Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lost and Found

I lost one of my foster cats. I don't know how it happened or where it happened, but he's not in my house. Dakota was rescued with his brother "Max" and they're about 18 months old.

I'm a veteran at answering the front door bent over with my hand flat out so the cats don't get out. I've been doing it for 25 years, and my family is the same way - I can't imagine how he could've gotten out the front door, but I'm guessing he did.

His brother Max is devastated. He's been wandering around my house with the mournful cries, crying out for his brother.

It's horrible. Really, really terrible.

Tomorrow, I'm going to put signs up, and check with Animal Control on Monday. Dakota is a pretty skittish guy so I don't hold out much hope he'll turn up on somebody's doorstep. I've only had him for a few days, so he doesn't know where he lives.

Tomorrow, I was supposed to take Max and Dakota to the Petsmart adoption centre. I can't do it now. I can't leave Max in a Petsmart cage after he's lost his beloved brother. I can't do it. Can't do it.

This incident doesn't go under the category of "shit happens". It's beyond that. I feel like such a fool. I took the dog for a walk tonight with hope I'd spot him. I called out his name, but he doesn't really know me.

I haven't given up hope yet....but I'm close.

Update Sunday 9 a.m. - DAKOTA HAS BEEN FOUND! He was hiding behind my dryer. I must've looked there a million times yesterday, but there he was laying in the lint and lost socks. I have no idea if he could get out or not, but at least he was in the laundry room with food, water and a litterbox. He's hissing at me and his brother seems happy to see him. Thank God.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stress and the City

I don't think I've ever really talked about stress and cat rescue before. I don't know what it is about stress, but I'm not one of those people that thrive on it.

The phone rang at 6 a.m. (yes, 6 in the MORNING) yesterday morning by a lady that adopted Sawyer, a darling, sweet little guy with a Grade 5 heart murmur. He had simply dropped over and died. No doubt it was a heart attack. She was crying and asked me to come over and pick up the body. That's a service I can't provide - not at 6 a.m.. It hurt to e-mail the former foster family that loved him dearly. The heart murmur was fully disclosed to the adopter, but I had hoped she would love him longer than the 2 weeks she had him. Such sad stuff.

The day continued with me picking up a shoe filled with cat pee and flinging it all down the front of me. How on earth did Bob pee in a shoe? I don't think I could pee in a shoe if I tried. I loved those shoes.

I must've been really focused on the tasks of the day, because I forgot to close my car window fully at the car wash and got a blast in the face with water. I took this as a sign to get myself together. What else could I do but laugh? It felt good to laugh and I could feel the stress ease away.

Over the past 48 hours we've had two prior adopters come forward and want to return 3 cats. One of the cats had been adopted over TWO YEARS AGO! The other gal wanted to return her two cats because they broke a vase and she can't handle the stress. Good Lord, did I really adopt to these people? A broken vase? She needs to spend a day at my house.

I'm not letting these people off the hook. I walk a fine line when I tell people to suck it up and deal with their responsibilities. I don't want the cats to suffer the consequences. But we're REALLY full right now, cats are dying at the shelter and I don't feel very nice about taking adopted cats back.

We have a couple of foster homes that need to move problem cats, and I have two brothers in my den. One of the brothers gave me a scary howl and chased me out of the room. *argh* I hate it when that happens! I'm sure it's a funny site to running out of the room with pooper scooper in hand.

I was at the shelter yesterday and rescued a bunch of cats. It's a grim site over there, lemme tell ya. So many sweet young cats. I ended up taking too many. Somehow it'll all work out, but it sure didn't help the stress levels in my head. The newly empty cages on a Wednesday meant that quite a few died.

I went to bed last night worried about the garage sale. They're calling for rain on Saturday. Looks like we're going to have to cancel. At least my garage isn't full of crap like it was last year. David's happy about that. We gotta get the husband's happy, right?

Although this post sounds like I'm discouraged, I'm really not. Things are OK despite the stress. I'm going to take some extra doses of vitamin B complex and cautiously take some treats into my cranky feline houseguests in my den.'ll all work out....

