There’s a Cat Hair in My Mask: How Cats Helped Me through Unprecedented Times – Excerpts and Photographs

This is the second instalment of photos that accompany the memoir. I hope you are enjoying these snippets of the book and the pictures that go along with them.

(If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.)

Cats are the best medicine.

Chapter 5. Everything Closed; Everything Canceled

I still wasn’t feeling well. My symptoms were all over the place…  I was so obsessed with my own problems that I didn’t mind when planned events began to cancel—I doubted I could have made them anyway. But after a while in that forced isolation, even I began to feel it. It started with missing things I really enjoyed, such as the Pet Pals for Cats meetings at the Oregon Humane Society where I’d been volunteering since 2006.


Chapter 6. Enter the Fosters

When the Humane Society closed their doors to the volunteers that took on so much of the work, they created a dilemma for themselves—who was going to care for all the animals? Their basic needs would still be met by the staff—food, medication, cleaning—but OHS strove to do so much more for their wards. On any given day pre-COVID, volunteers would be spending uncounted hours making sure each one had the best shelter experience possible. In the cattery, that had been my job: playing with cats.

Play is one way cats relieve frustration and overcome stress and fear. Without such daily action, cats can become depressed, a condition that manifests physically in behaviors such as aggression, timidity, and even catatonia. They quit eating and drinking. They may even give up the will to live.

A call was put out to the shelter’s foster parent brigade to please help. As a grateful foster volunteer, I immediately answered the call…

Chapter 7. 7:00

There were heroes among us, not in capes or uniforms, but in scrubs and masks—the medical staff that was taking care of the most vulnerable. Someone decided we should thank them. We couldn’t do it in person, of course, but it could still be done.

Every evening at 7:00 pm, people all over the country stopped what they were doing and went out on their front porches with pots and pans and drums and horns to honor those on the “front lines.” For a minute or two, they banged and yelped and shouted and cheered, a cacophony of noise. Then they went back inside to isolate for another twenty-four hours.

At Riverview Cemetery

Chapter 8. Keeping Busy

As an introvert used to spending my days in solitude, I wasn’t as much affected by the pandemic stay-at-home order as some others were. I went about my business of writing and cats with much unchanged. For me, the cancellations were a mixed blessing—I would miss the things I took pleasure in, but those other ones, the have-to-dos, not so much. And now I finally had a good excuse for not seeing anyone.

Not that I was a total hermit. When my sisters-in-law organized a trip to the beautiful Riverview Cemetery where both Jim’s and my families were buried, I agreed to go along. We were masked and outside in an environment where it was easy to stay six feet apart. The only sounds were birdsong, the chirp of squirrels, and the whoosh of the huge wings of the eagles who nested in a tall fir tree above the graves. Though it may seem like a strange place for a family stroll, it was perfect.

Easter Eggs

Chapter 9. Easter Eggs

It was Easter, but no one was having parties. Children, already bored and flustered by being taken out of school and forbidden to play with their friends, were destined to have their Easter egg hunts alone. Jim and I have no children in our house anymore, but I still felt sad, remembering those times when kids ran through the spring grass and flowers to discover chocolate and painted Easter eggs on that day.

I’d been sitting with Lydia in the foster room when I heard an idea on the radio that was catching hold throughout the community. People were putting pictures of painted eggs up in their windows for kids to count on a neighborhood walk. I thought to myself, How fun!

Chapter 10. Facing Down the Dragon

All my life I’ve struggled with anxiety. I vividly recall how, even as a child, bouts of obscure terror that seemed to have no basis in reality would come over me at nighttime like a shroud, making my safe little world ugly and frightening. Ghosts would have been easier to bear. Zombies, werewolves, vampires—anything would have been better than that squeezing, choking dragon of fear.

My parents didn’t get it. Being “scared of the dark” was common for small children, and they passed it off as normal. I think my grandmother, in whose house we lived, understood a bit better, or maybe she was just more sympathetic to my very obvious distress. She would let me crawl into her big bed and sleep with her when the dragon got too much for me.

There was a cat then as well. His name was Two…


More Illustrated Posts coming soon! To purchase the book, (without pictures) click here.


About Mollie Hunt

Loves cats. Writes books.
This entry was posted in Life Through Amber, memoir and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Brian says:

    Thank goodness for cats otherwise Covid would have been even more of a nightmare.

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