Every now and then we come across a story that touches our hearts and reminds us of our innate compassion and human spirit, and the need to reflect on what’s truly important in life…which we all know is cats! =^..^=
Today we share a wonderful story about rescue cats, but the twist in this tale is how the rescuer became the rescuee! The story is now a book called “To Catch A Cat” and it comes out tomorrow July 5th by Berkley Publishing, a division of Penguin Books.
Heather’s daughter (Lilly) holding the book
It’s a funny, warm and delightful memoir about how rescuing a group of kittens forced a busy journalist to look outside of her work life and into the helpless eyes of three stray kittens. That defining moment led her to leave behind a successful corporate career to become (in her words) a “crazy cat person” in this heartwarming story about what it takes to become a cat rescuer.
It all began in 2004 when Heather Green (a technology reporter for BusinessWeek ) had an unexpected experience with some feral felines that ultimately became the catalyst in transforming her entire life. No, she wasn’t bitten by a radioactive cat and became a feline superhero…although she certainly is a superhero in our eyes.
Heather was a highly driven, successful and happily single journalist living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and regularly working 70 hour weeks. Life was busy, but good. She was dating an architect (Matt) who lived in a working class suburb of Union City, NJ. Green wasn’t ready to commit to a long term relationship, and she liked the idea of being separated by the Hudson River to keep things simple.
Heather and Oona
But as fate would have it, all that changed during a June weekend visit to her boyfriend’s house in NJ. Matt’s cat (Teevee) was wandering around in the backyard when she made an unexpected discovery—three little wild kittens were living in the next-door neighbor’s yard. Green went outside to check them out and at first saw nothing. But then a wee head popped up out of the grass. This was the kitten they’d come to call Number Three. He was bold, curious, and adorable but wild. What struck Heather most was that he didn’t run off at the sight of her. He just settled down and studied her, trying to figure out what she was. Heather was transfixed and realized right there that he could be saved. And if she didn’t do it, who would?
So began her journey from the cold, calculating corporate climate to the warm, fuzzy and wonderful world of cat rescue. Talk about a transition!
The decision to rescue these cats was a lot easier than the process of actually capturing them. Rescuing wild kittens it turned out was much harder than simply scooping up the adorable furballs and taking them to safety. Heather was drawn into the complex community of cat trapping, involving careful planning, sorting out “feeders” from “trappers” and building alliances to save the lives of her new little friends.
Two Spot as a kitten
The cat rescue project also became a kind of crucible for her relationship with Matt and eventually helped her realize he was the guy she wanted to spend her life with. Having shared memorable moments like asking him to catch a cat she heard outside at 3 a.m. and jumping fences together.
“To Catch A Cat” is a story about community, love, and family, and as Green learns about what it takes to be a cat rescuer, her thoughtful observations about her life and herself create a moving and often funny tale of how the kittens changed her for the better.
There are plenty of serious points in the book but the reason Heather wrote it was because of how this kitten project made her rethink what she was doing in life. These kittens were hilarious, bumbling little nuggets and her now husband and her were novice rescuers, which was also very funny. They were learning it all on the fly. Some of their moments of madness included:
- Disrupting the weed whacking of their hefty, machete-wielding neighbor in a (vain) attempt to get him to postpone his plans for a BBQ in his yard….which happened to be the kitten’s hideout
- Covering up Matt’s sliding back door with silver duct tape and a black sheet and declaring his kitchen off limits for two weeks so the kittens and their mother wouldn’t be disturbed after they moved onto Matt’s patio. Upside. They got to eat out a lot!
- Trying—unsuccessfully—to use a makeshift net made out of cheesecloth, a wire coat hanger, and (more) duct tape to catch a sick kitten through the sliding door.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Heather last week from her home, and she’s very excited about the book launch. She told us “My book is heartfelt, of course. It’s about kittens! But I also wrote it to be funny and entertaining, to show the quirky and amusing side of cat rescuing.”
Zero as a kitten
Rescuing cats forced her to connect: to a place, to another person, and to herself. The unexpected links she forged through caring about those first three kittens helped propel her towards the most common and daunting project we all face: figuring out what we want from life.
“Cat rescuing can be crazy. But I also wanted to show what a entertaining, quirky, and fun world it can be” said Green.
The idea for the book came, Green said, during a light-bulb moment when their home had become a kind of way station for kittens as they looked for adoptive families and she found herself with a bathtub full of kittens.
“I did a head count and realized there were 11 cats in the house. And that’s when I realized, ‘Hey I should make something out of this,” she said.
Number Three and Cottonball
The story has a happy ending, she and Matt married in 2007 and their daughter, Lilly, now 7, was born in 2009. They recently moved back to their home state (Virginia) and as for the cats that started it all, the kittens found adoptive homes in New Jersey, but the mother cat, Oona, adopted by Heather and Matt, is now a Virginian, too.
This is a wonderful book that we highly recommend as a ‘two paws up’ read for any pet lover. For details and to order, check out Heather’s website at: tocatchacat.com