Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Little Bit of Hope

When things go bad with kittens, they go REALLY badly. We rescued a sweet little litter of babies with their Mom last week. We knew 8 week old Hope had a birth defect. She had no joints in her back legs and would drag herself around. The shelter had wanted to euthanize her right away.

It was agonizing trying to decide what to do for this baby. But we decided that this kitten deserved a chance. The least we could do would be to allow our vet to look at her. With our vet - there's always hope. It seemed ironic that was our kittens name too. D- rescued the whole family and we took Hope into the vets today.

The news wasn't good. I arrived late with my own cat this morning to find D- and another foster Mom in tears - Hope was in their arms. Our vet looked a little pale (which is tough to do for an Indian guy!). He felt that Hope's quality of life would be very poor. She'd never be able to make it in and out of the litterbox. She would forever fight infection in her back end because she could only drag her hind quarters around.

Little Hope was mewing - biting our fingers playfully . Her eyes danced as kittens usually do. She didn't know that she didn't have a "quality of life" or what we were going to be forced to do.

Two more foster parents showed up with their cats. J- was there too and we decided together to say goodbye to Hope. The vet injected her with a sedative, but Hope was a fighter and wouldn't go to sleep. It was an agonizing 10 minutes as we waited for the sedative to kick in. Dr. took her and mercifully put her to sleep with an overdose of anesthesia gas.

It was merciful for ALL of us. Not just Hope. We can move forward now. Poor D- was in shambles. She had loved that little Hope for the past week. I loved her the moment I saw her little face.

When I posted this picture of the litter, I had planned on circling Hope's picture. But I guess it doesn't matter which one died today. All that matters is that we loved her.

Where there's love - there's hope.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Kitten Season Welcome

I wasn't expecting to announce the arrival of "Kitten Season" until April 15th. It feels odd to think that kitten season is here while there is still snow on the ground. Maybe I'm just ill prepared for the onslaught of little ones. I usually send out an e-mail to all the foster homes BEFORE kitten season arrives to compile a list on who wants to foster a pregnant Mom, Moms and kittens, or litters without Moms, bottlefeeding kittens, etc...

Either I'm late with the e-mail, or kitten season is pretty darn early.

The hardest part of kitten season for me is trying to stay organized with the numbers of litters we have, their ages and when they're able to be adopted. Right now we have six mom cats and 5 separate litters of kittens. I know this much because one of the foster Moms e-mailed me to give me a kitten update and I had totally forgotten that she had this little litter of babies! I knew then it was time to get organized!

Right now, we have 27 kittens in "the pipeline". None of them are ready to be adopted yet. We have one pregnant Mom cat and a worried foster Mom who is anxious to see her new arrivals. It's all so exciting, really! It feels like Christmas when I get a phone call or e-mail: "The kittens have arrived, and everybody is OK!"

Kitten season is a gut check for me. When it's good - it's really good. When I get bad news - well, it's really bad. I'm glad I have the blog this year to journal my experiences. No doubt there will be lots of posts.

I'm hoppin' aboard "The Kitten Season Rollercoaster"! (Pass the Gravol, please!)

<--Isn't she cute? She was born March 3rd!

Update: I forgot TWO more Mom cats + TWO more litters of kittens! Good Lord, I have to get organized!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ignorance or Stupidity?

Recently, my housekeeper asked me for help in rehoming her cat because he was "peeing everywhere". After spending about 30 minutes with her and asking all the relevant questions: "Did you change the litter? Location of the box? Does he have a Urinary Tract Infection?" I realized she had never gotten the little guy neutered! *UGH* She was thrilled a week later when she had him neutered and he no longer pee'd on anything. It all seems so obvious to me.
Yesterday, I responded to a post on Craigslist from someone trying to rehome a "persian/russian blue mix" - 6 month old kitten. This is how the thread of e-mails went:

Beth: Hi! Why are you rehoming this darling sounding kitten?

Jonas: hi Beth,,,me and my wife adopted 2 kittens and ask the owners to give us Both Females,,,about a month ago we noticed that one of them is in fact a male because of obvious reasons,,,his balls started getting more visible,,,lol,,,unfortunately,,,we dont want them to start doing it because they are brother and sister,,,,so one has to go,,,,you must understand,,,he is our baby and would only go to a good home.

