Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

Happy Halloween from Mudpie!!!

I wonder what made Mommy decide to dress me as a racecar driver for my very first Halloween? 

She said this was the purr-fect costume for me because I run the Mudpie 500 through our house on a daily basis MOL. 

We hear this guy crashed many years ago.

Following my victory lane celebration I needed a nap!

If you haven't had a chance to read our new short story, Mudpie's Halloween Visitor, you can find it here.

We're entering Athena's art hop on this Halloween Caturday!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Mudpie's Halloween Visitor: A Short Story

Meows from Mudpie, and happy Halloween eve!!!

Last year Mommy made her first attempt at writing a short story with Truffles' Halloween Tail. (In case you missed it, or would like to read it again, here are Parts 1 and 2.)

This year I challenged her to write a story starring me, and we're excited to share it with you today.

Please let us know what you think!

Mudpie woke up at her usual time, around 5AM, with a grumble in her tummy.

"Rats! I'm hungry and Mommy won't be up for a few hours."

Typically this wouldn't be a problem for Miss Mudpie, as she always has a small dish of kibble left out for overnight snacking, but going out to the living room by herself in the middle of night had become quite frightful since her Mommy had decorated for Halloween. Witches, ghosts, and skeletons everywhere were starting to make her fur stand on end!

"I'll just close my eyes and try to go back to sleep."

Grumble, grumble. Rumble, rumble.

"Grrr...this isn't going to work. I'm too hungry to go back to sleep! I'm going to have to put my big girl pants on and brave the trip to my food dish."

She quietly slipped out of bed, turning back once to look at her Mommy still snoring away. "Here goes nothing. I hope I make it back."

Mudpie tiptoed down the hall without making a sound. Finally she reached her destination and started chomping away.

Nom nom nom. Nom nom nom.

Then without warning, a voice in the night. "Mudpie!!!"

Mudpie jumped a foot and then went back to her snack. Nom nom nom. "I don't hear a thing." Nom nom nom.

"Pssst!!!! Mudpie, it's me!!! Truffles!!!"

Mudpie stopped eating and spun around. "Truffles??? Are you a g-g-g-g-ghost???"

"Well, I prefer thinking of myself as a spirit, preferably an angel. I just wanted to pay you a little visit to see how things are going without me. How's Mommy doing? Are you taking good care of her?"

"Oh Truffles, I love her so much. I'm trying to take really good care of her just like you asked. She misses you terribly and I catch her crying often, but I try to put a smile on her face everyday."

"I knew you would, that's why I picked you to fill the hole in her heart that my passing left behind. I've been watching and I'm so very proud of you."

"You know, Truffles. I was scared to come out here alone tonight because I find these Halloween decorations kind of creepy. But I'm so glad that I did because it gave us a chance to chat."

"You think this is bad, wait until Mommy starts decorating for Christmas! That's when she really goes all out. She even brings a tree into the house!"

"A tree??? In the house??? Can I climb it?"

Truffles chuckled, "Well, I think that might get you into a bit of trouble but you're so cute Mommy won't be able to stay mad long. I need to be on my way now."

"Will I see you again???"

"You will definitely see me again. Oh, and Mudpie? There is nothing about Halloween to be afraid of. It's a fun time of year! Mommy will protect you from anything that might scare you, and I will always be your guardian angel. See you soon!"

Mudpie quietly went back to bed and snuggled up next to Mommy, who was still softly sleeping.

Wow, she thought. That was a Halloween visitor I will never forget.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

OurPets® Catty Whack Review & Giveaway

Meows from Mudpie! It's National Cat Day and I'm celebrating with an extra special giveaway!

I was recently given the opportunity to try out a pawsome new toy...the Catty Whack!

Voted “Best New Cat Product” at the pet supply industry trade show, SuperZoo, the Catty Whack™ is the hide & seek toy where instinct meets play!™

The Catty Whack is an unpredictable game of hide & seek specifically designed to encourage independent play for cats of all ages! Cats love the original electronic RealMouse® sound and the erratic movement of the feather keeps your cat guessing as it randomly dashes and darts in and out of the six mouse holes. The feather wand and the electronic RealMouse sound mimic prey in the wild, stimulating your cat’s natural hunting instincts and leading to plenty of purr and pounce action! On the top of the Catty Whack, there is a carpeted scratching area where cats can groom their claws on a texture that they find enticing. The bottom of the toy has non-skid rubber feet, which keep the toy from sliding as your cat plays. There is also an auto-shut off feature and a replacement feather prey wand is included.  Where will the feather wand pop out next? Your cat will never know, and that is half of the fun!

