Her first kitten…

orange kitten

Orange Kitten

A 13-year-old girl who loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian is going to adopt her first companion animal, a kitten—or kittens, if she has her way. How many of us got our start with companion animals just like that, pre-teens or young teenagers who loved animals and wanted to be veterinarians, and our parents appeased us by adopting a shelter animal?

And are you one of the many who was given a kitten or a puppy as a gift in childhood? If you’re anything like me, that animal made all animals a permanent part of your life.

I rarely travel, and one of the things I look forward to is meeting new people and seeing new things all the way, on this trip from the time I left the house in the pre-dawn darkness to catch the train until the time I arrived back home late at night four days later to greet my startled cats who were apparently looking for me the entire time.

On my way back  I overheard a conversation between one of two young girls seated behind me and an older woman across the aisle from them. It was just part of the buzz around me as we all settled in until I heard the word “kitten” my ears pricked up and swiveled around as much as a human’s can do.

Lucy With Rug 1

Lucy with Rug 1

In a minute or two I confirmed that a kitten adoption was planned over the coming week. Much as I like to meet new people and converse among the seats, I also prefer to give people their privacy when they are in a conversation amongst themselves, but I couldn’t resist.

I slid toward the end of the seat next to me, leaned back a little and caught the eye of the woman who was apparently the mother who had planned this. She smiled at me so I felt it safe to enter the conversation.

“Is someone adopting a kitten?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Mom, “my daughter loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian, and I’m moving to a place where we can have a cat for her. She’s never had a pet, and she’s so excited!”

Lucy With Rug 2

Lucy With Rug 2

13-year-old girls are way too cool to show excitement. When I looked around my seat to the one behind me, she glanced up from her computer game, just moved her eyelids and nothing else, and nodded. I smiled.

“I probably wouldn’t interrupt your conversation, but…” I briefly described my credentials as a cat lady, making myself out to be a professional on the subject of cats instead of just the crazy cat lady who was crocheting a hat in the seat ahead of them, which was also true.

Mom was glad to have someone to ask questions. I was glad to share the enthusiasm I always had for discussing cats and the information I’d learned over the past 40 years of living with cats. Teenage daughter played her computer game but listened, I could tell.

I asked for the details of how they were adopting and when, how old the kitten was, if they had things ready and what their daily schedule was like to see what information I could offer them, and answering Mom’s questions.

Lucy With Rug 3

Lucy With Rug 3

As it turned out, the kitten was one of a litter taken in to a shelter in Harrisburg. They had visited the shelter weeks ago and met this kitten and others and decided on this one and possibly a sibling, but had to wait until they had most of their vaccinations and been spayed or neutered. The kitten would be eight to ten weeks at going home, just at the beginning of that growth spurt and ready to raise ruckus as young kittens are programmed to do.

I told them that kittens at that age had a lot of energy and no common sense, and so they had to plan for the kitten to be very playful, but also likely to get into trouble without intending by climbing into or onto places that might be dangerous, scratching things it shouldn’t, and even playing rough with the humans.

kittens wrestling on the floor

Two of the Fantastic Four wrestling.

And, since the kitten would be home alone all day and even overnight later I told them that two kittens would be a better idea since the kittens would keep each other company during the day, beating each other up instead of getting into trouble while alone.

“Kittens are often misinterpreted as being ‘bad’ and sent back to the shelter because people don’t understand that during those weeks of development from toddler to teenager in human terms, they have to play hard to build muscles and coordination, to explore to develop their senses,” I said, or some variation on that. Kittens develop very quickly, and by sixteen weeks can be completely independent and even sexually mature—all this learning has to happen before that, even if they’ll never use it to kill live prey, defend themselves or mate or give birth.

A good bit of discipline, then, depends on understanding what the kittens are doing, and if necessary redirecting the energy into something more appropriate. I could imagine two little kittens ripping through the house they were describing.

“Little, little kittens can climb into places where you might not even fit your hand,” I said, “and even bigger kittens can get themselves into a mess, so check for everything they can get in to, because they will. And don’t be afraid to confine them to one room for portions of the day for their own safety, while you are away or while you are eating or cooking,” I continued.

