Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ash



 Ash

The year is drawing to a close, and I am reflecting on all the cats I have adopted out this year. It is MADNESS! I was a bit shocked to add up the numbers and discover I took in 60 cats and kittens, and have adopted out 55 (and that doesn't count the 13 kittens that died in April!) This is why I am now my veterinary practice's second biggest client after the OSPCA, lol.

 The five felines  that haven't left are Taya, (failed foster, now a permanent resident!) Peaches  (being fostered by my friend Sharron), Lucy, (in a room in my house while we deal with her medical issues), Artemis (5-month-old kitten who was shot in the leg and will be here for the foreseeable future; it looks like she will need her front right leg amputated), and Oliver (who was returned to me after a year and a half because... don't get me started! He is my idea of the perfect cat and everyone who has met him here agrees with me.)

At the start of 2018, I took in five kittens with absolutely no intention of taking in another 55 felines in the ensuing months. This year has been insane, but I have learned so much. I have been sorely tested and disappointed by a couple of people, but for the most part, I have dealt with a lot of really amazing human beings who have given me help along the way, not to mention the fantastic people who have adopted all these beautiful cats. It was never my goal in life to run a cat shelter, and yet here I am, doing what I thought I could never do, and finding it very satisfying.

 My goal for next year is to do a better job of balancing everything so that I can spend more time doing the other things I love: writing, making art, and riding my horse. Also there have been times this year when I have been exhausted, which is not something I need at my age. So I am working on that too. You need really strong boundaries to do this cat rescue work, and I am getting better at defending my boundaries all the time, but it can be really difficult to say "no" to a cat in need, But you must! A person can only do so much. It's tough for an introvert like me to be dealing with people all the time, but at the same time, I have been so amazed and touch by the support and kindness I have received from so many in 2018. 

And then there's my friend and right-hand cat-woman, Sharron. I can't say enough good things about this beautiful being, Sharron has been there every step of the way this year, volunteering her time to help the cats she loves. She comes to the farm many times a week to clean litter-boxes, wash cat bowls, clean up the granary, and most importantly, to spend time with the cats. She has the most amazing way with them, and I truly believe her love for and care of this kitties is a large part of the reason I do so well adopting out these cats to great homes. She is amazing at socializing them!  She understands cats so very well, and  is an absolute godsend to me. She will even do things like surprise me with tacos and chai lattes and all manner of things that brighten my days. She is also the person who adopted the Georgie, the one-eyed kitten I fostered for the OSPCA in 2017. I told Sharron the other day that I couldn't do this without her. She said I could. Well, maybe I could, but it would be a lot more difficult.  I am so grateful to have her in my life.

There have been some beautiful adoption stories this year. Let me tell you about Ash...



Ash was found shivering on a porch in Cornwall. He had lost weight and has a nasty bite wound on his leg. The person concerned for him contacted me. It's funny; I didn't really have space at the time. On top of that, I hate talking on the phone (introvert!) and usually let it go to call answer unless it's someone I know. Yet on this one particular day,  I picked up the phone when it was a number I didn't know. It turned out to be the call about Ash. It was a nurse who worked at the nearby hospital. She wanted to help him, but couldn't keep him because she was in a rental and already had a cat. My first impulse was to say no, but as she talked, my resolve weakened and I agreed to take him in.

I'm so glad I did!



I got Ash off the vet asap. Sadly, he tested positive for FIV (not the end of the world, but he would need some special care.) And the vet took one look at the deep hole in his rear leg and scheduled surgery. While Ash was under, he was also neutered, then sent home with a fine set of sutures along his back leg...


I really wasn't sure how easy it would be to adopt out a FIV-positive cat but I figured I'd give it a shot! And within a week, I'd received a message about Ash from an older gentleman who had lost his beloved wife to cancer last year.

He owned two geriatric dogs, and was looking for a cat to keep him company. Would Ash fit the bill? I invited him to come for a visit. And it turned out the man shared my last name and was from England,  like my parents. His accent so reminded me of my father's.

