PAWS

8

Hi kittehs! As promised, I am continuing where we left off telling you about Mama Rose’s bebbehs. Mommy and Daddy had trapped Mama Rose and her six kittens last September. Mama Rose is feral, which means that she has not been socialized to trust humans. For more information about feral cats, see the Alley Cat Allies web site. It is a fantastic resource that helped Mommy and Daddy learn how to socialize the bebbehs.

Mommy and Daddy love Mama Rose, even though she is terrified of them. On Thursday night, Daddy got home just after Mommy had put out the food for Mama Rose. Daddy could see Mama Rose eating on the porch. So he called Mom from his cell phone to say that he would come in when Mama Rose finished eating. He didn’t want her to get scared and leave, so he stayed in the car until she was done eating. This is a photo of Mama Rose’s feeding station on the front porch. The grey tub in the background under the bush is the shelter that Daddy built for Mama Rose. We don’t think she uses it.

Mama Rose’s bebbehs started out feral too. When they were trapped, the bebbehs were about eight weeks old. The older kittens get without human contact, the less likely it is that they will become socialized to trust humans. When a kitten goes from feral to trusting, we call that “flipping”.

In early October, when Mama Rose and her bebbehs were getting spayed or neutered, Mommy had to decide which bebbehs she thought would definitely “flip”, and which she was unsure about. This is because while they were under anesthesia, ear tipping would be done. Ear tipping is the universal mark that a feral cat has been spayed or neutered:

We use the word “eartip” to describe when a small portion of the tip of a feral cat’s left ear is surgically removed during neuter surgery, to denote that the cat has been neutered and vaccinated. Eartipping is done while the cat is anesthetized and is not painful for the cat. Eartipping is the most effective way to identify neutered feral cats from a distance, to make sure they are not trapped or undergo surgery a second time.

Alley Cat Allies

By early October, Marigold, the only female in the litter, and a Mama Rose lookalike, had completely “flipped”. She trusted Mommy and Daddy enough to climb into their laps of her own free will.

So had Rusty, one of the orange boys in the litter.

Woody was close behind, but too close to call. Hunter was less trusting than Woody, but more trusting than Sky. Sunny was known as Mr. Wild Child, if that gives you an idea of what he thought of Mom and Dad! So Mommy had a sleepless night trying to decide whose ears would be tipped. Reluctantly, she agreed to ear tipping Woody and Hunter, in addition to Sky and Sunny. Sky and Sunny were were still mostly feral in early October.

Marigold was the first of Mama Rose’s kittens to get adopted – on October 16, 2010 – National Feral Cat Day!!!  Marigold has been renamed Mia by her adoptive family, and was a birthday present for the teenage daughter.

A few weeks later, on November 12, Rusty and Woody got adopted –TOGETHER!!! Into a wonderful family – with a Mom, Dad,  Son, and Golden Retriever to keep the boys company! The Mom was initially interested in adopting Rusty …

but when she read their cage card and saw that Rusty and Woody are brothers …

she knew she couldn’t break up the brothers.

And then in December, a wonderful family with Mom, Dad, and Little Girl adopted Hunter!

Which just leaves Sunny …

and Sky, waiting for their furrever fambly.

Doesn’t everyone want a Sunny Sky in their lives?

17

Hi Efurryone! It’s me, Cookie! It is time to continue telling you about Mama Rose and Her Babies. When we last left off, Mommy had been able to pick up and hold all six bebbeh kittehs, and was able to learn the gender of four. Two of the bebbehs were too squirmy to hold and also check their gender.

Christine (Mommy’s good friend and advisor in PAWS) reminded Mommy about using positive reinforcement with the magical elixir, food of the Gods, Gerber’s Chick-hen Bebbeh Food:

(Turkey flavor will also do. Just read the label to make sure there are no onions!) So, each time Mommy picked up a bebbeh kitteh and held him or her, Mommy dipped her finger in bebbeh food, and let the bebbeh kitteh lick it off her finger. The bebbehs loved the bebbeh food!!! They began to associate getting held with getting bebbeh food.

Eventually, Mommy was able to figure out that this little one is a boy, so she named him Sky.

It is therapeutic to start out taming feral kittehs by keeping them in a cage. However, you must move them into a larger space at some point in order to continue working with them. The next step was getting the kittehs to trust Mommy and Daddy enough to come to them. When Mommy reached into a cage to pick up a kitteh, it did not serve this purpose.