Mewsette on Scratcher

Sunshine on Scratcher

Thinking of the teenager who I knew was listening and might be one of the few to actually go on and graduate as a veterinarian, I explained that all cats scratch things because they leave their scent from scent glands in their paws, they groom their claws, removing old layers of cuticle, and they stretch full-length and exercise their muscles. Just figure they’re going to scratch things, give them things to scratch that they like, put them where they’ll use them and usually they’ll just gravitate to what you’ve provided because it’s so convenient and not bother with anything else.

“I’ve used a lot of the cardboard scratchers that just sit around on the floor because the cats and kittens can step right up onto them and they immediately start to scratch when they feel that rough texture beneath their paws,” I said, adding that having at least one in every room is probably what saved my furniture along with a regular carpeted scratching post and a cat tree I’d gathered over the years. “They like rough surfaces—think tree bark,” I added.

black kitten with catnip toy

Giuseppe meets catnip.

“Remember that they think you are big cats, too, and they are going to try to play with you as if you really are just another cat,” I continued. “Don’t fall for it. Touching them is for affection, not wrestling. Never play with them directly with your hand or they’ll think your hand is one of their toys. If they want to wrestle, grab a plush toy and let them tackle that. Teach the little boys (her two young sons) to drag the sturdy string toys around for the kittens to chase, it’ll be a lot more fun for the boys anyway.”

Make sure the litter box is convenient, on the same floor and only one or two rooms away at any given time. Once kittens are litter trained it’s usually permanent, but if they have to go and can’t find the box quickly, they’ll find the next best thing, usually a spot that’s inconvenient to you.

Make sure food and water are always available, too. Kittens need a high-protein diet because of their rate of growth, and unless they are somehow ill they will eat and drink as much as they need to as long as it’s available. But keep the litterbox and the food bowl in separate rooms, if possible, or at least far enough away that the two won’t mix.

I know I offered many more little points in the guise of anecdotes and stories from my own and others’ experience, but finally it seemed as if they had all the information they could hold for one session. I asked the daughter if she had any ideas for names. She said she had lots of ideas but didn’t divulge any, meaning she probably thought I wouldn’t know who or what she was talking about, which was highly likely.

Fromage in Motion

Fromage in Motion

She and her friend got up and went to the dining car, and I had the opportunity to say to her mom what I had just been thinking, remembering about my own first kitten: “Just think of all the years of her life this cat will see, through her teenage years and high school, she might go off to college and leave the cat with you, but the cat will be there for her when she comes home to visit, or she may take it with her when she gets her own place. She could be into her 30s before she loses it. All those important years of her life shared with this one cat you are about to bring home….”

“Wow,” said her mother, “that’s right, cats live a long time and she could be married with her own children by that time.”

Her daughter returned and she pointed this out to her, to little response, but again the glance and the nod. She had to be cool in front of her friend.

Mom had to take a call from her office, even though it was Sunday and we were on the train, and there the conversation ended until they left the train halfway to my destination, when we said goodbye and good luck.

a photo of Bootsie, the gray and white cat I had growing up

My first cat, Bootsie photo © B.E. Kazmarski

I was left thinking about all the years I’d spent with cats, from Bootsie, my first cat, to those who are with me now, I’ve measured eras in cat lives. I enjoyed the thought of a responsible adult and a caring young woman adopting a shelter kitten, and hoped it brought many happy endings for the people and for those cats, and for other animals each of those children would encounter or adopt later in life, and even for other people, as we know that children learn important interpersonal lessons from animals.

And what a joy for the opportunity to share the knowledge I’d both observed and intentionally learned over the years, gleaned from both the happy and the sad events and memories. Isn’t that what I do every day through my writing and art so I can do my part to make life better for cats and all animals and the people who love them, and give people images and a voice to describe how they feel about their animal companions?

But for now, I’ll still think of the household with one or two new kittens, whichever they decided, and picture the girl with her tabby and the little boys running around with strings for the kittens to chase. It’s a very happy thought.

