Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Children's Books Focus on Cat Adoption

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! To wrap up Adopt a Cat Month we wanted to tell you about a few new children's books that teach kids the importance of responsible pet ownership. Giveaway copies are available for all of them, too!

In Carmella the Cat readers find out how Carmella, a stranded, orange and white tabby kitten, was rescued and adopted into a loving fur-ever home and what it means to be responsible for another living being. In the second book in the series, Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing, kids learn about being a patient pet owner, as Carmella explores her new environment!

Each book is written by Ann Cerino, illustrated by Kathy Kunsman, and retails for $12.95. A 10% portion of the proceeds goes to local animal rescue organizations in the Lehigh Valley, PA area, which is where Ann is from. Additional books in the series will be launched in 2016 and beyond.

The Carmella the Cat series is based on Ann’s cat, the real Carmella. Carmella was found, along with her littermates, in a flooded drainage ditch, and was the only kitten to survive. She was rushed to “The Cat Doctor,” Dr. Ackerman, who helped save her life by treating her until she was healthy and ready to be adopted. When Carmella was well, Dr. Ackerman introduced the tiny kitten to Ann, who had recently put her cat to sleep, and a loving, fur-ever match was made.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with sweet Carmella and ask her a few questions about her life and book series.

Truffles: Welcome, Carmella! Thank you so much for taking a few moments to chat with me. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live with your human?

Carmella: I was adopted by my Mom when she was at her vet's office. The Cat Doctor saved my life and when Mom saw me , she fell in love with me immediately. I still needed some care then went home with Mom 2 weeks later.

Your name is very beautiful. Does it have any special meaning?

My name in Italian means "garden". The Cat Doctor wanted a name that was flowery. I am also the color of caramel candy.

Please tell us about your sweet children's books and what inspired you to write them.

Mom wrote the books because she wanted to share my story and it's happy ending.

What do you hope kids learn from them?

We want everyone to know it's important for all animals to have a "Forever" home.

Do you have more books planned?

We have four more books to publish.

After such a rough beginning, what's life like for you today?

My life now is the BEST! I am the Queen of the house! I just celebrated my 9th birthday last week!

Connect with Carmella online on her website, Facebook and Twitter!


The Perfect Place For Toodles tells a story of a very young cat that experiences abandonment and great loneliness more than once. He thinks he has found a permanent home with a loving family. Life is good for a time, perhaps too good. After a while the cat is left to spend many long hours in a window waiting and watching for his family to return. While there are still some fun moments with his adopted family, Toodles gets the feeling of being left out. Things really take a turn for the worst when an annoying neighbor visits more often and pays a lot more attention to the cat. When the cat is devastated by some shocking news, he makes a serious move to direct his life in a different direction.

The inspiration for Toodles’ story resulted from author Barbara Pierce’s visit to the Jersey Shore, where she found a large commune of stray cats living under the boardwalk. “My eyes were really opened to the plight of some animals,” Pierce said.

I found the ending to be incredibly sad, but unfortunately it's a very realistic look at what happens to so many family pets when kids "don't have time for them anymore". I guess that is the ultimate lesson...don't get a pet if you aren't in a position to be the best pet parent possible for their entire life.


Giveaway: I have one set of the Carmella books, and 3 copies of Toodles to give away. Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, July 6th for your chance to win. Don't forget to leave your email address, and also if you have a book preference! (US entries only, please.)

Monday, June 29, 2015

When a Book Leads to an Adventure

Every time you pick up a book the pages take you on an adventure, but how often does a book take you on a real life adventure? Not very often, and that's why I've asked for Truffles' permission to take over today to tell you a really cool story.

It's well-documented here that my mother and I are HUGE Gone with the Wind fans. (Hence, Tara's name. And don't even get us going on the nonsensical New York Post editorial calling for it to be shelved.) The love of my mother's life is Clark Gable. (It's okay, my father already knows.)

On Mother's Day I gave her a copy of the new book Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3.

From the publisher: This fresh look at Hollywood's "Queen of Screwball," Carole Lombard, presents a first-ever examination of the events that led to the shocking flight mishap that took her life on the side of a Nevada mountain in 1942. It also provides a day-by-day account of the struggles of Lombard's husband, Clark Gable, and other family, friends, and fans to cope with the tragedy. In effect, having just completed the first sale of war bonds and stamps in the nation following its entry into World War II, Lombard became the first Hollywood start to sacrifice her life in the War. The War Department offered Gable a funeral service with full military honors, but he refused it, knowing that his wife would not approve of such spectacle. Based on extensive research rather than gossip, this investigation further explores the lives of the 21 others on the plane, including 15 members of the U.S. Army Air Corps, and addresses one of the most enduring mysteries of World War II. On a clear night full of stars, with TWA's most experienced pilot at the controls of a 10-month-old aircraft under the power of two fully functioning engines, why did the flight crash into that Nevada mountainside? This gripping page-turner presents the story of the people on the plane, the friends and families left behind, and the heroic first responders who struggled up a mountain hoping to perform a miracle rescue. It is a story of accomplishment, bravery, sacrifice, and loss.

