Support Callie's Cathouse

Campaign Created by: Maria Fotopoulos

The funds from this campaign will be received by Maria Fotopoulos.

Goal: USD $7,500
Raised: USD $ 1,530

Callie’s Cat House

Will you partner with Callie to provide care for her new Oklahoma feline friends?

#GivingTuesday, #GivingTuesday2023, #GivingTwosday #GivingTwosday2023

Zero to 60 in x seconds is common car lingo, but this may apply to cats too!

Once one feline finds a friendly human, many more may soon appear! Maybe they have the cat version of radar – catdar. Or maybe it’s as simple as they smell food, pick up the scent of other cats and, of course, see that kitty looking out the window, a sign that they’re at a “cat friendly” home.

However they figure it out, you’ve been IDd as “CAT FRIENDLY.” This happened with our original cat family that grew to four when we lived in Los Angeles. And it happened in Oklahoma where we moved after our time in L.A.

What began as an effort to offer food and shelter during a cold winter for a few Oklahoma City cats turned into a Cat-A-Rama. While the number fluctuates (and isn’t 60, thank goodness!), it can top ten to 15. This excludes our four L.A. cats who relocated with us when we returned to Oklahoma. Among the four is Callie, a calico, for whom we're naming this project.

Between vaccines and other health care issues that arise – in addition to replacing cat collars & tags that come off and the daily needs of feeding and watering – more than ten cats does require financial wherewithal.

A friend and colleague suggested a fundraiser. After considering, it seemed like it might be a really great idea – cat aficionados and those who’d love to have a cat, but can’t (landlord rules, allergies, etc.), could enjoy our cats vicariously!

Immediate Need
A large expense in 2023 is with The Count a/k/a Count Catula. In late 2020 with approaching winter, The Count, a feral cat who had lived two years outside, ran into the house when the door was opened and didn’t go back outside for more than a year! Apparently, he felt he’d found “safe harbor” and did not want to spend another winter outside, or maybe he knew he wasn’t well and was looking for help.

Count has a few places he hangs out, including under a coffee table and under a chair. You may be detecting a theme. While he’s happy to be inside, he did not seek out the human touch until recent months. Thus, it has been difficult to plan a vet visit. He has shown signs of poor health, and getting to the vet became a priority. Once we got him to the vet this year, the diagnosis from our primary vet was stomatitis, the same as Alfie’s (see his story below).

A solution is to remove all or some teeth, which may sound drastic, but it worked for Alfie, who is now a thriving, happy kitty at proper weight. In addition to being an expensive procedure, it also means a four-hour round trip to a specialist in Tulsa, Oklahoma (we’re in Oklahoma City). That's not easy for cats who generally don't like to travel. Also, recovery may be long. That said, we’ll go with the diagnosis of the dental vet specialist.

So let’s introduce you to a few of the Oklahoma Cat Colony:

Popsicle is a ginger and white troublemaker who has been known to take a powder for 4 or 5 days, returning hungry, tired and usually with battle wounds. So we try to keep him in, but he does escape from time to time.

Alfie is a ginger tiger stripe and probably the older brother of Popsicle. He was a healthy, happy growing feral cat who liked to be petted, but had two traumatic experiences. He came back from one misadventure with a rubber band on his testicles, which had become infected. Alfie was treated at the vet, who removed his infected testicles.

Later, he and Popsicle were both exposed somewhere to something toxic which made them both quite ill. After being treated by the vet, Popsicle recovered after three days. However, Alfie remained puny, was put on an IV and was released after a week, only to have to return for more days at the cat hospital. Alfie ultimately recovered; however, later that summer he once again began to look puny and appeared to be losing weight (he was still an outdoor cat).

The vet ultimately determined he had stomatitis. After much deliberation and trying alternative treatments, Alfie had all of his teeth removed as the solution to the disease. While it took about nine months of extended medical management, he recovered, gained weight and is a happy boy who has no problem eating, even sans teeth! Given he has no teeth, we try to keep him inside to the extent possible – he does like to check out the outdoor scene still, but stays close to home.

