Cloudy's Corner

About Cloudy

Beginnings in Brooklyn

Today, Cloudy lives in Queens, but she wasn't always a resident of the royal borough. She's originally from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where, like most neighborhoods in New York City, stray and feral cats number in the thousands. Cloudy is approximately 4 years old, but it's impossible to pinpoint when exactly she was born (and where she came from, too). Much of her past is still a mystery to me.

I first saw Cloudy on the first day of my lease at my very first apartment--that's a lot of firsts! My roommate and I, desperate to escape our college's dorms, had found a cheap two-bedroom in Bed-Stuy bordering on Clinton Hill in 2019, and we were eager to move in. Of course, the low rent came with some downsides. Our apartment was on the first floor just above the garden level, and the building's backyard below our balcony was littered with trash and construction debris. We would soon discover that this messy yard and the adjacent lots were home to a colony of cats. Looking out into the yard that first day, I spotted a fluffy gray-and-white cat standing on a log. She studied me suspiciously before walking away.

A long-haired gray and white cat standing on a log in a small Brooklyn backyard.

One spring afternoon in 2019, I was lying in bed when I heard something crying outside. I followed the sound to the edge of my apartment's balcony and looked down, where I saw a tiny gray kitten sitting between my building and the one next door. I rushed back inside to grab a can of cat food, but by the time I got back the kitten was gone. Instead, sitting there on the ledge was the gray-and-white cat with the judgmental glare. I tied a piece of string to the can, lowered it down, and watched her gobble it up. It wasn't long before the cat, who my roommate and I had begun calling Mama Kitty, was bringing her kittens to our yard on a daily basis. We fed the whole family dinner as we plotted how to trap the kittens.

A long-haired gray and white cat with mint green eyes stares up at the camera. She is sitting on a ledge between two apartment buildings.
A long-haired gray and white cat walking towards a paper plate piled high with cat food.

Unfortunately, before we had a chance to try to bring the kittens inside, they disappeared. We suspected they had reached the age where kittens decide to go their separate ways. Mama Kitty continued to come to our yard, but there were no kittens in sight. We didn't know it yet, but everything would change that fall.

It was a rainy day in October when I once again heard a kitten's cry. My roommate and I stepped outside, and I watched as she climbed down into the yard and returned to the balcony holding two small gray creatures. She passed them up to me, and I held them to my chest. They were soaking wet and shivering. Both were crawling with fleas, and one of them had an eye so infected that it was swollen to half the size of her face. My roommate actually thought they were rats when she first saw them because of how small they were. We brought them inside and got to work keeping them warm as I called a local cat rescuer, Laura.

  Two tiny gray kittens stand on a small dishcloth next to a can of cat food. They are soaking wet.  

She was actually the woman who had adopted us our first kitten that summer, a brown and gray tabby named Gonzo who had sadly passed away of an undetectable congenital heart defect at just three months old during his neuter surgery. We ultimately decided to adopt another kitten from Laura, a white cat with tabby spots named Wallace, and the entire experience had brought us much closer to Laura. She answered right away when I called, and arrived that evening with a trap for Mama Kitty. The cat quickly walked into the trap--she had no idea just how much her life was about to change!

  A brown and gray tabby kitten lying on a windowsill beside some vases of fake flowers. He is looking up at the flowers.   A small white cat with tabby splotches lies tucked under a pink blanket in bed snuggling a stuffed kangaroo toy.   A gray-and-white cat with mint green eyes stands in a partially covered cat trap with two gray kittens. She is meowing at the camera with surprise and anger.

The VIP Life

A few months later my roommate and I went to see Mama Kitty and her two kittens, who had been named Cloudy, Windy, and Rainy by Heidi, the rescuer who was caring for them, at a local adoption event. The kittens were doing great--the girl, Windy, had gotten a double enucleation for her eye infection, and was adjusting nicely to life as a blind kitten with her brother Rainy as her guide. Cloudy, on the other hand, wasn't so happy. Despite the Heidi's best efforts, Cloudy was still extremely fearful of humans, and Heidi was struggling to decide whether Cloudy would be able to live a happy life indoors. Her only chance, Heidi said, was in a home with someone very quiet and patient. At the adoption event, seeing Cloudy cowering in the back of her crate, my roommate and I knew we had to do something. That day, we approached Heidi and told her we would love to begin fostering Cloudy after the holidays. By January, we had a new very frightened, very fluffy cat in our apartment. At first she hid under my roommate's bed all the time, and was wary of our other cat, Wallace. However, she did seem to take a particular liking to me pretty quickly. Even still, she would run at the slightest of startling noises or movements, and it was clear she still didn't fully trust anyone.

  A gray-and-white cat hides under a bed while a white cat with tabby splotches looks at her with curiosity.   A gray-and-white cat lies on her side under a bed as a hand wearing a ring rubs her belly.  

At first the cats were suspicious of one another, but after a month they were the best of friends. Wallace liked to wrestle, which wasn't exactly Cloudy's cup of tea, but I could tell they loved each other.

  A gray-and-white cat and a white cat with tabby splotches lay next to each other on a pink blanket.   A gray-and-white cat and a white cat with tabby splotches lay on a bed. The white cat has his arms wrapped around the gray cat and he is biting or licking the side of her head.  

Little by little, Cloudy began to come out of her shell with the help of her new brother. It was so sweet to see her learning to trust people, and every time she meowed at me, purred, or rubbed her face on my hand, it made all the work worth it.


Next Stop: Astoria

In early 2021, my roommate and I were on the cusp of graduating from college. We decided it was time for each of us to get our own apartments, but didn't want to live far from one another, so we settled on a neighborhood and said we would both more there. That ended up being Astoria, a neighborhood in northwestern Queens just across the East River from Manhattan. We had heard about Astoria's reputation for its tight-knit community, semi-affordable (for NYC) rents, and even better food scene, and we were sold. We each found one-bedroom apartments just a 15-minute walk from one another, and in March I packed my things and whisked Cloudy off to our new pad. Much to my surprise, she blossomed socially immediately. It turned out that, as a fairly submissive and shy cat, Cloudy feels much more confident and comfortable when she doesn't have an "alpha" in her space (AKA the rambunctious Wallace). She now spends her days lounging on the bed and couch in my apartment, watching my quiet routine and enjoying all the perks of life as an indoor cat.

  A gray-and-white cat with mint green eyes lies on a bed looking up at the camera with a content expression.  

Most recently, Cloudy underwent a very important procedure! As a result of her tough life outside, Cloudy is FIV+, which means she has a weakened immune system. Feral cats typically contract FIV from a bite or scratch during a fight with another cat. This weakened immune system makes FIV+ cats especially susceptible to dental problems. The confused immune system directs the gums to attack the teeth, leaving cats like Cloudy with painful lesions in their mouths and rotting teeth. Cloudy's vet extracted 15 of her teeth in October of 2021, leaving her with only her front 4 canines, and a lot less pain! The absence of these teeth means that Cloudy should enjoy a much more comfortable life from now on, and has already had its effect on her appetite. I'm excited to see how the lack of pain impacts her personality as well!

I'm so grateful that Cloudy came into my life, and I love giving her the pampered life she deserves after such a hard life on the streets. She's so much more affectionate with me now, and I can hardly believe she's the same cat I first saw in that backyard! It's taken almost two years for me to earn Cloudy's trust, but every moment of patience was worth it.