Story Time @ S.T.A.R.T. II

When Morpheus was first diagnosed with cancer, I read to him daily.  After he took his medication, we would sit together on the bed and I would take us on an adventure where cancer didn’t exist.  Usually it was somewhere in the Star Trek universe.  Most times Morpheus fell asleep.  Each novel I read dealt with bravery and sacrifice.  The morals hit close to home for both of us.  At times I asked myself if reading to him helped him at all.  Like my vet pointed out, hearing my voice relaxed him and put him at ease.  It was certainly making him feel more comfortable.  But most importantly, we were spending quality time together.  We read Star Trek novels everyday for a month and half together.  The last book I started reading with Morpheus was one of Philip K. Dick’s collection of short stories.  We never made it the end and the book is in his cardboard box with several of his favorite toys on the shelf in our bedroom closet.  I can’t finish it.

Then a few months ago (I’m sure you animal lovers have heard about this), there was an article about school children reading to the dogs at a shelter.  This always stuck in my memory and I thought it a great idea.

So, the past week, we have been integrating cats into our cat room at START II, slowly tearing down cages and closely monitoring behaviors and interactions.  The kittens have been having a blast running around and sleeping wherever.  Some of the adults would rather nap in the corner, but the kittens are haywire.  I decided to have a story time hour (or two) with the kitties in the cat room.

Yesterday after I finished cleaning, I started reading Isaac Asimov’s The Complete Stories Volume 1 aloud to the kitties.  I sat against the wall on a cat bed, pulled another cat bed next to me, and began.  No sooner did I get done with the first page, I had 7 kittens surrounding me, two on my lap, five in the bed next to me.  The adult cats were able to roam freely without worrying about kitten playtime crazies.  After about half an hour, many of the cats were relaxed and purring, belly up and happy.  I’ll be making it a weekly tradition now.  Every Monday, the kitties will get story time with Col.  The book is large, so we’ve got plenty to keep us busy. 😉  Wish I had a photo of it.  Other volunteers got a kick out of the scene.


Rags to Riches Adoption

Last week I wrote about Blaze, the cat that was rescued by a good Samaritan when a group of kids tried breaking his legs.

Well, Tuesday night (July 2nd), Blaze was adopted!

He went from an abused street cat to a little girl’s best friend.  A family saw Blaze in Wayne on Sunday and fell in love with him.  He worked over his new forever family good, too!  Blaze made himself cozy in his new guardian’s lap and sat next to their little girl (her lap was too small for them).  That cat is going to be living in a nice neighborhood with a family that loves him to pieces.  Between Sunday and Tuesday, the little girl kept asking if they were going to pick up Blaze.  They will grow up together and be companions to each other.  And they will form a bond that is unique to a little girl and her favorite kitty.

Many tear-filled congratulations to Blaze!

I’ll miss him, but I’m so happy for him at the same time.  I knew once he had an opportunity to meet the public, he wouldn’t be staying long in START II’s care. 🙂




SONY DSCA couple of weeks ago I entered the shelter on a Sunday morning, making my rounds to all the cat cages and making sure everyone was okay.  In the office of our shelter, we have smaller stainless steel cages.  Typically, we use these as a “quarantine” area for new cats entering the shelter.  I’ve noticed that the smallness of the space doesn’t overwhelm a newcomer so much.  The stainless steel is also easier to disinfect.  Most of this year these cages have been empty on days that I volunteer.  New cats were quickly taken to the vet to get tested and checked, thus they found themselves a larger cage quicker.  However, we are completely overwhelmed right now with kitties.  These cages fill quickly now.  That morning I heard hissing from the top leftmost cage.  I opened the door to find a terrified black cat.

This cat was Blaze.  He had himself trapped behind his litter box.  After his initial hissing, Blaze started meowing at me.  It wasn’t the type of meow that said, “Hey, how’s it going?  Nice to meet ya.”  His meow was one of distress.  I read his cage card to see if anything was the matter physically with him that I couldn’t detect visually.  Healthy as they come.  Blaze’s meowing had me a little unnerved.

I gave Blaze a few deep blinks before sticking my hand in his cage.  When he returned the blinks and started purring, I put my hand halfway in his cage.  Blaze met my hand to smell it.  Then he rubbed his cheek against me.  I started to give him cheek scratches and continued the deep blinks.  I spoke softly to him, in which he responded well.  I knew he would be okay once Blaze showed me his belly.

