Branford writer pens how-to book ‘The Art of Raising a Kitten’

BRANFORD – This is the story of Sofia and Sketch Henderson and Sketch’s children Dewey and Tinkerbell.

That’s the story of longtime local reporter Sally Behner’s past 50 years, as she tells it in her fascinating “The Art of Herding Cats.”

“I can describe my life by the cats I’ve had over the years,” she said at a recent pop-up book signing to benefit the Branford Compassion Club as part of a holiday cookie sale and gift fair at the American Legion. said in

“They’re just great,” she said, when asked about her love for them. “Everything from their different personalities to their presence. They have such a presence.”

Behner, an experienced cat writer, feline consultant, and member of the Cat Writers Association, said that a cat publishing label approached her about writing a book about cats from her years of experience at her company. do it

The resulting slim volume—the answer to which is a resounding yes—is an informative guide peppered with personal stories and insights, bringing photos, and a veritable trove of engaging news and tips.

We learn, for example, that cats’ eyes are always blue when they first open at 10 days old; About Kitty Friendly Toothpaste; As for the oddity, when naming your cat, consider “how the name will sound when called out the back door—Aliceus Fuzzy Bit doesn’t quite cut it,” she writes.

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We learn about the unexpected “serendipity”. There’s the sketch Henderson mentioned above, named after Johnny Carson’s bandleader, who her family adopted in the mid-1960s when Behner was 15 years old. A sixty-one “wild child,” as she put it, Sketch went and impregnated herself and waited for Behner to come home. Birth of Davy and Tinkerbell.

“There is no doubt that our cats are comforted by the sound of our voices,” she writes. “New mothers, especially, need to hear this. And often, they may wait until you’re with them to give birth.”

There’s also Magnolia, named Maggie, a black cat who showed up in her yard a few years after college. Until then, he was a reporter and editorial assistant at the former Branford Review.

“I covered town meetings,” she said. “I typed the copy on a typewriter and then the typesetter would cast it from the lead.”

When she separated from her husband in the early 1980s, she took Maggie with her. “An incredibly sweet cat” as she describes her, Maggie chatted passionately about future moves, boyfriends, and roommates. By the time a vet visit revealed Maggie had feline leukemia, Behner was remarried.

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“We could have done something heroic, but that would have delayed the inevitable, so we said goodbye,” he writes. “I’d like to think he knew I was happy in my new life and it was okay to let go.”

We learn about illegal pet shops with dubious claims of purebred cats, and scammers who “peach you with cute pictures for those who may be alone or living alone”; Sells cheap cats on Craigslist and other online marketplaces about Pistachio breeders; About the dirty truth of fancy self-cleaning boxes and odor-eliminating air fresheners.

“No amount of scent will cover up a smelly box, so don’t overdo it with scented litter,” he writes. “Cats have sensitive noses and they can get irritated.”

Then there is her passion for Russian blues.

“I’ve had it for 30 years,” she said. “They are well-kept, they bond very closely with their owners, they have these beautiful, green eyes, silver color.”

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Which leads to Sophia and Paul, transporters who travel around the world with animals.

Behner recalls picking up Sophia from her foster home at JFK Airport in the Netherlands.

“When [Pavel] Finally emerging from customs, he pushed into a cart with a very large kennel carrying a Great Dane puppy and a small, soft-sided cat carrier. Inside with Sofia.

“I loved them all, but there was just something about Sophia,” said Behner, who became editor of the Branford Review before applying her journalistic chops to the now-defunct Branford Eagle.

“He just makes me feel wonderful. He wakes me up in the morning and he sits at my desk as I work through the day. I never feel lonely.”

It seems that “The Art of Cat Breeding” is ultimately a love story.

“The Art of Raising a Cat” is available on at

For more of Bahner’s writing about cats, as well as upcoming book events, visit and on Facebook,

Editor’s note: Sally Behner is a contributor to The Shoreline Times.

Lisa Reisman may be reached at [email protected]


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