Grief makes sweet bedfellows

Most of the folks who read this blog are my friends, therefore they would already know that my father died on Friday. He was 95. Nine days earlier, he’d had a small stroke that put him in the hospital, unable to swallow. This would be what finally killed the guy we all began to think was immortal.

It was a life event so devastating to me that I wasn’t sure if I could write coherently about it in blog form. What could I say? How does my feline universe tie into my loss?

Like this. The day before my dad died, I adopted out two of my three foster kittens to a wonderful friend. That meant their brother was left behind. I felt okay about this, as the two sisters were very shy and attached, and Spats (so named for his funny paw markings) was brave and independent. That is, until he lost his sisters. I came home from the hospital Thursday night and went straight to see him in the big walk-in closet that’s been his home. He was crouching in a corner, big-eyed and anxious, and came quickly to sit in my lap.

As I stroked his silky fur, I sensed that the death of my father was soon to come. I broke down in sobs, and he stared at my face with such tenderness and curiosity that I knew he was somehow understanding. He, too, had just experienced a terrible loss. It was a transcendent moment, a connection between species.

Not wanting him to mix with my two bedroom kitties who are ailing with upper respiratory issues, I reluctantly put Spats back in the walk-in closet for the night – and he was not happy. He cried (something I don’t think he’d done before) and scratched the carpet under the door. I was so exhausted that I drifted to sleep quickly – only to be awakened in the middle of the night by a flash of fur galloping across the bed.

And when I woke up the next morning, this is what I found in bed next to me.

Spats had somehow freed himself from the closet during the night and had settled in nicely among my sheets. Remarkably, neither of my bedroom kitties took offense. I spent a few minutes luxuriating with his sweet purr in my ear, letting the sound of it soothe my anguished heart and gird me for the day I feared was ahead.

Then I got up, went downstairs, and got the call from my sister that my father had passed.

I’m not sure what this story says except perhaps that animals – cats especially – can be as intuitive as many psychics. And the angels that buffer us from grief.

There is no cure for the pain I feel right now, but four-legged love is the best medicine we can hope for. Thanks, Saint Francis, for prescribing these sweet remedies in my life.

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All I want for 2017

My desires are simple.

Continued luck with finding excellent homes for my rescues, starting with these three love nuggets, taken in on Christmas Eve. Meet 4-month old sisters Sonnet and Haiku, and brother Limerick. Trapped in a canyon, socialized and ready for a patient new mom or dad who loves to watch a sweet kitty bloom.

More evidence of happiness among my ferals. This was taken on Christmas morning – a kitty kiss / head-butt between farm cats – and it melted me.

More cooperation with farms. Don’t get me started.

Enough money to do the work. And then more money to do more work. (Thanks to those who have donated.)

More TIME to do the work. How this will happen I have no idea.

A third anniversary for my Ginger kitty, the geriatric tortie who was taken out of the parking lot two years ago today, diagnosed with terminal cancer, given two weeks to live, and she’s been a joy to me since.

A move in the direction of establishing a sanctuary. See above re: having no idea how this will happen, but perhaps it helps to put it in writing.  😉

A presidential impeachment. (No, this doesn’t belong here, but I figured as long as I was making a wish list…)

While we’re at it, how about Feral Cat Rescue Day at the San Francisco Giants game?

The ability to make a shelter my ferals will actually USE. So far, batting around .200.

Mostly, I’m just hoping for the river of love that flows through my life to reach a torrent. If it’s true that “love attracts love,” when my grandchild comes this spring I’m thinking I’m primed for more intimate human connection. Having the love of saints and critters is a gorgeous thing. But before I die, I’d also like to hear that word used in reference to ME by someone who loves cats. It’s a tall order, Francis, but I might as well put it in writing.  😉

Happy New Year indeed!







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A kitten, at last, for me

Twenty years ago, when Erin went off to college in Maine, she joked that she was concerned that by the time she came home for Christmas, I might have snapped from loneliness and begun putting her baby clothes on the cats.