I absolute *love* my Catty Whack! I play with it every single day, and even though I've managed to pull most of the feathers out (teehee!), it's still just as much fun as it was when it came out of the box. When I want to play and Mommy's too busy, she just turns on this toy and is happy knowing that I'm safely staying out of trouble. (Idle paws, after all.) The Catty Whack does require 4 "C" batteries so she's very thankful that we have a Dollar Store right down the road from us. The way I'm playing I plan to burn through batteries!

Check it out!

The Catty Whack is even fun for lower energy can play lying down too!

I give the Catty Whack four paws WAY up! I think any kitty would love to find one under the tree on Christmas morning!

The nice people at OurPets are generously allowing us give away a Catty Whack to one of our readers in the US! If you live outside the US you can still enter and have your prize sent to a friend in the US, or better still, how much fun would shelter kitties have with this toy??? Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter, and good luck!

Visit OurPets Online: WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterest, YouTube, and Instagram

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: We were sent a Catty Whack 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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Target Haunted House Cat Scratcher

Meows from Mudpie!

Last year Target started a new craze among kitties with the popular Gingerbread House Cat Scratcher. Now for Halloween they've released a Haunted House! Since Vermont is the only state in the country without a Target we had to rely on our friends, and Jeanne at Random Felines came through for us!

Before venturing inside, I had to make sure it was constructed properly:

Good job, Mommy!

It's not really haunted, is it?

Okay...I'm going in! (Gratuitous "tock shot" for Tocktober!)

Can you see me?

By the way...Target knows they've got us hooked. We've already seen a sneak peek of what they're releasing for Christmas...a revised gingerbread house, and a gift box shaped scratcher!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Review/Giveaway: Simon's Cat Off to the Vet...and Other Cat-astrophes

From the publisher: In the last five years, Simon's Cat has become a global phenomenon. Star of thirty-nine films, which have been watched over 500 million times, and winner of a dozen major industry awards, Simon's Cat has captured the hearts of a worldwide audience. In this brand-new book we see Simon's Cat face any feline's most dreaded scenario--he's off to the vet. And he's not at all happy about it.

Sharing its theme with the first-ever full-color Simon's Cat feature animation, funded by a record-breaking Indiegogo campaign and due to be released alongside the new book, Simon's Cat Off to the Vet...and Other Cat-astrophes is packed with over 240 pages of hilarious new gags and adventures featuring our favorite furry friend and his companions--both old and new.

This is hard to believe, but although I've watched nearly every Simon's Cat video, this is the first Simon's Cat book that I've read! I couldn't have started with a better one either, because who can't identify with the chaos that ensues when a visit to the vet is in order? From the trickery involved in getting the cat into the box to the vet visit itself where he meets new characters and ends with the vet being wheeled away in a wheelchair...every sketch is pure hilarity.

Says Tofield: "Taking my naughty cat to the vet is one of the most requested film ideas from our fans. It was because of this that I started work on a new film and book based on the crazy situations that arise during these trips! A visit to the vet can be quite a stressful time in real life for both cats and their owners, however my goal is to bring out the comedy, and introduce a cast of extra characters for Simon's Cat to meet, as he gets his claws into his new surroundings!"

This book inspired the new video Box Clever, a teaser of the very first Simon's Cat full color film, Off to the Vet, which will be released in 2016:

For inspiration, Simon shot another video at Cats Protection HQ for what to expect at a visit to the vet:

In addition to the vet hijinks, the book features fun vignettes about the cone of shame, and all of our favorite recurring characters, including Kitten, neighborhood birds and other various critters, and of course the grumpy gardener next door.

Give the gift of laughter this holiday season...Simon's Cat Off to the Vet would be the purr-fect stocking stuffer for the cat lover in your life.

Thanks to Akashic Books I received two advanced reading copies of Simon's Cat, so I have an extra one to give away to a lucky reader! To enter, tell me your craziest experience involving taking a cat to the vet! I will use to pick a winner at noon eastern on Monday, November 2nd. This giveaway is open to readers worldwide, so good luck everyone!

Monday, October 26, 2015

September CatLadyBox Review

Check out what I received in my September CatLadyBox!

1) Featured Cat Lady Artist Card: Stacey Young. Stacey uses her art to help animals and gives a portion of her proceeds to selected rescues. She has a second Etsy shop where she sells cat toys, For Mew.

2) Cat Lady Mug. I have so many cat mugs I could probably use a different one each day for an entire year, yet I still can't help myself from buying more. With the black matte I'll be sipping my mochas in style.

3) feltplanet Cat Head Drink Coasters. These wool felt coasters purr-fectly compliment the mug, and they look adorable sitting on a table without a mug too!

4) Removable Cat Wall Decal Set by looksugar. These vinyl decals are sure to "catify" any room. I haven't decided where to put mine yet but I can't wait to see how they look once they're up on a wall.

