///December Magic

December Magic

Home and loved for the holidays

Helen RoseEver since I was a little girl, December has been magical, filled with music and lights, food and family, and the spicy scent of pine. It’s a month of festivities: Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Festivus, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. But did you know December is also National Cat Lover’s Month? In my world, that’s what truly makes this the most wonderful time of the year!

But gosh, celebrating our love for cats is something you and I do every month in this blog. And we not only celebrate but also find ways to connect, save more cats, and find them loving homes.

As the last month of the year, December is also a time to review the past 12 months. For me, looking back at 2022 will always bring both joy and sorrow. In August, our dear Grogu suddenly died, and in November, our precious Yoda left us too. My sweet Persian boys with heart defects. They loved each other so much.

It’s still hard to believe. This year, when I look under our Christmas tree, my heart aches, remembering the two family members who were nestled there last year but now are gone. Walter and The Moosh (left) miss them so much. Recently, it’s been especially sad around my house. Poor Walter is searching for Yoda. It’s beyond heartbreaking. And The Moosh just watches him. I know how they feel. The holidays do this to all of us.

Yoda and Grogu, together forever in our hearts.

Our pets have a way of both breaking our hearts and healing them, and so despite much sadness, 2022 was also a time of great joy as we welcomed two new members to the Stern family: Cocomelon and Jessica Rabbit.

In July, I took in foster Cocomelon, a tragic example of irresponsible breeding. A British Shorthair like my Helen Rose, Cocomelon is a special-needs kitty who suffered an injury that left her with a rear leg deformity and the inability to urinate fully on her own, which means she needs help to express her bladder four times a day—a big responsibility! (However, she poops on her own perfectly in her litterbox.) She was only nine and a half weeks old and weighed just two and a half pounds when she came to me and was also very sick with an upper-respiratory infection that had affected her eyes. The breeder was planning to euthanize her because she couldn’t possibly make money on a special-needs kitten like Cocomelon.

Cocomelon before
Cocomelon after

Cocomelon, transformed by love

This breaks my heart and makes me angry! I’m certain that the breeder will continue to breed more “Cocomelons” who’ll need to be rescued again and again. Grogu was also a victim of irresponsible breeding. I’ll bet my life that his breeder will continue to breed kittens with heart defects who’ll also end up dying at a young age like my little boy.

So, I’m grateful that Cocomelon came to my attention just in the nick of time. She just might be the sweetest kitten ever. She loves attention and is pure love. Six weeks after she arrived, thanks to medication and TLC, she was on her way to good health. (It appears that her leg will not need to be amputated; in fact, doing so would damage her balance.)

A few weeks after Cocomelon arrived a bunny joined my foster program, an adorable floppy-eared rabbit Howard named Jessica Rabbit. Animal shelters report that rabbits are the third-most surrendered pet after dogs and cats. Jessica, however, was dumped in a park, most likely by someone who thought she could fend for herself. Well, I’ve learned a lot about rabbits in the past few months, and one thing I’ve discovered is that domesticated rabbits don’t do well in nature. Luckily, a good Samaritan scooped her up and she found her way to me. After she was spayed, she became the perfect houseguest, munching her Romaine and kale and playing like a kitten. She is a delight, so intelligent, and affectionate. (I also fostered two other abandoned rabbits this year, Honeybuns who was quickly adopted, and silly Sunnybunny who is still waiting for a forever home.)

Jessica Rabbit and Cocomelon

When Jessica and Cocomelon met in late August it was an instant love connection. They play together, eat together, and sleep together, and have become my IG Superstars. Every morning I find them snuggling or playing. I’ve read that it’s not unheard of for cats and rabbits to bond, but I’d never seen anything like this. Many IG followers have commented on this interspecies friendship, wishing that we humans could follow their example. Jessica and Cocomelon are the sweetest proof that love is love is love!

On September 28, Howard announced our adoption of Jessica Rabbit, and on November 17, Jessica announced that she’d made it official and adopted Cocomelon.

Jessica Rabbit Adopts Cocomelon!

There was a lot of love in our home this year. In January senior DeeDee Sunflower and blind Winni found great homes, and in February, I helped three mamas—Eden, Ginger, and Margie—care for their kittens and find all of them homes. (Given that February is spay/neuter awareness month—and those mamas were babies themselves—it was just too ironic.)

March had an international flavor with rescues from Kuwait and Cuba, and we also honored the brave people of Ukraine who are still working hard for abandoned animals in their war-torn country.

Spring and summer were emotional times. First, after six (!!) years, our resident kitty Mooshu Peaches finally decided I was trustworthy and let me pet her. Then, two special kitties found sweet homes: 14-year-old Promise who was sick and weak and left behind when her cruel family moved out of their apartment, and Shrimpy, a megaesophagus kitty. Both continue to thrive today.

I was excited to dedicate two blogs this year to dogs at cats waiting for adoption at Animal League America, which resulted in several great forever homes. Very special among them is Echo, a Shih Tzu NSALA rescued from a horrific puppy mill. Her leg deformity doesn’t slow her down one bit, and shortly after arriving, she gave birth to four beautiful puppies, who were quickly adopted. I met her and her pups during a photo shoot in June for NSALA’s 2023 calendar and featured her on my IG. Then it was her turn to go home—and with one of my IG followers! — which filled my heart with joy.

Photo: Rob RichPhoto: Rob Rich

I was also thrilled to help two senior pets at NSALA, feline Zoey and canine Merlin, find a new home together after their human died. A wonderful family who read about them on my IG adopted them, and they are doing so well. Another dog in my program was a 16-week-old King Charles Cavalier mix who was hit by a car and surrendered when his family could not pay for his multiple lifesaving surgeries. The vet hospital contacted me and I immediately welcomed him into my program (#bethsfurryfriendsfoundation) to cover his expenses and find him a forever home. He suffered head trauma, a broken pelvis, and a broken hip and needed time in the hospital to heal. Today he is the adored companion of one of Dr. Jackie’s (@theveterinaryvoice) vet techs. He could not have a better future.

So many good homes for wonderful fosters this year: Sundance, Peach, Sammi Sam Sam, Raggedy Andy, Florida Glory, Herman, Quincy, blind kitten Stella, Esther-Ann, Lillibet and WinniePie, tripod kitten Gretta, Pearl Grey, and Isabella, the gorgeous senior Persian. Triple adoption Dobie, Geraldine, and her blind brother Griswald, and I’ll never forget hard-to-place Lolavie who now lets her adopters pet her all day long though she would barely allow me to touch her! And oh gosh, so many more!

GranolaLike baby Granola, who just came back to us after a stint in the hospital with Dr. Jackie. He is doing well on his new diet and 3x/day meds (for life!) to regulate his liver function after he eats. Poor little thing was so uncomfortable before Dr. Jackie figured out what was going on with him. She was shocked he survived his eye removal surgery at NSALA, but he’s doing well now. And the staff at Long Island Veterinary Specialists told me he was like a little parrot, always perching on the vets’ shoulders.

And finally, after more than six months of living first in a little tent and then in her kitty tree—coming out at night to eat and use her box and accepting pets as we walked by—Miss Petunia has rejoined the world! An abandoned housecat who lived on the streets for years, she arrived injured and so depressed she hid her face for weeks. I promised her all the time in the world and gave her love on her terms. And now she has emerged, Miss Petuniaquite plump (too much time on her perch!) but ready to give life another chance.

At the moment, Granola and Miss Petunia are our Christmas gifts, though the month isn’t over and there might well be more in store.
So, I’m looking forward to a festive season with Howard and our nuggets, Bella, Walter, Pebble, The Moosh, Cocomelon, and Jessica Rabbit. And I thank you for your love and support and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2023.


P.S. It’s always a bad idea to give a pet as a gift, but there is a way to celebrate National Cat Lovers Month and share your love for felines by giving someone you love the gift of pet sponsorship. There are several lovely special-needs cats (and dogs) in Animal League America’s sponsorship program, and each would touch the hearts of everyone on your gift list. I love this program and hope you’ll visit animalleague.org/sponsor for details.

By |2023-01-12T12:17:53-04:00December 13th, 2022|