Paws and Effect is a weekly advice column written by Thomas T. Bombadil and Belladonna Moonshadow Kelley — with some help from their mama, JaneA Kelley. We answer letters from readers about questions related to cat health, cat behavior, relationships between cats and humans or cats and other animal–basically, if it’s about cats, we’ll answer it. We’re not veterinarians, nor do we claim to be. But we all cherish the relationship cats have with their people and we want to help make that relationship a good one for all parties. We’ve been writing Paws and Effect since 2003, and we intend to keep writing Paws and Effect for many years to come!
So, who are we?
Thomas T. Bombadil
Most Puissant Rat Slayer
I adopted Mama on March 17, 2004. I was 3 years old at the time and had just gone through a series of fairly traumatic events. I was feeling quite poorly and not even sure if I wanted to stay in my body anymore, when Mama came along and visited me at the shelter where I was living. For some reason she fell in love with me, even though I was so sick and sad and covered with snot, and as soon as I got well enough to find a forever home, Mama and Sinéad and Siouxsie welcomed me into their lives. I earned the title Most Puissant Rat Slayer when I was living on the family farm with Mama, and I singlehandedly got rid of all the vermin in the barn!
I adopted Mama on January 6, 2013. She’d met me a week earlier at HART of Maine, a very special no-kill cat shelter where she volunteers. I was there because I got diabetes and the people who I’d adopted before didn’t think they could manage caring for a super-sweet kitty like me. Fortunately, HART has a room full of super-sweet kitties and they took me in. Mama fell in love with me the minute our eyes met (of course), and the rest is history. Oh, by the way, I don’t have to take insulin anymore! Mama feeds me and the rest of the gang raw food and high-protein/low-carb grain-free canned food and my pancreas is working just fine now! (She still tests my blood sugar once in a while — ouch! — just to make sure I’m still in remission.)
Mama heard about me from some neighbors who found me wandering around the streets with nowhere to go. I don’t know exactly how I got there, but I’m so glad I was found by people who love cats and wanted to help me. They took me to the vet and made sure I was healthy and scanned me for a microchip to see if they could locate owner information, but I wasn’t microchipped. It just so happens that Mama’s neighbors were friends with Mama’s best friend, and so one cold November night, Mama came over to meet me. It was love at first sight! I just climbed into her lap and started rubbing her face and making biscuits all over her. Mama knew I was a sweet cat, but she wasn’t sure at first about bringing me home. I’m glad she did, though! Here’s a little bit about my story disguised as advice on what to do if a cat shows up on your doorstep.
JaneA Kelley (a.k.a. Mama)
Webmaster and Chief Cat Slave
Mama says she never would have imagined 20 years ago that she’d be helping us to write a wildly successful cat advice column. But cats work in mysterious ways, especially when we’re trying to help a person find their way in the world. When we first adopted Mama, we knew she loved to write, and we knew she loves cats — but it wasn’t until 2003, when she got laid off from her job, that we finally were able to convince her that what she really wants to do is help us share our wisdom with the world. We’ve learned a lot about training people over these years, too. We’re lucky that Mama is very compliant and intelligent enough to be easily trained, although there are times when we have to correct her … for her own good, of course. If there was one thing we wish we could train out of her, it’s this thing she has about putting us in carriers and taking us for rides.
My sister Sinéad and I adopted Mama on June 16, 1996. We were still very small, only 6 weeks old, and we really weren’t able to eat solid food yet. But way back then, Mama didn’t know she should have waited until we were at least 8 weeks old before she took us home. Besides, we were impatient, too: we knew we had a lot of work to do with Mama in order to prepare her for her crucially important role as our secretary. Sinéad and I had 10 happy years together, and we worked really hard to help Mama learn as much as she possibly could about cats. We were very proud of her when she started writing Paws and Effect and sharing our wisdom!
I made my way into the spirit world with the help of a wise and compassionate veterinarian on April 25, 2015, after almost 19 amazing years with Mama and our ever-changing roster of cats.
Bobette Jellylorum Kelley
Small in Body; Larger Than Life in Soul
My kittens and I were saved from a high-kill shelter in Georgia, and Mama met me thanks to her good friend and fellow cat blogger Robin Olson, who also runs a cat rescue called Kitten Associates. After Dahlia died, she asked me to adopt Mama. She knew that Mama would be able to help me feel less scared and traumatized. She was so very patient with me, and within a few months, I was sitting with her on the couch, even when Thomas and Siouxsie were right nearby. I’d always had problems with one of my legs, and it hurt a lot, all the time (that’s part of the reason I was so scared and easily triggered into fight mode). Mama talked it over with the vet, and after lots of consultations with orthopedic specialists, they decided the best thing to do was to make that sore leg go away so I could enjoy a life without pain. Unfortunately, something went wrong — nobody can figure out exactly what — but after starting my recovery well, I got sicker and sicker, and even though they rushed me to the specialist hospital, I didn’t survive. I was only with my new family for six months, but I love them like crazy! I’m still watching over Mama, Siouxsie, Thomas, and that new little scamp, Bella, from the spirit world.
Dahlia P. Kittenface
I adopted Mama on Sept. 19, 2006. We found each other when the Shelter People brought me to a shop where people could see me without having to go all the way to the animal shelter — they figured that would help me find a home faster, and they were right! I was barely there two days before Mama showed up. It was love at first sight, and as soon as she picked me up I threw my paws around her neck and started purring as hard as I could. Well, of course I won her over, and it was only a couple of days later that I came home to meet my new family. I’m the author of the sure-to-be-a-bestseller memoir Dahlia Tells All, which I’ve magnanimously shared here on Paws and Effect.
I’ve joined Sinéad in watching my family from the spirit world. I got very sick last year, and it turned out that I had a very bad cancer with a very poor prognosis. Mama and the vet helped me over the Rainbow Bridge on April 13, 2012.
Siouxsie and I adopted Mama in June of 1996. From then until the moment of my physical death in 2006, I was Mama’s constant companion, keeping her warm on cold winter nights, sitting with her when she was sick, watching over her as she slept, and whispering my wisdom in the way only cats can. I let Mama ride with me in my dreams and I worked with her to teach her the art of animal communication. I’m grateful to have been half of the inspiration for Paws and Effect, and I still watch over my family from the spirit world.