Are you a CatLadyBox subscriber yet? Subscriptions cost $34.99 a month, but you can get an even better deal if you prepay for 3 or 6 months. What was really cool about this month's box is that it's the first to feature items for the home. With the holidays right around the corner, cat stuff just makes a house cozier!

This was my first month subscribing to the Crazy CatLadyBox, which includes a couple surprises for your kitty. Mudpie got a Furc by TheRetroKats. It's kind of like a utility knife for cats: the one toy has feathers, faux fur, and a wine cork all attached to a heavy, stretchy cord. Whether your cat prefers jumping, chasing, or batting something around on the floor, they will find something on this toy to enjoy. Let's just say that Mudpie has pretty much de-feathered hers!

She also got a cute knitted Catnip Critter from Imperial Cat. They come in a wide variety of assorted critters. Truffles got a snail or reptile of some sort, and she absolutely adores it! She carries it and bats it around fact, it goes missing quite often!

Mudpie and I give our September box four paws up, and as we finish up today's post our October box is on it's way, and  it's the "Meowloween" box!!! We can hardly wait!!!

Disclosure: I'm not being compensated in any way for this review. I am a proud CatLadyBox subscriber!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Remembering Joyce Lavene

Meows from Mudpie!

My Sunday Selfie this week is dedicated to the memory of a very special friend, author Joyce Lavene.

You may remember that over the summer Mommy entered a contest by Joyce and her husband Jim to name the pet characters in their upcoming book A Dickens of a Murder. Not only was Truffles chosen as the tortie in the book, her character is on the cover, and we've been told that she's very special to the story as well.

Joyce even said to us, "How could I name any tortie without thinking of Truffles?"

Tragically, Joyce passed away suddenly on Tuesday and left the cozy mystery community heartbroken and in shock.

Yesterday we received our review copy of A Dickens of a Murder:

This is the Acknowledgement page:

We love you, Joyce...we miss you...and we will never, ever forget you.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Caturday Art: Going Batty

Meows from Mudpie!

One week from today is Halloween, and the holiday fun continues at my house. This week for our Caturday Art project, Mommy played around with all kinds of effects and overlays in Picmonkey and ended up putting me smack dab in the middle of a creepy graveyard!

It came out really cool, but just between you and me, I'm starting to think Mommy isn't quite right in the head.

Visit more artsy kitties at Athena's Caturday Art blog hop!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Review/Giveaway: Lola: Diary of a Rescued Cat by Lola and Dawn White

Lola: Diary of a Rescued Cat is the witty and sincere rags-to-riches story of a young cat abandoned in a garbage dumpster. It chronicles Lola's life beginning with her rescue from the dumpster and continues on to her stay in the shelter system (where she became very ill), her rescue from the shelter, adjustment to her forever family and new feline sibling after being adopted, and, ultimately, her recovery. It is written in the form of her diary, with each entry dated, and includes many beautiful photos. Included in the book are many heartfelt stories of other rescued pets. Lola: Diary of a Rescued Cat will make you laugh, cry, and laugh again.

Over the past year I've fallen in love with Lola (and her sister Lexy) on their wonderful blog and Facebook page, but after reading this book, I *adore* Lola. 

Lola and Lexy's mom Dawn is one of the sweetest cat ladies I know. Forced to do the unimaginable and give up her beloved cat Marvin due to life circumstances, she was cat-less for 16 years. (My mother went nearly that long without a cat at one point in her life...I don't recommend it!) Then one day she spotted Lexy, who reminded her of Marvin, and it was love at first sight. Lexy had been waiting to be adopted for almost a year because she was "too old" at nearly 2. I've always chosen adult cats and sadly have heard that exact same thing many times. Dawn and Lexy were clearly meant to find each other.

Then came Lola. Dawn saw her on a Facebook page after she had been rescued from a dumpster. Think about that for a minute: that precious, perfect little angel had been thrown in a dumpster. It makes my heart hurt just to even think about it. Thankfully Lola had a team of guardian angels and before long she joined Dawn and Lexy's little family. "Trash to treasure" has never had a greater meaning.

Lola: Diary of a Rescued Cat is exactly that: Lola's diary. From those frightening early days to getting very sick in the shelter system to being rescued and moving into her forever home, every page is sprinkled with Lola's sweet innocence and mischievous, playful personality.

Some of my favorite entries in Lola's diary have to do with her beloved Brown Mousie, and I'll tell you why following a couple excerpts:

March 2, 2011: Stop the presses! I'm putting out an All-Points Bulletin on my mousie! It is nowhere to be found! Mommy looked, and Will even looked with a flashlight. No luck. Will bought me a new one, but it's not the same because this is the first toy I ever really had. If you happen to see my mousie, please hold it for me so I can come pick it up? Thank you.

May 19, 2011: I'm starting a trend on Facebook. Cats are buying brown mousies just like mine! I think a big company should make "The Lola Brown Mousie" since I'm doing a lot of promotion. By the way, he's lost - again.