Later that morning I spoke to Marge.  She told me his history, which goes a little something like this:

Blaze was frequenting the streets in a bad area of Paterson.  A good Samaritan had been watching him for several weeks.  One day, a group of vile kids ganged up on Blaze.  They tried breaking his legs because of the color of his fur.  The good Samaritan intervened, rescuing Blaze.  She kept Blaze as long as she could with her other cats.  She was living in an abandoned building with the cats.  One of the females, Bubbles, suffered complications while giving birth, so she called START II.  She was no longer able to care for all of the cats and asked START II to help find them homes.  We did.  Blaze had not suffered any major injuries from horrible experience on the street.

The following day (Monday) I was at the shelter again.  Blaze was still distressfully meowing from his cage.  When I checked on him, he was in the same position behind the litter box.  We went through our Sunday morning ritual.  This time Blaze came a little closer to the front.  He had feces caked to his fur near his thigh.  I moved his litter box and saw that he wasn’t using it, but, rather, was going all over himself.  I cleaned him up and let Jodi know.  We both felt really bad that he was having a hard time adjusting.  To make sure he ate, we placed his food and water near the back of the cage with him.

On Wednesday I was at the shelter again.  Luckily, Blaze began using the litter box.  He still was meowing like crazy.  Blaze started meowing more when we walked away from his cage.  Kinda like he was suffering from separation anxiety.  Jodi started telling me about when she picked up Blaze and Bubbles (she had just gotten out of kitty hospital, after she had an emergency procedure), they were really friendly together.  Then it clicked. Jodi wondered if he was missing his pal, Bubbles.  Both of us transferred Bubbles into a huge condo cage.  She didn’t mind the extra room.  We tried getting Blaze, but he wouldn’t let us pick him up.  We weren’t going to give up though.


Blaze & Bubbles – photo sent from Jodi

Thursday afternoon I received a text message with a picture from Jodi.  Blaze’s transfer to Bubble’s cage was a success!

By the time Sunday rolled around, Blaze was a completely different cat. He socialized with everyone, took strolls out of his cage, ate throughout the day, and played with kittens.  He was being a normal cat again.  Blaze followed Mona and me around everywhere.

It’s been a few weeks since he first arrived in our care.  He’s doing wonderful.  Bubbles made a huge difference in Blaze coming out of his shell.  She was the only “person” that made him feel comfortable.  Despite what Blaze has been through, he still trusts people – in fact, he loves them to pieces.  When I was taking his pictures, he kept trying to give kisses to the camera lens.  Blaze is going to make a family very lucky they adopted him.

We thought that Blaze and Bubbles would have to be adopted together.  However, once Blaze regained his confidence, Bubbles and him would do their own thing and play with different cats.  Sometimes it seemed like they were happy to get away from each other.  Although we’re not pushing that they be adopted together, it would still be nice to keep these two friends together.  Especially during the transition of a shelter to a home.

Below are their Petfinder profiles.  Both are available for adoption as of today!

Blaze’s Profile     Bubbles’ Profile


Blaze playing during photoshoot

Blaze playing during photoshoot

Bubbles - Blaze's partner in crime!

Bubbles – Blaze’s partner in crime!


Farewell, Houdini!

Yes, Houdini was adopted over the weekend!!

He’s such an awesome cat and deserving of an equally awesome home.  I was so happy when I heard he was adopted.  Yet, sad at the same time.  I mean, you just can’t replace his level of awesomeness with a snap of a finger.  But it’s all good.  I know he’s better in a home.  We all knew he would charm the crowd, so to speak, once he was able to get into the room at Petsmart.  And he did.  Houdini worked his magic.  So much so, that he had several adoption applications on him!  Since he’s a little dominate around other cats, we thought he would do best in a home where he was the only kitty.

Houdini worked the crowd.  He wasn’t at Petsmart for more than 24 hours, either!  Rolled around on his back, invited belly rubs, and turned his new forever parents into mush. 🙂  I love that cat!  Many congrats, Houdini!!!

Houdini - now in a forever home!

Houdini – found a forever home!