Room For a New Buddy? Or Two?

Serving as a kitten-mom can be an incredible joy, even though it’s hard work and completely takes over the household. I don’t do it anymore myself, but still serve as an unofficial “godmother” every year to orphan kittens lucky enough to be raised by caring people. Many of the kittens steal the hearts of their rescue families, and never have to leave. Others, like these two very special little guys, need to find an adoptive home as special as the one where they are being raised.

Mitzy and Fritz were found when they were just days old as tiny, helpless little mites.
Mitzy 1 Fritz 1

Kittens, like babies are incredibly entertaining. Watching them grow and explore their worlds is great fun, but makes it nearly impossible to not fall in love. Both of these babies has been cuddled and loved since day one, and have grown into loving, cuddly, independent individuals.

Mitzy’s favorite place to sleep is on her person’s lap or chest when they’re in bed trying to sleep.

Mitzy 2Mitzy 3

Fritz is a total love bug, enjoying nothing better than being cuddled, petted, and riding around on a pair of shoulders. He isn’t quite as adventuresome as his sister, but would love to be somebody’s snuggle baby.

Fritz 2 Fritz 3

Both kittens are in excellent health, litter trained, good eaters, gentle at play, and great with anyone. They were raised with dachshunds, but were utterly unimpressed when introduced to my Great Dane. They have started their shots, and will be fixed before going to an adoptive home. Do you have a place in your home for a very special little buddy? Or two? They’d love to go together, but should do just fine if they have to be separated. If you can open your home and heart to them, please contact me for further information.

kittens with Brutus


Validation, Powerful Motivation!

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken time to post to this blog, but not because I wasn’t thinking about great topics. Whole articles would compose themselves in my mind, but never made their way to my fingers on the keyboard. The demands of running a company, writing against self-imposed publishing deadlines, family and just plain life seem to intrude every time I want to sit down and write a new post.

Some truths are so self-evident that we take them for granted and don’t think about how much they impact our lives. Praise, for example, is something we all know we should give to our kids to help boost their self-image. Teaching children and our pets through positive reinforcement is supposed to be the best way. Getting the most productivity out of employees is best achieved through praise, rather than negative tactics. These ideas are well known and accepted, but probably not thought about very much when it comes to our own motivation. I know I didn’t realize how powerful it can be until a recent experience.

Front CoverI wrote a book in 2006 called “Bottlekatz, A Complete Care Guide for Orphan Kittens,” then updated it with a new edition in 2013. This book was created for a very narrow niche, those people who rescued kittens that needed to be bottle-fed. I wrote it because, after raising 511 bottle-babies myself, I knew how difficult it was to keep the kittens alive and wanted other people to be able to benefit from my experiences. The purpose was not fame or profit, but to help more kittens survive through educating the people who rescued them. The book has done well, and is now used as a training manual for rescue groups all over the country.

I’ve achieved a level of authority in the world of cat rescue thanks to the book, but never thought of it much as a noteworthy book because of its narrow appeal. In spite of that, I submitted the book to a panel of judges for a local publishing and author group’s annual awards contest. The group, the Northern California Publishers and Authors, known as NCPA, has many extremely talented and experienced authors and publishers, so I was honored to just be part of the event. In fact, I was a little fearful about having the panel of judges read such a limited scope book and compare it to the other submissions.

The awards dinner was wonderful, with lots of opportunities to talk with some pretty exciting people. I was very proud to see my little book exhibited among the entries, and stunned when it won Honorable Mention in the General Non-Fiction category. I was shocked and thrilled to receive a plaque and stickers marked with the magic words “Book Award Winner.” The judges assured me later that my book was not only well written, but was clearly the authoritative work in its field, meeting all their criteria for an award winner in its category.

IMG_1096I was excited and proud, determined to do just as well next year when I will have two new books to submit. Since the awards dinner I’ve thought about my reaction and realized what a powerful thing that award was. It was not the top award, but it was validation of my identity and worth as a writer. I already knew the value of the information in the book, but this was completely different. This award felt like I’d earned my place among other authors, and affirmed the value of my vision as a writer.

I have a newly published book called “From Hindsight to Insight: A Traditional to Metaphysical Memoir, and am releasing another one within the month called “Faces of Rescue.’ I’m also writing a new one that will be called “Laura’s Dash, The Story of One Woman’s Amazing, Ordinary Life,” which should be completed next summer. That one little award has revitalized my creativity and my motivation.

