I recently read the book, “Homer’s Odyssey” by Gwen Cooper. The book records the survival of a kitten who lost his eyes due to an infection at four weeks of age, but went on to live an inspiring life that was not limited by his handicap.
The main reason I loved this story is because I have a one-eyed kitty named Shiloh who lost his eye in the same way as Homer.
A lady called me about four years ago from one of the local trailer parks. We had helped this woman with innumerable stray cats, getting them fixed to prevent more unwanted kittens. So when she called with another feline in need, I was disheartened–she always seemed to have one more cat that showed up–it was never ending. It had been a struggle to get her to let us help her get the strays spayed and neutered. She loved having kittens every year.
This time, however, the cat in need was a small kitten, only about 5-6 weeks old with a terrible upper respiratory infection. The woman told me that the mother cat had brought the kitten and a sibling to her doorstep. The second kitten died and she feared this one would, as well.
The fluffy black furball was very friendly even though he had had no encounters with humans. He was starved and devoured the can of cat food I had brought with me. I was reluctant to bail this woman out of her cat situation again, so I told her we would help if she would foster the kitten temporarily until I could find a place for him to go. After getting antibiotics from the vet, I left the woman in charge of the little guy, knowing he would soon be well from a round of medicine.
I came back to check on the kitten at the end of the week. Imagine my horror to see that, not only was he not better, he was in fact, much, much worse. While he had only had a runny nose and eyes before, now his right eye was so infected, it appeared to be bulging from his head like a fat, red tomato.
I immediately took the kitten from the woman, who promised me she had been giving him the medicine properly–although I doubted it. And why, when she noticed his eye increasing in size, didn’t she call me? She called me about every other little thing! In her defense, the medicine that was used, we discovered later, was not appropriate for the bacteria causing his infection, but I didn’t know that at the time. I rushed the kitten to the vet, berating myself for leaving him with the woman who I knew was scatter brained and irresponsible.
We tried everything to save Shiloh’s eye, but in the end, his right eye had to be removed. We were able to save the left eye and the vet sewed the right socket shut so that it now just looks, like Homer’s eyes, as if Shiloh has one eye closed or is winking at you.
I still blame myself for Shiloh’s loss of his eye. If I had only taken him when his eye still was okay, maybe he never would have lost the eye. If only I had not left him with the woman just because we didn’t have space and I wanted to make her take some responsibility and not just push every cat off on us to help. If only…
Shiloh does not know that he is missing an eye. He is the most outgoing, rambunctious cat around. He runs and jumps (and does sometimes bump into things) and harasses the other cats who he has never been intimidated by even when he was only the size of a flea.
Shiloh was my husband’s favorite of all the strays that we’ve had come through our house as fosters and so, he eventually just stayed with us.
Like Gwen Cooper, I feel for all blind cats, who unlike Homer or my Shiloh, do not have someone who loves them or provides them with a safe haven where they will never feel scared or confused in their blindness.
The Animal Rescue Site is conducting a contest, along with their challenge to have the organization with the most votes on their site win $20,000, in which they are collecting rescue stories (with happy endings–of course). They are looking for the best rescue story along with a fuzzy photo of the rescue. One of my favorite rescues of all times was Miss Flower, so I posted her story on the site and you can go on now and read it: http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/ps/3/g0gxhc5oyue90sfjoco
Anyone who volunteers with Black and Orange in any capacity–as a foster, etc.–can post their own rescue story, too. And the best story and photo will win $2,000 for Black and Orange. Or if you’d like for me to write the story, send me your favorite and I’ll see if I still have a photo of the kitty. Or if you are the adopter, send me your own picture.
You can post your story by going to:
We could create a lot more happy rescue stories with $2,000.
Help us win $20,000!! Vote for us at www.theanimalrescuesite.com and we could win $20,000. All you have to do is go to the site every day and click the purple button to give. Once you have done that, you can vote for Black and Orange by clicking on the button that will appear at the top of the page that says, “Vote Today.” Make sure that you do it every day until December 20. To find us, just put in our name, Black and Orange Cat Foundation, and our city and state, Plain City, Ohio.
This is a really good site anyway, because each time you “click to give” they supply food to shelters to feed hungry dogs and cats waiting for their forever homes. Clicking is free because it is all paid for by advertisers!
So please vote for us and help us get funds to spay and neuter more area kitties.
While I am a cat lover, I also am concerned about the welfare of all animals, not only felines. I know some people who believe that just because you like cats, you cannot like dogs or vice versa. But that has never been the case with me.
Likewise, I worry about the animals I see on television and read about who are going extinct through loss of habitat and the encroachment of human ways. I also care about the wildlife in my own front yard–the birds and chipmunks and moles that call our pine trees and flower beds home. Because of this, we stopped having chemicals and pesticides sprayed on our lawn by the local “Yard like a Golf Course” company. I read that lawn chemicals cause more deaths for birds and wildlife than any other reason beyond loss of habitat due to humans taking over their homes. So now we have dandelions, which our neighbors hate, because they blow on to their perfectly manicured, sprayed lawns.
