Cats Seeking New Homes

Now, I’ve heard of feral cats getting a tattoo on their bellies or in their ears to show that they have been fixed, but now you can get a tattoo to support those same kitties. Envy Skin Gallery, located at 528 Bethel Road in Columbus, will be hosting a “Paws for the Cause” Tattoo Benefit for Colony Cats on Saturday, November 5 from 10 am to 2 pm.

For $40, you can get a paw tattoo of your choice (up to approximately one square inch) and 100% of the proceeds will go to Colony Cats to help them provide medical care and low cost spay and neuter services for homeless and abused cats and dogs in the Central Ohio area. If you’ve always wanted a tattoo, but were a bit afraid to get one, now is your chance to get tattooed for the animals.

Sadly, my husband, Joe, has a thing about tattoos (and to be honest, I am a bit of a germaphobe and a “woose,” so I would never get a tattoo on my own, either). But from the time I first met Joe (practically on the first date, I think), he told me that if you had a tattoo, the police could find you more easily–as if either of us would be doing anything that would require the law to be searching for us. I can just imagine the all points bulletin over the police radio: “Assailant has a small cat paw print tattoo on her left arm. Be warned, she may be carrying potentially dangerous feral cats in her vehicle.”

Although I will never have a tattoo, I think this tattoo benefit is a really neat idea and one that I have never, ever heard of before to raise money for the animals.

The other thing that Colony Cats is doing to help homeless animals is opening a “Kit N Kaboodle Boutique” where people can bring new and gently used items for the group to sell. All the funds made from the boutique will, of course, go for services for the animals. As anyone knows who has cleaned out an attic or basement, it is sometimes hard to find a place to take all the items you no longer want. And, as we all know, organizing a garage sale can be a nightmare if you don’t have an expert like Carol on board. So check out the boutique wish list and guidelines HERE. Then donate the next time you have unwanted junk…err, treasures in your closets.

The boutique, which is set to be open Fridays through Sundays from 10-5 pm in an area next to the Cat Adoption Center at 2740 Festival Center Lane off of Sawmill Road, will also need volunteers to help man the shop, tag items, and pick up donated furniture. If you would like to help, email kitnkaboodleboutique@yahoo.com. Please put “Volunteer” in the subject line.

You can click on the Tattoo Benefit flyer above to enlarge it and print it out.

Free kittens. Free puppies. Free to a good home. Free. Free. Free.

These notices pop up everywhere. In newspapers. On bulletin boards. On the internet–especially on Craig’s List.

People won’t give away their old junk, holding yard sales to sell their attic and basement “treasures.” Yet, they will give an animal, a living, breathing, feeling creature, to someone, even a stranger who they know nothing about, for free.

I used to see lots of “Free kittens” signs posted in yards or at the end of driveways, especially in the spring as we entered another round of “kitten season.” I don’t see the signs quite so much any more. At first, I thought maybe our spay and neuter efforts were making a difference in our area. But the more I thought about it, I came to realize that the real reason for the decrease in homemade signs attached to mail boxes is because people are so technical now that most of them advertise their free animals to a much larger audience on the internet. Why only catch the attention of a neighbor or the local house wife driving on errands when you can reach out to people all over a metropolitan area or even a large portion of your state?

Where are these good homes the puppies and kittens and other unwanted animals go to? Well, some of these “good homes” are research labs. Known as “bunchers,” there are people who actively acquire as many “free” animals as they can to sell to laboratories. These people make a profit and a living by selling animals into a life of untold misery, suffering, and eventual death.

They are called “bunchers” because they take animals in “bunches.” Most people are only willing to adopt a single animal. But the bunchers are eager to take three kittens, four puppies, or even whole litters (mom included). Usually, it is hard to find anyone who wants the animals, but suddenly there is a person who wants to take them all off your hands. That is when you should be suspicious.

There are other people in the world, too, besides bunchers who acquire free animals. These include people with mental disorders, deviant personalities, and other bizarre behaviors who take free animals for their own purposes. I have dealt endlessly with several people who acquire free animals from Craig’s List when they are in a manic mood. One lady only looks for purebreds–Siamese, Persians, pugs, a Yorkie. When she becomes depressed, she forgets to feed the animals, letting them live in their own filth, reproducing and creating more unwanted animals, until I either remove them from the situation or they die before I am informed.

Some of the people acquire the animals as “food” for their exotic pets–crocodiles, snakes, and other wild animals that require a steady diet that must be provided to them when they are housed in an apartment bathroom and cannot “hunt” on their own.