I’ll soon be telling the story of the orange kitten at the top of this article—another magical rescue story. All the other photos are of Lucy, Fromage and the Fantastic Four and other kittens you may have seen in my articles, but I hadn’t realized such a trend in black kittens in my house in the past several years. I’ll have to dig out those prints on film from earlier litters!

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Update: Sylvester Is In a New Home

cat on blanket

The new Sylvester, trimmed and brushed!

Melanie tells us that she has taken Sylvester the lovebug, the last of Dorothy’s Pets, to his new home.

Sylvester was taken to his new potentially permanent home yesterday. This is not an ideal adoption, but we’re going to monitor closely and provide assistance whenever necessary. His new person is 75 years old and lost her husband last year. She was looking for mainly provide foster care because she travels to California to see her family a couple of months at a time. Plus she was unsure if she would be able to manage Sylvester’s medication.

After meeting Sylvester she decided she wanted to try to make him a permanent member of her home and has already begun to make provisions to have him cared for while she’s away. She’s very open to us visiting whenever we have time and calling to check in to see how things are going. She also stated she will call me if she ever feels she needs help or feels she cannot care for Sylvester. I believe she will do just that.

She is a very kind and sweet lady who also seems to have Sylvester’s best interest in mind. I think she will do her best to make it work and with us monitoring things closely Sylvester will never be without anything he needs.

Melanie

photo of beagle

Cocoa.

And don’t forget…

Melanie has been working with Dorothy and her pets for nearly a year, all through Dorothy’s diagnosis and decline from brain cancer last year, and Dorothy’s death in February, all the while caring for her own 14 cats and three dogs. Anyone who has rescued animals knows what a toll this has taken on her time and her means. She managed to place three of Dorothy’s five pets; two of her cats were placed by the friend Dorothy stayed with in Ohio at the end of her life, read more in this post.

Now Melanie has another complication and a sad diagnosis with one of her own rescues. Her beagle, Cocoa, was just diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma, and she needs to raise money to help continue with Cocoa’s chemo.  Melanie has set up a new ChipIn account to continue with donations for Sylvester’s continuing care, and for others who would like to help this rescuer who has done so much with one of her own: http://dorothyspets.chipin.com/sylvester-and-cocoa.

A Foster Home for Sylvester

Sylvester Steps Out, Update on Dorothy’s Pets

Dorothy Must Finally Let Them Go: A Final Wish

An Update on Dorothy’s Pets: A Final Wish

Chipin for Dorothy’s Pets: A Final Wish

A Final Wish


Sprocket is Looking for New Place to Roll Around

Look at those lovely citron eyes!

Sprocket is a very friendly and affectionate 7-year-old male cat who gets along with men, women, children, dogs, and other cats. He’s a playful white neutered male with big black spots and markings and he still has his claws. Sprocket has been an indoor cat his entire life since venturing outdoors wasn’t really an option in his current neighborhood.

From his family…

The reasons we can’t keep him:

We have a new baby on the way and with our current work schedules it is very difficult to give Sprocket the attention he wants, needs, and deserves. This will only be worse once the baby comes and he has been living on our small enclosed back porch for a few months since we are remodeling parts of our house  as we continue searching for a new home for him… He’s very lonely and we’re desperately seeking a loving new family to adopt Sprocket as soon as possible where he can be part of the family again and get some attention and interaction with both people and hopefully other animals too…

If interested in this lovely cat,please either email Chris at christopher.vendilli@gmail.com or call him at (412) 849-6276.

Wouldn't you like to take me home?

And enjoy a slideshow of photos of Sprocket rolling around and being charming…

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Photos were provided by Sprocket’s family.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


How Peaches Stole My Heart

two calico cats at a window

Peaches and Cream at their first home

I’ve mentioned Peaches frequently, the little kitty who arrived at age 15 and lived to be 20, and who had a profound effect on my household and on my portfolio of sketches, paintings and photos, including a favorite, Peaches and Peonies. It’s just two years ago that Peaches was diagnosed with chronic renal failure and I began writing about her condition. Readers still discover those articles and find them helpful when their cats have been diagnosed and are being treated for the condition, often largely receiving fluid therapy at home. I’m going to repost those articles from two years ago as they come up.

