Not sure what to expect with a title like that huh? >^..^<
Well it’s a truly inspiring love story on several levels. Kittens Slay Dragons is a brand new project from Singer/Songwriter Sarah Donner that goes beep beep boop boop dance dance dance! Sarah’s debut release is called Big Big Heart! Last winter Sarah was struggling with depression and anxiety, and also with a seeming lack of momentum in her solo music career. Then into her life came a very special and fragile foster kitten.
They found her tied to a bush in the middle of Trenton NJ. Malnourished, greasy, boney, full of fleas, and without the ability to properly shut her eyes, she was fortunate enough to be taken in by Sarah and her husband. Full of fear and barely able to see, she slithered on the floor and hid inside small boxes, but she had an incredible hunger (literally and metaphorically) to live.
After many visits to the vet, they discovered a host of new maladies lurking inside! Heart disease, lung disease, things on her spleen, a bone deformaty and eyelid agenesis (aka NO EYELIDS!). Expecting her to be blind, Sarah and her husband named their new sweet baby ‘Melon’. Music aficionados will get it!
Her life expectancy was estimated to be extremely short, so they adopted her to be sure that the time she had left was the best it could be.
Fast forward a year later, Melon is bouncing around just fine with new eyelids (courtesy of her wonderful fans online who funded the surgery) and chicken flavored Viagra that keeps her blood flowing to all the important parts (her heart, people, her heart). Amazing what love and a furr-ever home can do! Check out her YouCaring Surgery Fundraiser.
[clickToTweet tweet=”This abandoned kitten survived insurmountable odds and inspired a music video!” quote=”This abandoned kitten survived insurmountable odds and inspired a music video!”]
Melon shook Sarah up in the best of ways. She taught Sarah that sometimes the best way to fight your own dragons is to help the small creatures that come into your life, welcoming them into your heart and your home.
Her creative batteries now recharged, Sarah cast aside her trusty ukuleles and guitars and picked up a small stack of synths. Her husband, always having wanted to be part of a “rad band” picked up a variety of drum machines and gadgets to add beeps to Sarah’s boops. With a sound inspired by bands like Chvrches, Imogen Heap and Lights, they write upbeat dancy songs about depression, cats, and nerdy fun stuff like video games and the cult hit TV show “Supernatural”.
When doctors gave her months to live, she grew stronger and braver. She started to play with the rest of their cats, chase lasers, fetch jingle balls, and run up stairs. Melon even campaigned for a place on the bed and won! Melon’s story spread far and wide on social media. Her fans coined #TeamMelon, purchased t-shirts, donated to her vet bills, and sent her food and toys.
“Big Big Heart” is named after the enlarged and deformed organ pumping inside the beautiful and strange cat Melon, who is probably right now chasing and chewing on the newest batch of foster kittens to pass through her home.
Listen to Love is Surgery (below) – it’s a beautiful, mesmerizing, deliciously melodic and haunting tune that we just love and it oozes adoration for Melon! Awww…it’s making us all mushy just writing about it.
As usual, we had to get the behind the scenes scoop, so we spoke to Sarah and here’s what she shared with us:
Q: Please share a bit about how/when you acquired Melon
A: Melon came to me in January of 2016. She was found tied to a bush and brought to the shelter. Trenton Cats Rescue called me and asked if we would take her. They knew something was wrong with her eyes, but when I got her I knew there was something REALLY wrong with her eyes. She had a freaky squinty look about her. Her breathing was fast and her coat was greasy. She was maybe ten week old? That night she spiked a fever of 105 which is the highest I’ve ever seen. My husband and I held her and prepared ourselves for the worst, like we have so many times with foster kittens. Melon pulled through it like the champ that she is!
Photo: Sarah & hubby (Michael)
Q: When did you suspect something was a bit ‘off’ with Melon? What specifically? How did you find out?
A: Pretty much the moment we laid eyes on her. Aside from her weirdly shaped squinty eyes, her breathing was always VERY fast. Her belly was also quite large for a kitten. The first several vets we saw were fairly certain she had FIP. Her heart was enlarged. Her lungs were diseased. She had pectus exavatum, or chest deformity that smooshes her organs. She also had eyelid agenesis, or lack of eyelid membrane, but fixing that took a backseat when the vet said her life expectancy was only a couple of months.
Q: What did you do? How did the Kickstarter come about? What was the outcome?
A: Well, she never had FIP. She just had a fat belly because she was fat! With her limited life expectancy my husband and I decided to adopt her. We would make her limited months the best months ever. She started on delicious chicken flavored Viagra for her broken organ (HER HEART PEOPLE, HER HEART). As the months passed, it became clear that she wasn’t going anywhere. She played hard and loved life more than any cat I’ve ever known, and I’ve known hundreds! We were faced with the fact that if she wasn’t going anywhere, her eyes needed eyelids (she had developed dangerous ulcers from the fur scraping against her corneas), and her uterus needed to go. I rallied my fans who had fallen in love with Melon since day one. I asked them for support, and they raised over $5000 for her surgeries.
At this time I was battling severe depression, and caring for Melon distracted me from my own inner dragons. There were many times I thought she was going to die, and there have been many times where I wanted to die. I slept on the bathroom floor with her. I played songs for her. I held her paws when she slept in her hidey hole. Because of her limited vision, she feels secure close to the ground and inside of boxes. When I’m sad and in my dark place, she will hide under blankets with me. We saved each other.
Her sweet disposition and ferocity for living in spite of her life expectancy was incredibly inspiring. I threw myself into a brand new electronic project called Kittens Slay Dragons. My husband and I bought some instruments we didn’t totally know how to play and threw ourselves into learning and writing in the electronic pop genre which was new for me. Guitars and ukuleles are my comfort zone! I ran a Kickstarter in late 2016 to fund our debut album “Big Big Heart” as well as a new solo record for myself. We exceeded our goal and raised $14,500! Both records have now been released, and Kittens Slay Dragons will be touring in late May.
Q: What inspired you to write Love is Surgery?
A: I wrote a lot of music leading up to Melon’s eyelid reconstruction. I’m a worrier, and my broken brain tends to jump to the worst conclusions of any unknown outcome. Melon’s enlarged heart made put her at extreme risk with anesthesia. The day of Melon’s surgery was one of the most stressful of my life so far. She looked like shit when she came out, but she was the most beautiful creature to me because she defied the odds once again.
Q: How is Melon doing today? What’s her prognosis?
A: Melon has the most beautiful white bushy eye lashes that grew in where her scars were. She’s my little drag queen. Her eyes are healed, and she hasn’t had a single ulcer since her surgery. Her enlarged heart ACTUALLY SHRANK! Her cardiologist was completely taken aback and had never seen a deformed heart do that. She still breathes faster than she should, but it doesn’t slow her down. Melon plays fetch with her jingley balls and runs up and down stairs. She will huff and puff a bit, but then she brings me more toys to throw down the hall way. I know she may not live a long life, but she lives each day with a HELL YES I CAN attitude with all the adoration and smothering from me and her fans.
Q: What do you want to accomplish/achieve by the ‘Kittens Slay Dragons’ project (aside from world feline domination)?
A: I’m a firm believer in the benefits of kitten therapy. I believe that fostering any animal can heal a broken brain or a heavy heart. It’s a symbiotic relationship that I’m trying to share with people via music. I had never written about my own depression before Melon, and now I’m writing honestly and from my heart. I’ve been taking footage of our foster kittens and making lyric videos, a sort of online kitten therapy for the world.
Q: You had your own personal challenges (just like Melon) – has she had a positive influence in your recovery?
A: I’ve never bonded so fiercely with another animal. Whenever I have those dark days or weeks, I go to her. She looks at me with her weird little eyes, and I am comforted. She purrs when I walk in the room and follows me around the apartment. She’s done more for me than I could ever do for her.
Q: How many cats do you own?
A: Altogether I have six cats in the permanent collection. Dunkin, Rory, Puma Bean, Moby Shit (aptly named after flooding my apartment when she was feral), Ni (as in the knights who say that), and our Melon Baller.
Q: What have you learned from Melon since adopting her?
A: Well I’ve learned a lot about eyelids and how many ways the kids can make new ones these days! In seriousness, Melon teaches me to just be in the moment. I’m terrible at it, but once in awhile she will climb onto my lap, turn around once, and curl against my belly. I have no choice but to stop everything, just sit with her purrs, and be.
Q: Any new project(s) on the horizon?
A: Kittens Slay Dragons will be touring at the end of May to support “Big Big Heart”. We will be in GA, NC, TN, IN, OH, PA, and a few more pending states! Our dates are all listed at kittensslaydragons.com We are also working on some new singles. There is also a Kittens Slay Dragons card game that my husband Michael is developing. It is slated for release in 2018.
Q: Any final message (tidbit of wisdom) you’d like to share in closing?
A: If you can’t foster, volunteer for your local rescue. Helping out isn’t always easy or convenient, but the joy it brings is good for your soul and BONUS it saves lives! This is kitten season. Shelters and rescues are swimming in piles of kittens. That sounds cute, but it can be stressful. And sticky. And smelly. And crusty. And rewarding overall!
Credits: All photos were kindly provided to us by Sarah Donner
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We applaud Sarah and Michael for their compassion, courage, unfailing love, tenacity and kindness! They are truly wonderful people who have BIG BIG HEARTS!