Luckily, we have a foster kitteh room (AKA The Mohawk and Clyde Shrine) that is perfect for this. Once our current fosters had been adopted into great homes, Mommy and Daddy moved the feral bebbehs into the foster room. After a few days, the bebbehs became comfortable in the room, so Mommy and Daddy started to “make the bebbehs work for their bebbeh food”.

This meant that Mommy or Daddy would start out by bringing a finger covered in bebbeh food to the kitteh to lick. The next taste, Mommy or Daddy would put a finger just out of the kitteh’s reach, forcing the kitteh to work up the courage to come a little bit closer. Mommy and Daddy kept this up until the kitteh was very close to them.

Before the bebbeh realized what was happening, they were touching Mommy or Daddy!

Once the bebbehs became comfortable approaching Mommy and Daddy for bebbeh food, The Kitten Whisperer (Daddy) got to work teaching the bebbehs how to play with toys.

Daddy chose to use toys that let the still-timid bebbehs keep their distance. For example, he started by using the orange boa toy on a stick. Daddy waved the toy around, and the bebbeh kittehs had fun playing with the boa. The three bravest kittehs were Woody, Marigold, and Rusty.

Hiii-yaaaa!

Mommy taught the kittehs how to play with the trackball toy. Again, that is Rusty, Marigold, and Woody having a high old time whapping the little ball in the track.

After several days of this, with all the baby food as rewards, and the fun games, some of the bebbehs began to trust Mommy and Daddy. This is Rusty, Woody, Hunter, and Marigold with Daddy’s legs.

Sky and his brother Sunny (Mommy was finally able to determine his gender) were still much more timid than their siblings. They both still hissed a lot, at Mommy and Daddy as well as at their siblings. Woody and Hunter got big hiss from Mr. Airplane Ears, Sky.

Sunny and Sky both still flattened their ears a lot. Sunny spent most playtimes cooped up in his pink Man Kitten Tent.

Mommy had read that not all feral kittehs from the same litter will tame at the same rate. She read that she should continue to work with the shyer bebbehs, and to be patient as they took their time getting used to people.

Next time: How to give a pill to a feral kitteh! You don’t want to miss this one! Complete with video!

5

Hi Efurryone, it’s me Cookie! We are very excited because Christmas is coming! We have been getting pretty holiday cards from our furriends, and that is so much fun!

If you would like to exchange holiday cards with us, please email us at TheFurryBambinos AT gmail DOT com. We can send cards overseas, too. We would love to send you a card!

When we last left off telling you about Mama Rose and Her Babies, six bebbeh kittehs and Mama Rose had been trapped in humane traps in Penny and Bob’s yard next door. Mommy and Daddy transferred the feral fambly to cages in the garage. Now Mommy and Daddy needed to start work socializing the bebbeh kittehs.

Mommy did not know much at all about working with feral kittehs. Feral kittehs are different than “domesticated house cats” (for lack of a better term). Not all stray cats are feral. Just because a cat does not have a home does not mean it is feral.

So what does feral mean, then?

Feral kittehs have not had contact with humans during their crucial kitten development time. If a kitten is not handled by people when they are very young, they grow up being afraid of people. They view people as potential predators, and are understandably terrified when a person tries to get too close.

Like most of your parents, Mommy has lots of books about kittehs. She looked through every single book, and found hardly anything at all about feral kittehs. So she asked her good friend Google for help. Mommy did some crash course reading online to try to learn how to work with and hopefully eventually get the feral kittehs to trust her, Daddy, and other people. There are some great online resources available – Alley Cat Allies in particular, but we will list resources in another post in case you are interested.

The whole goal of the process is to help the feral bebbehs learn to TRUST Mommy and Daddy, and other people too. Mommy was cautioned to make sure to let other people work with the feral kittehs, or else the bebbehs would be tame JUST FOR MOMMY. Which as you can imagine would defeat the purpose of taming the bebbehs so that they could be adopted to other famblies.

Mommy started off by not trying to touch the bebbehs for two whole days after they had been trapped. She read that it is best to give the kittehs some time to see that Mommy and Daddy did not mean to harm them. For those first two days, Mommy just reached into the cages to change the water and food. Mommy placed the food and water dishes near the doors to the cages so she would not have to reach too far into the cages. Mommy also removed the litter boxes from the cages, and Daddy scooped the boxes while the boxes were outside the cages.

The bebbeh kittehs would cower in fear every time Mommy reached into the cages. The bebbehs went to the far corner of the cage, and would huddle together. Their Mama was NOT HAPPY AT ALL any time Mommy reached into a cage containing her bebbehs. Their Mama would stand up and HISSSSSS and GROWWWLLLL at Mommy. Even inside of a cage, a feral Mama cat was pretty intimidating!

Mommy read that you should not try to come at a feral kitteh with your hand open and aim for their face. So next, Mommy began gently touching the feral bebbehs with the back of her hand. She gently stroked the bebbehs on their lower bodies – their hind legs area.

Mommy also read that it is VERY IMPORTANT not to stare a feral kitteh in the eyes for extended periods. Staring a feral cat in the eyes is a sign of aggression and will cause the feral kitteh to become even more defensive.  So Mommy and Daddy made sure to make only very brief eye contact with the feral fambly. Mommy would look at the kitteh, then look away, then look at the kitteh, and then look away again.

Mommy also read that feral kittehs are terribly afraid of human voices. So to help them get used to people, Mommy read that it helps to leave a radio or TV playing in the room. So Daddy found a radio, and then put it in the garage with the feral fambly, and turned in on low volume. Mommy’s good friend Dorothy told Mommy to make sure to turn the radio OFF from time to time, because constant NOISE is a form of torture.

After a few days of gentle touching, Mommy began to try to pick up the bebbehs and hold them for brief periods of time. When Mommy picked up a bebbeh, she made sure to “scruff them” – to pick the bebbeh up by the scruff of the neck. This does not hurt the bebbeh! When a bebbeh is scruffed, they relax and go limp! This is a natural reaction that they have so that when their Mama Kitteh picks them up, they don’t get all squirmy while she carries them in her mouth.

Mommy started by holding the bebbehs for very brief periods of time – like 20 seconds – and then returning the bebbeh to its cage and immediately feeding the bebbeh. This is so that the bebbehs would begin to associate getting held with getting food! At first, the bebbehs would not eat in front of Mommy when they were returned to their cages.

Next, Mommy would hold the bebbehs for longer periods of time – one to two minutes. Mommy held the bebbehs close to her chest with both hands securing the bebbeh so they would not escape. At this time, Mommy began to try to determine the gender of each bebbeh, and choosing names. Mommy’s good friend Christine (and advisor in PAWS) suggested giving the fambly “outdoorsy” names since they were found outside.

Mommy confirmed that the little calico was a girl! Mommy and Daddy named her Marigold.

Mommy confirmed that the dark orange tabby with swirls was a boy! Mommy and Daddy named him Rusty.

Mommy confirmed that the buff tabby with white bib and white paws was a boy! Mommy’s friend Christine suggested the name Hunter.

Mommy learned that the little brown tabby was actually a boy, not a girl like she had originally guessed. Mommy named him Woody.

Two of the bebbehs were too squirmy to hold and also check their gender, so those two would have to wait to get named. They were the silver tabby and the dark orange tabby with the white bib and white paws.

And to go with the outdoorsy theme, Mommy thought the name Mama Rose was appropriate for the Mama. Can any of you guess why?

Next time, teaching feral kittehs how to play with cat toys!

Merry Christmas Efurrryone!

8

Hi Efurryone, it’s me Cookie! First of all, Mommy asked me to say thank you to all of you for the birthday wishes. She especially enjoyed the comments requesting photos of her enjoying her birthday present. (We are working on that.)

Second, if you would like to exchange holiday cards with us, please email us at TheFurryBambinos AT gmail DOT com.

When we last left off telling you about Mama Rose and Her Babies, four bebbeh kittehs and Mama Rose had been trapped in humane traps in Penny and Bob’s yard next door. Mommy and Daddy transferred the feral fambly to cages in the garage. But Mommy and Daddy knew that there were more kittens – another two or three by their estimation. When it got dark, Daddy rigged the cage so that the door would not close, in case another animal such as a raccoon, possum, or skunk got hungry and went into the trap.

Mommy and Daddy were very worried about the other bebbehs. They worried all night about where they might be, if they missed their Mama and siblings, and what they would eat. It was a sad night at Casa de Furry Bambinos, despite the fact that four bebbehs and Mama had been trapped.