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's Garage Sale Time

This is going to be a busy week and despite some minor objections from David, we're having another garage sale at my house this year. I can hardly wait to get rid of the crrrrrap that's been in my basement for the past 5 years. I don't know why I've been keeping it. Like foster cats, some things are hard to part with. :)

My oldest son owes me some money, so he's going to be my fetch and tote kid to bring this stuff out of the basement. He thinks it's going to be an easy job - wait until he sees this stuff. I'm hoping we'll get some decent $$ for it all.

One of the nicest parts of doing the garage sale is how many former adopters show up! The past few years folks have shown up with pictures of their "kids". does a heart goood.

We put up a tent and have kittens in a shady area in "the kitten corral". The kittens won't be up for adoption, but it really helps keep people hanging around and buying stuff. Certainly, it adds credence to our cause. I do a lot of soliciting for foster homes during these things. I wonder if people avoid me because I talk about fostering so much?

Going through the boxes and bags that people have donated is really quite entertaining. Last year, somebody donated (accidently?) a sex toy that shall remain nameless. To this day, I wonder who donated it or who was missing it. *wink*

Lordie, I hate cleaning up after a garage sale. We're up at dawn and worked the whole day before the event, so cleaning up is the worse job of the day. The volunteers are all tired and uninspired. Nobody (especially me!) wants to clean up the crap that was left behind.

D-- is bringing her teenage son to help. If the truth be known, I'm jealous that her son WANTS to help us. (This is the same kid that played Santa at our holiday event!) I asked my youngest son (he's 17 years old) to donate some of his old toys and he said he would - if - he could keep the money. Can we say "T-U-R-D"? It must be nice to have an unselfish teenager in the house. I'm going to sell his stuff anyway - he'll be asleep and won't miss it. Do I sound bitter? I'm more embarrassed than anything.

It's going to be a busy week - but I'm up for it. Just got back from San Francisco after watching my baby graduate from nursing school. Now if she can only marry a veterinarian...

But I digress....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Drama of a Foster Based Rescue

This post should be titled: "Things I Shouldn't Have to Deal With". Sure, we rescue cats, pay bills, deal with adopters and foster homes. But when things go bad in a foster home, it's always disturbing.

I received an e-mail from a foster home to move a cat. Nothing unusual. Sh*t happens. But as the day progressed, the e-mails started sounding more urgent....They started out with, "Can we please move so-and so?" By the end of the day.... "The cat HAS to go boyfriend is threatening to throw the cat outside..."

The alarm bells went off. "Throw the cat outside????" This had been a very responsible foster Mom. What is going on? I didn't ask many questions. It was 8:30 at night and I knew something really bad was going on at that home. I called another foster Mom that lived near her and asked her to pick up the cat. God bless her...she did it. She left her warm home with her family and picked up this poor cat from what I think was an abusive situation. I have no idea what was going on...but the young woman that had been fostering him was very upset. The poor girl. I wish I could help her too.

I can't begin to write about all the stuff that has happened in foster homes throughout the years. We've had some very dramatic situations. I try really hard not to dwell on these things or my head would spin off my neck like a top. I really do believe that people's intentions are GOOD. But when you're dealing with people, stuff happens that isn't always predictable. Isn't it that way with any job?

I think about my own life. When I was young, I took care of my cats. They were neutered, vaccinated and loved. I didn't trim their nails, and I was grateful that they weren't sick much since I was always poor. I moved a lot, went through a bunch of different relationships. My apartment looked like a Salvation Army showroom. But God help the man that wanted to throw out one of my cats.

I've spoken with a few other rescues throughout the years and some of them want nothing to do with a foster based rescue. "It's a hassle", they'd tell me. There are some days I understand why. But in my opinion it is the BEST way to rescue cats. Without foster parents we wouldn't be able to help people choose the right cat for them. Without foster parents our cats would be in cages, or I'd end up with 100 cats in my house and a divorce.

Without foster parents - I'd lose 90% of my friends. I really love these people that help me and our cats. They accept me as I am, and we have a common goal and bond.

