RIP, Sweet Rocky

First of all, just in case anyone actually reads this, I apologize for being the worst blogger ever. I know I am supposed to be “establishing myself as an author” and blogging could be part of that. Or at least it is for other people. I just never remember to post anything.

Anyway, the subject of today’s blog is our sweet Rocky, who passed away on February 24, 2022. He had lymphoma. He was first diagnosed on October 9th, 2021. The vet aspirated his chest, his lymph nodes and his legs, and he had cancer everywhere. His prognosis was one to two months.

We got Rocky about nine years ago because no one else wanted him. Well, not strictly true. He was in rescue, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue. He had a foster family, who stuck with him for a couple of weeks, then gave up. So he went to another foster family, then they gave him back and Rocky (his name was Alex at the time) went to boarding. Then someone agreed to foster him, and things were going…okay? I guess? But they went on vacation, so he went to his vacation foster family. That was for a week. It was around this time that we expressed interest in him, because he was going back to boarding if we didn’t take him. The vacation foster family was done with him, and the other family didn’t want him back.

Apparently, Rocky has a massive peeing problem. Not only did he not appear to ever have been housebroken, but he also had an obsession with water. He would drink massive amounts of water, and then pee everywhere. Did I mention Rocky was huge?

After a flurry of texts, we agreed to take him as a foster. They gave us diapers for him, which he was adamantly against. He also peed everywhere, and worse yet, had diarrhea. He was not a fun dog.

Even though he was an adult, we got a (super-sized) crate, and crate trained him like he was a puppy. I took him outside, he drank all the water he could find, peed, and we went back inside and into the crate he went. I’d take him out, and he went back into the crate. Gradually, we lengthened the amount of time he could stay outside his crate while he was in the house, and within three weeks, he had it down pat. We said we wanted to be his new family. I think he just needed some stability in his life because in spite of all his issues, he really was the sweetest boy.

Although he got the housebreaking thing down, he was still pretty much a royal pain in the ass. I would bring him to the dog park, where everyone would sit on the picnic table and admire their well-behaved dogs. When it was time to go, Rocky would play keep away, running away from me and laughing. Yes, laughing. I swear, he laughed. Then I would have to run back and forth for twenty minutes, looking like an idiot, trying to convince Rocky to get in the damn car. One time, I realized I couldn’t find him at all. Then he stuck his big head up, looking at me in the woods beyond the park. He had jumped the fence, figuring the dog park was getting a wee bit boring. He did that a few times until a woman basically told us that if he kept jumping the fence, her dogs were going to figure out they could jump the fence, and could we not come back, please?

He did the same thing at home. He would bolt for the door, and off he’d go. Sometimes I could corner him, or he’d give up, but he would bounce around the neighborhood, tail wagging with joy. He would loop around, to show us that he was fine, and also to emphasize the point that we couldn’t catch him.

My son Ben’s 21st birthday was going to be a fun occasion. Ben is on the autism spectrum and had never even had a sip of beer, but he was going to try it because it was his birthday. Rocky escaped around 3:00 p.m. He refused to come in. He was having a great time and did not want to negotiate. We couldn’t leave with our big, dumb dog running around the neighborhood, so Ben had take-out instead of going to a restaurant. Did I mention there was a huge thunderstorm? Did this inspire Rocky to seek shelter? No, no it did not. He ran around, laughing, digging in the neighbor’s gardens, having his best time ever. By 10:00 p.m. he still wasn’t home (although he did run past the house from time to time, so we’d know he wasn’t dead). I volunteered to sleep on the couch. I figured he would scratch at the door when he was ready.

I didn’t sleep well. The couch was bumpy and uncomfortable, but I also kept waking up, thinking I heard him, only to be disappointed. Finally, FINALLY, at 3:00 a.m. I thought I heard a faint scratching. I bolted to the door, and there was Rocky. He was tired and hungry, but clearly, he didn’t feel that bad about making us worry for the past 12 hours. “You’re a moron,” I said before I went to bed.

We got a lovely new fence, mostly for Rocky. Installed in September, it features a six-foot privacy fence in the front and then chain-link along the sides and the back. This way, Rocky would not have to be attached to his tether (which we had to do, because otherwise, he’d escape). We have another dog, incidentally, Maggie, whose never been a problem at all. She stays in the yard, barks a bit (Rocky was really quiet) and is no trouble at all.

