GivingTuesday 2015

It’s that time of year again…the hustle and bustle of repetitive shopping, eating, and visiting. Everywhere you look there are advertisements for any kind of sale you could imagine. Karma Cat + Zen Dog also got into the festive swing with two amazing fundraisers (Thirty-One Gifts and KEEP Collective) as well as a Cyber-Monday sale on t-shirts.

So, while we have a day for being thankful and another for getting great bargains, add a day dedicated to giving back.KCZD #GT LogoWhat is #GivingTuesday? It’s a day that charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students all around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

This is a global movement – everyone and anyone can make a huge impact on #GivingTuesday. All it takes is the desire to help. A great way to do this would be to donate to your favorite nonprofit: Karma Cat + Zen Dog.

Karma - the original

Each year Karma Cat + Zen Dog participates in and organizes many different fundraising and charity events. From raising money to help with housing and feeding to getting involved with donations from t-shirt purchases or just by buying your fur friend their favorite food.

When thinking about donations, the first thing that usually comes to mind is money. But donations can be made in the form of volunteering your time and efforts as well. A great example would be the Building Shelter Event back in October that involved college kids from the community coming to help with the TNR program.

#GivingTuesday is much more than just one day. By helping throughout the year, there is no limit to the difference you can make.

Bubbers’ other Momma

Pack 35 Cub Scouts Shoe Collection

As Development Director, I’m responsible for fundraising and community outreach for Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society. One of my passions is encouraging children to take an interest in pets and animal rescue. I believe we can change the world’s view of animal rescue through our children; it’s called humane education and it is a fun undertaking.12065758_10153650327495449_6976288151129627231_n

The basic idea behind humane education is to teach and encourage empathy in children towards both animals and people. I was lucky enough to combine both a fundraising event and community outreach event by working with the Cub Scouts of Pack 35 in Spotswood, NJ. The boys created posters to advertise our shoe drive fundraiser with their family and friends, and posted them on social media.Flyer4

I attended their Halloween carnival on October 30 to meet the boys and pick up the shoes. The boys were dressed in their holiday finest, so I had all manner of superheroes, commandos and characters dropping off shoes in our large donation boxes.

12195813_10153650327545449_9077460054037229155_nBy the end of the evening, the boxes overflowed with shoes! The boys rallied family, friends and neighbors to donate over 130 pairs of shoes to our fundraising event. That’s enough to feed one of our cuddly kitties healthy, high quality food for over a month! Toward the end of the meeting I had the opportunity to tell the boys what a success the collection was, that, in fact, the boys had been able to collect the largest amount of shoes in a single event!

As a thank you, I gave the boys each a copy of our own KCZD Activity book. I thoroughly enjoyed my night with the Cub Scouts, and I look forward to many more opportunities to change the world one youngster at a time!


The Lucky 7

Rescue can be difficult. There are days when we feel like we can never do enough. Days that make us cry for the animals we can’t save.

Last Thursday was one of those days. I went to a local shelter to “pull” a few cats. We had space in our adoption center and foster homes for a few more. This is what rescue groups often do – they take animals from municipal shelters. Why? Because our shelters are still broken/dysfunctional. Yes, there are some good ones but there are so many that are understaffed, overcrowded and lacking significant public outreach. Case in the point, the shelter I was at only had adoption hours from 1pm to 4pm … when most people are working. :(

I had selected the cats we were pulling before I walked in the door – based on need, age, our foster home abilities and length of time at the shelter. But I walked through the adoption area anyway looking at all the beautiful cats waiting for forever homes. Several cats not on my list caught my eye for various reasons.

Dawn – a 6 month old kitten destined to spend her kittenhood in a cage.



Zyfi (now named Kimberly) – an adult with a severe head tilt.


Kimberly (currently being treated for an inner ear infection)

and Layla – a four year old tabby who had a home but was surrendered to the shelter because “she wasn’t getting along”.

Layla at the shelter

Layla at the shelter

Layla broke my heart. Not because of her age or her brief story. But because when I looked into her eyes, I saw a cat that had given up hope. She didn’t even want to leave her cage – she had no interest in me or even the volunteer that she knew. Did she know that the shelter planned to euthanize her the next day? Cats are smart. Too smart.

Please understand, I’m not bashing this shelter. It’s a clean facility. The animals are cared for, fed, loved. It doesn’t smell and it is a welcoming environment. It’s just that almost no one knows to go there to seek out an adoptable animal. And they aren’t the only shelter in this predicament.

So, I had four carriers with me and I decided to stick to the plan … I left with the four cats I planned on taking: HectorWanda, Wilma and Cleveland. They knew they were picked – I couldn’t disappoint them.

