What kind of pet sitter would I be if I didn’t have pets of my own?! Of course I love them all to death, spoil them & think they are all gorgeous!! I learn from each of them, as they learn from me. They have been my constant companions, my rocks & support system. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today!
It all started with a little 8 pound Tuxedo cat our family had named Katie! At 5 years old we almost lost Katie to Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure. Katie opened up the door to the pet industry for me when I started working at her Specialist’s clinic the North Shore Veterinary Clinic. By the age of 11 Katie was off all medication & eating normal cat food. The doctors had never seen anything like it. All of her Blood work was normal! Katie put up a good fight & lived to be 13 years old at which time her kidney became engulfed in a cyst half the size of her body. Our family decided she had fought long enough.
In 1999 while working at the veterinary clinic a client had brought in a litter of kittens. 2 Torti (Black & Orange) girls & 2 black males. Despite her apprehension with our 10 year old Cat, Katie’s kidney problems, my mom said I was allowed to get a kitten if I paid all the expenses. I picked one of the Torti females & named her Harley. Sadly Harley & her brother Gremlin both came back positive for Feline Leukemia & had to be put to sleep. To try to cheer me up, my family & I went to Cat Guardians in Lombard to look at a Torti kitten they were holding for me. It turned out it was a dilute Torti (Cream & Grey) which wasn’t what I had in mind at all. Then my mom walked over to me with a little Calico kitten than instantly captured my heart! My mom helped me name her “Kizmet” aka Kizzy or Kizzybutt. She’s been my rock though thick & thin ever since! If a cat could ever take on her mom’s personality, traits & personality it’s my Kizzybutt! Sadly Kizzy was diagnosed with Kidney Failure in 2010. We fought it together hard as we could with mediation, subcutaneous fluids & prescription diet. In the winter of 2014 Kizzy took at turn for the worst and was taken into the vet. We all expected it to be her kidneys & unexpectedly her blood work was perfect! Her kidney values were the best they had been since she was initially diagnosed. Sadly though upon further diagnostic work it was found she had lung cancer. I could tell she felt miserable & didn’t want her to suffer. I said goodbye to my best friend of 14 years on Saturday March 26, 2014 one month from what would have been her 15th birthday.
In 2000 after Kizzy turned a year old my mom said “We need to get another kitten because Kizzy isn’t a baby anymore”. I didn’t argue & off we went down the street to Orphans of The Storm in Riverwoods. In a cage was a little Torti (orange & black) Kitten tearing up the newspaper in her cage. I knew instantly she was mine! I showed her to my mom who replied “She looks like she came out of a dumpster.” I wasn’t hearing any of it! I insisted on adopting her and named her Karley. She was my love bug. I don’t think she even knew how to hiss! Karley was a big momma’s girl! While room mating with my sister for 3 years, her 8 pound cat Cassie would corner & bully 10 pound Karley. She’d cry & I’d come rescue & cuddle her. She loved to help me with the laundry and would bury and nestle herself in the laundry basket filled with warm clothes fresh out of the dryer. Then chase the last few remaining items as I pulled them out. In 2006 Karley started to act strange, looking & crying at walls, walking around like she was lost. Wake me up in the middle of the night crying. I didn’t think anything of it really and was told it was probably anxiety. We tried a couple different medications prescribed by my vet that did nothing. My cousin who was a veterinarian recommended Clomicalm. It worked! Karley wasn’t as anxious, and seemed to go back to her normal self. Sadly 3 months later it came to be her issue was an undetected brain tumor & I ended her suffering.
About 8 months later I realized how much Kizzy missed having another cat around. Like me, she missed Karley. As much as she liked be the only cat for the attention she was lonely while I was gone. Neither Kizzy nor I had the time or patients for a “little” kitten. So I decided a 6- 12 month old cat would be best for us. And this time around I had my heart set on a tuxedo (Black & White) kitty. So the hunt began and it was the worst one ever! OMG everywhere I turned I was getting turned down because Kizzy was too old, or Kizzy was declawed. Or the adoption fee was insanely high. I searched & searched – nothing was clicking. I had mentioned to one of my clients who was on the board for the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, the walls I was hitting & frustration in trying to adopt a cat. He convinced me to go down to the Anti-Cruelty Society & I was to drop his name & let him know if I had any issues. So I ventured downtown not very hopeful but I figured I’d give it a shot. I went into the caged cat area. Immediately to my right was a little tuxedo cat with white paws sitting pretty at the front of her cage. She was 6 months old & had just been spayed the day before. I was pretty surprised how she just sat at the front of her cage like “Take me home please”. I took her out & hung out with her a while & decided she was the one! I was very nervous during the adoption process & interview. I was so relieved when after the interview process I was allowed to adopt her. It only took maybe a week for her to come out of her shell. Kaize is the PURRFECT kitty! I never had to train her or scold her! She has never gone on the kitchen counters, or the table. Its as if she was a 7 year old fully mature cat who had been threw the ropes. She is the social butterfly of the house, always greeting people at the door. Making sure everybody pays attention to her, pets her & compliments her when we have company
One day in September 2012 I went to my client Pam’s house in East Dundee, IL to care for her cats & the stray/ferals outside. A little female black cat walked right up to me wanting to be pet! I asked Pam who’s cat it was. She stated she didn’t know – she had been feeding her for about 2 years now. But agreed this cat was so friendly she appeared to at some point have been owned by somebody. She called her “Sam”. We decided to contact my friend Lauren Rizzo that operated St. Sophia’s Forgotten Felines out of Addison. We wanted to get Sam off the street since Halloween was right around the corner. During the arrangement process I agreed to foster Sam. I took her home & was able to trim all 4 paws nails with no fight at all! She sat on my lap & purred away. She appeared to be in excellent condition. No fleas, ear mites, scars or wounds.
Once at St. Sophia’s Lauren scanned her for a microchip – the story we got based off Sam’s Microchip was unbelievable!! She was registered to Tree House Cat Rescue in Chicago! So Lauren called them to get more info. It turned out Sam was found in St. Charles 3 years ago & was part of a TNR (Trap Neuter Release) program called Cinderella’s Hope in Dundee! She was 3 years old at the time, had a couple litters of kittens, was spayed, vaccinated & re-released! Cinderella’s Hope agreed that St. Sophia’s could have her & adopt her out. When I heard how this poor girl had been on the street her whole life & all the drama involved the past 6 years it was too much on my heart strings. I decided she needed a forever home with ME & decided to adopt her! I renamed her “Sheena – Queen of the Chicago Suburban Jungle”!
I had BAD kittenitis before I had been adopted by Sheena. But between Sheena joining our family, trying to buy a house, Kizzy’s ACL Surgery,and kidney failure issues, and then moving into our new house, it just wasn’t good timing. In January 2014 I decided the timing was right! The cats had all settled in and were comfortable in our new home. Kizzy was also doing really good health wise. I put the word out to my favorite rescues and friends – It’s time for my Torti kitten! I wanted an itty bitty baby kitten between 8-12 weeks old. But January isn’t exactly kitten season. So I figured when the time was right the purrfect kitten would come along. Everybody had their eyes & Ears open for me.
One Sunday I got a text message from my Marketing Manger Lauren. She volunteers at Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin. She walked in to see 4 tiny kittens & 2 were Torti’s! She text me pictures & I headed right over.
It was love at first sight with a little 9 week old Torti kitten who amazingly shared a few unique markings my other Torti Karley had previously had. A dividing line of color right down her nose and a pink spot on her little nose. Cleo, short for Cleopatra, Joined our fur family January 26, 2013! Scary & remarkable at the same time – 2 weeks after being adopted Cleo was diagnosed with Parvo! Parvo is an extremely deadly and contagious virus with a 1% survival rate. Shannon & Cleo battled it out together & beat the Parvo! Cleo survived thanks to the TLC and intensive supportive medical care Shannon gave her at home.
My girls are spoiled rotten! They have water fountains, eat the best food available, and have a ton of toys!
I’ve always loved Betta fish as they are beautiful, and easy to care for. I’ve had a handful over the the years most of them being Crown Tails. I walked into a pet store to pick up filters for the cats water fountain & stopped in my tracks. As I walked by – he swam by – this gorgeous male Betta! I’d never seen anything like him! It took me about 30 seconds to decide he had to come home with me. It only took another 2 minutes to name him – “Apache”. He looks like an American Indian chief wearing a head dress. I bought the entire Betta set up, got my water filters & went to the register. I almost choked when they range him up! Apache was an honestly the most expensive fish I have ever owned. $15!!! No wonder he was so gorgeous! He was a “Half-moon Double Tail” Betta. Sadly Apache battled numerous illnesses including fin rot. He passed away in September 2012 of unknown reasons. Apache was no doubt the coolest looking Betta I have ever owned.
In junior high school my grandma & I came across a 30 gallon aquarium & stand for sale. My mom wasn’t exactly happy when we brought it home. LOL But it was a hobby I grew to learn & love! This was before there was internet so I learned all I could from books. My Grandma bought me a tropical fish encyclopedia of sorts to help me identified & learn about the different types of tropical fish. I got a ton of books from the library & couldn’t soak up enough knowledge about how to set up & maintain a freshwater aquarium. Next thing you know I bought a 10 gallon tank as well. I grew a true appreciation & understanding of what type of dedication & cost was involved in having fish. When I graduated from High School I ended up giving the tanks to a friend of mine not having the proper time to take care of them. Boy do I regret it to this day! I’d love to have those tanks right now.
In 2013 my affiliate Sally & her husband gave me a 30 gallon tank they had & didn’t want anymore. My brother -in-law lent me his old stand & I was finally able to set up an aquarium again! I have the community tank I had dreamed of again! Complete with Swordtails, Bristlenose Plecos, Cory Cats, Zebra Danio, Rasboras, Black Skirt tetras, and a Red Tailed Shark!
Then a client gave me a 20 Gallon Aquarium they no longer wanted. I got a stand from a piece of discarded office furniture, and set up a Semi-Aggressive tank in my living room with Angel Fish, Powder Blue Gourami’s, Tiger & Rosie Barbs and Rainbow Shark!
Still one of my favorite hobbies! I love watching my tanks, as do my friends & Family who come over.