Is This Your Cat?


From the moment I met our cat Toulouse, it has been an adventure. This furry little guy arrived one Monday morning three and a half years ago, when someone buzzed at our gate and asked, “Is this your cat?” When I looked at the orange and white fuzzball with impossibly big ears, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It wasn’t very many hours before the adventure began, when this little kitten was attacked in front of our eyes by another cat and left for dead. We rushed him to the vet and I helped nurse him back to life. You can read all about that adventurous Monday here.


It took some time for Toulouse to get his name. But to give you an idea of his playful nature, his first nickname was “Bitey McBite.” While it took awhile for just the right name to arrive, it took no time at all for him to work his way into our hearts. This little nutcase has been non stop craziness and fun since he could get around again. He is my constant companion and writing buddy. He makes me laugh so many times every time. He brought a smile to my face during some very tough times over the last few years. How could you not laugh at a kitten hiding inside fruit bag?


Toulouse recovered well in all areas, except one of his front legs. He had suffered too much nerve damage to that leg and couldn’t move it much. So after having him for about 6 months, we made the big decision to have that leg amputated. And boy was he brave! I shared about that story here. Although in retrospect, I think the whole adventure was more traumatizing for us than for him. He never looked back … and has been rocking three legs ever since!


We’ve had more adventures along the way with Toulouse (look up “twitchy cat syndrome” sometime if you’re truly bored), but I couldn’t image our life without this cat. And even though he sometimes gets annoyed with Toulouse, I suspect his big brother Puffy feels the same way.

Puffy and Toulouse

So now, after three and a half years and many adventures, I can answer with certainty, “Yes, that is my cat!”


Animals definitely have a way of coming into our lives in unexpected ways. How have pets changed your life? I’d love to hear your stories!




Italy Blogging Roundtable

This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Pets – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

BrigolanteOf Dogs and Death

Italy ExplainedCaesar’s Cats

Brave Toulouse

Ciao Amalfi Toulouse

Meet Toulouse … one brave kitten!

Today is two months since Toulouse’s big day. Early in the morning on December 17th, we packed up Toulouse and headed off to the veterinario, the vet, for surgery on his right front leg. You might remember the dramatic way little Toulouse came into our family on a Monday at the end of last summer. As a tiny kitten he was attacked by a stray cat right in front of our eyes and suffered significant nerve damage. He couldn’t walk at all for about a week, but slowly he regained movement in all of his legs except the right front one. Discussing his situation with an experienced vet and childhood friend of my husband, we we made the difficult decision to amputate the leg that he couldn’t move. We knew it was the best option for Toulouse’s well being, but it was still a hard choice.

Toulouse and the Lobster

The day after Toulouse’s surgery

Eventually it would have developed more complicated issues, and the younger we did it the easier it would be for him to adapt. Turns out that getting used to moving around on three legs was pretty easy! Since he hadn’t had use of that leg since he was about 4 weeks old, he was already a pro at jumping, running and playing. We noticed it was significantly easier for him without the weight of that leg or the claws getting stuck.

Toulouse With Blue Bandage Sleeping

Toulouse sporting his blue bandage after the surgery and being spoiled

We stuck pretty close to home for Christmas and New Year’s while Toulouse healed. It was a rather slow process since he’s a rambunctious kitten. He pulled some stitches out and had to have 4 more put back in. He didn’t seem to notice much, but it freaked us out. He was far too busy playing and enjoying all the fun things of Christmas. Like wrapping (and unwrapping) presents!

Christmas with Toulouse

Christmas presents come in boxes, panettone comes in boxes … I love boxes!

Toulouse is a curious, playful and very sweet little guy, and he has quickly become a part of our family. We couldn’t imagine the house without him! And although he may only have one front leg, he has already figured out how to use it for maximum cuteness.

Toulouse Cuteness


Toulouse had an unlucky start to life, but we’re so grateful to have him in our lives. He needed a family to love him, but I suspect we needed him as much as he needed us!

Passing Time

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Marina Grande December

The weather was glorious most of December!

Just the other day a fan on the Ciao Amalfi Facebook page left a nice comment and asked if I was still writing my blog. Yes, I sure am! But, of course, not as frequently as I would like to be writing. It has been a busy period here with work, life, travels, the holidays and the unexpected adventures of a three legged cat named Toulouse. But more to come soon on that! So here’s a brief recap of what I’ve been up to since last November.

The University of St. Thomas

One brilliant red tree in front of the library at the University of St. Thomas

I started off November with a trip back to the United States and a short visit to Minnesota to see good friends. It was beautiful! I caught autumn nearly at its peak and thoroughly enjoyed (and photographed) the gorgeous colors. I even got a chance to visit the University of St. Thomas, where I did my masters in Art History, and sighed when I saw the library where I spent so many hours of my life. Very happy hours! I then went down to Nebraska and spent two wonderful weeks with my family, enjoying time catching up, cooking and celebrating Thanksgiving early.

Thanksgiving Decorations

Yes, turquoise IS a Thanksgiving color on the Amalfi Coast

Then it was back to the Amalfi Coast for a week, where I did a big American style dinner for the actual Thankgiving with my husband. Before long I had to repack the suitcase again for a trip to Paris and London. You can read about the lovely time in London in my Smitten with Mayfair blog post, but here’s a peek at my favorite moment in Paris.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Notre Dame Paris

I finally got to the top of Notre Dame in Paris!

Back home again and it was time for the holidays … but it was also time for Toulouse to have a big surgery. Remember when I introduced you to Monday back in September? Well, that cute little kitten has grown up to a sweet, feisty and very handsome cat. But unfortunately, the one leg that was injured very badly was able to be saved. This is Toulouse just before his big day!

