Friday, March 29, 2013

The Visit

Thank you all for your comments regarding my recent post Shackin' Up.   It sounds like I've been doing it right - "case-by-case basis".  I can't imagine turning down anyone because they are living together and not married.  Certainly more questions need to be asked. 

I arrived late last night from Southern California after visiting my daughter and her husband.  The rescue line was busy and adoptions seemed to be plentiful while I was  away.  (Thank you Susan, for holding down the fort for me!)   Besides shopping and eating Mexican food, I really wanted to visit my cat-rescue-mother-ship The National Cat Protection Society.  I guess this was the place where it all started. 

My first passion was bottlefeeding kittens.  I  remember "NatCat" calling me and asking me to take on 6  two day old bottlefeeders.   When they told me not to be surprised if I couldn't save the litter, I was shocked.   ME?  Not saving the whole litter???   I was so naive and I was a lot younger then.  I suppose it was that naivety that kept me from never giving up and never losing a kitten.  Twenty years later - those words still surprise me:  "I never lost a kitten."  I can't say that today.

I used to think that the shelter where I volunteered and fostered was really militant and lacking in social skills.  I still think so.  They were hesitant but nice when I went in and the place was (as usual) spotless.  I saw an adorable 10 year old hairless calico named "Gizmo":
 She was in a gorgeous play room by herself.  Apparently, she doesn't really like other cats.  She was meowing at me through a window and rubbing against it.  She looked like a chubby little piece of calico velvet.  Ooooooh, how I was needing a "kitty fix".  I coo'd and started to open the door.  The employee stopped me.  "I'm sorry, only current volunteers can go in there."  Must be a liability thing, but I was really disappointed. 

They told me that adoptions have picked up and that they've had FOUR adoptions this month already. "FOUR???"  Maybe if they didn't treat every visitor like a criminal, they'd adopt more. 

The week before I left, I visited another local shelter and it was the same thing:  Low adoptions and grumpy volunteers and employees.  I think some people forget that this is NOT an animal business but a PEOPLE business.  I deal with people far more than I deal with the cats. 

Smile, dammit!  :) 

Maybe I'm being too harsh.  Maybe I'm envious because they have a shelter. (*wince*)  What am I thinking?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shackin' Up.

In just a  few short days, kitten season arrived.  Kittens are starting to pour into local shelters with a vengeance.  Sadly, they often arrive 1 week old and missing their Mom.  Fortunately, we have a few nursing Mom cats and they have been  amenable to taking on  a few surrogate kittens.

With kitten season come the phone calls.  Every young couple who are starting out want something that they can share together.  Which brings me to the dilemma that I have every year:    How long do boyfriends and girlfriends need to be together to be considered a stable relationship for a kitten?

I've wanted to write this post for years, but have worried about offending people.  We have amazing foster parents who live together and aren't married.  Living together doesn't negate their commitment for each other.  I'm not talking about that.  

I was speaking with my sons  - ages 22 and (almost) 25 years old.  They're both single.  Apparently, living together is the next step after you've been dating for a while.  THEN engagement and marriage.
OK.  I'm old.  But I'm flexible.  I can live with this.  But how do I screen adopters?  I'm guessing that about 35%-50% of adoption calls that I have received over the past 2 weeks have been from couples that want to adopt and are unmarried but share a home. 

This is a problem that I've wrestled with for years.  If a couple are 20 years old and have been living together for 6 months, are they less responsible or stable than a 20 year old couple who has been married for 6 months?  I guess it all depends on who you ask. 

When I'm screening a prospective adopter, I can't ask people who aren't married "How long have you been together?", because I wouldn't ask a married couple that question.  I've become sneaky about how I can make an educated guess.  But I don't like that either. 

So I end up asking about their families.  "Have you ever had a cat before?"  The answer might be, "Oh family has 3 cats and Mr. Mittens died last year after 21 years!" 

Bingo!  That's a family that will pick up the pieces if the couple aren't able to commit for the next 20 years for a kitten.   I end up indirectly screening the family to insure the security of the cat!  There has to be a better way.

Let it be known that this isn't a moral issue for me.  Not in the least bit.  I've never turned anyone down for an adoption if they were qualified, loving and committed to loving the cat for the next 20 years.  Bottom line is:  There are NO guarantees with any relationship - married or unmarried.   But I go absolutely insane when I call these couples about spaying or neutering their kitten to find that the kitten is part of a broken home....."ALREADY? I just adopted to you 3 months ago!"

Holy crap.  I can't believe how offensive this sounds to me.  I sound like I'm 100 years old.  I'm going to hit "PUBLISH" on this post and I'd really like to hear what you think.   You don't have to comment publicly, feel free to send me an email.  I have a feeling there isn't an easy answer.   I can't be the only rescuer who thinks about this.  Can I?  If you can't find this post in a few days, I may have offended too many people.  :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kitten Season? Almost...

I wonder if every blogger (who has been remiss in blogging) begins every post with "Where has the week gone?"  I'm rather embarrassed that I haven't been writing as much.  It isn't that I haven't been busy.  I've been insanely busy! 

Every year I declare "kitten season" when unwanted kittens start pouring into the shelters.  Sure, kittens are showing up on Craigslist and other online classifieds, but they're finding homes.  It's when litters are being born and the surplus of available homes fills up  - that's "Kitten Season" to me.   I hate those online classified ads.  It's 'first come, first serve' - ' pick up yer kitten today!'   They don't care who takes them.

We've taken  in quite a few surgical cases lately.  We have two cats (unrelated) that need major eye surgery and a couple  of kittens whose hind legs don't work properly.  This morning, I'm picking up one of our kittens who appears to have been "smooshed" and his rib cage is  either caved in or non-existent.  Poor little guy.  I'm interested in hearing what the vet says. 

As kitten seasons approaches, (or as some think "it's already here!") I need to stockpile a little bit of cash from any donations that might in just to make sure I have enough to get through to October.  Kittens are expensive!   It's not the freaky surgical problems, but just dealing with a kitten's bad case of diarrhea can really create a big dent in the rescue's budget.

Speaking of "budget", David and I have been car shopping again.  Right now, our primary car is an SUV.  No thanks to David's retirement, he's been documenting our gas consumption for the rescue and has determined we spend $250.00 PER WEEK on gas just transporting cats!  Holy shit, that was a sobering number.  David looks at me with "tsk tsk" in his eyes and then with horror when he realizes that we're over the kilometers on our lease.  We also have an ancient Ford that David used as commuter car, but it's so unreliable and I won't drive it because it smells like vomit.  (Don't ask me why.) 

Soooooooo.....we're parking the SUV for a while, and buying something "gas efficient" and "inexpensive" - three words that don't resonate well with me.  David is trying to get me to muster some enthusiasm for a new car, but I'm trying to figure out how many cat carriers I can get into these economical cars.  My old sports car used to get 21 cats in carriers in it, so my argument against a small economical car isn't working. 

Fortunately, kittens are small and this is a ridiculous "First World" problem.  I think I can cope ;)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Feeling the Responsibility

It's been a week of remembering our dog Maggie.  It's hard to believe a week has passed already.  Many thank you's for allowing me to express my pain  and sorrow here.  I knew I was in good company.

Earlier this week, I was made aware of a young woman  who  could no longer take care  of her two cats  due to an illness.   I've  never made it a secret that I don't like taking owner surrender cats, but her plight touched me and I decided to pursue it.  When the picture arrived, I remember thinking, "Oh gosh, these cats are five years old and overweight - how will they ever get adopted together?" 

I placed them into foster care and immediately tried to think about how I would get these guys adopted separately....or COULD they be split up?  Were they a bonded pair?  The prior owner wasn't sure and it was too much for her to deal with at that moment.  I agonized about what to do and put them on our website separately with a note to the other partner cat. 

The phone rang within about 24 hours and a couple drove TWO HOURS ONE WAY to meet them. In keeping with "We have the best volunteers EVER" - their foster Mom dropped everything to take these guys to the vets to insure they were examined and vaccinated before the couple's arrival.   Holy  crap - they hadn't even been vetted yet!

I'm still speechless.  Why can't all adoptions work like this? 

I had an opportunity to do a rescue at hoarder's house.  I felt a little queasy even using the word "Hoarder", because I think messy houses are starting to be called "hoarders" thanks to the t.v. shows.   One of our volunteers went and rescued several nursing Moms, while another rescue went in and took dozens.  (She *rocks*)

Nobody was really certain how many cats were in there, but the house had been "cleaned up" BEFORE these pictures were taken.  I can't imagine what it looked like before.  Apparently, there was 6 inches of filth on the floor that volunteers had to walk over.

I wish we could've done more after I saw the pictures:

Fortunately, this woman is getting help.  The cats were practically bald from flea infestation.  The small townhome smelled of urine and feces.  I can't imagine a mental illness of that magnitude that I would not care for my  cats.  I'm not judgment passing at all - in fact, I really empathize and hope she's OK.

I've been busy with rescue stuff every day, as always.  I should start writing daily again, but it always seems like  "same  shit, different day" to me.   David and I are (finally) getting into his retirement groove, but oh how I miss having more time to myself. 

In the meantime, I have a few really cute kittens on our site and my phone is ringing off the hook for them.  I listen to their voicemails and feel the weight of responsibility for the future of these babies.  "Who will love them for the next 20 years?"  I click *delete* as soon as I hear the words "gift", or "my girlfriend wants a kitten", or "My kids want a kitten" or "How much for IT?" 

Sounds like I have more to write about than I thought....