“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” –Terry Pratchett
A writer needs three things to be successful: Writing implements, a warm cup of coffee, and a cat. There is nothing as essential (or as distracting) to my writing as my feline companions, Mai Thai and Swt. Whether it is typing comments in my manuscripts or depositing live prey at my feet for the benefit of my muse, Mai Thai and Swt are dedicated to making my writing life as interesting as possible. (Whether I want them to or not.)


Mai Thai


Adopted in 2001 from the non-kill animal shelter: Project Hope Humane Society, in Metropolis, Illinois, Mai Thai is an international cat of mystery. He and his brother were thrown from a car when they were kittens causing Mai Thai to have broken teeth, a detached retina, a broken tail, and a habit of snorting rather than purring. He spent the first year of his life in the shelter being passed over because he is not traditionally beautiful. (He also earned the name “Thunder Cat” for his ability to cause destruction when released from his pen for play time.) Mai Thai was heartbroken when his brother found a home and he didn’t. Enter poor unsuspecting me. I came to adopt a cat because my current cat, Silver, was lonely. Although I originally chose a kitten, a friend of mine who worked for the shelter assured me that Mai Thai (called Taylor then) was the cat for me. He greeted me with a pig-like snort and breath that could curl your nose hair. Not convinced, I agreed to take him home for a weekend. It was love at first sight between Silver and Mai Thai even though Thai decided to spend the first three days in the bathtub of his new home. Sixteen years later, Mai Thai has outlived his companion, travelled with me across the USA and then across the Atlantic Ocean. In later life, he would complete his street punk look by piercing his own ear with his back claws and giving himself a permanent cauliflower ear. He has a passport, a serious attitude about the cat carrier, and a deep love of throwing toy mice as high as he can manage and then pouncing on them. He is a great admirer of the arts adding helpful comments like “mmmmnnnnnllll” and “/****988888++” to my writing projects whenever possible. He once even managed to highlight every third word in the footnotes of my PhD blue. At seventeen, he still manages to kill a toy mouse, bring it to my bedside, and sing the song of his people every night.

Nick Names:
Thai, Stripy Boy, Thai Fighter.

Food of all sorts but especially in gravy (except for Salmon), convincing Mom that Dad hasn’t fed me so I can have second breakfast, Nanas because they always give treats, toy mice that I can throw, sleeping in front of the woodstove, the Christmas Tree skirt, and sitting between Mom and her laptop.

The cat carrier, salmon, getting wet, sharing food, and being asked to get down.



Baby Swt

Swt, Sweep (now called Sidney), and Sue were born at a Welsh horse stable just outside of Caernarfon. Because their mother was too young to have kittens (insert my rant about taking proper care of barn cats), she lacked both the milk to feed them and the skills to care for them. I asked the farmer what was going to be done for the kittens and she said, “I’m going to let nature take its course.” My response? Not on my watch. So I went to a horse riding lesson alone and came home as a mother of three. My husband, Rob, was not thrilled but was invaluable in helping me get them to adulthood. In case you didn’t know, kittens must be bottle fed every two hours (even overnight), stimulated to use the bathroom, cleaned, kept warm, and loved beyond a shadow of a doubt. At the end of nine weeks, I had three healthy kittens ready for a new life and a whole new appreciation for my mother.

Swt Sweep Sue

Sue Sweep & Swt
I wanted to keep all of them (who wouldn’t want five cats?) but couldn’t deny the pleas of two friends who wanted to give Sue and Sweep a home. Swt, on the other hand, had wheedled his way into my husband’s heart. Rob refers to Swt’s solitary white eyebrow as Swt’s antenna to the alien mothership. Swt believes that the best way to show Rob love is head-butting Rob in the nose hard enough to make his eyes water. They have a special friendship.


Swt does not approve of my writing or reading habits because he is too slow to get to my lap before Mai Thai does, and both of these activities involve me taking my eyes off of him. In my efforts to teach Swt the ways of being a cat I managed to also teach him to sit at the dinner table, takes baths in the bathtub, attempt every night to brush his own teeth, and generally boss everyone around. When I asked Rob why he chose Swt, he replied, “He’s going to be a great cat.” Eight years later, Swt proves my husband right every day.

Nick Names:
Black and White Naughty

Daddy (Mom is for feeding, Dad is for fun), Flies, commonly known as sky raisins, getting wet especially in the bathtub, kissing (whether you want a kiss or not), going outside to boss around the neighbourhood, climbing my 5 1/2 foot tall cat tree and lording over the living room, taking up as much room as possible in bed, cat nip.

Sharing of any kind, Mai Thai sitting with Mom while she is reading and writing, and windy weather.

Swt in the bath

More Information:
For those interested in supporting Project Hope Humane Society please visit:

Project Hope

Mai Thai, Swt and I support the Cats Protection League and sponsor two pens there. For information about sponsoring space for cats at Cats Protection League visit:
Cats Protection League

Information for new cat mommies:
If you are a new cat mommy, remember that your veterinarian is the best first port of call. Get information on feeding, warming, cleaning, and elimination. Take notes! Most vets have a 24 hour service or an emergency number. Do yourself a favour and call first.

For basic kitten hand-rearing information: Vetwest on Hand Rearing Kittens , Cat77 on Hand Rearing Kittens , Although this site recommends a heating pad, my husband and I found that using a Habistat Vivarium Heat Mat (7 Watts) covered with a towel provided the perfect temperature. The matts are waterproof just in case of accidents and provide reflective heat. We made sure that there was room for the kittens to move off of the matt if they were too warm. If they are reluctant to suckle, put a little honey or golden syrup on the nipple. This is also helpful for reluctant eaters.

For stimulating your new born kitten to defecate and urinate:
Stimulating Urination Although the video mentions using paper towel, I wouldn’t recommend them because of the amount of rubbing and patting that must be done to stimulate the kitten to go to the bathroom. Paper towel is rough and can cause sores on your cat’s genitals. Keep records of when they poop because you won’t remember when or how much. They should go every 24 to 36 hours.