She knew me well, even at 18. She knew my need to have something to nurture, to tend and cuddle. You could say I went a little too far in that direction, with the menagerie currently living in my home and being tended by me in the wild.

In a way, she bears part of the blame for my feline excesses. I started telling her the minute she finished law school ten years ago that I was ready for a grandchild (she was already with her husband-to-be at that point) but she had other plans. Like career, travel, adventure — all the things I didn’t have myself, having married at 22 and given birth at 24. I could not blame her; she was living her life on her terms, far more than I ever allowed myself to do. But as much as my critters were occupying my time and giving me joy, I still longed for grandmaternal joy, which I knew would be something to crown my life.

In fact I draw a direct line between the loud clanging of my grandmotherly biological clock, and my descent into rescue work. During these years I’ve lost count of the number of kittens I’ve welcomed, socialized, loved, pampered… and then sent away. It’s gotten only marginally easier since adopting out those first two kittens, Jake and Maggie, when I literally hyperventilated with sobs after I got back in my car, feeling I had just given away babies born into my family. I clearly needed one that wasn’t going to leave.

So when Erin told me, three years ago, that she and J had started “trying,” I held my breath and knew that any month I’d get the news I’d waited so long for. But months went by – month after month – peppered with her frustration and tears of disappointment, and my seemingly endless words of encouragement. Grueling fertility treatments ensued, and still no  luck. And finally, this summer, our luck changed. And of course, a cat was right in the middle of it.

It was mid-August, and I was at an emergency appointment at Adobe Pet Hospital with the desperately injured Colby (see previous post) who was suffering from crushed toes on his front paws. They had just taken him from me – hissing fiercely in the trap – and I waited in the exam room for word. The phone rang and it was Erin. Thinking it was too soon for results to be back from the procedure, I didn’t leap to ask if she’d had any news, and we made small talk until she drew a breath.

“Well,” she said slowly, “I guess I’m pregnant!” I think I shrieked involuntarily, and we both laughed through tears. The rest is a blur of ecstatic yammering and talk of the next steps, tests, confirmations… And then she had to go. I had maybe a minute to myself to digest the information before the veterinarian came back in to discuss her findings. Seeing me dissolved in tears, she offered a gentle hand on my arm.

“It’s okay!” she smiled. “His toes are broken but he’ll be okay!”

I quickly explained that my tears were happy ones, that I was finally getting my own, longed-for kitten of the human variety. She smiled politely, no doubt figuring me to be yet another CCL (crazy cat lady) speaking in extremes.

It’s been almost four months since then, and now that Erin has lifted the veil of silence on her mother who can’t keep secrets, I can tell the world about my joy. Even more incredible: she is having a girl. So all of my mother’s exquisite hand-made dresses will get a second life. Princess Charlotte will have nothing on this girl, sartorially.

There are so many things I want for her. I want her to be a happy and confident child. As she grows I want her to move through the world unscathed by its heartlessness, even as she grows in awareness of what she needs to change. Of course I want her to be smart and beautiful. A recent ultrasound shows gorgeousness even in utero. 😉

But I also really, really want her to embrace animals, especially the homeless and the hurt, because once you open that part of your deepest heart, you can’t ever go back to being selfish.

2017 will be the year I have my arms fuller than ever before in my life. And it will be the year I finally get a kitten I can keep.



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The miracle of couch cushions… and crinkle balls…

I confess to having been too aghast, angry and depressed to write in recent weeks, since the implosion of a dream for the first female president and the election of someone who instead champions dispassion and devolution. What will happen to the causes I value (and perhaps their funding) under this new administration? It’s possible that animal rights (and all the wonderful gains in recent years) could be rolled back, along with human rights. The nation seems to be in the grip of distrust and fear.

These are the thoughts that have been occupying my mind since coming home. Pretty much everyone I know has been grappling with how to deal with this turn of the tide… and what to do to make things better. I think the answer has to be conducting ourselves with greater integrity and compassion than ever before, taking stands when called upon, and finding joy in all the small victories.

For me, those often come in the form of progress made by former ferals now adapting to indoor life. The socializing of these sometimes tough cases is more of a zig-zag or a labyrinth than a straight line. But that makes forward movement all the more delicious.