Beth: Hi Jonas! Why don't you get him neutered? :) Then you don't have to worry about it! :)

Jonas: im sorry,,,,its not that,,,,its the fact that they are siblings,,,i just dont want that,,,

Beth: Is he a friendly boy? I can take him into my rescue if you really need help. But if you have him neutered, you don't have to worry about them mating. I feel sorry for him - they've been together their whole lives and now you want to split them up. They'll both probably be very depressed to be separated. If you don't want them mating, just get him neutered. It's so easy!

Jonas: so your saying is that,,,if we get him neutered and spayed,,,,they wont mate,,,,not at all?????is this true???

Beth: Yes...that's true! If you get him neutered, he will not be interested in mating with her. :) Where do you live? I can recommend a good vet in your area.

Jonas: thats very good,,,i live in brampton,,,by city centre,,,if thats the case,,,then keeping him is ok,,,thank you so much.

So it was that easy. Jonas called me, he's taking his beloved cat "Smooshy" to the vets next week to get him neutered. He was absolutely THRILLED that he gets to keep both of his cats and prevent "incest". I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.

I believe educating people is half the battle with pet overpopulation. As a rescue organization, we're so quick to judge people. But sometimes it's just plain ignorance.

But then again...sometimes...they just don't give a shit.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Laura Lee"

The call came in this morning from a lady who witnessed a man throwing a cat out the car window. He managed to slow the car down and give her a toss. The poor little thing went tumbling down a ravine. Lucky for this little girl Karen was able to rescue her and put her in the bathroom for the night.

Honestly, I don't know what I'd do if I actually saw someone throwing a cat out the car window. I'd be torn between going after the asshole guy and going after the poor cat. It would be a tough call for me - although me going to jail isn't exactly going to help the cat.

I met Karen at our vet clinic this morning to meet "Laura Lee". She's an absolute darling little thing - probably only 8 months old, grey and white with a very pink nose. As soon as I picked her up I could feel her round belly and my heart sunk. Crud...could she be pregnant? Our vet wasn't sure so is going to sedate her a little bit for a closer look. If she isn't, she'll be spayed and put into a loving foster home. If she is, finding her a foster home won't be so easy. But I'll beat down the doors - I always do.

Laura Lee is such an endearing kitty. She tucked her front feet under her very daintily on the exam table. I kissed her little face and talked to her. She had a few minor scratches on her nose from the fall, but otherwise looked really healthy.

My own cat Pella was thrown from a car window in a box with her kittens on the 400 Hwy. To this day, I still look at Pella and wonder how anyone could do such a thing to her. Of all my cats, she's the sweetest one. She's a little "Bowling Ball Cat", round and short legs and tail. I love her dearly.

To the coward that threw Laura Lee out the window, I say: "You're lucky I didn't see you do it. I drive fast, and I'd find you. What comes around goes around. I can promise you that."

To Laura Lee: We're going to find you a wonderful home. You'll be kissed and loved so much that you'll forget the past and know only a beautiful future. I can promise you that."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Be It Ever So Humble...

I really expected that I would dread coming home after a week in sunny Florida. I must be more Canadian than I realize. The cool air and dirty snow banks were a welcome site at the airport.

I had made an agreement with my husband before we left - He wouldn't check his Blackberry, and I wouldn't check e-mail and call D & J every day to see what cats were adopted. I'm pleased to say that we both honoured that agreement.

I did call "Poor Paua" the petsitter to make sure my gang wasn't pining away for us. Predictably, Ozzie pee'd in her sink and bathtub, and Bob pee'd next to the litterbox. Newman didn't have an epileptic seizure while we were gone, which is always a bonus. As always, "Poor Paula" did a great job taking care of my babies. Nobody seemed to miss us.

There was an adoptathon going on the morning after I returned home. It was weird showing up and not knowing who some of the cats were! Good Lord, I wasn't gone that long! But things change quickly with cat rescue. D & J filled me in on all the adoptions and problematic situations. I held my breath as they spoke and waited to hear that everything fell apart while I was gone. It didn't happen. As usual, I worried for nothing.

