Cat Writer’s Association Post Number Six

I am very pleased to be able to bring you a new installment of the Cat Writer’s Association stories. In this “issue”, we have four more members. I’m happy to get to know them and glad to be able to share their stories with all of you. It has been so enjoyable for me to get to know some of you in this way.

Now here are your stories:

BJ Bangs

Perhaps you have had a chance to enjoy BJ’s blog. It’s called www.bjbangs.net (Paws for Reflection.) BJ started the blog some years ago, but due to an intense work schedule, she has not been able to blog in it consistently for the past few years. Now things are changing for her, and she is making much-needed updates and changes.

BJ Bangs and Lenny

BJ Bangs and Lenny

She began blogging to become recognized as a credible cat writer. Her purpose was to get some freelancing writing gigs with national magazines and blogs. She has been successful in this venture, having been published in “Cat Fancy,” “Cat Talk,” “Catster,” and “BlogPaws.”

She hopes now to expand her freelance writing and monetize her blog. She wants to publish a few books (mostly about cats) as well. She is working on a book that she hopes to have finished by the end of the year. The title is 50 Places to Get Your Cat Fix on Vacation.

Orange cat named Little Yellow

Little Yellow

BJ was a journalist, photographer, and public relations specialist for over 20 years. Now she is entering the world of retirement, and has plans to blog and write about cats full-time.

BJ says, “I absolutely love cats.” Currently, she has three cats. She has lost two in the past two years. She says she had cats when growing up, but in early adulthood, was hesitant to get a cat as she thought it might be too much of a commitment. Then she met her first cat — a gorgeous Maine coon — outside a bar.

That was her first cat rescue. She says that all of her cats have been rescues, and she thinks she will own cats forever. She plans to take their ashes with her when she passes on. She says cats are her passion, and they are so often misunderstood. She thinks of herself as being very cat-like, as she is independent. She feels she may have been a cat in a past life.

BJ Bangs and Linus

BJ Bangs and Linus

Though BJ has worked with cat rescues, she is not actively involved in rescue at this time. She says she does try to get to the shelter to photograph cats and kittens to use in her blog posts as well as on social media. She loves to attend cat shows, as these are great places to meet like-minded cat people and to stock up on some great photographs.

Instead of offering a favorite cat story, she has chosen from a few that she would like to share. Below are some links to some of her favorite blog posts and articles that involve tales about her cats

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/adoption-met-my-first-cat-outside-a-bar

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/one-cat-woman-crazy-cat-lady

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-grief-victory-special-human-death-loss

https://www.bjbangs.net/2016/05/26/rescuing-cat-stuck-in-tree/ (This is about my cat who had to be rescued)

https://www.bjbangs.net/2013/12/26/the-winter-solstice-a-new-season-with-many-new-doors-opening-without-mom/

https://www.bjbangs.net/2013/12/13/friday-the-13th-paws-hopes-dec-13-is-a-good-day-friday-sept-13-an-asthma-attack-and-fears-of-death/

https://www.bjbangs.net/2017/04/23/meet-cats-lenny-feral-kitten-learned-everything-from-humans/

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-care-safety-winter-cold-weather-tips-cars (This is a story about my cat who went for a ride on top of the car.)

For this article about BJ and for the others as well, please leave a comment at the end of the post. We will all appreciate them. We can also pass on any CWA member book orders.

Claire Bertolini

Here we meet another cat blogger, this one written by Claire Bertolini, who lives in Yvorne, Switzerland. Her blog is called The Swiss Cats. Here is a link:  https://www.swisscatblog.ch

This blog features feline focused content written in French and translated to English, German, and Italian by Claire. Its mission is to educate and entertain cat lovers across the globe. The Swiss Cats is a cat lifestyle blog, and includes topics like behavior and health and safety, as well as funny anecdotes inspired by her real

Calico cat, lying down

Pixie

Swiss cats, Pixie and Zorro.

Claire is a part-time elementary school teacher by profession. She also serves as executive assistant (decan) at her school, and she blogs about cats.

She supports a shelter: twice a year. When Pixie or Zorro celebrate their Gotcha

Day, she runs a commentary on her blog for the shelter (1 comment = 1 CHF (Swiss franc). She helps a lady who takes care of a feral colony and practices TNR as well twice a year.

(I had to ask Claire about “Gotcha Day.” It’s adoption day, for the cat.)

She volunteers for the SMTZ, which is the national animal emergency call center. This organization shares notices about missing or found animals. She also supports them with a donation.

Black cat; white chest spot, sitting

Zorro

Claire tells us that she is owned by two cats, Pixie and Zorro. She says that they are nice enough to share their home with Claire and her husband.