Mr. Rowe and Ash hit it off immediately. Mr. Rowe used to rescue ferals, had a good understanding of FIV and was undaunted by it. Ash would be an indoor, only cat, so no worries about transmission of the virus. While he sat cuddling Ash, I learned a bit about Mr. Rowe.  He was a former RAF fighter pilot who flew Spitfires. At some point he had lost his leg and walked with "a stick." His lovely wife had succumbed to a genetic breast cancer at the age of 65, and it was clear to me how much he loved and missed her. Now he was looking for a feline buddy to keep him company on the couch while he watched TV, and bring a bit of kitty personality to the household.

Mr. Rowe left with Ash that day.

The dogs and Ash needed a bit of time to get used to each other, but they have worked things out in short order. Ash now sits next to Mr. Rowe at night while they enjoy their favourite shows, and he sleeps on Mr. Rowe's bed (and sometimes chest!) at night. I could not be happier with how life has worked out for this big, affectionate grey cat.

Stories like this are what keep me going; for every nutjob you meet in cat rescue, there are 100 kind, caring, fantastic people to make up for it. 

And happy endings like this one.


Update: Oliver's former owner took exception to my characterization here of her relationship with him,  and sarcastically called me "Saint Natalie", so I have removed the offending reference. For all of you who are interested, I am not and have never claimed to be a saint. I just like cats. I do, however, think Oliver is a perfect cat and I stand by that statement. Clearly he was not the right cat for his previous owners. Also, yes, I want to take cats back if their owners no longer want them, and it's in the adoption contract, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. Oliver was in his home for a year and a half, and now he's back here, while his feline sister got to stay. I am sad for Oliver, not for Oliver's human.






27 comments:

  1. If a dog is a man's best friend, the stereotype is that cats tend to endear themselves more to female pet owners. But some women go further, giving their lives to the care of cats. Why?

    Ancient civilisations may have worshipped cats, but from the black cat on a witches' broomstick to the image of a spinster who has substituted any hope of a husband with a cat, the female's relationship with felines has sometimes been regarded as slightly suspect.

    Yet for some women, giving cats a home is a lifetime pursuit.

    Pat, a pensioner, has always taken in stray cats and says she is particularly drawn to the old, sick and unwanted ones.

    "I don't know why I love animals so much. Perhaps it was my upbringing. My dad was a bully... bullied my mum and he used to drown kittens," says the 71-year-old from Dagenham, east London.

    "I used to have to watch - I was only a tot looking over the sink and all these kittens were going in a cocoa tin. I never forgave him for it."

    Other men in her life have often been no better.

    "The last bloke was a drug addict, he used to beat me to a pulp. Maybe that's why I like animals. I feel so sad because people are so cruel [and] don't think animals have feelings."
    (An excerpt from..'Why do some women devote their lives to saving cats')?
    By Vanessa Barford
    BBC News..

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  2. Natalie I am so inspired by all you do for animals, but especially the cats as they own my heart. So often I see a kitty on your blog and I say, if I lived in Canada I would so get that cat. I know there are many to rescue here and my Annie is one of them. Some day I will have more then one cat but for now with allergies (my daughter) one cat is all this house can handle. I will just continue to pray and support your efforts and those of my local animal shelter! Merry Christmas!

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    1. You are very kind, Linda. Thank you for all the lovely comments you leave. Merry Christmas!

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  3. Ash's story is just one of many this year. 🐱

    The Stray, feral unwanted unloved cat story is never never-ending. 💔Thankfully there are people like you Natalie, and Gordon, 😇😇 who make it their life's work to show compassion and caring for animals, who through no fault of their own and through every fault of us as humans have found themselves in these situations.

    Your compassion and never-ending caring is a true inspiration to all of us. In heartache and joy and anger, we all Stand United in our battle to make this world a little bit better one small furry life at a time.

    I have always respected you for what you do and what you sacrifice to do it.

    As someone who is Neck Deep involved in animal rescue myself, of a slightly different type, you are someone who I look up to and admire. I have always respected you but never more so during the time when once again the cruelty of humans shon through for an animal that I was involved with.