The next morning Penny called Mom. She said that there were two bebbeh kittehs in one of the traps! The wire that was holding the trap open must have broken! What good luck that more kittehs were trapped, and not a skunk!!! Mommy and Daddy were very grateful to have caught two more bebbehs!

When Mommy opened the door from the house into the garage, the sound must have startled all the feral kittehs. So much so that two of the kittehs were squeezing between the bars of their cage to escape! Mommy got there in time to push the dark orange kitteh back into the cage, but there was one itteh bitteh calico kitteh on the loose in the garage!

Luckily Mommy saw where the calico went, and was able to pick it up by the scruff of the neck and put it back into a different cage. (Mommy thought that maybe she should separate the two genius kittehs who figured out how to escape.) So then Mommy grabbed some bricks from the back yard and blockaded the bottom of the cages to prevent any more escapees.

Finally, Mommy went next door and brought the two kittehs in their trap to the garage. Mommy put them into the cage with the orange kitteh who tried to escape.

At this point, Mama and all the bebbehs were very very scared, so Mommy did not try to touch any of them yet. These two bebbehs were trying to hide between their litter box and the cage wall.

Look how frightened they look!

Mommy and Daddy were not sure which bebbehs were girls or boys. Mom had some guesses, though. Orange tabby (striped) kittehs are usually male – Mom read somewhere that 75% of orange tabbies are boys. One of the bebbehs was a dark orange tabby with white toes and a white bib. (He’s the one huddling with the silver tabby in the two previous photos.) Mommy guessed “boy” for this little one. He was also the biggest kitteh in the litter.

Another kitteh was a dark orange tabby – the one who tried to escape with the calico. Mommy also guessed “boy”. His markings were very pretty – bulls eyes and swirls instead of striped lines on his sides.

Another bebbeh was a buff (light orange) tabby, with white toes, a white bib, and a cute little white strip on his nose. Mommy also guessed “boy”. He was one of the last two to be trapped.

As you may know, calico kittehs are ALMOST ALWAYS girls. The Mama was a calico, and since she was the Mama, they knew she was a girl.

One of the kittens was a calico – the one who escaped the cage – and looked almost exactly like the Mama. So Mommy guessed that the bebbeh calico was a girl.

However, calicoes can be males – at the time, one of Mommy’s friends was fostering a MALE calico. It is estimated that only about 1 in 4000 calico kittehs are male. To be calico (or tortie for that matter) a kitteh needs to have two X chromosomes. So male calicoes are XXY – a genetic mutation. Enough science – back to our story.

So that left the silver tabby and the brown tabby. Since both of the silver tabby Furry Bambinos (Angel Clyde and Padre) are boys, Mommy guessed “boy” for this little one. He was also pretty big compared to some of his siblings.

The brown tabby was tough. It was so tiny – must have been the runt of the litter – so based on body size, Mommy guessed “girl”.

However, until Mommy could pick up and handle the bebbehs, she did not want to assign names yet. She started thinking up names though!

Originally, Mommy had thought she had seen SEVEN bebbehs with the Mama. So she and Daddy tried for several more days to trap the remaining bebbeh. They don’t for sure if there were seven since they all moved about so quickly – it was very hard to count them. Mommy thought there might be another calico kitteh – but maybe when she was counting, she thought the Mama, who was very tiny herself, was a bebbeh. They never did catch a seventh bebbeh, and we’ll never really know for sure if there was one.

Next time, we will tell you about naming the bebbehs!

9

Hi Efurrybody! It’s me, Cookie! First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to our furriends here in the U.S.! We hope that you all get as much turkey as you can eat! Just remember, no onions! Onions are toxic to us kittehs. So we won’t be able to eat the stuffing since it has onions in it. Mommy and Daddy are busy cooking, so I thought I would take this opportunity to fill you all in on the next part of the story of Mama Rose and Her Babies.

When we left off last time, Mommy and Daddy were headed next door, armed with humane traps and cat food. They wanted to start trying to trap bebbeh kittehs before they grew up and decided to be scared of people.

When Mom and Dad got next door, Penny and Bob showed Mom and Dad where they saw the kittehs go under the deck. So Mom and Dad put cat food on paper plates and put the plates of food into the traps. But this time, they set the traps to trigger the doors to close when the kittehs stepped on the thingy in the traps.

Mom and Dad went back home and waited nervously. Would the bebbeh kittehs go into the traps?

Just a few minutes later, Penny called Mom. Two kittehs were inside one trap! Mom and Dad raced next door, and found two adorable bebbeh kittehs, frantic to get out of the trap!

At the time, we had four fosters living in the kitten room – Kelly, Michelle, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Kanga. So the new (feral) kitties needed to stay in the room where The-Room-That-Moves sleeps. Mom and Dad call it “the garage”. Mommy had a large cat cage that the people in PAWS refer to as a “condo” that would be a safe place for the feral bebbehs to stay. The condo belongs to someone else in PAWS, but gets loaned out for situations like this.

Mommy and Daddy transferred the two kittehs to the condo and brought the trap next door again and put more cat food inside. As soon as Mommy and Daddy got back home, the phone rang again! Bob called to say that two more bebbeh kittehs had been trapped! So Mommy and Daddy went to get them, and transferred those two bebbehs to the cat condo in the garage.

Mommy and Daddy were very happy to have caught four of the bebbehs so easily! So they brought the trap back next door and set it again. They wanted to catch the rest of the bebbehs before dark. Because after dark, the possums, raccoons, and skunks (!) come out to play. Mommy and Daddy did not think that Penny and Bob would be very happy if a skunk got trapped in their back yard!

So Mom and Dad set the trap and went home again. When Bob and Penny called the next time, the news was not as good. The Mama had gotten caught! Oh noes! They really did not want to trap the Mama until much closer to the scheduled surgery date. Now what would happen?

So Mom called her contacts in PAWS. They said to keep the Mama rather than to release her, because she might never go into the trap again. More cages were needed because the one condo would be too small for everybody. The whole point of trapping the bebbehs was to work with them to try to tame them. There was NO WAY that Mama was going to let her bebbehs get handled if she was in the same cage. And there was NO WAY that Mommy or Daddy was going to put their hands into the cage with the Mama to try to reach for a kitten!

So Mommy and Daddy borrowed three more cage condo thingies to house the feral fambly. Luckily, the weather had not gotten too cold yet, so it was comfortable in the garage. At least it was safe from wind and rain.

The kittens were scared.

Mama was NOT PLEASED to have been trapped. Not happy at all. In fact, she tried to break out of the trap, and hurt herself on her lip and nose.

(Oh, and those are NOT ears growing out of Mama’s butt.  Those ears belong to one of the bebbeh kittehs in the next cage.)

But there were still more bebbeh kittehs out there! So after CAREFULLY transferring Mama to a cage, Mommy and Daddy set the trap out once more in Penny and Bob’s back yard. And waited.

By dark, the other bebbehs had not been trapped yet! Mommy and Daddy were worried. What happened to them? Were they hiding under the deck? Had they run away when their Mama got trapped?

Mom and Dad were very sad, but did not want to risk trapping another animal, like a skunk. So they left the traps in Penny and Bob’s yard, with food inside, but set so that the doors would not close.

More next time …

10

Mom here. The Bambinos said I could use the blog to vent my frustrations. This is going to be long, and will be typed from atop my soap box. Please note that these are my opinions only, and not those of the animal rescue group for which I volunteer.

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<RANT STARTS HERE>

As regular readers of the blog know, my husband and I (and The Bambinos) volunteer with a local animal rescue group. Our group is non-profit, dependent upon fundraisers and donations to fund “our rescue group’s activities”. Our time is not compensated. On average, we spend about two hours a day caring for our fosters. Then there are adoption events to attend, screenings I do to confirm that a potential adopter is appropriate for the pet, meds we administer, trips to and from veterinarians for medical care for the fosters, fundraising events, etc.

I would like to be clear, I am not complaining. I love getting to care for kitties while they are waiting for their forever homes. Sometimes it is stressful when the babies are sick, or won’t eat, but I love the animals. I treat them and love them like I do The Furry Bambinos.

* * *

Our rescue group’s activities are centered around the care of the animals (cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies) that we foster in our own homes. Our rescue group does not have a shelter, so space is limited by the number of animals our foster homes can safely hold. Unfortunately, our rescue group has to turn away many animals because our foster homes are full. (For example, my husband and I have six foster kittens in a 9′ by 10′ bedroom right now. Down from seven foster kittens, as one was adopted a few weeks ago.)

