DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Sep 8 2015

All Cats, All the Time

by Hope L


Recently, a person who works behind my library branch found a litter of kittens under his car.  He came to the library to ask for ideas or for help, and naturally the staff directed him to moi, the resident Cat Lady.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love cats. We have four of our own–two senior citizens and two juvenile delinquents that some like to call kittens. But I am not looking to rescue six more cats.  Although, I must admit, I did the math and came up with ten cats and thought to myself, “Hmmm … cheaper by the dozen?”  NOT!

But as I followed the man asking for help and saw the poor little things under the car, and their mother was purring and rubbing up against my legs. I just couldn’t leave them.  After all, the man needed to go somewhere and couldn’t back his car out, now could he?

So, of course, we boxed up the felines and I ended up at the nearby animal shelter and asked if there was room at the inn, and natch, there was not. They offered me medical care for the cats and asked if I would foster the family until they could be adopted. “Why, sure,” I said, wondering to myself how long it would take for my spouse to file for divorce. Yes, we would take the kitties, I planned, and our four could reside upstairs and these wildish six downstairs, which would make 10 cats altogether.

Now, after you wrap your mind around that, keep in mind that Mama cat was quite friendly at our first meeting, even allowing us to place her and her brood into a cat carrier that I just happened to have at-the-ready at the branch, just in case a wandering cat happened along again in the parking lot, as they often do.

Now, Mama was actually purring and rubbing up against my leg at home in our basement when she bit my ankle. It just drew just a bit of blood, which did not concern me too much.  “Just a little love bite,” I said to myself. The next time, though, she sank her fangs into my forearm, leaving a bruise and a full six-teeth mark that bled impressively. “Nope. Not a love bite–this is clearly a warning: ‘Stay away from my children –  or I’ll cut you!'”

Fiercely protective, that one. But she needn’t worry because her kids will be well-taken care of and, more probably, spoiled rotten.  And luckily for you cat lovers out there, DeKalb County Animal Shelter is running a September “Fall in Love” adoption special through September. All dog, cat, kitten and puppy adoptions are free.

Well, I can’t finish now without recommending a few books, too. Check them out at DCPL.

Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan

The Complete Cat’s Meow: Everything You Need to Know about Caring for Your Cat by Darlene Arden

The Everything Cat Book [eBook]: All You Need to Know about Caring for Your Favorite Feline Friends by Karen Leigh Davis


Feb 23 2015

In Memoriam: Farewell to a Diva

by Hope L

BellaShe went for her regular hair appointment because she always had to look fabulous for her fans. And as was her fashion, she went out looking just mahvelous.

Not that beauty was her only claim to fame–she was so sweet, so above the cat-fighting and hissing of her peers, carrying herself with a certain regal otherness, that she garnered the respect and adulation of all.  She was, after all, a pedigree in every sense of the word, and she had the papers and the photos to prove it.

She was unflappable and did not lose her cool over anything–not over petty quarrels with her brother and sister, or the recent arrival to the household of a street-wise juvenile delinquent (who took to pouncing on and chasing her), not even pest control guys with canisters or strange women wielding vacuum cleaners and mops.  She was unperturbed about practically everything save for sharing her heating pad, for being cold was beneath her.  And, she needed her beauty sleep.

Now, Lady Bella Lusignan WAS high-maintenance–much like Queen Elizabeth, for example, she had a busy schedule and was almost impossible to seat for an interview or photo session. Her feeding schedule was unlike that of the others (who were given dry kibble to nosh on all day long) in that she required only the rarest of Fancy Feast flavors at only certain times during the day.  Always very graceful and svelte, it was difficult for her in recent years to keep the weight on her tiny frame.  She demanded certain treats, especially for her glamorous mane, sensitive stomach, and just plain picky nature.

So, although it was a shock, it shouldn’t really have been all that surprising that when her time on this earth was up, she was still the picture of health, beautiful as always, perfectly poised and yet still insistent on jumping up on the kitchen counters at will.  Upon her visit to the hairdresser last week, she was buffed and puffed and fussed over while the juvenile delinquent commoner was in the clinic receiving ordinary childhood vaccines and a deworming. It was at that time that she determined this was indeed quite a convenient and classy time to make an exit from her storied career as the resident diva of our home, where she reigned for almost 17 years.

I miss her terribly, and the whole place has gone down a notch since she left.

Here are some of DCPL’s offerings related to the loss of a pet:

Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson

The Loss of a Pet by Wallace Sife

Animals in Spirit: Our Faithful Companions’ Transition to the Afterlife by Penelope Smith

When a Family Pet Dies: A Guide to Dealing with Children’s Loss by JoAnn Tuzeo-Jarolmen




Jul 1 2014

Psycho Kitty!

by Hope L

catThings are crazy around our house.  Literally.  For years I have suspected that our aging orange tabby Autumn might be a candidate for the cat psychiatrist.  Then I read Psycho Kitty by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (or, as she is listed on another book, “Feline Behaviorist”).  I learned a lot.

Now, although the author is talking about wool-sucking in the paragraph below, where the cat finds socks, blankets and assorted laundry to abscond with and knead and lick, Autumn actually steals any laundry within reach and slowly plods around meowing, Rawwwr…. rawwwr, while dragging said laundry. I had asked a vet a long time ago what it might mean. The vet told me that Autumn was pretending the laundry was her kitten and wanted to call our attention to what she was bringing us. (Btw, I have tried to get Autumn to then put the laundry in the hamper, to no avail.)

But Johnson-Bennett’s theory is premature weaning, which would make sense because I was given Little Autumn as a wee thing, so small I had to feed her baby formula with an eyedropper. (I was told Autumn’s mommy was hit by a car.)

“Many cat owners have seen it, heard it, and been driven nuts by it–wool sucking.  It’s the strange behavior some cats display that consists of sucking and kneading on anything from the corner of a blanket to the hair on an owner’s head.  This behavior is named wool sucking because many cats focus this activity strictly on wool or wool-like fabrics, such as blankets, sweaters, and socks.

…Wool sucking mimics nursing, including the milk tread, the kneading motion kittens do with their paws to stimulate release of milk from the queen.”


Whatever the reason, Autumn is definitely a Psycho Kitty, to use the author’s apt title.  We have five animals (three cats, two dogs) and two humans–and Autumn is far and away the nuttiest in the household.  She hissed and growled at my partner Deb for the first few years of our nine years together.  Autumn still hisses and growls at our lone male kitty Butch, who loves to egg her on by playfully attacking her when he gets bored. When Autumn is sleeping or relaxing next to me on the bed, if I move and accidentally nudge her–or heaven forbid I move her out of my space–you guessed it, again with the growling and hissing. Some might call her cranky or crabby.

Okay. Obviously, I didn’t read Johnson-Bennett’s Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat–NOT a Sour Puss. And, no, I didn’t arrange for quality play dates for my kitties with their peers or enroll them in tap or ballet.

The dragging and rawwwring is definitely in another class.  She will even do it backwards, and I imagine the beeping of the garbage truck as she slowly backs up with the t-shirt, washcloth or sock between her legs.

Now, do you think my firstborn, my sweet, black pedigree Persian, Bella (my favorite, can you guess?), would lower herself to such depths of aggravating and distasteful behavior?  I think not!  And she was raised in the same home as her sister Looney Tuna.



But, hey, I raised Autumn. I bonded with her with the eyedropper and the Similac and episodes of Nancy Grace.  But I bet I know what you’re thinking …

         Crazy Cat Lady, anybody?


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Sep 17 2012

Happy Cat Month!

by Amanda L

Did you know that September is Happy Cat month? In my house, according to my husband, every month is happy cat month. We have three cats and a border collie. For my three cats to be happy they need food, shelter and for the dog to know when they are finished playing. Many an evening the game of chase is on when all three cats and the dog run down the long hallway sounding like a herd of elephants playing hide and seek.

For those times when one of the cats are not feeling that great and we can’t get to the vet, I turn to a few books for reference. One of the newer titles that the Library has is Cat Calls: wonderful stories and practical advice from a veteran cat sitter by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan. Complete cat care: what every cat lover needs to know by Bruce Fogle informs owners on topics such as hygiene and disease.

If you are a cat lover and a reader, you might enjoy a good fiction read about cats. Have you tried Lilian Jackson Braun’s the cat who series? The first one is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards.  Another cat series you might try is Rita Mae Brown’s Sneaky Pie Brown Series. The first one is Wish You Were Here.   A third cat series you might try is by Leann Sweeny. The first title in her series is The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse.  

For all cat lovers who allow their cats to go outside, you may have wondered what they do with their time. We now have a glimpse into the outside experience of cats, thanks to the research folks up at the Warnell school at the University of Georgia. They wanted to know the same thing so they let a few folks around Athens, Georgia put a camcorder on their cat and record what they experienced at night. Check out their site to watch a variety of videos that the cats recorded during the two weeks of the research study. What is your favorite cat book or thing that your cat does?


Apr 29 2011

A Tug at the Heart

by Amanda L

I have a history of adopting stray and shelter cats and dogs my entire life. In fact, so far I have had six cats and two dogs.  In my experience, shelter animals are so appreciative of the time and love that you give them. Each comes with their own personality and baggage.

A little over a year ago, we had two visitors at my house.  These guys would just watch from afar as the family came and went. As the weeks went by, the smallest of the two began to creep closer and closer. We decided to feed these two stray cats (actually feral). They have since become ours. The three cats often will sleep with their older “brother” dog to keep him company.

I love to read stories about the experiences of others.  I  am always looking for that book to help me and my companions’ experience to be more positive.

The library has a variety of books to help with both of  these needs.

Here are some stories about shelter animals:

The dogs who found me: what I’ve learned from the pets who were left behind by Ken Foster

Lost and found: dogs, cats, and everyday heroes at a county animal shelter by Elizabeth Hess

You had me at woof: how dogs taught me the secrets of happiness by Julie Klam

Try some of these books for a better experience for you and your adopted companion:

The adopted dog bible by Kim Sanders

Choosing and caring for a shelter dog: a complete guide to help you rescue  & rehome a dog by Bob Christiansen

Cat culture: the social world of a shelter cat by Janet M. Agler

When your pet outlives you: protecting animal companions after you die by David Congalton



Oct 13 2010

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

by Joseph M

Autumn is in the air, and as the weather gets chilly and your warm bed begins to seem more and more inviting, you may find yourself looking for a snuggle buddy to help get you through the cold season ahead. October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, so it’s a great time to consider adding a furry friend to the family. There are several organizations that can help you find and adopt the right dog for you, including the American Humane Society, the ASPCA, and PAWS Atlanta. Check out their websites for a variety of tools, resources, and links to local shelters and rescue groups. The library also has some related books on the subject, including Old Dog, New Tricks: Understanding and Retraining Older and Rescued Dogs, and Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays.


Aug 2 2010

The Last One

by Veronica W

I can’t remember a time when I did not have a pet. Sometimes it was a cat, sometimes it was a dog, occasionally one or two of both. Brandy was a slobbery Saint Bernard with a long, impressive pedigree, while Toughie Tom was found scrounging around in a garbage can. I even ventured into the world of birds, at one time living with two parakeets. Butter was all yellow and Green Sleeves was yellow with green wings.  If I left the cage door open, they would fly across the room and sit on my finger or shoulder. Each one was special and each left a hole when I had to say goodbye.

Pets add a dimension to your life which is sometimes difficult to articulate.  Dogs offer unconditional devotion while cats present the life-long challenge of trying to teach them to fetch your slippers- or to just come when they’d rather not. It’s no wonder almost every child, at some point, wants a puppy or a kitten. It’s also no surprise that, when properly trained, animals can be used to aid and comfort the distressed and physically challenged.

I love stories about or with animals.  There are too many to name so I will  give you only a few of my favorites.You may have  some of your own. At the top of my list is always The Incredible Journey. When the old dog comes limping home at the end, it’s always tissue time for me. Call of the Wild, Lassie Come Home and Sounder are all on the list. Cat lovers devour Lillian Braun’s series featuring the detecting Siamese cats Koko and Yum-yum, as well as Rita Mae Brown’s Squeaky Pie stories. Those folks more into dogs can try the Virginia Lanier series beginning with Death in Bloodhound Red. Jo Beth Siddens, who raises bloodhounds for search and rescue missions in the Okefenokee Swamp, must use those sensitive noses to get herself out of trouble. Even folks who don’t want pets often enjoy reading about them.

Snickers was a sweet Maine Coon who asked for nothing more than to sit next to me, with her front paws on my lap, whenever she could; well, maybe getting some treats now and then. A few months ago, after 13 years, I had to say goodbye to her. In my head I dubbed her “the ABSOLUTELY last one.”  No more pets for me!  However everyone knows that the heart rules these decisions. Perhaps one day I’ll want to hear the patter of little paws again. We’ll see.


Oct 26 2009

Mouth to Muzzle Resuscitation

by Vivian A

It seemed like the perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday morning. I’d read all the James Herriot books at least once. ER was my favorite TV show and lastly, my Dad was a doctor. An Animal First Aid Class seemed appropriate. And it was.  I attended the First Aid for Cats and Dogs class at the Dunwoody Library on October 17th.

Our Christopher Walken look-a-like instructor (John McCarren from Paw Paws Pet Sitting Service) showed us the basics of pet first aid. We learned everything from the infamous Mouth to Muzzle breathing technique (on a dog replica that came with a heart beat and pulse to show you if you were doing the technique right).  We learned to use an old credit card to scrape out stingers and to carry a dog to the car rather than have him walk, if a snake bit him.  We learned how to perform CPR, how to stop bleeding, how to strap a dog to a backboard if his back was broken and my favorite–the doggy Heimlich manuever.

I came home from class and my dog, Sammy, knew he was safer or at least he let me take his pulse and shake on it.  If you missed this event, don’t worry–you could check out Emergency care for cats and dogs : first aid for your pet by Craton Burkholder.  Also, there are many other educational programs at the library.

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