Little did I know that shortly after I finished reading Lola's book, Mudpie received a nearly identical brown mousie in her Purr Pack. Just like Lola, it's her favorite toy. She carries it around the house, throws it up in the air, and cries for it when she can't find it...because just like Lola, she's always losing it!

It's my hope that everyone who reads this book is inspired to do something, anything, to help animals in need. Whether it's donating to a worthy cause, volunteering at a shelter, sharing adoptable cats and dogs on social media, or adopting a new pet into your family, especially an older or special needs animal who might be having a harder time finding a home: we can all do something to help.

Another suggestion: buy a copy of Lola's book! Ten Percent of the proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to animal rescue organizations and shelters.


Giveaway: Dawn, Lola and Lexy are generously giving one of our US readers a chance to win a copy of their book and a choice of one of these mugs:

Enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October Rescued Spotlight: Magoo

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.

October's spotlight is Magoo, a handsome mancat who was saved from the streets and ended up inspiring his mom to become an amazing rescuer of thousands of cats. I couldn't help myself...I lost control and even got a bit flirty with him!

After you finish reading our interview, make sure you visit Magoo on Facebook and on his blog!

Welcome Magoo! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today! Could you start by introducing us to yourself and telling us what made your story such a good fit for the Rescued anthology?

I am Magoo. Mom calls me a misfit, but I am actually the Katfather of my Kingdom. Which means I'm in charge. This is pretty much how it's been since Mom adopted me 14 years ago from Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Before then I was on the streets. Apparently a Good Samaritan didn't think a life on the streets would be a good idea for me so they rescued me. Then Mom rescued me too by adopting me. I guess I inspired her to rescue more kitties, but on a larger scale. Since she adopted me she's started three animal rescues. So the fact that I was rescued, then inspired Mom to rescue lots more kitties, made my story a good fit. Plus I'm amazingly handsome. So there's that too.

At the beginning of your story you were embarrassed by a flea bath at the shelter because there were some "fine-looking tortie felines" that you wanted to impress. Well I'm a fine-looking tortie lady and I am *very* impressed by you! Are you interested?

I get that a lot. Due to my handsomeness. You can't help it, I don't blame you. But since I have so many feline admirers, I have to remain single, just to be fair to all the ladycats. But I will admit, you are one of the finest tortie felines I've seen in a loooooong time. ;)

You inspired your mom to become involved in animal welfare. Can you tell us about some of the amazing work she does?

Shortly after she adopted me, Mom started taking pictures and posting adoptable pets on for our local humane society. She did a lot of stuff they call "marketing" for them too. Then after she went down to help homeless kitties after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she came back and started Saving Paws Animal Rescue, which was a little shelter. She saved lots of kitties and dogs and then she and some friends started Orphan Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, which was a foster-home-based rescue, so she could save even more kitties, and dogs, too. Then about a year and a half ago she started Valley Cats, which only saves homeless cats and kittens, since there is such a big need for that in our area. She calls me their "mascat" since I'm a good representation of a rescue cat - pulled off the streets from a precarious situation, nursed to health and adopted into a loving family.

The rescue you've chosen to receive your proceeds from the book this month is Valley Cats Cat & Kitten Rescue. What important work do they do for homeless cats?

So Mom is a sucker for helping homeless kitties, as you probably picked up on. A lot of times, she hears about kitties who are on the "euthanasia" list at shelters. She won't tell me what that means but I think it's something sad because she's always sad when she says that word. So she offers to help these shelters by taking these kitties into her rescue, Valley Cats. Mom and some of her friends who she calls "foster homes" take care of the kitties. A lot of the time they need to be nursed back to health. Good thing I taught Mom all about all the possible health conditions a cat could get, because now she knows how to take care of sick kitties pretty good! Anyways once they're healthy she puts them up for adoption and finds forever families for them. So like she did for me, only with other people.

What's life like for you today?

My favorite pastime is sleeping. I am 14 years old, which is like, 72 human years, after all. But if Mom brings out the wand toy, looooookout! I am still an excellent hunter and can leave a trail of conquered mousies like the best of the coolcats. I also spend a lot of time just being handsome and basking in my awesomeness. It's a hard life, but what can I say.

What would you like humans to learn from your story and what do you want your lasting legacy to be?

I'd like humans to realize how awesome rescue cats are. Especially the misfits who get overlooked. And also to recognize how many homeless cats and kittens are out there in need of help. If my story inspires even one human to help a shelter or rescue save the life of one homeless kitty, all my time toiling away writing was worth it.

Phew. Done. Mom, where's the catnip?

Photos used with permission: Emily Anderson

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Who Let Mudpie Out?

Meows from Mudpie!

Today marks our first foray into video on our blog, and you'll have to excuse the poor quality. Mommy had to grab her Kindle Fire when she saw what I was doing and didn't have time to play around with the lighting.

As you know, we've been decorating for Halloween. Everything was going well until Mommy pulled out this little freak, and I went nuts!!!

Nevermind the dogs...I left him wondering "who let Mudpie out???"

In this shorter second video, turn the sound way up so you don't miss my sputtering at the end. No matter what I do, I just can't kill him!

Does it surprise you how vicious I am?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Project Hope

Mudpie was adopted from a different shelter, but Franklin County Animal Rescue, Tara and Truffles' alma mater, will always hold an extra special place in my heart.

Today we want to tell you about a new program they have instituted to help their adoptable animals who have been waiting far too long for their forever homes, Project Hope.

From FCAR's website: Sometimes there is just no explaining why one cat will come into the shelter and get adopted within days, while others get passed by for months or even longer. Every cat deserves a second chance, a place to call home and someone to love them. We've cleared the way for many of these kitties with a No Fee Adoption program called Project Hope. (regular application process applies). Even if adopting isn't a possibility, donations are greatly appreciated to help offset the cost of caring for these beautiful cats, patiently waiting for their forever homes.

Several Project Hope cats have already found their forever homes over the past couple weeks, including the lovely Spice, who we featured here a couple times.

Donations can be made to Project Hope on FCAR's homepage

We sure would appreciate your sharing this post as well! 

The kitties thank you too :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mudpie Interviews...Chance the Cat from 9 Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub (w/Review & Giveaway)

Meows from Mudpie!

Today I'm interviewing Chance the Cat, the very special kitty that inspired Wendy Corsi Staub's brand new novel 9 Lives, the first book in the Lily Dale mystery series. Her story is quite amazing and I really think you'll enjoy our little chat.

Make sure you leave a comment for Chance by noon eastern on Friday, October 23rd, because only lucky reader in the US is going to win a hardcover copy of 9 Lives...before the book even hits the shelves on October 27th!

Welcome, Chance! 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 your human, the famous author Wendy Corsi Staub?

Ah, thank you, I certainly can, and might I add that it’s a true pleasure to be here, Mudpie. I adore being interviewed. What’s that? Oh, yes. Yes, this is my first interview. But I do adore it. Where were we? Oh, yes. Twas a warm summer’s night in the wilds of Westchester County back in aught ’14. As an extraordinarily fetching tabby, though a mere kitten myself, I’d attracted a Tom or two (or ten) and was expecting a litter of six in a matter of days. Seeking a place to lay my weary and strikingly beautiful head, I came upon a humble abode populated by said author, her husband, and their teenaged sons. I purrrrched their back step and vocalized until one of the lads remarked, “That cat reminds me of Chance the Rapper.” I have never seen this indubitably alluring creature of whom he spoke, but I was thereby christened Chance the Cat.

As a mystical feline, I sensed that the human family was in the midst of a trying time and needed me as much as my unborn family and I did them. No, they didn’t have—nor did they want--pets, as the husband is deathly allergic to fur, and they did not welcome me inside. Through the screens, I eavesdropped on their attempts to find my owner. I was confident they would not.

Just as it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t want to be found, It’s impossible to ignore someone who does. They couldn’t resist my purrrrsistent meows, and my efforts were swiftly rewarded with much affection from the humans—even the Large and Sneezy one—and a can of scrumptious tuna. I, in turn, presented them with a swiftly-slaughtered field mouse. They were most impressed by my skill—especially the Large and Sneezy one. I was invited to spend the night on a luxurious bed of towels in their garage, where I soon stealthily dispatched a nocturnal trespasser and bestowed my hosts with its chipmunk carcass in deepest gratitude. “This is the greatest cat ever,” quoth Large and Sneezy. “We have to keep her.”

You are the feline star of Wendy's new book, 9 Lives. Please tell us about it and how you inspired the story.

Unable to immediately adopt me or my impending litter, the humans dispatched me to a feline rescue organization and then a foster home, where I promptly delivered my precious sextet. I proved a most nurturing and selfless teen mom, dutifully nursing and tending to my kittens even when a most dire emergency befell me. In the dead of night, Wendy collected me and my newborns from the foster and rushed us to the veterinary hospital E.R. I’d been stricken by a deadly bacterial infection that without costly emergency surgery would spread to my nursing babies and—I shudder to think of it—swiftly kill us all. Because we were “strays,” the hospital did not expect the human to deem our lives worth saving and suggested that the seven of us be “humanely euthanized.” Our human found the idea as appalling as we did, handed over her credit card, and we were spared. Thus, the human and her family decided that I would join their household furever, with my babies eventually adopted by loving nearby families. My undying and unconditional devotion was a soothing balm in a turbulent time in the Staub household, and Wendy decided she must write about me in order to pay our tremendous veterinary bill.

