When I was a teenager my mother visited a psychic who told her I would find my true calling in Hollywood. Instead, I had my sights set on the Himalayas, where I ended up spending the better part of two years following a 17th century pilgrim’s guidebook to research spiritual sites as part of my undergraduate degree.

But end up in Hollywood I did. An aspiring screenwriter, I moved into a small bungalow that bordered a deep, overgrown wilderness out back. I soon realized that I shared the property with a large colony of feral cats. After a midnight attack by predators that decimated yet another litter of kittens, I decided to intervene.

For the next 20 years, I named and nursed, fed and housed, rescued and neutered these wild cats. And went broke in the process. Never able to break into the movies, I realized my true calling was to meet these cats, and discover a world of meaning beyond my unrealized Hollywood dreams.

More info: Instagram

The first kitten saved. I named her Teena. Abandoned by her mother, the vet said she wouldn’t survive the night. Her back legs didn’t function and I was told she likely had brain damage

But survive she did. Her tiny head on my toe

Teena’s back legs even began to work again, after months of my massaging the muscles

And her brain began to function normally, too

But, because she was feral, I had to watch out for her claws and teeth!

She decimated the window screens in no time

Teena grew into a beautiful, healthy, content cat

Little did I realize there was a whole feral colony where Teena came from!

As I began to care for them, they would leave presents on the door mat. They were seasonally specific: here are my Easter gifts

I named her Gumdrop. She was saved from a pack of predators that decimated her littermates. She lived inside with me and went out on a leash until she was large and strong enough to be on her own

Predators killed their littermates, too. So inside they came!

Charlie is the alpha male of the colony

Charlie is powerful yet playful

All cats in the colony are female, except for these two males

They love climbing trees

Little Bandy was saved from predators as well

I kept saved feral kittens inside

Bandy and her sister Pepper

Three sisters

Saving feral cats is not always safe

The night after my hand was pulverized, the cats left another present for me. A single glove as if to say, use gloves when you handle wild cats, you idiot!

Rescued kittens

They soon took over the house!

Teena nearly died of an infection. Thank goodness for miracle vets!

But she survived

The book recounting the journey