Some take free animals to become “bait” for fighting dogs. These poor free innocents are used in horrendous ways to teach other animals to fight for their lives.

So how do you make sure a cat or a dog (or even a rat or a bunny) goes to a good home?

Always charge a fee.

We often post cats for people on our Petfinder site. Petfinder.com is a wonderful site that allows rescue groups, shelters, and individuals to post homeless animals for a national audience. Animals cannot be given away on this site. When we post for someone as a “courtesy,” we then screen anyone who applies to adopt the cat, ensuring that the animal will go to a good home. Even after we’ve checked the person out, however, calling their vet and references, I always tell the owner to charge a fee, as well, and even go to the house and visit where their animal will be living.

I learned all of these things about free animals the hard way.  A few years ago, before I was involved in animal rescue, someone dropped off a mother cat and four kittens at my house. I tried various avenues to find homes for them, but with no luck.  Someone advised me to take the kittens to a Columbus pet store.

I cringe now at the thought.  In fact, I can hardly bear to write this.

The pet store sent me next door to the clinic that checked out all their animals.  One of the kittens had a cold in his eye.  Because of this, all of the kittens were deemed too sickly to be taken for sale in the pet store.

If only I had walked out right then.  If only I had taken the kittens and left.

Instead, just as I was headed for the door, one of the ladies in the office stopped me.

“One of the girls who works here wants some kittens for her parents’ farm,” she said.  “Should I call her?”

I nodded my approval.

She went in the back and made a phone call.  She came back out to tell me the girl would take all four kittens for her parents’ barn.

I didn’t ask any questions.  I didn’t get a phone number or name or anything.  I just handed those kittens over to a complete stranger.

At the last minute, I decided to take the kitten with the runny eye home with me.  I was afraid he wouldn’t receive medical treatment for his eye and would go blind.  If I had those worries, why did I give up his sisters?

I saved the runny-eyed kitten’s life.

I feel almost certain that I gave those poor kittens to a buncher.  I can only imagine what kind of horrors they have been subjected to because of my stupidity.

I tried to call back later to check on the kittens, but no one in the office could tell me anything about them.  It was as if those free kittens never existed.

I read Jim Willis’ essay about “Free Kittens” a few months after this happened. In the essay, a litter of free kittens are given to various bad homes.  Some end up in research labs.  Others go to uncaring owners.  But they all end up dying in their “good homes.”  Reaching the gates of heaven, God tells the joyful bundles of fur, “You are finally free, kittens.”

Notice how the placement of a comma changes the whole meaning of “free kittens.”

If you’ve never read Jim Willis’ amazing essay, “Free Kittuns,” please have a tissue ready. You can access it HERE.

The only true way to end the suffering of animals given away for free? Spay and neuter. If there are no unwanted litters then, eventually, we will reach a day when there is a short supply of animals and no one will dare toss them out like discarded garbage. I dream of a day when animals will be so valued that people will gladly pay any price to have that adorable kitten or elderly dog in their life.

I recently had a family who was looking to adopt a female kitten. They wanted someone friendly and loving for a companion for their son. I offered what I thought was the perfect kitty for them–one who loved people, purred when touched, and was going to be an “outside” kitty before we decided to help her find a home. I sent the family to PetSmart to meet Heidi and when I excitedly inquired what they thought, I got this response back:

“We don’t like black cats.”

It didn’t matter about Heidi’s personality, her loving nature, or how well socialized she was even though she came from a bad situation. All that they could see was her color.

Happily, Heidi found a wonderful home with former adopters who were looking for a black cat. They’d always had a black cat in their lives and they knew how hard it was to find homes for black animals. They wanted to help out and adopt a kitten that perhaps others would not want.

I have never understood why people will bypass the friendliest dog or cat just because they are black. But it is a fact that the animals most commonly euthanized in shelters are black. In fact, if you were to look at the cats we have listed on our Petfinder site, you would see that approximately 1/3 of those are black cats. People just overlook them time and again in favor of cats of a different color. Any color. Just not black. I read once that the reason there are so many black cats is because they get along so well with other cats. That feline friendliness leads to more black cats being produced. Black cats are the same with their humans too–loving, easy going, and laid back.

These loving, but unwanted black cats will purr and rub against the staff at kill shelters even as they are being prepared to be euthanized. It makes me sad.

Petfinder knows that some cats and dogs are “less adoptable” and they are celebrating those animals with “Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet” week from September 17-25. Not only are black animals chosen less, but also animals with special needs, those that are older, and cats that have tested FIV positive.

Our poor Exodus! He has a ton of things working against him. Even though he is the nicest cat around, he is black, FIV+, and special needs. Three strikes against him! His special needs label comes from the fact that his jaw was shattered when we first got him. Although it has since been fixed by Dr. Tom Klein, his mouth will never close completely, and he will always need to eat soft food, because his jaw just cannot accommodate hard food. He isn’t the prettiest cat around with his torn ears and tongue sticking out of his mouth, but he is a lover. You can click HERE to see photos of Exodus and read his story.

Petfinder points out some of the pluses of adopting “less adoptable” animals:

Older pets are mellower – you don’t have to worry about your lamp getting knocked over!

Physically challenged pets are often unaffected by their handicap – but you still look like a hero!

“Bad reputation” breeds – you get the chance to prove people wrong with your great dog!

Dark-furred pets make it easy to accessorize – black goes with everything!

Pets with behavioral issues allow you to form a tight bond as you overcome obstacles together!

Big dogs are easier to find when it is time to go to the vet!

So if you are looking to adopt, please consider an animal that perhaps no one else wants. And, although no one else may want that cat or dog, believe me, that cat or dog wants you desperately.

 

I recently received the September 2011 newsletter from the folks at the Humane Society of Madison County. As I had told everyone before, the shelter has acquired property and a building where they will be moving off of State Route 142, about 10 minutes from Plain City (can you read my excitement that they are going to be so close to us?), but in the West Jefferson zip code. Renovations have been going on and they hope to be moved in to their new “digs” very soon. The latest newsletter updated some of the things that are going on with the move.

If you click on the page from the newsletter to the left, you can enlarge it and read about the new shelter and what is going on now.

Additionally, I’ve included the entire newsletter link at the bottom of this posting. The newsletter includes lots of good information and photos of the renovations.

I wanted to include in this posting, however, an invite from shelter director, Betty Peyton, to come take a look at the new building and also help out with some of the renovations on Saturday, September 17, and Sunday, September 18. Below is the information on this volunteer opportunity:

On Saturday, September 17th, starting at 9:00am until ???, we need volunteers at the New Shelter located at 2020 ST RT 142 NE, West Jefferson, just a quarter of a mile south of I-70. Volunteers are needed to help finish up painting, wash windows, clean, build stuff, etc.

On Sunday, September 18th, starting at 10:00am until ???, we will finish up all we can.

We think we may already have folks who can build the playpen wall and shelves in the cat playpen area, but there is plenty more that needs to be done.

We are also looking for folks who can help with the landscaping in the front of the shelter. There are a couple dead bushes and others needed trimmed up. We would LOVE to have some fall plants if possible.

All volunteers are required to fill out a volunteer form which can be done that day. If you are under 18-years-old, a parent or guardian is required to also sign the form. Folks can pick up these volunteer forms at the current old shelter at 1357 ST RT 38 SE, London during open hours of noon to 5pm Monday to Saturday or wait until the day of volunteering and fill out at the new shelter.

Come and be a part of the New HSMC Shelter.

I was also happy to read in the newsletter that Madison County is now doing all their spays and neuters in-house and will eventually move to doing public clinics. Because they are up and running with “Neuterville” for the shelter animals, they do have a wish list of needs. You can read the entire wish list by clicking on the flyer to the right to enlarge it and print it out if you would like. There is also a regular shelter wish list on this page, too.

Please help HSMC in any way you can. Once their public clinics get started, we will be able to send Plain City and Madison County people there to have their cats fixed, as it will be very, very close.

To read the entire September 2011 HSMC newsletter, which features lots of photos of the new shelter, click on the link below to open it in PDF format.

September 2011

A friend of ours is kitten crazy. Betty loves newborn kittens. She likes to take care of them from birth until they are old enough to venture forth to new homes. She is kitten obsessed.

The problem is that Black and Orange has been working with Betty for over three years getting all the cats in her neighborhood and at her brother’s trailer park spayed and neutered. Our goal: no more kittens.

So Betty and B and O are at odds about our missions.

Betty stands firm sometimes, declaring that she doesn’t need any more cats to feed. At that point, I think I’ve finally gotten her over her kitten addiction. She also always calls me when a new stray shows up and brings it for clinic to be fixed. I think I am making headway in turning around her kitten infatuation and then she launches into a new litany about the merits of tiny kittens. I don’t see the appeal like she does. I am more of an older, less hyper, no climbing-the-curtains type of cat person.