Are there any ways that the fictional Chance differs from the real Chance?

She, too, is a stunning Mackerel tabby with wide green eyes. Like me, she is enormously pregnant. The fictional human, Bella Jordan is--like my human, Wendy Corsi Staub-- convinced that the so-called “stray” (vile word!) could not have come along at a worse time, yet cannot turn her away. In the book, as in reality, the human believes she is rescuing the cat when in truth, it’s the other way around. The only real difference is that the fictional Chance delivers eight kittens, while my litter numbered only six. And naturally, I am far more bewitchingly beautiful than she. Than most, really.

You were also the inspiration for Wendy's animal advocacy work. We would love to hear all about it!

Searching for a local no-kill shelter the day I turned up on her doorstep, Wendy found that most were already inundated, as it was June--the height of “kitten season.” Until now, she had been unaware that among the vast number of homeless felines in New York City’s Animal Control Center—which is NOT a no-kill shelter--pregnant or nursing cats and kittens are among the most vulnerable, as they’re not eligible for public adoption. Those who aren’t immediately placed on the ACC’s death row quickly catch the “shelter cold” and wind up there anyway—along with dozens of healthy domestic animals being put down daily due to overcrowding. Realizing they could make a difference, Wendy began working with rescue organizations qualified to pull these vulnerable animals from the kill shelter. The Staub family fostered these fragile creatures in their home, nursed them back to health, and helped find adoptive families.

The work is incredibly rewarding, but not for the faint of heart. Sometimes, all a foster can only provide a soft landing spot and kindness at the end of a tragic little life cut short. A sweet reddish-orange kitten Wendy dubbed “Chilly,” as he had been discovered near-frozen on a sidewalk, was rescued from a neighborhood where evil humans lace bowls of cat food with antifreeze. When it became clear he’d been mortally poisoned, Wendy rushed Chilly to the E.R. in the wee hours and cuddled him as the vet put him gently to sleep to end his suffering.

Sometimes, the humans fail to notice that while they are enamored of a new arrival, I, Chance the Cat, am enraged. My arch-nemesis Frenchy came from the kill shelter just before Christmas, triggering what I think of as the Winter of My Discontent. Frenchy, a teen mom as I had been, had been delivered to the kill shelter by her owner, who cited “too many pets” as the reason. Frenchy was accompanied by her only surviving kitten, a month-old tabby named Cha Cha, along with the kitten’s father. Wendy did not reach them in time to save the father, who was killed at the shelter, and Frenchy and Cha Cha had become so ill that their eyes were swollen shut and they had such terrible mouth ulcers they’d been tube fed. They were quarantined in the upstairs bathroom for over a month. I had immediately sensed Frenchy’s vile presence, as she did mine. When they were allowed to join the rest of the household, Cha Cha and I became great friends, but Frenchy and I remained mortal enemies, engaging daily in hissing, spitting skirmishes. In April, a man adopted them together. Though I was relieved to bid good riddance to Frenchy, I missed Cha Cha as I had missed my own kittens when they left.

In May, someone found a tiny orphaned Russian blue kitten, malodorous, ill and crying, beneath the Triborough Bridge and turned him in to the kill shelter. Wendy rushed to Manhattan to pick him up. The new foster was had poor hygiene and was terribly flatulent, much to my disgust. Yet he was so fragile and so starved for affection that my human braved the stench, carrying him around warmly zipped into the front of her sweatshirt, with his little head poking out beneath her chin. She named him Chapter--Li’l Chap, or Chappy for short. One day, I awakened from a nap to find him nestled against my stomach. I overlooked the stench and gave him a much-needed cuddle and bath. From that day on, I adopted this delightful boy as my own. I groomed him until he learned to groom himself. I cradle him when he sleeps. We kitten-wrestle daily and romp like ponies until I’ve had enough, at which point he’s learned to heed a well-timed swat and hiss. The humans decided that he is, like me, meant to be with them forever, and have adopted him. I am lonely no more.

Cat to cat, do you have any favorite treats, toys, or napping spots?

Bereft when the last of my litter, Lizzie, was adopted last fall, I roamed the house for several days crying and searching for her until I stumbled upon a small pink fuzzy screencleaner puff on my human’s desk. I carried it around the house dangling from my mouth as I had my kittens. To this day, I groom it, converse with it, and sleep with it cuddled against my stomach like a kitten. My preferred napping purrrrch is at the foot of the humans’ bed where the large, sneezy human would ordinarily put his feet. As I will not allow his feet to disturb or displace me, he has learned to arrange himself diagonally. Occasionally, as a subtle reminder who is in charge, I enjoy sleeping on his head.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming adventures in the Lily Dale mystery series?

