Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Rescue Meez: My Journey Through Siamese Rescue by Siri Zwemke

Disclosure: We received a paperback copy of Rescue Meez by Siri Zwemke for free in exchange for an honest review. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat only shares information we believe would be of interest to our readers. The content is ours - neither Siamese Cat Rescue nor Siri Zwemke are responsible for the contents of this post.


Book summary of Rescue Meez: My Journey Through Siamese Rescue by Siri Zwemke.

From the back of the book: "A true story of the many mistakes made, both humorous and sad, as we began and grew a cat rescue organization. Over 20 years we covered 15 states and saved over 12,000 cats. Focusing on Siamese (known as Meezers) but touching the hearts of all animal lovers, laugh and cry with us as we catch flying ferals, diaper our soulmates, and swim with cats."

In Siri Zwemke's own words: "A personal memoir detailing who I am and how I inadvertently landed in the field of Animal Rescue via my love for Siamese cats. Having no ‘official’ rescue or non-profit experience, join me as I put together ‘Team Meezer’, a group of volunteers who came together to help rescue over 12,000 cats. Covering the Eastern third of the U.S., we learned as we grew, making lots of mistakes in the process. Join us as we share those mistakes, some funny, some sad. See how we grew from a “Crazy Cat Lady” with way too many cats into a successful non-profit animal rescue. We shed blood, tears, and yes, even clothes as we deal with sad, loving, and angry cats. We rescue cats from drawers, rifles, bathtubs and hoarders. We find soulmates, both furry and human. We laugh at ourselves as we take a look at some of our misadventures over the years. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will learn something!"





Why you should read Rescue Meez by Siri Zwemke.

I had a long list of doubts (see below) about this book. Have you ever massively underestimated a book? Most of the time, I expect too much from books - and I end up disappointed. Luckily, I was absolutely and completely wrong about the reservations (see below as the doubts are less about the book and more about my expectations, so I put them last) I had when I agreed to review Rescue Meez. I've never been more wrong about a book. I started reading - dreading when the book became boring. I read, and kept reading, and read some more. Before I knew it, I was within five pages of the end and not only was I NOT bored, I was sad to see the book end. WHAT?!?! No more stories about Siamese cats?!?

When you look at Rescue Meez, you think it's about Siamese cats and rescuing them - very much a niche. But in reading it, you find it's about finding one's purpose in life, persevering and overcoming obstacles, cat welfare, and the resilience of both humans and cats. There is something for everyone and the true story is told with humor, reverence, appreciation, humility, and grace. My absolute favorite part of the book was the stories about individual cats. But as indicated above, this book is about so much more than cats. You don't really need a reason to read this book ... it's THAT good - but if you have doubts similar to mine and think that you couldn't possibly relate to the story, I dare you to claim that you can't relate to any of these themes weaved throughout the story: 

Your path through life isn't a straight line and you aren't afraid to laugh at yourself. 

So many people stumble in trying to find his or her right path through and purpose for one's life. There's a certain restlessness of knowing you haven't found your place in life yet. Sometimes, you know exactly what you want to do - other times, you find that your chosen path isn't what it's cracked up to be. Everyone around you seems to have it all figured out. Some of us switch careers. We all want to feel we have a purpose - a path - a reason for living. Following Siri's journey through passions was like a page from my own book of restlessness. Siri found her way through Asian Studies, working as a legal secretary, founding a catering company, tutoring handicapped adults, waitressing, and working with the deaf and hard of hearing. Siri openly admits that she focused on fields where she could give what she never got. I can relate. I felt I slipped through the cracks of parental neglect - so I wanted to be a psychologist to stop other teenagers from falling through the cracks and struggling as I did. I'm embarrassed how many college majors I had (psychology was just the first) - and how completely opposite they were from each other. I just never found what felt right - until I started accounting. 

And like with me and blogging, and Siri and Siamese Cat Rescue, sometimes you just fall into a new vocation without particularly meaning to.  Not only did Siri fall into rescue in the search for a new soulmate cat, but she also fell into Siamese rescue when her mother was distraught over her cat Dinny not coming home for a few days

There's one thing I can't avoid: most of us say that if we ever have a million dollars - or if we ever win the lottery - we will save as many cats as we can. But this book details how Siri saved cats without any promise of making a living or having the money; she is the definition of courage and she didn't wait for life to shine on her to put her money where her mouth is. So many of us meander through life - with the luckiest of us finding meaning in loving animals and the transformative power of that kind of love. 


As I read along, I understood and knew the life lessons Siri shares - both of us having learned them the hard way. What I loved more than anything is her light-hearted approach. Sometimes when a person expresses regret, it tends to weigh down those who hear it - but I laughed with Siri as she related many of the mistakes and struggles she describes. Most significantly, I really liked Siri's quote, "You can end up with a lot of good, even if you started out with a lot of bad." My childhood and early adulthood were devastating. Yet out of that ruin, I've found so much good; my brother and I are extremely close given our childhood, I'm strong and I've survived far longer than most, and my tears translated into learning how to laugh. I say this a lot: just because you know how to laugh doesn't mean you don't know how to cry - and my tears built a sense of humor to get me through the toughest times. For me, the root of my humor was tears and situations that were often absurd and completely out of my control. This book will be of interest to you ESPECIALLY if you find ways to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. One of the best parts of the book is how she isn't scared to laugh at herself - which our readers know is my way of dealing with ... err ... unfortunate circumstances due to questionable decisions and situations completely out of my control. 

You've looked to others to rescue you. 

Siri describes how, as a child, she felt she was left to her own devices. As in my statement about slipping through the cracks of parental neglect, I can relate. My parents were there ... but not there. And after years of feeling emotionally alone, I did everything to make sure my younger brother could never understand that desolation and loneliness. Siri outright admits to looking to others to save her from her reality. This hits close to home. I grew up with a mother who wanted to be rescued and in the midst of my eating disorder, I fell into the same trap. The truth is that others can lead, help, encourage - but in the end, you have to let them and do the work to rescue yourself. I've been very open about how Bear rescued me. However, I had to be ready. I had to be open. And I had to do the hard thing when I had a choice to step toward recovery or away from it. This myth of others saving us is just an excuse to not try - to not do whatever hardship we face. And I came to this conclusion based on the years of my own experiences waiting to be rescued without putting in the sweat and determination to see it through. Siri not only learned how to rescue herself - but even more admirably - she rescued 12,000 cats in the process. 

You recognize the wisdom of experience, and you use that wisdom not to alter the past, but to be sure you don't make the same mistake twice. 

The book explains in depth how Siri and her organization learned and became stronger with each miscue. One of the reasons I began advocating for cats is because I've learned by experience what NOT to do with them. Since one can't go back and get a do-over - the situation can at least not be in vain by sharing one's mistakes and educating others. Before Kitty had her dental issues, I didn't know I had to worry about that - and the delay in treatment almost cost her her life. Similarly, my parents chose to have Kitty partially declawed and I saw the ugliness of the decision and swore I would never put a cat through that again. By reading about Siri's mistakes, they aren't fixed, but her honesty prevents others from making the same mistakes.

You've grieved over a soulmate cat, and wondered how you'll go on without the cat. 

Siri is honest that the search for another soulmate cat, after she lost her cat Beeky (who she got in her teenage years), led her toward the collection of Siamese - and what eventually became a Siamese rescue organization. Soulmate cats have a way of being larger than life - and imprinting themselves on humans far more than the cats' habits and favorite spots. I can't imagine my life without Bear Cat - and I don't want to. But I also know he won't always be here and most cats will not compare to him no matter how badly I want them to.



You love cats or cat stories. 

So many of the included stories address love, the unexpected, and the desire to do the best for the involved cats. Many of the cat stories teach readers a lot about cat behavior and why cats do what they do. You'll also read about the resilience of the feline spirit when we humans take the time to listen to what they're saying. I learned how owner-surrendered-cats become stressed and the effects on them while waiting in a shelter. Some the most memorable stories?

