So, Who Rescued Whom?

One of the hardest days of my life was when Joey, a newborn kitten, didn’t survive. We’d taken in a young pregnant stray female during a horrific February blizzard and, although four of her six kittens were born alive, they weren’t healthy and didn’t live long. The temperatures were so bone chilling that our vet told us the kittens couldn’t survive a trip to their office, so we didn’t even try that route.

I felt so helpless, holding each one against my heartbeat as life faded. I didn’t know what to say, so I would whisper to each that its life mattered to me, very much, short as it was. The last to succumb was plucky Joey.

We donated cat toys to the Friendship Animal Protective League in their honor–and then I just plain grieved.

Five months later, my sister asked me to go to Friendship APL to make videos of the dogs that were up for adoption. She volunteers at the APL and puts cat videos on Facebook to help potential adoptees see a glimpse of an animal’s personality; this day was unlike any other, though, because she was going to help out by taking videos of dogs.

I said, “Sure.” We get there–and it immediately starts pouring down rain. Since we were going to do the dog videos outdoors, the storm canceled that plan.

Since we were already at the APL, Plan B was to photograph the kittens awaiting adoption. These photos would be uploaded to the APL website so people could see what the kittens looked like and would also include a description of them.

As we were walking through the room, I felt a tug on my sleeve. I looked down and an eight-week-old kitten had reached out through her cage for me. She was looking me right in the eye and was telling me a story in a series of mews. I smiled, reaching down to untangle my shirt, but this kitten just tugged me closer. She looked, of course . . . remarkably like Joey.

The name on the cage read Izzie. “Okay, Izzie girl,” I said, “I will hold you for five minutes, then we have to take more pictures!”

I picked her up.

She cuddled against my heartbeat.

I took her home.

Now, I’m briefly going back in time. From January 2013 to March 2014–only 14 months, mind you!–I’d had nine colon surgeries, four major, one a life-threatening emergency. I’d had a colostomy for eight months and it was a tough time, indeed. We’d hoped that would be the end of my surgeries. But, around Izzie’s first birthday, I discovered that I needed significant abdominal reconstruction. Because I’d had so many colon surgeries, so fast, with no time to appropriately heal, my abdominal muscles had healed in twisted ways and my colon was getting trapped–something that could ultimately be life-threatening.

The surgery went extremely well–and guess who didn’t leave my side during recovery? Izzie! She didn’t demand attention, just comforted me and made me smile. I am so grateful for Izzie and her companionship and love. She had been part of a litter of a stray cat, just like Joey. The APL was full to the brim when these kittens needed help, but they still found a way to rescue them. Friendship is the BEST.

A Star is Born

It’s a bird, it’s a plane . . . no, it’s the super-talented Keyboard Cat!

Who, you might wonder, is Keyboard Cat? Well, it’s Nora, a beautiful gray Bullseye Tabby who was, according to her website, born to a “humble stray cat” and then taken home by Betsy and Burnell after they saw her at the local shelter. When Nora was about one year old, she revealed an astonishing talent – the ability to play the piano, either in a solo act or as part of a duet. Now, the kitty’s website proudly announces, she is an “Internet & International Media Star and Musical Edu-Cat.”

Nora: The Early Days

Life didn’t start out so smoothly, of course. After being brought to Betsy’s and Burnell’s home, Nora needed to co-exist with five other felines, which wasn’t easy for a cat with Nora’s . . . well, “bossy” personality. Fortunately, the two grand pianos in the home made up for some of the growling and hissing that Nora needed to do in order to let the other cats know that she was the Official Feline In Charge. Some games that Nora enjoyed as a youngster included chasing her tail while on a piano (that’s because she could see her reflection in the polished wood) and listening to Betsy teach her students how to play piano.

Musical Maestro

One day, Nora decided to tickle the ivories with her own two front paws, and discovered that she liked the high notes better than the lower ones – and that she could play both softly and loudly. Here is a sampling of her talents, including when she accompanied one of Betsy’s students. This particular concert has received 24,802,507 viewings on YouTube, with 74,194 likes. Ah, the life of a feline performer in high demand.

Like many other musical superstars, Nora is a bit of a “diva,” according to this Petcentric article, with an “artistic temperament.” She only purrs, Betsy points out, when she plays the piano – and only performs when she has a live audience, made up of people who meet with her approval. When friends of Betsy’s students wanted to take photos of Nora with their cell phones, the cat graciously permitted that. But, when a film crew traveled from Japan to capture one of her concerts, they didn’t meet Nora’s finicky standards, and so she declined. Perhaps graciously; perhaps not. She liked the VH1 crew and Philadelphia Inquirer photographer much better, though, and so she fit them into her busy schedule.

What about you? Are there any budding Keyboard Cat types in your neighborhood? What are their talents?

Shelter Cat Turned Pet: His Name is Toby

Yes, I’ve started volunteering at our local animal protective league — and, yes. I already couldn’t resist taking a beautiful shelter cat home with me.

shelter cat: Toby

His name is Toby. He lived with the same owner from the time he was a kitten until he was 14 years old. Then, when his owner died, he was taken to Friendship Animal Protective League where we met.

In theory, I was at the APL to help my sister Tracy take pictures of the cats and kittens. These photos would go on the website and Facebook page of the shelter, to spread the word about what animals were currently available for adoption.

Whenever we were there, I would stop and pet Toby, giving him a break from his cage. He and I hit it off well, but Toby also seemed to enjoy the company of other volunteers, too.

Then, after Toby was in the shelter for about two weeks, Tracy and I went in, only to discover that 25 energetic puppies were also there, gleefully barking. Toby wasn’t happy. I took him home.

Our other pets grumbled a bit, but all is going well. And, as you can see, Toby is very willing to help me write!