And then I did something I don’t do very often. I cried my eyes out. I just could not get Layla out of my head. When I called our adoption director, she immediately made a plan to go get Layla. She called one of our fosters and asked her to make space. Then she called me back and told me to call the shelter to tell them we would pick up Layla in the morning. Plus two more cats.

Again, the tears.

Now, please don’t read this and think “well, what can I do to help with this huge issue? it’s insurmountable.” It is NOT – we can and we ARE making a difference. Shelters are changing. More animals are being adopted than being “purchased”.

And, Layla … Layla is doing so well in a foster home – she just needed to be out of the shelter. She was head-butting and purring with her foster mom 5 minutes after arriving in her temporary home.

Layla represents everything rescue is supposed to be. No animal deserves to die because a shelter has decided they are “out of time” to find a new home. Private rescues can work with shelters to provide that extra safety net for animals that need more time. But both groups need the public. We need you.

We need volunteers to socialize, clean and foster the animals. We need donors to provide the funds that keep everyone fed and cared for medically. We need adopters to visit the shelters and our adoption hours (you know you want to take a day off of work!). We need outspoken people to make the stories of these municipal shelters heard so that conditions (length of stay, foster care programs, adoption hours) change.

I often fall back on what is becoming an old saying from Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Never is it more true for the animals that need us. You don’t have to do everything, but you can do something. Thank you for helping us do something good.


National Feral Cat Day – Guest Blog

A regular volunteer’s wife is allergic to cats but she still has a passion for saving them! Michelle G shares some thoughts on feral cats and what you can do to help:

I can remember in the house I grew up in, my room was in the front and on the end. Many different animals visited that area of house and around outside my window. I can still hear the sounds of the cats outside, fighting and making this odd sound almost like crying baby. Those cats were feral. By definition, feral cats are “existing in a natural state, as animals or plants; not domesticated or cultivated; wild” ( Had these cats been part of a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program, they would have been less inclined to fight over territory or a mate. Male cats who are not neutered are more likely to roam, fight and yowl, but those behaviors can be stopped simply by having them neutered.

Now, mind you, due to allergies, I can’t even pick up my own furbaby, but humanly trapping and getting these cats to a facility that provides spay/neuter, ear tipping, typical vaccinations (including rabies); and then returning them to their colony provides many benefits to the neighborhood. Some of these benefits to the feral cats is that they become less noisy since they fight less, male cats will reduce marking their territory, which makes the community smell better. According to Alley Cat Allies, “over time TNR reduces the size of feral cat colonies anywhere from 16% to 66%.” That’s HUGE! And if you consider removing the friendly kittens from the colony and putting them up for adoption, that raises those percentages even more!!


There are also health benefits to both female and male cats who are spayed/neutered. Unlike people, animals reproduce only because their hormones tell them too. Spaying/neutering can also prevent testicular tumors, uterine cancer and uterine infections.

Community cats may be feral or one-time pets who are stray, lost or abandoned. We all know that once you feed the neighborhood cats, they are basically yours forever. Keeping in mind that a lot of cat owners allow their cats outside, these should not be confused with community cats.


“A stray cat is a pet who has been lost or abandoned, is used to contact with people, and is tame enough to be adopted. A feral cat is the offspring of stray or feral cats and is not accustomed to human contact. Feral cats are usually too fearful to be handled or adopted. Stray cats may be reunited with their families or adopted into new homes, but feral cats will find it difficult or impossible to adapt to living as pets in close contact with people. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many things you can do to improve feral cats’ health and quality of life” (

October 16 is National Feral Cat Day and in an effort to continue helping cats, Karma Cat + Zen Dog will be building feral cat houses for managed colonies. What are colonies you ask? A colony is “a group of related cats.” These colonies occupy and defend a specific territory where food and shelter are available – even if they are less than ideal.


Join us at the North Brunswick PetSmart on Saturday, October 17, 2015, from 12pm until 330pm.

~ Michelle, Bubber’s other Momma

Home for the Holidays – Shelter Building Event

With help from the brothers of Alpha Phi Omega, we are constructing feral cat houses for managed colonies! Visit us at the North Brunswick PetSmart on Saturday, October 17, 2015 from 12pm until 4pm.

Email to sign up to receive a finished feral cat house. We are getting a lot of requests – houses will be distributed equitably. Caregivers will be emailed before the event with an update on the status of their request. Finished houses must be picked up on October 17, 2015 at the end of the event.

Got cats that need to be trapped-neutered-returned? There’s a clinic for that! Email us for details :)

Be a shelter sponsor! Donate here:



Invisible Fence

This post is sponsored by Dog Fence DIY

Is an Invisible Dog Fence Right for Your Dog?

A popular alternative to a traditional, standard fence is an invisible dog fence. There are many advantages to an invisible dog fence, such as preserving an unobstructed landscape, containment in oddly shaped areas, and saving money. However, they are not for every dog or situation. Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself to help you determine whether or not an invisible fence is an option you should pursue for your dog.


Does Your Dog Have a Strong Prey Drive?

Dogs with strong prey drives are prone to be escape artists. When they see or hear a small animal on the other side of the fence, they may do whatever it takes to get to it, including going under, over, or through a traditional fence. If your dog has a strong prey drive, an invisible dog fence is a reliable way to ensure they don’t leave your yard. The warning tones and corrective shocks of the e-collar prevent them from crossing the perimeter boundary, no matter what.

Does Your Dog Love to Dig?


Digging dogs are also prone to escape traditional fences, because they can dig right underneath. Dogs who love to dig can also wreak havoc in gardens and flower beds, much to the chagrin of their gardening owners. An electronic dog fence is a versatile way to deal with a digging dog, because it can secure the perimeter of the yard and be used to block access to gardens within the yard. The dog fence wire cannot be dug underneath, because your dog will be warned and corrected before they even get close enough to try.

Is Your Dog Aggressive with Strangers?

If your dog is aggressive with strangers, then extra precaution is needed when it comes to containing your dog. For aggressive dogs, an electric dog fence alone is not a good solution. The main concern with using only an invisible fence with an aggressive dog is that strangers, children, or other animals are still able to accidentally cross into your yard. Aggressive dogs may feel threatened and attack anyone who enters their turf. Also, you do not want to risk the liability that would come with your aggressive dog escaping and roaming wild in the neighborhood. For the most aggressive dogs, the best solution is actually to pair an electronic dog fence with a traditional fence, for two layers of security.

Is Your Dog Sick or Younger than Six-months-old?

Sick dogs should not be trained on an electric dog fence. If your dog has a chronic illness, they may be too infirm or weak to handle the corrections of the e-collar. If your dog is younger than six-months-old, they also should not be trained on an invisible dog fence. Once your dog has overcome their illness, or once your dog becomes at least six-months-old, they can be trained to use an electronic dog fence without risk of complications from the e-collar.

Can You Commit to Training Your Dog?

Training is the most important part of using a wired or wireless dog fence. With proper training, your dog will thereafter observe their boundaries, so they won’t experience any warning tones or corrections with regular use. You must carefully follow the training instructions that come with your dog fence. It usually takes about 15-30 minutes twice per day for up to two weeks before training is complete. If you cannot make the commitment to consistent training, then you should not bother with purchasing or installing a DIY electric dog fence. Even the best invisible dog fence will not work without proper training.

The vast majority of dogs will do quite well with an invisible dog fence. Oftentimes, once dogs have learned how it works and their boundaries, they will remain in the yard even if the invisible fence is turned off. Of course, the safest way to use the fence is with it turned on. There are wired and wireless options, and invisible fence reviews will help you decide exactly which electronic dog fence you should purchase for your individual dog and yard.

For more information about dog fences please visit our educational partner We encourage you to share your experiences with a variety of dog containment systems in the comments section.

