Author shares her kitten's real-life adventures in children's book
Monica Stout's cat, Miranda, isn't shy about demanding attention – or a little love.
"She is very loud; she talks all of the time," said Stout, a 2004 graduate of Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena. "She's so loving, and she plays all of the time."
No one would ever suspect that Miranda was a feral kitten when she and Stout met in 2007, Stout said.
She and her parents found Miranda and her littermates in some bushes by their home, and after learning the local animal shelter couldn't help them, tamed them themselves.
The kittens all have homes now, and Miranda is a permanent member of the Stout family.
"She was the runt," said Stout, 24, a graphic designer who lives in Seabrook. "She just stole our hearts."
Stout recently wrote about her adventures in an illustrated children's book, Mandy's Heart (Halcyon Press Ltd,, $15.25), which she also illustrated. The title character is based on Miranda.
The book, published last summer, is available on Stout's website, www.curiositydesigns.net, at www.secondchancepets.org and at Amazon.
Stout is donating 100 percent of the proceeds to Second Chance Pets, the League City-based rescue group that showed her and her family how to tame the kittens and later found them homes.
"I don't really need the money, but they do," she said.
Stout was completing her master's degree in digital media studies at University of Houston-Clear Lake when she and parents, Laurel and John Stout, discovered Miranda and her four siblings.
The kittens were about 5 weeks old.
"They looked hungry and miserable," Stout said.
The family later found their mother, too.
The Stouts' first reaction was to call rescue groups and animal control departments. They were told the animal shelters didn't have the resources to tame feral cats. If the Stouts brought the kittens in, they would immediately be euthanized.
"I was just devastated," Stout said.
The Stouts were referred to Second Chance Pets by organization volunteer Betsy Verbsky, an animal control officer for Taylor Lake Village.
Organization volunteers provided a cage for the kittens and guidelines for taming them.
The family primarily worked with Verbsky and Susan Stevenson, who also is affiliated with the Feral Cat Assistance Program.
"To tame them, we kind of left them alone," Stout said. "We gave them a couple of days to watch us. We let them see we were taking care of them."
From there, the family implemented what Stout calls "mandatory cuddle time." She and her parents wrapped kittens individually in towels and held them, despite the kittens' protests, every day.
"Within two or three weeks they were purring," Stout said. "They were happy to see us."
Though Miranda's littermates found new families during Petco adoption sessions, their mom was too old to tame.
She was spayed with help from the Feral Cat Assistance program and given a home at a horse barn where other feral cats live.
In addition to her human family members, Miranda lives with ragdoll cat named Rini (Rae in the book), who Stout brought home from a breeder within a day or two of finding Miranda's litter.
Stout developed the idea for the book while contemplating a capstone project for her graduate degree at UH-Clear Lake.
"I planned to do a children's book. Then I thought this book could have a whole lot of impact.
"It just really felt right to create this book and have this lasting legacy," said Stout, who completed her degree program in earlier this year.
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