K: Foster kittens (cuteness and mess) #AtoZChallenge

Our current foster kittens: Ludo, Gordon, Floki and William.

My husband and I foster kittens several times a year. We’ve been doing this for 15 years now through a local animal shelter. Usually we get groups of two to six kittens who are too young to be adopted. Sometimes they have moms and we go through a weaning process with them (and drying out for momma kitty). More often they are without a mother. Once we even had a pregnant mom give birth at our house (to SEVEN! kittens).

Our latest group of four had a few days of bottle feeding before they got the hang of eating a watery gruel of canned kitten food and KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement). A few weeks later, they are now eating canned food and starting on kibble. About half the kittens we foster either come to us with a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness or develop one shortly thereafter. So far so good on that front with the current batch.

Lars was our second “foster failure.” He was with us while a bite wound healed (hence the collar). His hair has grown in now so you can’t see any scar.

I love helping kittens grow. Many are feral, and hiss and make themselves puffy before they learn that we aren’t there to hurt them. Others just aren’t too sure about humans yet. There’s nothing like the day when a kitten crawls in my lap and starts to purr.

Really young kittens are super messy. They tromp through their water dishes and food dishes. Then they tromp through the litter box with wet kitten feet. Then they tromp back through the water dish and leave behind specks of clay litter. Little paw prints mark the floor. And the smell. Kittens poop A LOT! At least most naturally use the litter box though. I’m not sure I could handle house training a puppy. 🙂 I try to focus on how cute they are when they purr, sleep, and play with such joyful abandon when I’m really tired of cleaning up AGAIN.

Lux was our first foster failure. She’s a sassy troublemaker!

Most people are shocked that we can give up the kittens when they’re grown up enough to find their forever homes. I think those people have never had six hyper kittens running around their house at 2 in the morning. 🙂 It’s never easy to say goodbye. Sometimes I cry. I did more in the early years. And we’ve had two “foster failures”–kittens who ended up adopted by us. Not too many considering the hundreds who’ve come through our doors.

In the end, we keep fostering because every kitten we take in is a kitten who doesn’t end up euthanized. And a lot end up euthanized. Millions of cats every year in the U.S. Spay and neuter, folks!

Click the K to see more bloggers doing the Challenge




Fun with the In-Laws: Excerpt and Blog Hop #RHACafe #Kindlefire #prizes

Easter Blog Hop

Click here or the logo to visit more hop sites! 

Are you ready for some post Easter fun? I’ll be giving away an ebook of either of my books to one person who comments on this post. In addition, you can head here to enter for the Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire HD loaded with some ebooks from Mina Carter and Milly Taiden/April Angel.

I don’t have a book with an Easter scene in it, but I do have one with Christmas. So in honor of the holiday, I’m going to share a bit cheer. In my latest novel, To Growl or to Groan, Chloe travels to her boyfriend’s parents’ home in Scotland a little before Thanksgiving. It’s her first time meeting the family, as well, but by Christmas Eve, she’s feeling a bit more comfortable with his family. Here’s a snippet from the beginning of the scene where they open presents.

After dinner, everyone retires to the living room and lounges around digesting food. Jeremy is the only one who seems to have missed out on the food coma. He bounces between his parents and grandparents asking when we’re going to open presents, since the family tradition is not to wait for Christmas morning.

There are a lot fewer presents under the tree then there were a few days ago when we loaded up a bunch to take to various charities in the area. Now each adult only has one under the tree, and there are seven for Jeremy (one from each adult who isn’t his parent).

Feeling the need to get the food in my stomach moving, I heft myself off an easy chair and walk over to the tree. I notice that there are small presents nestled among the boughs. Jorge walks up behind me, encircling my waist. I lay my arms over his, the noise of the rest of the family’s chatter fading into the background. “What’s up with the presents in the tree?”

“Each year there’s one special gift for each person. My mom hides them during dinner every year. We each draw one person’s name and come up with the gift. This year you got out of the drawing because I wanted this part to be a surprise for you, so I got a present for you and Miriam.”

I peer around the tree, at least as much as I can with Jorge’s arms around me, and try to locate one with my name on it.

He laughs, pulls me closer. “No trying to find yours in advance. Unless, of course, you want to get scolded by my mother.”

“OK. How about you show me some of the ornaments you made now?”

“At the risk of my mother misinterpreting, I’ll find a few in the front.” He releases me, and I miss his warmth. He walks to the side of the tree facing his mother, plucking three ornaments as he returns to my side.

He holds up what looks like a reindeer made from Legos and felt. “I built this when I was seven. I loved Legos.”

“It’s so cute. It’s a reindeer, right?”

“Of course it’s a reindeer. It’s Rudolph. Look at the red nose.”

I chuckle. “Defensive much?”

He ignores my taunt and holds up a second one. A hand-painted candy cane. The stripes are there but decidedly uneven. “This one was a project in grade one.”

I lean in to inspect the ornament.

“Not bad for a six-year-old. I can definitely tell it’s a candy cane.”

He lets out a long-suffering sigh and places the two ornaments back on the tree haphazardly. Then he holds up a third and flips a switch. The tiny robotic Santa’s legs start to move. “If I set it down on a flat surface, it would walk.”

“Let me guess. This was from when you started to become really geeky?”

“I got an A on my robotics project in grade eight science, I’ll have you know.”

Jeremy, attracted by the whirring sound, zooms over and asks to play with the toy. Jorge kneels beside him and puts the Santa on the hardwood floor. It starts to march toward Adam. Jeremy claps and follows it until it runs into his dad’s leg.

Adam scoops up Jeremy and the toy. “What have we got here?” He inspects the robot, turns to Jorge. “Isn’t this a project you did for school?”

“Yes. I was just showing it to Chloe.”

Jeremy squirms, and Adam sets him down and hands him the toy. He races off to show his grandpa. Adam turns to me. “He made a ton of robots when he was a kid. I’m sure Mom still has them somewhere.”

“I’m sure Chloe doesn’t want to see my robots.”

I give him a bemused smile. “So you do still have them? How cute.”

Miriam enters the conversation. “What’s cute?”

Adam turns to her. “Jorge’s boyhood robot collection, which he evidently still has.”

“Ooh, I remember those robots.”

Jorge gives her a wry eyebrow raise. “I remember you breaking several of them.”

Before the discussion can continue, Alice stands and announces it’s time for presents.

She’s unready to face her past, but she may have no choice.

It may be her best friend who gets surprisingly accurate hunches about the future, but Chloe just  knows something big –and bad—is about to happen. She telepathically communicates with animals and shape-shifters, but her growing psychic abilities are beginning to scare her. She suspects her mother also had abilities, and when those powers grew beyond her control, she left her daughter and husband when Chloe was only ten.

Despite her worries, she won’t let anything interrupt her trip to Scotland to meet her shape-shifter boyfriend’s family. Meeting Jorge’s close-knit family and spending the Holidays with them is worry enough!

When his sister goes missing, her disappearance is linked to a shadowy organization that knows exactly how to hide her from her shape-shifting relatives’ tracking ability. What they don’t count on is Chloe’s psychic gift.

In the rush to find Jorge’s sister, Chloe loses control of her ability and accidentally harms an animal’s psyche. Ridden with guilt, she’s afraid her ability just might destroy her relationship with Jorge. She isn’t ready to find her mother and face her past, but she may not have a choice if she wants to ensure she never harms anyone again.

What readers are saying about To Growl or to Groan:

4* from Sizzling Hot Books: “If you like shapeshifters, some sexy romance, and a good mystery as well then I would definitely recommend To Growl Or To Groan.”

“I enjoyed reading more in this book about Chloe’s exploration of her abilities and past as well as her HOT relationship with Jorge. I will be looking for more from this author for sure. This book is a light and fun read with adventure, passion and a few unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommend reading this book.”

“I liked the twist with the shifter and non-shifter relationships in this book. It made it refreshing to read. I thought Katya Armock did a great job with the storyline and I was kept interested from the very beginning.”

Writing about pets and real life inspiration

I’m visiting The Snarkology as part of The Write Pet series. Here’s the beginning of the story…

In my first novel, To Hiss or to Kiss, the heroine communicates with animals telepathically. She has two cats, and one is based on my cat, Sundance. Unfortunately, we lost Sundance a year ago—and just a few weeks before the book released. My husband and I miss him terribly, but he will live on in my book in some of the mannerisms of Chloe’s cat Enoki. The book is dedicated to him. Enoki is a mainstay character in the next two books in my Hidden Lines series. <a href="In my first novel, To Hiss or to Kiss, the heroine communicates with animals telepathically. She has two cats, and one is based on my cat, Sundance. Unfortunately, we lost Sundance a year ago—and just a few weeks before the book released. My husband and I miss him terribly, but he will live on in my book in some of the mannerisms of Chloe’s cat Enoki. The book is dedicated to him. Enoki is a mainstay character in the next two books in my Hidden Lines series."

Read more here.

Animal Personality: A Portrait

Today I am visiting Literary Escapism and talking about Animal Communication in its various forms. My heroine Chloe can talk to animals telepathically, which allows me to make more robust animal characters in my novels,  but even without that ability, animals have a lot of personality. Each of my cats and my dog are all very unique. And my work with animals has introduced me to many more.

To illustrate some of the differences between personalities, here are some snippets that showcase three of the animal characters to To Hiss or to Kiss and To Growl or to Groan:

Cats Just Want to be Kissed #8sunday

Available March 1!

Since everyone enjoyed a peek at a dog last week, I thought I’d give some insight into Chloe’s relationship with her cats.

I give each cat a kiss on the head. Enoki doesn’t mind, but Sashi tries to duck in protest. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, Sashi, I know you hate it when I kiss you on the head.” I laugh as I succeed in trapping her head long enough for a quick kiss. She shoots me her annoyed look and gives me a decidedly perturbed meow as she breaks free, but she’s also purring, so I know she’s not really upset. “I love you, too, Sashi.” She tries to feign indifference but her motor’s still running, so I know better. I let her keep her pride, though.

Check out other fun snippets here: