Friday, September 28, 2012

Not a Typical Day In Cat Rescue

I no sooner pushed the "Publish" button on yesterday's blog post when the phone rang.  I was already stress with my sweet "soulmate cat" Newman in surgery, but I wasn't expecting complete chaos on the other end of the phone when I answered.  All I could hear was a man screaming.

It was the voice of my son.

The second voice I heard was his girlfriend's voice:  "Mrs. Turner,  I've called an ambulance for Patrick, he's in agonizing pain in his head and can't walk.  Can you come to the hospital?"

What you don't know is when Patrick was a teenager, he fell 45 feet (approximately 4 storeys)  onto the cement when a carnival ride collapsed.  He had recovered from a massive brain injury, but we always had the caveat that he could be predisposed to an aneurysm per his neuro-surgeon. 

I won't go into all the details, but after a CT scan, spinal tap and 8 hours in the emergency, they didn't know what was wrong. 

I would periodically leave the emergency room to check on Newman's surgery at the vets and ask one of our volunteers to take over the rescue's phone lines and emails.  I thought I had everything covered and even remembered there was a house showing at our other house for sale that needed to be cancelled!  I took a deep breath.

The cell phone rang in my hand as I sat outside of the hospital for a few moments in the sunshine.  It was the vet at another affiliated vet clinic.  One of our foster kittens was there and he wanted authorization to do an x-ray.  He suspected FIP.

I went back into the emergency room to be with my son and waited for another opportunity to walk outside to check on my own cat and the sick foster cat.  Another two hours went by and the doctor came in to do the spinal tap. 

With coffee in hand, I called the rescue's vet.  The kitten was dying.  It was FIP and he asked for permission to euthanize.  My heart sank.  It was just too much.  Newman, my son and a dying kitten?  I had a moment of complete selfish anguish.  Why can't I have just ONE DAY to deal with matters of my own life?  I put my hands into fists and closed my eyes.

Then I realized...Rescue IS my life, and sadly authorized the euthanisia of "Oz". 

My son and my Newman are both recovering.  I, on the other hand, spent today trying to recover from a Thursday I won't soon forget.

Kiss your loved ones....human and furry...tonight. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

I didn't sleep last night.  I tossed and turned and fretted about my own 10 year old cat "Newman" who is having dental surgery this morning.  Realistically, cats have dental surgery every day and most people drop them off at the vets, pick them up at the end of the day, pay the bill and go home. 

Not me.

I was thinking this morning how nice it would be if every cat had an opportunity to have somebody love them SO MUCH that their family didn't sleep the night before they have 3 teeth pulled.  I suppose that's what I wish for every cat.  That somebody loves them as much as I love my Newman. 

There's been an unusual number of calls on our rescue's phone line over the past few weeks with people finding litters of kittens or a cat suddenly appearing at a back door.  Strangely enough, the calls are ALL coming from the same city and the same area.  It's driving me crazy to think that people are moving away and leaving their cats to fend for themselves.  Cowards. 

Because these telephone calls are all coming from the same city as the high kill shelter, I'm wondering if people think that the cats have a better chance of survival if left outside than to end up at that shelter.  Every person that's called has said, "I don't want to take him/her to (the shelter) because they'll kill him/her."   It's great that there's been lots of press and education about this shelter.  But it's not so great that people are hesitant to bring lost cats or abandoned pets there. 

There are a lot of things worse than being euthanized at the shelter.  Ask the volunteers who take care of feral colonies, or people who have witnessed torture of animals. 

So yes.  I wish every cat had a home and not just any home...but a home where somebody loses sleep with worry for them.  That's a lot to ask. 

Today, I'll be waiting by the phone to hear how my little Newman did with her surgery.  Until she's back home, a little piece of me will be missing. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

From The Crapper

This must've been the most quiet Monday in history.  I woke up expecting the usual deluge of adoption calls, spay/neuter appointment requests, etc.  But there was only one call.  It was a complaint.

I always try to return complaint calls as quickly as I return the adoption calls.  It isn't easy.  People forget that I'm unpaid and am often returning calls at 9 am with my first cup of coffee in my robe.  If I could guess, I'd say 99% of  the rescue's few complaint calls are over post-adoption diarrhea. 

