Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘The Cat House

If you like cats, romances, and mysteries, check out Mayhem and Mystery at the Kitty Kastle by Malynda McCarrick. The downside is the writing could use some editing and polish. The upside is a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of this short fun read goes to support Midwest cat shelters.

Too many strange things were happening at the Kitty Kastle for anyone to dismiss them as just anyone’s imagination. First, there were the unexplainable noises such as that of footsteps when there’s no one else around. Then there was the lack of noise. On the fourth floor, especially in an old house, one should the wind or the rain but instead the build is sound proof. Third, there are walls that are located where they shouldn’t be and a foundation that doesn’t line up with the rest of the building. Finally, there are the gifts that mysteriously appear. The mystery is my favorite part.

One black cat knew that something was afoot and kept trying to provide clues to Jay Carpenter, the man hired to bring the shelter up to code. He’s also a growing source of comfort to Miranda, the owner of Kitty Kastle. She’s recovering from a messy divorce, but apparently can’t resist a hunk in a toolbelt. Jay turns out to strong in build and gentle in character. Soon, the two are dreaming up a multitude of ideas for how the building could be renovated. Moreover, because Jay knows the shelter couldn’t cover the cost of major repairs, Jay has volunteered to help for free. Just as important, a dog lover at heart, Jay is slowly being converted to a cat lover. The romance is unrealistic but does make for a light-hearted read, which we all need at times.

Finally, there are the cats of Kitty Kastle. They live in a dream shelter. Each floor has varying levels of padded condos. In addition, the walls have ledges and cubby holes in which the cats can play and hide. On the first floor is a central playroom, filled with climbing structures and tunnels for the cats to explore. There’s also a large kitchen with multiple refrigerator for the specialty foods and various medicines the cats would need. Finally, the owner lives on the premises and so she is available 24/7 to check on the feline residents. The shelter’s inhabitants serve as a pleasant backdrop and the mystery wouldn’t have been resolved without Minx.

Author Malynda McCarrick is Midwestern country girl who grew up with a love for books. She’s also an avid animal lover. One day, the arrangement of vendors at a cat show put her and The Cat House (a no-kill cat shelter) next to one another. Afternoon conversations between the two led to McCarrick taking an interest in The Cat House and eventually self-publishing a cat cozy dedicated to its hard-working volunteers. Run-on sentences, missed punctuation, and some stereotype characters diminished some of my enjoyment of Mayhem and Mystery at the Kitty Kastle. Otherwise, McCarricks’ novel served as an evening of escapism.

Love animals? Love to write? Then this is the club for you! Some animals need to be rescued. We’ll talk about why, look at lots of pictures, create ads and posters, and write adventure stories. Other animals rescue us. Learn about how animals are used to find people, save them from danger, alert them in medical emergencies, and all kinds of other animal heroics. If we’re lucky, we may even have some special human and furry guests.

The above blurb was the description used to advertise one of the writing clubs I taught this summer through Community Learning Centers. In “Writers to the Rescue,” students spent the first day learning about general pet care, the next two days learning how companion animals need rescue, and the last two days learning how animals rescue people.

As part of teaching about why companion animals need rescue, I distributed profiles of real cats in The Cat House, a no-kill shelter. We talked about why these cats ended up in a shelter. The reasons varied. Some had owners who couldn’t take their pets when they got sick and hospitalized. Other cats were no longer wanted due to age or health. Some started out as feral or stray. We also talked about how we could promote cats, such as through tweets and blog posts, to help find them homes.

What follows are scans of posters that students created about the cats they picked. You can click on them to see a larger view.

CatHouse_Posters1 CatHouse_Posters2

Mid-week, I invited a guest speaker from The Cat House. A volunteer, Courtney, shared how The Cat House started in 1998 as a network of foster homes, then moved into rented facilities around town, and now is at its permanent home. Over the years, The Cat House has helped “bottle babies,” strays and ferals, special needs cats, and older cats. Some special services The Cat House offers are fostering of cats needing homes, a Trap-Neuter-Release program, and outreach such as Courtney’s presentation. 🙂

After Courtney saw the posters my students created, she visited The Cat House to take photos of the cats my students had picked. You can click on them to see a larger view.



The Cat House is completely reliant on volunteers. During the weekdays there are two shifts per day and then on the weekend there’s just one shift per day. Volunteer duties include clean cat areas, defur cat beds and linen, groom cats, and feed cats. Obviously, an important and much enjoyed task is also spending time with the feline residents!

Courtney brought along a cat named Donovan, a laid-back male who loves to talk and snuggle. My students got to meet and greet Donovan, as well as ask tons of questions. Donovan spent his first few minutes sniffing around the classroom, but then sat in Courtney’s lap and allowed students to pet him. After a lot of attention, Donovan retreated to a corner to nap. Donovan serves as a therapy cat and, incidentally, still needs a home. What follows are a few photos from this session.





On our final day, I reserved thirty minutes for an extra special activity. Earlier in the day, a local news station had featured “Writers to the Rescue” as part of its weekly “Excellence in Education” segment. I showed the report and then allowed students extra time to finish their posters, all of which I’ll bring later this month to The Cat House. You can see and read the report at KLKN-TV: Students Help Local Animal Shelter

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