Ms. Z is a torbie cat and sister to Popsicle (same litter). She is an incredibly sweet and affectionate gal who prefers to be outside. After her walkabout (see below), she’s been here daily for regular meals and sleeps in a cat condo in the garage during cold months. She seems very thin this summer – maybe the extreme heat – but she needs to get in to the vet soon for regular shots, so we’ll see if anything else is going on with the Z girl.

Tigger is a gray Tabby and brother to Sandy and B. Idol. When Tigger was young, he stayed at The OK Residence but then disappeared for several months. Then he reappeared and would be seen trotting down the street to grab a meal at The OK Residence. In recent months, he has become a regular living in some of the winter cat houses and dining once or twice a day. He is still fairly feral, but appears to be healthy.

, as his name might indicate, is a white cat. He has dined at The OK Residence over several years, with it originally believed that he was someone else’s cat. However, the last couple of years he has been seen sleeping in hay in The Residence garage during the winter. is feral, but enjoys being petted. has a habit of getting in trouble (maybe protecting his “territory”) and is too often with wounds. Recently, he was given antibiotics to assist in recovering from a really bad wound, and he healed, although he’s lost weight. He recently had another wound in the same area, so antibiotics may be required again.

Noir, as with , gets his name from his coloring. He is a feral black cat with a small white dot on his chest. Noir lived across the street from The OK Residence for a couple of years. Recently he began to eat at The OK Residence and hang out here. Approximately a year ago, Noir developed a significant limp. Recently, the limp has seemed to improve, but he still limps on occasion. As he’s not approachable, we haven’t been able to get him to the vet. (Trapping has it’s challenges, including trapping a non-target animal!)

The Count. You read some about him above. A little more about The Count ... He was in the same litter with Popsicle and arrived at the age of probably six weeks when his mother dropped him and all of his siblings off at her favorite feeding location. Then Ms. Z and Count went on a walkabout for about six months. They both returned, and he was an “outdoor cat” for two years. A cautious cat, as noted above, Count made a dash inside the house, and stayed! In 2023, he had an occurrence of bad drooling and bleeding, which led to a vet visit and the stomatitis diagnosis (see Alfie above).

Fancy Guy, B. Idol, Bear and Sandy were all regulars, but stopped appearing. We hope they were adopted.

The Patriarch, another sweet guy who went to Cat Heaven in 2022, succumbing to a lung fungus. We speculate that he was the father of most of the Oklahoma cats we’ve cared for. He was feral and started eating here a few years ago. The last two weeks of his life he became an indoor cat where he had a safe area to wander. He was taken to the vet, but after several tests and x-rays it was determined he likely had a fungal infection in his lungs which was probably terminal. He continued to eat and found he loved having his head rubbed towards the end of his life. John ordered medicine to treat the infection, but Patriarch moved on to a higher plane before the medicine arrived.

Since returning to Oklahoma, Maria noticed that people here seem more likely to let their cats roam, unlike where we lived in L.A. She recently counted at least seven cats who stop by irregularly for a meal (this is at the second of the two locations we’re between right now). Again, the Catdar is strong! While figuring out who is who, it seems most of the cats are pets, but there are a few who appear homeless.

Support Needs for 10+ Cats (est.) for One Year

Priority: The Count’s dental expense for teeth removal
$   2,500
Medical expense (medicine, microchipping, annual shots, wound care, other) 
$   1,500
Cat food, litter 
$   3,250
Catnip, supplements, collars, ID tags (collars & tags often come off and are lost)
$      250

Fundraising Goal

$   7,500

Cat care is, of course, daily and ongoing! But we do have long-term hopes for the animals’ housing situation. The need for a permanent, large, enclosed space for the cats hits home every day – when we see one of the cats stopping in the middle of crossing the street to do a bit of grooming or for a lie down (as we shout, “Get out of the street, Ms. Z!) or when a cat ends up in jail! The latter happened in October 2021 when John got a call from the animal control office that Popsicle had been trapped and turned into the office (yes, he’s chipped). So Popsicle had to be sprung from “cat jail.” But first things first!