We all need validation of our worth, whether we are children just learning who we are, or if we are jaded adults who need to be reminded of the value we bring to the world. Just as we all need it, we can all give that vital validation to those around us. A smile, a heartfelt thank you, a bit of praise for a job well done, even just a hug can make a huge difference in someone’s life. That small gesture will make you feel better inside, and the validation it provides can be just what someone needs to propel them forward.

Beautiful, fluffy white nightmare

Babe, Frosty 2

Holly, my lovely adult niece, saw a beautiful, fluffy white cat the other day, the type of cat that melts hearts and makes everyone who sees it automatically reach out to pet it.  Well, almost everyone.  She stepped back, heart rate speeding up, and ended up with awful nightmares of being chased and attacked by a gorgeous white cat named Frosty.

Frosty is indelibly imprinted on the memories of everyone who knew her.  She was born in the 15th litter to “the Happy Hooker”, as her mom was known.  Thirty-five years ago not many people kept their cats inside, only a small number got them fixed, and very few vets would spay a cat that was pregnant.  “The Happy Hooker” was a genius at getting out as soon as her kittens were a few weeks old and getting impregnated again.  Frosty never had kittens and was inside all her life, but she definitely inherited her mom’s iron will and determination.  From the day we adopted her, Frosty set all the cat rules of the household, and terrorized all the children who came over.  She wasn’t a vicious cat, but you never knew what she would do.  My niece still remembers being at our house and needing to go down the hallway to the bathroom, but seeing Frosty sitting quietly in the way.  Holly would wait until she couldn’t wait any longer and then run as fast as she could past the cat.  Most times Frosty just sat there, probably laughing inside at the panic she created.  Other times she would stretch out her paw and, with perfect timing, slice furrows into the passing child’s ankles.

Although Frosty ruled the household with an iron paw, we loved her anyway.  Most of the time Frosty was sweet, but she never failed to let us know when we displeased her or crossed her invisible lines.  I’ll never forget Frosty’s trip home after she was spayed.  The vet had kept her over the week-end when the surgery had been delayed because of unexpected emergencies.  When I arrived on Monday to pick her up, the vet’s staff let me know that she had been rough on everyone.  Back then we didn’t worry about seatbelts for people or carriers for cats, so I put Frosty on a soft bed in the passenger seat of our car for the trip home.  I had driven only about a mile or so when she stood up and moved from her bed to my lap.  I thought “oh, how sweet, she missed me and wants to sit in my lap.”  Wrong!  She did want my lap, but only for a litter box.  When Frosty finished leaving a smelly, warm pile on my jeans, she daintily stepped back to the soft bed in the other seat and just stared at me.  I was in shock trying to get to the side of the road and clean up my legs, but she was quite contented, purring away, having made her point.

Not too long after Frosty was spayed, my husband brought a new kitten home.  Pepsi was a cute little tabby and Stan knew our daughters would love him.  The dogs liked him too, so it looked like the newcomer would fit right in.  We felt pretty smug, until heading for bed that night.  Right in the middle of Stan’s pillow was a pile from Frosty.  She knew who was responsible for bringing in the kitten, and clearly wanted her opinion known.

Our daughters loved Frosty too, even though she could be hard to live with.  Sheryl, our youngest daughter, was delighted to have Frosty sleep on her bed each night.  Eventually Sheryl got tired of having to sleep with her legs curled up just because the cat was taking up most of the room at the foot of the bed.  Sheryl decided it was her bed, so she should be able to stretch out, and shoved her legs out straight.  Almost immediately her legs were raked by claws right through the blanket.  Sheryl reluctantly curled her legs back up, but kept waking up all night because her legs were hurting.  In the morning Sheryl found blood on the sheets and long scratches down her legs.  Frosty met her match with Sheryl though, because that little girl was just as determined as the cat was.  Sheryl still wanted the cat on her bed, so adjusted to her, but when they had a battle of wills over a doll buggy, Frosty was the loser.  Sheryl put the cat into a pink doll buggy and wheeled her all around the house.  It was so cute, right up until Sheryl wanted the the cat to get out of the buggy.  When Sheryl tried to remove her, Frosty clawed at her hands.  Sheryl then put her hands under the buggy and tried to just shove the cat up and out.  Didn’t work, the cat just clawed through the bottom of the buggy.  Sheryl thought about it a little, then shoved the doll buggy hard into a wall, tipping the buggy over and dumping the cat out.