In Book One, NINE LIVES, we meet my fictional human, Bella Jordan, the widowed young mother of a little boy named Max. In addition to her husband, Bella has just lost her teaching job and her home in the New York suburbs. She and Max are preparing for a cross-country drive to stay with Millicent, her stuffy mother-in-law, when they discover a strikingly beautiful, pregnant mackerel tabby on their doorstep. (Sound familiar?) Max, whose grief therapist suggested a pet might help him to heal, begs to keep the cat, but Bella knows that Millicent—or Maleficent, as she calls her—won’t welcome a furry houseguest.

Off they go—until, 400 miles into the trip, an identical pregnant mackerel tabby literally turns up in their path, calmly sitting in the middle of the highway. Max is convinced it’s the same cat, but Bella knows that’s impossible…isn’t it? She and Max take her to a nearby vet, who identifies her as Chance the Cat, whose owner, Leona Gatto, runs a guest house a few miles away in a quaint lakeside village called Lily Dale, New York. What Bella doesn’t know, as she detours to deliver Chance home, is that Lily Dale, founded in the nineteenth century as the birthplace of American spiritualism, is populated entirely by psychic mediums who claim they can contact the dead. Nor is she aware that Leona Gatto recently died in an accidental drowning—or was it?

The inn needs a keeper, the cat and her impending brood need a caregiver, and Bella needs a job and a roof over Max’s head—preferably not Maleficent’s. They settle in for the summer, surrounded by wonderfully wacky neighbors who attempt to solve Leona’s murder using their psychic skills and channeling the victim herself. But it’s skeptical Bella, the stranger in this strange land, whose logic picks up on clues these so-called clairvoyants haven’t seen…perhaps unwittingly aided by a noble and mysterious cat named Chance.

Book Two, coming in 2016, is entitled SOMETHING BURIED, SOMETHING BLUE. The plot revisits the same cast of characters and revolves around a destination wedding in the Dale.


From the publisher: In this warm and witty series debut from New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub, a widowed young mom plans a fresh start in Chicago--but instead finds her way to a quirky lakeside village that just happens to be populated by mediums.

When reluctant road trippers Bella Jordan and her son Max detour to Lily Dale, New York, they're planning to deliver a lost cat to its home and then move on, searching for one of their own. But the footloose feline's owner Leona Gatto has unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a pregnant pet without a mistress, a busy inn without a keeper--and a lovable circle of neighbors who chat with dead people.

After agreeing to help out temporarily, sensible Bella doesn't need psychic gifts to figure out that a houseful of tourists and a litter of kittens lie in her immediate future--or that Leona was murdered. It's up to her to solve the case so that she and Max can leave town, but their new home--like Leona's killer--might just lurk where she least expects it.

If you've been searching for the perfect Halloween book, look no further than 9 Lives. 

Bella Jordan is an unemployed widow who has made the difficult decision to pack up her beloved home and move with her young son Max to Chicago to live with her disapproving and judgmental mother-in-law, who she refers to as Maleficent. Thanks to car trouble, a storm, and a very pregnant cat, they are forced to make a pit stop in Lily Dale, New York. At the vet's office they find out who the kitty's owner is and plan to return her, only to discover Leona Gatto is dead, apparently the victim of a tragic accident. Leona owned a B&B, Valley View Manor, and Bella agrees to temporarily stay in town to manage the place. As Bella, and especially Max, befriend the quirky mediums that inhabit Lily Dale, it soon becomes apparent that Leona's death was no accident and a killer is at large. Bella solves the case while also taking on the care of Chance the Cat and her kittens.

While this could easily be a stand-alone novel, I am just thrilled to see that it's going to be a series. I had no idea that Lily Dale is a real place, and the town (and Valley View Manor) end up being characters themselves. I greatly enjoyed the mystery and getting to meet a great cast of unique characters, particularly the enchanting Chance the Cat.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Warm & Toasty #SundaySelfies

Meows from Mudpie!

We're getting a taste of winter in mid-October and I'm spending lots of time cuddling in my Coccolino bed. Truffles won the bed last fall but she never used it too much. But I *love* it! Mommy keeps it on her bed and I spend most nights there right beside her. (My head is on her flannel Garfield bathrobe.)

While temps are predicted to fall into the teens tonight, guess what looney tunes Mommy did yesterday? She went to the country store for one of her last maple chocolate creemees of the season! She says they are the best soft serve around and the shop stops selling them on November 1st. If they didn't she would probably buy them year 'round!

It does look yummy, doesn't it? But not as yummy as me!

We're joining The Cat on My Head for their Sunday Selfies blog hop.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

More Pumpkin Art on Caturday

Meows from Mudpie!

This week we used PhotoFaceFun again to create some cool pumpkin art. We're kind of pumpkin obsessed as our house, and I think they compliment my autumnal colors quite well!

