A few months ago, I was taking my truck to a new mechanic on a very busy highway, Moffett Road, in my community of Semmes, Alabama. The third door on the truck had stopped working and I needed a radio. The mechanic had come highly recommended, and my friend Aleta was following behind me to give me a ride home after I dropped Big Red off. It was late–after seven in the evening–so I was prepared to shove the truck keys under the door of the business.
To my surprise, the door opened and the mechanic came out holding a tiny black kitten. He and his crew had saved a mother cat and she’d had a litter. This little baby was the last one left—the runt of the litter. We didn’t even discuss the matter. I gave him the truck keys and he gave me the kitten.
And so Karma went home with me.
I have 8 other cats, 11 dogs, and 2 horses. I surely didn’t need another cat, but somehow, Karma was not negotiable. She was meant to be my kitty. I accepted that the moment she looked at me with her blueish green eyes.
I run an animal rescue, Good Fortune Farm Refuge. Mostly I take care of the animals I couldn’t find homes for—and provide them the vet care and love that they weren’t given before they came here. Almost all of my critters have a tragic past story. Abuse, neglect, accidents—you name it. They are scarred and damaged, physically and sometimes emotionally. And I do the best for all of them that I can. I try to allow them to be as “natural” as possible while still keeping them safe.
It has been a really long time since I’ve had a kitten, since most of the cats I have were feral and I trapped them. Karma is well-socialized and has no fear of humans, dogs, or cats. She is fearless. She is a black sprite that bounces after the dogs and hurls herself at the grown cats. She plays with toys and knocks my pens to the floor for the dogs to chew. She waits until I fall asleep to lick the tender skin beneath my eye—and once I’m wide awake, she falls asleep on my lap or chest.
But no matter—Karma was my destiny. Here’s why.
Karma came to me after my decision to launch the Familiar Legacy book series. I’ve been blessed with black cats in my life. E.A. Poe was the inspiration for Familiar, the first black cat detective I wrote about. Poe was given to me by a friend who had caught him but was allergic to cats. He was magnificent. I wrote 17 books about Familiar, and when Poe passed away, I couldn’t bring myself to write about Familiar for a long time.
In February of 2016, I lost Coal Shaft Haines, a black cat who was found in my neighbor’s garage with his front leg caught in his collar. The leg had atrophied and it was a close call whether it would have to be removed or not. The neighbors didn’t want him, so I took him. Lynne Leonard, a local vet, helped me with a lot of acupuncture and physical therapy. Some of my college students came out to the farm and helped me to perform the 3 hours of therapy a day to try and save his leg. And save it we did. He regained full use of it.
Coal Shaft was smart, smart, smart (like all black cats) and he became the prototype for Pluto in the Sarah Booth Delaney books.
Cats, dogs, humans, horses—all of us—who have had severe trauma often have health consequences, and Coal Shaft developed diabetes. I can’t tell you how much I miss him. But while I had Poe and Coal Shaft as icons for my new black cat detective, Trouble, I needed a black cat in my life.
And while I have 8 other cats, none of them are solid black. So when Karma was put into my hand, I knew it was destiny. She is a total joy. She’ll grow up to be a bad cat. They all grow up to be bad cats. But what a loving creature she is right now. And fun! There is nothing like a kitten to lift one’s heart.
Black cats often have a very difficult life. People are foolishly superstitious about black cats and dogs. I’ve worked with a lab rescue before and thousands of black lab-type dogs are sent to the northeast from Southern shelters each year. Black cats and dogs are often the last to be adopted. And yet I have found them to be the most loving and so smart.
Life is an interesting journey. I’d never have said three weeks ago that I would take in another cat. I’m trying to draw the line before someone puts up a sign at my driveway that says Crazy Animal Person Lives Here. But I can’t deny that Karma was meant to be. She even named herself she’s so smart.
It’s kitten season now. There are lots of babies needing a good home. Adopt. I did. And the adventure has begun.
Carolyn Haines is the USA TODAY bestselling author of mysteries, ghost stories, and tales about black cat detectives. Find out more about her at www.carolynhaines.com and follow her on Facebook. Be on the lookout for the release of Familiar Trouble on July 10 with more cat tales and adventures following each month.