THESE FUCKING CATS: a newsletter retrospective

Friday, February 3rd, 2023: These Fucking Cats (Inaugural Missive)

Greetings pals, 

As I might have told some of you, I live in a neighborhood in L.A. with a particularly high feral cat population. There’s that expression, “breeding like rabbits,” but I believe we should collectively update it to “breeding like cats.” As, apparently, with each litter female cats increase the number of kittens they produce exponentially, which is, indeed, an efficient method for increasing your species’ predominance in any geographic region. 

It was during the pandemic that I was alerted to this phenomenon, when one of the neighborhood starlets had FOUR kittens for her first litter and then quickly followed it up with TEN MORE (for a total of FOURTEEN kittens in ONE year). As the responsible pet-concerned citizen that I am, I stepped up by trapping, neutering, and releasing (cat lady shorthand: TNR) her and all of her menfolk. 

Said cat, whom I christened Olive, but she doesn’t care, now lives on my patio with her two boyfriends, Pico and Panther, who also don’t care. After ignoring me for about six months solid for the TNR offense, they ultimately returned so that I can cater to their every whim while they look on with indifference. I feed them an  involved, thoughtful menu – even more involved than what I provide for my indoor princess cat. I have provided an outdoor cat house for their shelter, and they have assumed my outdoor rug and patio set is for lounging. Indeed, if I dare approach the patio to lounge and enjoy a sunny afternoon myself, they give me the side eye and/or run away alarmed and offended. This is most definitely a one-way relationship. The most affection all of my efforts have gleaned is when, during the very brief window between greeting and setting the food dishes down, sometimes I am allowed to give Olive one or two quick pats on her side — if I’m lucky. 

So I was naturally beside myself with distress when, a few weeks ago, they completely disappeared. Just, BOOM. Gone. Fuck you, lady. We’re out. 

I fretted they might have been attacked by coyotes, raccoons, neighborhood dogs, plowed down by cars, or murdered by angry anti-cat neighbors. (NextDoor assures me there are plenty of those, so cat murder at the hands of fed up neighbors was not outside the realm of possibility.) Every morning and evening, I anxiously looked out the window to see if they might just be late, or taking their meals on a new schedule which they had failed to let me in on. It’s my job, after all, to adapt to them. 

Alas, nothing. I worked on letting go. 

“Fuck those cats. It’s too many chores anyway,” I consoled myself. I carried on my pathetic life without having masters to serve (except, of course, my indoor princess cat). 

And then, early one morning, they heard me in the kitchen, living my life on my own terms, and each one appeared: One through the bushes, one over the fence, and another from along the alley. They collected on the patio, blinking at the back door, as if we had never missed a beat. Thusly, I have returned to my routine of putting the food outside at 8am and 5pm daily, punctually refreshing the water bowl that they basically ignore, and pathetically cleaning up the dishes that they occasionally knock over the railing after eating, for no reason other than to be bruisers. 

In other news, it’s Bandcamp Friday today, February 3rd and I have new music! Bandcamp Friday is the holy Friday of every month when Bandcamp supports artists by giving us the full loot from any purchases or donations on our pages. You can either take a chance and preorder the whole album, which I’ll be releasing song by song, or just enjoy each song like individual hors d’oevres as they come out. 


Until next time. I’ll be cleaning up after these fucking cats. 

Hugs, 
Kela

Friday, March 3rd, 2023: The Cats Are Back

Greetings,

As you may recall, Los Angeles took part in a giant winter blizzard type situation this past week — wait, was that a blizzard? What’s a blizzard? No one in Southern California knows. All I know is it snowed in West Los Angeles the other day, and last weekend, snowflakes were detected, and apparently exhaustively recorded and catalogued for posterity, on the Hollywood sign.

But most important, how it impacted me was:

1) I was cranky because it was really fucking cold and wet all week, and,

2) my patio cats disappeared.

If you’ve read my emails before, you know that this tends to happen. Despite my endless provisions of meals and treats, and my supportive greetings of encouragement when they show up for meals, and regardless of how regular of a routine I seem to think we’ve gotten into, my three patio cats sometimes just decide to walk, without notice or explanation.

MIA. Screw you, lady. 

Now, when it’s sunny and pleasant out, and they disappear, you just figure, “Well, they’re just somewhere living their best lives.” But when it’s a catastrophic once-in-a-century weather event, you go, “Shit. What happened to the cats?”

Desperate thoughts begin to course through your mind. Can cats survive living outside in “atmospheric rivers” without shelter?? Did another neighbor somehow corral them into a garage where they are sheltering and being fed, and that’s why I’m not seeing them? I even had a dream that one of them appeared at the edge of the property wearing a pair of red fuzzy dice around her neck, whatever that means. 

So, again, just like last time they disappeared, all week, I waited and looked out the window apprehensively. But, just as the old reliable saying goes, once I stopped watching the proverbial kettle, the cats came back.

Wait, that was like two sayings in one. But that’s what happened. I stopped worrying about it and they reappeared, tonight in fact. All of sudden there they are, expecting food at dinnertime, as if it was any other day. (I have to admit, it was too dark on the patio to snap a pic so the one above is actually one from earlier last year, which I selected from the thousands of pictures I have of these fucking cats in my phone. But I guess, you’ve seen one picture of three cats lounging on a patio acting like they own the place, you’ve seen ’em all.) 

So I continue to live my pathetic little life, hoping that in the morning I will be considered worthy to serve, and I can give them breakfast. 

I have some new music-related stuff I’ll be dispatching next week, but in the meantime, I just thought you might be as happy as I am to know that the cats came back.

Hugs, 
Kela

May 5th, 2023: These Fucking Cats, Episode II

Let’s just cut to the chase.

I know you all have waited with baited breath for the latest updates on the feline goings-on in my universe. Fear not, darlings: I gotchu. 

Well, as mentioned last time, I recently coupled up and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it could only be with a fellow cat-worshipper. So, we decided to shack up (“living in sin” as my dad calls it), and thusly, our two cats have been roped into a new living arrangement. 

It bears mentioning that our cats, pictured separately above — as that is their preference — are both female, adult cats. This is, according to the internet and to anyone who has ever met cats, not the best recipe to start with when blending cat families.

But in addition to that biological hurdle, our cats are each accustomed to being 1) the only child, 2) the precious princess baby, and 3) again, to reiterate, the only child. So, by moving in together we’ve ruined #1 and #3 for them, though we’re doing our best to approximate fulfilling our ongoing parental role of #2, continuing to make them feel like precious princess babies — even while there is ample evidence of someone else’s precious princess baby in their immediate proximity. 

So, for now, one of them sits next to the records and the other one gets the amps, as depicted above. 

In the meantime, I’m clucking along with my record production process, and time is elastic and a busted up tire and sometimes cute, so, the record will just be done when it so pleases, man!!!

Oh! And an update on the tiny desk-desk that I used in my video for the tiny desk contest a few months ago: It is no longer for sale because we realized it makes a great tool cupboard in the mudroom. So, unless you know someone with several thousand dollars who wants to turn some musicians’ lives around (for which we’d be willing to rework our mudroom setup), my tiny desk is no longer for sale.

But you can still enjoy the video! Besides, you get to watch me wearing a sax-like strap for my nylon string guitar (which is a highly precarious and uncomfortable setup, I might add, but it’s also the only fucking way to get a nylon string guitar to stay somewhat stable while playing!) 

What more could you want? More cats? Well, I’ve got those, too! 

Stay tuned, 
Kela

Friday, August 25th, 2023: Kittens and Hurricanes, Oh My

Greetings. 

If you’ve read any of my newsletters in the past, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that we now have a mother cat and seven kittens currently residing in the bathroom. According to concerned onlookers, this signals an “intervention-level” quantity of cats in the apartment. Yet my boyfriend and cohabitant is a serious cat person unto himself, and he’s okay with it (we covered this in depth on our first date, as this was dealbreaker information for both of us). That’s what the healthiest of relationships do, after all: protect each other’s crazy. 

As with every summer since the pandemic, all of my plans for my life have been overtaken by neighborhood feral cats having kittens. Initially the plan was just to capture a group of 4 strays who I had befriended over the summer (read: provided with regular food). Two weeks ago I successfully trapped a group of 4 strays who we had befriended over the summer, despite potentially betraying their trust forever.


The boys were neutered and released (“TNR’d” in cat lady shorthand), but the big victory was trapping a pregnant mama cat. We did NOT want her staying outside, giving birth, and going and getting pregnant right away again, which is often how the story goes. 

After coordinating with the nonprofit I volunteer with, we settled her into a kennel on my patio, and this new arrangement also seemed to help us realize her proper name: Milkshake. (Fox insisted that her tail has a red tint and that her name should thus be something related to that, like, a Neapolitan ice cream, the strawberry color. I said, “I think someone had a big strawberry milkshake from In ‘n Out last night,” and then we both said: MILKSHAKE!!!)

Her previous names just hadn’t fit, and we realized in one bolt of lightning that they had all just been placeholders. Indulgently, we even imagined that she seemed more “relaxed” around us now that we had christened her with the right name. But of course, the most important thing is that she gave birth last Thursday, in the safety of her kennel. (Fox and I got to witness it and hovered nearby, excitedly cheering her on, as if she was winning at a video game as each kitten came out — until we realized we should probably give her some space). 

All was well and good with mama and babies until…..a hurricane warning? In Los Angeles? The forecast looked like, best case scenario, very heavy rain. Which was confusing for L.A. in August, but, more importantly: What would we do with the mom and kittens?? She’s feral, after all, so it wasn’t simply a matter of picking her up and putting her in a cat carrier to move her to a different spot.  

Saturday afternoon, on the eve of Hurricane Hilary, I devoted my best efforts to securing the kennel with tarps, plastic bags, an additional hard plastic kennel, prayers, and charms of protection. Nonetheless, when I got up on Sunday morning, the entire set up was flooded — except, luckily, a small box and towel in which the kittens were snuggled, still mostly dry. Mama was understandably in distress, as was I. 

Thus commenced a harried spectacle during a heavy downpour, on an early morning, pre-coffee. After trying unsuccessfully to lure Milkshake into a smaller carrier with her kittens in it (she just looked at me like, “Yeah, right”), I tried to figure out how else to get them into something I could move inside. This brainstorming had to happen while water gushed off of tarps and I tried to avoid stepping in cat litter that had turned to wet cement in the litter box. Neighbors might have heard or seen a completely drenched woman swearing profusely. With some difficulty due to everything being soaking, I was able to install bolts onto the portable kennel, which had the box with the kittens in it, but for the life of me I could not figure out how to get the clasps on the door to catch. I felt like a an everyday citizen in a movie thrown into the tumult of a sudden life or death situation: IF I CAN’T GET THIS CLASP TO WORK, THE BUS IS GONNA CRASH. And I felt like a superhero finally getting the bolts on. In the rain, which makes them all slippery, no less.

Time (and stamina) running out, I somehow managed to lift the larger enclosure up and over the smaller one, because the doorway was too small to pull the kennel through the enclosure’s doorway — a difficult task for anyone at any time of day but a Herculean effort for a non-morning person, pre-coffee). Then, because I hadn’t ultimately been able to get those door clasps on the kennel, I ferried the whole apparatus up the steps and inside, at an angle, while holding the door in place, praying the mom wouldn’t figure out the door wasn’t secure, push it open, and jump ship, leaving her seven newborn babies in my charge.  

The good news is that everyone got to safety and survived (including me). And now we get to hear the kitten squeaks from the bathroom, which sound like little dog toys being stepped on. And, the “feral” mom, Milkshake, has turned out to be a total sweetheart, charming us to the point where we’re considering adding her to the household permanently.

No surprise there, eh? 

Music is also happening. More on that next time

Meows, 

Kela 

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023: Cute Overload

Missing kitten located in Band-Aid box

Hello friends and subscribers!


What you wanted: updates about my latest projects, performances, etc. 


What you’re getting: cat photos. 


As I’ve previously overshared, we currently have EIGHT CATS LIVING IN OUR BATHROOM. That is, by any measure, too many cats. (Unless you only count the seven kittens as “one” whole cat, but every day their teeth and claws get sharper and they become that much harder to keep track of, so it definitely feels like 8 entirely separate, full-on beings. And it requires an in-depth, global bathroom cleaning every other day or so, instead of the usual….like once a month (maybe?). Despite this whole fostering situation being rather exhausting (and expensive!) there are of course ridiculously cute shenanigans happening all the time. 


For example, last night, after playtime was over I had six out of seven kittens accounted for and tucked away in the kennel. Usually, at that point, the seventh missing one comes stumbling out of whatever impossible spot they got stuck in and everyone’s accounted for and settled. But this time, I only heard a faint rustling. I looked up, down, everywhere: no kitten number 7. 


Until I finally saw a small Band-Aid box moving on the bottom self of the bathroom caddy. There she is in the pic above, being adorbsicles.


OMG CUTE OVERLOAD!!!! 


Anyway, somehow in the midst of all this cat chaos I have nonetheless been making exciting progress on projects. The first one will be rolling out soon and you will be the first to see it! 


In return for the much-in-demand cat pic above that I have just provided, will you do me a favor? 

Send me links (Spotify, Apple, Bandcamp, YouTube) to whatever music you’re listening to, especially singer-songwriters, or anyone in the folk/Americana/roots vein. The reason will be revealed in a later post!
 

Meows, 

Kela 

BONUS CONTENT: 1 month old kitten photo dump (and the mom, evidently very pleased with herself for having landed such a great pad for nursing her litter: free food, free maid service).

These Fucking Cats, Episode 3

Monday Monday at The Hotel Cafe, October 6th, 2023

Ah, memories….

There was a time when I had a sweet little backyard studio music  shed and I spent every minute I could out there working on music, whether composing, practicing, or teaching. When I needed to take a break and stretch and get my mind and body out of the music clouds and back down to earth for a few minutes, all I had to do was step outside my shed, kneel down and pick some weeds. 

These days, I find the only time I get back down to earth while working on music is when I have to shovel large quantities of cat shit. 

Of our unruly crew of 8 (EIGHT) foster cats, we did have one friend from the local music scene here in L.A. adopt one. But that’s just ONE. There are still SEVEN. And that means near-constant scooping of poops, constant carrying of horrible garbage out to the outdoor cans, and constant sweeping, mopping, sanitizing, and refreshing litter. 

So, yes, these days my life has another built-in mechanism for  “back down to earth.” 

In other news, I have some new stuff on the way soon that I’m excited to share with you.

In the meantime here’s a video of “Shoulda Known Better” from my spot at Monday Monday at Hotel Cafe last week. It’s a song about doing the same thing over and over and wondering why you didn’t learn the lesson last time….which, although the lyrics were more in the bad relationship/life lesson vein when I wrote it, it also feels especially appropriate these days as I have found myself again “accidentally” fostering cats from the local neighborhood, knowing full well how much of an ordeal it is, but doing it anyway. I shoulda known better! The other day I had to force myself to just look away when a new one showed up, looking cute and hungry. Just LOOK AWAY. NO MORE CATS.

Meows,

Kela 

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