We Chat with the Author of "The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee"
Laurie Cinotto spends her days surrounded by tiny kittens. Based in Seattle, she runs a foster home that's repetitive-rhymingly titled the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, while her accompanying blog claims a cuteness overload when it comes to uber-adorable kittens-per-post.
To mark the release of Laurie's book The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: The Ultimate Guide To All Things Kittens, I spoke to her about deciding which parts of a kitten's life to blog about, the intricate dynamics of kitten wrestling, and exactly what an Itty Bitty Kitty Committee party would involve.
Warning: The following post contains highly squee-worthy pictures.
Catster: When did the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee begin?
Laurie Cinotto: It started about eight years ago. I'd been fostering kittens with a friend and we'd been sending photos out to our friends to try and help the kittens, and eventually everyone we knew had our babies. I knew I needed to try and expand and reach a larger audience, so I started the blog and it kinda just took off from there.
Did you consider any other names for the blog?
No, actually not at all -- Itty Bitty Kitty Committee just popped into my head and it stuck. People seem to respond to it.
Have you had many internal debates about what content and footage of the kittens to put on the blog? Not every part about a kitten's life is always cute.
It's kinda hard because you want to be able to share the full experience of fostering kittens. But I know that some of the followers do get really invested in the life of these kittens, so if something's going awry or there's a health issue, I'm always a little bit hesitant to show it. It's partly because I know that they care about these babies, but also because people visit the blog as a feel-good place. It's positive and uplifting.
I try to keep that in mind when posting, although it does reach a point where you can't hide things if something is going on. You want to share but you don't want to worry them. It can be hard to decide how to keep the stories honest without worrying people.
What's the most difficult part about socializing a kitten?
It's a slow process. The hard part is being patient. They don't know that they can trust you yet and it's hard waiting for that to happen -- although it's beautiful when that point does happen and you can physically see them trust you. You know it's in them, and it's so rewarding when it does happen.
I noticed on the blog right now that you have pictures of Effie and Hazel in a homemade wrestling ring. What makes for a great kitten wrestling match?
It's always great! It's funny because when they're wrestling they're learning appropriate behavior and appropriate play and their limitations, like how hard can they bite.
It's always entertaining and especially funny at the age they're at, because their body proportions are a little weird and their heads are kinda heavy for the size of their bodies, so it's really easy for them to tumble over! It's so funny just to watch them try to get back up -- it's so awkward and almost slow motion. It's one of the highlights of fostering, watching one of those little wrestling matches happen.
Out of all the kittens who have been members of the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, who is the ultimate wrestling champion?
I would have to say this kitten named Oliver Furman. We called him All-Over instead of just Oliver because he was all over the place. He was a little guy and he'd wrestle with his siblings, but he'd also go after Charlene, our permanent resident cat, and he was really great at ambushing his opponents. He'd sit still and then all of a sudden he'd put his arms around another kitten and try to take them down while they were washing themselves. He was a good kitten wrestler.
Do you ever want to just keep all of the kittens?
You know, I think it works really well the way we have it, especially as Charlene is really receptive to kittens. If we added to the permanent population it might not work so well. We did adopt another cat called Wylla -- she had some medical issues that took a while to sort out, and by the time she was adoptable we couldn't let her go. You have to know your role, and you have to let them go -- our job is to send them elsewhere -- but you do get your heart broken.
Have any celebrities adopted an Itty Bitty Kitty Committee kitten?
No, but it's funny when sometimes the kittens themselves become celebrities, and people get really excited about following them when families start blogs. So no celebrities yet, but who knows?
Is it hard to get people to realize that while the kittens are tiny and cute, they grow up to become full-sized cats and they are a big responsibility?
Yes, I think it's really easy to make a spontaneous decision and adopt a kitten because they are really irresistible. But you have to have the right schedule to adopt a kitten because they can be so demanding.
Sometimes when people get in touch and describe where they live and what their lifestyle is like, I'll suggest that maybe a kitten isn't right and an older cat might be a better solution. It's always important the cat ends up in the right place for their personality -- if it doesn't seem like a good fit we'll try and gently steer people towards another solution.
Finally, what would the ultimate Itty Bitty Kitty Committee party involve?
An endless supply of sparkle balls (which are every cat's favorite toy), lots of feather bombs, lots of things to climb and, of course, a kitten wrestling ring!
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About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.