Friday, March 31, 2017

Make Purrfect Moments Even Cozier With Plum Deluxe Tea - Review & Giveaway

Because of the name of our blog, I've often been asked where the "mocha" comes in. Obviously we're all about cats and books, and in my opinion curling up with the two accompanied by a mug of my favorite warm beverage is the icing on the cozy cake.

I'm a coffee drinker, preferably a mocha, and I also love hot chocolate, but I've never been a fan of tea. My mom swears by her favorite green tea which I think has about as much taste as hot tap water. So needless to say when I was contacted by Plum Deluxe about trying their teas, I was hesitant. Then I realized that even though a tea review is a little different for us, it's actually a good fit for our cozy, cat-centric lifestyle. (Plus it gave me a really good way to show off my cat-related tea accoutrements!)

Hand-blended in small batches at their studio in Portland, Oregon, Plum Deluxe’s line of signature loose leaf teas will help you to slow down for a mindful moment and enjoy the luxurious feeling of a premium tea, perfect for a warm exchange with friends and family or a few quiet minutes of solitude, reflecting on the good life. All of their tea blends are organic, non-gmo, and free of chemicals and sulfites - and they support local and USA farmers wherever possible. The company is a tribute to the founder's mother who lost a brave 6-year battle with breast cancer but never forgot to enjoy “the little things” in life.

Plum Deluxe's most popular offering is their tea of the month club - for only $10/month subscribers receive 1 oz of a custom seasonally-perfect artisan loose leaf tea made just for the club. Subscribers also enjoy access to a robust and supportive private tea lover’s community, tea-inspired recipes, discounts on extra teas and supplies, and other surprises. They host member meetups throughout the year, but several members host self-organized group events year-round. It's a wonderful way to be supported and meet others in your local community, especially like-minded groups (book clubs, cat lover get-together, etc.).

I received two packets of tea: January's tea of the month club offering, A Dark Night Orange Spice Puerh, and a second of my choosing. I selected (surprise, surprise) the Raspberry Cocoa Truffle Tea. The truffle tea I found to be decadent and soothing. Chocolate and raspberry are often paired together and it really is a match made in heaven. The tea packet contains real cocoa nibs which are bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean. It's chocolate that hasn't been mixed with sugar yet and is very good for you. The chocolate taste is rich enough that it's just like drinking my favorite raspberry hot chocolate...but much healthier! The orange spice tea is just as flavorful, and I love how inside the tea packet you can see actual pieces of the ingredients: cinnamon bark, orange peel, ginger root, hibiscus and rose hips. Plum Deluxe tea is packaged with such love and care.

(It wasn't until I started putting the finishing touches on this blog post that I noticed a tiny packet of Reading Nook Blend Black Tea tucked in my package as well. I haven't had a chance to try it yet but with lavender and chamomile, two of my very favorite scents, I just know it will be divine.)

We all have things that just make us feel warm and cozy inside. For me that purr-fect moment is Mudpie on my lap, a great book, and now the comforting flavors of Plum Deluxe tea have been added to make the experience even more magical.

Life is hard. Take some time each day to savor the little things that make you happy.

Giveaway: Thanks to our friends at Plum Deluxe one lucky reader is going to win their choice of two teas. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. (US entries only, please.) 

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Plum Deluxe. All opinions are our own and we never recommend a product we don’t fully believe in.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Truffles' Fiction Debut #TBT

Meows from Mudpie!

Every now and then I take a little time to go through old blog posts from before I came to live here, just to see what Mommy's life was like without me. (Unimaginable, I know.) I recently stumbled upon something really cool that newer readers to our blog not might know about.

Truffles was eager to see her name in print!

Three years ago this month Truffles made her fiction debut in a cozy mystery called Ghostly Paws, the first book in the Mystic Notch mystery series by Leighann Dobbs. The author had let Mommy know ahead of time that in the book there was a gang of cats that played a small role and one was a tortie that she named Truffles! It was such a surprise and great honor for Mommy and Truffles, and they loved the book as a whole too!

Ghostly Paws was just the beginning...Truffles also went on to star in A Dickens of  Murder by Joyce and Jim Lavene and Ingrid King's love letter to torties, Tortitude. All three books have a cherished place on our bookshelf.

Hey authors!!! Mudpie is a pawsome name too! Just sayin'...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Silly Mommy, It's Not Sunglass Weather!

Meows from Mudpie!

Last summer Mommy signed me up to take part in Phoebe's Traveling Shades Tour hosted by our friends at 15 and Meowing. The shades headed our way just in time for Valentines Day (!) and my scatterbrained Mommy set the package aside (knowing that getting me to actually *wear* the shades would be a challenge), then promptly forgot about it!!!

When photo shoot day arrived I didn't disappoint. I put my paw down and refused to wear them. The sun's never out, so why should I??? Every time Mommy tried to put them on me I just wanted to bite and play with them, so finally she just gave in and let me do what I wanted. As if she had any other choice!