God, I'm sick of hearing about diarrhea.  Cats get diarrhea.  We get diarrhea.  I don't know why - food? stress? parasites?  Regardless, it makes adopters go crazy.  The problem is, a cat could have ZERO tummy problems before adoption, but I have no clue what they're feeding the cat once they leave our care.  They might have gotten into the garbage, or failed to kitten-proof the house.  Cats can be like raccoons and they'll eat stuff they shouldn't.

This morning, a woman had adopted two kittens from us.  Apparently, they were "shitting all over the house".  (Her words - NOT mine!)  The visual of "shitting all over the house" was alarming, so I called immediately only to find that she wants us to pay a $500.00+ vet bill for....D-I-A-R-R-H-E-A.  No, I'm not paying $500.00 for kittens with the squirts.  Take care of your own cats. 

It has suddenly occurred to me that I haven't posted since last week Wednesday and I'm talking about poop.  But I *do* have some really terrific news:

Clinton, the "too affectionate" cat that we rescued last week was adopted today!!!!  A lovely lady read about his ridiculous abandonment and gave him an A+++ home.  How's THAT for a fast adoption!?

Looks like we're going to have another rescue day soon....  :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rescuing Update

After a weekend of 19 adoptions, I've had the privilege of doing more rescuing than usual.  It's strange how I haven't been doing the actual rescuing as much as I used to.  I miss it sometimes. 

 Our volunteers went to the "high kill" shelter over the weekend and rescued 6 cats.

 Monday we rescued 3 Mom cats and 14 kittens.

 Tuesday was 1 tiny kitten and a 6 month old orange bruiser.

Today, we rescued 1 kitten (because the "tiny kitten" from Tuesday needed a friend) and we also rescued "Clinton".  Clinton was surrendered to the shelter because he was listed as "Too Affectionate".  Seriously.  Clinton didn't disappoint.  He walked into his foster home like he lived there forever.

Today, we also rescued a sweet Mom cat from outside.  Her family moved away from her and left her sitting on the front porch.  Bastards.  "Dear God, please don't let her be pregnant too."

With all the rescuing comes questions, vet visits and juggling.  Three of the cats have already been to the vets for not eating, a possible urinary tract infection, and an upper respiratory virus.  Of course, they came from the "high kill" shelter where it seems like eveybody gets sick and city seems hell bent on bankrupting small rescues like ours.  These cats might end up costing more than their future adoption fees.  We cross our fingers for the remaining cats, but at least they didn't come out of that shelter.  They stand a better chance. 

I always get anxious when we rescue this many at once.  Rescuing was a lot more fun when I wasn't responsible for paying the bills. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A (Much) Happier Day!

I think I'm still recovering from an insane Petsmart Adoption weekend.   I know I brag about our volunteers quite a bit on this blog.  But holy crap, we really do have the best volunteers.   Friday night, there was a highway closure and one of our volunteers drove for THREE hours just to get there with her foster cats for her shift. 

We're not a huge rescue, but we had every Petsmart shift covered from open to close for all three days of the event.   We had NINETEEN adoptions!!!  Every adult cat was adopted, and EVERY black cat and all but one black and white cat was adopted.  It was crazy - nobody adopted the flashy calicos and the one adorable orange and white guy we had. 

I met a really lovely senior couple at the event.  They only wanted a declawed cat, which we didn't have at the event.  So I went to the shelter this morning and picked up a really homely 4 year old declawed guy named "Louie".  The staff at the shelter told me that Louie was getting depressed and they were so happy I was taking him.   I delivered Louie to their front door and felt a bit like Santa Claus might delivering a very special present.  The couple thought Louie was very handsome and were thrilled.  Louie found the sofa and the huge picture window in the living room.  It was a wonderful moment and I always get teary-eyed to witness it.

