Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Kitten roller coaster aka the week that broke my heart

So April 12,  I took in a beautiful cat named Agnes, and her six adorable kittens...


...and by April 21, every kitten was dead... but not, thank God, Agnes.


This little fellow was the first to go.

Everything seemed okay when they arrived, although Agnes was a first-time mama (who came to me from Operation Spay + Neuter in Hawkesbury) who not had the best of care before arriving at OSN.


At first, her babies were feeding well. But the Monday after she arrived, one orange baby started fading. So we rushed off to the vet. Agnes had a bit of a temperature but seemed okay otherwise, so she got a shot of long-lasting antibiotic.

By Thursday, I had lost more orange babies and was back at the vet. Agnes' temperature was higher, so she had an x-ray (to check that nothing was going on in her uterus, like a retained kitten or placenta.) Apart from her temperature, she seemed reasonably well, so she was started on another antibiotic, and Peter the vet taught me how to tube-feed the three remaining babies, who had started losing weight the day I brought them in. I would also give them Clavamox via the tube.

Tube-feeding is now my super-power, lol.  I can do it when I am so tired I can barely put two words together And it is a tool I will now always have at my disposal if I ever have to help fading kittens again (which I probably will, since I intend to continue fostering!)

So from Thursday night to later Saturday, I tube-fed those babies every two to three hours, including through the night...



I learned that two nights of this kind of interrupted sleep is all I can handle. My concussion symptoms even started to recur! Althoguh I don't do well with sleep deprivation, I was determined to give it my best shot, so I hauled my ass out of bed, went to the granary, prepped the formula, and fed those babies. Sometimes around 3 am Saturday, I did not properly close the shaker bottle I was using to mix formula, and managed to spray Kitten Milk Replacer all over myself, including my hair. 

It was not my best moment, but I got those babies fed and went back to bed, figuring my own cats would lick the milk out of my hair. Plus I had to get up again in three hours, so no time to waste cleaning up splattered milk.

The little black kitten and the little calico had been hanging on through several feedings.

Then the black one started to fade.

And died.

Still,  I kept rooting for this girl...


She was the only female in the litter, a beautiful little calico.


I believed she had it in her to overcome what was happening (likely issues with Agnes' milk quality and supply, due to her infection.) 

I so wanted this little angel to make it...


...but she didn't. 

I can't even remember now exactly when she died, I was so exhausted after two nights of feedings. But when she did, I was just so sad. I really thought she'd survive. Well, I hoped she would.

And that wasn't all...

I also took in Jewel and her five babies, born April 13...


Beautiful Jewel

Jewel's littlest died right after I got her from Operation Spay + Neuter, then her grey boy died soon after that. I was (and am) so tired, I can't even remember the timeline. But in a short time these two foster cats lost eight kittens.


Agnes was a great mama but she is young, had no vet care before being take in by Operation Spay + Neuter. and of course, had an infection to boot.

Jewel is also young, but has managed to keep three of her babies going...


Touch wood, they are nice fat butterballs right now and turn two weeks old this Friday.

And then last Sunday, I took in these four premature kittens, and Jewel happily accepted them...



Crazy tiny!


Their mama was EIGHT MONTHS old and had zero interest in them after giving birth. Their birth scene was a bloody mess; one kitten was still in her placental sac, and two of the six kittens died right away. We decided to give it our best shot, but by this morning, I'd lost three of the four, and tonight the last one is very weak. I think they were just too premature to survive, but it was worth a try. I have read that any kitten under 90 grams is considered premature; these four weighed from 72 - 85 grams. Still, they were nursing off Jewel so I had some hope.

In the past week, I've dealt with 11 kitten deaths, and probably will have another in the morning, which not only makes me sad, it makes me angry. I am so pissed off at all the irresponsible, uncaring people out there who refuse to spay/neuter their cats, and treat them as disposable items... people who do not care about the suffering of animals, nor the suffering of the people who end up caring for them, only to lose them. Not only does the world not need more kittens, it does not need more kittens born to poorly-fed, unvaccinated mothers who have never been to a vet's office because the owner couldn't be bothered to take them there.

I am well aware of the fragility of kittens, but even so, 11 is a lot, and every death made me sad. By the time I got to bed Saturday night, after the little calico died, I was exhausted, angry and crying. It just felt really raw. For someone who cares about animals as much as I do, it was a bit much to see these kittens fading away one by one. I am so sick and tired of irresponsible people who don't care about their cats and don't spay/neuter. We have WAY too many cats in our area, and all of these needless suffering is utterly preventable.

But then, I still have these three...


Jewel's orange-and-white baby today


Jewel's dilute calico baby today


Jewel's tuxedo baby today

Please send good thoughts for these three. Like I said, they are doing well, but they are young yet. Their eyes have just opened and you can see they are getting ready to explore. I want them all the have long, happy lives with excellent families!!!

And another bright note, look at Grayson, aka Fake Grace...



He has been here for something like five weeks, and in that time I've had him neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. And in all that time, he never made a sound: not a hiss, or a purr or a meow. He didn't scratch or bite or even struggle. He was almost catatonic, if you'll forgive the pun. But on Sunday, he cracked.


Grayson pushed his face into my hand as I scratched him. THen he rolled on his side. Then... he PURRED!!!



And today he gave me bologna tongue...


So for all the sadness this past week, there is some happiness too! Such is life.

Please, spay/neuter your cats!

PS: I got another poem published, this time at Love's Executive Order!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Poem anyone?

Looking for something to read? I have another poem up on Mused...




This is me and Nanny, my paternal grandmother and the inspiration for my poem. 





I remember that kitchen very well.



Mother to six children, and the only grandparent of whom I have memories.



Saturday, March 17, 2018

The saga of Grace

Well! It has been quite the week... 

So back at the end of December,  I took in a shy but lovely foster kitty named Grace.


At first, she was very timid, hiding up in a tire on the cat-room wall. But with patience and love, she came around, with the help of sardines and some extra TLC from my cat-whisperer friend Sharron. Grace started to purr when we pet her, giving us a glimpse of her sweet personality.  It wasn't long before Grace was offered a fur-ever home.  I was thrilled when my friend's mom-in-law and husband adopted Grace. They are seniors, and it would be a quiet, loving home for Grace. And my friend, who was smitten with this grey girl, but whose own hubby is allergic to cats, would get to see Grace regularly!




So this former denizen of the Miss Hawkesbury restaurant parking lot went off to live in her beautiful new home.  My friend's son (Grace's owners grandson) built Grace a wonderful big scratching post. They bought Grace an amazing cat tree and put it by the kitchen windows, and she perched there as she dreamed of assassinating the fat mourning doves and twitching Chickadees that came and went form the feeders just beyond the glass. Grace's new cat-parents absolutely doted on her.

Then just over a week ago, the front door was accidentally left ajar. Grace saw her chance, and scooted out in search of adventure.

And didn't come back!

Search parties were arranged. Posters were stuck to poles. "LOST CAT" posts flooded the internet.Veterinary clinics and the OSPCA were called, and everyone in the village that Grace lives in was alerted to her absence. Sharron and I went down to look for her one day, and then Sharron kindly went back on her own a few more times to search for Grace in the snow. Grace's owners also continued to call out to and look for her. They put her bed and litter box outside, hoping that her own scent would show her the way home.

Then they heard reports of a new grey cat hanging out at the feed mill down the street. So they borrowed a live trap from me, and set out to catch this cat. Which they did, last Saturday.

Grace took the lure of tuna and went straight into the trap. Her owners picked up the trap and noted that Grace was, well, a bit wild, but what cat wouldn't be spooked by such an experience? Trapping is hard on cats. Grace had been trapped before when Operation Spay + Neuter in Hawkesbury rescued her from a restaurant parking lot. So Grace's humans put the cage in the trunk and drove home,. They brought the cage inside, and let Grace out.

Grace freaked out a bit, which really wasn't like her, but still, it had been a traumatic experience. She bolted from the cage and made a beeline for the TV cabinet. Then she left there and booted it for the bedroom., where she again promptly hid.  Her owners put a litter box and food nearby. The box was used, the food disappeared, but still Grace continued to hide. And then, just a soupçon of doubt... Grace's hu-mom emailed me:

It may be Grace. I'm still not sure.


Grace continued to hide. Suspicion continued to grow.


It may be Grace. I still can't see her whole body.


The village Grace lives in isn't very big. Really,  how many new stray grey cats could be showing up there the same weekend that Grace disappeared? But something wasn't right. Grace's hu-mom emailed me again:

I still can't get a good look at her. Bedroom smells "feedmill". I'm not sure if a cat can pick up the scent of where it has been or if this cat has lived there for a while.

We all wanted this cat to be Grace. Everyone was devastated by her disappearance, and just wanted Grace back in her cozy bed. But instead, Grace was hiding out under the bed and refusing to interact with her humans. There was no growling, hissing, or spitting, but there was no purring either. When her hu-mom reached under the bed to stroke Grace's back, she closed her eyes and cowered. They could touch Grace, but she made no effort to move towards them. Another email arrived...


1:30 on Monday.Grace (if it is her)continues to be elusive.

  You can see where this is going. At this point,  I was pretty sure we were dealing with:
 FAKE GRACE.

Then, another message:

I don't think this cat is Grace.

Yeah, me neither. Much as I wanted it to be Grace, much as we all did, unless she had had a lobotomy, this cat was not Grace. But then, a glimmer of hope! Another email arrrived:

There is another grey cat that comes toward the house every evening , sometimes goes under the deck. It looks more like "Grace" size-wise but I have not been able to catch it or get really close to it.

Whaaaaat!? That HAD to be REAL GRACE! Once again, Sharron went over to help. She suggested that Grace's owners set the live trap next to the deck where cat footprints had been seen. The trap was baited with delicious, stinky tuna. At 9:30 last Thursday night, a week after Grace had disappeared, I got a call from her hu-mom.:

I caught a grey cat! I'm SURE it's Grace. When I stick my fingers in the trap, she meows and comes over to me.

Jubilation! Grace was home! My friend Sharron, who had by this point lost hope, woke up at 11 pm to read to my joyful  text message: 

She got Grace in the trap! And if it's not Grace, we will soon have caught every grey cat in the village!

 We all slept well for the first time in a week.

But now what to do about FAKE GRACE camped out in real Grace's home? Sharron did manage to get a photo of him/her, hiding under the bed...


Fake Grace



Real Grace


Well, I messaged my friend Elizabeth at Operation Spay + Neuter, who had originally trapped Grace. She came down with me on a mission to catch the imposter. 

Elizabeth is very experienced with catching cats: ferals, scared kitties, you name it. She's a pro. She came with me down to Grace's place, and quickly sized up the situation. The kitty under the bed was scared. not feral. Kitty also had a substantial set of testicles! And within ten minutes, Liz had gently scruffed him and put him in the cat carrier. 

And he is now in a room in my barn, awaiting a vet visit and neutering. What comes after that, I'm not sure, but we named him Grayson, and he is now safe. Still hiding, but safe. No doubt Sharron will soon be working her sardine magic on him.

And Grace has her home back to herself...


I don't think she is the least bit sorry for the worry she caused! But her family is so happy to have her back. Her hu-mom called it the week from hell.  I am just so relieved this sweet girl is back where she belongs. She really does have the best family. And the front door that was left ajar is being repaired so that it closes properly.

Maybe a week on the run in the snow will convince Grace that the outdoor life is no longer for her! And things are looking better for Grayson, too, now that he's off the streets, and the credit have rolled on this feline version of Trading Places.


Grayson doesn't look sorry either.


In other news, check out this pic of my former foster kitty George, aka Pirate Kitty, who was adopted by Sharron...



Isn't he magnificent?

And next Saturday, March 24th, I am holding another fundraiser to raise money for the veterinary care for my foster kitties...



If you would like to attend, let me know! Contact info is the flyer. We are an hour east of Ottawa and an hour west of Montreal.


And as you can see, cat rescue is not for the faint of heart! Many thanks for all the supportive comments on my previous post. I am going to keep doing this crazy foster cat thing! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The downside of adopting out cats...

So, this cat adoption thing I'm doing is relatively new for me. Since 2015, I have adopted out 27 cats. 14 were adopted out last year, and so far this year I've rehomed 10. It keeps me awake at night! I worry  about whether or not I am finding them good homes. I worry about the money we spend neutering/spaying, vaccinating, deworming and de-fleaing them (a portion of which I get back in the $150 adoption fee I charge, but it doesn't cover much.) I worry about them being unhappy cooped up in their foster rooms for too long. I worry about them getting enough love and attention while they are here. Basically it's a crapload of worry balanced by feeling happy about being able to help some cats in need, which is why I do it. I love animals, I hate seeing them suffer, we have a huge homeless cat problem in this area,  and even though what I do is a drop in the help-suffering-cats bucket, at least it's something. And yes, it makes me feel good to find a cat a loving home. That's my prize! It makes me smile to see someone made happy by a cat they got from me. Mostly, I am happy for the cats who are getting a second chance. Truly, I don't need or seek any praise or recognition for that. However, I could do without some of the unnecessary grief I have gotten lately!


Giselle and Harry, adopted out to a great home last week!!

Take the kitten with the ear-mite issue (NOT pictured above!) I took in five kittens from a woman who had taken in the mama cat when she was dumped, pregnant, at her place. She was having trouble finding them homes, so I offered to help her. She couldn't afford to neuter/vaccinate them all, so I did that. One of the kittens had such a bad case of ear mites, her head was tilted. So my vet gave her a treatment of Revolution, then for ten days, I put drops in her ears twice a day. She went back to the vet for a check-up and was pronounced fine. Her eye looked a little cloudy, so my vet stained it, looked at it for about five minutes straight, couldn't see a problem, then handed the kitten to another vet in the practice to be examined. No one could see any issue with her eye. She was spayed. I spent over $500 on her care. The people who adopted her had previously adopted her (healthier) sister, but wanted to see if this one with the tilted head would improve before they took her as well. I was fine with that. I did NOT pressure them to adopt her. She did improve (at least, as far as my vet and I could see!) so they adopted her as well. Her ears looked good, her tilt was 99% gone. The kittens were happy to be reunited.

A month later, I get an email from the new owners who are pissed off that cat had to go to the vet again and they had to spend $300 on her care. Her ear mites had returned, plus she had scratched her cornea (probably from attempting to scratch her irritated ear.) The tone of the letter was that it was my fault for not doing enough to prevent this, and they had not expected to spend $300 on care for the kitten. There was a comment about my intentions being good (omg, how condescending!) which made it sound like I'm some idiot who doesn't know how to care for a cat, and/or was trying to foist off a sick animal.

Well, of course I was sorry to hear all this. Even though they signed an adoption contract absolving me of responsibility for the future vet costs, I offered to refund the adoption fee. I asked if they wanted me to pay the vet fee (which my husband explicitly told me not to do.) I asked if they wanted me to take the kitten back.

Well, no they didn't want any of those things. However, perhaps if she required further  costly vet care at some unknown future date, then they would bring her back. I suggested it would be better to bring her back now so I could rehome her while she was still young. That was the last I heard of it to date.

What would you do in this situation? Because it made me want to say F**K it and stop adopting out cats. It's not like I'm in this for the money. A few months back, I paid for surgery to remove the eye of a kitten that I wasn't even keeping. I was happy to do that! I wanted to do that. I am just pointing out that I'm not here cutting corners, trying to make a profit on cat sales. (Really, some people are delusional about what goes on in animal rescue.)

And then we have the latest situation...


Jeffrey and Graham. Graham (back) is still waiting for a home.



This dude is lovely. He has been here for almost a month. He and his buddy came from a flea-infested hellhole. The Children's Aid Society was involved, and the cats had to go. I wanted to take the child with me when I went to pick up that cats.

 Last week someone who follows me on Instagram asked to come see them this week. I arranged a day. Yesterday someone else wanted to come see him yesterday (Tuesday.) I contacted the first person through Instagram. Alas, I did not have a better contact method. Didn't hear back but there wasn't a lot of time. Still, I was not under the impression that we had any kind of solid adoption agreement, or any adoption agreement at all. I was under the impression that she was interested in this guy, but would come meet Graham too. 

The newer couple interested in him came yesterday. They were friends of a friend. They wanted this dude. I said yes. It is a great home for him. I didn't feel I had any commitment to the first person other than that we had a date for viewing, and when I heard they wanted this dude, I let the first person know asap. It's not like I cancelled five minutes before she was due to visit. (Plus I can't tell you how many times people have flaked out on me and wasted my valuable time. I must be old, because I can't get over how rude people are these days.)

First person was not happy. First person is blaming me for causing her pain like the pain she felt when she had her elderly cat euthanized a couple of weeks back. Said person is guilting me out in public posts on Instagram. I have broken the heart of the neighbour's child who would have been the cat-sitter for this dude. Apparently I am a steaming pile of sh*t put on this earth to cause further grief to the grief-ridden. Yay, me!

So again, I wonder if I should continue with this? It's a money-losing venture that I do to help cats, not people. I am not convinced it's worth the trouble. 

But them, I have some really lovely adoption stories that keep me going! Like the family who adopted the two fluffy kittens at the top. They are very, very shy. Cute, yes, but they will need a lot of socialization to come around. They are the kittens of Carly...


...Carly was dumped at a rural home near me. She was pregnant. We figure her owner couldn't be bothered to spay her, and when she got pregnant, she was dumped. She had her kittens in a woodpile in a garage. A kind woman worked to catch her and the kittens, but it took a while. Carly is very friendly. The kittens were very scared and hadn't had much human interaction.

But this kind family took in these two shy kittens! They are giving them all the time and space they need. Their concern, from the first time I spoke with them, has always been for the kittens. I could not imagine a better home for them. I get regular updates on their progress. I know they are in a good home. I know they are with people who love them and who will care for them even if they get sick (which hopefully they won't, given the money I spent on vet care for them!) without threatening to send them back to me (although I do tell everyone, right in the contract, that I want the cats back if they decide they don't want them anymore.)

And their mama Carly... she is going to her fur-ever home in Toronto this weekend! This is beyond fantastic. Despite the fact that Carly has a heart murmur and needs regular meds, this amazing woman wants her. Not only that, she previously had a cat with a heart murmur and knows the score. Her concern has always been all about Carly, not about what Carly can do for her. I feel lucky to have found such an great home for a cat who was treated like garbage, but is still a sweet, loving soul.

I've adopted out 27 cats, so I guess two bad scenes isn't so awful in the grand scheme of things, but it's pretty upsetting to me. I don't begrudge these cats anything. It is a privilege to care for them and watch them become the happy, healthy cats they are meant to be. I have help from some super people with this (I'm looking at you, Sharron!) But I get angry with people who don't see how much work this takes, how little financial reward there is for it, and how I get really exhausted at times, yet continue to do my best for the cats (and my 100+ other rescue animals, because we aren't just caring for a couple of foster cats here.) They don't see my husband getting up early to ferry cats to the vet, or sitting out with the foster kitties at night after I've crashed, giving them love and attention, even though he often works 10-hour days and is tired himself. I know the world is full of narcissists and morons, but at this point, I'm just not sure whether or not to continue with this, or whether perhaps there are more things I can do to protect myself. We do have an adoption contract drawn up.

Alternatively, I could just foster cats for the OSPCA as I have been doing, which leaves me with minimal risk and hassle. But the cats I take in, I take in part to save from clogging up our already clogged-up shelter in Cornwall. Some of these cats wouldn't even have made it to the adoption room there; it's a sad fact that our OSPCA in Cornwall has the highest intake of cats in the province. I feel like it's a good thing to relieve a bit of that burden, if I can.