All seemed to go well. For a week. Then I walked out into the yard at 4:00 in the morning (Rocky liked to get up at least once every night, to pee and to drink water–he never really let go of that). Rocky was gone. Gone. WTF? He trotted home around 7:00 a.m. but we couldn’t figure out how he got out. In his younger days, he easily could’ve jumped, but he was now almost ten. We found out he was slithering underneath the chain link when I put him on his tether and he foolishly tried it again and got stuck. So, the fence guys came back and put dog wire on the bottom of the fence. Great.

A few weeks later, he slithered under the damn fence again. By this time, he had been diagnosed with lymphoma already, so he didn’t feel his best, but his tail wagged and he pranced around and ran like a puppy. For an hour. Then he scratched at the door. “Hey, Mom, I’m home!” Idiot. But I was kind of glad he had one last hurrah.

Our dear sweet, stubborn boy passed away on February 24, 2022.

Getting Ready to Query. Maybe.

I am within spitting distance of finishing my latest middle-grade novel, tentatively titled “Henry and the Heist.” Yeah, I’m not sure about that title, either, but so far nothing better has occurred to me.

I had an agent for my last middle-grade novel, “Werewolf Park.” My agent sent it around to about 25 editors and then it died on submission, which is a frighteningly frequent occurrence. I really liked the book. I’ve sent it to some smaller publishers, but no bites yet.

After that, I had another middle-grade novel called “Of Witches and Wanderers” but I only queried a few agents before I decided it didn’t have enough oomph to make it to agented. It was inspired by my many, many hours of playing “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.” It’s my favorite game of all time. You could almost call it fan fiction.

Anyway, this one, “Henry and the Heist” I feel pretty positive about. It’s about 80% done, then I have to go through it again and edit it. That might take a while, but still, I think I’m pretty close. It’s tempting to just send off the first three chapters and a query letter and see if I get any bites, but if I do, I’ll have to finish it in a tearing hurry. Then it will be rushed. On the other hand, if I don’t get any bites, I’ll never have to finish it. But that’s not good either, because I want to finish it. So, I guess I need to wait.

I thought I’d write about my querying process for the next book because it seems vaguely interesting. I mean really, who cares about my progress on “Hollow Knight?” No one. Although if you have any tips, that would be lovely because I suck at “Hollow Knight.” But that’s okay, I love it anyway.

Happy Holidays!

Whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a happy, relaxing and joyous holiday. Life here goes on as normal–I had an idea for a chapter book the other day–The House on Lonely Hill. So far, I’ve written the first page. I also have no idea what happens, because I am a total pantser (as opposed to a plotter). But I like the title.

I’m about three-quarters of the way through my vampire heist book, but I can’t think of a title. If anyone reading this has a good idea for a title for a middle-grade vampire heist novel, please leave it in the comments!

Oliver, the evil kitten

I am writing this on my brand new MacBook Air, even though the old one was only 7 months old. Oliver, an adorable but evil-laced ball of fur, deliberately–very deliberately–took his little kitty paw and knocked my iced tea over onto my previous MacBook Air. Anyone who has ever owned a computer and a cat at the same time knows that they don’t mix. At all.

The next time I tried to open my computer, it did start. It did. Then it abruptly turned itself off, like it was saying “Goodbye, cruel owner!” and I got a black screen. I brought it Best Buy and explained the situation. No less than four members of the Geek Squad looked at it, then they said, “Nope.”

“Do you have any scholarship programs for the stupid and irresponsible?” I asked. They didn’t, but since it was close to black Friday, I got a good deal on this new computer. It’s gold. It’s very pretty.

I was terrified I lost the middle-grade novel I was working on, but it was all there, except for the last two chapters. Yay!! Now, other than being about $1,000 poorer, life is back to normal.

Other Middle Grade Novel

I actually had an agent for this book, but the book didn’t sell. Before I got an agent, I thought once you got an agent, you were all set. I can hear the laughter from every agented author who read this. Yeah, no. Anyway, I still like this story and I’m shopping it around to different publishers on my own. So far, nothing.

Werewolf Land

We get asked a lot of questions.

What gave you the idea to start a sanctuary?

Do you get funding from the state government?

What happens during a full moon?

Can we take pictures?

Do werewolves make good pets?

Some of these should be obvious. No, werewolves do not make good pets. And I don’t know how my parents decided to start a werewolf sanctuary because I wasn’t born yet. I just work here. 