Our rescue group’s activities include feeding the animals in our care – and if you ever have had kittens, you know kittens grow quickly, and eat A LOT. We have coined the term “Hoover and Oreck Phase” to describe kittens between the ages of 4 months to a year. (Hoover and Oreck are brands of carpet vacuum cleaners.)

Imagine feeding six hungry kittens. They go through a lot of canned and dry food. I am a regular at PetSmart, which is where our rescue group is fortunate enough to have cage space in their adoption center. In addition, I can make tax exempt purchases at PetSmart for the pet food because our group is classified as a non-profit, and because we have filed the appropriate paperwork at a few local PetSmart stores.  The way our rescue group works is that I purchase the food, and then turn in the receipts for reimbursement.

So I make a point of patronizing PetSmart, for my own purchases, in addition to those I make for the animal rescue group. Say what you want about big box stores, and wanting to support local stores. I support local stores too. But I shop at PetSmart first, and then if they don’t have something I need, then I look elsewhere.

* * *

Our rescue group’s activities also include getting all animals spayed or neutered before being adopted. NO EXCEPTIONS. We do not want to contribute to the problem of adorable, lovable, adoptable animals for whom there are no homes.

Unfortunately, there is a bias toward people wanting to adopt YOUNG AND CUTE rather than OLDER AND BIGGER. So that is why we, and many other rescue groups, spay or neuter kittens once they hit 2 pounds. For a healthy kitten, that occurs at about 2 months of age. I am often asked “Why do you spay/neuter them so young?” Then I have to explain the whole YOUNG AND CUTE dilemma.

In the past, our rescue group would adopt out prior to being spayed or neutered, and provide a voucher for free spay/neuter.  People weren’t using the vouchers.  So our rescue stopped that practice, and now requires that all animals are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.

I just want to cry sometimes, because there are plenty of adorable 5 month, 6 month, etc. kittens who need homes. For full-grown cats, the situation is even worse. But people have asked me at adoption events (I kid you not) “Don’t you have any SMALLER ones?” And they are referring to 6 month old kittens as TOO BIG.

* * *

Our rescue group’s activities include providing all animals with age appropriate vaccinations prior to adoption.   Plus, they receive treatment for fleas, worms, and any other medical care they need while in our care.  All of these veterinary needs are not free.  This is where most of our rescue group’s expenses are.  If you have ever taken a pet to a veterinarian, you know that charges can add up quickly, even for routine well-visit care.

* * *

Our rescue group’s activities also include TNR – Trap, Neuter, Return.  This is for feral cats and kittens. Personally, I think the term feral has been overused – when we mean “feral”, we mean “absolutely not adoptable, too wild, and too unhappy to be around humans”.  Our group has received some grant support for these surgeries.

Presently, my husband and I have two feral kittens who will be returned to their colony.  They were simply past the point of socializing into a house cat.  We got them when they were about 12 weeks old, with the hopes of “socializing”.  From what I understand, kittens need to be held by humans by the time they are about 6 weeks old, or the socialization road is a long uphill battle.

We named one of the ferals “Hidey” because she has spent most of the time in the foster room hiding.  She has “that look” of total abject terror every time we make eye contact with her.  We cannot pet her at all.  She runs away when we get “too near” her, including when we place a food dish in front of her.  She is clearly unhappy here.

* * *

When I was at our rescue group’s annual adoption event in May, I had two sick kittens with me (Niecy and Trish).  Not so much to show for adoption, but to have with me because they were sick and needed constant care.  While I was sitting on the concrete floor of the cat pavilion, and trying to bottle feed one of the kittens, a woman walked up to me and asked some questions – the usual – how old (about 4 weeks), breed (moggie/mutt kitten), adoption fee ($75 for one, $100 for two).  And then:

“What’s so special about THAT kitten that it costs $75?”

I did not answer out loud.  But I thought to myself, “You aren’t special enough for this kitten”.

* * *

Once people know that you volunteer for an animal rescue group, you get asked all sorts of questions.  Like questions about their pet’s health.  I don’t mind commiserating with friends about our pets and their medical concerns.  What I do mind is questions from anyone who thinks that my advice can replace that of a veterinarian.  I always refer people to their own veterinarian.

