black cat face


Always dramatic.

A bird was twittering at the feeder outside the window, captivating.

Black cats are very difficult to adopt out of shelters or most other rescue/adoption facilities. Why? Superstition? Fear? They don’t take good photos?

Personally, I think it’s the last fact. The human eye is attracted to color and pattern, and black cats have sleek silhouettes but no further details unless you really look. Once your eyes adjust to the subtleties of texture and muted highlight and shadow, you see a graceful form underneath, glowing eyes no matter the color, shining whiskers against the black of the shadows around the jaw and chin.

Aside from years spent with intelligent and loving cats I’ve never felt they’ve changed my luck, and there is nothing to be fearful of—the next thing Giuseppe is going to do is lean forward and tap his nose against mine, then drag his face across my cheek, first one side then the other in a gentlemanly European manner, that is, when I remove the large black machine with the one big eye from my face.

If you’re looking for a cat to adopt during Adopt a Cat month, look closely at the black cats that are available, you’ll see elegant beauty you’ve never noticed before. Trust me, I live with five of them, I study them every day.

Milan and Felix

two cats outdoors

Milan and Felix enjoy the afternoon.

Meet Milan and Felix, two very lovely kitties I’ve recently had the pleasure to meet, though in a way I’ve known them for years. I spent a while with them and their mom and their doggie sister the other day while working on a special project. Both were rescues, one literally from the streets of the neighborhood. You just never know where you’ll find a good cat!

You’ll be hearing more about them soon.

Adopt a Cat, See BOYZ II MEN with the PSO

Not only is it Adopt-a-Cat Month but it’s also kitten season. The Western PA Humane Society is doing its best to keep cats moving and has a number of adoption deals on adult cats and kittens, but even better the Buncher Family Foundation is offering an incentive to everyone who adopts between now and June 23.

Kitten Season?

With summertime comes a baby boom, it is commonly called “kitten season,” and it means a population explosion that crowds the shelters around the United States and at the Western PA Humane Society.  Continual overcrowding of cats and kittens at the Western PA Humane Society North Shore Shelter and Fallen Timber location in Elizabeth will result in significant discounts for adopters on cats and kittens at the shelters until the cage space issues are alleviated.

“We are close to capacity and cats and kittens are still coming in,” says Lee Nesler, the Executive Director of the Western Pa Humane Society.  “Adopting all healthy adoptable felines is our goal we NEED to find foster and adoptive homes for these animals as quickly as possible to ensure that we have room for the new homeless pets coming in daily.  Since May 1we have been averaging 29 felines (cats and kittens) surrendered to the WPA Humane Society EVERY day.”

Here’s the deal:

ALL CATS over the age of 6 months may be adopted for NO COST to qualified adopters. 

Kittens are “adopt one, get one” at the reduced price of just $85.   

All cats and kittens adopted from the Western PA Humane Society are:

  • spayed or neutered
  • vaccinated with age appropriate vaccines
  • micro-chipped
  • feline leukemia tested

Visit the adoption page to see who’s available!

Here’s where BOYZ II MEN comes in!

Representatives of a local foundation heard about the overcapacity at the Western PA Humane Society and gave the shelter a gift of BOYZ II MEN/PSO Community Partners Tickets to help encourage adoptions.  Every person that adopts a kitten or a cat will be given two tickets to attend the Pittsburgh Symphony Concert June 23, 2011 at 7:30pm while supplies last, courtesy of the Buncher Family Foundation.

Interested in adopting?

Qualifed adopters :

  • complete a cat adopter survey·
  • adopting a cat (6 months or older)·
  • lease must clearly state cats are permitted (pet deposit paid if applicable)·
  • limit to two adoptions per household·
  • must have photo id with proof of residence·
  • fee waived adoptions limited to shelter locations only (petco/petsmart are excluded)

For anyone willing to adopt please talk with one of our adoption counselors about adding a beautiful new feline companion to the family.

You’ve got to visit the adoptables and see Cow and Piglet and Violet and Sugar!

Can’t adopt? Can you foster for a brief period of time?

If someone is willing to open their home temporarily as a foster home please contact the shelter at 412.321.4625×221 or on the website at

WPHS Serving Pittsburgh for 136 years

The Western PA Humane Society is one of the oldest Humane Society’s in the United States, serving Pittsburgh for 136 years.  The Western PA Humane Society is an “open door” shelter, meaning that they take all animals into their facility without a waiting list or a required fee (although the shelter does ask for a donation when animals are being released to their care.)  Last year the Western PA Humane Society took in almost 14,000 unwanted animals.

Shelters are located at 1101 Western Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15233, 412-321-4625, and 1680 Fallen Timber Road, Elizabeth, PA 15037, 412-751-2010.

Visit the WPHS website at

For more information on Open Door Shelters please visit

Pet First Aid Can Save Lives

I was quoted in an article on the Chartiers Valley Patch about my participation in this class!

Pet First Aid Can Save Lives – Chartiers Valley, PA Patch.


Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation Sponsors Pet First Aid Classes

watercolor of a dog and two cats

Shadow, Casey and Ralph, watercolor © B. E. Kazmarski

Is there anything sadder than losing the companionship of your pet to death?

“Yes,” according to Deb Chebatoris, owner of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation. “When I need to work with a family whose young, healthy pet has succumbed to an accidental death, it is a double tragedy.”

Not only does the family experience the loss but there is a lingering feeling that “if only…” they would have done this or that, the death may not have occurred. “I have worked with families whose pet died after being caught and choked by the collar, who suffocated in a potato chip bag,” she continued.

Recently, she had to work with a number of families who found themselves in this circumstance and wondered if there was anything that Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation could do to prevent such tragedy.

“As providence has often revealed the answer to my problems, in walks Karen Sable,” Deb remarked. “After we talked about arrangements for her dear departed Snowball, our conversation revealed that she had chosen to intensify her involvement in animal welfare and became a certified pet CPR and first aid instructor. Through discussions, the two businesses, Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation and Pet Emergency Training LLC, have joined forces to help families learn what to do in the case of a pet life threatening situation.”

Focusing first on helping families in the Bridgeville area, Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation has agreed to sponsor a four hour pet first aid certification class at the newly constructed Bridgeville Public Library during the library’s Grand Opening weekend. Following that, 90-minute classes are being scheduled throughout the Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation service area including Carnegie and Robinson Township. Classes in other areas are being arranged and will be posted on the Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation website.

Although there is usually a charge for attending these classes, Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation is offering these sessions free of charge in an attempt to offer families the skills that they may need to save the life of their dear pet.

“It is difficult when we lose a pet who has lived a full and long life, but it is practically impossible to say goodbye when the pet is only a few years old. The grief is palpable in these situations, with families saying they had such plans for the life cut drastically short.”

The four hour class covers injury assessment, rescue breathing, canine and feline CPR, bleeding protocols, choking management, heat and cold injuries, bites and stings, seizures, poisoning, fractures and limb injuries, and the creation of a home pet first aid kit. Participants will receive lecture presentations as well as extensive demonstration on stuffed animals and hands on skills practice. The class includes training materials, a first aid handbook, Certificate of Completion and wallet card.

The 90-minute classes will touch on some of the more common situations that might be encountered such as choking, a demonstration of CPR for cats and different breeds of dogs, heat stroke/heat stress/safety precautions about hot weather, plus disaster preparedness including what you need to have on hand in case of a disaster.

With the number of weather related problems we have experienced during the past several years (floods, tornadoes and large snowfalls with power outages), the western Pennsylvania area has not been spared the impact these conditions can have on our beloved pets. All classes will help families be prepared for such occurrences.

There will be no charge to participants attending the classes offered by Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation, however space is limited so participants must register to attend. Registration is being taken by Deb at 412/220-7800. Additional classes are planned for other locations throughout the Pittsburgh area. Please check the Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation website for details.

Saturday , June 11, 2011, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., Bridgeville Public Library
Four hour certification class

Saturday, July 16, 2011, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Robinson Township
90-minute skills class

Monday, August 8, 2011, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in Carnegie
90-minute skills class