Take Colby, the beautiful young Maine Coon with broken feet. As soon as I got home from vacation, I took him back to Adobe so he could be checked. It had been three months since I found him crawling on the ground because all his toes were broken and badly infected, and I wanted to know if he had healed. When the technicians came into the exam room with their long, “feral gloves” on, I had to tell them that he was not dangerous, and in fact enjoyed being petted! They were amazed and showed me on his chart where someone had marked USE EXTREME CAUTION!

The vet looked at his paws and noted that there a couple of toes were not “normal” (one had a claw that could not fully retract, another could not bend) he was basically sound and able to walk just fine now. Then he showed me the x-ray from three months ago, which made tears come to my eyes. The last bones on all his toes were neatly severed. That he can walk again seems a miracle.

But the bigger victory was yet to come. Upon taking him back to his foster mom’s studio apartment in the canyon, we agreed it was time to let him out of his dog crate, for the first time in three months. We set it up so that he would still have a shelter – a large carrier – but left the door open. My heart in my throat, fearing he would disappear under her bed and not come out, I hugged him goodbye.

The next day, Sara sent me a photo of Colby slumbering peacefully amid her couch cushions. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Why did you wait so long to expose me to luxury?? 

And you can also teach old(er) dogs new tricks as well. I’ve had Big Mike for two years now – since trapping his torn-up body out of the same field as Colby. (What the hell goes on up this ravine?) He and I have a powerful bond thanks to the six months it took to repair his shredded leg. And although he’s adapted beautifully to indoor life, like many former ferals it has taken Mike some time to act “normal.”  Robbed of his kittenhood by the harsh conditions of homeless life, he still loiters on the fringes at meal time (the law of the land for non-alphas), never begs for affection… and doesn’t play.

I’ve tried many times to engage him with toys, feathers and such, but he finds such things scary and moves quickly away. That is, until recently. I heard heavy scrambling on the kitchen floor and chairs being knocked around and, thinking a fight was going on, went quickly to investigate. And there was Big Mike, having liberated a crinkle ball from the toy box, batting it around with reckless abandon. I was thrilled. Now I offer him a toy every day, just for the joy of seeing him go nuts, and to help this big fella get the exercise he needs.

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These small victories give me hope. If abused and abandoned cats can change – can learn to trust and love, even when fear is ever-present – perhaps humans can do the same.

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“Seeing how the other half lives”

That’s an old expression my parents used when referring to how people leave their mundane lives in order to check out how the wealthy live, presumably without the weight of responsibility for squeezing out a living. (In today’s culture, of course it’s nowhere near “the other half” – more like how the other 5% live, but that’s a post-election discussion.)

In my case, I go on vacation to see how “the other half” – the one without ANIMALS in it – lives! I want what it’s like to live without my own sometimes crushing responsibilities to the rescue work. It turns out, it’s not completely to my liking. Here I am, in a place that is closer to heaven than earth, and every day I choke with emotion thinking of the cats I’ve left back home. I anxiously text the three people it takes to cover my brood and worry about my ferals; it’s such a hard life and I’ve lost so many.

And I obsess about my house cats and how I much I need a squeeze around Big Mike’s middle, lap time with Lena, a drooling nose kiss from Ginger, sleepy cuddling with Pokey in my bed. And Iggy’s heretofore irritating need to drape himself on my chest while I work at the computer becomes, in my mind, something to crave as I write, undisturbed, with this view.

img_5970 The Renoir painting of Puget Sound out my cabin window. Who could ask for more? Apparently, I could.

A neighbor had a friend visit the other day with a Welsh Corgi, who wandered over to my window. I almost gasped with delight when I saw her, and ran to the door to welcome her. I ignored the owner’s shout  – be careful, she’ll let herself right in! – and instead sunk my hands into the delirious luxury of her fur, murmuring sweet nothings to the unimpressed pooch, who did indeed wander around like she owned the place. Only when the owner crossed the fence to retrieve her did I let her go, after one more quick squeeze. I am clearly an addict, and this fix didn’t do the trick.

