Content notes: Partner loss, animal euthanasia
In my novel Fill the Empty Spaces (releasing October 12), the main character, Del Nethercott, starts volunteering at a cat cafe as part of his journey to heal his grief over the loss of his long-term partner. While I’ve heavily fictionalized the setting and humans involved in the story’s cat cafe, the cats are real. Slightly fictionalized, but real.
In my nonwriting life, I volunteer at a cat cafe near me. The real-life cafe is called Kitty Cat Cafe and Adoption Center, and it is a nonprofit organization that provides a home, care, and cuddles for cats who are the wards of two local rescue organizations. Most cats are available for adoption, though some are permanent residents of the cafe due to health concerns. Some of the cats named in the book (Ice, Lord Purrington, Piper, and Choco Chip–who in real life is named Chips Ahoy, but I changed it to avoid trademark infringement) have been adopted since I wrote the book.
One cat, though, tried to take over the entire story. In the fictional version, Del adopts Charlie, who he calls Charlie the Sweater Cat. Charlie is a senior cat with health issues, and in the story, he’s stabilized enough to be adopted. Since Del approves of Charlie’s disgruntled old man demeanor, he chooses to bring Charlie home.
In real life, sadly, Charlie the Sweater Cat was never adopted. Due to multiple health concerns, he remained at Kitty Cat Cafe on hospice care. He received plenty of pets, scritches, and treats while making it known that he was, in fact, the king of the cafe. On July 3, the veterinarian determined that Charlie was in too much pain and his health had deteriorated past the point of being treatable, and Charlie crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
I’ve kept the owner of the cafe informed about Fill the Empty Spaces. I’ll be including an author’s note about the cafe and the cats, and I will be donating a portion of royalties to Kitty Cat Cafe. The owner has given me permission to use one of my photos of Charlie on the book’s cover, and I wanted to share Charlie’s picture here as well. If you want to help support Kitty Cat Cafe and Adoption Center (or visit if you’re in or near northeastern Massachusetts), please visit their website.
And here’s Charlie: