The One with Phoebe, the Very Ingenious Cat

“Radiant, the shiny one”, that is the meaning of the name Phoebe, which has Greek origins. It is also a mythological, biblical, Shakespearean name, which was given a boost in popularity by one of the Friends, the comedy TV series from the 1990s. The following story is about another Phoebe though, the one who is a very ingenious cat.

  • Name — Phoebe; the name was inspired by the character of Phoebe Buffay in “Friends”– one of the funniest TV series I was re-watching at the time my cat was born. Phoebe was my favorite of the 6 “friends”, sweet and eccentric, quirky and silly.
  • Owner — Diana
  • Breed — Given that we don’t know who the father was, we just assumed she is a mix of Birman and Siamese. The mother was Siamese and Phoebe looks a lot like a Birman
  • Favorite food — I had a tough time trying to convince her to eat wet canned food, because she is a big fan of kibble. But her most favorite food is canned sweet corn kernels. It’s the only “non-cat food” she eats.
  • Favorite activity — Staying at the window, watching the birds and talking to them. She’s one of those cats who talk.
  • Favorite toy — Anything attached to a thread. And definitely the ribbons of any flower bouquets– forbidden things in general ☺ 
  • Residence — She lives in an apartment in Paris, with a view onto a quiet street. However, she’s a very indoor cat. The only time she goes out is for an annual doctor appointment.


Everything started 12 years ago, when a former colleague of my sister came home from work one evening and found a cat at her front door. Obviously, she took her in, thinking that she’ll try to find the owners the next day. Only that the next morning, while she was taking a shower, the cat gave birth to 5 kittens, on her bed.

So she had no other option than to keep them all, however she wanted to put the kittens up for adoption as soon as possible. This is how I got Phoebe, when she was only 5 weeks old. A little too early to take her away from her mom…


The best story about her happened about 4 years ago. I was in the subway, going to visit a friend, when I noticed a very bad smell. Initially I thought someone didn’t take a shower for the past week… Even if the other passengers kept going on and off at different stops, the smell kept staying there. I blamed it on the subway, I thought the smell was impregnated in the seats.

When I was going back home, in a different subway, I noticed the same smell. I even checked the bottom of my shoes, I thought I must have stepped in something. And then I searched my bag and the whiff was even stronger. As I put my hand inside, I realized that everything was wet. I realized that Phoebe had peed in my purse. She was 8 at the time, and this was the first time she did something of the sort.

The following week I met with another friend for lunch and when I reached for my purse (a different one), I felt the same familiar fragrance. Not again, I said!

So I called the vet wanting to check if the fact that I was traveling for work more than usual, could push her to this kind of behavior.


The vet asked me to bring her in right away. After a long set of blood and urine tests, ultrasounds and x-rays, they found crystals in her urine and that she was bleeding every time she was peeing. Apparently, she was in a lot of pain.

I felt so sorry for my baby! And I realized that cats are much smarter than we think they are. How can they let you know when they’re sick and suffering? Cats can’t talk and can’t cry either. So mine chose to pee in my purse a couple of times, until I understood that something was wrong, and I should take the initiative.

We changed her diet and we keep her under observation, so everything is going well now. But I am still extremely impressed by the way she chose to highlight her problem.


She’s never lived with other animals, so I don’t know if she’s a big fan of animal company. She’s very solitary, pretty savage I’d say, she doesn’t like to be caressed or touched in any way. Except for when she’s eating. Ever since she was a kitten, the only moment we could touch her was when she was busy eating, so now she doesn’t eat unless I get down on my knees and I pet her. I accepted the fact that she’s very independent and she has a strong personality ☺ 


I don’t have kids, so Phoebe is the best thing that happened to me. When we adopted her, we paid that one symbolic dollar. And my sister who works daily with the financial markets, keeps saying: "That was the best investment we’ve ever made!"

Author: Diana Balba, Phoebe’s Human