Mommy even got some video of my antics! She said she wants everyone to see how difficult (but adorable!) I can be :)

And with that, we'll be mailing the shades off to the next victims recipients.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mudpie Interviews...Mimosa and the Effervescats

Meows from Mudpie!

Over the past few weeks Mommy and I have been following the adventures of the beautiful foster family being cared for over at the Three Tiny Tabbies blog

Mama Mimosa and her five little nuggets Fizz, Sparkle, Spritz, Bubbles and Pepsi, otherwise known as "the Effervescats" are so ridiculously adorable they're seriously in danger of breaking the internet. 

I reached out to Mimosa to see if she might have a few moments of free time from her new mom duties for a little "tortie to tortie" chat.

Welcome, Mimosa! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to arrive at your foster home? 

I’m a gorgeous tortie girl with an ample amount of tortitude. :D I’m very protective of my babies and I hiss whenever my foster mom opens the door, just in case there might be somebody out there. When I’m not protecting my kittens, my foster mom says I’m really sweet and like to come up next to her for some attention.

Where I came from… I showed up as a stray kitty outside someone’s house. The lady that lived there gave me some food, so I stuck around for a while. About two months later, she realized I was pregnant and called Animal Control to come and take me to the pound. At first, I was scared and didn’t know what to do other than huddle in the back of the cage. Luckily, I didn’t have to be there for long. The animal control officers called my foster mom and asked if she could come get me, which she did!


It must have been a terrifying time for you not knowing if you were going to have a safe place to give birth. What do you remember about that time? 

I remember being frightened because I wasn’t sure where I was and if I would have a safe place to raise my babies. I remember the lady gently urging me to go into the carrier, but I didn’t know where I’d be going, so I just stayed where I was. I didn’t object, though, when she picked me up and put me in the carrier. She took me to a quiet place with soft blankets and yummy food. The vet said I wasn’t due for another week, but once I realized that we were safe, I decided I didn’t need to wait any longer to have my kittens - and they were born the next day!

5 days old

So your precious packages arrived just a day after your foster mom brought you home. Tell us about them. 

My kittens are now almost seven weeks old and they are CRAZY! They get bigger and more active every day. They love sitting on the humans' laps and they’re learning to climb everything in sight. These days, I mostly like to sit on the countertop and watch them - though I do sometimes let them play with my tail.


What inspired your adorable names? 

Kittens are always SO playful and full of life and zest and energy, so my foster mom thought it’d be cute to give us all names that related to effervescence and fizzy drinks - hence, the “Effervescats”.

Sparkle (left) and Spritz (right)

Are you teaching the "two tiny torties" how to rock the tortitude? 

Oh, yes, absolutely! I’m teaching them to be strong-minded and sassy. My foster mom says we (torties) dance to our own tune.


What's next for your little family? 

We’ll spend a few more weeks in foster care ’til the kittens are old enough go to the vet to be tested for FIV/FeLV and given their first shots. I’ll be spayed and get my shots, too, and we’ll all go up for adoption. The kittens will all be adopted in pairs or with another kitty in the home - it’s important for them to be socialized with other cats while they’re still young. They will also go home with a spay/neuter voucher and will be fixed by the time they’re four months old. Then all we have to do is enjoy life and keep our families entertained!


Lastly, do the babies have anything they'd like to chime in? 

As kitten season approaches, the Effervescats would like to encourage everyone to help in any you can - whether that be through spaying/neutering your own pets, volunteering, donating, adopting, participating in TNR projects, or especially fostering! There are many other pregnant kitties and nursing moms that need care and us kittens are SO much healthier when we’re raised in a foster home with someone to look out for us.

A post shared by Foster Kitten Adventures (@threetinytabbies) on

Follow the ongoing adventures of Mimosa and the Effervescats at the Three Tiny Tabbies blog, as well as on Facebook and Instagram

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tortie Shorties on Mystery Monday

From the publisher: There’s something special about Max. He may look like your regular ginger flabby tabby, but unlike most tabbies, he can actually communicate with his human, reporter for the Hampton Cove Gazette Odelia Poole. Max takes a keen interest in the goings-on in their small town, by snooping around with his best friends Dooley, a not-too-bright ragamuffin, and Harriet, a gorgeous white Persian. Their regular visits to the police station, the barbershop and the doctor’s office provide them with those precious and exclusive scoops that have made Odelia the number one reporter in town.

But when suddenly the body of a bestselling writer is discovered buried in the last Long Island outhouse, and a new policeman arrives in town to solve the murder, it looks like things are about to change in Hampton Cove. Detective Chase Kingsley doesn’t take kindly to nosy reporters like Odelia snooping around his crime scene or interviewing his suspects. And to make matters worse, he’s got a cat of his own in Brutus, a buff, black bully, who, just like his owner, likes to lay down the law. Soon Brutus isn’t just restricting access to the police station, but he’s putting the moves on Harriet, breaking up the band.

Now it’s all Odelia, Max and Dooley can do to try and solve the murder, in spite of Detective Kingsley’s and Brutus’s protestations, and show the overbearing cop and his bullyragging feline how things are done in Hampton Cove. Will Odelia find the killer before Detective Kingsley does? And will Max prevent Brutus from moving in on his territory and taking over the town? Find out in Purrfect Murder, the first book in the new Mysteries of Max series.

Tortie Shorties Review: Just when you think the cat cozies on the market today can't possibly get any better, a little gem like this comes along. The publisher's blurb tells the gist of the story but I have to focus on the cats. Max, Harriet and Dooley, a feline version of the Three Musketeers, have pretty sweet lives communicating with their humans (a grandmother, mother and daughter who can all communicate with them). No one understands how local reporter Odelia Poole gets the scoop on local happenings long before anyone else, not knowing that her sources have fur and four legs. Then a controversial cop moves to town and with him comes Brutus, a black cat in need of an attitude adjustment, causing trouble wherever he goes and stealing Persian Harriet's heart in the process. Their little worlds are turned upside down and then to top it all off a dead body is pulled from the outhouse (ewww!!!) at a local writers' retreat.

This book is non-stop fun from start to finish. The cats' antics and conversations are hysterically funny. (One particular scene where Max and Dooley make a blood oath with feral cat Clarice and Max worries about gangrene setting in had me in stitches.) Paws crossed that the wait isn't too long for the second book in this purrfect new series!

From the publisher: Holly and her grandmother, Oma, are working their tails off to prepare the Sugar Maple Inn for an upcoming matchmaking event for pet owners. While Holly has no interest in pairing up, Oma plans on playing Cupid and finding someone to warm her reluctant granddaughter’s heart.

Unfortunately, one man Holly does meet is cold—dead cold—and he has a personal letter from Oma in his pocket. As suspicion is cast over the inn's guests, Holly—with the help of her furry friends, Trixie the Jack Russell and Twinkletoes the cat—must fetch the real killer, or she may soon have a date in court.

Tortie Shorties Review: Every visit to Wagtail, Virginia is to be celebrated, a pet lover's paradise that caters to tourists and their pets where animals are welcome everywhere, even restaurants with special menus for the furry patrons. Mission Impawsible, the fourth book in the series, takes place during Sugar Maple Inn's Animal Attraction Matchmaking event. It's a time for fun, flirting, and maybe a little romance, but no one expects it to be the scene of not one but two murders! The two victims were as different as night and day but they will forever be linked in death.

This book has loads of twists and turns, no shortage of suspicious suspects, and a furry cast of characters that lovers of pet cozies will adore. (The cats and dogs' late night pantry raids are hysterical!) While the mystery is quite complicated the resolution is tied up nicely. I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series set at Christmastime!

Disclaimer: These are affiliate links which means if you click on one and buy something Mudpie gets a little money for her piggy bank!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chatty #SundaySelfie

Meows from Mudpie!

There's a school of thought that bloggers shouldn't post 7 days a week. We completely understand that most people aren't able to read a lengthy blog post every single day, plus it's impossible to sufficiently promote so many posts. Still, since Mommy can talk about cats all day long we just have too many ideas at this point to cut back. Maybe one day, but not now.

A few days each week we do try to present less wordy posts, but this week we seemed to be extra chatty. Looking back at the week though we noticed that each post touched on our favorite blogging themes. The entire week is the epitome of what makes us who we are and what we love presenting through our little blog. There was a Tortie Shorties book review accompanied by one of my famous interviews, a pawsome rescue story, adorable pictures of moi, a new edition of The Purrfect 10 (a series we enjoy researching and writing so much), and finally a post for all the stylish cat ladies out there.

Whether you visit us every day or a few times a week, we appreciate your friendship and support so much!


Looks like we managed to get a bit wordy once again, didn't we? I know you're all here for my Sunday Selfie, and I think I took a really good one this week too!

We're joining our friends at The Cat on My Head for the Sunday Selfies blog hop!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Moonlit Mudpie #CaturdayArt

Meows from Mudpie!

Today my Caturday Art project comes courtesy of Dreamscope's "Moonshine" effect. I tried using it once before but couldn't find a picture that did it justice. We finally found one and think it turned out just incredible. Doesn't it look like I'm in a starlit forest late at night? I especially love the look around my eyes. The tree branches make it look like I'm wearing funky eye shadow.

Hey, there's an old song titled Moonlight in Vermont. That's probably what I should've titled this post!

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

And now our weekly answers for the Friendly Fill-Ins challenge, hosted by 15andmeowing and McGuffy's Reader!

Mommy's answers:
1. In the Spring, I look forward to not a whole lot. Spring isn't very pretty in my neck of the woods. It stays cold and damp quite late and then the melting snow makes for a yucky mud season. Not pretty at all.

