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Suicidal Sweetness

When I was a little girl, I always felt an underlying sense of sadness. I had anxiety problems, labeled "nervous stomach" and could rarely go for a long drive in the car without becoming sick. Maybe it was the one pound bag of M&M's that my parents gave to us when we started a road trip? Was it the sugar that made me so ill? Perhaps something else was going on, too?

By the time I was in my early teens, my Mother had labeled me "crabby" and "a bitch." I was asked over and over; "Why can't you be cheerful, like your brother? Nothing will ever make you happy! You're sullen, that's what you are."

Deep down, I felt no one knew me—who I really am. I didn't feel crabby, but I did feel sad. I often imagined running away, but we lived well out into the suburbs, where would I run without a car? I couldn't even drive. I didn't have any money. I felt trapped.

I was lucky enough to live near a wooded area. I could spend hours alone, walking along the dirt paths, examining plants and flowers, listening to the birds sing. I often brought my sketch pad to a secret place I found. There were four or five large boulders surrounding an old tree. I could easily climb the rocks or the tree and just be away from the world—the world that labeled me freak, fat, crabby, weird, nasty, bossy.

As I grew older, the sadness deepened and the tension I felt in my home grew worse. My Mother and I battled. My Father came after me with a shotgun when I got fed up and spoke my mind. I cried a lot. I wanted to die. I felt so alone and helpless.

I would try to cut my wrists, but I was too cowardly. I never made more than a light scratch on myself, but the seed of self-hatred grew inside me. The only thing that saved me was feeling connected to my cats. They loved me and didn't judge, but they also needed me to care for them and look out for them. It gave me a purpose and a reason to take another breath, wake up another morning.

Eventually, I went away to college and thought I broke free of those labels, but the sadness was there and growing worse. The complications of having relationships with boys my age, drove me into yet more suicidal rages. The stresses of taking a full course load, working part time, and being very involved in school events was driving me over the edge. I did not know how to work with my own mind, my own feelings.

As an adult, I began to understand it was not that I was just sad, but that I did suffer from depression. It was only really starting to come out that depression had serious effects that are lifelong and debilitating. I saw the same thing in my Father's eyes. The anger, pushing us all away, the inability to have fun without feeling guilty, the self-hate—my poor Father.

I was lucky that I went into therapy for awhile. I was lucky, too, that I met a man who helped me learn to work with my mind. I became a Buddhist. I found support systems in my close friends. After many years of not having cats, I began doing animal rescue. It opened a door for me. One where I could just stop thinking about myself and think about these poor creatures who so desperately needed a safe place to land until they were adopted. It became a refuge for me.

Sadly, my Father didn't have the same opportunities or understanding I did. Though I tried to help him, the day came when his own demons reared up, one last time, and the temptation to silence them was too great. That hideous voice that whispers; "I hate myself. I hate my life. I don't deserve to live." The one that can't remember he had a family who loved him and would be devastated by his actions. That he had friends who considered him a warm and caring person. That he loved his children more than anything. That voice is so loud, it drowns out even a grain of joy.

I have a legacy now, from my Father. Will it be passed down to me? It is my lifelong fear and my lifelong challenge. I'll die some day, but will I die at my own hand or nature's? What keeps me here weighs a pound. To many people, it's completely insignificant and not worthy of any effort, yet...

...when I'm at my lowest point, I may have to force myself to open the door. The door to the foster room, where tiny hearts beat and little paws investigate everything they touch. With wide awestruck eyes, they look up at me. If I've done a good job, they'll race over to me for some cuddling or play. Lifting one up, I feel her squirming, then settle. She'll peer over my arm and revel in the view from being at such a great height. She's scared, but she knows she's safe with me.

Sleeping on my shoulder

If I'm really lucky I'll hear my favorite sound; purring. The bubbly, curious rumble that comes from such a tiny chest. The little sound that saves my life for one more day. The tiny face that looks up at me with a silly smile. The world is a happy, exciting, wondrous place. Through her eyes I am reminded, this is the world I want to live in. This is the world I hope to find myself in one day, too. Perhaps they show me how to live, more than I show them?

For now, I'm simply grateful.

Poppy's Poop

Kittens and kids. They grow up so fast, don't they? Here we were just two weeks ago and Poppy was too small to even crawl around, let alone do big, grown up kitty things like use the litter pan!

With the kittens at 3 1/2 weeks old, I thought I'd better make up a tiny litter pan, so Mama wouldn't have to keep, ewww, licking them clean. I used the cardboard tray from a case of cat food because it has low sides and is small. I covered the bottom of the tray with aluminum foil to keep the moisture from softening the cardboard and made sure it was taped down to prevent the kittens from chewing on it. After that, I sprinkled some clay (You know never to use clumping litter around kittens, right? You KNOW they eat it and get can blocked up from it, right???!) litter inside the pan and voila, a fancy kitten-sized litter pan is born.

Poppy was squirming around last night and I found her IN the pooper scooper. The smell must have stimulated her because she looked like she might need to go to the bathroom. I rushed over, grabbed her and placed her into the litter pan. Within a flash, she was dropping a looping poop! Yes, I took a photo of her pooping because it was her first time and I am proud of her! Also, it seems to be the only proof that she used the pan because in another flash, her Mother nudged her out of the way and ATE the poop right up!

Poppy's First Poop.jpg

What the...???!!! No, I'm not upset because Mama was snacking between meals!