Here is the first, an introduction to Rosebud and Angel, who became Peaches and Cream, and above is the very first photo I saw of them, the one given to me by the person caring for them as described below to convince me I needed to help rescue them. Who could resist? And, yes, it is on my list of images that I love; read more at the bottom.

I saw a friend and animal lover catch sight of me from across the room, give a big wave and make a beeline for me, weaving through the crowd at the gathering we were both attending while digging in her purse.

“I know of two cats who desperately need a home,” Betsy said before she even reached me, waving a photo. “They’re going to be put to sleep if someone doesn’t take them!”

Now, among those of us who are known for rescuing cats and dogs and other things, how many times have we heard that?

I will always listen to the story, though. This woman was, first, an animal lover but not a cat person and not one of those constantly sending communiqués about cats about to be euthanized, and was also, though retired, a former architect and respected board member and support of various organizations I also supported, and not the type to make idle threats. I decided whatever story she had to tell was probably completely accurate down to the last fact, and there was a reason in addition to the two homeless cats that she was desperate to find a home.

And then she showed me the photo, above, which is lovely in its own right, but I also knew those two gorgeous calico cats were looking at someone they loved very much and waited to hear more.

Left behind when an owner died, a common story

As it turned out, her good friend and neighbor had died, leaving behind her two 15-year-old cats with no instructions for care. Betsy was distraught at losing her friend and neighbor of many years. Because the woman had no family in town, only a son in Chicago who could only stop by infrequently, she had undertaken to clean out the woman’s house and care for her cats as a last act of friendship and respect for the things her friend had loved so much. She had dogs and couldn’t take the cats but was in the house frequently enough to be able to feed and water and look after them until she could figure out what to do.

two calico cats on chair in sun

The other photo Betsy showed me of Peaches and Cream.

She and the son had initially discussed a few options, and he had decided to take them to their veterinarian to see what he thought and to likely have them put to sleep. He couldn’t take them and the last thing he wanted to wanted to do with his mother’s beloved cats was to take them to a shelter and drop them off, knowing what is usually the fate of old cats in a shelter.

Apparently the veterinarian told him they were healthy and friendly and advised him, if they had someone to care for them in place, to just hold onto them until they needed to leave the house. A little more time wouldn’t hurt.

So back they went, and for about two months Betsy kept an eye on them while she visited the house daily and cleaned and sorted and organized things for the estate sale and realtor visits. When the house was up for sale, the realtor advised to remove the cats, and that’s when Betsy magically saw me, knowing she could appeal to me.

I already had four senior cats

At that time I had seven cats, including four in their teens, Stanley over 20 and in chronic renal failure, and I was determined not to add to the household knowing somehow the senior health issues would be mounting. I loved each of these cats intensely, and I really wasn’t interested in taking in two 15-year-old cats, no matter how nice they were.

Sometimes I can steel myself against the knowledge that a cat who needs a home may not meet a good end if someone doesn’t help it along somehow with a temporary home. Although I normally had about nine cats, with the extra care for senior cats seven was about my limit and that usually reinforced my decision to not take more cats into my home, when Betsy called and said they had to leave the house and were bound for a shelter, I knew she was serious…and something told me to give them a chance.

Back up to nine cats, my magic number.

But I had always had some luck placing cats, even adults, so I planned on fostering until I could find a home.

two cats on steps

Peaches and Cream with a friend

Their own little marketing campaign

My little June kitties came in with different names; Peaches was “Rosebud” and Cream was “Angel”. Cream was mostly white with a few clear black or orange spots, one resembling the AC Delco logo on her shoulder blades, interchangeable orange ears and a detachable black tail—this last a reference I always made to cats whose extremities were colored as if intentionally setting them off. Peaches was petite and looked as if someone had laid large sections of peach and gray fur across her the top of her as her chest, belly and legs were all creamy white.

I know Betsy would have been diligent in feeding and providing water, but possibly they didn’t care for the food and water provided in the self-feeding and self-watering containers because they were both a little dehydrated and had a few bowel issues when they arrived. I was already dosing Stanley with sub-Q fluids and watching for other symptoms of renal failure, so I just added them to the list. Peaches responded right away, brightening up, but Creamy needed fluids every few weeks and then more often and always seemed to be a little tired no matter what I did for her.