2. I would love to have a murder mystery party. I admit I stole this answer from our friends at Four-Legged Furballs. I was stumped because I'm not a party person at all, but when I saw their answer I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it myself. Cozy mystery fanatic that I am I've always thought they sounded like so much fun!

Mudpie's answers:

3. Few know this about me, but I sat in a western New York shelter for 5 months before I was transported to Vermont. Imagine nobody adopting me in 5 whole months!!! That's how I know Mommy and I were meant to be together forever. I arrived right where I needed to be just in time to mend her broken heart.

4. No one should ever harm an animal. Anyone who does shouldn't consider themselves a part of the human race. Child abuse is horrific, but there's punishment. An animal has no voice and in the majority of cases their abusers get off with a slap on the wrist.

Friday, March 24, 2017

CHALA Handbags for Stylish Cat Ladies - Review & Giveaway

Have you ever seen those cute signs stating, "she who dies with the most *fill in the blanks* wins"? If the category is purses, I'm a shoo-in for the grand prize. Despite the fact that I could probably change purses every week for a year without using the same one twice I still can't stop myself from looking for more, especially if it has a cat on it.

The first time I laid eyes on a CHALA bag was in an Acorn catalog when I was compiling the premiere edition of our Purring Peddler series. I admired it from afar until January when I saw one in person at the Vermont Fancy Felines Cat Show and realized I could not live without one of these bags in my life.

CHALA bags are billed as "Sophisticated enough to be at work. Casual enough to go shopping with. Simple enough to carry along wherever you go."

From their About Us page:

We approach life with passion and creativity. We believe in the idea that doing what you like
and liking what you do is a key to happiness in life. We love fashion, and we love handbags.
So here is CHALA.
We love to create fashion, instead of following it. We always find happiness in giving
our ordinary bags a little twist, and seeing people smile.
We try to be as simple as possible in life, even when it comes about fashion.
We adorn simple bags with just right amount of whimsy, not too fancy or complicated.
We believe simplicity and sophistication co-exists,
and we strive to find a perfect balance of them.
We like to be bold & different in life, in a harmless way, whenever and wherever possible.
To celebrate individuality in the fashion world, graphically as on our handbags,
is a happy thing to us, too.

I've been using CHALA's deluxe messenger bag in the " LaZzy Cat" design for about a month now and it fits my lifestyle perfectly. I crave roomy bags with loads of pockets and hidden compartments and this one is fully loaded. The front pocket is just the right size to carry an iPad or Kindle and is detachable with a cute fish shaped zipper puller. The pocket behind that has a handy magnetic closure which is where I keep my wallet for easy access. The main zippered portion of the bag has 3 more little compartments in the lining for keys or glasses. The rear zipper pocket is where I stash my shopping lists and coupons.

The messenger bag is canvas and textured faux leather with detailed stitching and button eyes. It feels very sturdy and well made. The strap is completely adjustable so I love that it's long enough to wear crossbody when I want my hands free but can also be worn on my shoulder for quick stops on the go. Even the orange & brown color scheme is right up my alley because they're tortie/calico colors! I was so happy to receive a compliment on it the first time I wore it shopping.

If you prefer a design other than a cat (but why would you???), dog, fox, turtle and dragonfly messenger bags are also available.

The Carryall Zip Tote in the same LaZzy Cat design is incredibly roomy. (Seriously, I could carry Mudpie around in it.) The main zippered compartment has an open inside pocket, two side pockets with velcro closures (good fit for a water bottle), and a rear pocket with a magnetic snap. Carry it along on a day trip or to the beach, use it to carry books or craft supplies, I can even see using it as a carry-on bag on an airplane. The possibilities are endless!

Lastly I got my paws on a trio of adorable kitty keychains which could also be used as a purse charm. Available in black, brown and ivory, each comes with a fish and flower dangle with the CHALA logo. I'm almost tempted to remove the clip and wear one as a necklace!

I cannot recommend CHALA merchandise highly enough. They're chic and sophisticated, yet practical and whimsical all at the same time. I would encourage everyone to check out their collection on Amazon because they have loads of cute designs and styles. Visit them on Facebook too!

Giveaway: Thanks to our generous friends at CHALA one lucky grand prize winner is going to receive a Carryall Zip Tote ($47.99 retail value) and keychain (cat design, of course), and two runners up are each going to receive a key chain ($14.50 retail value)! To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. (US entries only, please.) 

Good luck everyone!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by CHALA Handbags. All opinions are our own and we never recommend a product we don’t fully believe in.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Purrfect 10: Most Reported Pet Toxins of 2016

We love reading and researching anything and everything about cats, and wanted to find a fun and unique way to share the interesting facts we learn with you! Since top 10 lists are very popular in the blogosphere, we created The Purrfect 10 as a way to present 10 educational or fascinating tidbits about a wide variety of cat-related topics, everything from health issues to cat breeds to famous felines.

Every year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) releases its top 10 list of toxins pets ingest. The 2016 list was just released and is based on 180,639 calls to their hotline about potential poisonings, which APCC veterinarians put into categories that callers were the most concerned about. What better time than Poison Prevention Week to share the list?

1) Human prescription medications (16.95% of cases) The top three substances reported were antidepressants and heart and ADHD medications. Anyone who takes medication prescribed for someone else puts themselves at risk of illness or even death, and the same holds true for our pets. Don't keep medicines on the counter where your cat or dog can get into it thinking those little tablets are a treat, and if you drop a pill locate it immediately!

2) OTC products (16.65% of cases) Ibuprofen tops the list because many brands have a sweet outer coating that makes it appealing to pets. A single extra-strength pill aspirin found in every home's medicine cabinet can be deadly to your cat. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®), a very common pain killer, reaches the blood stream within 30 minutes and can damage the liver and red blood cells very quickly. Cats are 7 to 10 times more susceptible to acetaminophen toxicity than dogs. Even topical creams for pain relief have recently been found to be dangerous, putting cats in jeopardy just by rubbing up against you and then bathing themselves or licking the area of your skin after it's been applied. And with summer coming check out this informative article from our friends at A Tonk's Tail about the hazards of sunscreen.

3) Food (9.84% of cases) It's natural to want to share a bite of what we're eating with our pets, but there are some foods they should never come into contact with. A cat's digestive system can be upset by any food that isn't formulated for them, even a pantry staple like canned tuna fish. A more complete list from petMD can be found here.

4) Veterinary products (9.26% of cases) Both over the counter supplements and prescribed medication that has been flavored in a compounding pharmacy are purposely made to taste better so our pets will more readily accept them. On the flip side it can also encourage them to sneak some when they shouldn't or run the risk of other furry family members getting their paws into it. Use the utmost caution with any medication or supplement you give your pet.

5) Household items (8.36% of cases) Keep paints, glues, cleaning products like bleach, detergents and disinfectants away from your pets. An especially deadly toxin in the winter is antifreeze. Remember, any puddle that your cat drinks from can contain hazardous run-off!

6) Chocolate (7.9% of cases) Cats are less prone to eating chocolate than dogs since they are unable to taste anything sweet, but it only takes a small amount to make a cat very sick and the toxic dose for cats is even lower than for dogs. The toxic agent in chocolate is a compound called theobromine, which a cat's system can't metabolize like a human's can. This can lead to abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death. And unlike humans where dark chocolate has health benefits, in our pets, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.

7) Insecticides (6.92% of cases) Many cat-related calls are to report that a kitty has been treated with topical flea and tick medication meant for dogs! (This actually happened to a co-worker of mine. Thankfully the two cats were saved but I have a feeling her husband, who made the near catastrophic mistake, probably saw his own life flash in front of his eyes a few times.) Always read the directions on flea and tick medications and only use the ones specifically for cats and your cat's weight.

8) Rodenticides (5.47% of cases) Rodenticides are meant to be toxic to mice and rats, but they are also toxic to our pets. At my house we use humane traps for the mice that find their way into the basement.

9) Plants (5.2% of cases) With Easter right around the corner the dangers of lilies can't be overstated. The smallest amount - even the pollen or water from the vase - can result in severe, acute kidney failure. Don't even chance bringing them into your home. A comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants can be found here.

10) Garden products (2.64% of cases) Exposure to lawn chemicals can occur when your cat walks through an area that has been recently treated and then they lick their paws. Even inside cats are at risk when humans track residue in the house on our shoes. Get into the habit of removing your shoes when you go inside your home, and start using natural and organic methods to fertilize your lawn.

If you ever suspect that your cat has ingested something she shouldn't have, call your veterinarian immediately. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center diagnostic & treatment hotline is also available 24 hours a day at (888) 426-4435.

We hope you learned something new today!
Do you have a topic you'd like us to cover in The Purrfect 10?

Photo credits:
flickr creative commons/steve p2008
flickr creative commons/Ann
flickr creative commons/Dmitriy Zhukov

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pink & Black Jelly Bean (Toes) For Your Easter Basket

Meows from Mudpie!

Have you ever been concerned about what your humans do while you're napping? For instance, I just discovered a series of pictures on the flashy box of my legs and feet.

Creepy, right?

Seems that after a year and a half of living together she just noticed the fun fur pattern and skin markings on my right side.

Look at the near purrfect dividing line between tan and black furs. And the only white on my whole entire body is on the fuzzy fur between my toes!!!

My feet are even cooler. The paw pad on my rear foot is black but I have cute little pink jelly bean toes!!! On the front foot everything is black.

Irresistible, I know. Go ahead and *squeee* all you need to at my luscious tortie-ness.

If you enjoyed this, which part of me would you like an up close and personal look at next? Or is this totally TMI???

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We Are a Little Tribe - A Guest Post by Amber Lane

Last month we had the great honor of introducing you to Baby Diddles, a special needs kitty and world traveler who inspired a children's book to teach readers that just because someone looks different, or has a disability, that person or cat can do anything they set their mind to. While speaking with her human Amber Lane, it soon became apparent that her entire feline family needed to have their story told. Amber's devotion to her six "hopeless cases" is a powerful testament to the human/animal bond and a must read for anyone who has been rescued by the love of a cat.