I stood at the front gate, ready to welcome our “regular” werewolves for the weekend. They come a day or two before the full moon and stay with us until the full moon is over. They each get a room to themselves in the barn. Before we opened, my parents debated having the werewolves stay with us full-time, but what would they do all day when they were in human mode? They batted around the idea of having them help us farm, but none of the werewolves were into it. It’s better this way. They lead their regular lives most of the time and they just come here once a month. We have tour groups who come in to look at the werewolves, and the werewolves get a cut of the profits. 

Since it’s my parent’s sanctuary, I “get” to help out during the summers. I’m not even old enough to have a job yet, but they need the help and here I am, so…

A woman with long, straight blonde hair and carrying a weekend bag walked up to the gate. The tourists usually come by bus, but there’s not that much parking on our property, so the werewolves park in a dirt lot about a quarter of a mile away. 

“Hi, Vivian.”

“Hi, Dart.” She greeted me with a hug.  “How are you?”

I shrugged. “Hanging in there. How about you?” 

“Good.” She pushed her steel-rimmed glasses up her nose with a finger. “I’m so glad it’s finally summer. It’s been a tough year.”

I nodded. Vivian was a high-school chemistry teacher. Last fall, some kid from her school went missing and someone started a rumor saying Vivian was a werewolf and that she may or may not have eaten him. She didn’t eat anybody—she was with us at the time. The kid was found eventually, claiming he had amnesia but carrying a new cell phone. 

See, this is what my parents are always going on about. The fact that werewolves are unfairly persecuted and sometimes even hunted down. After all, they’re only dangerous one night a month. The rest of the time they’re just like anyone else. More or less. 

“Hey, did you see the latest episode of ‘My Nightmarish Life?’ Vivian asked. 

“I did. I can’t believe Kevin is falling for Tanya. Doesn’t he remember she stole his dog?”

“I know, right? Not to mention that she let the birds go. And what is up with her hair?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw our next regular, Lazarus, approach the gate. I turned to Vivian and said, “Go get settled. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

She nodded and headed to her room. 

“Hi, Lazarus.” I tried to sound cheerful because Lazarus always looked like he could use cheering up. In human mode he had limp, unwashed reddish-brown hair and he always looked down at the ground when he walked. Dad told me his wife left him and took custody of the kids. I’m not sure if she left him because he’s a werewolf, but I’m sure it didn’t help. Lazarus nodded at me and shuffled off to his room. 

All the regulars get a room in the barn with a double bed and a comforter. They get a laptop so they can entertain themselves when they’re in human mode. They can bring whatever they want from home, but if they break their own stuff while they’re in werewolf mode, we’re not responsible for that.  I can’t tell you how many laptops and comforters we’ve replaced. Even with super heavy-duty shock proof laptop cases, they’re usually the first things to get broken.  But if they didn’t have laptops, how would they stream new movies?  Dad says it keeps them happy and it’s just the cost of doing business. 

I stayed busy by picking up the patio area—I was going to have to do it later anyway—while I waited for the rest of the regulars to show up. We usually get somewhere between five and eight werewolves every full moon. They come around dinner time. We feed them dinner well before sunset because trust me—you don’t want to put your hands near someone whose about to change into a werewolf. 

Fatima and Boris walked up together. She said something to him, and he laughed. Some of the werewolves do become good friends here. After all, not that many people identify with werewolves. I opened the gate and let them both in. They nodded at me, barely interrupting their conversation as they walked to the barn. 

After dinner we lock them in their rooms. It’s for their own safety, not to mention ours, and the tourists. They start getting agitated hours before the full moon rises, so we make sure they’re all locked in their rooms, then we lock and alarm the barn. The first rule of running a werewolf sanctuary: make sure they’re locked in before the full moon. And no, they can’t hang out together, they have to be separated. They get very competitive. 

Canagan, another of our regulars, walked up to the gate. I didn’t know him very well. My stomach clenched when I saw who was marching up behind him. Wolfgang. He was a bouncer at Wrestlemania when he wasn’t with us. He glared at me as I fumbled for the latch, his lip curling. 

“Hi, Wolfgang.” I said, trying to come off as nonchalant. He grunted. As he passed me, he clipped my shoulder so hard that I almost fell. I thought I saw him smile just a little as he walked away. I rubbed my arm. Man, that hurt. 

