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Mission cat's story is a tale of hope

Book is written in the cancer-surviving cat's voice
Sula had her ears removed during cancer surgeries.

Sula, a San Juan Bautista cat heroine, is introduced in the new book, Surviving Cancer, Healing People: One Cat’s Story, written in Sula’s voice by Betty Lou Leaver.

The white and grey rotund feline, with clipped ears, has lived in Mission San Juan Bautista for eight years.

“No one knows how Sula got to the Mission. We didn’t want to start feeding her, so it wouldn’t stay but she kept coming back, so we kept her,” said Ana Silva, the Mission Gift Shop manager. She called Sula, “A snuggling-up cat, mellow, sweet, people-lover and likes to be petted.” Silva said most people feel that way when they see the cat wander through the Mission garden, or sit in the gift shop, greeting customers.

Or when the mood hits her, Sula may be found in the gift shop office curled up on a soft bed, as any good cat knows how to do.

In the words of Sula, as told to Leaver in the book: “I have a mission, and a Mission. What more could any cat want?”

“I tried the City Hall, but to be honest, bureaucracy and plumbing permits bored me, and I did not feel like that was where I was supposed to be,” Sula said.

Then she went downtown, which didn’t seem to fit her either.

“So, one day when I felt like I was being called (maybe it was the Mission bells that put that in my head), I trotted up the hill to the Old Mission San Juan Bautista, no easy feat for my roly-poly frame.”

Mercy of mercies, when she saw the Mission, she knew her mission was complete, so goes the story.

Sula knows about cancer, as she has endured two operations to remove cancer from her ear tips.

Donors who love the cat, and the ambience she creates, both in the Mission and the sanctuary, funded the second operation.

Even though the second surgery left her healed but in need of a bit more rest, she continues her job of giving special attention to those who are facing a need for extra comfort in their lives. It has been said that Sula, with a divine, animal instinct, knows who needs more loving compassion.

Her job, through the years, has been to heal people who are endeavoring to overcome burdens in their lives.

Surviving Cancer, Healing People: One Cat’s Story has been published by MSI Press, LLC in Hollister, and is available at the Mission Gift Shop. The proceeds will be used for the restoration and preservation of the Mission.

The book was selected as a Reviewer's Choice for the month of September by MidWest Book Review, which said: "Surviving Cancer, Healing People: One Cat's Story is one of those books that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf! Heartwarming and thoughtful, "Surviving Cancer, Healing People" is a joy to browse and highly recommended.”

The US Review of Books also recommended Sula's book

​For more information about Sula, visit her Facebook page



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Laureen Diephof (Freelance writer)

Laureen has been in the communication business for many years as a photojournalist, columnist, and blogger.She served as reporter and columnist for South Monterey County Newspapers. She reported for the Soledad Bee and the Gonzales Tribune, and is currently writing feature stories for the Salinas Californian. From 2012-13, She was on a one year journey beginning in the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert, and many countries and small islands in between. After that she joined AmeriCorps, and served as the volunteer coordinator for the Arts Council for Monterey County. When the 10 month service was completed, she took the earned stipend and used it in Cambodia, where she stayed on a Buddhist Pagoda with the Monks and Nuns. She has written a book about her one year journey and hopes to get it published soon. Her website is: She lives in Aromas with her cat Pharaoh.

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