Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UC-Pittsburgh, Class of 2008

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeere's your hostess, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Catifornia - Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

I'm Mother Catresa. And I approve this message.

Here's the news flash from our anchor, Anita Kittykiss:

"In the year 2008, Mother Catresa, otherwise known as the Patron Saint of Homeless Felines, rescued a total of 29 felines at her sanctuary, the University of Catsylvania at Pittsburgh. And what did her opponents, the irresponsible cat owners, do? They dumped them for convenience, or were otherwise negligent or abusive. Shame, shame, shame. Vote Mother Catresa for secretary of animal welfare!"

Alright, just sort of kidding. You can tell we're wrapping up an election year, huh?

But seriously, 29 is the grand total I counted. Following is the roster of UC-Pittsburgh's graduating class of 2008:

The Texas kittens: Dallas, Sue Ellen, Austin and Elise
The EMMM kittens: Eeenie, Meenie, Minie and Moe
The serial killers: Jeffrey, Ted, Hanny and Lizzy
The game kittens: Uno, Clue, Boggle and Scrabble (though, they were so antisocial that it wasn't exactly a successful full rescue)
The ice cream kittens: Spumoni, Neopalitan, Rocky Road, Cookie Dough and Butter Pecan
The "R" kittens: Rebecca and Radcliffe
The "L"/Peanuts kittens: Linus, Lucy and Lori (what happened with them? I'll tell you later).
The lone Christmas kitten: Tinsel, an orange tabby girl currently with me and staying awhile (again, more later).
Plus, the two returning adult alumni: Darius, who got adopted recently, and Rachael Ray, whose shmucky owner just returned her to the shelter for a frivolous reason. Poor baby! More later.

Hey, did you hear that? I think it's that anthem called "Pomp and Circumstance!"

Mother Catresa wishes her departing graduates all the best and happiness in life, and sends them off with oodles of love. And, should their homes not work out, Mama C will be there to care for them again. UC-Pittsburgh has a wonderful, devoted alumni club!

Here's to a happy 2009 for all of us, including you and yours. These are tough times we're in, but I saw the Broadway play "Annie" last week, and I am reminded by the adorable orphan's optimism: "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you're always a day away."

And for those kitties who will live the hard-knock life in 2009, Mother Catresa looks forward to rescuing them and caring for them in a loving "orphanage," where she cares a lot more than a smidge. No Miss Hannigans here!

Happy New Year, everyone!


Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Charlie Brown Cats-mas

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeere's your hostess - broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia - Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

I just returned from a lovely Thanksgiving visit with my dearest friends - all of whom, incidentally, are dog people but devoted MC fans - in my old stomping grounds, Dallas. Before I left, I returned kitten siblings Rebecca and Radcliff, who were snatched up like discounted plasma TVs at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. I thought I would be returning to a quiet, kittenless winter at home with my own three cats. But no - the kitten fairy has visited Mother Catresa for another encore, and apparently, she likes the Peanuts!

I contacted the shelter today, and said I'd be ready for kittens, if by chance there are any, or an adult foster cat by this weekend. Wouldn't you know it, they have three babies waiting just for me, and their names are Linus, Lucy and Lori. I don't know where the Lori came from, but Linus and Lucy - ah, some of my favorite cartoon characters! I have that Peanuts tune running through my head, along with that hilarious "Wah-WAH-Wah-Wah" sound that the cartoon uses whenever an adult speaks.

It's perfect timing for a Peanuts litter, since we're in the midst of the holiday classic specials. Actually, I'll probably be watching "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," belatedly, and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" this week, and it will be all the more fun with these new furry kids around. I say this litter begs for a sequel, even if it has to wait until spring, with these kittens: Charlie Brown, Sally, Pigpen, Schroeder, Snoopy, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty and Marcie.

Meanwhile, Butter "Butthead" Pecan from the ice cream litter finally has been adopted, as have Darius and Rachael Ray (my two alumni who returned to me as adult fosters). I was on the verge of adopting Darius, whom I had nicknamed "Spider-Cat" for his manic, fly-through-the-room ways, and "King Darius of Purrsia." He is, after all, the kitten of my very own Dharma, one of my cats. But a sentimental reunion it was not; Dharma, either oblivious or unconcerned that this was her son, gave that precocious stinker a good butt-whipping whenever he approached her. And Rum Tum Tugger, bless his elderly heart, spent much of his time hiding under my bed during Darius' reign of terror. It took my senior Rum Tum awhile to fully come out from his shell once Darius had left. It's like he was tip-toeing around, wondering whether the coast was clear and free from Hurricane Darius.

