Here’s a wonderful charming story about some kittens from our customer Carol…
The kittens soon after they arrived. A neighbor who worked in the old Lincoln Heights Jail found them huddled in a corner. Some of the building was adapted for other uses, but large areas remained empty. He waited for the Mom to show up, but she didn’t—so he picked them up and wrapped them in a towel. They were thin, dirty, and scared. Obviously Mom was having a hard time feeding these little ones. Other cats had been found in the building, too.
He drove around the neighborhood trying to find someone to take them in. The local shelter had told him that they were overwhelmed with kittens and would have had to euthanize immediately. At two weeks old, they would need constant care and feeding, unless Mom or a surrogate could be found.
We needed a team of people to take care of these little guys— they were so tiny, and keeping them warm, clean and fed was a challenge. They were covered with dirt and fleas. And they had never seen humans before. But soon, they were thriving. And we all developed a deep respect for cat moms— we needed several people feeding around the clock to approximate the love and care of one Mama Cat.
Clio liked to help mix up their baby formula.
At six weeks, they were tearing around their playground. They all grew up to be beautiful, loving kits.
“This is Aka, my beautiful almost 15 year old Roman cat. She is the Queen of Piazza Mazzini here in Rome, which she watches over from our 5th floor balcony. She is on her window perch; outside the window in the background you can see the top of St. Peter’s dome. She is quite a lady and doesn’t have a wrinkle on her. She loves relaxing on her favorite armchair or gazing out the window, looking at the streets of Rome. We met when she was 5 days old and left her mom to waddle over to my hand. 2 months later she moved in with us. She’s my gattissima bellissima!!!”
We wrote her…
“We are located in San Francisco and there is an organization here called Friends of Roman Cats – they raise money for Italian cat shelters and rescue! One of the groups is called Torre Argentina. They have an annual fund raiser here which we’ve donated to in the past.”
“I’ve had many interactions with Italian cats! My favorite, the funniest: I was in Verona (one of my favorite places) and walked past an alley. There were a lot of street cats eating. I looked up and sitting in a window about 4 floors up was a woman, something right out of Fellini… Harsh looking face with garish makeup, buxom figure, sleeveless dress with bra straps hanging down, a cigarette dangling from her lips, throwing pieces of fish out of her window the cats below. I watched for awhile. Then she saw me and threw fish at me and yelled something in Italian at me. Pretty funny! I once helped the old ladies feed the cats who live on the grounds of a museum in Milano.”
“Thank you so much, it gave me a few minutes to think of the cats I saw and met in Italy!”
Mimi wrote back…
“Thanks so much for the interesting information on the “Friends of Roman Cats”. Everyone here knows the cats of Torre Argentina. They are very famous and inhabit some very important architectural digs. In fact they have recently “discovered” or “uncovered” the exact location where Julius Caesar was assassinated there. I work near an area that is a crossroads between the Aventine hill, Testaccio and the Pyramid and there is a colony of cats there too. In fact many cats (lovely black ones) live in the garden/parking lot of the pool/Gym where I work. They are well cared for by the volunteers from the Piramide cat colony.”
If you ever come to Rome, I’ll take you to visit the Piramide cat colony!!! I’ll look forward to seeing Aka in an upcoming newsletter.
Last week we heard from Shawn again who wanted to tell us about a video featuring two of her cats: Jiminy, and Pinocchio who is blind. Watching them in action, watching them grow up, and seeing how beautifully Pinocchio progresses without eyesight will delight your heart. Love and the vibe of a playful kitten could cure anything! Here’s what Shawn told us:
Aloha! Thank you for your message about the bunnies! Yes, Pinocchio (no eyes), and his “seeing eye” brother, Jiminy, have lots of fun with the toys (as do my 7 other kitties)!
Enjoy this short of video of Pinocchio and Jiminy’s story. They are both two now, and I have been blessed with them since they were kittens.
Shawn (full time rescue mommy and professional violinist)
We asked Shawn to tell us more about living with a blind cat and this is what she had to say:
He is adorable! He definitely has a very heightened sense of smell, which leads him to completely sniff us all over each time we come home. His hearing is absolutely amazing. He hears moths when we can’t even see them. He knows each of the other kitties’ smells and sounds, and he can tell who my husband and I are by our footsteps.
Pinocchio delights us and impresses us every day with his ability to navigate around things, up cat trees; he runs up our flight of stairs at full speed, sometimes forgetting to stop, so he climbs a few extras in the air!
He is very vocal, which is his way for feedback, whether it is to call for his little brother or to find out where mommy is. He is fearless. Most amazing is how he knows how to jump on our bed and off again-truly jumping blindly. He has figured out the distance of everything. He goes into our courtyard and knows his way around. His whiskers help him to not bang into things (except on occasion :)). He also found the kitty door on his own with NO encouragement and figured out how to go in and out by himself.
