Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Few Updates From "BurnOut Central"

It's been a long time since I had to bottle feed kittens.  But with the long holiday weekend, I'm "babysitting" six cuties until Sunday night.  Bottle feeding kittens was how I first started in cat rescue.  I was  younger then, and waking up throughout the night to feed newborn kittens didn't seem like such a big deal.  I really treasure my sleep now.  :)

Last night, my favourite little foster boy "Fillmore" was  adopted:
There's always great tension while I wait for an adopter to arrive, but my anxiety quickly dissipated when I saw how lovely and kind this couple was.  Fillmore would be cat #4 for this couple.  :)  I was reassured when I found out that their vet was also MY vet, so I quietly called to get a reference before they came over.  The receptionist said, "GIVE THEM ANY CAT THEY WANT!  THEY'RE AWESOME!"

Ok!  Done!

I just had a very interesting phone call as I am typing this blog post.  A woman contacted me about a kitten that she had found in her live trap (for raccoons).   She said that she had called Animal Services to pick up the little guy (not knowing that this was a high kill shelter). When  the Animal Services Officer arrived, she opened the trap and let the kitten out!  As the kitten ran away, the officer said, "We'll just kill it in 3 days, he'll  have a better chance out here than in the shelter."

What a terribly sad, sad statement.   Since when does a kitten have a "better chance" outside, with raccoons, cars and disease than in a shelter?  Something is VERY VERY wrong here that a shelter can't be a safe haven for animals in need.   It's incredibly sad that this Animal Services Officer felt that being hit by a car, or eaten alive by a wild animal is a BETTER choice than being at the shelter.

...and what happens when this kitten becomes sexually mature?

Anyway.  She's going to try to trap the kitten again and call me.

So with this sad story, comes a story of hope when a staff member at this "high kill shelter" took home a kitten that was brought into the shelter with burned feet and singed fur.  She nursed the poor baby back to health and contacted us to help the kitten along the rest of the way:

I'm so grateful to this employee for helping this little one.  We named her "Kindle".  :)

It's too early to feel so burned out with kitten season.  I'm really fighting it.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Was It Really "A First"?

This was really a first for me.  An urgent plea went out that our local high kill shelter had stopped taking in stray cats and owner surrender cats.  They were *that* full.  The urgent plea was that they were going to kill many, many cats last friday unless rescues  would come forward.   I sat and stared at the words on my Facebook page and found myself sick and immobile.

 If you've been reading my blog over the years, you'll know that this kind of urgency usually puts me in high gear.  My adrenalin gets pumping, and I start posting sad pictures of cats that need help.  My rescue's foster space was full, but I could squeeze in a little brown tabby kitten at my house if he was in danger of being euthanized the next day.  I don't know why I even said "Brown tabby"....I don't really care about colour.  But I truly felt frozen and unable to react.

Is it possible that I'm just burned out with this bullshit?  I'm tired of rewarding this city's lack of care and compassion for the animals with our rescue's hard earned money and donations.  I watched the Facebook page spring into action with other rescue's coming forward to help cats that they didn't have room for or money to take - but they did it anyway. 

So where was I?  Why did I feel so immobile?  I have no idea.  I thought about it all weekend, and I still have no idea why I didn't do anything.  I just felt pissed.  Hurt.  Yes...very, very, hurt. 

The rescue's phone line was ringing off the hook for people who had found cats...kittens...feral trapping help....injured cats.  We had a big weekend adoption event last weekend that I was preparing for and couldn't risk taking in sick cats that would possibly prohibit the healthy ones from attending the event. 

Or is that just an excuse?

Whatever the reason, innocent cats and kittens died on Friday at that shelter because there weren't enough homes.  Or compassion.  Or Love.  Or space in Foster Care.  And this City keeps saying,  "Nah, we're not going to let cats or dogs get adopted...either they're claimed by their owner, rescued or they die."   

Those of you who read this blog know this isn't my first, second, third or fourth rant about what happens to these innocent beings at this shelter.  But this IS the first time I wasn't able to rally to even take one when they needed me.  Maybe it's because I'm still paying the vet bill on the poor "tortie' Mom cat that this shelter "sent out" to our local vet to die - along with her FOUR healthy kittens - with an enormous, infected wound in her belly....
We named her "Kismet".  She has no foster home and we have to pay an enormous vet bill at the end.  The city said that she was supposed to be going in for "care" - not for euthanasia.  Funny, but where's the fucking donation from The City to help her now that she's rescued?  They were going to pay for her care anyway....apparently. 

This blog post has more profanity than I usually like, but this kind of crap brings out the worst in me.   I'd better get my shit together.  Kitten Season isn't over yet.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Beautiful Life For Brando

When I rescued Brando a few months ago from the high kill shelter, I figured he'd be a hard sell.  Brando was 30+ pounds and could walk as well as any 500 pound man could.  He was mid-life, black and white and I figured he had all kinds of health issues.

I was wrong.

We placed Brando into a loving foster home where he was given a strict diet and he promptly lost several pounds.  His mobility became increasingly better and he started walking up and down the stairs.  He was in good health too!  His foster Mom told us that somebody really loved Brando.  He was loving, affectionate and longed to be a lap cat despite his size.

Much to my surprise, Brando became a superstar! We must've had 5 or 6 adoption calls on our big boy! But only ONE took him home..

Brando had a Forever Home! His new family named him "LOGAN" and sent us the following email updated on his first day of his new home (edited and copied with permission from sender):

"As was expected he did hide under a bed for the first few hours but before we new it, just after dinner he was out and about – purring and soaking in all of the love and attention we could give him. We gave him a good brushing and he just loved it, rolling around and purring happily...Logan is all that we expected him to be and so much more! What a love-bug! We are so happy to have him in our lives as part of our family and we promise to love and care for him for the rest of his life! Thank you so much for letting us adopt him, we simply could not be happier to have him!d"....." can’t believe anyone would have ever let him go, let alone abandon him. He is such a WONDERFUL, AFFECTIONATE and LOVING little being ... such a shame. I do however take comfort in and believe that everything happens for a reason ... Logan is our baby now and nothing bad will ever happen to him again!

Have a beautiful life, Brando...errr...Logan!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


One of the shelters where I rescue had an outbreak of ringworm last year.  Instead of killing all the cats, (like other shelters do) they rented a trailer and put 53 cats - most of them kittens there to be treated for the fungus.

Months went by and the kittens in the trailer grew.  They were bathed in anti-fungal bath and treated regularly.  Some never had symptoms of ringworm.  But being a responsible shelter, they were all treated and DNA tested.  I was never permitted in the trailer until it opened for rescue months ago.  Seeing that many cats in one small trailer was incredible.  These are now adult/young cats that have never really had much attention, (the staff did the very best that they could!) and have never known what it was like to live in a home.

The trailer was all they knew.

Our rescue took many of the 53 cats over several months.  But as time went on there was only one cat left....


Gus has never known a home.  He's never known a kitchen, a vacuum cleaner, a doorbell.  He's never known regular love or a lap to snuggle.  Every time he was picked up he was dunked into a sink and soaked in an anti-fungal bath.  I had a feeling this was going to be a difficult transition. 

Today was Gus' rescue day:

You can tell Gus was a shelter favourite.  He had his own room with toys and a bed.  But it wasn't a home.  Apparently, Gus had started to meow for attention.  He watched 52 of his friends leave the shelter for new adventures. 

When David and I left the shelter with Gus the staff applauded.   "Difficult transition?"  We think not!  Gus is dying to bond with somebody!  He knows his name and comes when he's called.  He purr's and rubs and is dying to explore the rest of his foster Mom's house.  Gus is going to be OK!  He's going to have a beautiful life thanks to a shelter that cares enough about their animals to make it happen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Being Inhumane - In Pictures.

I'm still very very angry about what ALMOST happened with this little Tortoiseshell Mama Cat and her kittens.   At first, it was just a sad and simple rescue:  Cat and four kittens brought in for euthanasia, volunteer sees what's going on and offers to save the family. 

HOWEVER ....When the shelter was approached about their culpability, they denied sending the Mama Cat and her 4 kittens for euthanasia, I couldn't figure out why.  Why would they deny doing that?  They kill animals all the time.  It's a "high kill shelter".  

Uh uh.  That isn't right.  If it doesn't make sense, it probably isn't true. 

The By-Laws say that every stray has 3 days to be claimed by their owner UNLESS the animal is suffering and a vet feels it's humane to euthanize.  That's the way that the 3 days stray time can be waived. 

This Mom and babies had only been there for TWO days.  She  suffered for TWO DAYS without anybody noticing that she was in pain.  When shelter staff  finally noticed, SOMEBODY scrambled and sent her out to the vets be euthanized. 

I know this is true.  I spoke with the staff at the clinic - including the veterinarian.  This family was NEVER to be treated or examined.  Just killed.  So somebody at the City is in deep "doo-doo" for not obeying the by-law.

Let's not forget how this cat suffered.  The following are pictures of this poor baby sent to us by the veterinarian who is taking care of her.  (Gore alert)  The wound has been cleaned and held together, so look much better than when she came in. 