She started reading it immediately and kept telling me how much she was enjoying it. One fact that really stood out is that the co-pilot of the doomed flight, Morgan A. Gillette, hailed from right here in Burlington, Vermont. The book revealed that he was buried here, too. In passing I mentioned to her how cool it would be if he were buried in the historical Lakeview Cemetery where both of Mom's parents are buried.

A quick Google search on findagrave.com revealed that shockingly, that is exactly where he was buried.

So on Father's Day afternoon we visited the cemetery to pay our respects to my grandfather (who passed away before I was born), and to attempt to find the pilot's grave.

It almost felt like looking for a needle in a haystack, but by keeping our eyes peeled for the distinctive mausoleum in the background, we found it in under a half hour.

I find old cemeteries incredibly fascinating, and particularly love this one, so this was a pretty amazing experience. After so many years of loving Gone with the Wind and Clark Gable, to help my mother find a local tie is something I won't soon forget.

And not to get too graphic or anything, but the book goes into great detail about how in 1942 there was no DNA to identify bodies. The plane crashed into a mountain and there were body parts everywhere, so search teams "pieced people together" as well as they could. It's horrific to think about, but there's always the slightest possibility that a little part of Carole Lombard might be buried here in Burlington.

What an adventure.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

KittyKind Adoption at Strand Book Store

We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop!

Hey everybody, Truffles reporting! Since it's pretty obvious that our favorite things in life around here are books and cats, we wanted to tell you about a really cool upcoming event that merges the two.

Before she started blogging and receiving so many free books to review, one of Mommy's favorite places to order books was Strand Book Store in NYC. They have all kinds of fun gift ideas, rare and collectible books, and brand new hardcovers for half price!

Since we're on the Strand mailing list, the other day we got an email about an adoption event being held there this week in honor of Adopt a Cat Month.

KittyKind Adoption at Strand!

June 29 and 30: 3:00PM – 6:00PM

Adopt a kitty in need of a home right MEOW at Strand's KittyKind Cat-stravaganza! KittyKind, the exclusive cat partner of the famed Meow Parlour on Hester Street, will bring adoptable kittens and cats to our store for the afternoon. Meet with cat experts and adoption counselors on fostering, permanent homes, volunteering, and more! KittyKind will be accepting donations.

Stop on down to Strand's basement level for an un-fur-gettable afternoon... plus, we'll have our adorable kitty totes and merchandise readily available for you to purrr-use.

Hopefully some of our friends in the NYC area will be able to attend!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

National Sunglasses Day

My future's so bright...I gotta wear shades!!!

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today is National Sunglasses Day, so for our Caturday Art Mommy took this picture of me lounging in the window and applied the Sunglow effect in PicMonkey, then added my cute red sunglasses from their Overlays options.

Earlier this week Mommy did some more cat sitting for our neighbor T-Two. As a thank you gift, her human gave Mommy this adorable eyeglass case:

She's going to use it to hold her sunglasses. The sun has been out so little lately that they never leave her purse, so this gives them a fun place to live!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Truffles Interviews: Muffins from Footprints in the Frosting by Laura Pauling (w/Review & Giveaway)

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today I'm chatting with a really fun pup...Muffins, the canine star of Laura Pauling's Footprints in the Frosting. Following the interview is our review and a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card. I would suggest using it to buy your kitty something special...but you'll probably use it to buy more books.

Truffles: Welcome, Muffins! Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to chat with me today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live with Holly?

Muffins: Ruff Ruff!! Hi Truffles! I was a little iffy when I was sent to live with Holly. She didn’t realize it but her parents hired me as a trained watchdog. Oh, not the type that can save your life--but you maybe some day. I’m highly aware of my surroundings. I watch out for Holly, alert her to any trouble, sniff out clues and bad guys. That sort of thing. You’ll learn more why they gave me to Holly in Murder with a Slice of Cheesecake.

Isn't it fun being named after a dessert? But I have to ask...Holly specializes in cheesecake, so how did you get named Muffins?

Muffins? Fun? Not really. Geez. I wanted a strong watchdog kind of name, like Tower of Triple Fudge or Bad *ss Brownie. Though, I’ve grown used to it, because when you’re named after a dessert, the bad guys tend to underestimate you. Well, that and my size. I’m like a secret weapon.

I don’t know why Muffins. Maybe because it’s easier to say than Strawberry cheesecake? Could you imagine--me trotting off down the street only to hear, “Come here, Strawberry Cheesecake. Sit, Strawberry Cheesecake. Yeah, so not cool. 

What is a typical day like for you?

You know, the typical my-owner-is-an-amateur sleuth type of day. Eat, snooze, chase down clues, and create mischief and mayhem so Holly can do her thing. It’s really dog heaven, because most of the time, I’m with her. Not stuck in a house all day like some dogs.

What kinds of mischief do you and Holly get into in Footprints in the Frosting?

I like to call myself the Sherlock Holmes of the doggie world. Intelligent, but furry. I’m the star of high-action chase scenes. Holly might call it disobedience and threaten obedience school, but don’t let her fool you. It was all about me hot on the trail of the bad guys. Pfft. Disobedience.

Just between you and me...are there any paw prints in the frosting too?

Of course. I am a dog, after all. I not only sniff out crime, but delectable desserts.

How do you feel about kitties?

I plead the fifth. How do you feel about doggies? ;)

Anything you can tell us about your upcoming adventures?

Humph. I’m still in kind of a doggie huff. After being the main canine attraction in Footprints in the Frosting and Deadly Independence, I now have to share the limelight with a Great Dane. He’ll be introduced in Frosted on the Ferris Wheel.

From the publisher: Cheesecake, Love, and Murder! It’s the Grand Opening for Holly Hart’s new business, Just Cheesecake. When footprints in the frosting lead to a body facedown in one of her cheesecakes, Holly becomes a prime suspect. With her opening day delayed, Holly deals with a nosy no-good reporter and the local cop, the handsome Officer Trinket, as she puts her sleuthing skills to the test to save her business and her name. With the help of her dog, Muffins, she needs to find the real murderer, before the killer looks to frost someone else.

What a fun debut to the Holly Hart Cozy mystery series. Holly wakes up on the morning of her bakery Just Cheesecake's grand opening filled with nothing but excitement until she realizes her precocious pup Muffins is missing. She finds him in her shop's kitchen with a dead man who is face down in one of her cheesecakes. Who is the mystery man and what was he doing in her bakery??? Her grand opening and new life might be permanently put on hold if she doesn't track down the killer.

This is a very short book but it introduces us to some fun characters, from Officer Trinket to trouble-making reporter Millicent to cat lady Charlene (my favorite) and members of the local mystery book club. The identity of the killer really took me by surprise, and with everything wrapped up I'm looking forward to watching Holly's new business thrive. I'm also hoping to learn more about what Holly seems to be running from and why she's so distrustful of the police.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chewy.com Review: Wellness TruFood CocoChia Bakes

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Lately Mommy has been reading a lot about the benefits of coconut oil for both people and pets and decided to buy a jar for us. She was delighted to discover that I absolutely LOVE it! The only trouble is, it's so darn messy! She puts it on her fingers or a plate for me to lick off, and it ends up everywhere. She mixes it in with my food and it globs up in the corner.

Then one night a couple months ago we were participating in a BlogPaws chat with Wellness, and we heard about a new treat with coconut oil inside! We were SO excited and could hardly wait for these treats to hit our store shelves.

We waited, and we waited, and we couldn't find them anywhere. Then Chewy.com asked us to review them as part of their Blogger Outreach Program!

Wellness believes in giving pets a colorful palette of the best nutrition possible, so they made TruFood with whole foods from farm, field and sea. TruFood has more of what pets need to be vibrant and happy - that's how love becomes Wellness. When you spoil them with chia seeds and whole-prey protein, your cat gets more than just a tasty treat. These TruFood CocoChia Bakes are packed with coconut oil and probiotics to support skin and coat and digestive health.

Guess what? I didn't like them. At all. I hesitantly sniffed them but wouldn't even give them a lick, much less put one in my mouth! I asked my neighbor kitty Pumpkin to give them a try, and he felt the exact same way. (Mommy did a little research and found less than stellar reviews from other kitties on Amazon and Chewy too, so it wasn't just us left underwhelmed.)

Just when we thought all hope was lost for these treats, Mommy decided to try them on one more kitty...our neighbor T-Two, who she's cat sitting this week. And finally we hit the jackpot. She loved them.

So out of three cats, only one liked these treats. In theory they're a really good idea, but there's just something about them that doesn't appeal to many cats.

Do your cats like coconut oil? 
How do you give it to them without making a mess?

We received one free package of treats in exchange for our fair and honest review as part of the Chewy.com Blogger Outreach Program. All opinions are our own.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Treat Shopping

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Last month would've been Angel Tara's 8th Gotcha Day, and one morning Mommy turned on our computer and found this email from PetSmart:

It made her very sad that Tara wasn't here to celebrate her special day with a free treat, but I said "hey Mommy, I'm here and I can use that coupon!!!"

And of course I always get my way ;)

It's Cat World Domination Day and I dominate my little corner of the world!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Garfield Joins the Shelter Pet Project #shelterpetlove

I've been crazy about Garfield my entire life, probably because I can so easily identify with him. He's passionate about pasta, hates Mondays and mornings, and loves coffee, Christmas, and mindless TV.

Garfield is also passionate about shelter pets, and in celebration of Adopt a Cat Month he has joined The Shelter Pet Project in several new videos and shareable graphics to show the love and joy that shelter pets bring to their owners’ lives.

June marks a particularly active time for shelters and rescue groups, as it’s the peak of kitten season, when thousands of newborn homeless kittens join other cats available for adoption across the United States. There are cats for every personality in shelters and rescue groups right now, and with each adoption, the number of healthy and treatable pets who lose their lives in shelters each year declines. Currently, about 2.4 million pets still need to find a home each year.

New PSAs created for The Shelter Pet Project by the creators of Garfield and Odie urge families to make shelters and rescue groups their first stop when looking to get a new pet. Garfield encourages viewers to visit TheShelterPetProject.org to see what shelter pets are available in their area. These videos and other ads help break down misconceptions surrounding shelter pets and spread the word that pets in shelters are wonderful and loveable.

Millions of people are looking to acquire a pet within the next year. If just a small percentage choose to adopt, we could end the euthanization of healthy and treatable pets across the U.S.

