jungle. I used iPhone 13 Pro to capture her portrait in Apple ProRAW. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/1488 sec, 77mm; 9:35 a.m. PDT, today.

Update, Feb. 26, 2023: I came upon the cat’s caretaker working in her yard, today. Three months ago, coyotes killed Mimi. The Maine Coon was mostly to completely deaf, but even with that handicap she was still aware enough of danger to flee under a car on that tragic night. She bolted, but there was a second coyote that had come around behind the vehicle and nabbed her. Video camera recorded the incident.

Sweet Pea disappeared, and the caretaker assumed a coyote had taken her as well. But about two weeks later, she appeared on a fence across Alabama Street. Sweet Pea has changed since her mother’s loss. She no longer is approachable. They were a bonded, feral, outdoor pair. Now she is alone. 🙁

But there are more: ScruffyRoly PolyWooSkullBiscuitThe ColonelWhite,  Chipper, Frisky, Stretch, Needy, Farfisa, Mates, Hunter, Pee-PeeBlue, Blue Too, Bonded PairPatience, Fess, Jumper, Frenemy, Looker, Cozy, Scout, Lurks, Skit, Mini, Betty, Black and White, Stalker, Bell, Chill, Sammy, Scratch, Poser, Star, Grey and White, Watcher, Herman, Comet, RomanWillow, Chub, Nimbus, Watson, Lilo, Kit, Pepe, Twilight, Sebastian, Spot, Booger, Ash, Veruca, Riley, Mellow, Bonde, Flower, Glass, Black, BeBe, Fang, Bruce, Siamese,  PounceTortie, HaikuFraidy, PesoDaniel TigerDuskStrideDainty,  Spry,Tabby, Betty Too, Still, Levi, Shadow,  SophieWinkFerals, MommaCharlie, Tux, Cool, Benny, Jellicle, Itchy Valentino, Goldie, Nine, Amanda, Siesta, ChaCho, Charlie, Too, Mika, Crystal, Seeker, MittensDancer, Smokey, Monkey, Captain Blackbeard, Season, Maven, Tink, Chunk, Curious, Hanoi, Bella, Tarry, Guido, Maxine, Mr. Kitty, Peohe, Panda, Frankie, Sunshine, Twain, Willow, Too, Brawn, Reddy, Burglar, Laramie, Lupe, Bright, Tom, Charm, Buddies, Boss, Ohana, Seer, Fresh, Token, Lola, Carl, Bramble, Finny, Cal, Tipsy, Zander, Mew, Penny, Charlie (the Third), Bob, Apple, Persepolis, Sebastian, Too, Holiday, Snow, Desire, Luci, Torbie, E.T., Bushy, Cali, Precious, Gracie, STAR, Sky, Amble, Aylin, Lucky, Herbie, The Love Bug, Roadie, Harley, Wonder, Dizzy, Moophie, Lucy, Choontzy, Abby, Kitty, Stella, and Tigger.