I'm not looking for sympathy or praise, but would welcome any suggestions. I assure you I am not a saint. Ask my husband! I guess there is no way to avoid the odd unfortunate incident, but it's hurtful to me when I work so hard with these kitties. It's never my intention to hurt people, but apparently someone today thought otherwise. Which sucks. I did apologize, but that was evidently insufficient. Who needs this crap?

Meanwhile, this handsome devil is still waiting for a home...


Graham is about 5. Or maybe 3. I can't guarantee! I can't guarantee anything. The vet gave a range. He has bald spots because he has a flea allergy and arrived totally flea-infested. He is 16 lbs and has a bald belly. However, he is also charming and full of character. LOOK AT HIS FRICKING CUTE FACE! He has a really cute little vampire underbite going on. His fur is growing back now that the fleas are gone, and soon I hope he will be a fluffy masterpiece. Unfortunately, he has been declawed but that doesn't stop him from assassinating mice. He kindly left me a mouse head the other day. He is friendly and affectionate and likes being brushed. He would prefer to sit next to you rather than on your lap. He's sick of being in the foster room! He needs a home.

I am just venting. I needed to do it somewhere; the blog seemed a likely spot. But I would suggest that people be kind to those who work in animal rescue (and child rescue! I could NOT work for the Children's Aid Society. Those are exceptional people!!) Maybe instead of complaining, you could cut us some slack and do something to help. We all make mistakes, you know. Perhaps I should have said NO to the people who came to adopt Jeffrey yesterday, but I was thrilled with them and thrilled for Jeffrey. He has been stuck here for almost a month. No doubt there are *ssholes in animal rescue, as there are anywhere in life. But honestly, I don't think I'm one of them.

Go take some cookies to your local animal shelter staff and BE NICE.
Thanks for reading. :) Here's a little poster I made for Graham:





Saturday, February 17, 2018

Foster floofs and other tales

Things have been busy around here,  as per usual...


Did I even mention that Fanny has become cat #17? She is living in our renovated granary now with Mootie and Pip. They are having the time of their lives out there, heated floors and all. Fanny has really come out of her shelll and is a super-sweet, loving girl. She is enjoying the "Crazy Pants" and her cat scratcher.

Meanwhile, I have a new batch of fosters...



This is beautiful Carly, who is looking for her forever home. She arrived February 1st with her kittens...


...Giselle (top) and Harry. 



Long story short, Carly was someone's pet until she got preggars and was dumped at a rural home near me. She had two kittens in a woodpile in a kind couple's garage. They were finally able to live-trap the kittens and bring them to me a couple of weeks ago. They are about 5-1/2 months old, and while shy, they are coming along nicely with socialization You can pet them and pick them up now! 

They are being neutered and spayed next Friday, then they are off to their fur-ever home together, which makes me so happy! Just need to find a home for their lovely, friendly Mama now.

And last Saturday, I took in these two boys...








Graham



Jeffrey

They were in an awful situation CAS (Children's Aid Society.) The mother involved  was told to get rid of the cats, pronto. So we picked them up last week. They were both covered in fleas and Jeffrey had a bad case of ear mites. Gordon and I took them straight from their filthy former home to the vet. Poor Graham has a flea allergy and bald patches as a result. They have now been vaccinated and treated for fleas. Graham is already fixed and declawed (UGH! I am against declawing!) but Jeffrey needs to be neutered.


Graham is 16 lbs of love! He is such a nice boy.



Jeffrey is fantastic too. Cuddly and sweet-natured. I wish I could keep them both!

In other news...


...our big lug of a Maremma, Monty, turned two on Valentine's Day! Still waiting for him to mature completely, lol...

And Elsa and Anna the goat kids are doing great!



We are having a "Goat Kid Yoga" fundraiser here next Saturday! If you are in the Ottawa-Montreal area, think about coming. It will be so much fun. 

Hope you are all having a lovely, relaxing weekend!