One adoptee carries on her mom’s Christmas Eve tradition

Sherrie Cook Eldridge, a 1963 graduate of Rodney B. Wilson High School in St. Johns, recently write in her blog:

When I was a little girl, my Mom threw a big party after the Christmas Eve service at their church. It was as fancy as a little town can be, and Mom wore the same thing every year-a purple velvet dress. It was stunning and how I loved it on her. Of course, as a child, I didn’t realize what an impression that the purple dress made, but if you asked me today about a favorite Christmas memory, it would be mom in the lovely dress.

Adoptive moms have no idea of the memories of love they’re creating for their kids. They can’t even fathom, nor entertain the idea that THEY are a gift to their adopted children–their persona, their everyday activities, their faithfulness in remaining a mom with a non-abandoning heart.

So, when Christmas Eve comes, I think of Mom in the purple dress. I’ve purchased a purple velvet blazer to carry on her tradition. Even though she’s not here, the timeless memories she created live on inside me and hopefully to those who see me wear a purple velvet coat on Christmas Eve. I can tell them where the tradition began-in the heart of my beloved and much-missed Mom.

To read more of Sherrie’s writings go here.

To see her books go here.

Economic Alliance rebrands as Clinton County Catalyst

The economic and business development agency formerly known as the Clinton County Economic Alliance is officially announcing it has rebranded as Clinton County Catalyst. The Board of Directors recognizes the new name more accurately defines the role the organization plays as a resource to bring about positive change and reinvention throughout Clinton County.

“Clinton County Catalyst is no longer a traditional economic development organization,” said Board Chairman Craig Bishop with TCF Bank. “Our bold efforts aim higher as this organization is a catalyst for Clinton County. A strong economy requires strong leadership. Clinton County Catalyst will lead the county into the future.” President and CEO Dru L. Mitchell states, “We support continued growth for Clinton County by connecting, constructing, and cultivating success for the communities we serve. We are grateful for the continued support of our members, partners, and friends throughout the region.”

Clinton County Catalyst will continue to act as the lead county-wide economic and business development organization. Clinton County Catalyst provides sustainable and value-added services for business attraction, retention and growth, workforce development, non-traditional agriculture, and next-generation initiatives. Clinton County Catalyst will begin 2021 with a renewed sense of leadership, service, and commitment to the community in Clinton County, Michigan.

For more information, visit

SAFE Center discusses stalking

Stalking is a serious, prevalent, and dangerous crime that is generally defined as a pattern of behavior targeted at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Fear is essential to the definition of stalking. The majority of the time, the victim knows the perpetrator. On average, intimate partner stalkers pose the greatest threats to their victims. Stalking is not a single incident or “one time” event, it is a pattern which can include the following: spreading rumors, calling, texting, messaging, showing up at random times, property damage, sharing private images, and ruining reputations.

Stalking is a particular crime that calls for in-depth safety planning, investigation, charging, and prosecution, as well as the development and implementation of policies and protocols to ensure an effective response. For victims, it can be very empowering to accurately name their experiences as “stalking” because it enables them to make sense of what they are going through and allows them to identify and seek appropriate help and resources.

SPARC has a variety of brief videos that can help educate on stalking including campus stalking facts, supporting friends, context, and stalking and intimate partner violence.

Real Fear, Real Crime: The Peggy Klinke Story is a video that was produced by the Stalking Resource Center in response to the murder of stalking victim, Peggy Klinke, by a former partner. This is a true eye opener on just how serious stalking can be and the importance of taking action.

Remember When? – Kiwanis opens year 2014

Following an annual tradition, members of St. Johns Kiwanis Club inducted officers and directors recently during installation ceremonies at The Emerald.

From left, Curt Keck, returning board member; Jan Havlik, treasurer replacing Jim Gunther who served since club’s founding; Shannon Schlegel, incoming vice-president; Karen Crosby, secretary; Graham Filler and Kim Brzozowski, new board members; Paul Opsommer, President for year ’14-’15. Absent from picture are Joyce Crosby and Sharon Bassette, both returning board members.

Letters – Reader enjoyed seeing the homes

Please relay somehow how happy I was to see the beautifully decorated homes, which happen to be in my hometown. I loved seeing them. It gave me a lovely, warm and happy feeling.

Wow, we have nothing like that around me here in Maryland. They all deserved 1sts as far as I am concerned. They were tastefully done and as good if not better than some “over-decorated” homes on that lights contest show.

Linda Millette

Maralyn’s Pet Corner – Litter Training Kittens 101

Most adult cats will naturally seek out a sandy, granular place to eliminate, but young kittens might need a little help figuring out proper litter box habits.

When litter training kittens, there are a few things you can do to help set your kitten up for success.

Here are some cat potty training tips on when to start, how to choose litter boxes, how to pick the right type of litter, how and where to set up the litter boxes, and how to help your kitten master the litter box.

When to Start Litter Training Kittens

In the first few weeks after birth, mother cats stimulate their kittens to eliminate, and they clean them up afterward. During that time, kittens don’t need litter boxes.

You can start litter training kittens at around 4 weeks of age by offering kitten-friendly litter boxes. This coincides with the time that kittens start weaning.

If you adopt an older kitten or adult cat, you can start litter box training as soon as you bring them home. You will need the right cat potty training supplies to be set up before they come to their new home.
How to Litter Train Your Kitten or Cat

Follow these steps for cat potty training success.

Choose a Litter Box

While deciding on a litter box may seem like a trivial task, it actually does make a big difference to your kitten.
Get the Right Size Litter Box

Full-size boxes may be too big and intimidating for a small kitten. Dr. Sally J. Foote, DVM, a feline behavior consultant certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), recommends a litter tray that is 13 by 9 inches for kittens.

If your cat is older or you have other adult cats in the home, they will need boxes that are full-size, while your kitten needs their smaller litter boxes to start with.

The litter box will need to grow with your kitten. Your cat’s litter box should be approximately 1 1/2 times their length. You will need to size up as your kitten gets bigger.

Provide More Than One Litter Box

At a minimum, there should be one more litter box in your house than the number of cats. If you have two cats, there should be three boxes. If you have five cats, there should be at least six boxes.
Uncovered versus Covered Litter Boxes

Many cats prefer to use an uncovered box.

“In nature, cats don’t want to get caught by a predator inside an enclosed area,” says IAABC-certified cat behavior consultant Mieshelle Nagelschneider. Many of her clients believe that their cats prefer the privacy of a cover, but she says that “cats don’t want to feel trapped” when they use their litter box.

Whether or not your cat prefers a restroom with or without a roof comes down to your kitty’s personal preference, says Dr. Foote, who has found that some cats prefer an open space to eliminate, while others prefer an enclosed space.

Dr. Foote suggests giving your kitten a choice in the beginning to see what they prefer.

Pick the Right Type of Litter

Research has shown that most cats prefer fine-grain litters, presumably because they have a softer feel.

When it comes to clumping or non-clumping litters, cats have their own preferences. Of course, you might prefer clumping for the ease of scooping.

In terms of clay litter versus litter made from other materials, some cats won’t use a box that has corn- or wheat-based litter because it smells like food, Nagelschneider says.

Try out a few types to make sure you get the type of litter that your kitten prefers.

Plan Where to Put the Litter Boxes

Litter box placement and availability can be a critical factor in encouraging your kitten to use the box.
Don’t Hide the Litter Boxes

If the boxes are all in the same corner, they are effectively one big box, which can lead to trouble if your kitties don’t want to share.

It’s tempting to put litter boxes in closets and corners because we don’t want them to be visible, but this should be avoided. Remember that cats also don’t like to feel cornered or trapped during toilet time.

They’ll also need some sort of light to see and find their boxes, so if there’s no ambient light in the place where you keep the litter box, try using a night-light, Nagelschneider says.

Avoid Distractions

Set up your kitten’s litter box in an area that has few things to distract them from getting down to business.

For kittens having trouble focusing, you may have to remove the option of having other “interesting” places to urinate. Try keeping your kitten in a small room without any rugs or carpeting and only a small amount of bedding to try and keep them focused until they master using the litter box.

Place Litter Boxes on Every Floor

The boxes should be spread out, with at least one on every floor of your home.

Make it easy for your cat to get to the litter boxes. “Don’t make them have to go down the stairs, through the playroom, through the kitty door, and into the utility room,” Nagelschneider says. “Cat’s don’t want to go any farther than we do to reach the bathroom.”

It’s particularly important to remember that your kitten will eventually become an adult cat, so putting a litter box up on a shelf or down many flights of stairs will make it much harder to get to when they are older and arthritic.

Introduce Your Kitten to the Litter Box

Once you have your supplies picked out and litter box areas set up, here’s how you can help litter train your kitten.

Step 1: Show your kitten the locations of each litter box and let your kitten sniff them.

Step 2: Gently place your kitten in the litter box. They may instinctively start pawing at the litter or even using the litter box. If they don’t, run your fingers through the clean litter to demonstrate the pawing action.

Step 3: If your kitten didn’t use one of the boxes in the initial introduction, try placing your kitten in one of the boxes each time they eat, drink, or wake up from a nap, until they begin using the box on their own.
Reinforce Good Litter Box Habits

When your kitten uses the litter box appropriately, reward them with their favorite treat to create a positive association with the activity.

For this to work, the treat must be given immediately after they have left the box so they associate the activity with the reward.

If your kitten makes a mistake, do NOT punish them or yell at them. Calmly clean up the mess with an enzymatic cleaner and do not react in any other way.

Keep the Litter Boxes Clean

Try to scoop your kitten’s litter box after every elimination. You don’t want your kitten developing an aversion to the box during the training process. After scooping, add some clean litter to maintain a litter depth of 2 to 3 inches to give your kitty plenty of room to dig.

Once your kitten is older and uses the litter box consistently, you can scoop daily instead of each time your kitten uses the box.

Periodically empty out all of the litter in each box, clean the boxes, and fill them with clean litter. Most non-scoop litters will have their own recommendations on the label for how frequently they should be changed.

Clumping litters only need to be changed out completely every week or couple of weeks, depending on how many cats you have using the boxes.

What to Do if Your Kitten Won’t Use the Litter Box

If your kitten is having a hard time with litter box training and is peeing outside the box, try these steps:

1. Carefully evaluate your litter box setup. Every kitten has slightly different preferences. Make sure that the litter boxes:

– Are easily accessible
– Are located in quiet spots
– Are not hidden in a corner
– Are not being guarded by other cats

2. Consider changing the litter box or type of litter. You may want to get a new box (covered versus uncovered or one with low sides) and place it nearby to see if your kitten prefers another box. Or keep the same box and only change the litter type to see if it is the box or the litter that is the issue.

3. Scoop more often and replace all litter more often.

4. Consider using pheromone diffusers near the litter box to relieve stress and make your kitten more comfortable with their surroundings. These diffusers, when placed in the room with the litter box, make kittens feel that they have marked their territory.

5. Bring your kitten to your veterinarian to check for parasites, urinary tract infections, or other medical issues that may promote inappropriate elimination. These are rare with kittens, but they should not be overlooked.

Your veterinarian can always help you troubleshoot your kitten’s litter box issues as well. Above all, remember to be patient! Training takes time, but your kitten will master these habits with your love, support, and attention.