I waited around to see if any other regulars would show up. There’s another werewolf sanctuary about a hundred miles away. I heard they do an after-transition breakfast buffet. 

It seemed like no one else was going to show up, so I locked the gate. I fed the chickens and headed up to my room. I flopped down on my bed and flipped open my laptop. I was working on a story. I had a whole series called, “The Adventures of Captain Snot Rocket.” He’s the Captain of a space armada, and they have to rescue a dignitary’s daughter, Cerys, from the evil Molton Has-been. General Patriarch is Captain Snot Rocket’s boss, and he’s always criticizing him and trying to stop him from doing things that might be frowned upon by the alliance. 

I was trying to figure out how to get Captain Snot Rocket through the space-time continuum when Dad came crashing into my room—no knocking or anything. He glanced at my laptop and I saw a quick downturn of his lips. But what he said was, “Dart! Is there any way you can lock the werewolves in tonight? I wouldn’t ask, but my brother just called. There’s been an accident and your mother and I have to go to the hospital right away. I think we’ll be back in time, but I’m not positive.”

I sat up. It took a minute to process what he just said. “Oh, my God. Is Uncle Jack going to be okay?” I liked Uncle Jack. He did terrible card tricks, but it was fun to watch because he thought he was this amazing magician, like a latter-day Houdini. 

“I think so, but I really want to go see him and make sure.” He glanced at my laptop and looked like he was going to say something but then thought the better of it. 

“Yeah, no problem,” I said. 

Some of the tension drained from his face. “Thanks, son. Just remember, lock and alarm each cabin, then lock and alarm the barn. Got it?” 

“Got it.” I had never done it before, but I had seen Dad do it hudreds of times. 

I folded the laptop up for the moment and followed him downstairs. Mom saw me and said, “Thanks for saying you’ll alarm the barn. Don’t forget to make yourself something for dinner. There’s frozen pizza, I think.” She tossed her phone into her purse. “Call us if you need anything.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said. 

I watched from the kitchen window as Dad carefully backed the car down the driveway, Mom sitting next to him. I waved as they turned onto the main road and disappeared. Then I heard a ping and I slid my phone out of my pocket to check my messages. “Have fun!” Mom texted with a line of red hearts. I slid my phone back into my pocket. 

My first full moon on my own. I grimaced and then reassured myself. No problem. I had this. 

New Middle Grade Novel

Now that I have an author webpage, I thought I should post author stuff. Here’s the first chapter of my newest MG novel.

Henry Murkwood did not want to end up in foster care. 

He had a perfectly good mother, thank you very much. Just because he couldn’t produce her for a parent-teacher conference did not mean he was unsupervised, or a delinquent, or “at risk.” 

Mrs. Gibbons stopped him in the hallway right after seventh period when Henry was minding his own business.  “Have your mom call me. Or we could even do a Zoom call. Unless there’s a problem? You can talk to me, you know.” She leaned forward, as if this was the moment Henry was supposed to open up and share. 

“Yeah, she’d like to, but she works. A lot. Usually weird hours.” Henry said as he tried not to peer over Mrs. Gibbons’ expansive shoulder, looking for an escape route. 

Mrs. Gibbons eyebrows practically met in the middle of her forehead. “We have many parents who work, Henry, and yet they still manage to come in for conferences.” 

“Right. But, she’s uh, sick. She can’t possibly make it to school.” 

“I thought she worked.” Mrs. Gibbons said, and this time her eyebrows disappeared under her cap of middle-aged, sensible hair. 

“She does! I mean, she works so much she makes herself sick. She’s very dedicated.” 

“What does your mother do, exactly?” Mrs. Gibbons asked. 

“She…uh…” Henry thought as fast as he could. There was a poster behind Mrs. Gibbons’ head announcing a concert. “She’s a jazz guitarist.” 

“A jazz guitarist. Really.” Mrs. Gibbons folded her arms across her chest, a look of pure disbelief on her face. 

“Right. See, she has rehearsals, and concerts. And she travels, too. Oh, wow, look at the time. I have to get home to feed the dog.”

Henry smiled in what he hoped was some kind of reassuring fashion. He decided not to wait for Mrs. Gibbons to ask him more questions and instead, he just turned around and walked away as quickly as he could, without having it look like he was hurrying. Casual. Very casual. 

