Too Many Cats

I moved to a mountain village in Central California where a small group of good-hearted people were battling a desperate overpopulation of unwanted cats. We started a SPCA and for the next years my life was filled with cats, and writing crime fiction.

Fostering cats, raising money for cats, writing grants, starting a thrift store to support our spay/neuter clinics. And, of course, taking home unadoptable cats. At one point of madness I had twelve. Gradually they’ve winnowed down to two.

They crept into my crime fiction. There was always a cat or two in the margins of each chapter. With my latest book, The Most Dangerous Species, cats came to the fore.

Murder in a mountain village cat rescue sanctuary. The story is based on my own experience and visits to The Cat House on the King, a 12-acre property near Fresno, CA devoted to more than 600 cats. If you can imagine cats everywhere, above you in trees, draped over the mantle and the door sills, on the bookcase, twining around your feet, purring for attention.

Well, a crime story has to be set somewhere, doesn’t it? My protagonist’s love interests has to have some kind of backstory, doesn’t she? With 12 cats of her own and a job as a village patrol officer, she becomes the prickly ally of my protagonist.

To introduce some conflict, I gave him—the hotshot Bakersfield detective—a cat allergy. To kick off the story, the killer opens the gates and all 150 cats escape, complicating the murder investigation. I enjoyed fitting in the interstices of the story everything I knew about capturing large cat populations. No, the killer is not killed by a cat.

Here’s a link to a short video of a Day in the Life at the Cat House on the King:  Fascinating.

You might enjoy The Most Dangerous Species.  It’s definitely not a cozy.

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