How can you help?

Share a photo or video of your shelter pet in a blog post and/or social media update. Tag posts with #shelterpetlove and encourage people to visit TheShelterPetProject.org to learn more about pet adoption. By sharing how your shelter pet enhances your life, you can show people who may be hesitant to pick a shelter pet just how rewarding it is to adopt.

Share one of these social graphics on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. Tag posts with #shelterpetlove. Please tag The Shelter Pet Project on the appropriate channel (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and use #shelterpetlove when sharing!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Do Animal Movies Make You Cry? #MaxtheHero #MaxMovie

I have a history with animal movies. I have to watch every one that's released, even though they inevitably turn me into a bawling, slobbering mess. I can watch the saddest movies ever made with humans suffering tragic fates without shedding a tear, but with an animal movie I'm practically crying by the opening credits.

When I was a teenager I went to see a dog movie called Fluke with my mother. We were the only ones  in the theater and it's a good thing, because we both cried our eyes out through the entire movie. On our way back to the car I was still crying so hard that my poor mother probably thought somebody was going to call the police to report child abuse.

I've watched Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey dozens of times, but the final scene where Chance and Sassy return home to their kids and just as they're about to give up on poor old Shadow, he comes hobbling into view...I'm a goner just thinking about it.

My mother has warned me to never even *attempt* to watch Harry & Tonto, and I've taken her advice. I set myself up for heartache by watching these movies, but even I know my limits.


On June 26th another amazing animal movie is set to hit theaters, and I was so honored to be asked to help spread the word about it. I first saw the movie trailer earlier this spring (and yes, I teared up) and immediately put the date on my calendar. (Although to be perfectly honest, I'll probably wait for the DVD so I can openly weep in the comfort of my living room with Truffles as the only witness.)

Now, let me tell you about MAX:

A precision-trained military dog, Max serves on the frontlines in Afghanistan alongside his handler, U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott. But when things go terribly wrong on maneuvers, Kyle is mortally wounded and Max, traumatized by the loss of his best friend, is unable to remain in service.

Shipped stateside, the only human he seems willing to connect with is Kyle’s teenage brother, Justin, so Max is adopted by Kyle’s family, essentially saving his life. But Justin has issues of his own, such as living up to his father’s expectations for him; he isn’t interested in taking responsibility for his brother’s troubled dog. However, Max may be Justin’s only chance to discover what really happened to his brother that day on the front, and with the help of a tough-talking young teen, Carmen, who has a way with dogs, Justin begins to appreciate his canine companion.

Justin’s growing trust in Max helps the four-legged veteran revert back to his heroic self, and as the pair race against time to unravel the mystery, they find more excitement—and danger—than they bargained for. But they each might also find an unlikely new best friend…in each other.

Official movie trailer:

The theme song "Forever Young" by Blake Shelton (trust me and grab a box of Kleenex right now):

Max “Hero Dogs” Featurette:

Tell us why your pet is your hero! Share your photos and stories using the hashtags #HeroPet and #MaxMovie on social media for a chance to be featured on Warner Brothers official MAX pages!

Follow MAX on Facebook at http://facebook.com/MaxMovie and on Instagram @MaxMovie.

How do you feel about animal movies? 
Are you looking forward to seeing Max?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Truffles' #MyRescueStory for #SundaySelfies

To celebrate Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month during the month of June, Purina Cat Chow is encouraging cat people to share their cat adoption or rescue story, picture or video online using the #MyRescueStory hashtag. For every #MyRescueStory shared on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, Purina Cat Chow will subsidize a cat adoption fee – with a donation of $30 per cat and up to $1,500 per shelter – at one of its 50 shelter partners nationwide for a total anticipated donation of $75,000.

Many of you already know my rescue story, but I wanted to share it again and pawticipate in this wonderful campaign!

Mommy took these pictures of me while waiting for my adoption paperwork to be processed. It took fur-ever!!!

My predecessor, Mommy’s beloved Tara, went to the Rainbow Bridge on July 7th of 2013 following a 2 year battle with diabetes, congestive heart failure, and a splenic mass. Mommy’s life was devoted to Tara and a part of her heart went with her when she passed. Almost as difficult was adjusting to living without a kitty. It was unbearable, and she knew she wanted another tortie, because we’re such special little ladies.

She started looking at the adoptable cats on Petfinder from the same shelter that Tara was adopted from, hoping that another tortie from the same area might possibly be one of Tara’s descendants. (Tara was adopted at around age 7; she had been a stray who up until that time had not been spayed and likely had many litters.) I had been brought to the shelter by a nice lady who found me wandering around her summer camp. 

The day my picture popped up she fell in love! On August 20th I moved to my forever home! We've been pretty much inseparable ever since. I hardly ever get into trouble and Mommy says I am a purr-fect kitty. I just know that we were meant to be together forever!

Help Purina find forever homes for 2,500 cats by sharing your rescue story. All you have to do is use the hashtag #MyRescueStory.

We're also pawticipating in the Sunday Selfies blog hop hosted by The Cat on My Head.

And Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful cat daddies out there, especially my Grandpa!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Caturday Art: Belated Box Day

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Since we had another commitment yesterday, we're celebrating International Box Day a day late. I love boxes SO much. It's the best part of a package delivery...who cares what's actually *inside* the box? (Unless it's something for me, of course.)

Mommy went through her pictures and picked out her favorite "Truffles in a box" picture from the past year. I think I was pretty cute that day too. Don't you love how I tipped the box over and made a bed out of the packing paper inside?

We wanted to use the same picture for our Caturday Art this week too, and started playing around with various effects in Pho.to. We ended up going with the Pencil Painting effect. Mommy says it looks like I've sought shelter in a cardboard box from the pouring rain, and if I were an outdoor kitty that wouldn't be too far from the truth! In May we were practically in drought conditions, but since the first of June we've gotten 6 inches of rain. I know it's nothing compared to what the poor people in Texas and Oklahoma have gone through, but still, enough already!!!

Thanks to Ann at Zoolatry for the adorable Box Day graphic!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Win a $300 PetSmart Gift Card #InspiredbyCrafted

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Ideal Balance® CRAFTED, but Mochas, Mysteries and Meows only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Over the past couple months we've been raving about Hill’s® Ideal Balance™ CRAFTED, a new line of artisan crafted pet food using high quality meats, wholesome vegetables and ancient grains: the same ingredients you would see in high-end, healthy human foods. It's created in small batches using many of the same techniques that you would use in your own kitchen, and it's made in the USA with no wheat, corn, or soy as well as no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Has your cat asking you for the chance to try this new food yet? We're very excited to be taking part in an amazing group giveaway hosted by the BlogPaws Professional Blogger Network and sponsored by Hill’s Ideal Balance CRAFTED. One winner will receive a $300 gift card to PetSmart to purchase Ideal Balance CRAFTED products for either their dog or cat at their local PetSmart store. 

What will you choose???

The line's dry food is created by gently cooking the dough at 250-300 degrees to lock in flavor and nutrition. It's then carefully cut into crispy, custom-shaped kibble that cats love. Truffles' favorite is the Grain-Free Herbed Chicken & Chickpeas recipe...she eats it every single day.

For the wet food, meat, gravy and vegetables are mixed into a delicious stew, then it's canned and slow-cooked at 250 degrees to lock in flavor and nutrition. Years of taste research ensure each bite is as tasty as it can be.

If you can't wait to see what all the excitement is about, a coupon to save $7.00 off your Crafted purchase can be found on the Hill’s website.

Giveaway Rules:

* There is no purchase necessary in order to be eligible to win and is void where prohibited.
* This Giveaway is open to anyone that resides in the United States and is over the age of 18.
* Employees of Pet360, Inc., Hill's Pet Nutrition, PetSmart and their immediate families are ineligible.
* This Giveaway will be open from 6/9 - 6/30/2015 at 11:59pm ET.
* Winners will be notified on or about Wednesday 7/1/15 and will have 24 hours to respond to the email before forfeiting their prize.
* The gift card will be mailed to the winner approximately 4 – 6 weeks from acceptance.

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Truffles Interviews: Wallis from Clea Simon's Kittens Can Kill

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today I'm interviewing Wallis, the feline star of Clea Simon's popular Pru Marlowe Pet Noir mystery series. I had fun chatting with her, ladycat to ladycat, and hope you enjoy meeting her too!

Truffles: Welcome, Wallis! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live with Pru?

Wallis: Greetings, and you are most welcome. As you can see, I’m a lovely tiger-striped tabby. I was first introduced to Pru at a shelter, a lady can be a bit down on her luck. We’ve lived together several years now, because she clearly needs my guidance.

You have a rather "unusual" relationship with Pru...what is it like being able to communicate with your human?

Well, you’d think she’s listen more than she does, don’t you? Sometimes I don’t think she has the sense of a kitten. To do her credit, though, she does try. And I’ve broken her of that horrible idea that cats should not eat proper food, like roast chicken and scrambled eggs.

What is a typical day like for you?

Well, I have an entire household to supervise. Granted, Pru lives alone - though that darling Detective Creighton is welcome to stay over anytime! But we have a big house, inherited from Pru’s mom, and there are of course the resident mice and neighboring squirrels and birds. It’s quite a responsibility. I find I must nap a lot, just to keep my energy up.

In Kittens Can Kill you are left caring for a kitten named Ernesto. How did that come about and what are your feelings about your new little friend?

As I’ve told Pru, I am so done with kittens. When I was at the shelter, I had an operation so that I don’t have to deal with that anymore. I did not like being saddled with that … that infant! He was utterly obsessed with that dead lawyer, and the button he was playing with when Pru found him.

What kinds of adventures do you and Pru get into in Kittens Can Kill, and are you able to use your special means of communication to solve the mystery?

I do try to talk sense to Pru whenever I can. She misses the obvious so often, it’s a wonder she’s made it this far. I have no special interest in solving crimes. People are such silly beasts, why should I care if they kill each other. But I am fond of Pru. It has taken long enough to train her, after all. And so if I can keep her out of trouble, I will.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming adventures?

In her next adventure, Pru has begun talking a rabbit, if you can believe it. And some kind of toy spaniel. If she thinks she is bringing either of those animals into this house, she has another think coming!