I miss that handsome tuxedoed cat, but I know it's for the best that he be in another home. Rum Tum deserves to spend his golden years in peace. That laid-back, sweet little orange tabby has been such a trooper. First, he loses his lifelong companion, Buster, last Halloween. Then, within a few months, two sassy young females move in. When the hyperactive Darius - who spent a few hours each day with the run of the house - came along, poor old Rum Tum had had enough.

"Oh, Mooooom," I could hear him plead. "Say it ain't so!"

When, Rum Tum thought, are you going to stop doing this to me?

Consider it over, my furry friend. You are safe now, except for those bossy females who might bug you sometimes.

I will write again soon about the Peanuts kittens. I pick up those blockheads on Saturday, and oh, I can't wait!

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Monday, November 10, 2008

Catch me, I'm falling (off the wagon)!

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeere's your hostess, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia - Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

My name is Kellie. And I'm still a kitten-aholic. And this weekend, I relapsed.

OK, now you really need to say it: "Hi Kellie!"

No, don't worry, I'm not hitting the booze or the cigarettes again. But I have fallen off the cat-caine wagon, since I brought home two new, adorable, sweet kittens on Friday! It was a delightful encore after what I thought was my kitten season finale. These beautiful babies - Rebecca and Radcliff, a sister-and-brother, black-and-grey-tabby combo - needed a place to go as they recover from an upper respiratory infection, though they have recovered from most of it. They also need to gain some weight as they await their spay-neuter surgery. Their old foster mother didn't want them back, because they were so lovable that she thought she was getting too attached. I definitely can see why.

Rebecca has the standard mackerel tabby pattern, which has small stripes all over. Radcliff has a classic pattern, which is peculiarly named because the coloring is more rare. He has black and grey swirls around his body, like a marble cake. It's as if someone took a spatula, stuck it in two batters of fur colors, and twirled it around. Both kittens are very affectionate, eager for attention, playful and full of energy. Yes, I am a smitten kitten already.

Radcliff and Rebecca are just the fix I need before I enter the long, dreary period of kitten-less winter sobriety. So, I'm going to love them to pieces, and enjoy every minute of it.

Regarding the title of this post - "Catch me, I'm falling (off the wagon)!" - on second thought, don't. I'm doing just fine, thanks. :)

Meanwhile, Darius - my long-term, boomerang, manic adult foster whom I started calling "King Darius of Purrsia" - and Rachael Ray, another sweet boomerang from last year, have returned to the shelter and are on the adoption floor. I really miss them, especially Darius, since I had him for a few months. But I know it's for the best. G.G. may miss the big oaf, but Rum Tum and Dharma certainly don't. Grandpa Rum Tum, my senior cat, is just now starting to come out from hiding under my bed, where he spent most of his time whenever Hurricane Darius was on the loose. I think R.T. is now confident that the coast is clear.

I am praying for all of my kids at the shelter - including Butter "Butthead" Pecan, the buff-colored kitten from my last litter - that the purrfect home soon comes along. Believing friends, won't you join me please?

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Yum-O! Delish! Pass the EVOO!"

Thanks for tuning in to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeere's your hostess - broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia - Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

To all of you culinary enthusiasts out there like me, you'll recognize this post's title and say, "Ah, yes - Rachael Ray!"

And how, you ask, does this pertain to kittens? Rachael Ray is not only a celebrity chef, but a boomerang kitten (now adult) from one of last year's litters who moved back to Mother Catresa's sanctuary this week for a temporary refuge. She joins Darius, who is cooling his white heels in the next-door upstairs room, as my second foster child to move back home after being adopted out. These two alumni from MC's Class of 2007 have fallen on hard times, and Mom-Mom is here to help, and keep them from languishing in a back-room shelter cage for a long period, as they await a space on the adoption floor. Then, with kittens as competition, they may wait an awful lot longer.

And besides, this kitten-aholic is having kitten withdrawals, as I wrote about in my last post. Having my grown babies come home again helps me through detox! (Can I have a sobriety chip?)

Rachael Ray - a stunningly beautiful, long-haired tortoiseshell who is very sweet and friendly - faced a cat in her adoptive home who, even after a year, just wouldn't accept her. So, the poor dear - barely a year old - lost her home and came back to the shelter. Her life is just beginning, but once the babyness of kittenhood wears off, felines become adult cats in adopters' eyes, and usually don't go home nearly as quickly as their baby counterparts. Sadly, cats are often seen as yesterday's newspapers, once that very brief baby phase passes. Still, Rachael Ray is so beautiful and nice, that I think she won't wait long once she leaves my home again.

Miss RR, being the glamorous and sophisticated lady that she is, has brought a lot of joy to my life in the few days I've had her; I think I'm even minding my cooking skills more, so I make more "delish" foods! Ha! I think she is thrilled to have a spacious room to herself, even though she's isolated up there most of the day. It sure beats a holding cage in the back room.

Rachael Ray came from a litter of five kittens - MC's second foster litter ever - with chef names. There were three males - Flay, Puck and Emeril - and a seemingly twin tortie sister, Clemmy. I had them this time last year. I wonder if she has any memory of me, her room, and her littermates at all? I hope so; it should make our bond and her stay more meaningful and comforting to her.

So, I now have my own three cats, plus two more upstairs, for a grand total of five. But don't you dare raise those eyebrows too high - during kitten season, the feline population under my roof can reach double digits!

And by the way, for the record, I like Rachael Ray the chef, as well as the cat. What is the deal with all those RR haters out there? If you're reading this, take this: "Get over yourself!"

Altogether now: Yum-O!!!

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jonesin' for cat-caine

Thanks for tuning in to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeeere's your hostess - broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia - Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

My name is Kellie. And I'm a kitten-aholic.

Alright, go ahead and say it. You know you want to. "Hi, Kellie!"

My last kitten was four days ago, and I'm jonesing, big time. But, one day at a time, right? And hey, doesn't that qualify me for some kind of sobriety chip?

Butter "Butthead" Pecan came around rather quickly and went back to the shelter on Sunday. Much to my sadness, I've been told that I've probably fostered the last of this year's kittens. Not only are we on the "tail" end of kitten season, but we are so full, that unless the humane department brings new ones in, we're probably done.

Sniff, sniff. And crave, crave. I'm having kitten withdrawals. It is nice to take a break every now and then - I can get more stuff done - but, I sure miss having those sweet, playful and cuddly furballs around the house. They are a natural buzz and high. And I need a cocaine - er, cat-caine - fix, now! I admit it: I'm a full-blown kitten junkie.

As many of my readers and friends know, I have struggled with addictions throughout my life, the worst and most treacherous of which were alcohol and nicotine. I am happy to say that both of those things are in the past, though it's still a stuggle sometimes. I definitely have an addictive personality, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. So long as it's a healthy addiction, like kittens, and it doesn't overtake and eclipse everything else in your life by going to extremes, why not enjoy being really into and passionate about something?

Still, something tells me that I should start a 12-step program for kitten addiction. Let Mother Catresa ponder this one, and follow up with a later post.

And just like there's "near-beer" - like my non-alcoholic O'Doul's - do you think there's a non-kitten-aholic kitten substitute?

I don't know. But, as they said in those AA meetings I used to attend, "With that, I'll pass."

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Butthead Pecan

Thanks for tuning in to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now - broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia - heeeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

My boy is baaaaaack - that little stinker from my ice cream litter, Butter Pecan. "Butthead Pecan," as I'm now calling him, needs some remedial socialization courses, unlike his friendly littermates, who will probably be on the adoption floor at Animal Friends by the end of today. He still hisses, spits and runs from me.

Yet, just like my Gormly Girl (G.G.) - my namesake kitten who came to me last December, and I ended up adopting - once the littermates were gone and the kitty had no felines to cling to, there was an immediate improvement. He must be desperately lonely for his fellow kittens - that BP actually cracked a purr, for the very first time, in my arms last night! What d'ya know? And, Butthead Pecan is quite happy to romp and play if you have a cat teaser toy. But the problem with him is, if you approach him to touch him, he hisses and takes off, and zips around the room like an annoying fly. And he is darn hard to catch - I think, from all the rushing, bending and crawling, I'm going to end up with an orthopedic injury!

I plan to spend intensive time every day with BP for the next week or so, and hopefully, I'll get him to the point where he actually comes to me for petting. At this point, though, I'd be happy if he just stopped fleeing me when I reach out to him.

Every time Butthead Pecan gives me cat-titude and hisses, I groan and say something like, "Oh, we're back to that again, are we? Listen, buddy, the longer you keep this up, the longer you're stuck here with me!"

As if he understood, right? If only I could explain things to them. Maybe he gets the idea from my tone, who knows?

Now, as I've said before, I seem to see kitten-related analogies and connections in everything - and I experienced the perfect example yesterday when I went out on an assignment to write a story about Sugar & Spice Ice Cream Parlour. It's a cute, '50s-style, retro soda fountain and ice cream parlour. (Ice cream? I'm seeing a very current kitten connection already, aren't you?)

I sat down with the owners, a twin brother-and-sister duo, and asked them to name some of their customers' favorite flavors out of the 100-plus homemade hard ice cream flavors they make. Some of the top five were - no kidding - Butter Pecan and Cookie Dough!!! Ah, the two males in my litter.

"Oh, I've just got to tell you this story," I said, grinning. The owners eyed me curiously, wondering what was coming next.

"I foster kittens for an animal shelter," I said. They looked at me with intrigued expressions that said, "And you're telling me this because ....?)"

"Oh, there's an ice cream connection, see," I said. "All of the kittens had ice cream names - and two were named after your top flavors - Cookie Dough and Butter Pecan!"

How sweet, they said.

Yes, it sure was.

I sampled some of their favorite Ho-Ho ice cream before I left, and it was delicious. It got me thinking: how about a Hostess litter of kittens? With a Ho-Ho, Ding-Dong, Twinkie, Suzy Q, Donette and Sno Ball?

Shelter staff - are you listening? That's food for thought.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sweet treats, sweet hearts and stinky butts

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeere's your hostess - broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia - Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

Sadly, my ice cream feast is coming to an end. Tonight, when I get home from work, I am packing up my five darling ice cream kittens and taking them back to the shelter, where they will be spayed and neutered on Tuesday. But I get one of them back for awhile - Butter Pecan, the one who doesn't like people very much. He is returning to me for a remedial socialization course, until he's adoptable.

Neopalitan and Spumoni - the two long-haired, poofy girls - are friendly, bubbly little things. So is Rocky Road, the gray and white shorthair who looks like my cat Dharma. And Cookie Dough - aaaawww, that sweet little angel. He is very shy, but when you pick him up, he just melts into your arms and snoozes and cuddles like a little cherub. The little orangey-buff shorthaired kitty is just so gentle and cuddly.

And then, good 'ole Butter Pecan. This guy needs a lot of work, and now, he'll be stuck with just me, sans littermates, until he comes around. He is another orangey-buff male who hisses and runs when you approach him, and squirms like crazy if you actually catch him. I have some battle scars on my hands from trying to medicate him. But interestingly, once I have him firmly scruffed and subdued, he actually stills, and dozes in my arms for awhile. The poor thing is probably exhausted from putting up such a fight in trying to flee me. When he wakes up from his little nap, he looks up at me with an "Aaaaack! You!" look on his face, and splits in a huff.

Please pray that Mother Catresa can turn this little stinker around into an adoptable kitty.

On another note, I have solved the mystery of the feline butt-bombing phenomenon that I blogged about in my last post ("Doin' the Butt ..."). One of the shelter staffers put it to me this way: "Did you not know that offering one's bum means 'I love you' in kitty-ese?"

Um, no, I didn't, but I do now. And that makes sense. These things often happen during a petting session, after all.

"It's one of the finer pleasures in life," the worker continued facetiously, as we both laughed.

Well, I guess life is all a matter of perception, and how you look at it, right? Funny, though - that nasty thing shoved in front of my face still looks and smells an awful lot like a plain, simple cat butt.

Still, I must be touched and flattered by this expression of affection. It's also an act of "Hello, it's me!" feline marking, since cats have pheromone-filled glands back there. But they don't do that, apparently, if they don't dig you.

So, I'll say it: Thank you, Dharma, Rum-Tum and G.G., for exposing your intimate selves to me, and expressing your undying affection for your mom-mom.

I love you, too.

And I'm darn tootin' glad you're not human. You couldn't even pull that one off at a bar.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saints of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Doin' the Butt" - Hey! NOT sexy, sexy, sexy ... (as the song goes)

Thanks for tuning in to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

Loyal readers have asked, "Where, oh where, have you been, Mama C? Write another chronicle, already!"

I am so swamped right now at work that I haven't had much time in the past few weeks to write, outside of my newspaper articles. But I will soon, regarding the ice cream kittens. (In a nutshell, all is pretty much well, four out of five are heart-meltingly sweet, and one's a hissy-spitty stinker that needs a lot of work.)

More later. Meanwhile, by popular request, I am printing a famous back issue of Mother Catresa's Chronicle in its pre-web site days, when it was just an e-mail to a few friends (and many new readers never got this one). This essay - about feline gluteus maximuses - got more laughs than any other, and any cat person can appreciate it. Or, I suppose dog people could, too, because they can pause and say, "Phew! My pooch may be gross sometimes, but at least it doesn't do that!"


- MC


Dear friends,

OK, now, I've always wanted to know: what is the deal with cat butts?

No, seriously, this is for real. What is it about cats and their butts, and this penchant they have for aiming said butts at you?

Now, any of y'all who have cats probably know exactly what I'm talking about, and are laughing in recognition as you read this. For you unfortunate dog folks who never find themselves on the receiving end of an animal fanny, at point-blank range, let me explain this feline peculiarity. Cats, for some reason, often turn around when they are sitting on your chest or lap, so that your view of their sweet little faces abruptly becomes that of not-so-sweet posterior ends. And they make sure you get a close-up, proctological view: they often seem to make a point of leaning backward, or lifting their tail, just to make sure you don't miss the spectacle, and you get a good whiff.

If these butt-flashing cats were humans, I would think two things: one, I'm being mooned, or two, they're saying "Kiss my ass." Yet, strangely, the cat's body language doesn't seem nearly so obnoxious or hostile, so I don't think that's the case. In fact, the butt-in-face incidents often happen during moments of affection, where the cat is cuddling with you on your chest, purring, and massaging you with its paws. It's blissful, and then - Boom! Butt! (Blech!)

So, what exactly is your cat saying when it drops the butt bomb? Who knows? Maybe it's the cat's way of saying, "I'm so cozy and comfortable with you." Aaawww, ain't it sweet?

Dharma, one of my cats, is a world-class butt bomber - she does it far more than my other cats, Rum Rum and G.G., ever do (and thank heavens for that, because of G.G.'s toxic fumes!) It seems like every time I lie down on the couch, Dharma jumps up, starts her massaging, and then abruptly does an ... about-face, I suppose. Much to my dismay, I find my nose within a few inches of her heiney, which looks pretty darned threatening when you're pinned down on the couch by a hefty, stubborn cat.

"Dharma!" I groan. "Get your butt out of my face!"

I try manually turning her around, or at least adjusting her angle a bit so my face is not in the direct line of fire. It takes a lot of wrestling, though - and even after moving her, so that her much-cuter face is before me, she often reverts right back to the undesirable position.

Now, I can tolerate this annoyance to a point - but, if it happens during a great TV show (especially my Sunday night "Cold Case"), and her derriere is blocking my view, that's it: I push her off the couch.

Luckily, I have been safe in my bed, and have yet to wake up in point-blank range of an exposed cat butt ... but never say never. Now, that would be a rude awakening!


Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Scream for Ice Cream!

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Dairy products again, Kellie? What's up with that? Did you get a mint chocolate chip cone confiscated at the airport this time? Nope.

Here's the scoop: I just brought home five tiny little 5-week-old kittens, and they all have ice cream names! How sweet and yummy for the final hurrah of the summer ice cream season. And best of all, these guys - save for a few minor hisses from the two shy males - are relatively friendly, and non-feral. I've even felt a few vibrations on my chest from tiny little purr machines!

The roster: Neopalitan, who is a poofy, orangeish-buff colored longhaired female. She is just sweet and adorable, and looks like a little butterscotch cream puff! Then, there's Spumoni, an equally poofy, long-haired blue cream tortie female. Rocky Road is a dark grey, short-haired female with a few white spots. Butter Pecan and Cookie Dough are orangeish-buff tabby shorthair males.

Are you hungry yet?