Speaking of pumpkins, how adorable is this Kitty Pumpkin Craft? Mommy has gone nuts over it for the past few years and wishes she was crafty enough to attempt to make one herself.

Check out more artsy kitties at Athena's Caturday Art blog hop.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Help Feral Cats Stay Warm This Winter

Meows from Mudpie!

Today is National Feral Cat Day, and in our neck of the woods, winter is right around the corner. Overnight lows in the next few days are expected to dip into the teens and 20's! This is going to be my first Vermont winter and I'm so thankful to have a warm home and beds and Mommy to cuddle with. But my heart breaks to think about our feral cat friends trying to survive another long, cold winter.

Fortunately, there's something we can all do to help. It's incredibly easy to build a feral cat shelter using only a plastic tote, a styrofoam cooler, straw, and a knife.

Check out this cool video by Cole and Marmalade:

How easy was that??? Once you see that a cat has begun to use the shelter you can also add a plastic or vinyl flap over the opening to protect them even more from the elements.

If you don't know of any feral cat hangouts in your area, ask your local shelter to help you distribute them where they're most needed!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

ASPCA "Change Your Chicken" Challenge #BtC4A

When you go to throw that chicken on the grill or in the oven, do you think “Hmmm, I wonder where this chicken actually came from?” Most people don’t. Or maybe you are already label savvy and you have done your research. Either way, it is really important to know the conditions and where your meat comes from.

The majority of people think that if they see a label that says Organic, Cage Free, No Hormones, etc… that they are getting a good meat, and they settle for trusting what that label says. Unfortunately, there are some very misleading food labels out there. Don’t be fooled by fancy words and claims. Words like Organic, humanely raised, natural, cage free, free range, hormone free, antibiotic free and vegetarian fed, are thrown around all over the place. But in reality, they do not mean much.

A great example is “Cage Free.” This is a misleading claim for meat chickens because, unlike egg-laying hens, they are never raised in cages. If someone claims “Hormone Free,” well of course they are, because it is already illegal to feed hormones to chickens. So you aren’t getting anything different than what anyone else has. Another great claim is “Antibiotic Free.” Antibiotics are fed to animals on factory farms as a band aid fix for unhealthy living conditions. However, removing drugs does not alone make for a more humane system.

The ASPCA is hoping to raise awareness about the plight of factory farmed chickens in order to inspire the public to demand healthier, more humane conditions. They launched Change Your Chicken– a 30 day challenge that encourages Americans to shift all their chicken purchases from the worst factory farmed products to more humanely raised products.

Over the last few decades, corporatized, industrialized agriculture has largely replaced America’s independent small farms—with catastrophic consequences for animals. While there is no strict definition, industrialized “factory farms” are characterized by extreme confinement of large numbers of animals with practices designed to maximize efficiency and profit, and little regard for animals’ well-being, sentience or natural behaviors. Factory farms often use animals bred to produce unnatural amounts of eggs, milk or meat, causing painful disorders and lameness.

So how do you know what you are getting yourself into and what to look for if you are looking for chicken that is truly good? One great place to start - These three certifications represent a range of better environments for birds than conventional farms and require annual farm audits:

A few good ways to start your search for healthier meat are to find meats that have specific standards with labels that match those standards:

Animal Welfare Approved – Look for chickens that have continuous access to pasture or range. No feedlots. Cage confinement, hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics prohibited. Standards extend to breeding animals, transport and slaughter.

Certified Humane, Raised & Handled –Look for chickens that have continuous outdoor access for ruminants. Cage confinement, hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics prohibited. Minimum space allowance and bedding required for indoor environments.

Global Animal Partnership 5 Step Program (Steps 2 and above) –Step 2: indoor space and enrichment requirements. Step 3: outdoor access. Step 4: access to pasture. Step 5: full pasture environment. Step 5+: slaughter on farm.

Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and Global Animal Partnership (levels 2 and above) represent a range of higher-welfare practices, but all three certify that the chicken you’re buying was not subjected to the terrible crowding, filth, sickness and suffering found on the worst factory farms.

As a part of this challenge, the ASPCA has put together some great resources to help along the way.

So, are you ready to take the #ChangeYourChicken 30 day challenge? I am challenging all of my readers to take the challenge. There are some awesome resources on the ASPCA website, including the challenge toolkit, which has resources to help you change your chicken. Pledge takers will also receive exclusive tips and help along the way by email. If you’re a fellow blogger, reach out to me to find out how to create your own blog post and spread the word about the #ChangeYourChicken challenge. Post on social media, encouraging your friends and family to take the challenge as well. Sample language could be: “I’m cutting out factory farmed chicken for 30 days for the @ASPCA #ChangeYourChicken challenge:

With every purchase we have the power to reduce farm animal suffering. Take a stand and #ChangeYourChicken!