Sometimes I long for the decades when I was selfish: untouched by the religion of animals, when Saint Francis had yet to snag in his grasp. But the tradeoff is a sense of purpose that I never had before. A cracked-open heart feels more pain, but its reward is a heightened sense of wonder, joy and gratitude.

At the same time, I think I’ve learned that three weeks is too long to be away – even when I justify it as being time I need to write the children’s book (Marvin & Mocha) that will propel the rescue work forward. I find it very hard to write at home, with cat boxes to clean, mats to pluck shedded fur to sweep, and so many mouths to feed. But I need to learn some new tricks so I can. Because when I’m away the writing barely goes better – and I think it’s because I need animal energy to be my best, most creative, self.

What’s the answer? Move my desk to the spare bedroom so I can close the door – metaphorically and literally – on the kitties who prove such a powerful distraction? Start writing creatively in a cafe or library? I don’t know. I just know it calls for some experimentation until I can get this book written. My gut and heart (and spiritual readings I’ve had in the past) tell me Marvin & Mocha could be a difference-maker in the way people view homeless cats. All it takes is one tiny lightbulb switching on in the head of a child, and the future is improved.

Back to working on the book. This is my final day here and then I start driving home to my responsibilities. Hoping my time away has enabled me to embrace them with a renewed lightness and joy. Grateful that distance really does make the heart grow fonder.


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Your job vs. your calling

Another month has gone by without a blog post, but I can guarantee that now that Litquake 2016 is in the rearview mirror and my life has slowed down, writing time will be easier to come by. As will cat time. YAY! There is nothing more frustrating when my job gets in the way of my calling.  😉

There were so many developments – many of them wonderful – in the last month, but I scarcely had time to enjoy them, so busy was I. Here they are, in brief:

  • The two kittens rescued from the dirt road in Montara found a home with a wonderful young MAN – a friend of a friend – who has thrown himself into kitty fatherhood like no one’s business.  Happy happy joy joy!
  • Fonzi – the tough young tomcat with a girlie squeak who’d been loitering outside my house making Charlie’s life miserable – was trapped and fixed by me a few days after the festival ended. A real charmer and pretty sweet, Fonzi was in that grey zone of  whether to socialize or let go. img_5882-mov And then I remembered that someone had asked to adopt two CFC kittens as barn cats, but were told “no” because we wanted them to be indoors only. I reached out to her; would she like a little semi-feral? She would! And off he went to seek his fortunes on a farm with very nice, cat-loving owners.
  • Best of all perhaps, Colby-with-the-broken-toes had a major breakthrough just days before I was to leave town on vacation. His angry posture had softened to where he was not hissing every time I would bring his food. So I took a chance, reached in, and touched his head. He shrank a little, but then turned his head and leaned gratefully into my hand, so I could rub his neck, too. Of course I dissolved in tears – I had all but written Colby off as ever wanting to bond. He’s now been at a catsitter’s for a week since I left town (I could not ask my housesitter to watch my brood and him as well), and yesterday I got the word: Colby is purring!!

So miracles continue to happen, despite my clumsy actions, lack of time and occasional lack of faith. And the demands don’t stop, even when I’m away. As word about our organization spreads, we get new requests all the time. One kind soul who had been feeding a feral mama trapped and fixed her, and also found a foster home for her kittens. But because she lives in a dangerous canyon, she wants to find a home for her Monkey (the mama kitty’s name) so I’ve got feelers out. She is a funny-looking little sweetie, well-suited to her name.


When Monkey’s caretaker writes me, she apologizes for “bothering me on vacation.” Which seems funny to me since this is what I DO – even from remote locations like my friend’s cabin on Puget Sound. On the other hand, when someone from “work” asks me for something, it feels like a huge inconvenience. Such is the difference between a job and a calling, I guess.

Yes, there are moments of sheer joy in my job – I could not do it otherwise – like hearing child poets read at 826 Valencia during the festival. But there is joy and there is tear- and gratitude-inducing recognition of your heart’s work being rewarded. Like Colby purring, or the “lost boys” finding a lovely home, or knowing you can ease animal pain and suffering, even if it’s just one or two felines at a time. Speaking of, the latest call just came in: two kittens found in a garbage dump. You can’t look in these eyes and look away. Not if you’re called to help.