She reminisces that when she was a child she had a huge black cat named Mephisto, aka Tubuche. As she was an only child, the cat was her favorite playmate. She could dress him gently, and carry him awkwardly (he weighed 7 kg, or 15 lb.) She played ambush with him and petted him for hours.

She recalls that he was always with her. He’d be purring like crazy and giving her cat slow blinks. One day when she was sick, he jumped on her bed and even growled and hissed at the doctor to protect her. She had no need for a dog — the cat was her guardian.

Kimberly Fleck

Kimberly is originally from Cape Cod and later lived in the Boston area. In 2006, she relocated to Connecticut, and currently resides in New Britain, Connecticut. Kimberly was an educator for 15 years until she faced and dealt with health challenges.

Since January 2014, she has been the owner of a small social media business called Brand Fearless. Its sole purpose is social media for social good. Their every action is taken with the idea of bringing good to the world.

Kimberly has been involved in rescue in one form or another for over two decades. She was a special education teacher who incorporated humane education into the classroom for years, running groups in schools where she brought students with emotional and behavioral concerns to shelters to work with animals.

She has worked for changes in animal legislation, served as a volunteer at numerous shelters, helped with spay neuter clinics, TNR, was a feral colony caregiver, involved in transporting animals, fostering, adoption events and fundraising. She is a Red Rover Responder and volunteers her social media services to two animal rescue organizations.

Kimberly says, “Animals are my greatest love. At one time I took care of 22 rescue animals and a feral colony for 10+ years. She says she now has four rescue cats that she does not own. Instead, she believes they own her. Here are the stories of her four kitty family members:

1. Wu Kitty

Wu Kitty is an orange girl rescued from Manhattan ACC (New Hope, which is referred to as No Hope.) She was labeled “red” for behavior and the public could notWu-Kitty with book adopt her. She was considered semi-feral and was very sick. I got a rescue to pull her in March 2013, and I took her home. She will turn eight on October 10.

She is the online mascot for the Wu Healing Center in West Hartford, Connecticut and Maynard, Massachusetts. She has a very active Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WuRescueKitty/) She recently started her Instagram site (https://www.instagram.com/wukitty11/) She is best known for her Wisdom In The MEOW and her adventures with the white dog with brown spots, aka Finnegan (my rescue dog).

You would enjoy the short story about her: Wu Kitty Rescued From The Row.

2. The Count

The Count is a Maine coon mix, eight years old. Kimberly rescued him from the feral

tiger-striped grey Maine coon cat

The Count

colony at her old residence. Though not feral, he was definitely a mess and a behavioral menace. Kimberly says she adores him and he keeps her on her toes. She tells us he is absolutely majestic with his gorgeous long whiskers and soulful eyes.

3. Lady P

She is my sweet 17-year-old black kitty. She is a rescue from West Roxbury, Massachusetts, and the kindest being you will meet. Her sole purpose is to provide comfort to humans and animals when they are going through difficult times, either physical or emotional.

She is a two-year cancer thriver who attends monthly holistic visits for acupuncture, energy work and chiropractic care (as do all of Kimberly’s animals.) Lady P is going to be 18 on St. Patrick’s Day.

Two black cats sitting on rug

Lady P and Midi

4. Midi

A rescue from the projects in Willimantic, Connecticut, Midi (Midnight) is a gorgeous, voluptuous black cat who will be turning 14 on October 5. She and The Count are absolutely infatuated with one another, though she is MUCH older than he. Kimberly says, “I guess she’s a cougar of sorts.”

“With a tranquil presence and calming purrs, cats have the ability to heal,” affirms Kimberly. “They also heal through their funny antics, fierce loyalty, and the hard-won lessons they sometimes teach the humans closest to them.” You can read some of these stories in the book, Rescued Volume 2: The Healing Stories of Twelve Cats Through Their Eyes.

This book, which includes a story done by Kim, contains 12 stories of cats, the humans who healed them, and how they in turn healed their humans. The stories for the Rescued series are compiled and edited by renowned author and publisher, Janiss Garza.

Kimberly says she has endless cat stories that all hold a special place in her heart. One cat, that she called her “soul cat”, was Yum-Yum, a Siamese Snowshoe rescue from New Hampshire, stole her heart from the moment they met. She had always wanted to adopt a Siamese. Yum-Yum was only a year old when Kimberly adopted her.

The cat fell extremely ill, and multiple vets told Kimberly to put her to sleep, but, she says, “Yum-Yum kept telling me different. She had severe stomatitis and Bartonella +4. Her “mother” learned there was one vet dentist who might be able to help her, but getting an appointment was difficult.

However, as luck would have it, a friend whose husband was a vet said the vet dentist in question had gone to school with her husband. The appointment was made; Yum-Yum saw him and had two surgeries. All her teeth were removed and she received bone grafts, Chinese herbs and six months of pulsing medicines.