Right now we want to focus on keeping the animals well cared for, including getting The Count’s needed medical treatment!

We do not have nonprofit 501(c)3 status currently, so your gift will not be tax deductible. But the plan ultimately would be to establish an ongoing nonprofit, so that the cats will have a home when we’re gone.

Your support will make a tremendous difference in making this happen! Thank you in advance for any level of support! That includes sharing this fundraising request with family, friends and colleagues. We, including all the cats, appreciate it!

Maria and John
29 June 2023

Visit Callie and the Cats on FB @CalliesCathouse

We also have a wildlife page – Animal Lives Matter –
on FB @BetheChangeforAnimals


Update #13 - The Count
November 28, 2023
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Here's a pic of The Count, who had most of his teeth removed this summer. He continues to have drooling problems. :(

John picked up a transdermal prednisone today for him. Hopefully that helps.

Otherwise, he's a good eater, is more engaged and now looks forward to daily pettting and brushing sessions.

His front paws are so cute. Looks like he has one white sock pulled up and one that's not!

Update #12
November 15, 2023
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One of the winter condos is out with fresh straw for the outdoor cats.

Update #11
November 9, 2023
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John is "building" a double-insulated winter condo for one of the outdoor cats. The straw-lined condo is going to be located in the garage. Here's a picture of one of the indoor cats, Popsicle, checking out the new accommodations.

Update #10
October 31, 2023
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Happy Halloween from pumpkin-loving cats!

Update #9 - Ginger Boy
October 5, 2023
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One of the outdoor feral cats. He'd run if you even looked at him. But he's warmed up a bit. He won't run away now if I look at him, and he seems to be "surveying the situation" to understand the "lay of the land." He looks super healthy, so I suspect this is not the only restaurant at which he dines!

Update #8 - The Count Visits the Vet for Follow-Up
September 13, 2023
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The Count continues to have "issues" ... lots of breathing sounds indicating something isn't right -- consistent snorting/snoring and some drooling. Count also started having bad breath.

John thought the drooling might be coming from inflammation in the back of his throat, with the drool providing a place for bacteria to grow.

John took the Count back to our Midwest City vet today, not the Tulsa vet who did Count's teeth removal. John has been reluctant to get Count in for a dental exam, because that requires anesthesia. With the breathing issues, there's concern of the risk of "putting him under."

While Count was hissing at the vet's office, it provided somewhat of a view into his mouth. So, the vet did get a bit of a look-see and said Count's mouth looked pretty good, but he could see blood in his mouth. John said it was a  fight between the vet and the Count, and the office Cat Whisperer had to hold Count for the vet to give him his shots. The vet was in agreement re: anesthesia concerns, so Count received an antibiotic and prednisone injection. We'll see how Count does with those -- hopefully improvement, and we'll go from there!

Update #7
September 9, 2023
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Introducing You to Callie of Callie’s Cathouse & Our Other Cats

Our cats (our pets), now refugees from Los Angeles – we call them the California refugees – are:

Emma, No. 1 girl. She is a black & white tuxedo. After caring for a feral momma cat who dropped two litters before Maria could get her trapped and spayed and kittens adopted, Emma arrived a few years later. Thus, she is No. 1 girl. We thought she was one of the kittens from feral momma returned all grown up. But, once we got her to the vet who checked her chip, we learned that she was a cat being fostered nearby (she’d escaped!). We officially adopted her, and she was our only cat for a few years.

A senior girl now, Emma has a thyroid condition, and it’s a daily challenge getting her pills in her! Another challenge is food. While she wants food, it takes four or five different kinds to figure out what she will actually eat at any given meal. And what she’ll eat is ever-changing!

Callie Kitten. Maria was headed to the laundry room about 10:30pm at the back of the nine-unit complex where we lived in L.A. when she thought she heard meowing. But no cat was to be seen. Since it was Halloween, Maria thought maybe it was a sound machine someone had out for spooky sounds of the season. But, being uncertain, she kept looking and realized the meowing was coming from under the hood of the next-door neighbor’s car.

After asking the neighbor to come out and open the hood of his car, the kitten was found, but getting her out was no easy task! Once we got her out, the poor thing was filthy! Maria found out later that earlier in the day the kitten had been in the grocery store parking lot next door in a similar predicament, involving a fire department failed rescue. If she fled from the parking lot directly to the engine of our neighbor’s car, who knows? And what happened to her Momma? How did they get separated? If only the cats could tell us their backstories!

Callie – the obvious name for a calico cat – got cleaned up and checked out at the vet the next day, and the rest is history! In her younger years, she liked to cuddle with Emma, who tolerated the cuddling for short periods. Nowadays, she likes to crawl under the bed covers and settle in an arm cradle. She’s our sweet Callieco! And she’s the eponymous Callie of Callie’s Cathouse, of course!

Lucy & DeLyon (sister & brother). Mary Catalano, the cat lady, who would hold adoptions on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, Calif., was looking for foster parents, and we fostered Lucy & DeLyon. Maria worked not to get attached, but John got attached, keeping Lucy close after she’d been spayed and was having a difficult night. Maria dutifully took the kittens to “show” on Montana on Sundays, and then they were adopted by a former Olympian. When John heard this, he told Maria, “Go get those cats.” Mary, not too happily, did retrieve the kids from the Olympian, and we adopted the gingers – Lucy is short haired, and Lyon is a long hair. Sometimes we joke that the Olympian wouldn’t have put up with Lucy, because she got heavy!

Photo is of Callie & Delyon, March 14, 2014. Since the post section only allows one photo per post, I'll share pictures of Emma and Lucy on the companion Facebook page,

Update #6 - The Count's Teeth in Pictures - WARNING: Graphic!!!
August 22, 2023
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Feline stomatitis causes chronic inflammation which affects the soft tissue of the mouth.

Here are pictures of The Count's severely inflamed mouth before having most of his teeth removed as a solution to the disease. Seriously inflamed!!! Poor boy.

We'll see what the next vet visit shows! Just hesitant to put Count Catula under anesthesia again.

Update #5 - The Count is on the Mend
August 3, 2023
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It's been a few weeks since The Count traveled to Tulsa for his visit with the dental vet where he had all of his teeth removed, except for in the front of his mouth. He's on the mend! Still eating very well. But still some snorting noises, maybe indicating he's still having drainage. Hoping that clears up. Here's a picture of the boy deep in a snooze earlier today.

Update #4 - Wayward Cat Popsicle Finds His Way Back Home
July 31, 2023
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Great news! The wayward cat Popsicle reappeared early Sunday morning!

Here's a pic of him from this evening.

Thanks for your supportive & encouraging words!

Here's John's recap of what happened early Sunday a.m.:

Woke up hearing some caterwauling about 4:00 a.m. Whitey, a semi-feral cat who spends a large amount of his time protecting the front porch, many times has caterwauled if a cat who is not part of the usual suspects comes up to the house.

I do not want Whitey to get into a fight, because I just got him healed from a bad neck bite so I got up. I was also hoping it might be Popsicle.

Opened the door and it was Whitey wailing, with Popsicle on a front porch chair laying there like "What is your problem?" I opened the door and said, "Get in here."

Popsicle hopped off of the chair and strutted in. Ate two cans of food and then some dry food. Headed off to his sleeping fort in a spare bedroom and has been sleeping there since.

Let's hope for no new crises this week!

Update #3 - Popsicle
July 28, 2023
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As one crisis subsides, another seems to always arise!

Popsicle got out 13 days ago and has not been seen by us since. This is the second longest time period that he's been gone; the longest was three weeks.