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Walking the walk or talking the talk?

I have never gone this long without blogging. Not even half this long. But I have a good mommy-note: “Jane was late with her assignment because she now has three fosters and is seriously in over her head.” In other words, I was too busy doing rescue to write about… doing rescue.

This pursuit of the heart requires a lot of triage – sometimes even once a day – to make the right decisions as to who gets my most urgent attentions. With my festival coming up quickly, I had already told everyone that I could not take on any more rescues. Then we got an email that four kittens had been seen wandering down the middle of a dirt road north of here. Abandoned, it was surmised. And they were smack in the middle of coyote and even mountain lion territory. Suddenly it was triage time again. How could I not go? How could I not help?

Two kind women up that way guided me to where two of the kittens had hidden – inside a garage. I begged them to please feed every day until I could trap. Ten days ago I scooped up Thor and Loki – bonded pals but remarkably not brothers – who have been recuperating from their ordeals in my garage. It took all of one day for them to come around, and accept and return buckets of feline love. Now fixed and vaccinated, I’m looking for a home for the pair.


At the same time…

Five weeks ago I blogged that I had taken in Colby, the Maine coon with the broken toes, and he was improving. And so he did! To a point. Confined to a dog crate, he didn’t have enough room to move around to really show me how he was walking – and whether he was healing. So at the three-week mark, I accepted a friend-in-rescue’s offer to let Colby stay in her outdoor enclosure where he could continue to heal. I planned to go by once or twice a day for a visit to see how he was walking.

The problem: he didn’t. Every time I went over, he’d huddle in a canopy bed, or under a blanket, and I could not tell if his toes were healed enough for him to walk. He did not seem miserable, but neither did I think a young cat like Colby (not even a year old) would enjoy spending his entire life in a small enclosure. Also, I underestimated how long it would take me to do my daily visits to see him: about 30 minutes round trip. It was killing me. I brought him back today and put him in a newly purchased, tall cat condo on my deck, where I’ll hopefully be able to observe him more closely.

It’s all means to an end: figuring out the best thing for this sweet (if angry) boy.


Also during recent weeks, I was told about a litter of kittens at a ranch in town. I went up to get a look, and found four kittens around 8-10 weeks old, still nursing a very tired looking mama. A subsequent conversation with the ranch owner proved extremely puzzling: she asked for references like I was applying for a job, when in fact, I just wanted to help those kittens by spaying, neutering and adopting them out. (The latter plan, especially, did not go over well.) I’ll spare you the rant version of this story and stop there.

The festival is in two weeks, my big annual road trip to my friend’s cabin is in 3.5 weeks. All of these things must resolve themselves before I go, or my long-awaited ME time could be scuttled. But I can handle things if they stay stable until then.

… or so I hoped until this morning when I discovered that Tommy – the ne’er-do-well tabby at the Higgins farm who slipped into a vat of goo a few months ago – had a badly swollen mouth. His tongue sticks out in an unconscious taunt, and his jaw is extended. A bee sting? Mouth cancer??

Time for managing triage again, and perhaps for dragging a reluctant stray to a vet in the time I don’t have. But how could I not help? Walking the walk means not being able to look away from suffering, even if it puts me over the edge sometimes. St. Francis, how did you do this for so many years?

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The “sanctuary” grows by one: Found8-9

There must be some law of the universe that says just when you think you could not get more overwhelmed, the goddess rewards you with yet another challenge.  😉

On Monday, in my feeding spot behind the Post Office, there was a new face, timidly waiting in the bushes for food, crouched low to the ground. I estimated that he was a young guy: nearly full-grown, but without the “tomcat jowls” that go with an intact older male. I put out food for grumpy Gertie first, because I didn’t want her to run him off out of jealousy. Then I put a plate near him, and walked away to give him space. What I saw next broke my heart.