Kimberly had to wake up every few hours to do meds and care for her. The Siamese never grew big, but always looked like a kitten. Kimberly called Yum-Yum the $10,000 kitty, as her medical bills were that and more. However, her kitty mom says she was worth much more. She handled all these difficulties with dignity, style and grace.

Yum-Yum had ongoing IBD issues and various kidney scares; in the end she passed away from renal failure. With all her difficulties, she lived to be 13 and led a life filled with love and laughter. She rode Kimberly’s shoulder throughout the house, slept in her arms every night and chatted with her during the day, filling her heart with purest love.

Kimberly says “My house has become quieter without the sounds of my sweet Yum-Yum on Kim's shoulderSiamese girl and I miss her at the core of my being. However, I know the Rainbow Bridge is brighter today and that she is watching over the rest of us while being reunited with those before her.”

According to Kimberly, a cat communicator once told her during Yum-Yum’s health trials that she need not worry; that Yum-Yum was a warrior who would wear pearls while rocking combat boots at the same time. She says,”I just smile as I remember her gorgeous blue eyes and delicate paws, and her powerful presence, even at five pounds.”

 

Peggy Gavan

Peggy was born at Loring Air Force Base in Maine (her dad was a captain who flew B-52 bombers during the Cuban Missile Crisis), but shortly after the United States became more heavily involved in the Vietnam War, her dad left the service. Then they moved to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.

It was here Peggy spent her childhood, including many trips to the old Palisades Amusement Park in Fort Lee. The very first story she wrote for her blog, http://hatchingcatnyc.com/ was about a cat who sailed from France to New York in 1911 to “perform” in a sideshow at Palisades Amusement Park (the cat loved to hatch chicken eggs!).

Peggy currently lives with her husband, Joe Ebler, in Warwick, New York, about anPeggy Gavan photo hour north of Manhattan in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Right now, Peggy is a medical editor for a global healthcare advertising agency.

She’s also been a newspaper reporter, children’s book club editor, catalog copywriter, medical writer, and corporate marketing writer (she says she tends to change jobs every few years). 

Peggy has written her first nonfiction book, called The Cat Men of Gotham: Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York. This book explores the history of New York through 42 true stories of the heroic cat men of Gotham and their beloved feline companions.

Here is a brief synopsis of the book:

It was a rough time to be a stray cat in New York City in the nineteenth century. The city’s human residents dealt with feline overpopulation by gassing unwanted cats or tossing them in rivers. A few lucky ones were rescued by a diverse array of men, including firemen, cops, athletes, and politicians. These cats were welcomed into their homes and hearts.

Culled from newspaper and magazine archives from the 1880s to the 1930s, these history-laden tales are organized into nine cat-lives chapters, each representing a cat “occupation”: seafaring cats, vermin-fighting cats, fire, police, and civil servant cats; schmoozy hotel and restaurant cats; lucky cats, and pampered pets.

Book cover: Cat Men of GothamWhether you are a history fan or a cat fancier, this book should appeal to you. You will go on a journey through the streets of old Manhattan and Brooklyn, while being amused and astounded by amazing tales of powerful men and their pussycats.

Peggy says she has always been in love with cats, ever since she started sneaking her neighbors’ cats into her house when she was about two or three years old. Over the years, she’s had several cat companions. Right now, she has two cats — a tuxedo named Boo (17 years old) and a dilute calico named Misha (5 years old.)

She and her husband also volunteer as cat socializers at their local humane society (which is where she has adopted most of her cats.)

Boo and Misha, lying on floor

Boo and Misha

She says her favorite cat stories are all featured in her book, of course. One of the tales that stands out, though, is about Jerry Fox, a cat who was “the mayor of Brooklyn” during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Jerry was friends with all the politicians, trolley men, and workmen building the Brooklyn Bridge.

He lived to be 28 years old. When he started to lose his eyesight, a Brooklyn doctor made him a special pair of cat glasses! Jerry lived an amazing life, but Peggy says you will have to read the book to get the whole story.

Peggy’s story concludes our CWA chronicles for this post. Be sure to leave comments below. If you would like to contact the member or order a book, please send us that information as well. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it.


2 Responses to Cat Writer’s Association Post Number Six

  1. What a pleasure to meet these very accomplished and dedicated ladies! I enjoyed each and every story. I follow Wu Kitty and knew some of her background but there’s always room to learn more!
    Thank you all for what you do for our sweet four legged fur friends!😻😻👍❤

    • Fran Kelso says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Cheryl. Writing these posts have been a pleasure for me, too, as I am a relatively new member of CWA. It’s really great to learn the stories of these talented people. Please come back and visit again. If you have not already read them, enjoy the other five CWA posts…and be sure to tell others to visit as well!

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