For the good, the bad, and the ugly....I'm grateful for every last one of them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pillow Talk

I was sitting here tonight trying to figure out the last time I slept alone. I mean....REALLY alone. Even when my husband is out of town, there are still 4-5 cats on the bed with me.
I had the luxury of taking a nap this afternoon. It was a dark dreary day and nobody was in the house to remind me that I was being a slacker. So I took off my shoes and snuggled under the warm covers and made kissing noises to entice the cats to climb aboard. Pella, my fat black cat was the first to jump up. She's a confident girl and strode over - across my bladder - and sat on my chest. Phoebe, my little dilute calico came running too. She managed to jump across my left boob and left a big ol' scratch. (That's ok...I'm used to the abuse) Bob, my "Grandpa cat", climbed up on my pillow above my head, and Newman found a spot on my legs.

I felt like a mummy. I couldn't move. If I tried to move I got glares and nails that dug in to hold on. There was something very comforting about my babies surrounding me. I think people who don't have cats that snuggle up with them at night are really missing out on being part of "the litter". I woke myself up snoring because I was on my back. More glares from the felines.

One foster Mom told me yesterday how her foster kitten sleeps under her neck at night and purrs and purrs and purrs. She said she can't sleep with noise, so she puts in ear plugs. What a trooper!!

The other night I decided to fill up my jacuzzi tub and take a nice long hot bath. Before I even climbed in, the cats were positioned around the edges of the tub and batting at the bubbles. I wanted to light candles, but was worried I'd set a tail on fire or something. My husband came in, saw me surrounded in luxurious bubbles and gave me a sleazy smile and a "woo woo". I glared.

The poor guy. I shouldn't have glared. Afterall, I found a "cat butt stain" on his pillowcase the other day. Rather than changing the pillow case, I turned the pillow over and hoped he wouldn't notice. I know. I suck.

I received an e-mail this afternoon from a foster Mom who just brought home her new foster cat, Danny. She told me that Danny slept on the bed with her husband and watched a movie with him. It was like he had always been there.

So yes....I love my littermates and am happy I've been accepted as part of "the litter". I wouldn't change a thing.

I do feel pretty bad about the pillowcase though.

(My daughter Katy - napping - she's part of the litter too)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Post Confused Me and I Wrote It.

When you only have voice conversations with someone, you can often hear subtle changes in their voice and instantly know when something is wrong or when something has changed. I wasn't surprised that my mother recently made a comment that I sounded "different." Afterall - she IS my mother. She's always known when something wasn't right in my world without me saying a word. But what I hadn't expected is when she told me she thought I had become "harder" since I've been running the rescue.

I've been mulling this conversation over for days. Have I become "harder" and "thick skinned"?

Once I became more educated about the plight of homeless cats and what really happens in shelters, I became more vulnerable. I don't like being vulnerable. Vulnerable means I'm going to get hurt. Vulnerable is how you are when you tell someone "I love you" and hope and pray they say it back. Vulnerable is everytime I walk into shelter and know there will be a cat that touches my heart but I won't have the volunteers, resources or space to take him and he'll die. My emotional wall comes up and I have to protect myself. It hurts too much.

I told myself when I took over the rescue 4 years ago that I wouldn't lose sight of the mission. I wouldn't become one of THOSE "jaded shelter/rescue workers". But it was only last year that I started using the phrase, "We can't save them all". Was there a day that I REALLY thought I could save them all?

On the other hand, vulnerable also means *passion*. When I'm vulnerable, I do have passion. When I'm vulnerable I have the fire under my butt and feel like everything I say is the RIGHT thing to say. --"Even if you don't like what I'm going to say, you're going to hear it anyway!"-- When I'm vulnerable I feel like I'm moving in the right direction, making a difference, my soul is being fed.

This is a really hard blog post to write. It's almost TOO personal. It's easier writing about cat poop. I keep typing stuff and hitting the backspace button. As Dr. Phil says, "It's time to get real". But I'm not sure if I'm ready to do it. (Did I really just quote Dr. Phil?)

I saw a picture of a cat at the shelter - his name is Logan and he's neutered and declawed. I bet somebody loved him at some point. He looks so sad and abandoned. I need to be vulnerable to help him. I have to beg people to take him at the risk of being turned down.

