A blind cat’s video story – meet Pinocchio

We love it when customers send photos of their cats playing with our toys. And we love hearing about cats who have special needs or situations.

In April we got this photo from Shawn of her cat Gomez playing with a Cat Faeries As-purr-agus Catnip Toy. Isn’t he cute?

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 catfaeries@catfaeries.com and put My Special Cat in the subject line.

Cat Saved From California Wildfire – How You Can Help Save Cats Caught in Fires

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!


(from Fast-moving wildfire ‘the most horrible thing’ to ever hit Weed at SFGate.com)

“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!

You can watch all of the video on our blog post on the oxygen masks.

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.”

Here’s our blog post – Your local fire department needs specially sized oxygen masks for animals to save the lives of animals. How you can help!

Last year we donated two of these oxygen masks to our closest fire house. One is cat sized, and one is dog sized.

Here’s a link to where you can buy animal oxygen masks to donate to your local fire department – Wag’N O2 Fur Life® Program – The Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative

Practically free ways to raise money for your local cat and animal shelter!

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

5) A great website called Sign-Up Genius has 50 pretty amazing and creative ways to raise funds. Who would have thought that holding a spelling bee or a cook-off competition could raise money (while having fun) http://www.signupgenius.com/nonprofit/50-creative-and-easy-fundraising-ideas.cfm

3-time World Series Champion manager Tony La Russa has 17 cats! He talks about “people rescuing animals, and animals rescuing people.”

3-time World Series Champion manager Tony La Russa has 17 cats! He talks about “people rescuing animals, and animals rescuing people.” - CatFaeries.com


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.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1797520-legendary-mlb-manager-tony-la-russa-has-equally-legendary-affinity-for-cats

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:

http://www.arf.net/

Two California cities create resourceful programs to place unadoptable cats in businesses! Co-founder of “Cats on the Job,” Susan Wheeler tells us how YOU can do this in your community!

Cats on the Job

Cat Faeries talks to Susan Wheeler, co-founder of San Francisco’s “Cats on the Job” – a new organization which is placing cats in businesses “to work” who were previously thought to be unadoptable due to their personality traits.

CF: Hi Susan, how did you get interested in creating Cats on the Job?

SW: A number of years ago I read about a program called Working Cats in Los Angeles. It was being used to place feral and difficult-to-place cats in situations where people needed rodent control. Among the places they placed cats is the LA Flower Market, police station parking lots, a church, and a number of other venues. Because of my work on behalf of cats in Italy I knew that their culture respected cats for all the help they give us in keeping down rodents populations. I thought it was a great program and should spread to the US.

CF: How would an organization like this benefit a community?

SW: We think of this as a green program. Lots of people hate rodents and resort to really terrible poisons. With our program the cats do the work. They are also great to have around.

CF: Are there other similar programs?

SW: Los Angeles of course, and I’ve heard of a few other which are mostly informal groups. A friend just gave me an article that came out recently about a cat in Richland, Washington who has become a crossing guard at the local school. There are surely working cats that we don’t know about.

CF: How long did it take to get this program off the ground in San Francisco?

SW: The Los Angeles people sent us their template. We tweaked it to meet our concerns and local conditions. We worked on it for a couple of years.

CF: How many cats have you placed, and where?

SW: A couple of cats are in a horse barn. There are cats in a taxi cab yard. There is a cat in a warehouse. There are 3 cats at SOMAarts. We have placed cats at a plant nursery. We did need to turn down a couple of requests as we thought the places were not safe for the cats.

CF: You are partnered with the San Francisco SPCA – why was this important? Can a group be independent?

SW: We are partnering with the SF-SPCA because they have a lot of visibility and they will be putting up a website for us as part of their online presence. They are also giving us some money so we can get any cat we place a health check, microchip etc. My other organization, Friends of Roman Cats, a 501 c3 nonprofit, has taken Cats on the Job as a local program. As a nonprofit we are in much better shape to deal with the SPCA than if we were just individuals. Any donations for Cats on the Job will go through Friends of Roman Cats. We have some fund raisers planned.

CF: Where can a group learn how to set this up?

SW: Anyone interested may contact us for our protocols which are written up. It’s lengthy but they will know what it takes to start up a similar program. It is one more way of placing cats that might otherwise not be adopted.

CF: If a business wants a cat or two how do they go about getting one through Cats on the Job?

SW: After they contact us we send 2 people to their location to make an assessment to see if we think the place is safe for cats. We find out what it is they want the cats to do.

We make a list of things the people need to change or fix at the location so the cats will be safe and have easy access to food and water, and litter boxes. If the people don’t respond to our requests, we politely say we don’t think they are good candidates.

CF: How are these programs funded? Tax payer money or donations?

SW: No taxpayer money! It’s all donations.

CF: What types of cats are ideal candidates for Cats on the Job?

SW: Sometimes feral cat colonies need to be relocated because they are threatened. Relocating cat colonies is extremely hard to do, so we are able to draw from the feral colonies. We can place shy and under socialized cats who have been taken to Animal Care and Control which is our city run animal shelter. Many rescuers have foster cats in their homes who might be considered if the location is safe.

CF: How many cats can be in one location?

SW: We think a pair of cats is the optimum number. Each situation is unique.

CF: What can an office expect from having an office cat?

SW: People who want an office cat might want one that may become quite friendly over time. However people must understand these are not going to start out as lap cats.

CF: What types of businesses benefit from having a cat or two around?

SW: All sorts of businesses! Bookstores, retail stores, pet stores plant nurseries are the obvious choices. We are more than happy to evaluate any business that wants working cats, in particular for rodent control. Cats aren’t allowed in places where food is sold or served. Although we wish that would change!

CF: What businesses are not ideal for having cats around?

SW: Businesses that deal with toxic substances, substances the cats can get into and places where the cats can’t be kept reasonably secure.

We make certain that everyone in the business is on board with having cats around. To help everyone with this new idea we suggest a contest for employees to come up with the best name for the new cat. A recent cat that we placed at an art exhibit space was named Georgia O’Kitty, a great play on words about the great artist Georgia O’Keefe.

CF: How is food paid for?

SW: This is like a regular adoption, so we expect the people or company to feed and care for them just like with any cat adoption.

CF: How is veterinary care paid for?

SW: The SF-SPCA gives the cat an initial health check. If the cat needs anything special Cats on the Job would consider paying or partially paying as long as we have the funds. Ultimately the cat is the new owner’s responsibility.

CF: Let’s say a cat is placed in a warehouse – is there one employee in charge of the cat? Someone to feed the cat, tend to the litter boxes, and notice if the cat is ill? Or would someone from the organization do this?

SW: We make certain there is a trained primary person at the business where we place the cats. This person will take responsibility for them and set up a team to feed them, particularly on weekends and during vacation times. We are on call to give advice and we will come by and make an assessment if the business feels they are having a problem.

CF: We love the name “Cats on the Job.” Can anyone use it? Would you want them to also use their city name, for example:
Cats on the Job: Cleveland, Ohio.

SW: Yes, that’s how we’d like them to use it, with their city name attached. Or better yet – get creative and come up with your own name! Originally we were using Working Cats assuming that the Los Angeles group would be flattered and see it as for the greater good, but they told us to stop using it.

Interested in starting a similar program in your community? Contact Susan Wheeler at rappwheel@aol.com

A Sweet Lady and Her Refuge Where Cats Run Free

300 cats? YES! Crazy Cat Lady? NO! Meet 72 year old Siglinda Scarpa of North Carolina who runs Goathouse Refuge, a sanctuary for cats and other animals.

Here’s a wonderful article about her in the New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/garden/300-cats-and-counting.html?_r=1&

The article contains a slide show of 16 pictures.