    My own personal outrage at the treatment of this animal spilled over onto my online community friends. And to you. You were also dealing with your own heartache and stress and strain of everyday rescue life but found the strength to be compassionate, caring and shared my outrage, offering kind and comforting words, letting me know that you understood. And most importantly, that you too, cared.
    (being compassionate and passionate can be a lonely thing at times)

    My outrage reached a reporter at CityNews in Toronto. She very kindly offered to share my story in the hopes that it would not happen again. During my interview I dropped it into the conversation that my friend (because I do consider you a friend) had an animal that experienced the same abject cruelty as the animal I was dealing with. The very eager reporter asked me if you would be willing to share your story on the news that night. With absolutely no thought to your introvert status, and your dislike of speaking with people I readily agreed that yes YOU would LOVE to speak to her on the 6 o'clock news. (Sorry I kind of dropped you in on your head.) Ever the trooper that you are, you went out to dinner with your beloved, and then did an on-camera interview. At the drop of a hat. For this you forever gained my respect.

    Alex the tri-pawd cat was a star in the story about leg-hold traps and their use in the city. He is living proof of what happens... as was my animal friend, who unlike Alex, could not recover from the horrific injuries the leg hold trap cause to his foot. He was euthanized, while I cried and apologized to him for the pain and suffering that my fellow man had inflicted upon him.

    As the year closes, we look back on the lives saved, the lives lost, and all of those who have touched Our Lives. We also remember all the ones we could not help. For if love could have saved them it would have.

    As you continue to do what you do, I will be here to support you in any way I can. The money, Amazon gifts, or just emotional support.

    I will however refrain from sending you the t-shirt that says I LIVE WITH AN OLD GOAT. Only out of respect for Gordon.🐐💓

    Wishing both of you a very merry Christmas and the best of New Year. We are all in this together. Together we can create change.

    The very best to you and yours from me and mine.
    #spayandneuter
    #BanLegHoldTraps
    #LoveAll

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    1. OMG Lori, you are too kind!! THank you for the beautiful and thoughtful comment!! I need a shirt that says "I am an old goat!" LOL

      And THANK YOU for all you do for animals.... I know how much you love them and work to make their lives better!! Merry Christmas and thank you for all the support you've given me. (And no, I'm not a saint! Never claimed to be either!)

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    2. Well I think you have to be DEAD for a long time before we can proclaim you to be a saint... lol. So that's good. Oliver's former "family" should be grateful to you, nothing but grateful. Sometimes it takes a minute in time for true colors to show, and they have.
      And sometimes the truth hurts.. and lashing out at others around you results. Pay her no mind. You are fully entitled to your opinion of her actions.
      I for one am THANKFUL she returned him to you. She could have chosen a less ideal route.

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  4. https://toronto.citynews.ca/2017/10/29/two-gta-animals-killed-traps-residential-areas/

    A link to the story referenced above, if anyone is inclined to watch and share.
    Yes it happens ALL THE TIME. In the city. In the country. Dogs,cats, wildlife, even humans. Leg hold traps do not discriminate between wildlife or pets. The horrific aftermath is the same.

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    1. And you know all about my tripod kitty Alex and his leghold trap experience! :(

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  5. You know you're my hero Natalie, and if I lived anywhere near you, I'd be right over mucking out litter boxes alongside you all!

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    1. That would be so much fun, too! Thank you for all you do to support the animals here!

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  6. Love this post, Knatolee! And love the story of Ash. We also shared our lives with a FIV POSITIVE cat... and in truth, he was the 'heart' of our house-hold. He and his siblings were all feral, tested negative as kittens, and were never let outside. Jack tested positive when he was 4.... the others stayed negative. Jack lived (with care and treatment) until he was 10 and he was the best cat ever! His siblings are still with us.
    I'm so glad you took Ash in... and that he was adopted into a loving home.

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    1. I have learned a lot about FIV in a really short time! Really not that big of a deal, other than keeping them as healthy as possible. You are so kind to cats yourself!!

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  7. What a wonderful post! 55 adoptions, that is absolutely amazing! Our local shelter reported recently and while higher, they have many more staff and opportunities than you. The efforts you, Gordon, and your volunteers put in are truly wonderful. As a fellow cat-lover I am eternally grateful!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, and to all the animals who have benefited from the love and care provided this year. All the best in 2019!
    Eileen

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    1. I have some pretty great people helping me out around here... I'm just a bit amazed that many cats flowed through here. You have a wonderful Christmas too!

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  8. Well, Natalie, as you know I live with San Geraldo. And by my definition of "saint" you fit the bill. Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo to you and Gordon and your ENTIRE family.

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    1. I'm pretty fond of you, too. xoxo Although Oliver's former owner now thinks I'm a queen b*tch. When she first contacted me about bringing him back, she mentioned wanting to trade him for Artemis. I can't understand the mindset of someone who wants to trade cats.

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    2. PS Merry Christmas xoxo

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  9. Ash's story is wonderful! And what you, Gordon, Sharron and all those involved, are doing is amazing and remarkable. My very best to you all--Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you, Kea, and happy Christmas to you, too!

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  10. You are a saint... even though she meant it as a negative... you truly are a saint! I still am so glad he came back to you because I can only wonder at what he was put through.. I love seeing all your animals and your love for them... I get ridiculously excited when I see a new post from you on the blog or Instagram... even your barn kitties have such a nice place to hang out! I hope you and Gordon have an absolutely fantastic 2019💗

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    1. THank you, Claudette, you are very kind. I'm not though... ;) I do think Oliver was well cared-for at his home; his previous owner seems to have taken my comment as meaning I didn't think that. But I do think he was the wrong cat for her, and I think she lied to herself about her reasons for giving him back. I got tired of hearing her call him an asshat and rolling her eyes about him.

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  11. I think you make a good point. We have to remember for all the dipsticks in the world, our friends and family surround us and have much love in their hearts.

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  12. Merry Merry Christmas Natalie and to all at Bee Meadow Farm! The story of Mr. Rowe and Ash is perfect and got me teary-eyed! One day, may God give me the opportunity to adopt a cat-- or 5--and be just as happy and cozy as Mr. Rowe is. The thing about Oliver's situation is that he was in that house for a year and a half... How can you not get upset when it's so heartbreaking to remove him, yet again, after so long a time with them?
    Your animals are so blessed to have you and all the wonderful people who help and adopt! Actually we are all blessed, really.
    All the best in 2019!

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    1. Merry Christmas!
      And you are right about Oliver... his former owner now thinks I am the bitch from hell, but i am mainly upset for Oliver, who has been sent back after such a long time and is now spending Christmas in a foster room. But really, it was always all about his owner, not about Oliver. I am not a therapist, I am just the person adopting out cats. And Oliver already had so much hardship before he went to her. I am so sad for him that he has been shifted around yet again.

      Ash's story is amazing. I am so happy for him!
      A very happy New Year to you, too. xox

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  13. **Merry Christmas and Happy New Year** to you and Gordon!
    I love Ash and I'm SO glad that he found --[through you!]-- "The Perfect Home" for the rest of his life!
    After returning from Texas on December 28, 2018, for an 8-day visit with my 92-year-old widower Dad + family, I also miss giving the turkey --i.e., from my turkey-and-cheese sandwiches!-- to his Retirement Community's (very affectionate/ former T-N-R/ now indoor-outdoor) senior calico cat "Miss Kitty," who is very beloved by a small core-group of folks, [including me, when I visit]! As the years have gone by, there are fewer "raised eyebrows," [haha!], from my primarily dog-loving family, because they know that I do tons of Animal Advocacy for both cats ~a.n.d.~ dogs [+ wildlife, too], you know! [Incidentally, Oliver's being returned to you after a year and a half is probably --all things considered with his former owner-- genuinely the best thing for ~h.i.m.~ and, in the final analysis, as you know, that's all that really counts/matters.]

    This -(directly Below)- is for you & Gordon, Natalie!:
    A TRADITIONAL IRISH BLESSING

    Warm be the love that surrounds you,
    Good be your friends, and true,
    Constant be hope and promise,
    Useful the work that you do --

    Close be your ~~[**Bee Meadow Farm**!]~~ family around you,
    Good health be yours day by day,
    Long be the life that you're living,
    And full of much joy on the way!

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!