Merry Christmas to all!!

Usual Disclaimer: What you are about to see contains images of cute fluffy kitties. It has nothing to do with appliqué, so be warned if you must. Welcome to the Fifth Annual Cavalcade of Kittens!

In the spring, the Mackenzie Finishing School for Felines opened its doors for the season. Dana and I had the joy and privilege of taking care of a total of 10 groups of cute baby kittens for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

The kitties we take in are big enough to eat on their own, generally five to six weeks old, and we keep them until they’re at least eight weeks, two pounds, and in good body condition. It’s so much fun, and so rewarding to watch them grow from sometimes shy, teensy little klutzes with short stubby legs to sturdy confident pre-teens who sprout legs and run thumping and banging around the house.

The first batch consisted of two solid gray fuzzballs and one gray tabby fuzzball, all boys. They were so much fun.

Linus and Niles taking their first steps into the house.

Norbert, showing off his stripes.

Linus and Norbert

Norbert and Niles, feeling their kibble.

Breakfast at Mackenzie’s

The next batch were Donovan, Duncan, and Desirée.

Upon arrival, in the Kitty Hotel.

These guys were scrawny and didn’t display much of an appetite. After a week of no weight gain, I hauled them in to see the shelter vet, who recommended syringe feeding. That’s where you water down canned food so that it will squirt through a wide syringe, and feed them like baby birds! I had never done this, but I was determined to make it work, and Dana says I have nurse’s hands.

Desirée says, most of it went down!

This protocol was a huge success. After less than three days, they found their stomachs and started eating like there was no tomorrow. Nom nom nom, no problem!

As you can see from this naptime photo of Donovan and Duncan, they soon became plump and sturdy.

Water cooler talk.

When we get a new batch, Max is always very curious and wants to check them out. Big (and I mean big) guy that he is, it’s a tight squeeze to take a peek.

The wee ones that he was peering at were Arlo, a darling gray tuxedo, and Marigold, a rather rare orange girl.

Arlo, resting up after a patio romp.

Marigold among the impatiens.

When these guys went back, I told the foster coordinator that I had a two-week window should any kittens come in needing that relatively short amount of time. I hadn’t even gotten home yet before she had called and spoken with Dana. Another foster family had to go out of town and had brought back two that needed… guess what… two weeks! I sent Dana down to pick them up while I prepped the house for a new batch.

Lucky me! Mellie and Chelsea were sweet, sweet girls.

Mellie, a pastel tortie, and Chelsea, a black cutie with a white locket.

Mellie takes in the afternoon air on the escape-proof patio.

Chelsea surveys the living room.

Max takes the girls to see just how bright their futures are.

Would you like to see how Max gets downstairs each morning?

Morning Transport

The next group, you have seen before if you’ve been reading this blog. Mimi and Maddie caused the Stash Cat-Astrophe that I wrote about in July.

Who us?

These girls went back after their colds had improved, and got adopted one by one.

Next we had three boys. We gave them British prep-school names: Oliver, Digby, and Poindexter.

Oliver says, pleased to meet you!

Poindexter had extreme of the cute.

Poindexter knew what do do when receiving a bath from a big cat.

Digby makes sure all the litter has been used up, while Oliver supervises.

You could tell the tuxedos apart because Digby had one white front leg.

Max and Digby rest up.

Following the three boys, we had three girls. These were all single stray kittens who came into the shelter at about the same time, and were about the same size, so we formed a tabby sisterhood.

Meet Brandy, Buttercup, and April!

All three were different types of tabbies. Brandy was a gorgeous classic tabby, April an exceedingly cute mackerel tabby, and Buttercup was actually a torbie… a combination tabby and tortie.

Brandy, April and yellowy Buttercup enjoying the cat condo.

April gets a bath.

April (top), Brandy, and Buttercup staged themselves perfectly for this group portrait.

As soon as Max wakes up he's going to call the shelter for another batch.

More tabbies! I named them Penny and Paige, which if you watched Desperate Housewives you’ll know were the names of Lynette’s daughters.

Penny, a ticked tabby, and Paige, a mackerel tabby.

Ooh! A bouncy ride!

That was a lot of excitement.

Paige catches some rays.

These girls cast long shadows.