I've been devouring these guys with kisses and squeezes, and I think I'll take this perfect excuse to treat myself tomorrow to a big, hearty ice cream cone. That is, if the aroma of kitten poop wafting in the background as I write this doesn't spoil my appetite. As with many strays, these kittens are what I call "shittens" - get my, pee-yew, drift? I'll need to give them meds every day - all a labor of love, of course.

In other news, Rachael Ray - one of my kittens from last year's "chef" litter - returned to the shelter, apparently because the owner's other cat dissed her. Miss Rachael "Yum-O" is a stunningly beautiful, long-haired tortie, and she was very loving and friendly when I stopped by to see her today. I don't know if she actually remembers her "Mom-Mom," because she's a sweet kitty with everyone. She will probably go up for adoption at a PetsMart.

It's such a trip to see your once-tiny kitten all grown up as a huge cat! That's how I felt with Darius, too - remember, my cat, Dharma's, grown kitten, who also got returned to the shelter? I brought him home last month as a foster, and that big doofus is still here. Some of my friends have a theory about where this is going. Don't ask.

Bringing home these sweet ice cream cones was such a booster for me. I had a terrible bout with bronchitis this past week and am still recovering - and thanks to my family and friends who called to check on me and send "get well" wishes - but I had to return to work today. And it was quite a day indeed: some weird old guy who called me to be interviewed for an article told me that my voice (probably husky, mind you, from my illness) is so sexy that I should be a phone sex operator. But that's another story.

I couldn't help but think: 1-900-SEX KITTEN. And chuckle. And blush.

Purrrrr ...

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

P.S. Unless you're a Pittsburgh-area friend who has boycotted my house, lest you be too tempted to adopt (and you know who you are, hehe), there is always an open invitation to Mother Catresa's home to see the kittens. So go ahead and ask me. We'll make plans.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You can't win them all

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Call in the Marines! A cherry Activia has been spotted at Pittsburgh International Airport!

Well, I didn't actually get nabbed by a few good men last week, when I embarked on a journey to Newport, Rhode Island, for a wonderful vacation with my sister, Kirsten. But I did get my sealed, unopened yogurt confiscated at the security lines. I was both miffed and amused. I understand that there are airport security rules designed to keep us all safe, and I happily abide by them. But terrorism by yogurt? Really, guys - isn't that a little far-fetched? Then again, so was shoe-bombing ...

Wait, didn't I say that KITT-FM is all kittens, all the time? Well, you know, they do say not to feed kittens dairy products, come to think of it.

Anyway, back to the blog's subject matter - kittens!

In the week before I left for vacation, I took in the most difficult litter of kittens I've ever had. The so-called serial killers - mild hissers, spitters and hiders - were a kitty breeze and picnic compared to these kittens, whose names came from the "game" group on my 15-plus-page document of suggested names and themes for litters. There was a big, long-haired, white and black female named Uno. Then, there was a gray and white, medium-haired male named Scrabble, and two small, black-and-white tuxedoed, female shorthairs named Boggle and Clue.

Boggle, Scrabble and Clue (the sweetest one) seemed very scared and un-socialized, and hid constantly behind my computer, practically on top of each other. When I approached them, they would hiss and run, but when I caught them and scruffed them by the neck, they would let me hold and pet them for awhile. As for Uno? Well, she wasn't just shy - she was hostile, and it scared me. The second I walked in the room, before I even approached her, she would literally erupt into a hissy fit, when she would hiss and growl constantly for minutes, like a wild animal. When she wasn't hiding behind the computer, Uno would often perch on my window sill like it was a ruler's throne. When I came close, which I had to in order to fill the food and water bowls, she had the stance of a coiled-up rattlesnake about to strike. Eeeek! Pass the motorcycle helmet; I like my eyesight and intact face.

I tried, but I wasn't able to make much progress with these kittens for the short time I had them. I feel like I failed in a way, and I'm sad that, if they don't come around, our only option will be to turn them over to a feral life, now that they're fixed. But, they have gone to another foster home, where hopefully, they can get some behavioral ICU and be turned into lovable pets. I have hope, but it will take lots of time, patience and TLC. Who knows? Cats can be funny about certain people, and maybe they just didn't like me. Even Mother Catresa can be rejected by homeless kitties.

Please keep these kittens in your thoughts and prayers - that Clue, Boggle, Scrabble and especially Uno can become socialized and adoptable.

So, you see, kittens are not all fun, cuddles, and, yes, "games" - even when they have names like that. Sometimes, it is a huge challenge for the foster to love feral kittens, who don't want anything to do with you, into love-bundles. But when a kitten does come around, it is often very lovable (like G.G., one of my own kitties). And it is so rewarding and fulfilling to watch it happen. Unfortunately, though, I lost this "game."

May the new foster mama win the game, and experience that joy and satisfaction.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Cereal Killers

Thanks for tuning in to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks,

I am happy to report, although bittersweetly, that I have completed my month-plus-long fostering of the kittens that came to me as "the serial killers" - and, I survived without a single stab or gunshot wound! I do have, however, many of the token, tiny kitten scratches on my legs as souvenirs. And I have a permanent mark on my heart.

The killers - so named because they were borderline feral, and bit a shelter worker when they first got in - have been reformed at Mother Catresa's Neville Island Sanctuary, where they paid their debt to society and became well-socialized. Now, Jeffrey, Ted and Lizzy (as in Dahmer, Bundy and Borden), await their forever homes at Animal Friends. To see pictures of them, go to http://www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Animals_Cats, and go to the sixth page of the cat listings, where my three babies are listed consecutively (and if it's fewer than three, that's good news - it means they just got adopted). Trust me, these kittens are far too sweet to live up to their names!

Their littermate, Hanny (as in Hannibal Lecter) already got snapped up this weekend. He's the sweet little white guy with big black splotches, who looks like a dairy cow. He is just adorable and sweet, and I started calling him Hair-i-ball, or Hairy Hanny, because of the way he loved to play with hair. Either on me or guests, he would swat at hair, get tangled in it, and chew on it. It was funny to watch, and actually felt good when it was my hair Hanny was after. For a cannibal, Hanny sure was a darling kitty.

When I first got these kittens, I vowed to transform them from serial killers into simple "cereal killers" - as in, felines who love to devour the dry food kibble.

That they do, indeed. They love to feed. So now, someone special adopt my babies, I plead!

That makes me sound like Dr. Seuss, hehe.

But for now, I will simply be,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Monday, August 11, 2008

You'll Always Be My Kitten

Thanks for tuning in to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

You regularly hear all about the ongoing kitten comedy and drama in my life. But have I ever told you the deeply personal, heartfelt story about my "kitten song?"

I shared this story a few weeks ago with country music superstar Sara Evans, who sings said song: the powerful ballad "You'll Always Be My Baby." Now, I will share it with my readers. You may think it's corny, and perhaps it is a bit so, but for me, it's dear to my heart. So, please don't laugh - at least, within my earshot. :)

I interviewed Sara last month, as a preview to Downtown Pittsburgh's annual Dollar Bank Jamboree, for which she was the headliner. I had a strict time limit of 15 minutes on the phone with her, as she had back-to-back interviews that day. This limited my usual chit-chat time with the celebrity, and forced me to stick pretty closely to the business at hand. I did tell her, though, that I'm a big fan of hers, and that I have a personal story connected to so many of her songs, like the inspiring "Born to Fly," and the coming-of-age smash "Suds in the Bucket." And then, there's "You'll Always Be My Baby" - now, that's quite the story. I had a feeling she would never have heard this one before, with the kitten factor.

"I'm sure you hear anecdotes about your songs all the time," I told Sara.

"Yes, I do - but it never gets old," she replied.

I told her that we had no time for me to share those stories with her - and, frankly, in the fishbowl that is my newsroom office, I felt too awkward anyway, given that my colleagues could hear me. So, I said, I will tell you in person at the show's meet and greet.

And then, a week later, the moment arrived: the long-awaited meet and greet with one of my favorite singers of all time. I talk to celebrities regularly in my job as an entertainment writer, but I still feel star-struck at times - and this was one of them.

I groaned when I went backstage, and saw the huge line of some 50 fans waiting to meet Sara, whose tour managers were instructing us to make it speedy, get just a quick snapshot and autograph, and then be on our way. No, I thought! No, I have to tell her my kitten song story. I have to! So, I put myself at the very back of the line, so I could steal a few more moments with her. Whenever more people would come in, I would let them go ahead, then go to the back of the line again.

Finally, I made it up to Sara. I told her who I was, hugged her, told her the show was outstanding, handed her my CD, and posed for a picture.

"Hey Sara!" I then said. "Remember how I told you I had stories to tell you about your songs? Well, I have one that I just gotta tell. Can you give me just one minute? Please?

"ONE minute," Sara said, grinning as she glanced at her watch as if she were timing me.

Alright, Kellie, what's the story about this kitten song already??? What on earth did you tell Sara??? Enough suspense!!!

"I foster kittens for an animal shelter, and it is so hard to let them go when it's time," I said. Sara's eyes softened with that tender, "aaawwww, how sweet" look people often get when I talk about the kittens.

"Before I take them back to the shelter, I hold them close to my heart, cradle them, and sing them a lyric from 'You'll Always Be My Baby.' It's so beautiful and maternal, and it says what I'm feeling so eloquently," I said, as my eyes misted.

Here is the lyric, which I recited for her:

"Whatever road you may be on,
Know you're never too far gone.
My love is there, wherever you may be ...
Just remember that you'll always be my baby."

"Ohhhh!" Sara said, visibly moved. "That's amazing! So sweet. Thanks so much for sharing that with me."

I looked up, and saw that someone was filming us. "Wait," I said, "what's this? Am I on camera? Gosh, I should have fixed my hair!"

As it turns out, her fan club manager was filming our interaction, and supposedly it may be posted on Sara's fan club Web site. I'll have to join, so I can see it.
"It's OK," Sara said. "You look beautiful."

What a sweetheart - especially given that I was ending a long, sticky day in the sun and probably looked pretty crappy.

I watched as Sara smiled warmly, said goodbye, turned, and strolled off to her tour bus with her new husband, Jay Barker - a former University of Alabama football hunk with gorgeous blue eyes, who I also got to meet.

Thank you, God, I thought. Thank you.

What an incredible experience. I will remember it for the rest of my life.

And I hope that, despite the thousands of fans Sara meets, that she, too, never forgets this one.

So there you have it - the story of my kitten song. You should buy Sara's album and listen to it sometime. It's a beauty.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Just An Instrument

Thanks for tuning in to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, heeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

"I CAME!" said a friendly female voice.

I had just arrived at Animal Friends for my Sunday afternoon cat-greeter shift, and was entering the front desk area when I heard those words. I turned to glance at the smiling woman, who looked familiar and seemed to be talking specifically to me. Do I know you, I thought? (Gosh, I hope it wasn't that "America's Most Wanted" episode I saw Saturday night ...)

"Remember? Bob Evans," said the woman, whose name is Jessica. "I waited on your table."

Bob Evans?? Oh, yes, now I remember! Indeed - last Sunday night, at the McKnight Road restaurant, with some friends. And yes, my waitress actually did come to Animal Friends to adopt a kitten I told her about!

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit - people sometimes really do follow up on those "you should check it out" conversations with strangers!

As y'all know, the subject of kittens tends to come up very easily in conversations with me. (The election? That's like these two totally different kittens I have who hiss at each other. Relationship/emotional woes? Kitten therapy can work wonders. Iraq? Gee, it would be neat to have a litter of kittens with Arabic names. Gas prices? Well, foster a litter of kittens, so you won't want to leave the house anyway. American Idol? Gosh, if my kittens were auditioning, I think their song would be "Stray Cat Strut," or maybe "I Did It My Way." Constipation? Oh, if only my kittens had your problem ... just kidding.)

Yeah, yeah, you get the picture. And so it was when I was having dinner at this Bob Evans. I was chatting with the waitress, and somehow the subject of pets came up. She said she and her family wanted a female kitten. I said, "Oh, you should go to Animal Friends on Camp Horne Road. I just left there, and we have this litter of, like, six girls and one boy. And they all have these cool Africa names, like Zaire, Congo and Tripoli. Can you dig it?"

I didn't give it much mind, but there she was, a week later, with her hubby and two cute little kids. Sure enough, they took home an adorable tortoiseshell named Egypt. The little girls - both the human and kitten - looked so happy.

Oh, what a satisfying feeling it is to orchestrate a match like this! But, I'll give credit where credit's due: thank you, God, for putting us in the right place at the right time. Mother Catresa is just an instrument of the grand conductor.

Too bad I don't work on commission ...

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")