WEST PITTSTON — “Here, kitty, kitty.”
Close your eyes and you can imagine cat lovers Michelle Demich, of West Pittston, and MaryJo Engleman, of Pittston, calling that phrase as they rescue cats from all sorts of peril.
But with a twist on spelling and meaning, the two friends, who run Rescue Warriors Cat Rescue, have posted a “Here, Kit-Tea, Kit-Tea,” message on their Facebook page, announcing a Victorian tea, set for 2 to 5 p.m. July 29 at the Mary Stegmaier Mansion in Wilkes-Barre.
The fundraiser promises to be elegant, with scones, “strawberry fields” salad, tea sandwiches and pastries served in a grand building — and therein lies a contrast. The cats and kittens of Rescue Warriors Cat Rescue have lived through circumstances not quite that splendid.
“Uber was found in the engine of an Uber car,” Demich said, explaining how one of the two kittens on her lap got its name. “The Kingston Fire Department spent two hours getting him out.”
“Gilligan was found drowning in a swimming pool,” Engleman said. “Somebody scooped him out with a fishing net.”
“Jules was found by a strip club and Chanel was found in a parking lot by the Wyoming Valley Mall,” Demich said, introducing two more of the kittens who will be old enough to be adopted in a few weeks.
“We have high standards,” Demich said, explaining the Rescue Warriors Cat Rescue wants to be sure its kittens and cats find ideal homes with people who will provide veterinary care, keep them indoors and, if they rent, have permission from the landlord to own a pet.
“We check them out,” Engleman said.
Rescue Warriors Cat Rescue is a small operation based in Demich’s home, where she also runs her hair salon, Hot Heads by Michelle.
“Some of my customers will ask to hold a cat,” Demich said, “and they’ll hold it all the while they’re getting their hair done.”
Demich and Engleman, plus a few other friends who foster cats, all spend a lot of time with the animals that are awaiting adoption.
“People always tell us our cats are very socialized,” Engleman said.
As the kittens played on the women’s laps on a recent weekday morning, one adult cat sat on the window sill; a second checked out some flowers; and a third inspected a reporter’s notebook. Another cat, Elsie, took up her favorite position on the back of a sofa.
“She’s the only survivor from a colony of cats that was poisoned with anti-freeze,” Demich said, explaining that as a kitten Elsie had ingested the poison through her mother’s milk.
Engleman had nursed the sick kitten back to health, giving her antibiotics every few hours.
Because so many bad things can happen to cats outdoors, the women insist people who adopt their cats keep them inside.
Demich and Engleman have been fond of felines for as long as they can remember, with Demich receiving a pet cat from an uncle when she was about 9 years old and Engleman picking up a stray when she was 3.
“I have a photo of me on a tricycle, pedaling home my first rescue,” Engleman said.
Not all of the Rescue Warriors cats are up for adoption; some they want to keep. That group includes Kiera, a sleek, black cat who lives at Demich’s house. “My husband said she’s our baby. We can’t give her away.”
If you want to help Rescue Warriors Cat Rescue with its ongoing needs for food, litter and veterinary care, the program can be reached at Rescue Warriors Cat Rescue, 539 Luzerne Ave., West Pittston 18643 or [email protected] You can see photos of cats ready to be adopted on the rescue’s Facebook page, thanks to the efforts of tech-savvy volunteer Mary Kovalcin.
To attend the tea at the Mary Stegmaier Mansion, call 570-332-4250. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. July 29, and the tea will begin at 2 p.m. Admission to the fundraiser is $39.50.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.