About Me

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Dubuque, Iowa, United States
I'm a woman obsessed with cats. In this blog, I channel my absent Siamese cat named Angel. She lives with my family in this blog, 3 teenagers, a 4 year old boy and a 15 month old little girl. Life is complicated here. We twitter often, but be prepared for teenage interruptions as well as baby moments... Hope you find it interesting here....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Mom's been having fun with her photography and Howleen!

Cat Therapy for Autistic Children

We have a teenage son with Asperger Syndrome.  This article excites me for this reason.

Guide's Note: Cats are slowly moving into their own as therapy animals, and are being used in convalescent homes and other institutions for that purpose. However, though a lot has been written about the use of horses and dogs with autistic children, little, if anything, has been previously written about cats. This amazing true story may open your eyes to the possibilities of cats' usefulness as therapy for autistic children.
I'm a widowed dad with a daughter and son. My son lives with autism. That's how we got into cats. Long before he was born, I entered the field of neuroscience and worked with children who have neuropsychological disabilities. Little did I know that my chosen career would come in handy at home. When my son was four and my daughter nine, my wife died very unexpectedly. I was left alone with a little girl and boy. The little boy lived with autism.

A True Story the Miracle of a Cat Brought to an Autistic Boy
from J. Manerling

For those who may not know, autism is a communication disorder. The more severe cases often have a co-morbid mental retardation. Fortunately, Richard does not have mental retardation. He does have the communication difficulties that people with autism face everyday. At the age of four he was still non-verbal. I remembered that in one of my books I had read something about a girl with autism who had been brought out of her inner world through her relationship with horses. I decided, why not. Let’s give it a try.

I took Richard to every possible place where he could encounter and be close to animals. He never expressed any interest. Then one day, we visited the local animal shelter. I had grown up with dogs. My mother was “psychologically allergic” to cats. She was one of those people who believed that cats were loners and had no personality. So, I walked past the cat room into the dog area. Again, I was disappointed that my son just stared around him at everything else, but not at the dogs. They seemed to hold his attention for a few seconds.

As we were leaving, once again we walked past the cat area doors. I figured, “What the heck? It’s worth a try. Though I have no idea what he’ll find interesting in there.” We walked into the cat area, which was significantly smaller than the dog area. As we walked past the cages, there in a corner was a black and white tuxedo cat. Suddenly my four-year old non-verbal son pointed to the cage and said, “Cat!” That was it. That day we took the cat home. My son could not come up with a name for his new friend. My daughter, who has always been very protective of her younger brother tried to help find a name that he could pronounce. Finally, the name Clover was discovered.

From day one, we heard Richard having conversations with Clover when no one was looking. He had language. He needed someone with the patience to listen and who did not ask him to repeat himself or explain what he meant. Clover had all those qualities. Later we added Tigger to our family. This time Richard named him, another breakthrough.

Richard is now 19 and in college. Tigger and Clover were older when they came to us. Now they are in Kitty Heaven. But Linus and Melody have joined our family. They are five-years old and have been with us since they were kittens. They did homework with Richard while he was in high school. To this day I believe that they can do algebra and chemistry better than he can. We laugh about this at home.

Richard is majoring in art and Linus is his major critic. He sits quietly by him when he’s drawing or working on a project, just as he did while he was working on algebra and chemistry. I still swear that I hear them talk about lighting and perspective. Melody doesn’t stay behind either. She can’t wait for him to finish a project to take a peek. While Linus coaches, Melody waits patiently in another room and comes in to vocally check out the finished product.

Thanks to the bond between our feline relatives and us, Richard has friends, attends college and is not ashamed of having autism. He once told me that he believed all cats have autism, because “Cats are like me. They look at everything and think about it when everyone thinks they’re not paying attention and they only talk when they have something to say.” I’m not an animal psychologist, but I do know one thing . . . life has been a blessing since we discovered “Cat!”

"And the Lord God made them all"

Author's Disclaimer: I would caution that I don't know if pets improve the life of all children with autism. However, there is a great deal of anecdotal material out there, including books, of people with autism whose lives have been enriched by domesticated animals such as cats, dogs and horses. I have known a little boy with autism who is a very different person when he is with his dog. I have strong suspicion that there is some correlation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reprint of "The Anipal Times" National Feral Cat Day

National Feral Cat Day In The U.S.

25 OCTOBER 2010
written by CHESHIRE KITTEN in the Community Service section of The Anipal Times
Little One in the ginger
Little One in our garden. She ate at our house for six years.
The United States just celebrated the 10th National Feral Cat Day on 16 October 2010. Alley Cat Allies, a group of humans who advocate for cats, started this event as part of an education campaign to increase awareness for appropriate care of feral cats. ACA education and advocacy aims to protect the interests of all domestic cats and to reduce the number of cats killed in pounds and shelters every year. Since ACA’s founding, humans have started more than 250 local non-profits to help feral cats.

