Cesar Aguilera, Hellboy and Lilith
Fort Myers artist Cesar Aguilera loves the superhero character Hellboy, and that’s how his mischievous, playful black and white cat got his name. “Hellboy is a demon, but a good-natured demon,” he says, laughing.
Fourteen-year-old Hellboy and his sister from the same litter, Lilith, are senior cats. When Cesar was renting a room in a house in Naples, his landlady found the two fur balls abandoned in the neighborhood when they were just kittens. “They were only weeks old; their eyes had just opened.”
Cesar adopted and nurtured the kittens—Lilith is “the diva” and keeps to herself, while Hellboy takes after his namesake.
Not pictured is camera-shy Baguette. “A friend asked me to take care of her for a few months until he found a house that allowed cats,” says Cesar. “That was two years ago, and I’ve never heard from him since—but I’m happy to have Baguette.”
And then there’s the latest addition to the family, 6-month old Kali, a stray with a broken leg. When he heard that shelters might put her down because of her injury, Cesar adopted her. “She walks just fine now,” he says.
Gloria Jordan, Penelope, Nino and Lily
Sunday mornings in Chef Gloria Jordan’s Whiskey Creek home are all about lounging around. Originally from Cuba, busy Gloria owns and operates two popular local restaurants, La Trattoria Café Napoli and Mermaid Garden Café, so Sundays are sacred.
“Honey [her husband and business partner, Brian] brings me some Cuban coffee and I snuggle up with my kitties and a good book,” says Gloria. “I pamper my babies and myself on Sundays.”
One of Gloria’s babies is 10-year-old Penelope (shown at far right), who was left at the door of a local veterinary clinic in a box along with her mother and siblings. The vet, a friend of Gloria’s, called and suggested she adopt. Gloria says that Penelope was the spunkiest of the litter and looked at her with “big eyes,” and she swears, “Penelope picked ME.”
Nino (center) and Lilly (left) were strays that lived in the woods near the Jordans’ former home. “Nino was terrified of storms, so whenever there was lightning, he would come and cry at the door,” says Gloria. “Lilly was smaller, just a baby, and she followed him everywhere.” Both cats were feral, but Gloria took her time and added lots of TLC to earn their trust. Now the 8-year-old and 6-year-old cats share her heart—and her Sunday mornings—with her and Penelope.
Mariapia Malerba and Nuvola
Like his owner, Mariapia Malerba, Nuvola (Italian for “cloud”) is an immigrant.
“He needs his own passport,” says Mariapia with a smile.
Nuvola, also known lovingly as “Bimbo” and sometimes as “Cicili”, is from Venice, Italy. Mariapia, an artist and fashion designer, created a little boat for him (pictured) in tribute to how the tiny orphaned gray kitten came to her 10 years ago.
“I was living in south Italy and a friend from Venice contacted me about an animal shelter closing there,” she explains. “Homes were needed for all these pets, and my friend thought I would love this Chartreux kitten.” Chartreux is a Middle Eastern breed of cats known for their smiles and easy temperament, which is why little Nuvola did so well on a ship from Venice to southern Italy—and later, on a plane ride to settle in the United States with Mariapia and her family.
“He is such a sweet boy,” says Mariapia, “and a happy traveler.”
Terry Tincher, Smoky and Scribbles
Terry Tincher is a fixture in downtown Fort Myers as an art dealer, a business owner, co-founder of Art Walk and an animal lover. Downtown dwellers are used to seeing Terry and his wife, Mimi, walking their beloved beagle, Bruce Wayne, down First Street, but it’s not often we get a glimpse inside their historic River District loft to peek in on their two adopted cats, 6-year-old Smoky and 4-year-old Scribbles. Gray Smoky was abandoned in a Cape Coral rental property and taken to the animal clinic where the Tinchers’ daughter, Courtney, was working. Courtney fell in love with the sweet Smoky and brought him home, where Terry and Mimi fell in love, too—so much so that when Courtney moved out on her own, the Tinchers kept their grandcat.
Scribbles’ story is harrowing, but with a happy ending: “Some kid in a local neighborhood had poured gasoline on him and set him on fire,” Terry says sadly. Thankfully, a good-hearted Samaritan found Scribbles and took him to the same animal clinic where Courtney worked. Though burnt over two-thirds of his body, Scribbles recovered and now enjoys a happy and comfy life downtown with Smoky, Mimi, Terry and, of course, Bruce Wayne.