I don't think I've become "harder". I think I've become wiser and more confident. I just wish I could stop getting hurt . But if I stopped getting hurt, I would get "tougher" and lose the passion.

(**lightbulb over the head**) I think I get it now.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Guilt and a Beautiful Day

With a twinge of guilt, I spent a good portion today in my yard gardening. It was good medicine to be outside on a crisp spring day and digging my hands into the earth. My front yard looks beautiful now...full of flowers. I periodically came inside and checked phone messages, returned calls and e-mails. I went to the nursery twice to buy more flowers and cut the extension cord in half while trimming hedges. (Crud!)

So why do I feel so guilty for not really working on rescue stuff today? Everybody had prompt returned phone calls and e-mails. Could I really be a "rescue work-a-holic"? My kids have confronted me a few times about "always being on the phone." They're teenagers and I think they have a lot of nerve to suggest that I'm on the phone too much. Just because I'm not at their beckon call...but I digress...

My office is located in my basement. It's a really nice basement, so I never feel like I'm working in squalor or anything. But on a beautiful day, I really fight being down in the dark. In the winter, I'm probably much more efficient. The rescue phone line rings at my desk, which I'm very proud to say that we're one of the few rescues where somebody actually answers the phone!

I took the cordless rescue phone outside with me while I worked. It was kind of neat to be answering the phone,(insert perky voice here) "Good morning, Blah...blah...blah, Rescue..." while I was planting flowers. I'd have to scurry inside when someone asked about a particular cat because my computer and files are downstairs. It worked beautifully until some teeny bopper drove by playing some "rap crap" while I was on the phone. Lord, I sound 86 - not 46.

Tomorrow, I'm not attending our adoption event. I'm excited to say that David and I are working on the BACK yard tomorrow and having some much needed marital bonding. I'll still answer the phones and e-mails, but not without guilt that I'm not at the adoption event. I have to do an adoption on Sunday, so my day off is going to be short-lived.

I hope it rains on Sunday...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Where's a Fork to Stick In My Eye?

I feel like dowsing myself in gasoline and lighting a match. Really. Today just plain sucked.

The first e-mail of the day started with news of an adoption! I love those, and I got into my shower this morning with a great attitude and a beautiful sunny Monday morning waiting for me to join it.

The day went downhill after that....

My first phone call of the day was someone wanting to "surrender" her 9 (NINE!!!) black cats. None of them were spayed or neutered. She lives in an apartment and a neighbour called animal control on her due to odour. (uh huh...I bet her place is a male-cat-pee love fest) She was crying and saying she didn't want to lose her cats. She wasn't a bad person. Just ignorant. Maybe I could take a couple of her black cats...*put it on the to do list*

I had my whole day planned out to spend part of it at one of the Petsmart locations where we were to start placing cats for adoption in their adoption centre. The animal control that's supposed to share with us, refused to move their cats. (that's a whole different post - what a nutcase!) Believe me, my situation isn't half as bad as the sweet volunteer who is keeping SIX of the cats that were supposed to go there today in her home. Now she's stuck with them until this can be sorted out. No good deed goes unpunished...

One of our foster homes told me she received a call today that our sweet "Jelly Bean" is being returned to us. The reason? "She wants too much attention." (Mental Note: Don't be too needy when David comes home from work tonight.)

I got an e-mail from a long time foster parent that was hurt, mad, upset at me for forgetting to ask about a sick cat that they have been fostering. It's a very very sick cat with a major heart problem. They took the poor guy to the vets at their expense (bless 'em) and I totally forgot to ask about the outcome of the visit. She was pretty mad at me for not supporting her.

Revenue Canada is obviously mad at me too. I forgot to file the return for the rescue. God, I haven't even balanced my bank statement, how on earth am I going to file a return for last year? WHEN am I going to do it?

How can I forget about the sick cat and my tax return, but I managed to remember to place an ad in the newspaper for the upcoming adoption event? I don't know. I'm running a 100+ volunteer organization and I'm only one person. D-- and J-- are doing their part and scrambling just like I am. I wish people would remember that my rescue day starts at 8:00 a.m., and ends at 10 p.m. I don't get paid, and I'm really never "off the clock". Even in Switzerland, I'm calling D-- to make sure everything is ok.

