How did cats become such a huge part of your life? Were you born a cat lover or at what point in your life did they steal your heart?
I was definitely born a cat lover. My mother had a ginger cat that used to lie, purring across her pregnant belly when she was expecting me. Thus I fell in love with cats before I was born. To me, there is no sound more beautiful than the soothing purr of a happy cat.
My earliest memory of cats stems from an incident that happened when I was about three years old. Mom and I were visiting my gran and I wandered off to explore gran’s garden, when I stumbled upon a kitty, fast asleep under a bush. I scooped him up in my arms with delight. He was most tolerant of my enthusiastic embrace and when I proudly dumped him on the floor at my gran’s feet she was incredulous. Apparently, he was quite a vicious tom living as a feral in the neighbourhood and normally did not allow anyone to come near him. He had been as meek as a lamb in my arms.
Can you tell us about some of the fur babies that have shared your life? Which have left the biggest paw prints on your heart?
All cats are special and I’d need hours and hours to tell you about all of the cats who have been a part of my life. At the moment there are fourteen permanent residents and several that I’m fostering. Misty is the current boss cat so I’ll single her out. She was found in a cemetery at the age of about three weeks. She was being used as a soccer ball by a group of grave diggers when someone attending a funeral noticed the abuse, rescued her, and raced off to the vet with her. My vet – knowing that I can’t say no to cases like this – immediately called me and asked if I’d be up to the challenge of nursing Misty. It was touch and go and caring for her was no easy task. She needed constant care. Many of her bones were broken and she was in really bad shape, but Misty is a fighter and although she lost an eye, she pulled through and is now the proverbial “iron fist in the velvet glove”.
Please tell us all about your rescue work.
As a child and throughout my adult life, I’ve always brought home strays and fed ferals but I really started taking it seriously when Misty arrived. I became part of the huge, informal animal rescue network and began volunteering as a cat fosterer for various shelters, taking in unwanted and rescued cats and kittens. We cleared out the large, sunny room at the front of the house. I put mesh on the windows and external door and refurbished the room to make it comfortable for cats. We decided to call it Mew-Topia.
Mew-Topia was soon bursting at the seams as I took in more and more waifs. My rescue efforts spilled over to all the rooms of the house. At one point we had fifty two kittens and thirteen adult cats. Many of the babies were orphans and needed to be bottle fed every three hours and most of them were ill with snuffles and miscellaneous other diseases. It was exhausting but enormously rewarding for me and my two teen daughters who assist me, although I’ve promised myself never again to take on so many at one time.
This past season I took in twenty. I’m still looking for homes for five of them for before I can take in a new batch. Those that really can’t be homed for various reasons end up staying and my own “collection” of psychotic, blind, cripple and geriatric cats keeps growing.
How did you become a cat writer? What have you written and what are you working on now?
Imagine if you will, a bleak and barren landscape of ice and snow. It’s dark. Suddenly the night sky is ripped apart by a flash of lightning. A shower of sparks rains down on the frozen land. Then, small, fluffy, grey cat uncurls as the sparks fizzle into the snow around her.
This is the story of an Ice Age boy who befriends a wild cat. There is much more to the cat then first meets the eye and this fantasy adventure was very well received by not only my target audience of eight to thirteen year olds, but by adults too.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, particularly about cats but several years ago when we lost Angelica – a very special little cat – my daughters were distraught. To comfort them, I made up a story of how I imagined one of her nine lives to have been. Every night I told the girls a part of the story to help them fall asleep. Eventually I got around to writing down the story and last year I published Ice Angel – a fictitious tribute to Angelica – on Amazon.
The success of the first book inspired me to write a second one – Angel Bones. This time I wrote a book in tribute to Tammy – our cat with only one eye and no tail. It’s a fictitious account of the events that led up to the findings of a French archaeologist and his team. They discovered a grave on Cyprus where a human and a young cat – minus its tail - were buried together. This is the oldest fossil evidence of human and cat association.
I’m currently working on a book set in Russia during the Bolshevik revolution and needless to say, cats are the heroes.
What is the greatest lesson that cats have taught you?
How fragile and ephemeral life really is. Yesterday we lost one of our little rescue kittens. This happens often in rescue, as the cats and kittens usually come from the most dire of circumstances and are often seriously ill. Despite one’s best efforts, some of them don’t make it. As I held her in my hands in the waiting room at the vet’s, she drew her last breath and I realized afresh that nothing can ever be taken for granted. I’m grateful for each day and all the special people and animals in my life.
About Linda Deane: Linda Deane is an avid cat fan. She rescues and rehomes abandoned and abused cats and kittens providing a safe haven, veterinary care and sterilisation for them until a forever home can be found for them. She calls her home Mew-Topia Cat Haven and there are never less than 15 cats in residence at any given time - usually more. To fund her rescue efforts she writes about cats. Her books are aimed at children mainly but most adults enjoy them too.
Ice Angel: Take a flight of fantasy with Angelica, a visitor from another world as she travels back in time to rescue a clan of Ice Age people. In this historical fantasy, we go back to our Ice Age roots and see the world through the eyes of a young man who has some tough choices to make as he grows up in a very harsh world. Can Angelica help him find the courage within to defeat evil and fulfil his destiny? If you like the Warriors series, you'll love this story inspired by the real life Angelica who graces the cover.