I and others in the rescue group get all sorts of calls and emails from people who have / know of / found an animal that needs a home.  In addition, I get all kinds of requests from people who need help “rehoming” their pet.  (This is the euphemism used when people want to get rid of their pet.)  Some of the stories are truly heartbreaking.  One person I knew was getting divorced, and had to move herself and her young children in with a family member who is allergic to cats.  Unfortunately, our group was full at the time, and I had to refer her elsewhere.

* * *

So this long preamble brings me to my main point here.

A family we know came across a stray YOUNG AND TINY kitten several months ago. They originally did not want to keep him, but the kids and the parents had fun with him while he was YOUNG AND TINY, so they decided to make him a family pet.  I had originally offered to help with placement through our rescue group, but the family decided to keep him.

Now this kitten is about 6 months old, and needs medical attention, so the family PUT HIM IN THEIR GARAGE because they don’t want him to get fleas in their house. And because he had out of litter box experiences while the family was away for THREE WEEKS.  The kitten was cared for by a neighbor during their absence.

And then the family called us – to ask if there was some way we could get him into our animal rescue foster system. The problem is, our group is full. The waiting list is closed because it is so long. The family was already told this, that there is “no room at the inn”, but called us hoping that we could pull some strings, now that they have decided that they don’t want the kitten any more.

Mind you, this is not a financial issue. Their kids go to private schools, the family vacations in Europe. This is a “we are bored with our previously cute little kitten now that he is getting bigger and needs medical care” issue.

So my husband took a deep breath, and said he would call them back after speaking with me.

My advice was to take the kitten to a vet. This kitten has not been seen by a vet EVER. Needless to say, he has not been neutered. Or gotten any shots. Or given flea treatments, or worming medications.  Or anything else he might need.

My husband called the family back and relayed the advice about taking the kitten to a vet. The family is “considering” taking the kitten to a vet, or to the local cat surrender shelter.

The family asked if they could borrow a cat carrier from us.

My husband advised purchasing an inexpensive cardboard carrier from PetSmart.

* * *

By the way, we are taking OUR CAT TO THE VET THIS AFTERNOON because he had out of litter box episodes all yesterday afternoon.

Because he deserves to be diagnosed and treated when he is sick.

Because we have chosen to make Padre a part of our family.

Forever.

Suffice it to say, Padre is not in the garage.

</RANT ENDS HERE>

Back to your regularly scheduled blog.

9

Mom here. I have volunteered for a local animal rescue group for the past two years, and last year began fostering kittens. This year, all of us who foster have had lots of sick kittens, and therefore, lots of medications that we have had to administer.

When my current kittens Boo and Shadow got really sick during the July 4th weekend, I had to drive 30 miles across town to take them to an emergency clinic that was open.

Let us OUT of here

“We demand to be let out of here!”

At the clinic, Boo and Shadow were given massive amounts of sub-Q (subcutaneous, i.e., under the skin) fluids to help with their dehydration.  Boo was given an injection of chlorpromazine, an antiemetic, since she could not keep anything down. I was given two different liquid meds to take home and give to the girls.

Boo doesn’t feel so good

Shadow doesn’t feel good either

One of the meds was Panacur – a really potent dewormer to get rid of the parasites the little girls had. The regular medicine we use for deworming is Strongid, and it was just not cutting it this season. Panacur is given as one dose for three days – and by the third day, really sick kittens who are refusing to eat have perked up and are doing much, much better.

Empty Dishes!

I was given a pretty full bottle of Panacur, which meant there would be a lot left over since I was only going to use 3 mL total. When you volunteer in animal rescue, funds are tight, and we are careful with everything that costs money. Like meds.

Which brings me to my first drug deal.

Two weeks later, both kittens were healthy, and I had a lot of Panacur left over. I got a call that there were other sick kittens that needed a dewormer, and the decision was made to give Panacur rather than Strongid.

So I agreed to meet another volunteer in an empty parking lot to give her the bottle. I was excited about my first drug deal!  The deal took place after dark, in a seedy part of town, and with the sound of police sirens in the distance.

OK, the deal actually transpired in broad daylight.

And seedy part of town? Well, we were in the parking lot of Saks Fifth Avenue at Beachwood Mall, in one of the most expensive Cleveland suburbs.

As far as police go, there was mall security patrolling the area in their SUV’s.

We were ignored.