Q Hi, Lara. Thanks for chatting with me today. As a townie, I already know a few things about the High Cliff Shelter for Cats. For our readers, can you tell us how it got started?
A Thanks, Chris. A few years ago, I drove up here from Boston to visit my Aunt Fran. I hadn’t seen her in almost sixteen years, but a longtime pal here in Whisker Jog got in touch to let me know that my aunt wasn’t faring well. Debilitating arthritis in both knees, and a house full of mostly rescue cats she couldn’t turn away. It sounded like she needed help, and fast.
Q What were you doing before that?
A By profession I’m a watercolor artist. I’d been living in a studio apartment above a Boston bakery, struggling to make ends meet.
Q So, how did a quaint Folk Victorian home like your aunt’s morph into a thriving cat shelter? What was the trigger?
A Aunt Fran realized that her home was large enough to shelter as many as a dozen or so cats…if we had enough help and sufficient funds. No way could she do it alone. Once Aunt Fran and I decided to make the shelter a reality, I was thrilled to move back to Whisker Jog and share the title of “cat lady” with her! By setting up the shelter as a non-profit, the adoption fees and donations we receive help pay for the cats’ top-notch care. By the way, Aunt Fran has since had surgery on both knees and is doing terrific! And she’s totally okay with my telling you all this.
Q I’ve heard some folks say your shelter is a model for others to aspire to. Do you agree?
A Well, that’s great to hear. We’re small, but we’ve placed a lot of cats in loving homes. Each of our rescue cats has access to the entire house—this is their home as much as it is ours. Some magical feline matches have been made in our shelter. We’re very proud of our record.
Q I understand you’re doing something special this summer—adding a reading room where kids can read to cats?
A Yes, exactly. The children who come here to read to cats gain so much from the experience. A child can read aloud to a cat without fear of anyone judging; and a cat, especially one who’s normally shy, learns the joy of bonding with a human by listening to a calm, soothing voice. It’s been one of our most successful endeavors. Adding the reading room will allow us to expand the program and attract more people looking to adopt.
Q Skipping over cats for a moment, I understand you’ve been instrumental in solving a few…murders. There are rumors, in fact, that otherworldly forces affected the outcome of your encounters. Can you comment on that?
A Chris, people like to speculate on all sorts of things. Here’s how I see it. Because I’m so in tune with cats, I think I’ve developed an extra sense that kicks in when I’m in trouble. But it was the police who solved the murders and arrested the guilty parties. If I played a role in nabbing a killer or two, then I’m happy I could help.
Q I think you’re being modest, Lara, but thank you for your time. For those of you interested in adopting a cat, look no further than the High Cliff Shelter for Cats in Whisker Jog!
Purr-suing a killer . . .
The only thing that could make the High Cliff Shelter for Cats even cozier is a reading room where kids can snuggle up with a furry feline and a book. But as Lara and Aunt Fran prepare for the reading nook’s official opening, the health inspector in their New Hampshire town, Evonda Fray, decrees that the shelter qualifies as a “cat café,” thanks to the free snacks it serves to visitors—and that it must be shut down.
When Evonda’s body is found in her car clutching a copy of the cease-and-desist order, suspicion naturally falls on Lara and Aunt Fran. But there’s a whole litter of potential culprits, including a tenant in one of Evonda’s buildings who’d been ordered to give up his rescue cat, a disgruntled daughter-in-law, and more. Now Lara—with some help from her aunt and her spirit cat, Blue—has to pin the tail on the right suspect . . .