The Ripple Effect: What a Live Kitten Cam Taught Me

foster dad john with the kittens

Foster Dad John with The Ghostbuster Kittens

I have a confession to make: I am a crazy cat lady.

No, I don’t have a house full of cats; I just have two (plus a guest for the next week – cat sitting for my sister).

But I am totally hooked on live kitten cams. I fell into this addiction two years ago with The Critter Room.

The Critter Room was founded by a forty-something year-old man (known as Foster Dad John) who fosters kittens. He has fostered an astonishing 41 litters for his local shelter, Purrfect Pals of Arlington, WA. His success rate is nearly perfect with only one kitten lost and the rest (including the mothers) adopted into loving homes.

He created the live cam so he could monitor the kittens while he was at work. One day he thought other people might enjoy it and created a livestream account. People could watch the kittens grow and talk about it with each other.

The rest is history.

The Critter Room on Facebook has over 36,000 likes and is an active and engaged community of crazy cat people like me. We talk about the current litter on the cam and about our lives. There is much laughter, tears of joy on adoption days, and love between members, some of whom are going through tough times of their own and find comfort in watching the antics of kittens. The community is blessed with artisans and writers who share their love of the kittens through their art and stories. The love is shared in a practical way with consistent and generous donations to the shelter.

Ray Power

Ray from the Ghostbuster Kittens

Usually the litters come one after another in rapid succession, but last fall we had a drought. When the new litter finally came I realized I had missed the chat room as much as I had missed the kittens. I missed the community.

Foster Dad John recently posted the following about the Critter Room: “I’ve never thought just how much of an impact my Kitten Cam would have on people’s lives when I had the thought of sharing the web cam I had set up to keep track of my fosters. Countless friendships have been forged; some of those have fallen in love. Some have even found lost family members! The cam has a healing aspect that many watch for, others to relax. It never fails to amaze me whenever I think upon it.”

God’s grace is constantly at work in our world. It’s right there in plain view for those who have eyes to see. The words “God” or “Jesus” don’t have to be mentioned because the love is palpable. God is love.

ghostbusters with peter USE

The Critter Room is a microcosm and a metaphor of that love, of that perfect world we long for, setting an example we can follow. It’s not a world where things never go wrong for they do.

The Critter Room cam is an unedited slice of real life where nature takes her course. Six weeks ago over a thousand of us were watching the cam when a four-day-old kitten went into distress and died in the hand of Foster Dad John. We all wept as we listened to this normally self-possessed man weep over this wee creature (see this post for details). The outpouring of love resulted in generous donations to Purrfect Pals in honor of this kitten. The artists and writers in the community created drawings, graphics, and stories and we comforted ourselves on these. We gave each other a virtual shoulder to cry on and we were consoled.

Things do go wrong and the love, thoughtfulness, and generosity of the community rights those wrongs. We can’t get back what we lost. But we have been healed, even transformed by caring for each other.

Little communities such as The Critter Room show that if we as a people can unite in love and caring for the least of these, our bigger world will be a better place. That caring comes one at a time: one kitten, one mama cat, one person, one family, one community.

Caring begins with the one and multiplies like a stone thrown into a pond, creating a ripple effect. That ripple effect is evident in this community from the friendship shown in the chat room, to the beautiful fan art, to the generous donations made to shelters, to the adopters willing to take on multiple fosters and finally, to the numerous new foster moms and dads who have taken in their own families in honor of what is done in The Critter Room.

The media would have you believe the world is overrun with terrible people doing foolish, sometimes heinous things. These people tend to make a lot of noise which gets them the attention they crave. I believe they are in the minority.

I think our world is mostly populated with quiet people caring for each other. They are that whisper of God’s voice in our souls. They are the incarnation of God’s grace. They are the evidence that God is alive and active in our world. The Critter Room is just one example: people coming together to care for God’s creatures and caring for each other as a result.

Let’s all create that ripple effect. What one will you care for today?

Warning: this could rock your world!

You can visit The Critter Room on Facebook; the live cam can be seen at Foster Dad John on Livestream.

Copyright 2014 Susan W. Bailey


About Author

Susan Bailey is the author of River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times (Ave Maria Press), and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message (ACTA Publications), part of their Literary Portals to Prayer series. Along with her blogs Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, Susan writes for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press.

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