As soon as he rounded the corner he breathed a sigh of relief. Mrs. Gibbons was a pain, but she wasn’t the only one. Henry knew that there were a few teachers who had decided that since no one had ever seen or heard from Henry’s parents, he must be an orphan. And if he was an orphan, they were determined to “help.” 

As bad as he had it, his sister Dawn had it even worse. Because she was younger, and arguably cuter, the interest in rescuing Dawn from obvious neglect had reached a fever pitch. Everyday, Henry had to field phone calls and text messages from his sister’s concerned teachers, asking if they could just meet Mrs. Murkwood, just for a few minutes. 

Henry was running out of excuses. 

He signed all the permission slips, he filled out all the paperwork. He texted back when this, that, or the other teacher tried to contact his Mom on her phone. This had been going on all year. Right now, it was December. Ideally, he would be able to hold them off until June. Then next year, the process would repeat itself, but if he could just hold out until high school, he was pretty sure no one cared who your parents were by the time you got to ninth grade. 

He wasn’t sure why his teachers were so determined to meet his mother, anyway. Henry was a good student. He did his homework, he participated in classes but not enough that people saw him as a know-it-all or a show-off. He had friends. He took a shower everyday. He combed his hair. He didn’t act out. 

Really, what did his teachers need to see his mother about?

Henry thought about hiring a stand-in, someone who could just pretend to be his mother for a few minutes, perhaps on a video call. He could pay them some money and then everyone could stop stressing out about his imagined lack of supervision. 

He couldn’t very well tell his teachers why his mother really couldn’t come to school, or why she couldn’t even talk to them. Henry’s Dad had disappeared a long time ago. This wasn’t so unusual. Actually, it would weirder if he were still around. Not that he could tell his teachers that, either. 

No, the reason his mother couldn’t come into school was because she had been cursed by a rival vampire and was gradually turning to stone. Obviously, there was no way anyone was going to believe that, except that it happened to be true. 

When she was first cursed, at the beginning of the school year, things went on almost normally. She still made dinner, still made Dawn and Henry do their homework. As time went on, she moved more slowly, but she could still walk and talk. She still took care of Henry and his sister. 

Gradually, patches of cement-like crust formed on her skin. Her fingers and toes got it first, and then it started to spread. Then they grew larger and larger, like a giant grey rash. Her joints cracked when she moved. She struggled mightily, but she could barely move at all these days. She spent most of her days in bed, exhausted from the effort of trying to function. Even when she talked, her voice sounded raspy, like she had swallowed rocks. But Henry could still talk to her. It just took longer than normal. 

What Henry needed to do was break the curse so that his mother could go back to being a normal, everyday vampire and he wouldn’t be under the constant threat of going to an orphanage. Or foster care. He could resume life as a perfectly normal, 12-year old vampire. All he had to do was figure out how his mother got cursed in the first place, and then reverse it. Or defeat the wizard who cast the curse. Either way. 

If only his teachers knew what he was really up against, they would treat him with a lot more respect. 

I learned how to update my webpage! And my book was published!

I finally learned how to update my blog. Full disclosure: my husband set this up for me, and updated it like, twice. I always meant to get around to updating it, but that required getting the password from my husband. For a while he couldn’t find it. Then he gave it to me and I lost it. Finally, I went hunting for it and here we are!

My Summer Job in Hell was published by Divertir! Yay! I found out about it (i.e. the publisher emailed me) on Stephen King’s birthday. It must be a sign, right?

Click the above link for a free sample!

I did have an agent for my middle-grade novel, Werewolf Land. Actually, the agent changed it to Werewolf Park, but now that we have parted ways, I’m changing it back. It’s about a kid named Dart whose parents run a werewolf sanctuary. A family emergency comes up, so Dart is in charge of locking the werewolves in. Alas, his neighbor, 11-year-old Regan, hands him a snake. She thinks it’s a riot. In Dart’s panic, he neglects to secure the barn and all six werewolves go running into the night, just as the first tour bus arrives. Then the tourists think this is a new version of Pokemon Go and they all take off to catch themselves a werewolf. Dart (with Regan’s help, because she just won’t go away) has to capture all six werewolves before the tourists kill the werewolves or the werewolves eat the tourists.

Why you should have more than one cat

Why you should have more than one cat

Every time I see cute cat videos posted on my Facebook feed, I think “Wouldn’t it be fun to get another cat?” After all, if one cat is great, more than one is even better. Some people think that cats are independent, solitary creatures, but most cats enjoy the company of other cats.