Oddly enough, Frosty was great with our dogs and with the tiny rescue kittens that filled our house for years.  I think she thought the Great Danes were just big, soft pillows and curled up to them whenever she wanted to sleep.  And when we had kittens in the house Frosty was like a grumpy aunt.  She would just move away when they tried to climb on her, or gently swat one away that was too persistent.  Not once did she show any aggression towards the babies, even when they would get around her food, bed, or litter boxes.

Frosty lived with us for over fifteen years, and in left a huge hold in our house and hearts when she passed.  We still think of her and miss her, and all the children she disciplined still shiver a little when they remember her.

Desperate Kitten

After nearly 25 years of kitten rescue, you would think some things would have improved.  Unfortunately, we still see the same types of animals in desperate need of help.  A very sick kitten was found and brought to me by some very nice, very concerned people.  The baby was so thin and covered with fleas.  Since I have worked in kitten rescue for many years with local groups and veterinarians, I have a variety of supplies on hand, and was able to provide them with antibiotics and advice on what to do.  Unfortunately, they had great intentions but were not as observant on watching his weight as I would like.  Ten days later they brought him back, saying he hadn’t improved.  He was clearly starving, so weak he could barely stand, and with sores inside his mouth.  I offered to take over his care to try and get him over the hump, and immediately followed up with rescue friends and vets.  The baby was put on an intensive regimen of medications, fluids, heated bedding, and hand-feedings to try to save him.  After two days of constant care, he went to sleep with a full tummy in a warm bed, and never woke up.  So many tears from so many people who really cared.  The part that really hurts, though, is that this happens over and over and over again simply because the number of caring people is so small compared to the number of people who won’t take care of their animals, who won’t get their animals fixed, and who won’t support TNR (trap, neuter and release) programs for unowned cats.  As a society we create the problems by our neglect, then those who care have their hearts broken by watching a sweet, trusting baby die.

So many cats, So little time

Once a month for five years my Sunday consists of working at a volunteer Spay and Neuter clinic for cats.  We depend on an amazing group, including vets, techs, and skilled rescue people, to handle from 20 to 50 cats a month.  Unlike many clinics organized by different civic or non-profit groups, we don’t care how much money somebody has, or the age or background of the cat or kitten.   There is no means tests because all the cats are in need, depending instead on donations from those who bring them.  We do everything from pampered babies raised on a bottle to battle-scarred ferals trapped from colonies.  Every cat or kitten gets the same loving attention and care, from a full body exam, to surgery on a heated table, to fluids to assist in quick recovery, to whatever vaccinations they need, to an antibiotic injection to prevent their becoming ill afterwards, to pain meds, to whatever else they might need such as treatment for an abcess or bad tooth.  Then after the surgery they recover on soft heat packs, covered with a towel, petted and watched until they can be safely put into their carriers ready to go home.

We have been told that we put too much care and time into each cat, that we could slam through lots more if we just eliminated some of what we do to save time.  Those people don’t understand that we believe each animal deserves the best we can offer and is important in its own right.  We’ve been told we should do kittens smaller than three pounds because others will do them at two or even one, that the raised chances of them dying on the table is worth it to get more done.  They don’t understand when we insist that there is no acceptable percentage for deaths at our clinic.

The hardest part of working each month is not dealing with the cats and kittens, even when we have some that are dangerous and very difficult to handle.  The most difficult part is dealing with thoughtless people.  The ones who insist they are helping by trapping, but never bother to clean their traps or carriers and expect us to return the poor, frightened cats to the same filthy conditions.  Instead, we have to take time to clean and sanitize because the animals deserve it.  Every clinic we lose a lot of our towels when they go home folded inside carriers, rather than put a poor cat on cold, bare plastic after they just had surgery.  At least one animal each clinic was fed and watered before coming because the person didn’t listen to instructions, putting the animal at risk of aspirating its own vomit after surgery.  And each spring and summer clinic we have our hearts broken when a pregnant cat is spayed and we see the unborn kittens die before they can be born simply because there are no places for their mom to go and raise them safely and not enough homes for them when they are old enough.  Each clinic is full of beautiful, loving animals brought in by rescue groups hoping to find them a home.

My prayer is the same every month — that somehow people will become responsible for their animals so that the need for rescue will disappear.  Perhaps someday.  In the meantime, I’ll just be ready to work again next month.