Stolzenberg cats reside luxuriously in their own home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 4, 2002

Austin Daily Herald

It's a common tale: a homeless and pregnant cat finds a loving family and they live happily ever after.

This time, the tale has a twist: the cat and her five kittens live in a house all their own, right next door to their owners.

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Yes, that's right. A house of their own.

It sounds a wee bit far-fetched, but for Ray and Frances Stolzenberg of Austin, it's their life.

The tale begins in 1997, when Ray noticed a cat had "built a nest" in the unmowed grass of his neighbor's lawn. "I called to her and she came running. I could see she was pregnant, so we kept her in the garage with some litter and food for the night. Then we brought it into the house. We advertised but no one claimed her," Ray remembers.

Then, one night in October, five kittens were born. "We fell in love with them," Ray says.

"We couldn't part with them," Frances adds.

From the beginning, Suzie (as the mother cat is named), Cricket, Buffy, Sunshine, Tippy and Tommy, lived in the house next door to the Stolzenbergs. The couple purchased the house after they were married and lived there until Ray's parents died. Then they moved to the house next door where Ray's parents had lived and where Ray grew up.

For awhile, their old home served as the guest house, but after the kittens were born, it became the cat house.

"Six is a lot to have in one house. If they were with us, they'd be under foot all the time," Ray explains. "When we want to see them, we just go over there."

The cats don't seem to mind having their own house, though. "They love it. They play, they run, they sleep, they eat. They like to eat." Frances says, laughing.

Their home is completely furnished and is fully heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer. Best of all, Ray says, "they have 24-hour food service."

"They're good kitties," Frances beams. "They loved to be brushed. They love to be pampered. They don't like pedicure day very much. They aren't declawed and they don't like to get their nails trimmed, but they're better than they used to be."

During warm weather, the cats are put on leashes and walked around the yards. "They love to be out," Ray says.

The cats even have their own TV. Frances says the couple hasn't "gone into" what the animals' favorite shows are, but she says they will paw at the screen when they want it turned on and are fascinated by ball games.

These are six cats who truly are living the high life.

The Stolzenbergs don't worry much about something happening to their pets even though they aren't with them all the time. "You gotta hope for the best that nothing happens," Ray says. "The door's locked so no one can get in after them. You gotta take some chances."

"There's always the possibility of something going awry, no matter where they live," Frances says.

Ray and Frances visit their cats several times a day and when they do, "we can spend a lot of time with them," Frances says.

"We don't have any children, so they're our family," Ray says.

Just like any doting parent or grandparent, the Stolzenbergs have framed pictures of their cats lined up on top of their television set and readily show them off to anyone who drops by their house.

"We love our kitties," Frances explains, smiling.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at