Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. As most of you who read this group blog know, last month we lost one of our founding members, Lea Wait, to pancreatic cancer. Lea left behind four daughters, many wonderful books, and a cat named Shadow.
Shadow, who was more often called “Cat” by Lea and her late husband Bob, lives with me now. Lea and I agreed to that plan more than a year before her death. Some people, hearing that my husband and I took in this “orphaned” cat, have said how kind we were or how generous. That’s not it at all. Shadow is filling a void in our lives, just as we’re slowly beginning to compensate for the losses in hers. Over the last three years, all three of our elderly cats passed away. Since the cats we own tend to live to be eighteen or nineteen and we’re in our early seventies, looking for a new kitten or two at the local animal shelter struck us as a bad idea. What we had talked about doing was fostering older cats. Then Lea received her diagnosis. The decision to adopt Shadow when the time came was a no-brainer. A couple who’ve lost the last of their cats plus a cat who has lost both her humans equals the one bright spot in a sad situation. It’s win-win for Shadow and for us.
Some may remember the blog Lea wrote about adopting Shadow as a kitten. She’s five and a half years old now and weighs in at around twelve pounds.
Shadow spent most of the first twenty-four hours she was here alternating between hiding (behind the toilet, under the sofa, under the bed) and cautiously venturing forth to explore. She lived entirely on the second floor of Lea’s house, since Bob’s paints would have presented a danger to her if she’d been able to wander freely downstairs (not to mention what she might have done to some of his paintings!). As a result, it took her a while to figure out that it was okay to go up and down the stairs. The kitchen has been an entirely new experience for her. She still has doubts about the refrigerator and doesn’t much like the sound of the toaster popping.
Initially, we closed off a few rooms—my office, my husband’s office, and the so-called guestroom we use for drying clothes, storing boxes of books, and as a catchall for assorted junk. We also saved the screen porch experience until she’d had a chance to get used to the rest of the house. All in all, it’s just a question of giving her time to adapt. Lea’s house was on a quiet street. We live right on U.S. Rt. 2. Shadow heads for cover every time a big truck goes by. As a result, while our other cats always loved the screen porch, she doesn’t much care for it. She prefers sitting beside the screen door to the back deck, where trees block the view of the road and some of the traffic noise.
Every cat is different. Lea and I discussed some of Shadow’s little quirks a few months ago, so I was forewarned that she doesn’t like to be picked up or have her tail touched. She’s quite forceful in reminding us if we forget. She also has an aversion to having her claws clipped. I’m an old hand at clipping, but we’re waiting a while yet before giving this a try. That means the one thing we’re being forceful about is the no scratching the furniture rule. She clearly understands the word “no” but, like most cats, she’s constantly testing the boundaries.
All in all, the three of us are adapting. We’re making a few gradual changes from what she’s used to and she’s training us in the way she expects to be worshipped . . . I mean treated. Cats were, after all, once revered as gods. None of them have ever forgotten that.
With the June 2019 publication of Clause & Effect, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett will have had sixty books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.