He hobbled out of the bushes slowly, and at one point lowered his body to the ground, and pushed himself along on his belly with his back legs. Drawing close, I could see that his front paws were enormously swollen and split.


Because he looked like my beloved Big Mike (probably from the same gene pool up the creek) my heart instantly went out to him. I didn’t have a trap with me, and had to go to The City that day, so it killed me to not scoop him up right there. I went back a couple of hours later, and was happy to see that he had taken up residence in a makeshift shelter: a large garbage can stuffed with rags that was put there almost a year ago by a kind homeless man who frequents the area and likes the cats. To my knowledge it had been utterly ignored by the cats in the area and all this time I was wondering if it would ever be used; now I think maybe it was just waiting for the right customer.


The next morning he innocently went straight into the trap, and after a bit of thrashing around, settled down quietly for the long drive to Adobe Los Altos, where we have an emergency account set up by a wonderful donor. Before we left, I lifted the blanket covering him to try and reassure him that things would get better now, but he just stared at me with the baleful glare of a feral who has no idea that humans can be good, let alone life-saving.

Because he didn’t yet have a name, he was registered as Found8-9 (for the date), assessed as being around 8 months old, and diagnosed: all the toes on his front paws were broken. (“Smashed,” they said, probably by a car tire.) Worse, they were now badly infected, AND he is FIV-positive, which might impact his ability to recover. There was a whiff of suggestion that I might want to take a shortcut and end his struggle. I said I could not, and was willing to take him in for the couple of weeks he would require to (hopefully) mend.


Once it was confirmed that I would be taking him home, I named him. Because I see a lot of Maine Coon in him (pointed, tufted ears, broad face, lionine chest), I decided he would be Colby, after a college there my daughter almost went to. (It has a nicer ring than Found8-9, yes?)

It’s been almost a week now, and I’m happy (nay, thrilled) to report that Colby’s paws are now much less swollen, which means the infection is abating.


He is still hating on me pretty good, with guttural growls when I open the crate door and offer food. But I’m happy he’s not going to die – he’s still a baby and deserves a chance at life.

Right now the $60,000 question is whether to try and socialize him. Reasons to do it: he could likely walk with a limp, which means if I return him to the ravine he would be easy pickings for predators; also, if he is indeed of the Big Mike gene pool, he will be a sweet, gentle giant who will bring joy to someone’s life, once he gets past his fear. Reasons not to try: I have so little bandwidth right now, and hope to sneak in a couple of quick trips this summer before the festival starts in October. Try asking a pet sitter who is already watching my menagerie (which includes three special needs/sick kitties) to take on one more patient.

So I’m just taking it a day at a time, watching for signs as to the direction to take. St. Francis, I could really use some guidance here.

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Tipping points of all kinds

We all have tipping points. Malcolm Gladwell’s phrase is now part of the lexicon: the moment when a situation changes, causing you to see things differently, do things different – or at least understand a situation better. Or… it could be when you snap completely, and the train goes off the rails.  😉

I’ve had a few tipping points in the last week – of both the wonderful and mind-losing variety.

It started when Carrie reached a tipping point of her own, when she learned she had to move swiftly from her beautiful art studio. She had thought she could keep the kittens there until they were placed (Mookie already has a home but not until September), but you add stress of moving + kittens getting too big for their crate = time for them to go. Despite not having an inch of square footage in the “main house,” I decided they’d be okay in the downstairs half-bath.

It didn’t take long for them to settle in, and they thoughtfully helped me rearrange the picture frames….


made sure the faucet was working…


and ensured the proper motion of the toilet paper…


… among many other important chores, before they passed out in their triple-decker shelf-bed.


(And no, Mookie isn’t looking at his brother below; he really is asleep that way.)

It’s been mayhem of the most adorable variety, and in the week since then I’ve struggled to maintain the schedule required to nurture and care for this many felines, at the same time as I’m trying to wrap up the scheduling of my annual, nine-day marathon fall literary festival with 800+ authors. But I managed. Until – yes – came a tipping point or two.

Ginger, my elderly tortie rescue with mouth cancer, went into heat yet again. (It’s happened every couple of months like clockwork since I brought her home from the parking lot 19 months ago. At the time, I’d made the decision not to stress her with spay surgery when she was supposed to only live a few weeks. Sigh.) Suddenly, the tenuous harmony of the household was disrupted by the plaintively horny old gal, who cried and howled throughout the day, sidling up to Big Mike for attention, who politely if confusedly ignored her pleas. She was freaking Iggy and Lena out, so they were acting out. (A GOOD day was when I could come home to only one puddle of Iggy’s self-induced barf on the carpet.)

Add to this the fact that our little nonprofit, Coastside Feral Care , suddenly ran out of money. I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind.

But just like that, a few positive tipping points were reached that lifted me up.

Wendy Stokes, a nonprofit consultant who clearly knows her stuff, put out the word about us on NextDoor – a social media I knew nothing about – and within a few days we had gotten enough in the bank to keep going. (Thank the heavens, and especially Saint Francis, for animal lovers everywhere.)

And Ginger’s heat was blessedly short this time: the caterwauling stopped within a few days.

And a beautiful tipping point happened with Maya, the kittens’ mother. It was that magical moment, as happens sometimes in rescue, where a cat goes from being only interested in the food you’re doling out, to wanting to bond. I put her food down, stroked her head as much as she’d normally allow, and then turned to walk back to my car. For the first time, she followed me. Confused, I walked back to her food plate, thinking she just had not seen it. I gestured to the plate, then realized she was doing the curl-step with her feet, kneading the ground.


Stunned, I put my hand on her head again, and this time she didn’t pull away. She curled her head and leaned into me gratefully.


Our relationship has been different since that moment. And now of course I’m anxious to find HER a good home – at least an indoor-outdoor one. Because she has crossed over from being a detached parking lot cat into a potential lap-cat, never to turn back. How could I now watch her spend her winter hiding from the rain and sleeping in a bush?

But perhaps the most important tipping point was when my own perspective got a jolt. Attending an event for the Humane Society, I was telling someone about my brood: two original housecats, and fosters Big Mike whose leg was all but torn off, Charlie who lives on my patio, Pokey the FIV+ boy who’d been hit by a car in his youth, Skeeter with chronic respiratory issues, a terminally-ill (and shockingly fertile) geriatric tortie, and now three kittens. Knowing this was a sympathetic person I was speaking to, I knew she would not label me a CCL (Crazy Cat etc.), but I didn’t expect her to be so charitable either.

“So what you have,” she smiled, “is a sanctuary. What a blessing for these cats – and what a blessing for you!

I came home from that outing to the monsoon of cat hair, bowls to clean, squabbles to quell, kittens to socialize and litter boxes to clean with a new perspective. I might be close to derailing from stress and overwork at any given moment, but I can never doubt that my blessings are many indeed.

Thanks, Saint Francis, for the reminder.

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… And then there were three!

A week ago, sweet Tulum, the little runt, went to his new home in the East Bay. As of this writing, he’s doing great. They have renamed him Jasper (granted, a much better name for a kitten) and he is slowly taking over the home and hearts of a lovely young couple who were so excited to get him.  Here he is after a few days, making himself at home with his new toys.


We had a little scare when one of his brothers, Rufus, began to languish a bit in Jasper’s absence. He lost interest in food and play briefly, which made me anxious since these babies went without mama’s milk in their infancy when she was unknowingly taken away to be spayed. It’s been remarkable to me that they are as strong and playful as they are, since that could have been a devastating physical blow.

But he bounced back – literally. Here’s a new video from just a few days ago and Rufus is leading the charge attacking a fly in their crate.

Oh my god, they are so precious. We’re thinking Mookie (the orange boy) would be fine on his own (i.e. with another cat in the house), but Arturo (whom Carrie now calls Jellyface) and Rufus should go together if possible. They are both sweet and very attached.

If anyone is open to a new family member(s), please let me know! They are getting reallllly tired of their dog crate, and need more space.

Saint Francis, thank you for making this ride on the kitten roller coaster one with mostly ups and very few downs! Send me the perfect parents soon.


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