Feb 14, 2010

Stray (Love) Cats


g: The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwhistle & Susie Conklin
Listening to:
Peggy Lee Sings the Blues
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (again)
Making me smile:
My friend Sue just sold to Harlequin Mills & Boon!

Two summers ago, an abandoned cat gave birth to a litter of kittens at the winery/vineyard where I worked. Cat and kittens consumed my time for the next two months--making sure they had food and water, that they were wormed, that they were loved and the kittens were socialized--a very important task which entailed hours of playing with them!

Having watched the kittens from the day they were born until the day they went to their new homes, I knew their personalities well. They were all lovely--of course!--but I particularly adored the little black girl who came running to greet me every time I opened the door, and the little grey tabby with the M on her forehead who purred so loudly whenever I picked her up. And then there was the little grey tabby boy who loved to lie belly-up in my hand and have his stomach rubbed...

That litter of kittens made it into my second Harlequin Historical, Beauty and the Scarred Hero, (available in North America now). The heroine, Lady Isabella Knox, has a habit of rescuing strays--a habit that gets her into trouble when she rescues a runaway bride and is catapulted the path of the dangerous Major Reynolds.

In real life, I didn’t get to keep any of the kittens or their mother because my landlord refused to allow me to have pets, but Lady Isabella doesn’t have that problem with the kittens she saves. She gets to keep the two I loved the most!

The vineyard kittens and their mother all found great homes, and the kittens in Beauty and the Scarred Hero do too. One day I hope to repeat the experience by fostering a pregnant cat from the SPCA--it was fascinating to watch the kittens’ day-to-day growth and the development of their personalities. And this time, I’ll get to keep the mother and a couple of the kittens!

Please feel free to share stories about kittens and/or rescuing stray animals with us on the LoveCats blog!


  1. I'm a total sucker for strays, Emily. When I went back to live with my parents for a stint in my twenties, I spent a week trying to coax a cat out from the bushes, or from under the car. Finally a totally beeeautiful Siamese kitten slinked out. So pretty and friendly (when she got to know you) and smart!

    I took her to the vet. Ended up she wasn't a kitten. She was a 15 yo (approx) cat. She wasn't even a she! He was a fixed up male. He used to fetch a stick and sleep under the covers at my feet at night. His eyes were the bluest...seriously mesmerising.

    I miss that cat.

  2. So much CUTENESS! :-) Thank you for sharing all your stray temporary friends with us, and have a lovely day! :-)

  3. Hi Emily --
    I'm a dog person, but your story (and those cute pics!) make me want a little kitten.

  4. I'm with Anna - I'm a dog person, but there's something about that top photo of all those kittens entwined that makes me want a whole litter of kittens.

    Thanks for sharing their story - I'll be smiling all day, thinking about them. =)

  5. Emily, that's a beautiful story. It reminds me of when my sister and I were young and constantly trying to rescue feral kittens and cats from the canefields.
    I'm glad you got to write your two favourites into your book, such a shame you couldn't have kept them in real life.

  6. Robyn -- your Siamese sounds beautiful -- and very lucky to have found you! It's so funny when cats do the stick thing, isn't it? My parents have one at the moment that's always bringing sticks in and then chewing them like a dog.

  7. Thanks, Tez -- have a lovely day too!

  8. Anna, there is something SO appealing about kittens! Once you have one, you can't help loving it. You should give it a try...

  9. Seriously cute pics, Emily! And I can see that you took the socialising of the kittens very seriously - all those hours of playing. ;)

    Your stray-rescuing heroine, Lady Isabella sounds like a darling! Do you know when that book's going to be on the shelves Downunder?

  10. Rachel, if you have the the chance you should definitely get a whole litter of kittens! Cats get a lot of press for being 'solitary', but that litter of kittens showed me how much cats can love each other's company. My parents have taken in two strays (one black, one white) that I'm convinced are siblings because they groom and sleep and play with each other.

  11. Mel, canefields as in sugar cane? I've never seen one, but I imagine that they'd be wonderful hiding places for cats ... and snakes!

  12. Oh, yes, Sharon, socialising kittens is a very serious task! Had to force myself to do it every day!

    I have no idea when Beauty and the Scarred Hero will be out down here. It's available direct-to-consumer in the US at the moment and from the eharlequin website. That's all I know at this stage!