We're still hoping for the best. We expect to see him come trotting down the street, meowing all the way, with a tremendous appetite. He'll eat and then promptly plop down to sleep.

We've posted signs and shared information with various "lost pets" sites, as well as checked to see if he were in "jail" -- with animal control. He is microchipped.

This cat needs a prayer. We're not sure how many of his Nine Lives he's used! Thank you!

Update #2 - Count Catula
July 27, 2023
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Great news on Count Catula a/k/a The Count!

Quiet all the way, Count made the trip to Tulsa, Okla., to see the veterinary dentist. The Count’s mouth was a real mess with, in some cases, only the roots remaining of reabsorbed teeth, and in other cases he had holes straight through his teeth where the teeth were in the initial stages of being reabsorbed. The vet recommended removal of most of his teeth (20 out of 30 total teeth), but Count was able to keep his front teeth since there was no inflammation in the front of his mouth. Yeah!

All went well with the surgery. And since, he’s been a new cat! The Count really has been enjoying eating – a lot! He’s a big fan of rotisserie chicken. It’s like he’s a newborn – wants feeding every few hours including in the middle of the night. But we expect that to slow down. And he’s out of his routine of taking cover in his two preferred locations – under a chair and a coffee table. Count is now exploring all sorts of places he’s never hung out before since he is no longer in constant pain!

Count, unfortunately, still is experiencing what presumably is drool in the back of his mouth which drains into his throat since the back of his mouth was where the worst inflammation was. He continues to make wheezing sounds from the drool. Hopefully as time goes by the inflammation will totally disappear and along with it the drool and snorting.

But overall, great news on The Count! Based on the first days post-surgery, it seems like he will have a faster road to recovery than Alfie did when he had all of his teeth removed. Alfie required approximately nine months of extended medical management until his stomatits disappeared and he was able to eat without pain. Fingers crossed!

Dental cost totaled $2,600.

Thanks to the people who encouraged me before starting this outreach for the OK cats
July 25, 2023
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Special people may enter our lives for just a brief time and impact us for a lifetime. I met V.C. Bestor on a trip to Oregon, and we talked about our shared interest in protecting wildlife – I was working on a commentary about mountain lions while I was there. Veronica was keen on supporting women working to protect wildlife through her own work (Fanged Wilds and Women) and through groups such as The Black Mambas. We had a great time talking and visiting the Oregon coast with mutual friends, and I had my first acupuncture treatment, courtesy of Veronica. On my last day in Corvallis, she was very sweet to bike into town to say goodbye.

We continued talking, albeit remotely, and I continued to learn what a remarkable and interesting life she had lived. In addition to her work to support women & wildlife and her work in acupuncture, she was an engaging thinker & writer, author of the book, “Pax of Wildly Women,” and a world traveler, with a number of magical and mystical experiences. More recently, she was reading voraciously and fighting the good fight against the insanity that’s descended upon the land, as she also battled for her health. Veronica came to Christianity in recent years, which I think provided comfort in the fight for her life. She made a trip to Florida, seeking restorative benefits, and we talked of being able to meet in South Dakota at some point in the future – prairie dogs and open space to see! That trip will now have to be in the next life.

Last year, upon returning from Kansas City where I’d been helping my sister who also was battling for her health, I had a surprise letter and check from Veronica – a vote of confidence in me to continue writing about wildlife and women's work on their behalf. Veronica’s kindness, sweetness and generosity are a reminder of why we’re here: to help each other and take care of all living things.

Thank you, Veronica. RIP. May your memory be eternal.


Thank you to Joe Guzzardi for putting forth the idea of doing a fundraiser for the cats. Who knows? This may grow into a full-fledged cat sanctuary in time, thanks to your idea! Fingers crossed this goes well!


Special thanks to my friend and colleague, who prefers to remain anonymous, for her support and encouragement of Callie’s Cathouse, wildlife projects “in process” and dealing with the challenges of life.



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