  • Squirrel. Before the Siamese Cat Rescue Center was built, Siri kept the Siamese cats in her care separated and isolated throughout her house (master bedroom, daughter's room, etc). Her husband Kevin insisted that she not place any cats in his downstairs office. After being notified that a cat, Squirrel, was surrendered by her owner and on the list for euthanasia, Siri came to her rescue. But where could she put her? All the other rooms were taken. Knowing her husband wouldn't be home until Friday, she decided his office would be the perfect place for Squirrel. To her credit, Siri did do her best to make sure there weren't any accidents in Kevin's office that couldn't be explained. But after coming home one day, she couldn't find Squirrel anywhere! She searched the room extensively, even taking the room apart, looking for a cat that was likely terrified. Where was Squirrel? After pulling Kevin's desk away from the wall, Siri found a three-inch slit in the back of the desk leading to a locked drawer where Kevin kept his important papers. Sure enough! There was Squirrel, hunkered down for her life in a locked drawer only four inches high!  When Kevin came home a couple days later, he found the drawer crow-barred open and the important papers ruined from the poor scared cat. Squirrel was okay though - but I imagine that wasn't of much comfort to Kevin.
  • Tiki. Siri got a call about a Siamese that appeared abandoned and badly hurt. He was clearly in much distress and pain - after being neglected for too long - and the Rescue's vet wasn't sure what they could do. When Siri tried everything and poor Tiki just wasn't showing much interest in fighting for his life, she lovingly gave him a bath. His eyes started to show signs of life with her careful ministrations; Tiki relaxed in the water and even started to purr. By the time he was dried, he was the face of handsomeness and contentedness. The guy, with a new lease on life, went over to his food and ate with much gusto. Caring for Tiki's need for love was just what he needed. This story means so much to me because I know cats are capable of far more emotionally than most of us give them credit for - and this story is the perfect example of that. Rescue isn't just about the physical needs of cats - but emotional needs as well.
  • Jasmine. Jasmine came to Siri as a product of a severe hoarding situation. She listed to the side and often fell over - but the vet couldn't find any explanation physically. As Jasmine got worse over time, Siri finally made the decision to let her be at peace. But Jasmine had other ideas. For whatever reason, on the day she was to be released from her earthly woes, she showed signs of life and happiness - and showed Siri her happiest and proudest cat. This story is another triumph of taking care of a cat's emotional needs - and Jasmine happily was adopted by Siri for the next eleven years.
  • PowPow. Knowing that prospective adopters with loud and energetic children were often overwhelming for cats, Siri was concerned when one such family came to visit the center. The ten-year-old son was autistic and favored loud noises and much activity. While the other cats at the Center ran for cover, one cat, PowPow, came over and befriended the child. She'd been surrendered for not getting along with others - but she was not intimidated by the sound or activity - she seemed to thrive on it. As the child's activity waned, she rubbed up against him and inserted herself on his lap. No one could explain the match - but the child and PowPow were truly a match made in heaven. I love this story because sometimes, no matter how much you know or how advanced your process - things have a way of working out on their own.

 

You are a new owner or considering adopting a cat and you're not sure where to start. 

To understand the commitment of adopting a cat and what kind of preparation is required, I suggest you read and thoroughly consider the factors mentioned in the "To rehome or not, that is the question," chapter. Because cats being surrendered is usually due to unforeseen circumstances or circumstances that might be preventable - this book and the stories in it prepare the cat lover with what's required for you and your cat to be happy.

You want to know more about rescue organizations - maybe even start one. 

In reading this book, I found a supreme appreciation and respect for those people who do the hard work of rescue. One of the parts I liked most in the book is not only describing the human aspects of rescue - but also what cats go through in being surrendered, adjusting to a shelter and waiting to be adopted. In the book, Siri says that for every ten cats they adopted out, one would end up back in the organization. And she quickly learned that what goes in should come out (if you try to save every cat - no matter their adoptability - you'll end up with a ton of cats that you can't adopt out - and no room for new cats). Siri also talks extensively about rehoming and the effect on a cat when an owner surrenders them. Siri includes a paragraph on what a waste of energy it is to judge people on how people treat, abandon, or rehome their cats - and why that energy should be focused on helping the cat affected. The quote I will forever keep in mind? "We've yet to have a cat that wasn't happier in a home where they were loved and adored than in the previous home where they were barely tolerated, or even worse, disliked." She shares quite a bit about building Siamese Rescue's vast network of interviewers, adopters, transporters, honed matchmaking skills, structure and support, and the improvements they made in the process with each adoption. Despite that vast network, sometimes the cats had minds of their own and matched themselves to humans with no room for debate or argument. Jasmine and PowPow are two such cats. One of the issues Siri struggles with is whether rescue is only about the cats - or humans too. In the end, rescue is about both and she shares how she managed to handle both aspects. Siamese Cat Rescue Center is a 501c3 organization per the IRS and Siri briefly touches upon that process as well. 

You love semi-colons. 

Siri loves semi-colons. I love semi-colons. I didn't notice an abundance of semi-colons - but the "about the author" page mentioned how much she loves them and how one of the editors tried to save readers from the "pernicious punctuation." WHAT?!? Pernicious?! Semi-colons? As I learned in college - better semi-colons than a bunch of really short choppy sentences (Spot is a dog. Spot runs. Spot has a spot. The kids love Spot. OR A dog named Spot has a spot and loves to run; the kids love him too.) Okay. So maybe that's not a whole lot better. But semi-colon on without fear, Siri!

Just because. 

The book is entertaining and engaging. I had little interest in the topic - but I loved the book and was sad to see it end. I have no idea how Siri did it - took a topic that might be boring and supremely heartbreaking - and made the book so relatable, entertaining, and a joy to read. I can't remember the last book I could say that about: especially NOT my accounting textbooks!

The only complaint I can come up (and this is truly picky) with is that the book would make more sense if there was a section with all the Siamese terms explained (seal point, chocolate point, wedgie, etc). These terms were all new to me and I had problems visualizing the cats because I didn't have this basic knowledge. Siri explained some of the terms (wedgie for example) - but not others. I try to picture the cats as I read so I struggled a little bit. Siri did share Siamese traits - comparative to other Siamese - and comparative to cats in general. I would've guessed appearance doesn't have an effect on personality - but Siri very specifically shares traits similar to the various kinds of Siamese cats. For me, this is all fascinating!




My [unfounded] reservations about Rescue Meez.

For me, underestimating Rescue Meez is a huge part of this story, so I'm going to share my process in doubting the book. If you find yourself thinking much like I did in terms of doubts about the book, I'm rather confident that you will be as surprised as I was. After eagerly agreeing to do a review for a book I wanted to read, I was asked if I would do a review of a Siamese Cat Rescue book. Umm ... okay. I was clear that I know very little about Siamese cats - and even less about rescue. I figured no one else wanted to review it - so I agreed, hoping to every kitty god that I could get through it.

What do I know about Siamese? I know Si and Am from Lady and the Tramp! While as a kid, I hated that Lady got in trouble and was kicked outside; as an adult, Si and Am fascinate me. At one point, I had the Siamese Cat song stuck in my head for months. My Mom used to sing it when I was younger and she had a special way of emphasizing the "Ba-dum-pa-pa." While not exactly the most politically correct Disney characters (rumors have floated around about the seemingly similar facial characteristics of the cats and Chinese people), they are my favorite.

What else do I know? Hmm ... I cat sat for a Siamese cat once. He was so friendly and talkative, it was like living with another person! That experience led me to believe that perhaps Bear Cat has some Siamese blood in him. His face is more angular, he's long and lean, he struts instead of waddles, he's always been super friendly to me, and he used to talk quite a bit (now with Ellie and The Boy here, he doesn't talk as much). I made the mistake of mentioning this at a couple vet visits - I could HEAR the eyes rolling. Okay. Bear's NOT Siamese (though, really, how cool would that be?).

Rescue Meez finally came in the mail - the day I dreaded was upon me! So what did I do? I put it on my bedside table and quickly forgot about it. The author, Siri Zwenke, asked in a group I'm a member of for marketing ideas. I read a chapter and let her know my ideas. Then, even though I'd LOVED the first chapter and really gotten into the book, I put the book back down on my side table and forgot about it - for months. I wasn't particularly interested in the topic and figured the book wouldn't be of interest to me. I am not proud of myself. I'm just trying to communicate how low [and unfair] my expectations were for this book. Do not make the same mistake I did and cast this book aside thinking Rescue Meez will not interest you. 





Interested in Rescue Meez, Siri Zwemke or Siamese Cat Rescue?

Find Siamese Cat Rescue on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SiameseCatRescue.
Find Siri on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SiriZwemkeAuthor.
Follow Siri on Instagram: @Siri_Zwemke_Author.
Siamese Rescue website: https://www.siameserescue.org.
Siamese Cat Rescue Center webcams: https://www.siameserescue.org/webcam.html.

Rescue Meez is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.


© 2019 Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat - Published by K. Kern. 
All text, pictures, images, and other content are original and copyright by Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat [K. Kern]. No part of my post may be used without my written permission. If you see this post posted on a site that isn't Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat, please contact mommakatandherbearcat@gmail.com. 

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36 comments:

  1. What a wonderful and thorough review of Rescue Meez. This is for sure one book that you can JUDGE by the Cover.
    Hugs Cecilia

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  2. That sounds really good! Hmmmm, is that the same Siri that lives in my phone?