So, should I get another cat?

Cats that are carefully and slowly introduced can become good friends. Cats get bored and lonely just like people do. A second cat helps alleviate that. They can play together, burning off extra energy and calories (cats need exercise, too). Even if they’re just sleeping in the same room, most cats will enjoy the company of another cat. Having another cat takes the pressure off the human companion, who may work long hours or is busy trying to keep their sanity while they raise children.

Having a second cat will also save another life—not only the one you just adopted, but then a space opens up at the shelter to save another cat. Most shelters simply do not have enough space to accommodate all the homeless cats and kittens that they are presented with. By adopting a second cat, you save a life and enjoy twice as much love. It’s a win-win.

Bored and lonely cats are also more likely to develop behavioral issues, such as marking and scratching furniture. Cats that have another cat to play with are less likely to get into trouble. They have someone to play with, socialize with and conspire with.

Cats have different personalities, just like humans. Not every cat will become best friends with every cat they are introduced to, but for the most part, they can learn to at least tolerate each other. Just like people, just being around another cat is sometimes all they need.

Of course, there are a few things to consider when adopting another cat.

Ok, what do I need to consider?


Probably the easiest way to have multiple cats is to adopt two kittens who are from the same litter.  They’ve known each other their whole lives, and they like each other already. Two kittens are tremendously entertaining. They stalk each other, play together, and are delightfully silly together.

What if I already have an adult cat?

When choosing your new feline companion, keep these things in mind:

  • Gender–Sometimes two of the same sex have more difficulty getting along than one of each sex, but not necessarily. I have two male cats and they are very good friends.
  • Activity level—very active cats will enjoy playing and wrestling with another cat with a similar energy level.
  • Age—an elderly cat might not appreciate a kitten invading her space, but might welcome a more mature cat.
  • Personality—some cats will enjoy a companion, and others will only begrudgingly tolerate it. And some cats just don’t like other cats.
  • Size—cats who are of similar size are less likely to bully each other.


Just like people, cats will appreciate a proper introduction to a new family member.

Start small: When you bring your new kitty home, start off by keeping him or her confined to small area of your house—a den or a bedroom. Ideally not where the resident cat hangs out—you don’t want them to feel usurped. The resident cat should not feel inconvenienced in any way. Make sure the new cat has food, water, a litterbox and toys. The resident cat will catch on pretty quickly that something is up. They can smell the other cat, and probably hear them as well. This will hopefully get them to entertain the idea of a second cat in their household.

Make positive associations

Try to feed the cats at the same time, but on opposite sides of a door. Or talk to both cats through the door, so the resident cat starts to associate the new cat with good things.

Mingle scents: One trick you can try is to pet the new cat with a glove, or a towel, a sock—anything cloth will do. Spend a few minutes, then leave the item where the resident cat can sniff it. Cats can gather far more information based on scent than we can—their adorable little noses are fourteen times more sensitive than ours are.

Let them see each other

After a week or so, (they need time to adjust) let the cats see each other in a safe way. If you can have them see each other through a screen door that would be perfect. Not a lot of people have screen doors inside their homes, so you’re going to have to improvise. Not as ideal, have someone hold one cat and have someone else hold the other cat—a safe distance away.

Let them meet

It’s been at least a week and if everything has gone well so far, it’s time for the cats to meet each other. Just let the new cat out of its space and keep an eye out. Don’t make a big, huge deal of it. Let them go at their own pace. They have a lot to work out in these next few weeks. Don’t be surprised if the resident cat hisses and chases the newcomer. Chasing is fine, but don’t let them fight. However, Don’t get in the middle of them if they do fight. Make a really loud racket by banging two pans together, or throw water at them. If you have a squirt gun handy, that can work, too.

It may take a few months for them to start to get along, and even a few more months to become friendly. The fastest way to cause conflict between cats is to have them feel like they have to fight for resources. So be sure there are enough resources and that both cats have space to call their own. Make sure each cat has its own food dish, water dish, and litterbox. You need one litterbox for each cat. More than one scratching post is important—otherwise one of them may choose to scratch the furniture.  Also make sure there are plenty of toys to go around.

Eventually, most cats can learn to get along

Are there any reasons why I wouldn’t want another cat?

Maybe a few.