There were 267 e-mails in my Inbox. I muddled through them in anticipation that I won the lottery or something. (I don't think they'll notify me in e-mail, but I was hopeful.)

I woke up this morning to cat barf on my dining room table, and somebody had dug in my planter. I had thrown out some nasty old salami yesterday, and somebody had managed to pull it out of the garbage and had eaten part of it. Abracadabra! the cat barf on the dining room table!

((**Click those Ruby Slippers**)) "There's no place like home...there's no place like home....there's no place like home!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cat Hair In The Suitcase

I should be excited about my trip to Florida tomorrow, however the "International Complaint Among Women" seems to prevail and prohibit me from enjoying the pre-trip excitement. As the primary woman in the family, I'm in charge of getting the pets ready for the Petsitter who is coming to stay with my brood.

Paula is a wonderful petsitter. She stays in my house while we're gone and sees that everybody is fed and happy. I didn't realize until I actually typed it out how complicated my routine is for my pets! Here's the exact copy of what Paula (now known as, "Poor Paula") has to contend with while I'm gone (remember - this is JUST feeding them!):

Feeding the Gang

Maggie: 5:00 pm. One Scoop Wellness Dry, with One Can Merrick’s – 1X per day
(LOCATION OF FOOD: Maggie’s dry food is located under the sink in the laundry room, and her canned food is in the small cupboard to the right of the kitchen sink. Her doggie biscuits are there too. She’ll want a biscuit in the a.m. when she goes outside)
Main Floor Kitties: Ozzy, Jackson, Willy, Bandit, Wilbur
8 or 9 a.m.: 1 large can Wellness divided into 1/5, along with smaller can of Wellness divided into 1/5. I try to change it up for them often. It’s OK to mix up foods.
4:30 pm: Same as a.m. routine
(LOCATION OF FOOD: The canned food is under the kitchen sink, along with the dry)
***Ozzy receives 0.1 ml of his transdermal cream on the inside of his ear in the morning – once per day.** If he doesn't get this medication, he'll start peeing in the sinks.

Upstairs Kitties: Bob, Pella, Newman, Phoebe & Thomas
8 or 9 a.m.: They eat on two paper plates – 1 small can wellness divided ½, along with a can of Fancy Feast Tuna poured over the top. Please keep the dry food bowl full. Phoebe and Pella seem to prefer it, which is why we only put out two cans. As you can see, nobody is starving up there.
****GIVE NEWMAN ½ Pill at this time.****
9 p.m.: Same routine as the a.m.
***Newman gets the other half of her pill**
**I left a “pill halver” in the kitchen near her pill bottle – it’s easier and more accurate than cutting with a knife.

Forgot to mention that Bob has decided to pee right next to his litterbox every day. I just clean it up with toiletpaper and flush it down. There are Clorox wipes on the back of the toilet to sanitize. Bob doesn’t pee anywhere else – just right in front of his damn litterbox! Drives me crazy!!!

"Poor Paula" has 3 pages of directions. "Newman loves her "blankie" and needs it when she goes to sleep, Pella has poop on her butt all the time now, and needs her butt wiped"...the list goes on ad infinitum.

They're looking very pitiful as I'm trying to pack. I worry about my own cats and I worry about the 100+ cats in our rescue. It's time to leave it all behind and enjoy my 5 days of sunshine and poolside glamour.

I'm going to miss them. They're my family.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Gus & Priscilla

Personal turmoil always leaves me feeling introspective about the past. I was sitting here tonight thinking about my most memorable foster cats that I personally fostered. Without a doubt, it would have to be "Gus" and "Priscilla". Gus and Priscilla had to be the most unadoptable pair we had ever rescued. They had been dumped brought into the shelter together because the family was moving. They only had each other and were huddled in a dog kennel because they were too big to fit in a cat cage. Gus had one eye and Priscilla was not the most personable cat in the world.

I figured I'd end up fostering them forever. I was wrong.

Two months after their rescue, a newlywed couple in downtown Toronto called me and wanted to adopt Gus & Priscilla. They didn't drive - could I deliver them? You betcha!