We Are a Little Tribe 
 by Amber Lane

I was born to love animals. I've always loved them more than people. Growing up I had dogs, hamsters, birds, guinea pigs, horses, but no cats. My mom wasn't crazy about them. I wanted anything furry. I wanted to care for them and give them a happy life. I could sense their vulnerabilities. I can communicate with them as well.

I rescued my first girl, Tink, in 2007. It was her last day at the shelter. She'd been there 6 days and 7 was the limit. I asked to sit in the visit room with her so I could be with her outside of her cage. She jumped on my lap immediately and curled into a little ball. I knew at the moment that she was going home with me. Her eyes told me that she'd been looking for me and had finally found me. She slept under the covers with me that night. I moved to Dubai the next year and shipped Tink with me. It was quite the process but I wouldn't have had it any other way. We went through a lot together.

I was married at the time and it was falling apart in 2012. In May of that year I was on vacation in Washington. On a late night walk I came upon three tiny kittens on the side of the road. Someone had left them with a plate of raw meat. I immediately took them back to the house where I was staying. All I had to give them was tuna salad. They ate every morsel and drank so much water I thought they would be sick. The next day I took them to the humane society. It was there that I decided to adopt one of the kittens. She was a little calico. I had to get the logistics completed in order to ship her to Dubai. She was also too young to fly, so one of the employees kept her at her house while I waited for the paperwork to be completed and for her to be old enough to fly. I flew back the next month to pick up my girl. I named her Rimmy, mainly because she had a burnt edge to her ear that made a little round rim. And also because I had just read a book with a character named Rimmy. I sold several pieces of jewelry to finish paying for her trip back to Dubai. I had no idea how she and Tink would get along. Tink had been the only cat for many years. Although annoyed with the new addition, Tink basically ignored Rimmy and I knew all would be well.

Months after rescuing Rimmy I was in the midst of a horrible divorce. The night I decided to leave my ex he went completely crazy and attacked me. I had hidden the cats in their carriers and when he found them he threw them across the room. Rimmy has never been the same. She was diagnosed with epilepsy two years ago. The doctor said it is common after being subjected to trauma. I survived that night and managed to leave the next day. I lived in a car with Tink and Rimmy. We stayed in parking garages at night. We all shared tuna and cheese for food. Thankfully it was the beginning of winter in Dubai and not in the brutal heat of the summer. I managed to turn my life around slightly and was living in an apartment within a couple of months.

In April 2013, I was out for a bike ride in my neighborhood. I saw some neighborhood kids tormenting a kitten. I went over to see about taking the kitten away. My heart sank when I saw the little creature. Her little eyes were bulging and red. Her nose was bloody and scabbed over. I ran back home and brought her cat food, which she ate feverishly. I took her to a vet to see if anything could be done. The vet said she had a bad case of cat flu. He offered to put her to sleep that night. He said she wasn't doing well and he didn't expect her to live through the night. I said I wanted to try, or at least give the kitten a place to rest. He said to call him when I was ready to put her to sleep.

I didn't want to give up on this little fighter. I could tell this cat was strong. I gave her medicine several times throughout the day. I kept her isolated in a bathroom. She felt terrible. She didn't move for days and barely ate. But then she started coming around. This little cat had everything possible wrong with her. After she recovered from the flu, I discovered she had a bad case of ear mites. I treated her for ear mites only to discover that she also had ringworm. Which by that time I had ringworm, and Tink and Rimmy had it too. What a nightmare!! I had her spayed after a few months and she did not do well. I had to give her galastop for months to help her hormones. However, this little girl didn't let anything slow her down. It didn't take long to name her. Monkey. She was into everything! She caused so much trouble. She also had a little stuffed monkey that she would carry around in her mouth. She is extremely athletic and pure muscle. She reminds me of a thoroughbred. She is the most feral out of all the girls. She can be aggressive and torments Bandit, so much so that I have to keep them separated.

During my time in Dubai I volunteered for a rescue society called Feline Friends. Through Feline Friends I knew of other rescue groups in the UAE. I followed another group based out of Abu Dhabi called Wags and Purrs. They featured a cat each week that was available for adoption. It was in August that I saw my Baby D. She was the featured kitten. She had been featured many times before but no one wanted her because of how she looked. Unfortunately a lot of people in the region want 'perfect' pets. People had been cruel online. They had commented that she was ugly. I was horrified.

Daad (Wags and Purrs' founder), had found her on the side of the road in Abu Dhabi. Her ear was mangled and her paw was crushed and part of it was missing. She immediately took her into the vet and scheduled her for surgery. The vet removed her leg because there was nothing they could do to save the paw. They left her hip joint however which gives her more balance. They also cleaned up her ear and removed some of the outer edge. She can hear perfectly and can move her ear a bit too.