Well, I’ve been in advertising and marketing long enough to know that I needed a really catchy name to get attention for two 15-year-olds who should be kept together, and “Peaches and Cream” came to mind and stayed there.

cat with little girl

Now there's a portrait! Cream with my great-niece Cassidy.

Both were nice cats, very friendly and social and actually mingling pretty well with my household, though Creamy decided right away she owned me and chased everyone away, which didn’t do well when I had to keep an eye on my two oldest, Stanley and Moses. So Peaches and Cream had the run of the house during the day, but stayed in the spare cat room overnight.

Cream was so friendly that I began taking her to the personal care home where my mother lived to visit the ladies there who had lost their kitties when they entered personal care. I would visit my mother in the evening, and Cream would wander around the living room, choosing one woman and then another to rub her face against and curl upon and purr.

I also had a little retail space at the time and had an open house so people could meet them, and I wrote about them on my website (no blog yet) and contacted everyone I knew who might possibly be interested in the two, or even one of them.

The biggest objection

The biggest objection to adoption of either one or both was, very simplified, “they are old, they’ll die soon, and that will hurt.”

I could hardly argue with that. We can never know how long they’ll be with us, and it hurts no matter. That didn’t change the fact that, for however long they were alive, they needed a home, and perhaps one where they’d get more attention than in mine.

two calico cats in a box

Not the best photo, but a favorite

And we did lose Creamy the following March to kidney failure. She was trying to hold on, even to the point where her skin would leak from previous treatments when I gave her a dose of fluids; she was holding on for her person who I’m sure she always thought would come back. I remember her looking at me with determination in those last few days, knowing she had no intention of giving me the sign she was ready to go, and having a very hard time balancing between my logical understanding of a cat who had reduced from ten pounds to four, who was not eating or drinking and was in fact subsisting on subcutaneous fluids and hope, and her clear desire to maintain.

Oddly enough it was trying to decide what to do with her remains after she died, knowing she wouldn’t be happy in my yard with the cremains of my others, that helped me and her make the decision. Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation suggested I find her person’s grave and scatter her ashes there. I was immediately put at ease with the thought, told it to Creamy and she did accept, relaxing and letting go over the next few hours, and I had her put to sleep the next day.

I had lost my 19-year-old Moses just a month before; Creamy was the second older cat of the four I lost in the space of one year. In addition, the August after they arrived, Namir went into congestive heart failure for the first time and she will always be a part of the beginning of these events, inextricably interwoven into my household.

catphoto-peaches

Peaches, Feline Photographer

Peaches goes on

Peaches, on the other hand, seemed to find a new youth, and five years later still  looked like a young cat, her 5.5 pound figure unchanged, her clearly patched peach and gray and white fur soft and shiny, green eyes clear and round, and very little unsteadiness to her gait. When people came to visit she was one of the favorites with her petite good looks, quiet friendly face rub and round-eyed welcoming  expression, and her curiosity never ceased to surprise me when she went exploring a bag or a box or the newly-renovated bathroom.

In retrospect, it’s hard to believe Peaches was only with me for five years, and came to me at age 15—it seems as if she was always been with me. I had the feeling that Cream, much bigger and bolder, had always dominated tiny submissive Peaches from what Betsy had told me and from what I saw.

One morning I opened the door to the spare cat room and Peaches purposefully walked out as if she’d been waiting. I intuitively closed the door behind her. Peaches looked around the landing and into the two other rooms, then looked directly up at me and I could tell that was the moment she accepted the loss of her other person, decided she was staying here and accepted me as her new person, even though it meant leaving Cream behind.

We packed a lifetime into those years, beginning on that day as a senior foster when she decided to start a new life and became, from what I hear, a completely different kitty from the timid and elusive kitty she had been.

tortoiseshell cat bathing calico cat

Kelly gives Peaches a sisterly bath on the butterfly rug.

My household changed over constantly from the moment she arrived, and she went along with all of it, letting others have the attention when they needed it. She didn’t let four boisterous kittens bother her, and in fact they loved their older sister very much. She found them very useful in the winter when she could snuggle in among them.

While she was friendly with every cat she encountered, she found a sweet friend in Kelly who absolutely adored her; Kelly had grown up the youngest and has always seemed most comfortable with older cats, and took to Peaches right away.

Not only did she settle firmly in the household, but she also settled firmly on the internet! She corresponded with others through our blog and on Facebook, and she even applied for a job as an office assistant finding a best friend, Eva, and regularly corresponded with her!

And it never even occurred to her I might not love her to pieces, which I do. Her little silent meows, hopeful looks, prompts for dinner and slight weight sleeping on me when I awaken all became a part of my life. I guess it’s really not hard to fit another cat into the household or into your heart; you’d think I already knew this.

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Where would my portfolio be without her?

I’ve always painted and photographed my cats, but nearly as soon as Peaches entered my house she became one of my most regular subjects. Perhaps because I’d been working with the others for so long and she was new and very different from all the others, but she continued to be one of my favorite subjects, and still is.

I painted “Peaches and Peonies” in 2008 from photos I’d taken in 2007. Some cats have to wait a lifetime before their portrait gets done, and I still have a few waiting!

Too bad for those who wouldn’t adopt her

So even though Peaches has gone into memory, I still celebrate her every day. I’m glad she ended up staying with me for all she gave to me and all I could give to her. Anyone who chose not to adopt her lost out on a great kitty with just a few little issues.

Don’t let fear of loss stop you from adopting

photo of calico cat on wooden floor

Precious Peaches

But I hope this is a lesson for anyone uncertain about adopting an older or senior cat. Even though they don’t have a full lifetime with you, you never really know how long a lifetime will be. Right after I lost my fourth senior cat in that awful year, my Stanley at about 25, I lost a kitten I’d adopted, my Lucy, to FIP at 15 months.

Still, in Lucy’s 15 months, and Stanley’s 25 years and Peaches’ five with me, we’d shared enough to last a lifetime. The moment you love, it’s forever.

Calico and tortoiseshell cats seem to be the beauty queens (99% of the time, anyway) of the feline image world. I always say it’s because the human eye loves pattern and color, and these cats certainly deliver! The first photo of Peaches and Cream in the window has long been an image I’ve wanted to work with, but I have so many ideas and I’ve been undecided in what seemed best. I don’t want to over use it in whatever I choose, a greeting card or painting or decorative item. It also works equally well as a photo as it would as a painting, and often that is my deciding point in creating a painting—much as I love to paint, if it’s a good photo and I can’t add anything to it by creating a painting I’ll stay with it. Still, my fingers itch to study and render their faces and spots as well as the delicate shadings on the window frame and the reflections of the trees in the glass. So I remain undecided!

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Pumpkin Pete Needs a New Human

photo of orange cat outdoors

Pumpkin Pete being his friendly self.

How can people do this?

orange cat

Pumpkin Pete wondering if you'd like him.

This poor guy (NEUTERED) was left behind by a sub-human when they moved away ! (people can be so mean) He has been living OUTSIDE for months, but remains extra-special friendly! He waits for me each day for his food & water.  He really-really-really NEEDS a person to call his own! 

I’ve named him Pumpkin Pete and he actually comes to the name! 🙂  He knows my car and comes running for his pets, hugs, belly rubs and food  LOL

 Does ANYONE out there have room in there heart/home for Pumpkin Pete ?

Pumpkin Pete lives in a parking lot near Pittsburgh, PA. You’d make an orange boy who is neutered and friendly very, very happy if you could take him in! Send an e-mail to the person who is caring for him.

orange cat

Pumpkin Pete getting ready for belly rubs.

Often, pets left behind, especially cats, become part of a stray and feral colony, and in fact that is often how some colonies seem to form. I know that many of the cats I’ve taken in from my neighborhood over the years were left behind by people who rented in residential homes turned into apartments on the street next to me. Often this was not intentional as I’ve returned cats who escaped during moving to their people, but there have also been the cats that people hadn’t wanted in the first place, like Sasha, a cat I took in then returned to his owner but should have known better, especially when she called to say she’d moved and left him on her front porch…

And with the housing crisis, the economy, jobs, income, sometimes people need to give up their pets to someone who may not be as committed as they were and the cat ends up outside; unfortunately, sometimes people just abandon them because they don’t know what else to do. We know better, but this is often how they end up.

