Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, 2019!

I know it looks like I completely abandoned my blog, but I have come here often to write a post, then found myself unable to... 2019 was a hard year. Although I was optimistic in my April post, we lost Kwazii on September 5th. His immune system was just too depleted by his FIV to withstand treatment for lymphoma and we had to euthanize him. It was extremely hard.

RIP Kwazii. You were one of a kind.

Many people had come to love this very special cat, and I still can't look at his photo without welling up. We only had him for a relatively short time, but I treasured every moment. He was one of a kind.

I started the year losing foster kitten Lucy. Then we lost Kwazii. I also lost Henry the pig (who died inexplicably in his sleep) and my goats Daphne, Harry and Daisy. I lost my new barn cat Chai.  And then our tripod kitty Alex was diagnosed with the EXACT same lymphoma that Kwazii had...

Alex has started the same chemo, and happily he seems to be responding well. He had his first blood tests yesterday and everything was perfect! That is a decent way to end the year!

This fall my horse Roo colicked, but fortunately recovered. (My first experience with colic!) Then immediately on the heels of that, we nearly lost our donkey Saul to a bile duct problem. Fortunately he also recovered! But it has all made me a bit too weary to write, which is unfortunate, because I feel emotionally constipated when I stop writing. But this year has been a bit much for me. I have taken in 39 foster cats and adopted out 35, which is fabulous, but I am also exhausted. But I didn't really come here to complain... this was just supposed to be a short preamble (if anyone is even reading!)

I think a lot about the work I've been doing taking in and adopting out cats. 99% of the people I deal with are amazing. It's the 1% I struggle with, who seem to think they can be as rude and abusive as they want. I deal with them, but I don't enjoy it. And the good people do far outweigh the bad! And it's the people part of cat rescue that I thought to write about...

People generally seem to realize that taking in cats, neutering/spaying, vaccinating and adopting them out to loving homes is a good thing, and the prime motivation for a cat rescue. But what I've noticed is how important this endeavour is to the happiness of humans.

Foster kitty Chinook

I get a lot of joy out of helping cats in need. I adore animals, but I have a particular soft spot for cats, and anytime I am able to help them, it is immensely satisfying. I am an introvert, and at a party, I'll be the one in the corner cuddling a cat. I can make small talk and be surprisingly social, but it's never easy for me. I find being with animals far easier than dealing with humans. Animals never lie and they never let me down. They have always been there for me, so I try to be there for them.

 But I have come to realize that it also makes me happy seeing how my work benefits humans. I have taken in cats from all kinds of situations... there was an elderly man going into a seniors' residence who couldn't take his beloved cat with him. There was a terminally ill woman who wanted to be sure her cat would have a safe place before she left his world. There was a woman who adored her kitty but had to go into permanent care due to severe mental health issues. There were many people who were trying to help homeless and sometimes injured cats, but whose resources were limited, so they asked me to help. There were people who desperately needed to rehome cats due to allergies, or divorce, or life-changing circumstances of an epic scale. The list goes on...

I have come to realize that helping humans is as much a part of cat rescue as helping cats! And that is extremely gratifying. I also take cats to visit seniors' residences... some people seem to view that as an act of charity on my part, but I do it for my own selfish reasons: I get a lot of happiness from seeing seniors light up when they cuddle a cat. I love listening to their stories about their own kitties from the past. Sometimes they will cry when they tell these stories, but I can see how comforting it is for them to be able to cuddle a purring cat or kitten. Visiting these places doesn't make me a saint;  just makes me happy! I highly recommend it.

I don't know how much longer I can continue with cat rescue. At the very least, I think I need to scale back. While, the majority of people are excellent, there are those ask too much of me. They get pissed off if I don't reply to emails and messages instantly. They come and dump all their emotional shit all over me like I'm a therapist. They should up at my door unannounced on Sunday morning with three cats in their car, demanding I take them. They get angry when I can't. It is incredibly hard to say "no" to a cat in need, but it's what you have to do if you want to keep your sanity. Boundaries are so important!

And then there's the people who stiff me for adoption fees. Only two to date, but it really burns my ass. Although I receive many generous donations, I am still spending a crapload of my own money on cat rescue, and for someone to refuse to pay me $175 for a cat they've adopted, a cat I've spent triple that on, well, it just makes me mad. I am  now demanding fees before people leave the farm with the cat. I've mostly had good luck with people not being assholes about paying adoption fees, but now that I've been screwed over twice, of course I have to change things. 

And this is why I haven't written here for a long time... I didn't want to write a whiney, complaining post about how hard cat rescue can be. Yet here I am!

Still, it has brought me so much happiness and satisfaction. When I see a cat go off to a fabulous new home with loving new owners, it fills up my heart. One more kitty who won't reproduce. One more kitty who won't die outside alone and unloved. What I do is just a drop in the bucket, given how many cats are suffering in our area. But I try to focus on the fact that I can at least help some, with amazing support from my community.

For the people out there who think saving cats is a waste of time and money, and that cats are expendable, and not worth caring about, I would say this... caring for cats = caring for people. You can't do one without the other.

That's all I've got right now... I need to eat breakfast! 

Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2020!


 Throwback to 2018... foster kitten Jack's amazing metamorphosis...

Sunday, April 07, 2019


To paraphrase Monty Python, I'm not dead; I'm just resting. Although really I'm not even resting... I keep meaning to blog, then my day goes by and it's time for bed. But here I am!

This cutie-pie is Kwazii...

Last August, my friend Elizabeth from Furr get Me Knot Cat Haven took Kwazii in. He was an absolute wreck. He'd been living rough outside for some time. Someone had taken him in at some point and shaved him (likely he was covered in mats and this was likely an act of kindness.)

Here's how he looked when Liz got him:

Skinny, flea-infested, bad upper respiratory infection, explosive diarrhea, ear mites, a crumpled ear due to haematomas, rotten teeth... he was not at his best. But he was SUPER sweet and just happy to be in a safe place with lots of food. He was so affectionate and laid-back and just plain happy. This cat deserved a chance!

Kwazii became our joint project. Liz found him a foster home, but would send him down to me for vet care. Our friend Debs volunteered to courier Kwazii back and forth to the farm (Liz lives about 45 minutes away from me.)

The day of our first vet visit, we got the sad news that Kwazii is FIV+. But happily, he didn't have FelV.  And FIV need not be a death sentence! Cats can live long lives with this illness, and they can live with non-FIV cats so long as they all get along. (FIV is transmitted mainly through deep bite wounds.)

So we got to work on Kwazii. We cleared up his URI with antibiotics. He started on weekly B12 injections. He started on a diet of special gastro food.

His coat started to grow back and things slowly began to improve for him.

We had him vaccinated and dewormed. We had him neutered, and had all his bad teeth removed and the remaining ones scaled.

Amazingly, the GoFundMe account we set up for Kwazii covered all these bills. People were really generous! Kwaz is an easy cat to fall in love with.

Kwazii was doing great except for one thing: he continued to be afflicted with explosive diarrhea. Nothing really seemed to help for long. And Kwazii LOVES to poop in his crate and roll in it, so he was getting a lot of baths....

Finally the vet suggested a comprehensive diarrhea panel. So we went ahead with that. Turned out the Kwazii had clostridium in his feces, despite repeated treatments with Flagyl. Dr. Barb was suspicious. He also had coronavirus in his poop. Was is FIP? We sure hope not; FIP is deadly and awful. But we had kind of reached the end of the road with diagnostics, unless we were willing to have Dr. Barb perform exploratory surgery on Kwazii, and take some tissues. This, we were told, would yield a definitive diagnosis. But if something WAS going on, it could also make Kwazii crash.

Still, without a concrete diagnosis, we wondered if we'd ever be able to stop Kwazii's terrible diarrhea  (which not only were uncomfortable for and detrimental to him, but made him a less-suitable candidate for adoption!)
Liz and I talked. We decided to go ahead with the surgery. Happily, Kwazii came through it like a pro and charmed everybody at the clinic. His abdomen was sliced open, and Dr. Barb investigated everything and took tissue samples. She found that a section of his intestine and some lymph nodes were enlarged but otherwise, things looked okay. She closed him up and sent the samples to the lab.

When she called to update me, she was laughing. When she went to check on Kwazii the evening, he was "face down in his food bowl" eating like he'd never seen food before. Apparently cats are often uninterested in food after abdominal surgery. Not our Kwazii! Hours after surgery, he had bounced back like nothing had happened.

He came home with a delightful cone. We decided that Kwaz would stay with me for the foreseeable future. If he had a terminal illness, I would keep him, but if it was something treatable, I'd fix him up and do my best to find him a home or long-term foster home.

The next week, we got the diagnosis: Kwazii had lymphoma in his intestines, with a tiny amount in his liver: a low-grade, small-cell carcinoma that not aggressive and was very treatable. There are no guarantees, of course, but with treatment he could live years with this. It is not uncommon for cats with FIV to develop lymphoma. I was actually happy about the diagnosis because (a) now we had an answer and (b) it wasn't FIP!

We decided to go ahead and put Kwazii on chemo. Cats do a lot better with this than humans. So a week ago, Kwazii began his regimen of Chlorambucil and Prednisolone. So far, he's acting like nothing has changed. He could possibly lose his magnificent whiskers, but not his fur. I've been keeping a close eye on him and so far, touch wood, he is doing great!

And he loves to snuggle.

We'll see how he does, but my hope is that when the chemo ends, I'll be able to find him a loving home. Of course I would always take care of him here, but it would be so much nicer for him to be in a home with fewer cats where he can get all the love and attention he deserves.

Some people would think it crazy to spend so much time  and money on one cat but I say WHY NOT? I can never save all the cats, as much as I want to. I have to pick and choose my battles in fostering. This six-year-old boy is a truly lovely fellow who deserves a chance, and a loving home. And there really are no guarantees with any cat. In a year, I lost my Millicent, Mootie and Keaton, and none of them was particularly old. They'd all been seemingly healthy until they all died suddenly of different kinds of cancer. It was just bad luck. Kwazii could live for years. Or maybe he won't, but he has a much better chance of it now that we've taken him in and improved his quality of life.

And he has so much love to give! Plus he's devastingly handsome.

HUGE thanks to all the vets who have cared for Kwazii, especially Dr. Barbara Tomlinson of St. Lawrence Valley Animal Hospital and the Cat Clinic of Cornwall. You've all been so wonderful to this guy.

The BIGGEST thanks goes to Elizabeth, though. She took this sad and ragged boy in when no one else could or would. If it weren't for Liz, Kwazii would surely be dead by now; he could not have made it through another winter outside. Liz is an angel to kitties.

Go Kwazii Go! We are all rooting for you.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Jampups at play

Yes, I am still heeeere!!

We got over 30 cm (a foot) of snow the other day. Yesterday I took some pics of the Jampups frolicking in it. They play hard!

Some interesting dog body language going on here! Chloe, Dodger and Gigi.

Chloe and Gigi having fun

Dodger, a gracefull gazelle. LOL!

Hmmm not sure what Chloe is saying here.

There are a lot of teeth involved when they play, but it's all in the name of fun.

My handsome boy!

Gigi, the brains of the outfit.

Have a great weekend!