Helper Cats

I have always been a cat person, since before getting our first cat at age 5. Her name was Abby, which conveniently rhymed with tabby, the exact sort of cat she was. I wrote many bad poems about her as a youth. Abby was later joined by Creeper (a polydactyl cat), Aggie, Annie, and Allie.

Zoom and Zapper

Shortly after college, I adopted two kittens from the Good Mews Animal Foundation, an excellent no-kill, cage-free shelter in Marietta GA that I’ve been volunteering with since 1997. Zoom and Zapper have been my constant companions for 15 years, through my single years, which I considered prep time for my future as a spinster cat lady. Little did I know that just over a year later I would meet the man that would become my husband. He kissed Zoom and Zapper before he kissed me; that’s how I knew he was a keeper.

In earlier episodes of the podcast, you will hear Zapper meowing and purring into the microphone as she liked to perch on my chest when I talked to you all. It was with great sadness that we learned in January of 2012, at age 15, that she had developed a malignant carcinoma below her left ear. Zapper lived another nine months after her diagnosis, eventually passing away in September 2012. I believe she lasted that long because she simply did not want to leave me.

In July 2012, Zoom was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma in her jaw, a much more aggressive cancer.  Her tumor developed rapidly, and she died three months after her diagnosis, just two weeks after Zapper in September 2012.


Fred is a rescued stray dog that joined our family shortly after Zoom’s death. Unfortunately because of the time he spent as a stray outside, Fred was infected with heartworms and was successfully finished his treatment in 2013.  When asked what sort of dog Fred is, I tell people he is a Brown Dog. When questioned further, I tell them he is a Quilt Terrier because he loves to burrow under quilts and snuggle.

He is also a fan of kitties, Begging Strips, and a stuffed duck toy that honks.

Jett, Morelli, and Nina

These three kittens were adopted by us in September 2012 from Good Mews. Morelli is quite a fan of stepping on the keyboard while I’m trying to record, and all the cats like to “helper” me with cutting, sewing, and quilting.

You can read more about each cat in birthday letters I wrote the when they turned one year old, and keep up with them in the Helper Cat set in Flickr.

9 Replies to “Helper Cats”

  1. I was wondering how many animals were involved. I have two dogs and one helper 11 mo old big high jumping kitten. They see me headed for the craft room and they get too excited

  2. Oh no! I just started listening to your podcast from the beginning and thought “yeay kitties!” so why oh why did I come read this page to hear that the two in the current podcasts I’m listening to are no longer with you ): Hope the new helper kitties are settling in to their roles.

    1. Hi Jessica- When I got your comment about listening from the beginning, I almost emailed you to let you know what happened with Zoom & Zapper. They had a long happy life, and I still miss them. The kittens are doing well, and holding up the Helper Cat legacy!

  3. Good for you to have great helpers. Mine like to push every thing to the floor. I recently lost 2 of my kitties in February 2013, heart attack on one, congestive heart failure for the other. I had no idea that cats could get squamous cell carcinoma , my daughter had surgery in Feb 2013 for the same cancer, so far 4 months cancer free.

  4. I think this might be the first time I’ve been on your page from a computer, Pam! I had never gotten to read about the Helper Cats before. Since I haven’t yet gone back and listened from the beginning, I had no idea how young these kittens are. So sorry to hear about Zoom and Zapper. They were well loved, I know. I had one too that was with me through all my college years and single days. We lost him two days before having our son. It was strange when I looked back and realized that cat had been with me nearly half my life at the time. They are so special. I do so enjoy hearing about what all your Helpers are into, and now I need to go way back and hear about the others’ antics as well 🙂

  5. I’m the same as you Jessica, I’m listening from the beginning, and had half in mind that the wonderful hello meow from Zapper and the tales of her and Zoom given their ages and health might not be the current situation. But I’m going to keep listening, and enjoy their company, am up to episode 48 and Pam I love your stories, your humourous take on life’s situations and I know that all the animals that come into you and your family’s lives are loved, cared for, and truly blessed. ……now about the quilting, where do you find the time to work and get soooo much quilting done? I work full time, so have part of weekends and am struggling to finish placemats and table runners at the moment, let alone whip out a quilt a week 🙂

  6. I recently found your podcast and have been listening to them from the beginning. I just love hearing the helpers in the early podcasts. Sad that they are gone, but I look forward to meeting the new ones. I knew you were my kind of people the first time I heard Zapper’s happy purrs and you kept talking to her. I’ve been blessed with many rescue kitties over the years. I probably should say spoiled rescue kitties, all of whom show their approval of my quilts by shedding on any left on the work table.

  7. I was just wondering if you have heard of any groups making charity quilts for the policemen’s families from all these violent shootings?
    I love your podcast and your tv show. You’re hilarious and so is Lynn. You two keep up the good work

    I do have one more question. How on earth do you find time to do all that you do in the quilty and small business world and still work a full time day job? I am trying to start a small business slowly but stay too exhausted from my full time nurse manager position of a home health company. I just don’t seem to have the time or energy. Any tips or suggestions?

  8. Awww, I love your helpers! We have five animals (three cats and two dogs) but only one helps me quilt. Mufasa likes to sit with me while I’m piecing, in case I need help with the machine.

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