Mission of Love as a Shelter Volunteer #guestpost #animalrescue #books

I saw Sharon sharing this book on Instagram and immediately knew I needed to host her here on the blog. Take it away, Sharon!

As I sit down to write this post, it’s a sunny May morning. We have a humane trap set in the yard to try to capture one of the feral cats we look after, so that he may be taken to the local animal shelter to be neutered. It’s an ongoing project in our neighborhood, and one I take seriously as part of my life-long commitment to animal welfare.

As a child, anyone who asked what I was going to be when I grew up would be told that I  would become veterinarian, because I wanted to help animals. I knew from a very young age  that this was my life’s work. There are a number of reasons why I didn’t become a vet, one of them being my dyscalculia  — like dyslexia,  except with numbers. Still, I was committed to my plan.

As part of that commitment, I’ve volunteered at local animal shelters for most of my adult life. Starting in 2010, I began volunteering with Humane Society Silicon Valley. After a year, I realized that I could use my writing to help them as well.

There really is no better way to explain how Hugs and Hisses came about than to share this excerpt from the Author’s Note:

I need to be frank here and tell readers that I initially abandoned this manuscript for a couple of years.  I didn’t think it captured all of the joy that I felt from my volunteerism with such a wonderful organization.

Then, on September 19, 2015, I came home to find that my flame-point Balinese cat Teddy, whom we adopted from Humane Society Silicon Valley as a kitten, had died suddenly at the age of two.  The vet thinks he had a blood clot; there was nothing I could have done … and yet my heart was breaking all the same and my head was filled with irrational recriminations about what I might have done differently.  Teddy was one of the hundreds of cats and kittens I have worked with since I started volunteering at the shelter in 2010 and he was the first one who I knew really was supposed to be my little guy.

Teddy was visually impaired, but that didn’t stop him from living life to the fullest.  He loved noisy toys that he could find by tracking the sound, and sitting in the open, screened windows at twilight to experience all of the sounds and smells outside.  He was my precious baby boy. 

I picked up this manuscript again because of him.  What I found were stories of love, compassion, and outright heroism.  Teddy was an inspiration in more ways than I can name; he gave me the courage to finish this book and to share it with all of you.

teddy on pink blanket

My goal in writing the book was two-fold: to show how rigorous the training was that we underwent as animal behavior volunteers, and to tell the stories of some of the cats with whom I worked. My work in the Behavior Department involved socializing cats to prepare them for new lives, and some of those cats were aggressive. We had to take course work, as well as practicums, in animal behavior and then do a certain number of hours with the easier cats before we graduated to the more challenging ones. All of this information served me well later, when  physical health problems necessitated me moving to the kitten nursery and, during the pandemic, to focusing on the trap/neuter/return (TNR) project for my neighborhood.

 I planned for the book to cover my first year at the shelter, but I was dissatisfied with  the  first draft and put it aside. As noted above, Teddy’s untimely passing caused me to pull the book out again and look at it with new eyes. This time, I liked what I saw. Because I planned to donate all proceeds from the book to Humane Society Silicon Valley, I had to obtain final approval from them before publishing. Then-President Carol Novello gave her enthusiastic blessing, and we were off to the proverbial races.

The cover photo was taken by fellow volunteer Dave Darling as I snuggled a kitten at the shelter shortly after Teddy’s passing. That little fellow, Oden, seemed to know just what I needed that day. James Courtney designed the cover for the little volume.

As I finish writing this article, I’m pleased to report that one of the feral cats has been transported to the shelter for neutering; he’ll be back in the colony on Tuesday. Animal welfare is life-long work, and I’m proud to be doing it.

Many thanks to Ronel for hosting me. If you would like to purchase a copy of Hugs and Hisses, you’ll find many possible sources below. As noted, all proceeds benefit Humane Society Silicon Valley. Thanks for  reading!

About the Book

cover hugs and hisses sharon e cathcart
See it on Goodreads.

Award-winning author, animal communicator, and Reiki practitioner Sharon E. Cathcart shares tales from her humane education work in this new memoir. Sharing stories of both happiness and heartbreak, Cathcart brings us into the challenging world of animal rescue. All proceeds from the book will benefit Humane Society Silicon Valley.

AbeBooks; Alibris; Amazon (geo-targeted link); Angus & Robertson (Australia); Apple Books; Barnes & Noble; Better World Books; Blackwell’sBOL (Netherlands and Sweden); Bokus (Sweden); Book Depository; Bookshop; Booktopia (Australia); Chapters Indigo (Canada); Dymocks (Australia); Exclusive Books (South Africa); Fnac (France); IndieBoundKobobooks (also available for 2400 SuperPoints); La Feltrinelli (Italy); Librerías Gandhi (Mexico); Love’s Sweet Arrow; Mondadori (Italy); Porrúa (Mexico); Rakuten Japan; Scribd; Smashwords; The Ripped Bodice

About the Author

author photo sharon e cathcart

Award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart (she/her) writes historical fiction with a twist!

A former journalist and newspaper editor, Sharon has been writing for as long as she can remember and always has at least one work in progress. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, and the Historical Novel Society.

Sharon lives in the Silicon Valley, California, with her husband and several rescued cats.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

What an amazing journey Sharon has been on. Thanks for sharing with us! Do you have any questions for Sharon? I’ve picked up my copy of Hugs and Hisses, will you?

* See my review here.

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