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2007-10-03 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Poster Pets                Poster Pets "I want all of you to know without a glimmer of uncertainty, that all of our pets, and animals of every kind, live on the Other Side, also known as "heaven" or "the afterlife."

... Sylvia Browne, psychic and spiritual teacher...

...and so begins the book Ghost Cats by Dusty Rainbolt, an historical and testimonial collection detailing human encounters with feline spirits...a mesmerizing read for cat and ghost lovers alike, a book not meant to frighten us (well, just a little), but more to comfort all who have ever lost a cherished cat. These many touching tales of felines who refused to let death separate them from their human companions bring consolation and hope.

People have long noted that cats are mystical. Ghost Cats takes these feline supernatural powers to a higher level. Dusty Rainbolt, a multi award winning cat writer, product editor for Catnip (Tufts' veterinary newsletter), and foster Mom to many orphaned kittens, was skeptical too until her fragile tuxedo Maynard "came back" to say his final goodbye.

This foster kitten had been born hydrocephalic and at 8 months died while Dusty was away. Even though his condition limited his lifespan, she felt guilty for not being there. Two weeks later, Dusty sensed Maynard's return one night as he slept against her. She felt at peace and forgiven. A cat ghost? Get real. Did she conjure him up? She started to question her own sanity. That's when she reached out to others about similar paranormal encounters. The response was overwhelming and unexpected.

Moo Moo, top photo and a bobtail cat, above at shelter. Moo Moo, top photo and a bobtail cat, above at shelter. The many cat ghost experiences reported were not scary (with the exception of the harbinger "Demon Cat" who resides in the basement of the Capitol Building in DC and has been spotted before the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations and the 1929 stock crash.) Most folks said that their feline phantoms brought them closure, final farewells, lessened guilt over obtaining a new pet, or granted them permission to get on with their lives. Certain ghostly visitors including "Blu" a resident cat at a veterinary hospital and "Mikey Mouser" a purrsonal therapist re-surfaced briefly to pass the "cat-love" torch to their protégées.

Some cats appear to their guardians; others announce their presence to guests in the home. The cat apparitions manifest themselves in creative ways- an orb of light, a meow or purr, a brush by or cuddle; phantom litter boxes, invisible playmates to other cats. "Trixie" gave her favorite ripped recliner one last scratch; "Dyna" stared in the window at the candle lit in her memory; "Grungy" had tea with a lady dying of cancer; "Spooky" still lingers outside the screen door to converse with his kitty housemates.

Later Dusty describes hotels and public buildings rumored to have cat spirits. "Morris" a huge orange cat who resided at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas waited for his favorite guest to return so he could jump up on her lap. "Tom Cat" was a casualty of the Civil War during a Georgia battle but, according to many witnesses, his specter still walks the ruins of Fort McAllister.

The author also explores feline folklore and reminds us that cats, particularly black cats are revered as sacred or symbols of good luck over most of the world. Their value as rodent hunters has saved the food supply of civilizations. Think...Egypt. Because of witchcraft hysteria and the Church's persecution during the Middle Ages, cats were almost wiped out. Hence, people were almost wiped out too, since the Bubonic Plague is carried by rat fleas. Presently the evil black cat stigma continues to ruin the reputation of black cats in the US, Belgium and Spain. (With Halloween approaching, rescue groups are split on whether "black cat adoption bans" help or hurt these poor cats least likely to find homes anyway.)

...But I digress, Ghost Cats celebrates the special bond we have with our departed whiskered pals; and strengthens the possibility that there is a Rainbow Bridge where we will be reunited with all our beloved pets one day. Whether or not you believe in ghost stories, if you are a cat lover, Ghost Cats by Dusty Rainbolt is a

must" for your book shelf- available at the Lyons Press, www.globepequot.com, or at Amazon.com. Just ask the literary ghost cat who wanders the Cumberland University Library in Tennessee. He'll agree.

•Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon has a large selection of dogs and cats just waiting to become someone's dear companion. "Moo Moo" the large black Lab mix, with a bovine build, belonged to a lady too ill to care for her. This sweetie in Cage 51 waited for her owner to return to claim her but that never happened. The female kitten #18955 in the lobby is a bobtail, not the purebred- most likely a birth defect. See more photos on the shelter's Petfinder site.

•Females: "Pepper" a petite Spaniel mix Cage 81; "Jewel"- gorgeous muted calico in C-9.

•Males: 2 Beagles; "Buster"-amiable chocolate Lab mix Cage 21; a Corgi mix in the Puppy Room; the poor Hound Cage 9; "Pee Wee"- an extroverted Russian Blue kitten.

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