Betty seems to think I hate kittens. I don’t. I’d just like to see a day when “kitten season” is not a season and there are no unwanted babies being born and dying in misery. I’d like to see a day when everyone celebrated kittens like Betty, instead of dumping them along roads or in trash cans or in abandoned houses where they can’t fend for themselves.

Betty believes I try to keep her from fulfilling her kitten fix. She nicknamed me “Dr. Tiller” in reference to the notorious abortionist. She thinks I secretly take pregnant cats and abort their babies without telling her.

In fact, the last few cats Betty brought for clinic already had had their kittens and had only a little milk left when they went to be spayed. I told Betty that there were kittens somewhere in her neighborhood and she needed to go looking for them. She wasn’t sure how exactly to do that, so I told her to follow the mother cats.

Which she did not do.

Instead, she implored the one mother cat, Madea, to bring her a baby.

Madea listened.

And this is what I read when that happened: “Guess what I just found on my porch? Yep, I know it is one of Madea’s kittens, because I talked to her for about two hours yesterday, telling her to bring them kittens over here (you already know I am crazy). Madea got stuck on my porch during a twenty minute hail and rain storm and was so scared I had to pet her the whole time. And, of course, I was worried about her kittens drowning in the downpour. I knew that soon they were either going to follow her over here or she would bring them to eat. I looked out on my porch and saw several of my cats very interested in something. It was this all black baby kitten. I cornered it and caught it…and got my butt kicked by a 5-6 week old FERAL kitten, but I hung on.:) I am so happy.

A few days later Betty wrote and said, “I AM Falling in Love!!!” She then went on to extoll the virtues of her new little friend who follows her everywhere and comes galloping into the room when she calls. Betty wanted a baby and this kitten clearly wanted a mama. Madea, the biological mom, just wants food, according to Betty. She could care less about her offspring. She was probably thrilled to hand it over to Betty.

Last week when I wrote the story of my friend Cynthia’s mystery twin kitten, Betty told me that her kitten story was special, too, and why didn’t I write about that?  Mom, Madea, had graciously given Betty her baby when she could no longer feed it.

I agree that it is very heartwarming (and quite amazing that Madea listened) that Betty begged Madea to bring her a kitten and then received her greatest wish.

I told Betty I couldn’t write a story without photos, however, so she promptly sent me over pictures of Little Tiller, who she had named in my honor.

Little Tiller will also be going to clinic to be spayed or neutered once she/he is old enough. And that will, again, end another kitten cycle and dash more of Betty’s dreams.

I constantly assure her, though, that there are always, always more kittens looking for her.

 

 

I previously told everyone the story of my friend, Cynthia, who found two abandoned kittens by the side of the road just a short walk from her house. She named them Simon and Peter and began taking care of them. A few weeks after she had them, a stray tortoiseshell female cat showed up and pushed her way into Cynthia’s house. Strangely enough, this thin, starving, pushy female was the mother to the two kittens. Somehow, she had hunted those babies down and forced her way into Cynthia’s good graces to be reunited with them.

Maggie, the mom, was very happy to be back with her lost kittens. You can read that earlier story HERE.

Since that story, little Peter, the orange kitten became very ill and did not make it. So it was just Maggie and Simon. Poor Simon was very lonely without his brother to play and wrestle with. Although he had his mom, she just wasn’t as rambunctious as his playmate sibling.

Maggie and Simon have been to the vet, in the meantime, and are now spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and looking for a new home (although, Cynthia assures me they can stay with her as long as needed). I thought this was where the bizarre story ended, but Cynthia wrote me on Friday with another strange tale.

Cynthia emailed me and said that she had begun to question her sanity with Maggie and this litter of kittens of hers.

Here is the odd situation Cynthia recounted to me.

Cynthia had laid down to take a nap, little Simon curled up beside her on the bed. After she woke up, her neighbor came over and said she was returning Simon, who she had been “kitty-sitting” all afternoon while Cynthia was asleep. Cynthia wondered what in the world the neighbor was talking about since Simon had been napping with her. And then the neighbor produced a little black and white kitten that was an exact duplicate of Simon!

Where did this little guy come from? Cynthia keeps a close eye on all the cats in her area and this was the first time she had ever seen this kitten. He was friendly and socialized and seemed perfectly happy to be around people. How had he survived? Who had been feeding him and keeping him safe? How could he just appear and look so much like Simon? He has to be Simon’s brother. They are perfect mirror images. Except…mom Maggie wants nothing to do with him and hisses non-stop at the little guy.

Simon, though, is pleased as punch with this new friend. The two have already become best buddies, playing and curling up to sleep side by side. After losing his brother, Peter, Simon now has a playmate and companion. Which led me to wonder if little Peter had not come back in another form to be with his brother again. Spooky! But, also, a sweet thought. The photo Cynthia sent (at the end of this posting) of the two asleep, bodies connected, makes me think there is some strange connection with these kittens.

In any case, this little twin will be taken care of, too, and will give Simon the wrestling pal he was missing.

It has been a couple weeks since we took in three very special cats, so I wanted to give updates on how each of them are doing.

First up is Exodus. Exodus, as I reported at the beginning of May, came to us with his jaw broken on both the top and bottom and with a hole in the roof of his mouth from a tooth being shoved up through the bone. He had been hit very hard on the underside of his jaw and his mouth was filled with infection. Dr. Tom Klein of East Hilliard Veterinary Services fixed our sweet boy. Exodus went back for a check up visit at the end of May and Dr. Tom put him under again to drain an abscess on his chin. He got another antibiotic shot and came back home with me to recuperate until the end of June when Dr. Tom wants to see him again.

Exodus actually looks like a cat now. His fur has grown back in–he was missing a lot of it on his front legs. Dr. Tom thought the hair was missing because he had been rubbing his hurt mouth with his paws trying to stop the pain. Thankfully, Exodus is out of pain now and has grown in a gorgeous coat of hair.

While his jaw is fixed, his mouth will never align perfectly now, so his lower left side still hangs down a little bit. He has learned to eat just fine, although, he does still sometimes get food all over himself and the floor. He loves his soft food and meals are very happy times. We are working now to put some weight on him, get him completely over the infection so he can be vaccinated, and find him a home where he will be inside and safe. Exodus is about the nicest cat you will ever meet. He loves other cats and people and just constantly wants to be with you. He so deserves a wonderful home.

Next up is Chaplin, who you will remember, came to us after being dumped at Capital by his owner. Chaplin was very angry and aggressive when I first brought him home. I am so happy to say that this is not at all his nature now. He is a happy, playful boy who greets me at the door with a loud meow and then proceeds to lick my toes and feet–yes, this from the boy who shredded my foot the first day I went in the bathroom to check on him.

Chaplin now rubs noses and gives kisses and loves to play. He is also very interested in my cats and has been sniffing them through the bathroom door. We are proceeding very slowly, because he has been through too much to just mess up our progress by scaring him again. I’ve also been playing with Chaplin and my “greeter” cats through the door and he loves that. I think that sometimes Chaplin plays a little too hard, because he was an only cat and he did not know that humans aren’t as tough as cats when they wrestle. I think that once he has a cat buddy to roll around with, he will work out a lot of his extra energy and that will calm him down even more. He has turned into a real lover who is so happy to see me. I am so glad this baby was given another chance.

Finally, I have to tell you about Charley. Charley is currently in foster care with Dr. Kim West, because I thought, after hearing the stories from his owner, that Charley had a ton of medical problems that would need fixed. His owner returned him to us at the middle of May, because she said he was not using the litter pan. Turns out, she had had Charley declawed, in violation of our adoption contract, and he was so upset and his paws hurt so bad, she said (emphasis on “she said”) he would not urinate in the litter pan.

Well, guess what? From day one, Charley has used the litter pan and regular litter for Dr. West. No problems. No accidents. Dr. West didn’t have to use special litter or litter pans. He just hopped in the box and did his business.

Charley also seems to be doing just fine with Dr. West’s cats who come to play with him under the door. We were afraid his former owner’s other cat had been bullying him and he might have a fear of cats because of that. But, no. He is fine with all the things we were worried about. Which just goes to show what a peaceful, loving environment can do.

Charley will be going to the PetSmart on Sawmill next as soon as the cage is free, which we are hoping will happen this week.

Thank you to everyone who sent love and good thoughts for these three special boys. Next on our agenda is to find them homes where they will stay forever and will not need us any longer.

This past week, I wrote the story of Charley, now renamed Chaplin, who was dumped off at Capital to be euthanized and had obviously been abused by one of our adopters. I mentioned at the end of that story that last week had been pretty terrible as we had another Charley returned to us the following Saturday (one week after Chaplin) by another adopter with the initials J.K.

Before I go into this new story of my disappointment in an adopter, I just want to thank everyone who responded to Chaplin’s story with encouraging comments and a ton of love. The heartaches of rescue work are lessened when I know that others care what happens to our kitties, too. 

And now my second disappointment with an adopter and a sweet boy named Charley.

On May 2, I had an email from an adopter, J.K. who had just adopted Charley, a loving, gorgeous tabby boy on February 17 of this year. Her email said: “I adopted a cat named Charlie from Black and Orange in mid-February of this year. I am writing to touch base with someone to make arrangements because, unfortunately, I am not able to keep Charlie anymore. I will be happy to go into more detail over the phone, but basically it is a combination of my not being able to keep paying for medical issues as well as his chronic urinating outside of the box. I have been working with my vet for this issues since I adopted Charlie, and I feel I have exhausted my options and am not able to do any more for him. I am also concerned about putting any more additional stress on him, or onto my other cat I have had for six years who has been adjusting to things since I brought Charlie home.

“Please send me an e-mail so I can arrange for someone to pick Charlie up.”

Notice that J.K. said she had been working on the issue of the inappropriate litter pan use since she adopted Charley. You will find out in a moment that this was not the case.

I immediately wrote J.K. back. Charley had a sibling who had had a urinary tract infection and I worried that perhaps he had one as well that had been overlooked. I apologized to J.K., offered to have her take Charley to our vet to be checked (and we would pay), and gave her suggestions so she could ultimately keep Charley. 

She did not want him.

In her follow-up email J.K. said: “Yes, Charlie has been found to have some kind of lower urinary tract infection issues. I have taken him to the vet multiple times and paid for many different types of tests. He is currently on the last few days of an antibiotic. No crystals were found in his urine though, according to the vet. Charlie has had significant diarrhea since I adopted him, (we had sent her home with a bag of special food just for the diarrhea, but she changed his food) but the vet doesn’t seem to think that is related to the urination since he is gaining weight still and deficates in the box, even though he doesn’t urinate in it. At this point, my vet has said the options for trying to deal with the urination are either anti-anxiety medications or re-training him. I have had to draw the line on the money I am going to keep spending on Charlie, so I just can’t afford to try any more medicine. My current living situation is a rental, and my carpet is now a mess. I can’t even justify getting my carpet cleaned until Charlie is not in the house anymore. As far as retraining goes, I am gone at work for a large part of the day. The only uncarpeted area in my apartment with a door is my bathroom , and I feel this is too small a space to lock him in for such a large part of the day. As far as my other cat, she currently does not have any issues. I am concerned, though, about the effect all of this is having on her. I can’t have a second cat start urinating all over my carpet because of her seeing Charlie do it.

“I am very sorry I didn’t contact you sooner, as I was unaware of the 30 day expiration on the return (I had told J.K. that within the first 30 days we take a cat back immediately if there are problems, but after 30 days, we ask the adopter to work with us until we can find a foster). I wish I had known Charlie and his sibling had all of these issues before I adopted him. At this point, I have decided it is in his best interest as well as for myself and my other cat that I don’t keep him. All of this has been much too stressful the last two and a half months, and has taken a toll on me emotionally and financially. This is my busiest time of year at work, and looking back, I obviously wasn’t prepared to adopt a second cat into my home.”

After this email, I made arrangements with Dr. Kim West, our friend and vet, to foster Charley as I thought he had major medical conditions that would need her expertise. I let J.K. know that Dr. West would be out of town, but as soon as she was home, we would get Charley from her. 

On Saturday, Bobbie and I met J.K. at PetSmart and picked up Charley. I had asked her to bring back his folder with his medical records and to also bring her vet’s records showing what they had done. 

I was not expecting to find what I found in the vet records.

J.K. had Charley declawed. 

Charley was adopted on February 17 and at that time, J.K. signed our adoption contract stating that she would not have him declawed. Kristin, who was his foster, spoke to her in depth about declawing. We also provide paperwork about the problems with declawing in all our adoption folders. 

On March 5, J.K. took Charley for a declaw consult. At no point did she contact us to tell us she was having problems with him scratching and ask for solutions. On March 10, barely two weeks after adopting Charley, she had him declawed. 

According to the vet’s records, there had been no problems with Charley urinating outside of the litter pan until he was declawed. After the declaw surgery, he would not use the litter pan, at all, because his paws hurt too much. He did start defecating in the pan after a few weeks, but continued to pee right beside the litter pan. 

The vet stated that the change in Charley’s behavior was due to the declaw surgery.

At no point in any of our correspondences did J.K. mention the declaw.

Here is where I need to educate the uneducated. And forgive me, since many of you are in rescue, if I am preaching to the choir. Declawing is not a simple surgery. It is very painful and very inhumane. Declawing actually involves cutting a cat’s toes off at the first joint. If a human were declawed, it would be like cutting our fingers off at the knuckles. Many cats have issues after the surgery with walking and using the litter pan, because their feet hurt. Due to the pain, they often associate the litter pan with the discomfort in their paws and refuse to use the pan. This was the case with Charley. 