Anybody out there for Pumpkin Pete? Send an e-mail to the person who is caring for him.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


A Foster Home for Sylvester

cat on blanket

The new Sylvester, trimmed and brushed!

Sylvester the lovebug, the last of Dorothy’s Pets, continues to flourish, especially after his spa day where he was groomed and trimmed, all the while purring and kneading in happiness. Look, he’s even making biscuits with his front paws in this photo! He’s come a long way from the scruffy kitty with the open sore on his neck we met last fall who hid under the bed. I think he looks like a plush toy and he’s sounding more and more like a perfect loving companion for someone who is waiting for an only cat.

Sylvester still needs to find a new home in the next month. He is still staying at Dorothy’s home and Melanie visits him every night. She had initially decided she’d try integrating him into her household, but the logistics of 14 cats and three dogs is already complicated. Adding Sylvester’s natural shyness and multiple skin conditions resulting from diet and a severe flea allergy would not be the best conditions for his progress—both his personality and health might suffer and revert to where they had been, sad for a cat who’s come so far. Dorothy’s home will be up for sale in the next month, and Sylvester needs to find a home before everything is removed and strangers come walking through.

photo of beagle

Cocoa.

Another complication for Melanie with one of her own

Melanie has been working with Dorothy and her pets for nearly a year, all through Dorothy’s diagnosis and decline from brain cancer last year, and Dorothy’s death in February, all the while caring for her own rescued animals. Anyone who has rescued animals knows what a toll this has taken on her time and her means.

Now Melanie has another complication and a sad diagnosis with one of her own rescues. Her beagle, Cocoa, was just diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma, and she needs to raise money to help continue with Cocoa’s chemo.  Melanie has set up a new ChipIn account to continue with donations for Sylvester’s continuing care, and for others who would like to help this rescuer who has done so much with one of her own: http://dorothyspets.chipin.com/sylvester-and-cocoa.

Sylvester’s new profile

Here’s what Melanie has to say about Sylvester:

cat looking backward

Sylvester hanging out.

Sylvester is awesome! He’s approximately 5 – 7 years old and neutered. His owner passed away in February and he’s still living in his home, but once the house goes up for sale his future is uncertain. Right now me and my husband care for him every night.

Sylvester is incredibly affectionate. I cannot stress this enough. He loves to snuggle and makes a great lap warmer. He’s also very generous with his head bonks. He’s become more playful since we started caring for him. He loves feather and laser toys. He does this really adorable play hiss when he’s really excited. It’s hilarious. We just had him professionally groomed and the groomers loved him! She told me that as they were shaving his belly he purred and kneaded the entire time.

cat looking up

Sylvester waiting for love.

Sylvester does have some allergies and must be kept indoors only because he cannot be exposed to fleas. When we first began caring for him he was in a lot of discomfort and was scratching himself raw. We found a vet to work with and he’s done a complete turnaround. He’s healed and his care didn’t turn out to be nearly as expensive or extensive as we initially thought it would be. Plus he’s incredibly easy to care for and that really helps. He’s just an all around great cat.

We would like to see Sylvester placed as an only pet in the home due to his severe flea allergy and he must be kept indoors only, no exceptions.

If you would like to hear more about Sylvester please contact me. He probably only has about a month left before his home goes up for sale and he must be removed.

Watch a video of Sylvester in action!

Contact Melanie

Sylvester lives in Baden, PA. If you are interested in adopting or fostering him please e-mail Melanie.