Except that… oops. One day when they were playing in the sunshine, rolling around and having a high old time, I noticed something. I told Dana, “I think Penny is a boy.”

Dang, the shelter had released him to me as a girl, and now we had to rename him LOL. The first thing that popped into my head was Penrose. Okay, to be fair I am married to a mathematician, a geometer in fact, and Penrose Tiling is very famous in our house. The kitten formerly known as Penny became Penrose.

Next up: more tabbies! What’s going on here? We’ve got a tabby streak going here. Two more singles ready for foster.

Hermione and Obie

Obie is short for Oberon, King of the Fairies. That’s right, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My husband thought it would be brilliant to open the dictionary to a random page to look for a name.

Hermione was one of the nicest, most mild-mannered and affectionate little cats we have ever had. Here she is hangin’ out in Dana’s hoodie while he works.

Obie, on the other hand, was terrified when he first came to us. They were unrelated, and obviously had had widely differing experiences in their young lives. In the photo above, you can see the slightly backward-pointing ear that indicates he’s still a little worried.

It’s a testament to the wonders of foster care that this little man got over his fear and his shyness in a matter of days, and became a happy cat. He worshipped the ground that Max walked on and followed him everywhere.

Sleeping in the homespun section.

That peach cowboy fabric had been set aside for my guild’s Ugly Fabric Contest, but then we didn’t have it this year.

For a long time, an old friend of mine, Helen, was in the market for a cat. I invited her over to meet Hermione, and sure enough, that kitty put her best paw forward. She climbed up and gave Helen a head butt, purred loudly, and settled down in her arms. The deal was sealed. As soon as Hermione was big enough, she was spayed and adopted through the shelter, and home she went with Helen!

Obie was smaller, so stayed with us for a couple weeks longer. He turned into a one-cat party! Seriously, when he wasn’t sleeping, he was playing.

Pop-Up Kitty

When Obie was ready to go back to the shelter, I stayed with him for awhile to see if he would revert back to his shy ways. At first he was nervous, but within an hour he had climbed up into the windowsill of the get-acquainted room and was watching the world go by. The kitten who hid for the first two days in foster now immediately jumped into anybody’s lap, for all the world as though he was seeking comfort in this new environment. Obie was adopted very quickly.

Sigh. What a difference fostering can make.

The same day that I brought Obie back, the foster care coordinator asked me if I wanted some more. Yes! I love having kittens for Christmas. There were two at the south-county location. I was going that way the next day, so I swung by and picked them up.

Giselle is a darling little tortie. I have a string of alliterative names going for the torties… let’s see if I can recap them all… Gypsy, Gigi, Georgie, Genevieve, Gingersnap, Giselle. (Mellie came with her name already.)

Here’s her brother Gunther, a sturdy gray tabby.

Gunther enjoys the warm air in front of the fridge.

Like our Christmas kitty Sparrow last year, Giselle made it her personal mission to get to the ornament on the Charlie Brown tree.

Sparrow, December 2013.

Giselle, December 2014.

By this time, Max was starting to be a little bit over the babies underfoot thing, so we hired a nanny. Our recent graduate Hermione, now named Minnie, came back to stay with us for a week while Helen went on a family trip.

Minnie is growing into an exceedingly lovely young lady.

The little kittens LOVE her and she is having a blast playing with them.

Group tussle.

Group nap.

As of today, Minnie, Gunther, and Giselle are still here with us. It won’t be long before they all go their ways, and then the Finishing School will close its doors for about five months.

The very best to you and yours, including all your furry friends!

Until next year,
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. If you didn’t see Peanut’s video, here’s a link: Doggie Skedaddles

Merry Christmas!!

Disclaimer: What you are about to see contains images of cute fluffy kitties. It has nothing to do with appliqué, so be warned if you must. Welcome to the Second Annual Cavalcade of Kittens!

In May, the Mackenzie Finishing School for Felines opened its doors for the season. Through mid-December, Dana and I took care of seven consecutive groups of underage foster kittens for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, 19 little balls of fur all told.

The kitties we take in are big enough to eat on their own, generally five to six weeks old, and we keep them until they’re at least eight weeks, two pounds, and in good body condition. It’s so much fun, and so rewarding to watch them grow from teensy little klutzes to sturdy healthy pre-teens who run thumping and banging around the house.