I took one look at her and sent a message to the Daad. I wanted her to join my family. I thought she was beautiful. I knew she belonged with me. Her gorgeous adoption photos won me over. I told Daad that I would love to take her for a trial. I wanted to make sure that the other girls would accept her. I got to see her in person on August 16, 2013. I fell madly in love. She was so tiny. I took her into the apartment and she immediately found her place. She wasn't afraid of anything. She was able to run, climb, jump, and just fit in perfectly. A guy I was dating at the time told me that if I got a fourth cat that he would leave me. Well, he came over one day and I told him I had adopted a fourth cat. I think I chose wisely!

The next few months were tough on all of us. I had a new job which provided accommodation. The building was brand new and not ready at the time so I was given a room at a hotel. Well, of course animals aren't allowed in hotels in the UAE. I had no option, I had to sneak the girls in with me. None of my friends would watch them for me. Looking back now I can't believe no one stepped up to help us. So, I snuck the girls in in suitcases and backpacks. I know it sounds cruel, but I had no option.

The room was very tiny with a small window. The four cats and myself lived there for seven weeks without getting caught. I knew I was pushing my luck and sure enough I pushed it too far. I got into a lot of trouble with my company and with the hotel. I had to board the girls then. It was a nice facility and I was able to visit everyday. I eventually moved into an apartment. Of course that building wasn't pet friendly either. I worked it out with my supervisor however so the girls would be allowed in my apartment. I thought all was well. I had two roommates and one of them changed her mind about having the cats in our apartment, even though they stayed in my bedroom. So even after getting approval to have the cats with me the company decided to make an example out of me. I was fired. Because I had cats in my apartment!!!!! I decided that it was time to leave that country behind and get back to the states. I saved every penny I could and I borrowed money from my Grandad in order to get the girls home with me. People suggested that I just leave them behind, dump them outside, or put them to sleep. I was dumbfounded. I didn't care how long it took, I was not leaving without my cats. A friend found a place for me to stay during that time and I ran up my credit card boarding the cats.

And then, we came home. It was the best feeling to get off the plane and find the girls safe and sound. Animals aren't allowed in the cabin in and out of the UAE so they all had to ride in the cargo compartment. Well, actually falcons are allowed in the cabin, but that's it. Yes, falcons.

Anyhow, we were back in the states. Life was good. I kept up with Daad and Wags and Purrs. They were trying to find a home for a cat named Bob. Unfortunately he was paralyzed. He wasn't getting any offers. So I told Daad that I would adopt him. We started a fundraiser to help with the shipping costs. About two weeks later we found out that he had FIV. He went downhill fast. We held out hope that he would be okay. Unfortunately the virus took over quickly. He passed away on the day he was supposed to fly over to me. I was crushed. But FIV is a devastating disease once it progresses.

A couple of months later a shelter in Dubai shut down and left over 100 dogs and cats to fend for themselves. Wags and Purrs stepped in and rescued all of the animals. They took vets with them each time to help with the rescue. Unfortunately some of the animals had to be put to sleep because they were so sick. Her team found homes, either permanent or foster, for most of the animals. There were only around ten left. She was posting pictures daily. I fell in love with a calico that looked like Rimmy's twin. And there was an all black beauty with eye abnormalities. Wags and Purrs accepts donations and uses their own funds a lot of the time as well to pay for surgeries, treatments, and vet bills. The little black beauty had one eye removed and the other eye was surgically opened. Her eyelids grow inward instead of outward. Her eyelashes are constantly rubbing against her eye. Her eye is abnormally shaped as well. I knew just by hearing her story and seeing her picture that she would have a hard time being adopted. She was also all black which is not desirable there. I told Daad to get the paperwork ready.

Everyone thought I was crazy. 'Two more cats,' 'but you've never met them.' I got grief from everyone. I didn't care. They had a travel buddy on their flight to the states. Basically someone who agrees to be responsible for them before the flight, and then to make sure that someone is there to meet them and accept ownership. I met Heather in Chicago. I drove four hours to Denver, and then flew to Chicago. I picked up the two new girls, and flew back to Denver in the same day. I also then drove the four hours home. It was hectic. They had been so malnourished at the shelter and went without food and water before Daad's team could get to them. The vet had no idea what their ages were because their teeth were in such bad condition. I named the calico Gypsy. And my black beauty is Bandit. She's always confused for a male at the vet. I guess it's a masculine name. Everyone also always thinks that Monkey is a boy. She just looks like a male cat I guess.

So that's their story. I wanted to give you their background because I'm sure you can understand that I had to adopt them all. It was meant to be. I decided to write a book about Diddles a few months after I adopted her. I wanted to share her with the world. She is such a gorgeous kitty. And a true survivor. I was inspired by her attitude. She looks in the mirror and doesn't see a kitty with one ear or three legs. She is fierce. She will outrun all of the other cats and can climb a cat tree in one second.