The trek to the shelter went much faster than usual.  I took a volunteer with me who had never been to this shelter.  She left with THREE nursing Mom cats and their kittens.  She has a really neat set up for these little families and took a picture of one of the little groups:
Each family gets their own spacious area, and as the kittens grow and become more active, they all get more room.   This particular Mom cat is really neat looking, isn't she?  Love her smokey/black colour. 
I want to hit the "Send" button on this post before anything negative comes up.  It's been such a happy few days and I want to wallow in it for a while. 

Did I mention that we have THE BEST volunteers?  Our rescue and the cats are so fortunate to have them. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Too Much Dust to "Brush Off"

I wish I had written in my blog yesterday.  I really hate writing two downer blog posts in a row, but such is the life of a rescuer sometimes. 

We received the sad news that one of our kittens named "Dori" was diagnosed with FIP.  Thank heavens the foster Mom was alert to the signs - huge belly and skeletal-like body.  X-rays and a needle biopsy confirmed it this morning.  Dori was starting to sleep all the time.  She was eating, but not much.  Because cats are often called "The Great Pretenders", it was hard to know if she was really hurting but faking it. 

Regardless, there's nothing that can be done for a kitten with FIP.  It's fatal. 

So with tears in my eyes I authorized another kitten to be euthanized.

It took everything I had to say "Yes, it's OK.  I give my permission for euthanasia."  But when the vet said that according to Ontario Veterinary College I had to say those words a SECOND time to his receptionist for legal purposes, I lost control and started to really cry.  Saying it twice was too much and too painful.  

I'm grateful that I was able to busy myself with adoption event stuff.  We have a large Petsmart event coming up this weekend and organizing cage space and cats is definitely NOT my strongsuit.  Fortunately, we have quite a few volunteers who can organize these events far better than I can.  "I'll bring the cats!  You tell me where to put 'em and how many to bring!" 

It's been a tough week for our rescue.  I feel emotionally and financially drained.  I think this adoption event will be just the ticket for me.  Chatting, smiling and adopting out cats.  It's what I do best. 

Adopted cats mean it'll be time for another rescue. Rescuing is the 2nd best thing that I do.  :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another Cursed Monday

Once again, we faced another start of the work week where I had to tell a loving foster Mom that her beloved foster cat passed away.  After spending more than $2000.00 dollars on this sweetheart and days in a hospital, we finally got word from the vet that "Porkchop" is no longer with us. 
I hate that he died alone while the vet was closed and I hate that the $2000.00 that the rescue spent didn't save him.  There are no regrets about spending the money.  Any REPUTABLE rescue organization would do that.  I had to tap into our emergency money, but that's what it's for, right?  With our emergency money depleted, I'm going to have to do some juggling and pray that some fundraising will help. 

As a rescuer, there's never much time to grieve.  Porkchop's passing means there's an open space in a foster home and another cat waiting for a chance to live.  I'm so grateful that his foster Mom feels the same way.  So often foster parents run for the hills when their foster cat dies.  Sometimes it's just too damn painful to put yourself out there again. 

It's been a gorgeous day.  That's been my saving grace today after getting pre-coffee bad news.  The sun has been pouring through my office window with a cooler (dare I say "Autumn-like"?) breeze coming through.  I've been extremely productive and even had time to stain a new screen door for our front door.  The rescue's administrative stuff is now up to date and there might even be time for a 30 minute siesta before I start dinner. 

I almost hate the idea of taking that 30 minute nap.  I've been too busy until now to think about our little "Porky".  But he deserves to be thought about.  I don't want him to be "just another RIP in the rescue".   I'll spend some time thinking about him at our last adoption event and how he sucked on his foster Mom's ear.  Porkchop was such a character. 

He's going to be missed.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Cell Phone Slave

I had a moment of panic 15 minutes after I left my house this morning.  NO cell phone!  I knew where I had left it - on the kitchen counter.  I could see it there as plain as day, waiting for me to pick it up as I walked out the door.  Thanks to "Bluetooth", normally I make many calls while enroute somewhere.  I'm productive, quick and people appreciate the fast response time from me.  Instead, I sat helpless at the stop light.  I was certain that my cell phone was buzzing over and over again on my kitchen counter. 

What kind of emergencies was I missing today?

How would I check the rescue's adoption line?