Bring on the dandelions.
Because I do care about the wildlife in our yard, I get upset with our two feral cats who live outside and sometimes bring me “gifts” in the form of dead birds and mice. I have taken several of these injured creatures to our local Wildlife Center to have them treated and given medical care.
Let me assure you, my tame, indoor cats stay inside at all times. They do not go in and out as I find this too dangerous. We have a screened in area where they can go to lay in the sunshine and chew on grass, but they are confined. There are too many coyotes, cars, and other dangers for me to allow them to roam.
And although I do have one inside kitty that was once a feral cat and is now the biggest lover ever, the two cats outside are not ever going to be house cats. So outside they remain.
While I wish I could stop the predatory instinct in the outside cats, stop them from harassing the mice and birds that also call our yard home, I do not believe that the answer is to kill the cats. Killing one animal to save another produces the same result: an animal dies.
Because I consider myself more than just a cat lover, I was upset to see a recent article, in one of my favorite bird and animal magazines published by a group I hold in high esteem for their work on behalf of wild creatures, that advocated killing feral cats.
The September Edition of Audubon Magazine, published by the National Audubon Society, of which I am a member, contains an article by “Incite” columnist, Ted Williams (who calls himself “an independent advocate for the environment”) concerning the failures of TNR, Trap-Neuter-Return.
You can read the article yourself by going to http://audubonmagazine.org/incite/incite0909.html
I would ask that you read the article and if you have problems with any of the ideas presented therein, please contact the National Audubon Society.
Since I am a huge advocate of TNR and our group focuses on this very valuable activity to reduce the overpopulation problem among stray and feral cats, I was deeply upset to find that this article is completely against spaying and neutering free-roaming cats and instead advocates killing the cats.
As Mr. Williams writes, “The University of Hawaii is overrun by feral house cats—more than one per acre—and it smells that way. They are fed by university professors and students, who also trap and medicate them, get them spayed and castrated, then release them. The idea is that the colony will eventually die out without individuals being subjected to the perceived hideous fate of euthanasia. Pioneered in North America at the University of Washington in the 1980s, it’s called Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR). It’s all the rage across the United States. And it doesn’t work.”
Yes, Mr. Williams does not believe that TNR works, but our group has seen that it does in our rural area among the people we have helped, people who are no longer overrun with litter after litter of unwanted kittens each year.
In another paragraph, he writes, “In rural areas where feral cats are killing threatened or endangered wildlife, sometimes the only practical way for state or federal management agencies to deal with them (and therefore the way required by the Endangered Species Act) is for animal-control professionals retained by state or federal resources agencies to shoot them in the head with rifles, a form of euthanasia approved as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This approach is certainly kinder to the cats than stressing them with traps, transport, and eventually and almost inevitably lethal injection at shelters.”
Yes, that is correct, he advocates shooting the cats in the head with rifles.
While I do not agree with Mr. Williams, I do believe that we must find a way to control the feline overpopulation problem while also protecting the other animals that often fall prey to hungry cats. I do not want to see any animals suffer–either those harmed by cats or those threatened by humans–and believe me, I often feel we humans are the most destructive, the greatest predators on this planet.
It is time to change that.
I was getting ready to leave the Union County Humane Society after picking cats up from one of our clinics when Steffen, the executive director, came running out with a t-shirt, which he asked me if I would wear. The humane society is selling a new t-shirt which features a dog and a cat and a nice slogan about adopting on the front and their name and web site info on the back.
We work with the shelter for our weekly clinics which focus on spaying and neutering stray and feral cats. It is a really good relationship and we hope that someday, through our combined efforts, there will be no more homeless cats in Union County.
If you would like to order one of their t-shirts, visit the web site, www.uchspets.org or call to inquire: 937-642-6716.
In the meantime, if you are out and about in Plain City, watch for me in my snazzy new shirt!!
A new winery in Plain City, Eldchrist Winery, features not only wines made on the premises, but also two kitties who serve as the business’ feline mascots.
“B” and Mittens, two white kittens, who spend most of their time playing on the newly renovated patio or hanging out with the winery owners’ children, give the winery a charm that adds to the feeling of home at the 1863 farmhouse on State Route 736. B, who was originally named Bianca until it was discovered she was a he and Mittens, a polydactyl, Hemingway kitty with extra front toes, were strays who actually got their vaccines and neuter surgeries through B and O.
The winery just recently opened for tastings on Fridays from 6-9 pm and Saturdays from 3-8 pm. B and Mittens are always hanging out, ready and willing to meet anyone who will give them a rub on the head.
We think it is so nice when business owners are able to incorporate animals into their businesses and give a homeless kitty a new place to live. So the next time you are in Plain City, stop by the winery at 8189 State Route 736 and meet B and Mittens, too. To get more info on Eldchrist Winery, visit www.eldchrist.com
B and Mittens might also someday get the distinction of being featured on a wine label for the winery!! They will be very famous kitties indeed when that happens. What a turn around for them–from homeless to celebrities!!