The dead don’t keep pets. So when animal behaviorist expert Pru Marlowe gets a call about a kitten, she doesn’t expect to find the cuddly creature playing beside the cooling body of prominent Beauville lawyer David Canaday. Heart attack? His three adult daughters angrily blame drug interactions, feline allergies—and each other. And begin to feud over their father, his considerable estate, and that cute ball of fluff. While the cause of death is pending, each sister has an axe to grind—with arguments that escalate when David’s partner reads out the will.

Pru’s special sensitivity to animals, which caused her to flee the cacophony of Manhattan for the quiet Berkshires, adds further problems. The local vet is overwhelmed as the animal hospital’s money runs out. There’s a needy Sheltie and some invasive squirrels, too. But the dead man’s kitten, his former partner, and his troublesome family keep drawing “wild-girl animal psychic Pru back in. Despite the wry observations of her trusty tabby Wallis, now the wrongfully accused kitten’s guardian, and the grudging compliance of her cop lover, this may be one time when Pru can’t solve the mystery or save the kitten she wants to believe is innocent. A single witness knows the truth about that bright spring morning. How far can Pru investigate without risking her own hidden tale?

Book Details:

          Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: 03/03/2015

Number of Pages: 434

Series: Pru Marlowe Pet Noir #5 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)

ISBN: 9781464203589

Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One
There’s nothing cute about a death scene. Not the shards of the mug that rested in a puddle on the cold tile floor. Not the scent of the tea—acrid and sharp—that now mingled with the mustier odors of a body’s last struggle. And certainly not the body itself, sprawled contorted beside the shattered ceramic, one arm reaching out for succor, the other frozen in rigor as it clawed at the argyle wool vest that covered the still chest.
No, there was nothing cute about the tableau that greeted me when I made my way into the kitchen of Mr. David Canaday, Esquire, after twenty minutes of pointless knocking. But the kitten that sat beside the puddle, batting at a metal button that must have popped off the vest in that last desperate effort? That little white puffball, not more than eight weeks old and intent as he could be on his newfound toy as it rolled back and forth? He was adorable. The cutest little bundle a girl could ever swoon for.
He knew it, too. As I stood there, staring, he batted that button toward me. Rolling around on its rounded top, it made its slow circular way toward my feet.
“Play?” The message in those round blue eyes was clear. I was supposed to kick the button back. To get it moving—make it livelier prey than the still man on the floor would ever be again. “Back to me?”
The button hit my boot, and the kitten reared up when I stepped back, his front paws reaching up to slap the air.
“No, kitty. I can’t.” I took another step back the way I had come.
“Play?” And another.
I had no desire to kick the button. What I wanted to do was scoop up this little puffball and run.
To remove such an innocent creature from the horror before me. That had been my plan, even before I’d walked into the room. Get the kitten, get out. Get on with my day.
That didn't look like it was going to happen. Not now, and as much as I wanted to snatch the kitten up I restrained myself and, fiddling with my bag, found my phone while I took a third step and a fourth back to the kitchen door. As much as I wanted to grab up the kitten and run for dear life, I knew better than to disturb what just might be a crime scene—or to remove what I assumed to be the only living witness.
Chapter Two
The paramedics arrived first, and for that I was grateful. They had the body on a stretcher by the time the daughter arrived, straps across those jolly blue diamonds and a blanket covering the soiled khakis below. Better still, they were the ones to tell her what that still, pale face should have. What had been patently obvious to me from the moment I’d stepped into the room: Dad was dead. They were taking him to the hospital—that was protocol—but there’d be no sirens wailing because there was no great rush. Lucky for me, she opted to ride along.
I didn't envy the paramedics. The daughter looked like the type who would fight them. Insist on CPR or defibrillation, even as the old man’s color faded to a muted version of that vest, the blood slowly settling in his back.
She didn't look much better. Pale as dishwater, with hair to match. That hair, a listless bob, had been dark once, maybe as black as mine, but time had dulled its color and its sheen, much as it had softened what might have once been impressive cheekbones and a jawline that now sloped gently into a chubby neck.
Between that pallor and the way she had carried on, I had thought at first that she was the wife. Then I remembered: the old man was widowed. It was his daughter who had called me, asking for help in settling a new pet with an increasingly shut-in and by all accounts difficult elder.
“It needs everything,” she had said when she’d called. “Shots, whatever.”
I’d been bothered by that impersonal “it.” Sexing a kitten can be difficult, but this smacked of something colder. Still, I’d said I’d call Doc Sharpe, our local vet, to set up a well-kitten visit and silently figured on adding taxi and escort charges.
In the meantime, I’d told the daughter that I’d drop by to set things up. As the woman on the phone had gone on, though, I’d begun adding services. Neither she nor her father had expected this kitten. She had errands to run, she’d said, and sounded particularly put out by its sudden, unannounced appearance.
It—that impersonal “it” again—had been an unexpected gift, the caller had said. And while that sounded odd, I wasn't going to question it. Not if they were willing to pay.
That gig was shot, I thought as I watched the ambulance from the shelter of an eager rhododendron, blossoms ready to pop.
Sure, I could bill for my time. I’d certainly charge for the load of supplies in my car. But I wouldn't count on getting paid, not soon anyway. Spring and my business usually picked up. The tourists started filtering back, and the seasonal condos filled with troubled dogs and angry cats, all confused by the very human idea of relocating for fun. But even though the May days were growing soft, my client base hadn't warmed up yet. I’d been counting on this job for at least a few regular checks.
“Mama? Where did you go?” The soft cry brought me out of my musing. Male, definitely, though still much more a baby than a boy. Spring. I looked through the bush’s dark green leaves for a nest. For a den in the dark, damp leaves beneath the trees.
“Where are you?”
The kitten. Of course. With all the hubbub, the tiny animal must have been spooked. Must have darted for safety and gotten outside. I couldn't recall anyone mentioning the little cat as they strapped the old man to the gurney and bundled his daughter in for the ride.
The kitten was determined, I’d give him that. And he seemed to have gotten over his fright. I looked around. The EMTs had left the door ajar when they first stormed in, and the little fellow probably snuck out. Normally, I’d cheer him on. Self-determination is a virtue that I applaud, but a baby is a baby, after all.
And while the east side of Beauville might look nicer than our shabby downtown, part of the appeal was its old-growth woods.
I thought of the foxes that would be nesting soon beneath those trees. And the fishers, and a few other predators, all of whom would be looking for a tasty morsel for themselves or their own young. Nature, right? With a sigh that probably revealed more about my human nature than I’d care to admit, I dropped to my knees. Besides, it wasn't like I was doing anyone else any good just then.
“I’m here, little fellow,” I called out softly, peering around the shrubbery. “Where are you?”
He didn't answer, not that I really expected him to. I should explain that this is odd for me. I have a sensitivity, you see.
Some people might call it a gift. I can pick up what animals are thinking, hear their thoughts like voices in my head. Yes, I know how nutty that sounds. That’s why I keep my particular sensitivity to myself, although I have a feeling that others are growing suspicious.
But the thing about picking up animals’ voices is that they don’t talk like you or I do. They have no need for meaningless conversation, and they certainly don’t chatter just to hear themselves speak. And so although I tend to perceive their voices in human terms—that kitten asking for its mother, for example—that’s just my weak human brain trying to make sense of what I’m really getting. Which was a young animal coming to terms
with its environment. That kitten wanted to play, because playing is its job—how it learns to hunt, to survive. He had appeared to address me because kittens, like all mammals, learn from their mothers, their peers. From the world around them. He wasn't calling to me, specifically. He was reaching out, because he was alone.
Alone. That was part of what I was getting, but there was something else, too—an undercurrent of loneliness and confusion, a jumble of noise and fear and…
“Back to me? Kick it again?”
Boredom? Well, as I've said, play is a young animal’s job.
And while I didn't necessarily want to play kick the button, I was grateful for the repeated plea. The voice was clearly coming from inside.
I turned back to the silent house. Although I’d walked in with no problem—Beauville still being that kind of place—someone had thought to lock the door. Luckily, the latch was a simple one, and it gave way quickly to the thin blade of the knife I always keep close at hand. This wasn't breaking-and-entering. Not really, I told myself as I closed the door carefully behind me. I’d been hired to take care of a kitten, and that’s what I was going to do.
“Kitten? Hello?” As I've said, I wasn't really expecting an answer. What I was doing was announcing my presence, trying to sound as nonthreatening as I could, which for me meant voicing my thought in the form of a question.
“Back to me!” I tried to echo the thought I had picked up. The kitchen remained still and apparently empty. I proceeded through the open archway into what appeared to be a living room. “You there?”
“Play with me!” That insistent voice. “Why won’t he play with me?”
I didn't have the heart to tell him, but I had to. “He’s gone,” I said.
“Gone?” The question bounced back, like that button. The small creature was trying to make sense of my response. Of the word. I kicked myself. I wasn't doing the kitten any favors with my euphemism. Animals live or die in the physical world, and despite this one’s infant appeal, he probably had a better sense of reality than most of the humans in this town.
“Dead,” I said, summoning the memory of the still, cold body.
“Gone?” The damage had been done, and I felt the confusion as the kitten continued to roll that word—that concept—about in his tiny feline brain.
“Catch me!” The button appeared, rolling in a slow semicircle from under a chair. “Let’s play!”
“Kitten?” I ducked down and leaned beneath the coffee table.
There, eyes wide, crouched the little creature. He’d taken refuge from all the commotion. Up close, I could see he was undersized and a little ragged, more ready to pounce than to groom. I reached for him and he reared up, batting at me with cool paw pads. “Okay, little fellow.” I scooped him up, and as he nuzzled against my shirt, I felt a wet spot on his back.
“Feels like you've been trying to wash.” No wonder his fur looked patchy. “Or did you get splashed?”
I sniffed the kitten and caught something funky. Tea, I hoped, and not something more gruesome. I didn't think I was imagining a slight mint scent, and any puddles on the floor where the body had fallen had been trampled into dark stains. Mimicking my action, the kitten stretched around to sniff the wet spot, and promptly sneezed.
“Gesundheit, little fellow.” He looked up at me, eyes wide, and sneezed again. An adorable little snort, prompted perhaps by that touch of mint. But I've been in this business too long not to think of the other possibilities: feline viral rhinoneumonitis—FVR, better known as feline herpes—for example. Not fatal, but something to manage. At any rate, I held the little creature under the tap for a moment. He was young enough
to take my impromptu bath without too much fuss and was purring as I rubbed him down with a dish towel.
“Excuse me.” The voice behind me made me twirl around and the kitten jumped to the floor. He landed by a pair of cowboy boots—turquoise blue—attached to jeans that fit like a second skin. On top of these, a woman’s face scowled at me, the eyes wide and regal. “But who are you, and what are you doing in my father’s house? And what are you doing with my kitten?”