In my scant few years fostering kittens I have never known of this happening! I've heard of dogs using litter pans as appetizer trays, but not this! Of course I immediately flashed back into my half-assed memory to see if I could find one that included Mama-cat licking me! You know, those cute little licks we occasionally get from our dear cats?

Nope. No licking. Good. This is good. I still think I'm going to throw up. Of course, even though I'd just fed Mama, I got up and opened up another can of food for her. I figured if she ate shit and she can't run out and brush her teeth, maybe she'd want more nasty smelling canned food to cover the taste of turd?

Go figure. Cats ARE weird.

When cuteness hurts (Doesn't it hurt to look at them? They are SO CUTE! Oooo!)

Sorry I woke you up!

Poppy (left) and Daisy (right) sit on their stuffed tabby cat faux-mom while their real mom is lapping up lunch in quick mouthfuls. Shot with my handy-dandy iPhone 3G, which I LOVE, but not in a sick, perverse way.

Oh, and the kittens are 24 days old today!

The Long Goodbye

A year and a half ago, I trapped, neutered and released three feral cats. Their full story is in Chapter 6 (see post below).

I'm sad to say that it's been 3 months since I last saw one of the ferals: Madison. I thought she, of all of the ferals, had the best chance to become socialized. Perhaps it was her good nature that helped her find a true home with one of my neighbors, but I find it unlikely. I think Madison died—possibly killed by a wild animal or a car strike. She was only two years old.

Madison and Bronte.jpg

She was a sweet cat. I could tell from the first day. Even though she was feral, she liked to play with toys and the fact that she would allow me to pet her was a gift of her trust. I saw her every day for more than a year. When she stopped coming by I didn't worry right away since the weather was warm and she could hunt for food, if needed. I never stopped putting out food, even though many times I found it uneaten. I began to worry that not only did Madison die, but her Mother, Bronte and our rascally neighborhood stud (well, not a stud any more!) Buddy, too. They just disappeared.

After the first month absence, I began to see Bronte and Buddy once in awhile. I saw a new cat, too, a mangy red male with an ear deformed from fighting. Did he scare Madison off? But then even he was only seen for a week or so, then vanished, too. All that was left was Bronte and Buddy.

I call Madison's name every morning when I put out the food, hoping she'll return to me, but every afternoon when I check it, I often find the bowl untouched. It breaks my heart, but I knew that this was the best I could do for them. This was what I could offer because I don't have the facility to foster cats for long periods, when I could be helping 50 or more kittens in the same span of time.

They never deserved to live like this in the first place. All we rescuers seem to do is try to make up for the cruel acts of other people. Some times we have success and other times, it's like today-our hearts sink and our knees feel weak, imagining what has come to pass. It's tough to keep facing this ugliness, but we must, for their sake, and for the hope that one day, we won't have to do this any more. That all cats will have good, loving, responsible owners and that all of us that do rescue can focus on other things to help this world be a better place.

Day 11. Super Cuties!

Day 11. Massive Cute Attack

Poppy (left) and Sweet William (right)

The Sweetest Moment

Just 9 days old. Eyes still closed. Little Poppy lets me grab a photo before placing her back into her Mother's watchful care.

Sleepytime World

Please Send Good Vibes to Our Friend

Spotlight, is a 10 year old, FIV positive kitty. His owner, Kristen, is having a lot of trouble helping Spotlight to overcome high fevers and potential pancreatitis flare ups. Spotlight is in the hospital as I write this.

I'd be very glad to know you're all sending him your best wishes for his speedy recovery.

Spotilght sleeping on chair.jpg

Kristen needs some love, too, so let's post some comments to cheer her up!

Spotlight, please get better! We're all rooting for you!

Update: 8.10.08: Spotlight came home tonight and is doing somewhat better. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for this sweet boy! More updates, as they come in.

As Promised. Our New Arrivals

Meet Rose and her little babies. Born 8.1.08. One boy and one girl.

Any suggestions on names???

Our newest arrivals.jpg

taken with my iPhone


It's been four months. The height of Kitten Season came and went without me helping even one kitten find a new home. It was important for me to look after Bob and to make sure to reduce any risks to his health, until he was, at least, stable.

Bob's been doing fairly well. He still vomits, but it's rare and I've only had to medicate him once in two months and NO Vet visits in all that time! Thank goodness. Bob's coat, appetite and demeanor have improved. He seems youthful, in some ways. I actually got him to RUN after a toy just yesterday!

Bob's also integrated himself in with my cats in ways I could not have hoped for. I keep finding him snuggled up with Nora or her brother, Nicky. I think Bob would sleep with all of the cats if they'd only allow it!


In a week, it will be two years since my Mother died and Bob came to live here. I was going to find a good home for him, as the idea of having seven cats was not something I wanted to entertain. Now, I can't imagine him being anywhere else. He is a charming cat with a bubbly personality. He has the goofiest purr and his motor runs most of the time!

This morning I have to prepare the foster room for new arrivals! At 2pm a young tuxedo Mom-cat and her two newborn kittens will be joining us. The kittens were born last Friday, August 1, 2008. They'll need names, so I'll post photos of them and we can have a little contest. It'll be good to have new life here and good timing for it to happen. They will keep my blues at bay. This is a difficult time of year for me and fostering kittens is like opening the blinds to let the sunshine fill the room.

More soon!


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