My anxiety quickly manifested into a blissful feeling of freedom. 

I could feel my shoulders relax as I pulled into the local pet store.  I had my nails done in total peace and serenity.  I had the nerve to feel annoyed with the noisy toddler another unlucky client was forced to bring with her.  For the moment - I didn't care.  The world could wait.  Let the cell phone buzz!!

My anxiety quickly returned as I drove toward my home and realized that I needed to stop at the grocery store.  Another 30 minutes?  Could I wait another 30 minutes?  Should I go home first, check messages then go back out to the grocery store?  How ridiculous.  Of course, I can go into the grocery store and pick up a few things. 

As I literally ran through the grocery store with my cart, I practiced my speech - telling our beloved foster parents and adopters why I was seemingly so negligent:

"I'm sorry!  I didn't have my cell phone with me!  What's happened?  What can I do?  What needs to be done?  Is there blood?  Have you called the vet?"

I parked in the driveway and ran to the front door with the house key in hand.  There was no time to lose - emergencies were waiting!  I grasped for the cell phone and pushed the green button to put light on the keypad. 

It said "New Voicemails"

I knew it!  I pressed the keys and listened intently... was one of our vet's office.  We owe $5,068.97 for the month of August and can they bill my credit card for the expense?

Let the anxiety begin (again).

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Out With The Bad.....

Part of animal rescue is accepting the good with the bad.  But today was a downright shitty day.  Waking up to authorizing the euthanasia of our darling "Tater Tot" brought my day to a standstill:

Tater was great at our adoption event!  Happy, playful and energetic.  By Monday night, he was obviously sick.  By this morning, he was dying.  We did a viral test to put the foster parent's minds at ease and it was negative.  Now we'll just have to guess as to why our little "dumpster kitten" died. 

But with rescue, "standstill" isn't always possible.  I drove out to meet another foster Mom and picked up our big ol' (former) Tom cat named "Manny".  Apparently, a family at Petsmart fell in love with him and is willing to give him a FOREVER HOME.  The Animal Services originally wanted to include this guy as part of their barn cat program citing that he wasn't adoptable.  Boy, were they wrong!    We called him Mr. Big Cheeks .  It was a happy moment for me and for the foster Mom that took a chance on him. 

Maybe it's the terrible weather today, but I've been unable to shake losing our Tater Tot.  Even watching a happy family take Manny home today wasn't enough.  I wish there had been a more definitive reason for him becoming so ill.  The problem with experienced rescuers, is that we ALL think we're smarter than veterinarians sometimes and we second guess ourselves. 

My oldest son is coming out tonight to pick up "his two cats":  Parker and Butters.  They've only ever lived with me, and I'm feeling nostalgic about letting them go with him.  Will my son remember "Snack Time" at 9 pm?  Will he scoop the litterbox?   He adores these two cats and is 24 years old.  I still feel uneasy and hope that those feelings will pass.  Whenever my son visits us, Parker and Butters RUN to him.  They adore him and it was the agreement when we adopted them:  When my son moved out - he would take Parker and Butters. 

Tomorrow will be a better day.  (I wish I had a nickel for every time I ended a blog post with THAT statement!)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Birthin' Babies

Ahhhh yes....Labour Day Weekend!  Last night I asked David to set the alarm for 6:30 am.  He said that it should be illegal to set the alarm for 6:30 on a Saturday.  But today is an adoption event!  

Yesterday despite a lot of obstacles, we rescued a darling little calico from a construction site.  Bless her heart, she was VERY VERY pregnant.  It's hard to believe (at the end of August) that I even had a foster home available for her.  But the universe agreed and she's safe and sound...

She must've known she was safe, because within hours of her rescue....

Calico #1

Calico #2
It's still early and I'm waiting to hear about more little lives that have come into the world during the night. I can't what would've happened to this little family had she tried to give birth at the construction site.

Labour Day isn't the perfect weekend to have an adoption event, but we were invited to participate and I really hate to turn something like that down.  Even if adoptions are slow, it'll be nice to hang out with other volunteers and share a common goal. 

Keep that coffee coming...