It was my first Toronto winter storm on the evening I was to drive downtown. I asked my husband David to drive and we loaded up Gus and Priscilla and headed down the highway. I think we were driving about 20 kms - complete whiteout conditions. For a Southern California girl like me, it was terrifying. How could it get any worse? It did.

The smell from the backseat hit us like a ton of bricks. Gus had pooped in his crate and Priscilla was vomiting in hers. Happy Travelers, they were not. David and I quickly opened our windows - snow was blowing in and our heads were hanging out. Seriously - I've never smelled anything like that in my life. We knew we couldn't deliver them to their new home in that condition, so we found a convenience store. David was grinning from ear to ear when he brought out baby wipes! He's a freakin' genius!

We pulled over to the side of the road (it's still snowing like crazy). I climbed into the backseat and proceeded to take Gus out of his crate to clean him up. It wasn't just "poop". The stuff was nuclear, I swear to God. He had rolled in it and now it was on me, on the car seat, in my hair. Priscilla wasn't any easier, but at least she didn't smell.

We arrived at the VERY excited Newlywed's apartment. I felt like the stork, delivering their bundles of stinky joy. Gus came running out of the crate - poopy feet galloping proudly over their white carpet. Priscilla slithered under their couch and threw up again. I grabbed Gus and ran to their washroom...putting a crying, wiggly 22 lb cat's feet in warm running water, all the while I'm trying to make small talk with these people. " have a lovely apartment here!" David looked pale. Watery poop was flying up on their mirror.

It was only after I left their apartment I noticed my appearance. I can't describe it without a surge of humiliation - no wonder these people gave me an extra $20.00 donation.
But Gus and Priscilla had a home. This "unadoptable pair" had a home - forever. They set the bar for all other cats that seemed unadoptable. "If Gus and Priscilla could get adopted....."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Can See the Light....<*squint*>

The fog is starting to lift from my heart, thank heavens. It was a scary week for me because I've never felt so isolated and fragile before. It was a good thing for me to post what was going on. Gratefully, I received an outpouring of care and concern - some of the people I didn't even know! I received several e-mails from the directors of other cat rescues who understood and had been there done that:

Dear Beth,
I run a cat rescue in ,(deleted for privacy) and understand exactly what you're going through. There is a burnout factor in what we do. Sometimes the burnout is just the need to take a day off for myself. Other times I sit and wonder what I got myself into. Sounds like you experienced the latter for the first time. Keep at it despite the momentary anguish. It does pass and you'll be able to move forward. The biggest mistake you can make is to isolate yourself from others. Force yourself to talk about it and ask for help. I understand. Best of luck from a fellow sister in rescue.

Thank you for that e-mail, "fellow sister in rescue". It goes to show that we really are a family.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

When the Bad - Gets Ugly

If you're looking for an inspiring cat rescue post today, this isn't it.

I told myself that I wasn't going to post on my blog until things got better for me. So I posted a poem from a foster parent to give the illusion that things were OK in my life, but they really aren't.

I'm not sure if it was turning 46 yesterday that put me over the edge after a crummy week, or if it was just the accumulation of constant bad news all last week. I've posted in the past that I never have more than 2 really bad days, but last week was "the topper" with a solid 7 days of pure crap.

I've made a couple of poor decisions for the rescue that I wish I could take back - but can't. Some foster homes have made some poor decisions that I'm sure they wish they could take back - but can't. We've had sick cats and returned cats from prior adoptions.

I started this blog as therapy and as memoirs of the good, the bad, the ugly of cat rescue. But as I found out that people were actually reading the blog, I felt as if I needed to be a feel good inspiration. However, this morning when I answered the cat rescue phone line at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning only to hear someone crying on the other end and wanting to return her cat she adopted from us a year ago, I knew I had to vent a bit.

I feel like one of those cartoon characters with a dark cloud hanging over their head. The part that ticks me off the most is that it's detracting from the small victories we have had this week. Not fair. Not fair at all. I've actually resorted to talking to myself in the morning as I sip my coffee: "Today will be a GOOD day....I *CHOOSE* to have a good day..."

I did a little "Retail Therapy" yesterday and bought some crap at Home Sense I didn't need. Candles and picture frames always lift my spirits a little bit.

The sad part is that I walked by a really cute garden cat statue. I just couldn't stomach it.