This wasn't the worst day in the world. Nobody died. The meatloaf was overcooked tonight because I was on the phone with an adopter, but we ate it anyway and nobody complained. My son that works at Starbucks is going to bring me home some "treats" tonight when he closes the store. I think some chocolate, sugar, and empty calories are just what I need tonight.

Friday, May 02, 2008


I don't believe in "luck" and I don't believe there are "coincidences". I believe things are meant to be for a reason. I had a beautiful example of that today that I wanted to share. Here's the story:

One of our new foster parents Sue, (her name's been changed) rescued several cats on Wednesday. While she was at the shelter a cat named "Calvin" really touched her heart. She didn't take him that day, but she thought about him all evening, through the night and the next morning. She said she wasn't sure WHAT it was about this 6 year old cat, but without my knowledge she was compelled to rescue him the next morning....and she did.

When I first heard that Sue rescued another cat was when our vet called and told me that Calvin needed about $300.00 in dental work. "Calvin? WHO is Calvin, and I don't have $300.00 for dental work!" But Calvin was in pain. His teeth were rotten and I authorized the dental work on this unknown cat.

The next day Sue was at work and showing pictures to other people in the office of her foster cats. A young man by the name of James was going through the pictures and stopped at Calvin's picture - "HEY! That's MAX!" Max had been missing for the past week. James hadn't worried too much because Max had a tendency to disappear and reappear periodically.

It was a miracle. Calvin and Max were the same cat and he had a home. I had a long talk with a very excited James. The poor kid - I really put him through a grueling set of questions. "Don't you know how close your cat came to being put to sleep?" "WHY the hell weren't you out looking for him?" etc. etc. I was pretty brutal with details of the shelter euthanasia process. I spared no details. I wanted to be sure that Max was going back to a good home.

Max is the family cat. I was assured over and over that Max is very much loved - James was so excited to get him home. Importantly, he was happy to pay the $300.00 dental bill too. Whew! James promised me that Max would never be permitted outside again.

The funny part of this story is that James told me that he had Max since he was in the 1st grade. I did the math...Max isn't 6 years old like the vet had thought. He's a 14 year old kitty!!

Nope. This was no coincidence. Thank you Sue -- You did more than save the life of a 14 year old cat that day. You reconfirmed in my heart that there is no such thing as "luck" or "coincidence." Sleep well, Max - you're home tonight.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Back In The Saddle

What kind of weirdo takes pictures of other people's cats while she's on holidays in Switzerland? Yes, I took pictures of two very cute Swiss kitties that were sitting out sunning themselves on a balcony. I made a complete fool out of myself - kissing noises, and secretly wishing they'd come down to the ground to say "hi". I was missing my cats and needed a "kitty fix" bad! David walked away and pretended like he didn't know me. Can't blame him.

So the house was still in one piece when I arrived home. My 17 year old son took care of "the crew" and mildly complained that there was some sort of cat event every 2 or 3 hours - Medicating cats, cleaning litterboxes, treat time, etc.. (*snicker*) There was the usual dried cat food on the kitchen counter that nobody bothered to wipe up, and some dried barf on the stairs . Seriously, my sons live like animals while I'm away. If they had tried to lure girls into the house in our absence, I'm sure the girls would have fled in horror after seeing the living conditions. At least the cat boxes were scooped - there IS that.

I always enjoy getting caught up on the rescue stuff after being away. We had a bunch of adoptions and I had the sad news that an entire litter of kittens died due to an upper respiratory infection. I wish I had been home to give comfort to the grieving foster Mom. Fortunately, D-- was here and had experienced the helpless feeling of losing kittens one by one and was able to comfort her. Life goes on, I guess. But sometimes it still hurts.

I came home to 327 e-mails in my Inbox. It took me a few minutes to figure out that half of them were for Viagara and Penis enlargements. I may have other problems, but I'm ok in the penis department, thankyouverymuch. (my apologies to my children who often read my blog)

Good bye to Switzerland ... thank you for not letting me see any lost cats. I don't think I could've left them behind.