The infection went into her mammary glands and the last picture shows the extent of the necrotic tissue.  This shelter left her in a TINY cage with FIVE kittens (one was euthanized) crawling over her and trying to nurse on her sore belly for two days. 

My God, I can't imagine...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Gut Check

I was driving through an urban area today.  It was a busy street and cars on both sides suddenly stopped.  I had places to go, people to see and felt irritated with the delay.  Cars were honking and I opened my car door to peek out and see what was going on.

A coyote pup was drinking water from a pot hole in the road.  I thought it was adorable at first until the pup started to run off.  He had a severely broken leg and blood over his back.  My heart broke into a million pieces as this poor baby risked so much for a drink of water.  I watched one other driver pull over and call the local Humane Society.  She said she would wait and watch the pup until they arrived.

No.  There isn't much I could do.  I wouldn't risk being bitten, so I left knowing that "help" was on the way.  I'm still thinking about this poor guy. 

When I came home I received a call from one of our volunteers.  She was at the veterinary clinic around the corner from the "high kill" shelter where we rescue.  Apparently, an animal control officer was there to have an injured cat put to sleep.  As I would do, she peeked into the carrier to discover it was a Mom cat with 4 kittens.  The kittens were to die along with the Mom - for no other reason than there would be nobody to feed them. 

The vet gingerly took the Mama cat out of the carrier.  She had an 8 - 10 inch gash in her abdomen.  The skin was necrotic and infected.  Air had gotten under her skin, so she was in a enormous amount of pain.  Despite it all, she was purring and nursing her kittens.  The sweet, gentle Mama Cat leaned forward and gently groomed one of her babies.  She didn't know that they would all die shortly.

Even the vet didn't understand why this family had to die.  She was angry and frustrated with the system.  She didn't want to kill 4 healthy kittens too.

Our volunteer asked:  "Can we take this family?" 

I couldn't imagine saying no.  She will require a lot of care - expensive care and surgery.  

With promises to the Mama Cat to love and care for them, our volunteer carefully took the 4 kittens home to bottle feed them.  The Mama Cat will be given nurturing medical care - not death.

Me?  I hung up the phone and went to the shelter website and found her:

She had arrived TWO DAYS ago with this 8 - 10 inch open, infected, necrotic gash in her abdomen.  She's been suffering for two fucking days and NOW they wanted to kill her?  I'm so angry. 

 Maybe I don't have the whole story.  Maybe there's something I don't know or understand.  But I do know that some things never change and my heart hurts.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Blazing Trails...

I should go out of town more often.  Never am I more organized and settled than when I'm preparing for a trip.  I received a call from my Southern California daughter last month that said she wanted to spend  some time with her "Mama"  and do some shopping.  What better place than San Francisco? :) No men, a  downtown boutique hotel  and some credit cards - should be a great trip!

Of course, the timing was off because we just took cats and kittens into our Petsmart Adoption Centre.  The first few  days when we open in the centre are always a little insane.  I wish I could be there for added support, but our volunteers  are on the ball and I'll probably only be in the way. 

We just rescued 26 kittens from a hoarding house a few  days ago.  The look on the veterinary staff was priceless  as the kittens were paraded through the clinic for vaccines and checkups.  (I think they thought we were kidding!)  I really expected this little group to be frightened, malnourished and having goopy eyes.  But my fears were put to rest.  They (surprisingly) looked really good!

Our first two adoption days of June have been great with 8 adoptions already.  The adopters  have been lovely and several of the cats weren't even on the website!  Adult cat adoptions over the past week have been uplifting!  O' how I love adult cat adoptions!  The biggest surprise has been the number of phone calls we've received on "Brando" - our 30 pounder!  We've had a ton of adoption calls on this guy.  He hasn't been adopted - but I think it's around the corner.

As kitten season is now in full swing, I have to admit that over the past 20 years since I've been rescuing I have NEVER found a box of kittens, personally.  Everybody I know has found a box, or bag of kittens.  This morning, one of our volunteers rescued a feral, sick kitten in a neighbour's yard.  Don't you think it's weird that I've never found kittens?  Maybe I'm just destined to take painful walks through local pounds.

It is possible that THIS is the kitten season that I won't stress out?  Right now, I'm feeling peaceful and happy about rescuing.  Our foster homes are pleasantly full, cats are not ill, and although the phones are busy I'm not overwhelmed.  There's always one funk every kitten season.  Several years it was Distemper - last year it was FIP.  I wonder what this kitten season will have in store for us?

Since I'm really never off the clock with rescue, I'll bring my laptop.  Our hotel has free Wi-Fi and while my daughter sleeps, I'll check emails, etc in the morning. 

I hope I don't find any boxes of kittens.