Toulouse Before the Big Day

What a sweetheart!

He’s doing great and has fully adapted to having only three legs. I’ll share more photos of Toulouse and hss adventures in a separate blog post full of cat wonderfulness and cuteness. But it was stressful over the holidays as Toulouse recovered and we tried to keep a rather rambunctious 5 month old cat calm. (Note: Impossible.) But the holidays came just the same and they were full of wonderful time with my husband’s family, delicious dinners and lots of sweets.


A Dream Washer Dryer Combo

A washer/dryer combo - the best Christmas present EVER in Italy!

Just after New Year’s we celebrated our two year wedding anniversary. Two years already! The weather was awful, but the day was beautiful. You’re just going to have to believe me, because this was the only photo I took.

Fog Fog Fog and More Fog

Fortunately the weather was better than this two years ago!

Besides that particular day, the weather has been excellent and slightly warmer than usual for much of the winter so far. But as I write we’re in the middle of a nasty wind and rain storm. The shutters are closed and the internet comes and goes. Ah, winter! But when the sun comes out, everything is even more beautiful than before. Really, I promise.

Atrani in the December Sunshine

Can't stop looking it's so beautiful ...

And so, that’s a look at the last few months. They’ve been wild, a little scary at moments, tremendously special and unforgettable. Especially Toulouse’s big puffy tail sticking out of the Pandoro box.

Toulouse and the Pandoro

"What do you mean there's no more Pandoro?"

I hope the holidays have been a special time for you, too. I look forward to the year ahead and to sharing more often here on Ciao Amalfi. I’ve got some exciting ideas for blog posts and a whole new design for the blog planned for 2014!

A Month with Monday

A new little arrival ... Monday!

The thing with Monday mornings is that you never really know what to expect. A month ago I was having a productive and busy day when there came a buzz at the intercom by the gate in the garden. I couldn’t quite understand what the person was saying, so I pushed the button to open the gate and went down to the garden. I found a  young Italian couple with a shoebox. Inside the shoebox was the cutest and saddest looking kitten I’d ever seen. This nice couple were staying in their family vacation home for a few days, which overlooks our garden. They sometimes feed one of our cats who likes to go beg at their door when they come since they often grill out. Earlier that morning they had heard a tiny kitten meowing in a painful way near their house and rescued this little guy from where he had gotten his head stuck behind a pipe. There were terrible rain storms the day before, so perhaps that is how he got separated from his mamma and stuck in such a bad place. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of his bad luck.

How the kitten looked when he arrived ... poverino!

His eyes were sticking shut from an infection, but he was such a sweetheart right away. I snapped a few photos on my phone, including the one above, and sent them to a friend who knew someone who would take him. We were talking to one of the neighbors and standing right next to the shoebox while my husband put together the cat carrier to keep him safe overnight. Then all of the sudden a nasty male cat that had been tormenting our garden cats crept in and right in front of our eyes bit the kitten by the scruff of the neck and ran off out of the garden with it in his mouth! We were all shocked for a second or two and then ran off after them. We got him back right away, but not before the nasty male cat had done some major nerve damage. The kitten couldn’t walk! We packed him up and went to the vet a few villages down the coast.

My eyes are open ... that's a start!

He gave him some shots, gave me some medicine that I had to give to him with shots for 5 days, sprayed him with flea spray since he was covered with fleas and gave us the prescription for eye drops. We’ve since been back to the vet and he later told us he didn’t expect the kitten to make it. But the eye drops helped right away and soon he was looking at us with his bright blue eyes.

I can almost sit up!

He slept much of the first week with the medicine, but very slowly he got some movement back in his rear legs. One day I saw his tail twitch and a few days later it was flipping back and forth. He got movement back in one of his front legs, but it took a few more days to get enough strength to move very much. After nearly two weeks he had recovered to the point that he was starting to be a normal little kitten again. He loved playing in the sunshine the first day he could get around a little!

Playing with shadows in the sunshine

He’s been such a good little patient! He’s had to learn to get around on the tile floors with only three good legs, because the movement has not fully returned to his other front leg. He can lift the leg up and try to reach, but the paw doesn’t respond. He walks on that leg with the paw tucked under. The vet has said that there’s not a lot we can do since there may have been too much nerve damage.

Too much cuteness ...

But now that he’s recovered and getting bigger, having a little paw that doesn’t work hasn’t slowed him down! He zooms around the house, tears apart anything cardboard, chews on everything that moves (or looks like it might move) and is absolutely a sweetheart. He has even taken to trying to help me write. Trying … that is.

Already showing great promise as a writing companion

He’s in love with our outdoor cats that come inside during the day. They’re a little less enamored, but they tolerate him pretty well. He comes running when they eat because he knows their tails goes swish swish swish … and that’s just too much fun.

That swishy tail ... just ... can't ... resist!

Of course, when both Puffy and Patu are eating at the same time it’s almost too much fun to stand. I think they’re just relieved that he doesn’t want their food … just to bat at their tails!

Because two swishy tails are better than one ...

He’s been exploring the house over the last week now that he can get around really well. One of his favorite spots is to sit on the small footstool below my husband’s desk and watch him while he works. He just likes to be close to him. When the kitten sits under my desk he just bites my feet, so my husband definitely has the better deal.

A loyal little one

So, you never really know about Monday. This little one nearly died twice and was lucky enough to be saved twice. He’s also found a new home where he can be safe inside and live a happy life, even if he can’t ever move that other front paw. Every time I sit down on the floor he comes running and takes a flying leap into my lap. Yep, he’s definitely found himself a new home.