People may wonder about the litter box. He has NEVER had an accident. I showed him where the kitty box was ONCE and he hasn’t missed it ever. He “covers” but sometimes doesn’t cover all the way! He tries really hard though!
He was shown where the food and water was, and knows right where to go. I even have an extra bowl of water on my night stand for one of my kitties, and he knows how to get to that one. I never showed him.
He can hear the wings of a bird and know exactly where they are. He hasn’t caught a bird but he has caught moths, geckos, and katydids. He will listen intently to a moth and know exactly where it is even though we don’t know it is there. If he smells a gecko, he will be drawn to that area for hours.
Most of my kitties are “misfits”. The sadness I feel for him is unknown to him. He is so, so happy and well adjusted. I was scared at first, and still get anxious when I see him climb or run too fast. But, like people, he has adapted better than seeing kitties. He loves LOVES to snuggle up close. He teaches me something valuable every day about living even though he has a disability. Even as a feline, he has learned to use his other senses remarkably well. I feel pure love from this soul who has changed our world.
So friends, don’t let a disability stop you from loving a blind cat, a cat with 3 legs, or a cat who’s an elder. Cats are miracles that purr and meow! Feeling the love today, thank you Shawn!
Do you have a special or unusual cat that you want to tell us about for our newsletter? A video would be fun, but it’s certainly not necessary. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and put My Special Cat in the subject line.
A few years ago we posted an article about how you can help fire fighters save cats caught in fires by donating specially sized oxygen masks for animals (we’ve posted a link to that at the bottom.
Here’s a photo from our local newspaper featuring a fire in the town of Weed, in Northern California (you can imagine the jokes that town gets!) of a fireman holding a cat he found during the big wildfire several days ago, after one of many homes burnt.
The cat looks a lot like our Madeline who was born in that region and came from a shelter 40 miles away! A cousin? Maybe! A big salute to fire fighters!
“That fire was coming in here pretty good,” said Zach Curren, a firefighter from Napa, who worked the blaze near Angel Valley Road. “But we managed to stop it right there,” he said, pointing to a long, white ranch home with a crew of firefighters spraying down a smoldering roof.
In his arms he held a gray cat he had just found hiding under a pile of clothes in a house across the street from the smoking home. The neighborhood was deserted except for fire crews, and as the whoosh of hoses and grinding of engines filled the air, the cat shivered.
“Poor thing’s scared to death,” Curren murmured. “A lot of people were, too.”
About two years ago we posted an article to our blog about how you can help firefighters help cats by donating specially sized oxygen masks for animals.
This photo is from a video that is an extremely moving collage of fire fighters rescuing cats from fires. The music is great! You’ll need much tissue!
A customer of ours told us about Mara DiGrazia, a veterinarian on Long Island. “She has donated hundreds of animal-sized oxygen masks to numerous fire departments throughout Long Island so they can dispense oxygen properly to animals who are rescued from fires. Without those masks, sadly many beloved animals die even though firefighters heroically rescue them from the flames of the fire because they couldn’t receive life-saving oxygen properly. This is something that makes perfect sense yet I never thought about until I heard Mara was doing it.”
1) Throw a pot luck party. Ask each invitee to bring a dish to share and a donation. It’s a chance to meet new people, reconnect with the ones you lost track of. You might ask a local wine store, coffee roaster, or specialty food store if they can make a donation. Have fun, eat well, and collect money to donate.
2) Go through your closets and donate old ratty towels, sheets and holey sweaters. Shelter animals also appreciate slightly used cat beds. A lovely way to memorialize a departed cat is to donate their toys.
3) Collect recyclables for “buy backs” and get cash for those cans, bottles etc and donate it. If you are fortunate to have a non-profit organization in your state like RePlanet which is local to California contact them. They’ll help you set up a program to benefit your shelter. RePlanet has helped many organizations make some pretty impressive money! Take a look here: http://replanetusa.com/replanet_fundraising.html
4) Use Google to search for recycling buy- backs in your area. Try these words for your search: buy back recycling
Former Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa founded Animal Rescue Foundation (or ARF) in May of 1990 after a cat wandered onto the playing field in Oakland and was terrified by the roar of the crowd. When the cat was caught Tony and his wife discovered the area around Oakland did not have a single “no kill shelter.” They found the cat a home on their own, and then founded their own rescue organization.
This will take you to the ARF website. Be sure to read the history of ARF, the members of their Board of Directors, and their programs for both animals and people which we found to be inspiring and fascinating: