Thursday, September 17, 2015

September Rescued Spotlight: Michael

Meows from Mudpie!

Over the last several months we've been telling you about Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes, an anthology of rescue cat stories compiled by Janiss Garza, who writes the Sparkle Cat blog. Each author featured in the book has nominated a cat rescue and was assigned a month to promote the book, with a third of the profits from that month going to their rescue.

September's spotlight is Michael, a kitty who logged a lot of miles in his 19 years here on earth. Sadly, he's gone to the Rainbow Bridge, so Mommy decided to interview his human, mystery author Mary Lu Warstler.

Melissa: Could you start by introducing us to Michael and telling us what made your story such a good fit for the Rescued anthology?

Mary Lu: Michael was about seven when he came to live with us. He was all gray except for a white star on his chest. He had mismatched eyes – one green and one yellow. My son had rescued him from a shelter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida about five years earlier. Michael was a survivor. Even if things were uncomfortable for him, he seemed to take it in stride. Only in his eyes could you see the pain and uncertainty. He never vocally complained.

Michael logged a lot of miles in his 19 years. What are some of your favorite memories of your life with him?

Although my two Siamese gave him a hard time at first, he took it all in stride and was “cool and laid back.” He made sure he got his turn on my lap. When I retired and moved to our “farm,” the three of them divided my time among them. Sugar Plum had me when I was in the living room; Nicholas chose my basement office; Michael took the bedroom. At bedtime, he would plop down beside me, lay his head in the crook under my arm, and wrap his paws around my hand. He slept that way most of the night. He liked to play with the other cats even when they didn’t want to play. He would swat playfully at them, then run on his tippy-toes, backed arched, tail bushy like at raccoon down the hallway. If they didn’t chase him, he came running back to try again. He liked to hide. It would be time to take him somewhere – usually the vets – and we couldn’t find Michael. When we found him, he was usually sitting in plain sight, just waiting for us to notice him. My husband would leave the closet door open a crack and come back later to close it. Hours later, when I couldn’t find Michael, I would open the closet and there he was curled up asleep on a stack of clothes.

In the months before Michael died, he wanted outside so much that he slipped out every chance he had. Once he was gone 24 hours and I was frantic. When I found him, I crocheted an orange yarn chain with a choker-collar for him. It wasn’t much and if he had tried hard, he could have broken, or chewed it in two. But he would get the leash and wait by the door for someone to take him out. He loved walking down the street with his orange collar and leash.

The rescue you’ve chosen to receive your proceeds from the book this month is Stark County Humane Society. What can you tell us about the important work that they do for homeless animals?

In their mission statement, the Humane Society says, “We speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” They are not a county agency and do not receive funding from agencies such as United Way. They depend of volunteers and donations to carry out their mission. Their education programs are a top priority. They present programs to the schools and other groups. The pet therapy program provides the opportunity to enjoy friendly visits on a regular basis with a shelter volunteer or staff member with puppies and kittens. They respond to complaints regarding cruelty, abuse and abandonment of animals. They pick up stray sick and/or injured animals and care for them.

Do you share your life with any animals today?

About a year and a half after Michael died, my husband and I went to the Humane Society to look at cats. We saw many that we like – one Maine Coon mix. We went home to think about it and of course, when we went back the Maine Coon was gone. But there was a beautiful three-year-old part Siamese, who acted indifferent. Then there was the gray kitten in a cage at the other end of the row. She was yelling, so I went to see her. She stuck a tiny gray paw out to touch me and I was hooked. She was only two months old. We also wanted the Siamese. I decided she would help me raise the kitten.

Although the kitten was a female, she looked like a Charlie, so I named her Charlene and call her Charlie. The part Siamese, we named Katy. Katy did help raise Charlie, but both being females they fight for the top status. At their first visit with the Vet, we learned that Katy is FIV- positive. Although Charlie was a street kitty, she is healthy. She is just a scaredy cat. She hides when anyone comes to visit – including family. They are now three and six years old.

I was so excited to hear that you write a series of mystery novels starring cats. Please tell us about them.

Actually I have several Mystery Novels in which cats play a prominent part. There are four Laura Kenzel with Rascal and Mischief Mysteries. In the first book, Cats in the Belfry, Laura Kenzel is a minister who finds a dead man in her garage the first day on the job. She then finds two Maine Coon cats chained in the church belfry. They become her constant companions throughout the series, helping solve mysteries, saving her life and that of her loved ones.

Another series is the Kendra Donavon mysteries. In the first book, Hide and Seek, she takes her sister’s cat Angel with her to search for her family, whom the FBI said have been killed in a car accident. She doesn’t believe it and with Angel’s help, proves them wrong. The second book doesn’t have much about the cat, but the third, which I’m just beginning a stray Maine Coon finds Kendra and claims her as his own.

Grandpa’s Diary includes a Bengal cat who helps his owners find out who is trying to kill them all and why.

Sing Me To Sleep features a gray cat similar to Michael. His name is Saucer. When his person’s mother comes to live with them and they learn she has Alzheimer’s, Saucer takes it upon himself to protect her and care for her. In the meantime, someone is trying to kill Jennifer, his person. 

Two other books features dogs. Escape from Richmond is a civil war novel about a family who takes a wagon train from Richmond, Va. to what is now the Charleston, West Virginia area. The little dog helps protect them along the way. Michael’s Angel is a story about a guardian who is assigned to ten-year-old Michael, but Michael can see and hear Gus, the angel and gives him a hard time. God sends a little dog to help Gus with the boy.

What do you hope people take away from Michael’s story?

I would hope that they understand that animals are all special and whether we know it or not, they have their own story to tell. As with people we meet in life, we don’t know what that person has been through to make them who they are. Unless we have a cat from the time it is born, we don’t know what they’ve been through. Rescued cats are all different. Some of survivors, some are quitters, some are insecure, some are overbearing. I would hope that folks will realize that we have to let them be who they are. They will change, or not, in response to our love. Most of all, I guess I would hope they would see this story as a tribute to Michael and all the other Michaels who enhance the lives of their people.

Photos: Mary Lu Warstler


Fur Everywhere said...

Michael sounds like he was a special kitty. I am so happy that his human took both the gray kitten and the Siamese from the rescue when she adopted again! I will definitely check out the books. As you know, I love mysteries with kitties in them. :)

Cats Herd You said...

We love learning more about the Rescued cats! Thanks for sharing more about Michael with us.

Marg said...

That was such a good post about Michael and his owner. I love hearing about Resuced cats especially since all the ones here are rescued. Mudpie, you have a wonderful day.

Sasha said...

thanks for sharing this story with us.

The Island Cats said...

We enjoyed Michael's story when we read Rescued. Thanks for sharing more about him...and his mom.

Anonymous said...


pilch92 said...

I love the Rescued book, so sad that many have gone to the bridge though.

Anonymous said...

Gweat innewview and posty. Hims very handsum and what a stwowry. Have a gweat day.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Lexi

Cathy Keisha said...

We read this one although TW doesn’t remember most of it. #senile Since Michael is at the RB, you should have had Truffles innerview him.

A Tonl said...

Thanks so much for continuing to spotlight this pawesome book!

Unknown said...

This was wonderful! Thank you.