Author Bio:

A recovering journalist, Clea Simon is the author of 17 mysteries and three nonfiction books. Parrots Prove Deadly is the third in her Pru Marlowe pet noir series. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband Jon and their cat, Musetta, and can be reached at

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This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Clea Simon & Poisoned Pen Press. There will be one winner of 1 Box of Poisoned Pen Press books including Kittens Can Kill by Clea Simon. The giveaway begins on June 1st, 2015 and runs through June 3rd, 2015.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rest in Pieces

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard. Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but we suffered a loss at our house Monday afternoon.

First, the backstory. When Angel Tara went to the Bridge, Mommy packed up all of her things to put in a memory box. They were "hers" and the next kitty in Mommy's life (who turned out to be me!) would get new things all her own.

But the day I came home Mommy had forgotten one thing...she hadn't gotten me any food dishes yet, so she went into Tara's box and pulled out the one that had been her dry food dish. (It had already been put away for quite awhile since Tara could no longer eat kibble following her diabetes diagnosis.)

Over the last (almost) two years, that dish and I have shared a lot of great meals together. Here we were in happier days:

You may have noticed by now that I'm speaking of the dish in past tense. That's because this happened:

Mommy was cleaning the kitchen sink and somehow managed to knock my dish off the counter onto the floor. It didn't stand a chance. I was shocked and horrified when I saw what had happened:

It's not that I was overly attached to the dish. I will gladly eat out of another. But Mommy had a sentimental attachment to it. It started out as Tara's. It was the dish I ate my first can of Fancy Feast in after moving here to my forever home.

Now it's back in Tara's memory box...in pieces :(

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Spring Naturals Cat Food Review & Giveaway!

The day Tara was diagnosed as diabetic, the very first thing the vet advised me to do was pick up her dry food. It really wasn't an issue; while she always had a dish of dry food down for in-between meal snacks, she was never addicted to the kibble.

For many cats, the transition away from a dry food diet isn't so easy. They get hooked on the "kibble crack" and cat parents find it nearly impossible to wean them off of it. So what are you supposed to do when the food your cat is determined to eat is contributing to an extremely serious chronic disease? It's not like you can make kitty understand that a drastic change in diet is necessary for their health.

I was recently asked if Truffles would be interested in trying out a bag of Spring Naturals™ Dry Dinners, which uses only real meat, poultry or fish in their recipes, making for a leaner, low carbohydrate, highly digestible and extremely palatable food. They promise that every Spring Naturals product is made from premium quality, domestically sourced ingredients right here in the US.

What intrigued me is that the super-premium brand was recently deemed low glycemic and diabetic friendly by the Glycemic Research Institute of Washington D.C., and it’s one of the few dry kibbles made in the USA to gain such certification.

Cat foods with a high glycemic index lead to elevated blood glucose levels. This in turn can increase the risk of epilepsy, hypothyroidism, allergies, yeast infections, cancer and diabetes. Diets formulated with low glycemic ingredients are digested slower than high glycemic foods, allowing all of the nutrients to be properly absorbed. When food is digested slower and the nutrients are properly absorbed, pets will remain fuller longer which helps maintain weight control.

While I still firmly believe that the #1 way to achieve remission and keep a diabetic cat "off the juice" is with a low carb, high protein wet food diet (Spring Naturals also has a line of canned food), I am so happy there are alternatives out there for cats that are hopelessly addicted to dry food. After all, the best diet in the world doesn't mean a thing if the cat won't eat it.

For Truffles, a non-diabetic cat who enjoys eating dry food as a treat, I am happy to add Spring Naturals to our rotation of grain-free kibble. She's not so concerned that it's good for her, she just cares that it's yummy!

If your cat is diabetic, please discuss any diet change with your vet because insulin doses may need to be modified. 

Spring Naturals is generously offering our readers a giveaway so you can give their food a try! TWO lucky readers will win a 5 pound bag of dry food, their choice of flavor. Unfortunately, the giveaway is only available for those in the U.S., but non-U.S. residents are welcome to enter and donate their winnings to a U.S. shelter! Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. The giveaway runs through June 25, 2015. Good luck!

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To learn more about Spring Naturals’ fresh, new approach to pet nutrition, visit them at www.SpringNaturals.com or any of their social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

FTC Disclosure: We received free food from Spring Naturals in exchange for our fair and honest review. Receiving free product did not influence our opinion about it; all opinions expressed on this site are our own. We only feature products we have used or would use or that we feel are of interest to our readers. Spring Naturals is not responsible for the content of this article.