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  3. thanx for the honest review! it's nice to read reviews that are spoken in truth by the "reviewer"; insert my own semi colon there because to often a book or a movie etc. etc. etc get the 5 star rating from all the relatives neighbor and friends of the author. might have to check this out !! ☺☺♥♥

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  4. My friend, this is one of the most amazing and thorough book reviews I have ever read! I will be grabbing a copy of this book asap! Did you know that in 2006 after my last tuxie Sashi passed away, I decided my next cat would be either a tortie or a Siamese. Obviously I went tortie - Mudpie is my third - but I still love those Meezers and will surely have one some day.

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    1. I get it! Before Ellie, I was sure my next cat would be a tortie ... but then you fall in love and all that <3 Thank you!

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  5. AMARULA: Bear! you are well-read as well as handsome! I swoon even more than normal before you!
    THE HUMAN: Loved the honesty about your reservations-as a fan of Siamese cats I will read this book!

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    1. Yay! We're so glad!
      Swoon?! Me?! REALLY!?!? I thought my charms were broken because they don't work on Smellie. Maybe SHE'S broken! ~Bear Cat

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  6. I will be oozy and overly enthusiastic re: you, again. I will tell you straight from the core of my honesty that this is THE best book review in ever and ever. I will most likely buy it. You are one heckuva writer. No body does it better.

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    1. From my heart ... THANK YOU! That means everything to me. Especially because I'm so uncomfortable writing these types of posts and I'm HORRIBLE about judging my own work!

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  7. As a blogger, I find book reviews the toughest thing to do. You did an amazing job with this, and I now feel less bad for how long it's taken me to get some of my reviews up. LOL. Kidding. I imagine pet rescue is a very tough thing to do. I would relate to this on your "your path through life isn't a straight line... (along with "you love cats and cat stories"). I've been all over the place in my life (and oddly, like you, landed in accounting (bookkeeping)!), so I get what a struggle it can be to find our place. Even now, I question whether I've really found it! I imagine Siri is thrilled with this review - great job!!

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    1. Thank you! It means a lot to me to get positive feedback. I'm so uncomfortable with book reviews and I think that's one of the reasons I put it off. Oh, and I don't want to let anyone down with a useless review: my readers or the author.

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  8. You know how much I love meezies! I am flying through the book right now. I don't want to put it down to sleep, MOL. I'm glad you gave it a chance and enjoyed it. :)

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    1. Me too! Now I know better than to quickly dismiss a book!

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  9. What a 'furbulous' book review. If only I weren't allergic, I'd be open to being rescued by a kitty.

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    1. Sam might never forgive you! A sister doggie is one thing ... speaking of sister doggie, I can't even imagine what the Ninja's reaction would be!

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  10. Glad you enjoyed the book. Mommy had a meezer and luvved him dearly. Lucky Lucciano was his name. Anyways, great review. Big hugs

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Raena

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  11. You did a wonderpurr review of this book. Reviewing is hard. We know from experience how needed and important it is to get a review, especially a good review. Some of our books have never been reviewed, which hurts cuz it takes so long to write. So the author of Rescue Meez has got to be dancing with joy over what you've written. Pawsome job!

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    1. We're always available! But book reviews are tough and my lack of confidence doesn't help!

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  12. Great review! I just added it to my Goodreads list.

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  13. Thanks for a lovely and caring review. All too often this style of book disappoints; I am so glad this one is different and captivating as more good reviews will let it shine and spread its message.
    Purrs
    ERin

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    1. We agree. It's a true talent to take a story that can be heartbreaking and maybe even a little boring and make it into something that people actually enjoy to read. I'm so glad I did! And Siri's personality is so much like my own in terms of humor.

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  14. Fantastic review! This is a must read for us with meezers.

    Jean

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    1. That is true! I was thinking about Tyebe, Shoks and Kali as I read the book.

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  15. What a great review! I'd never heard of this book and will have to check it out. Harley definitely seems to have some Siamese in him (also as confirmed by Basepaws). So he's urging me to get the book!

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  16. That sounds like a very good book. Thanks for sharing your review alongside your initial reservations about reading it and the similarities you share with the author. Mom says she grew up with two Siamese pussycats and she adored each one of them. The oldest one was always chatty and tell all about his adventures, likes and dislikes each day. My Auntie also owned a Siamese kitty named Willow; he is missed very much by the family (Mom and I like to use semi-colons, too!) in our writing.

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    1. Chatty? Have you heard Yellie when she gets going? ~Bear Cat

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  17. Excellent review!

    This sounds like a book my mum would love to read :)

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