Feral Cat Advocacy And Education

You might wonder why feral cats need an advocacy organization. Well, not all humans are excited to see cats in the garden. The Washington Post recently published a story in the gardening section that touched on conflict between cats and bird advocates. The bird people say that cats outdoors are killing large numbers of migratory birds. The Alley Cat Allies spokeswoman, however, says that humans kill many more birds with cars, etc., than feral cats do, but she agrees with bird advocates that companion cats should be kept inside or closely supervised while outdoors. The article also mentions bibs for cats, a recent invention that interferes just enough with cats’ coordination and timing to make it hard for us to catch birds but not enough to keep us from jumping around and having a grand time outside.
The first thing humans need to learn to make effective policies for cats is the differencebetween stray cats and ferals. Stray cats are socialized to humans and will converse with them or be friendly while ferals are unaccustomed to human contact and are very wary. Stray cats can be adopted into homes and thrive, whereas ferals are too uncomfortable to live inside. Alley Cat Allies advocates trap, neuter and release (TNR) and a return to life in their colonies for ferals.
The second thing they need to understand is how fast cats can reproduce if they aren’t spayed or neutered. Animal control policies that rely on rounding up homeless cats and euthanizing them don’t really work to control cat population because more cats are always coming. Research shows that TNR reduces cat populations over time.

National Feral Cat Day Celebrations

Some communities celebrate National Feral Cat Day by organizing spay/neuter clinics for feral cats. Volunteers at the veterinary school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville performed operations on 108 feral cats, WBIR reported. Feral cats even got attention in the nation’s capital. NBC Washington reported on CatNIPP, a Washington Humane Society TNR program. In addition to the National Feral Cat Day initiative, this group traps, neuters and releases 70 or 80 cats every month.
Other communities celebrate by improving life for ferals by updating habitat or improving ferals’ relationship with humans. WNDU reported that volunteers of the Michiana Feral Cat Initiative in Mishawaka, Indiana,  built shelters out of Styrofoam to help keep ferals warm in the winter. A community in New York made 16 October a special day to adopt semi-feral, or barn cats, the Hudson Valley Press reported. In California, the group Catalyst for Cats celebrated by reminding other humans the service feral cats perform by controlling the rodent population, the Santa Maria Times reported. According to the article, cats provide a much “greener” rodent removal than placing poison in the yard.
More than 200 communities celebrated  National Feral Cat Day celebrations this year, Elizabeth Parowski of ACA said. In addition to events, several cities, including Baltimore, Washington and Chicago, have officially adopted a TNR policy for feral cats.
“There is a national shift taking place, where cities and communities are looking for humane ways to care for stray and feral cats—and not resort to killing healthy animals. And we’re here to help,” Parowski said. ACA sells gear that can make for great openers for conversations about TNR.
On a personal note, Mack, one of our garden kitties, is at the vet for his neutering operation as I finish this story. So far this year, my humans have taken in six. At the moment, we have one more to go, a little black girl we call Twinkle.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Snoopy is Home!

This is Snoopy. He's a 5 month old puppy who is loved by everyone in the neighborhood. The kids love him, he loves them, he'd never run away, yet last week he was suddenly gone. Turns out that Snoopy's Mom has a brother who needed money so he dog-napped him. She got Snoopy back this week (yesterday) because her brother tried to sell him to someone she knows.  She wants to get him a microchip now. Can't blame her, no one would want to lose him again!  Good to know that some animals are that well loved, isn't it?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog the Change 4 Animals - Sponsor if you Cannot Adopt

Katie - Mom's Sponsor Kitty
Mom's a rescuer.  She has been since she was sixteen.  Mom will rescue any animal but there are certain ones that tug on her heartstrings. Mom has become a special needs animal rescuer and sponsor.  She started with a cat with a gangrened leg. She was brought into the vet where mom worked. The owner wanted to put her to sleep.  Mom offered to take her and pay for the amputation that the cat needed.  Mom took her home afterwards and she said that this girl kitty was the happiest cat she's ever known. Next Mom took in a kitten at 3 weeks with a blocked ureter, she needed immediate surgery and Mom had it done.  Mom called her "Monkey Cat" because she hung on Mom's neck all the time like a monkey. 
Mom then started a no-kill shelter with a friend of hers. They'd worked together at other shelters and made a great match.  The shelter is Paws and Purrs Humane Society.  Mom became known as the difficult case rescuer there. She took care of all of the sick or dying or the animals that were very feral-like.
  Mom found that you can't keep or rescue all of the animals that you want to.  She found North Shore Animal League America and discovered that she could sponsor cats that had special needs and loved it.  Those cats were animals that she wanted to help but physically and financially could not take them all in.  Sponsoring was a wonderful alternative in her mind. 
  Scarlett was her first. She was a mother cat who went into a fire to rescue her kittens.  She suffered many burns from that and needed much special care.  Scarlett died eventually and NSAL assigned Katie to Mom (shown in picture above). Katie has a severe case of Ceberellar hypoplasia otherwise known as CH. She lives too far away and Mom had kids that needed her that made fostering or adoption impossible.  Mom is still sponsoring Katie to this day.
  My point, now that I've been able to reach it, is that there are many animals who cannot be easily fostered or adopted, or families who can't foster or adopt for one reason or another. Instead of giving up, do what Mom did and sponsor an animal.  Sponsoring provides money that foster families or shelters need to keep these cats alive and healthy instead of being euthanized. There are so many shelters who are set up to do this. It's satisfying and life saving.  And animals all over will be grateful for their warm beds, full tummies, and love.
  If you use Twitter I suggest, along with hashtags such as #TweetAPetTues, also use #UnableToAdoptSponsor for animals that could use sponsoring, or for yourself as an animal sponsor.  Be the Change 4 Animals!