  • Expense—Two cats are more expensive than one cat. You need twice as much food, twice as much litter and twice as many trips to the vet.
  • Jealousy–The resident cat is really bonded to you. They might not want to share with another cat. They might want you all to themselves.
  • Space. If your apartment or living situation is really small, another cat might stress out the resident cat, not to mention you. If they have plenty of space, cats can at least avoid each other if they don’t get along. If they feel like they’re on top of each other, they will be stressed and might act out. N bmlp;

How can I tell if my resident cat would like a kitty companion?

Has your cat ever hung out with other cats? What was the situation at the shelter? Many shelters have “cat rooms” where several cats spend time together. If your resident kitty was in the community cat room before you brought him/her home, that’s a good indication that he enjoys the company of other cats. You can bring a friend’s cat over and see what happens, as sort of a trial run. Lastly, some shelters will consider letting you “foster” a cat if you’re considering adopting a second cat. This way you can see how the resident kitty does before you make a commitment. Keep in mind, though—some cats are slow to warm up to other cats, but they do warm up.

What if the worst-case scenario happens and they just don’t get along?

Most pet shelters are familiar with the difficulties of introducing a new family member. Make sure you tell them when you adopt that you have a cat already. They will be able to help you choose a cat that is amenable to living with another cat. Describe your current fur baby to them. Remember, they have a lot of experience with adoptions, and can probably help you choose a cat that is likely to work out. They want you to succeed. If they worst case scenario happens and all your cats do is fight, they will be willing to take the second cat back.

There is a lot to consider when you decide to adopt a second cat. However, if your cats accept each other and become friends (or at least friendly) it can add years to their lives by giving them a social outlet and more exercise. I have three cats, and they all get along, albeit some better than others. But I think they all appreciate each other. Cats are wonderful companions, and having more than one is twice the fun.

Chapter One: My Summer Job In Hell

My Summer Job in Hell

I could hear the screaming all the way from my bedroom. High pitched, shrill, and furious. The kind of scream that makes you think of blood-sucking werewolves and demons that steal your soul.

I was lying on my bed, my feet propped on my pillow, facing my Kate Upton swimsuit poster. I wish she were my girlfriend but that doesn’t seem likely considering I was voted most likely to be overlooked by my high school class.

Okay, not really. For one thing, I’m a junior. I won’t be voted most likely to be overlooked until next year.

Maybe I should introduce myself. My name is Fynn Hardin. I’m a sixteen-year old male with no girlfriend and no car. I have hair the color of dirt, a long face with a pointed chin and a smattering of freckles. If this brings to mind an image of an adolescent giraffe, you’re not far off.

I was throwing a ball against the wall and catching it with one hand. It’s something I do to entertain myself. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. It helps to block out the screaming.

“Noooooo! No! No! No!”

This ended in a screech so loud I thought my head was stuck inside a Boeing 747. I sat up, grabbed my pillow from under my feet and flopped back down, pressing it over my head. Which made me wonder–could I still catch the ball if I couldn’t see, like, by using spidey-sense or the force or something?


Apparently not. I’d have to work on that.

“Fynn! Dinner!”

I debated not going, but I was hungry. So I blew Kate a kiss and shuffled downstairs.

“Hi, Fynn.” My Mom was taking a chicken pot pie out of the oven and my Dad was wrestling a screaming Madelaine, aka Maddie, into her high chair. Sweet. I love chicken pot pie. I slid into a chair and helped myself to a large portion. The smell of hot, delicious, mouth-watering chicken met my nose. Ahhh….

“Fynn!” Dad barked.

I jerked my head up. “What?”

“Could you help me here, please!” Maddie had her feet on the edge of her high chair, her fists of fury flailing around my Dad’s head, her little body bending in an arc. I made a face at her, sticking out my tongue and crossing my eyes and then poking her in the stomach. She laughed and relaxed enough for my Dad to pop her into her high chair. When she realized what just happened, she got ready to scream again, but I shook some Cheerios onto her tray and she brightened.

“Thanks, Fynn,” Dad said, wiping the sweat off his forehead. Dad was ten years older than my mom and he always said that he totally lucked out when she married him. I could kind of see it. Dad’s balding and has a belly, plus he works long hours and has no sense of humor. He has a business with a couple of other guys–they make printer belts, like for industrial printers. Only about a year ago their best customer left and business had slowed to a trickle since then.

“You know, you’re very good with her.” Mom said. I could tell by the way they exchanged glances that something was up. Should I just pretend not to notice? Probably. I shoveled another forkful of chicken into my mouth.

My Dad made a sort of hmmf-ing noise.

“Okay, what?” I put my fork down.

Mom cleared her throat. “We were thinking, that for the summer you could hang out and take care of Maddie. You know, while I go to work to earn money for your college education.”

I stared at her, then at my father, searching for confirmation that this was a joke. My Dad smiled at me, like this was some fantastic opportunity that I would be a fool not to jump at. My brother Kevin looked at me and laughed. His mouth was full.

“Are you kidding?” I managed.

“No, actually we are not,” Mom said.

“I’m getting a job for the summer. You know, so I can save money and buy a car and…stuff.”

Did I mention Maddie was born fifteen months ago? Last summer, Mom was on maternity leave and could look after her own baby. Now that she was back at work, she wanted me to do it?

“You know, it won’t be so bad, looking after your sister. She’s a pretty easy baby.” My Dad said, as if I had not just witnessed the war to get her into her high chair.

“Seriously? How am I supposed to save for a car if I’m running around after Maddie all day? Are you going to pay me for my services?”

“Because everyone…” They both started talking at the same time so Dad stopped and nodded at Mom and said, “You go.”

“Because we’re a family and everyone has to do their part. We can save money not sending Maddie to day care for the summer. Money which we can then use to send you to college.” She brushed a lock of her cinnamon colored hair out of her face. She works nights as an ICU nurse at a local hospital. She’s always tired. “You can borrow my car when I’m not using it. They’ll be plenty of time for you to go out with your friends.”

“It’s not a bad deal at all.” My Dad said, as if he were trying to convince himself.

I sighed. My Mom drove a ten-year old minivan. Boy, I bet girls would be falling all over themselves to be seen with a guy who drove his Mom’s minivan.

There was another reason I really needed a job but I didn’t want to tell my parents.

Three months ago, they had given me a line of credit on one of their cards, for “emergencies”, gas and school expenses. Well, define “emergency.” Is it an emergency if all of my friends are playing the same video game and I am in imminent danger of becoming more of a social misfit than I was already? I thought so. Anyway, somehow I managed to spend $400 on Steam. Yeah, I know. But it’s not really my fault. Where did my parents get this misguided idea that I was responsible? Obviously, the credit card people wanted their money. I had been yanking the bill out of the mailbox before my parents got to it so far, but obviously that wasn’t going to work for much longer. I wanted to get rid of the debt before my parents noticed, or at least pay it down enough so that the total could be construed as gas and school expenses.

And I have to admit, I felt a twinge of resentment about this whole babysitting idea. Was it my fault they had a baby last year? No, it was not. So why was my summer going to be sacrificed? Because it was convenient for them?

“I didn’t ask for you to have a baby.” I said, and almost instantly regretted it.

“Well, if that’s how you feel, I’ll just quit my job to take care of the three of you. Of course, next year when you want to go to college, I won’t be able to help you.” She gestured at me with her fork, and the expression on her face said she would have cheerfully stabbed me with it.

“You know, Fynn, sometimes you have to step up. You have to make sacrifices for your family.” Dad said.

Peace and quiet? I thought. It seemed to me that was what I was sacrificing, not to mention steady income and self-esteem. Instead I grunted. Kevin looked at me and suppressed a giggle. Which brought up an excellent point.

“What is Kevin sacrificing, exactly?” Kevin kicked me under the table.

“Don’t you worry. Kevin will have responsibilities as well.” Kevin stuck his tongue out at me. Maddie waved her spoon around and flicked chicken pot pie all over the table. My Mom sighed and got up to get a cloth. Maddie smiled, pleased with herself and banged her sippy cup on the tray of her high chair.

“There’s a summer job fair this weekend at school. I was planning on going.” I glanced at Mom and then at Dad. This was the delicate moment, where my summer and my self-respect hung in the balance. Were they going to let go of this idea that I would be Maddie’s babysitter, or could I go be a normal high school student with a summer job, meeting summer girls and saving for summer cars?

“Fynn…” Mom appeared to be wrestling with saying what she really wanted to say, versus trying to be supportive. “Look, it’s only for this last summer. Believe me, looking back on this when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the time you spent helping your family.”

I sincerely doubted that. And it didn’t matter anyway, because I was definitely going to the job fair and I was definitely going to get a summer job, no matter what my parents said.

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