Sylvester Steps Out, Update on Dorothy’s Pets

Dorothy Must Finally Let Them Go: A Final Wish

An Update on Dorothy’s Pets: A Final Wish

Chipin for Dorothy’s Pets: A Final Wish

A Final Wish


Mimi This Morning

black cat on table

Mimi This Morning

Last year on this day, I fell in love. Or I realized I had fallen in love long before. Surely, when kittens are tiny, momcat doesn’t mind if her babies get the spotlight, a friend was interested in adopting Mimi when the kittens were weaned, and I think Mimi was not of the mind to have her heart broken again by a human. When Mimi arrived with her babies on July 29, 2007 we had a history, and weren’t sure we had a future. But we looked at each other that morning and realized we had forever.

It’s not any special day, just a nice sunny morning on a day I get to stay home all day to work.

Mimi follows me all around the first floor of my house, up and down the steps a few times, then settles into the bathroom as I take my shower and get ready for the day, talking to me in her little “eep!” and “meee…” noises. Mimi is petite and beautiful, but her voice is kind of an afterthought.

Sometimes you just love a kitty at first sight, but sometimes it sneaks up on you later. That would be Mimi and me.

At every opportunity, I reach out to pet her, pull playfully on the end of her tail, answer her comments and invite her to come along with me in what I’m doing. She hardly needs the invitation as she stops to wrap herself around my legs, jumps up on a counter and reaches out to touch me, give me head butts me wherever she can and rubs her face on me, making full, extended, direct eye contact whenever possible. Later she settles on my keyboard shelf nestling her little bottom against my right wrist, stubbornly refusing to adjust her position for my typing comfort, meaning that half of what I type must be deleted and retyped.

Prior to her coming to my house she and I had actually had a few conflicts as she constantly hunted in my back yard to take live kill to her endless kittens, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Mimi came to me with her babies, and I admit I gave nearly all my attention to them—and who wouldn’t, seeing four perfect little black kittens…especially after having recently lost one of her other perfect black kittens?

But though I interacted with the kittens more often than Mimi, I didn’t insist that she stay with her babies and let her wander the house at will. She quietly and carefully explored, having no conflict with my other four cats, settling on the floor by the front door where it was cooler that August to rest her belly after nursing. Then she’d gracefully jump onto the end of my desk and tiptoe to the center where I was, carefully walking among Namir, Cookie, Peaches and Kelly, and finding a tiny spot for herself, rolling herself into a compact black ball, not to sleep, but to spend time with us as I worked.

What a nice kitty, I remember thinking, though she rarely interacted with me directly. Her former owner had told me she had been kind of distant, and this is what I saw of her. A friend was interested in adopting her when the kittens were weaned so I kept note of her personality to tell her future person, and not to be concerned if she wasn’t a lap cat.

As time has passed, I guess Mimi had the same realization as Cookie years ago, that she wasn’t going to be tossed back out, that she actually belonged here, and she began spending more time with me, and I continued to admire her petite figure and natural grace and encouraged her to join me. Then she began to seriously play and also assist me in daily tasks, following me, talking to me, and now and then sitting on my lap, though with three senior kitties those opportunities were few and far between. After raising six litters of kittens, Mimi is nothing if not patient.

When Peaches was still here, Mimi joined the senior girls to eat and hang out, though she’s hardly a senior with the need of extra meals, but to let me know she was “special”. She became one of my ladies in waiting along with Cookie and Kelly, and always sleeps next to me on the bed every night. She’s had time and space to develop her personality, learn to be a fun kitty, and trust a human, and though she’s still petite and quiet, she’s hardly the kitty who came in the box with her babies.

I have found homes for dozens of kittens and cats over the years. After a certain period of time, over a year perhaps, foster kitties stop being foster kitties for me and end up being permanent kitties unless I am keeping them for someone, as I did in keeping Dickie for my niece for a year. I love and care for them before that, but end up falling in love with all my kitties at some point, fosters or not.

So Mimi and I decided this is a serious thing, and that we really more than like each other. I know that kitty look that says, “thank you,” and the one that says, “I love you.” Does it balance out the losses suffered from living with so many cats? Perhaps, but it also adds another unique gem on the strand of the feline loves in my life.

Love at first sight is sweet, but sometimes realizing a perfect love has been there all along is much sweeter and long-lasting. This morning, Mimi sits on my keyboard shelf with her little fanny on my right wrist making it difficult to type well, but this is our thing. You know how it is when you’re in love.

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