In a world where we spend so much time planning ahead, it's the completely unexpected moments that make the most profound differences. I will never know why Barkley, the most friendly, affectionate and seemingly perfectly healthy cat, just a few weeks after turning 7 years old, passed away in his sleep at home. I was in Hawaii, a day after I said goodbye to him at home when I heard the devastating news. A week later, I'm still shocked, and after spending my first day at home without him bouncing around, following me everywhere i go, and chasing Lolita, my 18 year old cat, I came up with an idea to honor his spirit. He was the definition of unconditional love and as magically as he entered my life, he exited it.
One August morning in 2012 I got a call to come downstairs when my friend found a tiny black kitten roaming the streets of LA. He brought him to me and I gave him food and water and he purred on me all the way to the vet and fell asleep in my lap in the vet's office. Since Lolita didn't have any shots at home, the vet advised me not to bring him inside so my mom graciously offered to keep him at her place until i found a home for him. Somehow I knew immediately that I would keep him, but i did call around to see if anyone wanted him. A few weeks went by and he was given his shots and cleared to come home with me, much to Lolita's disappointment when she met him. It took years for her to stop hissing at him, and only last year was he able to put his paw on her back without her getting mad. Although Lolita might not have enjoyed her time with him (and maybe she secretly did), I will always treasure my memories with him. He was truly special and instead of questitoning why he is gone so soon, I came up with the idea to raise money to support so many other kitttens like him who were born in the streets of LA and give them a chance to find a family to love them as much as i love Barkley.
A lot of you know about Ms. Emily Sparkles, the kittten I found on the verge of death on Sunset Blvd a few years ago. In another one of life's unexpected moments, a morning walk took an unexpected turn when I walked past her thinking it was a dead squirrel and something told me to go back and look and I found her almost lifeless body gasping for breath. When I picked her up and put her in my backpack to go to the vet, a stranger also pulled up who got his car to take her to the vet. Together, I got in his car and we went to the vet (the same place I took Barkley when I got him) who said if there's any possibility he could save her which was unlikely, it would cost thousands of dollars in surgeries and medical expenses. Robert, the stranger, who professed that he didn't even like cats that much, stood up and said he would cover all the expenses and try to save her. After a few days of intensive care, she made it through, her open wounds healed, and the most amazing person, Stephanie who worked with the vet, offered to take care of Emily at her home until she was well enough to get adopted. A few weeks later and Ms.Emily Sparkles was going to work with Stephanie at Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats. I came one day to visit her and fell in love with Kitty Bungalow. They are a non-profit who specialize in TNR (trap, neuter, release), and socialize kittens through their "charm school" curriculum until they are ready for graduation, aka, a forever home.
As a photographer, I offered to photograph their kittens for social media to help get them adopted, and have been going every few months since then, having now photographed over 100 kittens for them (that have all been adopted).
In honor of Barkley, I'm offering a free pet photography session (within LA county) for any donation over $300. No donation is too big or too small. Just $5 will cover a few cans of cat food, or larger amounts will go towards spaying, neutering and medical expenses to get them ready for adoption.
Check out the Kitty Bungalow's website here to get more info: https://www.kittybungalow.org or @kittybungalow