Paws for Celebration Notes

Paws for Celebration Cake
When we started Karma Cat and Zen Dog, we created a mission and a plan and we set some procedures in place. We did our homework and moved slowly. We gathered some amazing people along the way to help us.
All of that is pretty standard … it’s what is supposed to happen so that the organization can grow and do the right things. I’m proud of that – I’m proud of what this organization has accomplished and who we have become. To be honest, it is what I planned and hoped for …
But perhaps what I didn’t plan for was that the people in this organization would become ohana.
Though I was born in NY and have lived in NJ for many years, some of you know that I have a profound love for Hawai’i. And what I have experienced of the Hawaiian culture, ‘ohana is an idea – something that the people live by.
The word ?ohana means family in the Hawaiian language, but a much wider sense of family, it includes not only one’s relatives, but also one’s friends, neighbors and coworkers. The idea is also that family and friends are bound and everyone must work together and not forget each other.
Our ‘ohana extends to our volunteers – each and every one of the 55 people that run this organization. From our 6 board members, to our 21 directors and coordinators, our 8 junior volunteers that range in age from 4 to 18. The 37 PetSmart and 25 CatQuarters volunteers … and the 39 people that hold multiple roles.
We include our veterinarians and vet techs in our ‘ohana – spread across several towns, but never out of reach for us when we need their help. I think they are used to us texting and emailing at all hours of the day at this point.
The foster ‘ohana is strong – at one point this year they hosted 59 animals in only 10 homes. We are usually averaging 35 to 40 animals at a time. Every foster has their niche: the seniors, the bottle babies, the ill, the non-social, the “I don’t like any other animal”.
Our donor and supporter base totals over 1000 and spans the Americas. A supporter from California sends periodic donations when any of her or her friends’ animals needs a little “good karma” and a Canadian supporter sends a money order every year that confuses the bank.
Our sponsors tonight are definitely ‘ohana. Top Cat sponsors BPL Carbon-free Solutions and the St. Francis Animal Clinic. Fat Cat sponsors: Edgebrook Animal Hospital, Karen Wilkinson of ReMax Platinum, Keiki Farm and the Raritan Group. Cool Cat sponsors: Muffin & Morris, Sandy & Thurman and Mshisha & Kita – all Karma Cat Alumni, and the Rabbits Den Tattoo and Piercing Parlor. Our Wine Glass sponsor tonight is J.B. and the gift bags were sponsored by Michelle Arlotta Photogrpahy, Katie’s Pet Depot and One Steep at a Thyme. Music tonight is sponsored by Jan Lilburn and provided by The Echos.
KCZD Mandala
Over the past 5 years, we have created a family of adopters – one could say this is the heart of our ‘ohana since without you, we’d be stalled in our mission. 670 animals have found their forever people in 496 homes (we have quite a few “repeat” and “twofer” adopters).
Ohana means family and we stick together through the ups and downs …
We opened a new adoption center “CatQuarters”
  • battled ringworm and urinary tract issues
  • rescued the 9 Lives from Helmetta – a shelter rescue that will never be forgotten
  • dealt with epic kitten diarrhea
  • received another Sidewalk Angels Foundation grant
  • nursed horrific wounds
  • rescued the 4th and 5th Zen Dogs
On this roller coaster of a year, we sadly lost a few animals to illness … some while they were still in our foster home network, some after they had been adopted.
  • Aubrey
  • Jack
  • Alvin
  • Freddie Boom Boom
  • Buster
  • Floki
  • Jenny
We know that each of those cats was loved and respected – may they rest in peace and may their fosters and adopters know that we all did everything we could for them. Swinging back to the upside … Some amazing adoptions and rescues have taken place in the past 12 months …   
  • Shortly after last year’s Paws for Celebration we rejoiced in our 600th adoption –
  • Calvin Klein
  • Courtney required constant care after she presented with a large open wound on her stomach. She recovered and was adopted by a past adopter.
  • Following in her footsteps, Greyson is currently being treated for a massive skin wound.
  • We were not shy or short on theme names this year …
    • Welcome Back Kotter
    • Modern Family
    • The Baseball Greats
    • Thunder Cats
    • Motley Crue
    • We even managed to pull names from American Horror Story, The Beatles and The Flintstones – we are nothing if not eclectic
    • Hunger Games
    • Mary Tyler Moore
    • Facts of Life
    • Game of Thrones (again)
    • Sound of Music
    • And my personal favorites for themes, Orphan Black and Hawai’i Five-0
  • Four dogs found their forever homes because of our fosters … this quadruples our total dog adoption number!
  • Our sassy cats, One-Eyed Winnie, Robin and Saucy found their perfect humans this year
  • The Greeks – seniors abandoned at a local vet hospital all found homes 
  • Cheese Puff, Quinn, Pia and Mabel were returned from their first adopters for various reasons but all have found new forever homes.
  • Countless kittens and cats pulled from the Newark shelter and the 21 cats and kittens taken from a New Brunswick home – almost all of which now have forever homes
  • Owen had two knee surgeries to correct Grade V luxating patellas after being rescued from the Helmetta shelter. We are excited to announce that he has found his forever home with the staff at the Edgebrook Animal Hospital where he will stay ‘ohana forever. You can visit him at the front desk. Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind — or forgotten.

OwenThank you all for being here tonight! Your support means everything to the animals that we rescue.

Name the Kittens

Name the kittens! We rescued these 5 cutie-pies from Newark AHS on 3/4/15 and they needed names so we had a little contest. Donors were entered into a hat and 2 winners were chosen: Kathryn P and Jan L!

Purrs and Paws Kitten Shower

Pitter Patter, Kittens Matter! Join us at the North Brunswick Road Runner Store (Shoppes at North Brunswick, 501 Rt. 1) for a Kitten Shower!

Saturday – March 21, 2015 – 9am – 1pm


It’s kitten season and we would love to stock our shelves so we can lovingly care and feed the wee ones that will come our way. Here’s a list of our most needed items:

  • KMR liquid and powder formula
  • World’s Best or Exquisicat Corn Litter
  • Fleece Blankets, Baby Blankets, Pillowcases
  • Kitten Nursing Bottles & Replacement Nipples
  • Dawn Dish Detergent
  • Royal Canin Baby Cat Dry and Wet Food
  • Simply Nourish Dry Kitten Food
  • Paper Towels, Clorox Wipes

We will have adoptable kitties at the store, refreshments (custom cupcakes by Rockn’ Sweets!) and some prizes!

Donations can be dropped off at Road Runner Store (North Brunswick) or the North Brunswick PetSmart.