I’ll let you know right now, so that you don’t wonder or worry, that each and every one of the kittens you are about to see has gone back to the shelter, been found by someone who fell in love with them, and adopted into a forever home.

fleasOur first batch of the year. Three black ones just like the first group last year. They were pretty scrappy looking the day they arrived.

Three more fleas.Velvet, Cricket, and Bennett. They got along fine with Willie, in fact they even invaded his crate.


Cricket was an especially friendly and snuggly kitty. She liked Willie.

Watch the personal space dude

She even helped me sew.

I help you sew that.

The second group were Bailey, Kelly, and Sweet Pea.

New Klingons on the block.

Willie tried to give them lessons on back-of-the-sofa protocol, but Bailey wasn’t paying attention in class that day.

The Klingon-eating sofa.

I'm sinking!

Watching them play and fight is hilarious, and the poses we find them in make us laugh. Had the baby kitty wars actually done Bailey in? Kelly says, ‘I didn’t do it.’

I didn't do it.

Sweet Pea loves her DirecTV.


And now, gentle readers, it is with great sadness that I must tell you that it was at this point that our darling Willie, aged 16 years and 10 months, left us to go to doggie heaven. Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that he was my heart. Despite all this kitten business, I’m really a dog person and it was Willie who made me that way. Dana too. He enriched our lives for many long years and never had a bad mood in his life. We loved him more than words can say.

Bertram Wilberforce Woofster Mackenzie, 1994 - 2011

Bertram Wilberforce Woofster Mackenzie, 1994 - 2011

It actually helped having kittens around, because the house was not completely empty. If you’d like to learn more about our Willie and his long and wonderful life, please visit his dogblog to read all of his stories.

We called our next group of little cats “The Hooligans” due to their spectacular brash athleticism and fondness for body climbing.


Grady, Teddy and Finley. Sure, they look all sweet now LOL!

Grady was the Head Hooligan.


Finley was Grady’s little Mini Me.


Teddy was much more of a sweetie pie. Here he is whispering kitty nothings into Dana’s ear.


Again with the comical poses. You just never know what you’re going to find.

The Cat On The Hat.


Head plant!


The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.


Next came two single kittens who were put together for foster. Mookie was an absolute love, a calm, pure, sweet old soul in a little body with big ears.


Buff Daddy (that name courtesy of Dana).


This little buff tiger was not at all certain that he was pleased to be put with another kitten. Mookie was very patient with him, and within a couple days Daddy had forgotten all about it, and it was as if they had known each other all their lives.


The next batch was a litter of four fuzzballs. Two looked like seal-point Himalayan mixes and the other two were long-haired brown tigers.


The Himmies are Cuddles and Petunia, the tigers Button and Rupert. There was never a dull moment with this crew around.

Button and Petunia liked to help me in my studio Here’s Button pointing out a needed edit in my Scrap-Appliqué Playground page proofs, while Petunia prepares for a rear attack.


Petunia and Cuddles both have those gorgeous blue Himalayan eyes.


After the Fab Four came the S’s: Shelby, Spike, and Spencer.


Spencer and Spike were tuxedo cats, Shelby a lynx-point Siamese mix. They were all wonderfully nice little guys… sweet, affectionate, and so happy to be at our home.



By this time, kitten season was starting to wind down, but there were still a couple of singles who could go to foster together. First we got Sassy. She hopped out of the carrier and hopped around the living room like she didn’t have a care in the world. A super confident, friendly, and exceedingly cute little girl full of “tortietude.”

Making sure Dana stays in his chair and does his work.


One informal measure of how big our fosters are getting is whether they can squeeze under the dresser. Sassy still fits!


The next day I picked up Jamie, a black/brown smoke kitty who was full of purrs for people, but unsure of the big wide world. You can see it in his face.


The first time he saw Sassy, you should have seen the stank face! Spit, hiss, oh what a pill he was being! Sweet Sassy kept working on him little by little, and by the time three days had gone by he had totally thawed out, and they were chasing, playing, and hanging out together with ease.

This is the first time Jamie came to settle down by Sassy.


They helped us put up our Christmas tree.


By the time they went back to the shelter, Jamie had blossomed into a playful, friendly, very good-natured little man. He had an instant-on purr motor upon being petted, and this also turned him into a talky cat! He did great at the shelter meeting lots of new friends. Just shows you what foster care can do.

I packed up all the kitten gear and put it away for the season. Sad face. It’ll be a long time until May. But then… what should I discover during my regular shift at the shelter last week, but… three kittens in the hospital ward with sneezy noses! The shelter staff gladly sent them home with me to complete their recuperation from their kitty colds.

I’m back in business! I’m so glad, because otherwise it would have been the first Christmas in 23 years without any animals in the house.


Meet Max, Wylie, and Cullen, our current crew. I don’t know if you can tell, but Wylie is about half the size of the other two. Nobody knows quite why. These guys were dumped off in boxes at a pet store. We don’t know if they’re from the same litter, but it matters not, because they all love each other, everyone, and everything. They’re about the nicest cats EVER.

Little Wylie and big Cullen.


The biggest, Max, with his giant white paws.


These guys are still with us now, helping us open our presents. Thank you so much for putting up with my catblogging. I vow to keep it to once a year! Happiest of holidays to you and yours.

By Kay Mackenzie

Warning, this is totally off-topic. It has nothing to do with appliqué, and if you read this you will be subject to photos of fluffy little kitties.

I may have mentioned before that In May I started fostering kittens for the animal shelter. These are kitties that come into the shelter too young to be adopted out, who need some time being reared in a home until they’re ready. Over the summer and fall we had five different batches.

The first three were all black. They look alike in this picture but actually there were subtle differences in their coat color and texture, so we could mostly tell them apart. Starbuck (because he drank my coffee) and Thing 1 and Thing 2 (thanks Dana).

BTW in the last post, somebody thought Dana was my son. No, he’s my husband with the Look of Eternal Youth.

You gonna finish that?

You gonna finish that?

Willie was very gentlemanly with all of the little ones.



Batch 2, Riley and Tiger, came in shy and would run and play the livelong day, but as soon as any human moved, bam! they ducked for cover.

Sofas are good.

Sofas are good.

They gradually got over that. I’ll never forget the first time that Tiger nerved himself to lie down with 30% of him touching my leg. By the time they were ready to go back to the shelter he was crawling into my lap.


Batch 3 came to us with a case of URI (upper respiratory infection, like a cold for kitties).

We don't feel that gud.

We don't feel that gud.

Bunny is the tiny tortie, who weighed a pound and looked like and felt like a dust bunny, which is why I named her that. The orange boys Buzz and Rufus were much more sturdy.


Buzz was a champion snuggler and would come plop into my lap and purr like a buzzsaw.


Rufus was more shy, but eventually he came around too.

Nobody here but us tomatoes.

Nobody here but us tomatoes.

Bunny was our great success story and probably the one closest to our hearts. She really had us worried there for a few weeks, so tiny and frail, but she ate everything that wasn’t nailed down and finally one day she turned the corner and started to play and grow. She was adopted by a friend, and just look at her now!!!


She is one gorgeous creature, with soft rabbit fur and a fluffy tail.

Batch 4 was one spotted tabby, Charlotte, and two tuxedo boys, Milo and Bentley.


Charlotte was the boss.

Charlotte was the boss.


Bentley and Milo were always dressed and ready for an elegant party. Milo was the runt of the litter but by the time they were all about 8 weeks he had just about caught up.

Pearl Grey came to us as a single kitty. She has a set of lungs on her like you wouldn’t believe, and a bit too much “catitude.” Here she is in typical fashion, spouting off about something or other.

Pearl Grey

Pearl Grey

Dewey was sent home with us a week later to keep her company and teach her some kitty manners. He’s a buff tiger boy with a heart of gold.



It worked beautifully. At first she was a beast to him but after three days they were BFF, joined at the hip, where one went the other went too. Dewey calmed her down beautifully.


That’s the roundup! All have been adopted, and kitten season is over for now. Thank you for allowing me to show you my fosters. I loved having them. I leave you with a couple of amusing videos of Pearl Grey and the Tail of Dewey.

Happy holidays to you and yours,
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie