Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Fear No More"

This beautiful poem was sent to me by one of our busy foster Moms, Jenn Duffield who wrote it this morning at her kitchen table. It brought tears to my eyes and speaks volumes for any rescue:

Fear No More

You poor abandoned soul, so sad and so alone,
We’ll come for you, and bring you into our homes.

No more hunger or pain, no more days full or fear,
We’ll find you a soul, who’ll love you through the years.

It’s for you that we fight and it’s for you that we breathe,
We’ll take care of you, your every wound and sneeze.

A room is always open at our faithful inns’,
Leave your worries at the door and with our love you’ll win.

Put your trust back in humans and we’ll show you it’s true,
That not every person is going hurt or mistreat you.

Those long scary nights just put them all behind,
Lay your weary head down and believe that we’re kind.

Those unsure days are behind you and a bright future is near,
Put your trust in our hands and it will come clear.

So, I ask you dear kitty, do you believe that it’s true?
Because we’re sure that you’ll see the ACR homes are all about you!

So, fear no more, my fine furry friends,
We will always be here, our love has no end.

Monday, February 25, 2008

From the Sick Ward -

We have SEVEN cats at the vets today that are sick. It's a variety of crap: FIP scare, lead pellet in the abdomen, upper respiratory infection, vomiting, diarrhea - you name it, the vet is probably treating it.

I was actually on my way out to the shelter to do a rescue this morning. Sipping my Tim Horton's, I wrestled with the "if's".....IF we rescue more cats, what if they get sick? What if I can't pay the vet bills that come in from these cats currently at the vets? I did a U-Turn in the middle of the road and came home. I can't bring in more cats until I know the sick cats are healthy or at least on the road to recovery.

An eff'ing business decision. Welcome to Cat Rescue.

I hated e-mailing our special shelter liason for the rescues and tell her that I wasn't coming. For once we have a bunch of available foster space. We have wonderful foster homes asking for cats. But I got stuck making a business decision.

For the better good of the rescue...."Think LONG TERM, Beth" (*puke*)

Nothing brings down an excited foster Mom more than dealing with a sick cat. They're frightened for the safety of their own resident cats, and worried that they're being overly cautious and spending the rescue's money unwisely by taking the cat to the vets.

Personally, I like to error on the side of caution. I think it's better to be safe than sorry and get the cat to the vets. Nothing makes me happier than to hear the vet say, "Silly Beth - there's nothing wrong with the cat."

Yaa. Frickin'. Hoo.

Today it was a business decision. Tomorrow...well...tomorrow....who can resist this little butterball girl that needs me?

Update: "Millie was rescued today, February 27th - she's a cutie!"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A New Home for Tigger

I'm such a I sit here and type this I have tears streaming down my face. Tigger has a new home. His foster family absolutely adores him and he sleeps with them each night. They couldn't part with him after an adoption call came in. This little guy went from a windowless basement apartment into the lap of luxury and love. He's come a long way:

Click here to read about George & Tigger

The foster family is Russian. Tigger's former owner is Russian also. I often wonder if that's the reason he didn't warm up to me. Tigger didn't like my silly babytalk that I babble to all the cats. This family speaks Russian in the home and he understands them. Why the hell didn't I think of that?
If Tigger had spoken Spanish, I would've been set! Ole`!
Congratulations on your new home, Tigger. I'll never forget you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Here We Go Again!

Look at that sweet little face and tell me that you could let her die alone in the shelter. neither. Mallie was brought into Animal Control the day I was leaving with a bunch of cats. She's just a baby (14 weeks?) and was brought in by a very nice man who thought he was doing the right thing. The man said he found her absolutely frozen in a snow bank. He "thawed her out" and brought her into the shelter for help. Of course she hasn't been seen by the vet at the shelter yet - he's on vacation. (Don't get me started) She was purring and looked happy to be out of the cold. The shelter staff thinks she has a broken pelvis from being hit by a car or kicked by someone. Because Mallie was brought in as a stray, they wouldn't let me take her at that moment. She had to do her "Stray time" which is 3 days.

Three days with a probable pelvic fracture. If I had been 5 minutes faster, I could've taken her with me, but she had already been put into "the system". I just wanted to grab her and run. Let 'em try to catch me.

So here we go again - rescuing another kitty that'll no doubt need a month's cage rest and a ton of vet bills that go along with her. As much as it sounds like I'm complaining - I'm really not. This is what we *do*. This is what we're *about*. The same wonderful volunteer who set up a cage in her living room for "Roxie" (our last pelvic fracture) has offered to take on Mallie too. Bless her heart.

We're coming to get you tomorrow, Mallie! You're going to feel better soon and go to a wonderful foster Mom who'll love you to pieces.

You're a lucky, lucky little girl and only the best will do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Something to Smile About

I always worry when my day begins with me stepping in a pile of cat barf in my bare feet. I suppose I could be grateful it wasn't cat pee and it was on the tile and not in the carpet. Nothing wakes me up faster than a *squish* between my toes. Who needs Tim Horton's when there's cat barf and bare feet? I cleaned myself up and slithered blurry-eyed down to my office and cautiously peeked into my e-mail Inbox. Surely when a day starts out so badly nothing good can show up in my Inbox this morning? I was wrong.

A few days ago we adopted a senior cat named "Pepper" to an active 82 year old man whose cat just passed away. I received an e-mail from the gentleman's daughter:

Dear Beth,
We picked up Pepper Saturday afternoon. Pepper is a beautiful animal and she has such a sweet personality. Dan’s father came with us and we have not seen him so happy in very long time. We can’t thank you enough for Pepper. She has already made a huge positive difference in our father’s life. He and Pepper hit if off right away. When we got them home, we were amazed that Pepper didn’t hide – she seemed very inquisitive about her new surroundings, but actually quite at home. We called him in the evening to see how they were doing and Pepper was sitting on his lap watching the hockey game with him..haha. Dan’s father has Sunday dinner with us every week and he didn’t even stay as long afterwards because he was anxious to get home to her. He talked non stop about her during dinner – he just loves her Beth. We are so happy. Thank you Beth and friends. You have made a real difference in our father’s life and we are very grateful.

Halleluah! After my last post about Senior Cats, this was such a victory for me, the rescue and all little old kitties that people think aren't as cute as kittens.

I haven't stopped smiling. :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Senior Moment

It all started with "Charlotte", a 20 year old cat that was being surrendered at Animal Control while I was rescuing some other cats. I overheard the idiots say, "We don't want her anymore because she doesn't like to play. We're hoping to get a kitten." I took Charlotte home with me that day, not knowing what I was going to do with this little old lady.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I didn't have to do anything. I just had to love her. Charlotte didn't ask anything of me. She was without a doubt the sweetest little old lady I had ever known. She lived 6 months and I adored every inch of that boney, toothless little girl. I loved her until the day she died in my arms at the vets.

Charlotte lookin' cute!

Because of Charlotte, I've left an open place in my home to rescue and love a senior cat for whatever time they have left.

The next little girl was "Betsy". The vet estimated that she was 16-18 years old. Such a delicate little flower! I brought her home from the shelter and she purred happily in my arms. I remember the feeling of dread in my heart when I was petting her and felt a large lump on her side. I took her to the vets where they did an x-ray and subsequent exploratory surgery. The vet called me during the operation and I knew it wasn't good news. It was pancreatic cancer and it was "all over". I let Betsy die peacefully on the operating room table. I only had her 3 days.

My current little old man is "Lionel Thundercat". The vet thinks he's about 18 years old. When I first brought him home from the shelter, it almost hurt me to pet him - his bones protruded from under his skin. He must've been loved at some point in his life, because he was declawed. Lionel came into my home and took over. He asks nothing of me - he just wants love. The look of adoration in his eyes each day gives me reason to keep doing this. He's been with me for 3 months now and I've grown to love him very much.

Lionel is dying. There's no beating around the bush. He's at the vets tonight and his kidneys are failing. The vet is going to try "one more thing" tonight and if he doesn't improve I'll have to say goodbye to my Thundercat. When he does go, it won't be because I don't want him or he isn't loved. He'll die with someone trying to save his life - not kill him because there are too many cats at the shelter.

When he's gone, there will be another senior cat that needs me. I'm going to keep doing this as a loving tribute to a little toothless old lady named Charlotte that changed my life and the way I thought about senior cats. People who overlook these gentle, sweet souls don't know what they're missing.

An Update: Saturday, 12:00 pm., February 16th; I said goodbye to my Lionel Thundercat. He was in multiple organ failure and there was nothing more that I could do but lovingly let him go. I bet Charlotte and Betsy were waiting for him at "The Bridge". Damn. I'm going to miss that old man.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rescue Day at the Shelter

Today was a "Rescue Day". I always have mixed feelings on these days. I love loading up all the crates and putting them in my car, and making the list on which cats we're rescuing. I sit and look at their pictures the night before and wish I could communicate to them, "This is your last night in that scary place." Today was a snowy, icky day which makes the rescue seem more dramatic than it really was. I love seeing those cute little faces in person. They always look so different than on the shelter website.

Fortunately, the shelter wasn't that crowded today. I have a coping mechanism that gets me through the shelter: I never look at any of the cats in the eyes. If I look into their eyes and see the despair, anguish and abandonment, I just can't do it. It hurts too much. The pain is overwhelming. It's almost as if I can feel what they feel. So I breeze past the cages, stopping momentarily to make kissing sounds at some through the bars - but I don't look into their eyes. I try to stick to "the rescue list".

"The Rescue List". That's kind of a joke in itself. I talk a big game of "not looking into their eyes", but I rarely can get out of there with just the cats on the list. Have you ever gone to the grocery store with a grocery list and ONLY bought the things on the list? Me either. Today, the lucky kitty du jour was "Marlo". She's a little medium haired tortie that was purring and her eyes met mine. I was toast. "OK...load her up!" She was brought into the shelter with a note that said she was abandoned in a stairwell of an apartment complex. Charming.

You have to know that I've heard a million different excuses for getting rid of a cat. I thought I had heard them all until today. I saw this really cute black declawed cat - written on his shelter card for the reason he was being surrendered? "He kept jumping up on the furniture." God, I hate those ignorant people. Here's a picture of the "monster" that likes jumping up on the couch.

I grabbed the 5 other little sweeties on "the list" and ran out the door before I saw some other idiot trying to dump their cat. Don't worry - I'm going to go back for the "Couch jumper" and he can sit on any couch he wants.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Leap of Faith

Nobody can say that I don't know when to say "Uncle". But my latest foster "Tigger" had me really baffled. He had been with me for 1 week and still remained barracaded in my guest bathroom, periodically taking swipes at me, his eyes dialated and ears back. As I've said in other posts, I don't do well with these kind of cats. So I made a few calls to foster parents who had some experience.

The first call was to LisaMarie whose current foster cat hid behind the only toilet in the house, hissing, growling and lunging at them whenever they reached for the toiletpaper. I can only imagine what it's like to sit on the toilet in your most vulnerable of vulnerable positions to have an angry cat growling at you. She said things didn't change for Caesar until they introduced their own cats to him. Hmmm....Tigger had lived in a windowless basement apartment before meeting me - how on earth would he react to other cats?
The next call was to Julie who has a "commando" style for introducing cats. She said, "Beth, open the door and let him deal with the other cats. Maybe that'll help him."

I was desperate. So I filled a giant tupperware bowl of water to dump over any cat fights and opened the door to the bathroom. Five cats flooded the washroom, dying to see who was on the other side of the door. To my amazement, Tigger was absolutely THRILLED! For the first time, he looked actually happy....sniffing the other cats, and not a hiss to be heard.

It's been two days, and Tigger is a different cat. I can pet him and scratch under his chin. He loves playing with my cats and the feeling seems to be mutual. Although he hasn't really ventured through the rest of the house, I'm certain that's only days away now.

Thank you ladies for your wonderful advice....You gave me courage and it looks like we have another happy ending in the making....

Tigger and Bandit

Playing a little too rough for me....but they love it!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Common Ground

It's no secret that I have two teenage sons that drive me crazy most of the time. Finding a common ground between me and 17 & 19 year old males isn't always easy. In fact, it's downright impossible. I never know what subject will be considered sacred - girls? school? university? God forbid - money!

But there's one thing we can always talk about - cats. I think parents who have no pets by choice really miss out on that common bond. These rough, macho boys melt when I bring in a new foster - or when one gets adopted. I remember my older son bottlefeeding newborn kittens a few times. This is the same kid that comes home from University for the sole reason that he misses "HIS cat - Jackson". There's nothing like watching your sons nurture animals that makes you feel warm and fuzzy - no matter how irritating they are.

I've completely let things get out of hand at dinnertime because I'm desperate for pleasant conversation. Two of our cats sit on the kitchen table while we're eating dinner. We laugh as they scoot closer...and closer to our plates. It's OK that we're not talking about grades, or perhaps the latest scratch on my car. There's laughter in the house, and I'll do almost anything to keep that energy.

I wonder if it's the major reason I want to keep my latest foster, "Thomas". My younger son and I have developed a special bond with Thomas. Sometimes after school we'll hang out on my bed and do nothing but kiss Thomas and talk about how cute he is. "Mom, we REALLY need to keep him!! I'm so attached and I love him so much!" Yeah, me too Bud. I don't want to lose that common ground.

Our family pets give us so much joy - so much absolute happiness. It's the common denominator when nothing else makes sense in our lives.

Monday, February 04, 2008

An Update On Tigger

Tigger is safe in my guest washroom tonight. He looks very depressed, and didn't eat anything at the vets during his two day stay.

I was thinking that we don't really have an opportunity to see cats from the moment they were abandoned by their owners. Usually, we're rescuing from the shelter, and they've already had a chance to settle in.

There's no doubt about it - Tigger is depressed. I think he misses George, and isn't eating for me either. I opened a can of "Kitty Crack" (aka: "Fancy Feast Grilled Tuna") He's letting me pet him, but he's being cautious. I want to kiss his little pink nose so badly! I keep scratching him under his chin and telling him that he's safe and I'm glad that he's here.

I'm a little blue tonight. No doubt I'm feeling better than Tigger.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Doctor Is In

Anybody who saw our vet bills would say we were insane to do what we do. If our rescue were IBM, they'd be filing bankruptcy within 2 months and the shareholders would douse themselves in gasoline. Sure...we're broke. Our adoption fee is $150.00, and our vet bills for the month of January was $10,000.00.

I know I should care, and I DO care about our financial situation. But would I do anything differently? No. No. and No. How could I ever tell one of our loving foster Moms that their foster cat isn't worth the extra money to make him well? I couldn't. I wouldn't.

Why on earth would anyone want to be part of a rescue that doesn't care for their cats medical needs? When I first came to Canada, I fostered for a rescue that didn't do such a great job on the healthcare of their cats. The one poor little kitty that I was fostering had ear mites so badly that her ears were bleeding and infected. She was miserable. When I asked the director to take the cat to the vets, she said "Maybe next week we can do it." That's not acceptable in my books. I spent $350.00 of my own money to insure the cat was taken care of, and checked out of the rescue.

I'm incredibly appreciative of the work our primary vet does for us. He gets stuck with a lot of crap and his poor vet assistant gets stuck with 5 phone calls per day from 5 different people asking about the status of the same cat! They deal with emotional foster parents and me wringing my hands with worry about money. I've looked through each and every bill that comes in. He doesn't charge us for a lot of stuff he should. He's a lovely man, and I'm so grateful to have him.

The running joke between me, D- and J- is that "SOMEBODY has to start sleeping with a veterinarian, so we can get some free stuff!" *LOL* I was bummed to find out my daughter is in love with a soon-to-be-Podiatrist and not a veterinarian.

There must be a cute single veterinarian who wants to meet my daughter?? I'm too old to be showing some thigh for free vet care.
January's Vet Bill stack. Anybody have a match? :)