You can read more about declawing at www.declawing.com

What makes me angriest about this whole episode is that J.K. led me to believe that we gave her a flawed, unhealthy cat. She never took any responsibility for her actions or admitted that she had caused Charley’s issues herself. Instead, she made me think this was our fault and that we were obligated to take back this “problem cat.”

When we asked Dr. Jensen to check Charley out, she didn’t do any tests to see if he had a urinary tract infection or other health problems. She believed, just as the other vet had, that Charley’s problem was due to the declaw surgery. She said she sees problems arise often after declawing, but people still continue to have the surgery performed out of convenience. Rather than teaching the cat not to scratch in certain areas or keeping the nails trimmed, impatient owners have the cat declawed.  In many countries, other than the United States, declawing is outlawed, because it is so inhumane. 

Charley was very stressed with J.K.–not only because of the declaw, but we think he may have been having problems with her other cat. This was not a good home and he needed out of there. He is now with Dr. West and guess what–NO MORE LITTER PAN PROBLEMS. The very first night with her, he used the litter pan like a champ–even with regular litter in it (Dr. Jensen told us we might have to re-teach Charley to use a litter pan without litter in it or with a puppy pad). 

Sometimes, just getting a cat to a safe, loving environment takes care of everything.

At the end of April, my friend, Cynthia, called me in a panic. She was walking back to her house and found two tiny kittens in the ditch. They were both healthy, although the smaller orange fluff ball had crusty eyes. Cynthia called me to get advice on what to do with them. She did not think they had been dumped. She just thought that perhaps the mother cat had been moving them and dropped them, planning to return, but getting sidetracked. Cynthia was afraid to leave the kittens where they were because within a few hundred feet there were two large chained dogs that she feared would kill the babies. So she scooped them up and took them down the hill to her house. 

Cynthia set the kittens up in their own little kitten “play land” and took care of them. 

A few days later, Cynthia was talking to a neighbor who told her about a mother cat that had babies under a shed. The neighbor warned that her husband was going to shoot the cats. Cynthia asked her to please not do that and to let her know where the cat and babies were. She figured this was the mother to her two little ones. The woman had reported that there were two babies still with the mom, but she thought there had been more. 

Cynthia asked me last week if she could borrow a trap to try to catch the mom and find the other two kittens. I lent her a trap and she planned to begin her trapping efforts later in the week.

When I talked to Cynthia on Monday, she reported that there had been no sign of the mother cat and kittens. The neighbor said the mother cat had moved the kittens again. 

Cynthia also reported, however, that she had “another new face” show up on her back porch. She sent me photos of a very petite tortoiseshell kitty who she said was “very noisy.” Cynthia was worried that the little cat was in heat or already pregnant and asked if we could get her in for clinic this week. We agreed to meet up on Tuesday to do the cat exchange. Cynthia thought the cat had been recently dumped as she was very friendly and was familiar with cat flaps. She also kept continually trying to get in the house with Cynthia. 

This morning Cynthia wrote me and said she was “speechless” and there was a crimp in our plan to get the tortie girl in to be fixed. 

Turns out, this little girl is the mom to Cynthia’s two kittens. That little cat had somehow hunted down her babies inside Cynthia’s house, ingratiated herself to Cynthia, and then darted inside to find her kittens. 

Cynthia said the babies went wild when their mom finally found them in their room. Cynthia also said that she thinks she misjudged why mom was so anxious previously. It was not because she was in heat, but because she was searching for her kittens. 

I still cannot believe that this little cat tracked down her two kittens this way. They were in a house and she had to fight her way past Cynthia’s outside cats, go through the cat flap into the back porch, and convince Cynthia to let her inside. And she did all of that to get to her babies. Amazing!

And how, in the world, did she know where they were?

I asked Cynthia if she thought the little mom would lead her to the other kittens. Cynthia said she thought something must have happened to the other babies, as the mother cat had no milk. The kittens tried to nurse, but it was more just a bonding ritual than an actual feeding. Because of the lack of milk, Cynthia thought the other kittens were no longer around and that was the reason the little mother had come looking for her other two babies.

In any case, this is one of the happiest stories I have heard in a while. Of course, we’ll keep you posted if Cynthia does find the other two kittens.

This little family will eventually need new homes, so if you are looking for fluffy, cuddley kittens or a smart mama, we have the cats for you.

I cannot help but notice that the mother cat looks as if she is smiling in these pictures. One satisfied and intelligent creature. Never underestimate the power of a cat…or of a mother. 

A lady we had worked with in the past sent me an email about one of her outside kitties who she thought had “something wrong with his jaw.” I collected him to take in to Dr. Murphy at the Spay Neuter Clinic, intending to have him neutered and let Dr. Murphy look at his jaw. I had poor Exodus the night before and noticed that his one tooth hung out of his mouth, but I thought he just had a “snaggle tooth” that needed pulled. Imagine how awful I felt when the Spay Neuter Clinic called me and said the poor cat had a broken jaw that was seriously infected. He had also tested positive for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).

While this raggedy kitty had lots of things working against him–his ear was all sliced up, he was missing fur all over his body, he had an engorged tick hanging off his earlobe–he had one major thing working in his favor: his personality. Exodus is the nicest cat you would ever want to meet.

I picked this lover boy up from the Spay Neuter Clinic and took him to Dr. Tom Klein at East Hilliard Veterinary Services. Dr. Tom is the feline dental guru. He is the vet who fixed our little Bean Bag’s jaw last year when it was broken in a trauma. 

Dr. Klein was not deterred by the fact that Exodus was FIV positive. He thought that he was too nice to kill and so he kept Exodus to work his healing magic. 

This cat had a ton of problems. Whatever broke his jaw came up from the underside of his jaw (sort of like getting hit with an upper cut), pushing a tooth up into his upper palate and fracturing the bone. Fragments of bone were embedded in his nasal cavity. To me, this sounds like a kick. Most animals do not grab under the jaw. They go for the back of the neck. I hope some human did not do this to this cat. It makes my stomach ache to even think of it. 

Exodus’ injuries were at least several weeks old. I cannot imagine going around in this much pain for weeks. His whole mouth was filled with infection. Yet, believe it or not, this boy is such a fighter that he was eating hard food and meowing even in this horrible condition. 

Just to give you an idea of what Dr. Klein had to repair, here is a list he gave me of all the problems Exodus was facing:

1. His palate was fractured into his nasal cavity–and this happened at least several weeks previousy.

2. His center of his lower jaw was fractured as well as a complete fracture of the middle part of his lower left jaw. Both areas had severe infection.

3. He was under anesthesia for 3 and 1/2 hours (yes, you read that right-3 and 1/2 hours!) and Dr. Klein removed his upper left canine tooth and his lower right one and the remaining teeth on his upper left due to fractures. 

4. Dr. Klein attempted to move over the palate defect and repair it.

5. Dr. Klein wired the lower jaw center fracture. 

6. The lower left jaw fracture was left after cleaning the site and suturing it. Dr. Klein could not repair the bone at this time due to infection.

7. Exodus was given a 14 day long acting antibiotic and pain medicine. He was bathed and neutered while under. Two ticks were removed and he was treated for tapeworms. 

Whew!! Can you imagine if this had happened to a human? Exodus came home with me after two days in the hospital and is eating soft food like a trooper. He is on NO pain medicine. He is on cage rest, however, because Dr. Klein wants him to stay fairly inactive while he is healing.

This cat is just so wonderful. He utterly loves people. I had a hard time taking photos of him because he kept flopping down and rolling around for me to love on him and give belly rubs. 

The lady who called me about Exodus is willing to take the boy back with her. But he would have to be an outside kitty as she has a very jealous inside cat. I asked her if we could work on finding him a home and she was very happy to think he might have a safe, inside only haven. So that is what we are doing now. 

Exodus will need more vet care in the near future. He goes back to see Dr. Klein on May 20 and will probably need his lower left jaw fixed at that time. Being FIV positive is not a death sentence and Exodus, who is only three years old, can live a long and healthy life. He just needs a home with dogs only, another positive kitty, or by himself. He would be happy to share his life with anyone who wants him.

The virus that produces FIV is usually only passed from one cat to another by fighting or mating. Since Exodus is now neutered, he won’t be doing any of those things any more and will have a hard time giving other cats the disease. 

I have to thank Dr. Klein for once again coming to our rescue. He also had a vet student help him with Exodus’ procedures and because of that used the surgery and repair work as a teaching tool, giving us a giant discount.

Dr. Klein’s final words in his summary report were: “Exodus is a great cat!”

I completely agree!

Now it is up to us–I am counting on all of you to help me–to get Exodus into a safe, loving home with a family that does not care that he may never win a “Best in Show” ribbon for his appearance! What Exodus lacks in looks, he makes up for in love. 

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