When I have a bad day I look around at all of my girls and remember each of their stories. They put a smile on my face. They are survivors. I'm a survivor. We are a little tribe.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mudpie Interviews...Moriarty from Elementary, She Read (w/Review & Giveaway)

From the publisher: Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.

The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.

If you're already a Sherlock Holmes aficionado this book will make you happier than a chocoholic in a Godiva factory; if you're not, you will be by the time you finish reading. I was so inspired that I used a precious Audible credit to purchase the entire Holmes canon in audiobook format...nearly 63 hours of listening pleasure!

Gemma Doyle, a transplant from the UK, has taken over her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium in West London on Cape Cod. In the same building is Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room, run by her best friend Jayne. After a busy afternoon Gemma locates a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing a beloved Sherlock Holmes story and attempts to return the item to it's owner, only to find the mysterious stranger dead. One of the lead detectives on the case is Gemma's former boyfriend and the other takes an immediate dislike to her (and the feeling is mutual), and circumstances wind up placing her on top of the suspect list.

Gemma is a very unique character. Her keen mind and powers of observation are very Sherlockian, although she doesn't come off as the most likable protagonist. I found her to be rather abrasive and abrupt, but that being said, it works! Her personality "fits" the character's life experience. The bookshop is a character all it's own; the author's descriptions of it make you wish such a store existed. I only hope the second book in series gives us a better chance to meet Gemma's great uncle Arthur...I think he'll be a really fun character.

Of course every bookshop needs a resident feline, and in this case it's handsome house panther Moriarty. He and Gemma have sort of a love/hate relationship, although he knows how to turn on the charm when it's warranted. Mudpie was excited to have the opportunity to ask him a few questions!

Welcome Moriarty! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live at the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium?

I was a lost, abandoned, frightened, starving little kitten, huddling in a dark alley when Arthur Doyle found me. He brought me into the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and gave me a bowl of fresh cream and shelter. I have ever been grateful.

(Now the true story: I was pretending to be a lost, abandoned, starving kitten, and I threw myself under Arthur Doyle’s feet and whined pitifully. Keep your friends close, they say, and your enemies closer. Where else would a cat named Moriarty want to be?)

What's a typical day like for you?

I prowl the bookshop in the early morning to make sure no mice have gotten in. If they have, I dispose of them in my ruthless way. Then I have a nap in my bed under the center table until Gemma arrives to open the shop. If I’m very lucky, she’s carrying a take-out cup of tea and a muffin, not watching where she’s going, and I might be able to trip her. When the customers start arriving I spend most of the day letting them admire me. Oh, yes, I can do the sweet little kitty along with the best of them. While all that admiring is going on, I keep an eye on Gemma. She’ll slip up one day, and then I’ll have her.

Tell us about Elementary, She Read, the first Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery that you star in... 

I’d be happy to. Transplanted Englishwoman Gemma Doyle owns the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium in the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod, specializing in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and the adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne Wilson set off to find the owner. What they find is a dead woman and Gemma’s house ransacked.

The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.

Do you assist Gemma in any way in solving the mysteries she stumbles upon?

As if she’d let me. Oh, no Gemma has to do everything her own way. She thinks I’m a harmless cat. One day, I’ll show her.

Is your purr-sonality anything like your namesake, criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty? 

You mean brilliant, clever, diabolical, master of evil? Then yes. If only I wasn’t trapped in this ten pound body.

Can you give us any clues as to what's next for you guys?

When a famous author comes to visit the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, I am unceremoniously carried upstairs and dumped in the office. (See above, trapped in a ten pound body). Gemma will attempt to solve the subsequent crime in Body on Baker Street (coming in September) and I will continue to attempt to make her life a misery. Good times.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Tortie on the Move #SundaySelfie

Meows from Mudpie!

Yesterday morning I decided to take my Sunday Selfie for the week, but then in the next moment I thought of something else I needed to do, so hopefully you won't mind that I snapped the shot "on the run"...

We're joining our friends at The Cat on My Head for the Sunday Selfies blog hop!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quill Portrait #CaturdayArt

Meows from Mudpie!

You've probably noticed that we typically post our answers for the Friendly Fill-Ins challenge (hosted by 15andmeowing and McGuffy's Reader) on Saturday alongside our Caturday Art entry. This week's fill-ins brought back a lot of memories for Mommy so she decided my artwork needed a vintage feel, and what's more vintage than a portrait done in quill pen? As you can see, the artist is currently drawing in my cute little nose freckles!

1. The oldest item in my home is the early 1940s radio that my mom and her parents listed to the news on during the second World War. She had two older brothers who enlisted; one was stationed in Germany, the other in England. Thankfully they both came home.

2. The oldest item in my refrigerator is Angel Tara's last insulin bottle. I always felt that I should've donated it but it was more than half gone and I just couldn't part with it.

3. My family heritage is French Canadian.

4. My favorite family tradition is spending quality time together decorating, baking and shopping during the Christmas season.