Some days you get smacked in the face with an event that you just didn’t think could happen so soon. Such was the case on 1.31.13.

Gilda McCauley (board member, foster, rescuer, adoption coordinator and friend) lost a short, but fierce, battle with cancer the evening of January 31, 2013. She passed away in the hospital surrounded by family members.


I was able to visit with her in the hospital that morning. She was alert but not able to speak much. I rambled on for just a short bit about how her cats were doing as well as the Karma Cats, ending with the news that our long-timer Sally would be adopted the following day. This elicited a very big smile from Gilda. When you think of her, please remember her love of cats – it always brought her great joy.

Sally at Edgebrook - photo by Gina D

Sally at Edgebrook – photo by Gina D

I met Gilda in early 2010 when I was rescuing cats from my neighbor’s backyard. My petsitter at the time, Carol, knew her from rescuing and fostering kittens and she insisted I meet her at PetSmart. Gilda helped me get medical care for the kittens and the ferals (putting me in touch with Janet, who taught me so much about TNR). My kittens were made available for adoption thanks to Gilda. After working with her for a few months on that colony, she told me that she wanted to take a step back from all the stress of animal rescue and thought we could work together … perfect timing as this was when the Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society was being formed.

She helped shape this organization, guiding many of the protocols we use today. Her attention to detail will be missed – she didn’t skip a beat when it came to the health & well-being of the cats in our care. Conventional, natural and homeopathic remedies – so much information! She is also the main reason we have the adoption centers at PetSmart and Edgebrook – 30 years of animal rescue, the right way, will earn an unparalleled level of respect.

We had many conversations about cat health, cat behaviors, cat food and cat poop. Sometimes there were weeks where every single one of our emails was about cat poop. We communicated daily; phone calls, text messages and tons of emails – she was a colleague but also a dear friend. Adoption hours were held at PetSmart this past Saturday (2/2/13) and I realized while driving home that I couldn’t text her about the awesome guy that fell in love with Goofy, or the sweet woman that wanted to meet Morty. We commiserated about vegetarian food, we celebrated every adopted, we anguished over treatments for Kandy & Duncan and we wept when Ironman passed away.

Gilda believed in No Kill and that EVERY cat had a right to live. The shy/scared/feral, the sassy, the sick, the maimed – she treated all of them with love and respect. She never gave up on a kitty and I’ve estimated that she directly and indirectly saved a couple thousand of cats over the years. Amazing and inspiring. Her current foster cats (Grace, Cornelius and old-man Farrington) will round out the list of her saved cats that traditional shelters may have euthanized. There is no doubt that cat-angels are watching over her now.

Somehow I need to end on a happy note, she would have wanted that. A recent litter of kittens that Gilda and her best friend, Laurie, rescued were the “Bones Kittens”: Seeley, Temperance, Jack & Angela. I’ll never forget how giddy she got about every little thing those kittens did … when they learned to eat without making a mess, played with a new toy, cuddled with her as she told them a story. They all have awesome forever homes now thanks to Gilda.

Seely, Temperance, Angela & Jack

Seeley, Temperance, Angela & Jack – fostered by Gilda and now in loving forever homes!

Funeral arrangements: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at St. Joseph’s Church, 454 Germantown Road, West Milford, NJ. The service is at 12:30 pm, followed by an informal repast. Her family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Karma Cat + Zen Dog, P.O. Box 242, East Brunswick, NJ 08816.

A Buddhist Prayer for Animals:

Let us recognize all animals, for they are beings of our earth,

Let us give thanks for their presence, for they bring love and joy to our lives.

May all animals be free from suffering, and those things that cause it.

May all beings know the sacred happiness.

May we celebrate the equality of all that lives.


With sadness but inspiration to keep on rescuing,


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