Friday, September 23, 2011

I Tawt I Taw a Puddy-Tat!

We finally return 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!

Meow there, folks!

Again, it's been way too long since I've posted on my blog. I've been so busy with freelance writing assignments and caring for kitties that I've slacked on this. But Mama C is baaaaaack, with a quick update.

Indeed, Mama C has tawn many puddy-tats, and is about to tee many more tonight! I just wrote an item about a "Looney Toons" exhibit at Pittsburgh's ToonSeum, so Tweety Bird-style talk is tickling my funny bone. Remember how the yellow, feathered cartoon character used to say "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat!" whenever he encountered, and always outsmarted, Sylvester the Cat? Hilarious.

OK, back to my update. For the past few weeks, I fostered a duo of teenage kittens (about 7 months old) named Jack and Jill. They are so cute and sweet! Although, Mama C is the one who went up the hill to fetch them a pail of water. They are both gray tabbies - Jill with a white stripe on her nose - and they are now back at the Northway Mall PetsMart. I hope and pray that they get a home together. I spent several nights sleeping with my furry residents in my guest bedroom. My own cats were a bit miffed by my infidelity, but they'll get over it.

Now, I received an e-mail this week from the local Humane Society, about how they are completely full and overrun with cats, because of owner surrenders. It is absolutely heartbreaking. When shelters are full and keep getting more animals, they sometimes have no choice but to euthanize. I can't stand it, and will do whatever I can to help. I offered both my guest bedroom for an adult cat, and my usual foster room for a litter of kittens, if need be. Sure enough, tonight, I am picking up an adult kitty, and a litter of six, 10-week-old tabby kittens.

Mama C will have a completely full house - I'll be alternating between two rooms to socialize my fosters - and it's a bit overwhelming. But I am in the business of saving lives, and that is not always convenient. I'd rather be spread thin than see a life lost. Pittsburgh friends, seriously, if you want to "volunteer" at my house and spend some time with my fosters, you are welcome to - and I'll cook you dinner and heat up a cup of apple cider for you!

Until next time, I "we-main," Tweety-style,

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

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!"

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

Hi folks!

Good Golly, Miss Molly - was my last blog entry really in April? Shame, shame, shame! There's no excuse - no, not one!

Blame my unintentional hiatus on all the writing I do at my job, along with the extra freelance writing I've been doing outside of the newspaper. In fact, my story on Frankie the Trolley Cat - an extraordinary rescued feline that charms visitors at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum - is published in the August issue of Cat Fancy magazine! Subscribers have this issue, but I'm not sure if it's replaced the July issue on newsstands yet. Please go get a copy - and the next time I see you, I will autograph it for you, like I did at the museum for "Frank the Trolley Cat Day" last weekend. Mother Catresa hopes to become a regular contributor to Cat Fancy, which is the purr-fect market for her!

So then - what's with the title of this blog entry? Isn't "Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!" the slogan that giant used to chant when he was hunting Englishman Jack in the fairy tale "Jack & the Beanstalk?" Yes. And, silly me, I thought it would be a hilarious name theme for a litter of kittens that has been staying with me for about six weeks.

These kiddos came from a group of 11 in a Pittsburgh resident's yard. Two feral mother cats had kittens on the porch, and the woman called us (Foster Cat) for help. We split up the litters among two of us fosters, though we don't know exactly which ones come from each litter. I probably have a mix of siblings and cousins.

After I captured five of these babies - some skittish and hissy-spitty - and brought them home, I thought the head count seemed perfect for a wacky litter name I'd had in mind for a long time. I unpacked the 6-week-old kittens from the carrier, and chuckled as I entertained the cartoonish image in my mind of a bellowing voice, a green giant whose footsteps shake the earth, and a colossal green vine. Then, I named the babies, one by one:

= Jack, a male orange tabby and white shorthair.
= Fee, a male orange tabby longhair. (Incidentally, he farted a real stinker by my face last night. But that's neither here nor there.)
= Fi, a female black shorthair.
= Fo, a female tortoiseshell medium-hair.
= Fum, a female gray tabby shorthair.

Now, Jack and Fo have been just the sweetest little dollbabies from the very beginning, despite the somewhat feral family background. Fum was a bit on the fence. Fee, leaning toward the side where I am not. And Fi, bless her grumpy heart, didn't seem to want to get anywhere near the fence.

Well, to sum up the summer with the Jack & the Beanstalk kittens: Jack and Fo have been my cuddle buddies every day, and are just little darlings. Fum started to come around first, followed by Fee a few weeks ago. Fi made some tiny steps, but had a ways to go before she would be an adoptable pet. I would scruff her and force her to let me hold her for a brief time every day, even though she had a teenagerish "Ick!" look on her face as I stroked her.

I kept hoping and praying that she would pull a G.G.: be antisocial, like my Gormly Girl, and then make a dramatic turnaround one day. Fi is, after all, a black female kitten, just like my G.G. I figured that it wouldn't happen until her littermates were put up for adoption, and she was all alone in the room, with only me as a playmate. That's how it happened with Gormly Girl.

But, on Saturday, I took Jack and Fum up to a Petsmart cage. And yesterday, even though Fee and Fo are still there, it happened: Little Miss Fi came up to me, cuddled up to my side to be petted, and p-p-p-purred! I gaped in delighted disbelief. It's such a triumphant feeling when that first purr happens; it's like a baby uttering "mama" or "dada" for the first time. Once they've broken the purr barrier, there's no going back. The kittens are now official, loving, adoptable pets!
So, tomorrow night, Fee and Fo will go to another open cage at a Petsmart. Only two per cage are doable. I'll keep Fi with me for a few more days, and give her more remedial "How to be a rock star" lessons in social graces, until another cage opens.

May the spirit of G.G. continue to transform Fi into a fiercely affectionate, outgoing kitty that will make someone a lovely pet.

Until next time, I remain,

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"911, What Is Your Emergency?"

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

Hi folks!

I knew that the 911 operator would send help for me. She just had to. Remember all those old shows that showed firefighters rescuing cats out of trees?

And besides, I didn't know what the heck else to do but call.

"Allegheny County 911, what is your emergency?" the female dispatcher's voice said as I nervously paced along my front lawn, after checking out the second-floor window to the kittens' room. It was just after midnight on Sunday.

"Can you hear me?" I said.

"Yes, maam," she replied. "What is your emergency?"

"This is a weird call," I warned her. I then explained the peculiar - but, to me, scary - nature of my emergency.

"I have a litter of kittens trapped in an upstairs bedroom," I said. "They knocked down this baby gate inside their room, and the gate wedged itself against the door. It's stuck, and I can't get in. And the only other way in to this room is through my upstairs window. And I don't have a ladder!"

Now, I know that 911 operators surely have had far more bizarre calls than this one. Still, I could hear her confusion during a pregnant pause.

"Let me make sure I understand," the operator continued. "You said kittens are trapped in a room because of a baby gate?"

"Yes," I confirmed. "They have a baby gate just behind the door to keep them from running out of the room, and they knocked it over, so it's stuck between the door and the bookcase. And I have no way to get to them. They're really small!"

Just minutes before, I was heading upstairs with the kittens' goodnight dinner of canned chicken and ocean whitefish food when I made the scary discovery. The door would not budge. So that was the thud I had heard while watching TV!

Trying not to panic, I started kicking at the door, hoping to dislodge the gate - but scared of hurting the kittens, whom I could see eyeing me curiously through the little crack I managed to create. But that's as far as the gate would go. I could not reach my arm inside. And after kicking several times, I could hear the wood start to splinter on the bottom left corner, by the hinge.

"Help me, Jesus!" I prayed. "Help me break into the room without causing severe damage to my house."

The only other option, I knew, was somehow climbing up a steep ladder, squeezing myself through the long, skinny, upstairs window, and jumping down, hoping not to break anything or land on a kitten. The phrase "between a rock and a hard place" came to mind.

I felt relieved when the operator responded.

"Alright, maam," she said. "They said they'll come over to help."

I was expecting to see a fire truck, but instead, a police car pulled up to the curb, and a nice young officer stepped out.

"Thank you so much for coming, officer!" I said. He took a look at my outside window, and then asked to look at the inside, because he didn't want to call the fire department unless necessary.

I showed Officer Friendly inside and up the stairs. He started doing the same thing I was - kicking at the door - but he's a strong guy, and I worked on pushing in the upper portion, while he kicked the bottom. I told him, while he worked, that this must be one of the weirdest calls he's had in awhile.

"Oh, you'd be surprised," he said. "We get a lot of calls like this."

"This" probably meant calls about animals, or people being trapped. I'll bet this particular circumstance was unique.

After a couple of minutes, he barely snaked his hand through the door, and pulled up the gate.

"Hallelujiah!" I exclaimed, just thrilled to see the kittens' sweet faces, safe and sound. And to see this incident end without having to file a homeowner's insurance claim (one that would probably be denied, anyway).

I thanked the officer profusely and gave him a hug.

"You're the best," I said.

Then, I went upstairs to play and cuddle with my four new babies, whom I named with a chocolate motif (read my last posting for more about that.) I have Truffle and Bon-Bon (black and white males), Meltaway (orange and black male) and Lady Godiva (orange female.)

And from now on, their gate - meant to catch them when they burst out of the open door and run under my legs -  will remain outside the room, to create a holding pen for kitten overflow.

Until next time, I remain,

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Like a Box of Chocolates

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

Hi folks!

Forrest Gump, in his childlike wisdom, gave us many good lines in that wonderful 1994 movie. And in a conversation yesterday with a friend, I used one of Gump's witticisms to talk about fostering.

"Kittens are like a box of chocolates," I told my friend, Lane. "You never know what you're going to get."

Indeed. And tonight, I will be picking up my first "box of chocolates" of the season from the Humane Society, and I am excited with the wonder and mystery of what the box will contain. Will I get orphans, or kittens with a mom? How many babies will there be? And the most intriguing question is, what will they look like? Will I get orange or brown tabbies? Black kittens? White kittens? Tuxedos? Grays? Or something else?

Will the "box of chocolates" all be, say, peanut butter meltaway tabbies, or will it be one of those variety packs with some peanut butter, some caramel, some nutty, some raspberry creme, and others?

I'll find out soon enough tonight, and I can't wait. Mama C will report back very soon!

Until next time, I remain,
Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Um, Sorry ... Do We Know You?

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

Hi folks!

I am thrilled to report that the two "handsome, single studs," as reported in my last post, have found their forever home - TOGETHER! Yes, the Good Lord has answered my prayer in exactly the way I had hoped: He found a lovely home for both Kitty and Simba, who are now enjoying their spacious house in a southern Pittsburgh suburb with a nice family, after spending nearly a year in my guest bedroom.

And though I celebrate the cats' good fortune and happy future, I must admit that, selfishly, I felt a bit swatted in the face when I visited Kitty and Simba in their new home last week. See, it seems as if Mother Catresa already has been forgotten.

I went to the new owner's home to drop off some paperwork - which I could have easily mailed, but I wanted to see the kitties one more time. The kind, hospitable owners showed me inside - and, just like he often did at my house, Kitty was hiding under the bed. Simba, on the other paw, was crouching under the dining room table, on top of a chair.

"Simba, old buddy!" I exclaimed, as I stretched out my hand toward him, and said "Come here, come here!"

Simba jumped down, looked up at me with seeming recognition, let out a little squeak, and lifted his nose, so I could pet it. But just as my hand touched his face, he bolted and ran down the hallway, making a beeline for the underbed world where his buddy awaited.

"Well, you ungrateful ratfink," I grumbled.

I followed Simba into the room, got down on my knees, lifted the bedskirt and peeked underneath - hoping, in vain, to summon out Kitty and Simba. But no such luck. Just like they did at my house when they were frightened, they just stared at me, and refused to budge.

I jokingly said, "Oh gee, so this is the thanks I get? Foster mommy comes to see them again, and they don't even want to interact with me? Niiice."

When I realized the cats weren't coming out, it dawned on me: perhaps I am like a nurse in the ICU. I may have saved and nurtured my patients, and they are grateful: however, I remind them of a traumatic time in their lives. After all, these boys met Mother Catresa when their old mama gave them up, and they lost the only home they knew. I'm sure they love me, in a way. But, let's face it: I am a reminder of hard times, and who wants to revisit that?

Chances are, Simba saw me - and Kitty, heard me - and they thought that the big, bad lady was back with the cat carrier, waiting to snatch them and take them back to the Petsmart cage. Again. That's what the cats probably associate me with - and really, who can blame them?

Well, Mother Catresa understands. This is just part of the work I do: letting go. Just like I remember all of my dozens of foster kittens over the years; but, if I saw them now, they probably would have no idea who I was. (Their adult selves, incidentally, would look quite different than the kittens I knew, too).

And that's OK. I can live with that. Because even if they don't remember me, all of my furry alumni will forever dwell in my memory. And my role as a foster, really, is to prepare the kitties to be someone else's pet. Just like a parent's role is to prepare a child for adulthood. It ain't easy, but someone has to do it, right?

I kept that in mind as I gave the family a warm "thank you" and wished them well, walked out to my car, and drove off - watching the road through my misty eyes.

Until next time, I remain,

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Handsome, Single Studs Are Looking for Love!

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

Hi folks!

In lieu of telling stories about my cats, this time, I'll let them speak for themselves.

You are about to hear from two declawed kitties: adult males Kitty (white) and Simba (orange tabby), middle-aged foster cats who have been hanging out in my guest bedroom for several months now. They really need a home - and perhaps a Mother Catresa fan, or friend of one, is that special someone.

From Kitty and Simba:

Meow! Thanks for listening to our plea. We truly have a sob story here: our elderly owner, with physical and mental struggles, could not care for us anymore, and had to give us up. We might have been euthanized at a kill shelter, but luckily, our mama is a friend of someone who knows Mother Catresa, and we ended up at her sanctuary.

Mama C is one cool cat, for sure, and we have it pretty good with her: we have a nice, spacious room all to ourselves, and that sure beats the streets or death. But it's not the same thing as having a home and owner to call our own, and a house where we have the full run, rather than being isolated in a separate room. Thank God we have each other up here, to keep us company!

We really would like to stay together, as we are lifelong companions. If we must be split up to get homes, we can live with that, but we hope we won't have to be separated. We are both declawed and shy, but very sweet and affectionate once we warm up to you.

Will you please give us the loving home we want so badly, or help us find someone who will? We promise that good karma will come to you for helping needy felines. Trust us: with nine lives, we have good connections!


Kitty and Simba

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pomp and (belated) circumstance

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

Hi folks!

Much to some people's chagrin, I have a weakness for arriving, or doing things, fashionably late -- starting with my very entry into this world. I was supposed to be born right on Christmas, or within a day or two, in 1972. (That would be a bummer). Alas, my parents had to wait until next year for their tax deduction: I arrived two and a half weeks late, on Jan. 10.

Yes, last Monday, I turned 38 - and, I already was tardy with Mother Catresa's annual graduation narrative of kitty graduates, which I usually write on or just before New Year's Eve. So, anticlimactic though it may be, here it goes.

Mother Catresa, chancellor of the University of Catsylvania at Pittsburgh, is pleased to award her Scratchelor of Science degree to five felines in the Class of 2010 - along with one honorary degree for a dear classmate that was lost. My graduates: mother cat Tiger (a cabbie), and three babies: Sonny (orange tabby), Sherman (black) and Buf-Puf (buff tabby and white.) All four have found great homes. My honorary student - Chaz Bono, the male tortie kitten that I loved and lost to FIP - gets a posthumous award for fighting so very hard, and bringing so much joy into my life in the short few months he had with me. For more details about Chaz, please read a few posts down for that memorial.

Mother Catresa's graduating class this year is smaller in quantity than in previous years, when she usually went through several litters in one season. However, working now with a rescue group instead of a shelter, adoptions might be slower - and, in a bad economy, everyone's adoptions probably were slower last year. But, the quality of a litter, and a life saved, does not degrade from a lack of quantity.

I look forward to saving more lives in 2011. I'm dreaming of a furry year, and can't wait until the Kitten Fairy comes in the spring!

Until next time, I remain,

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