Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society started four years ago when our Executive Director, Christie Arlotta, helped a neighbor Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) 19 feral cats in their backyards. She and her sister attended a workshop at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah titled “How to Start & Run Your Own Animal Sanctuary.” Click the image to read Michelle’s blog about the trip.

Angel Canyon

Image by Michelle Arlotta Photography

Soon after the trip, Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society (often referred to by volunteers and friends as KCZD or just Karma Cat) was created.

We are an eclectic bunch of volunteers. We have fosters, socializers, adoption counselors, adoption center cleaners, and TNR volunteers. We have many volunteers who wear more than one hat and fill more than one of these roles.

We are:

  • Men
  • Women
  • Young
  • Not-as-young
  • Single
  • Married
  • Some of us have full time day jobs; Others are students or are retired
  • Some of us have lots of tattoos; Others don’t (but might get one at our next Tattoo Fundraiser!)
  • Cat people
  • Dog people

While our differences make us unique, the one thing every volunteer has in common is passion. We are all passionate about saving animals and making their lives as happy and healthy as possible. Since we are such a diverse group it is not unusual for us to not know all the other volunteers, especially those who don’t fill the same roll as us; the cleaners don’t always know the fosters, etc. We may not have met every one of our fellow volunteers, but we know we have at least one thing in common: KCZD.

Over the next few months we are going to interview and profile some of our volunteers. Some of the questions will be the same, others may vary to shine a light on each person’s individuality. Let’s get to know the heart of Karma Cat, those folks who are dedicated to making the lives of animals better one day, one animal, and one Forever Home at a time.

I hope you enjoy the series of interviews! ~Rebecca, Volunteer Co-Director

The Little Girl Who Meowed

We will begin our profile series with our one and only, incredibly dedicated Executive Director, Christie Arlotta. Christie is an environmental engineer by day and self-proclaimed cat wrangler the rest of the time.

Interviewer (I): When and how did you come to start working with KCZD?

Christie Arlotta (CA): At the end of 2009, I discovered my neighbor was feeding 19 ferals in his backyard … which was connected to our backyard. After helping him get them all fixed – and taking the resulting kittens (18!) for adoption – Karma Cat + Zen Dog was officially formed. A rescue organization was something that my sister Michelle and I talked about for years … something we would do “someday”. We even attended a “How to Start Your Own Animal Sanctuary” week-long course at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah.

[The story and pictures are in our first blog entry: http://karmacatzendog.org/2010/12/2010-the-year-it-all-began/ ]

(I):   What is your favorite part of working for KCZD?

(CA): The amazing people I have met. Seriously. All of our volunteers are so talented and devoted – it’s awe-inspiring. Their generosity is endless.

(I): Do you have a favorite Karma Cat story?cropped-Kandy_ReachingHeader.jpg

(CA): Kandy. A story about never giving up and how every animal deserves to live. Her 1st blog entry is here: Kandy’s Fight 

And her adoption blog entry is here: KandyCat


(I): Any limitations (such as funding) aside, what would be your dream for KCZD?

(CA): Our own facility on our own land … a “cat house” with all the rooms dedicated to the kitties (with very few cages) … and a “dog house” with all the rooms rigged out for the doggies – complete with access to outdoor runs, a playground and an agility course. Anyone have an extra million bucks they need to off-load?

(I): Do you have any animals of your own at home that aren’t fosters?

(CA): You betcha!

  • MacDougal – border collie/pit/Rottweiler/mix mutt – approximately 16 years old. Rescued by my husband many years ago.
  • Beau – brown tabby boy – approximately 17 years old. A bottle baby that my husband rescued.
  • Karma – calico – approximately 5 years old. The first Karma Cat!!
  • Emmett – orange tabby – approximately 4 years old. Another Karma Cat.
  • Spitfire – grey tabby – approximately 3 years old. My baby cat … I just couldn’t give him up after nursing him through a major leg surgery.
  • Keiki – black & white – approximately 2 years old. John’s baby cat … and MacDougal’s little friend.


(I): Do you have a favorite famous cat? (animated, internet, book character, etc.)

(CA): This was harder to answer than I thought it would be! I’ll have to go with Hello Kitty! I still have the adorable purse I purchased while on a trip to Hawai’i many years ago.

(I): So, you’re an engineer. Engineers are typically more of the left-brained, logical type.  Would you describe yourself as strictly logical or do you have a secret artsy side?

(CA): Logical. I like things in straight lines and orderly … though you would never know that looking at my messy, messy desk.

(I): If you could have any superpower without any adverse side effects, what would you want?

(CA): Super speed (I might actually complete my to-do list one day!) or Animal Empathic Communication (what the heck IS my cat thinking???)

(I): What do you consider to be your guilty pleasure?

(CA): A long list of TV shows! Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, The 100, Reign, Bones, Castle, Dallas, going back to the old school Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel series. I get enough “real life” all day. Oh, and Matthew McConaughey … I’m a happily married woman but that Matt is my boyfriend! 😉

Christie & John - wedding day!

Christie & John – wedding day!

(I): How did you pick our KCZD color scheme?

(CA): Ah, I actually didn’t … a graphic design studio donated their time and expertise to create our logo. The design team provided these notes with their first draft:

“Spiral pattern comprising animals used to convey a zen (structured) and karmic (flow of energy) tone and the suggested color usage plays upon cool, tranquil colors which are of equal weights to suggest balance.”

(I): Do you have a favorite breed or color of cat? What about dogs?

Christie & Spitfire (with his black lips)

Christie & Spitfire (with his black lips)


(CA): Cats: black lips on a non-black cat are my favorite. Dogs: not necessarily a breed, just a size … I like the medium-build doggies

(I): What is one thing about you that few, if any, of the other volunteers know about you?

(CA): When I was a little girl, I used to pretend I was a cat.To the extent that my only form of communication during these times (supposedly) was meowing at my mother.

Such fun insights into our Executive Director! It seems it was meant to be that Christie would start an animal rescue organization!

We hope you enjoyed the first in our series introducing our volunteers to you. If you have any other specific questions you’d like answered, or if you have a specific volunteer you would like to see highlighted, please let us know! You can contact me at Rebecca@karmacatzendog.org

~Rebecca 🙂

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