Monthly Archives: September 2009
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.
While on our trip, we went to the most gorgeous town called Saint-Paul de Vence in France. The town was once a walled fortress and today it houses shops and apartments along quaint cobbled streets behind gated walls.
On our visit, we came across a little black kitty hiding on a window sill completely obscured by vines. We heard her cries first and could hardly see her until she emerged to greet the lady coming from the apartment next to her.
The lady quickly told us that the kitty was being cared for and had been coming around because they gave her sneaked treats. The lady’s cats did not want the interloper in their territory or she thought she would adopt her. However, the woman did not think she was a stray or abandoned, because the little cat was so clean and healthy looking. Additionally, the woman and her daughter told us that there was an elderly lady in the village who looked after all of the strays and she would take care of the little cat if she needed help.
With that, they coaxed the kitty to jump up on the stone wall that encloses the town–a wall that looks over a gorgeous view, but also presents a very sharp drop. I held my breath as the little cat leaped to the top and rolled around for a belly rub. We left her still enjoying her stretch on the wall.
I do hope the little cat has a home, but I know she is being cared for in the charming village of Saint-Paul de Vence by two cat loving residents.
Recently, my husband, Joe, and I were on a much needed vacation that included a visit to the city of Barcelona, Spain during their annual city festival, “Merce 2009.” For this festival tons of non-profit groups set up in one of the squares. We wandered around and found groups representing every disease and social problem imaginable. Out of hundreds of tents, however, we only found three that were dedicated to animal issues.
One of those was a group, El Jardinet dels gats (which basically means in Spanish, “the little garden of the cats”), which works solely to rescue cats in the Barcelona area. The ladies manning the booth were wearing homemade cat ears and the sight reminded me so much of our days working our table at PetSmart that I had to stop and check out what they were doing. They had several nice flyers that explained what they do, as well as smaller flyers for the kitty of the day, a black and white, one year old male named Run-Run (of course, I took a flyer). I also had to buy a bag and a t-shirt, because their colors mimicked ours–a black background with an orange moon and a black cat silhouetted against the moon. If you’d like to check out their web site, go to www.eljardinetdelsgats.org They also have a very cool blog.
While I was standing there, trying to remember enough Spanish to ask about the plight of homeless cats in Spain, I fumbled around until one lady, who was from Poland, informed me that she could speak English. She then told me that there are a lot of homeless cats in Barcelona. On one of the posters they had hanging up, I noticed the cat appeared to be ear-tipped and she told me that they do take a notch out of the ear when a cat has been sterilized!! You cannot believe how excited I was to learn that the same thing we do in Plain City, Ohio, is being done around the world in Barcelona, Spain.
We found two other groups working for all animals, not only cats. The first was “Fundacion Altarriba, Amigos de los Animales (Friends of Animals)” and “ADDA or Defiende Los Animales (Defending the Animals).” I purchased a t-shirt from Fundacion Altarriba, too, which said, “Jo respecto els animals” which means, “I respect the animals.” Very cool. To see the web sites for both of these groups, go to www.altarriba.org and www.addaong.org
I made sure to leave donations at each of the booths. I know how hard it is to always have enough funds to take care of all the animals in need!
I think it is so cool to discover that other people are doing the same things we do every day in countries far from the United States and that others care for the plight of homeless cats as much as we do!!
Miss Fiona (Fi for short) has been in foster care for a little over 2 years. She went to the vet recently to have several teeth pulled and to have her ears cleaned. A few days after her trip to the vet, we noticed some weird things on her skin. It turns out that Miss Fi had a reaction to the medicine she got while she was under anesthesia. The medicine caused what is called a “drug burn” to form on her right side. The burn was about 2 inches in size and it caused her hair to come out in that area. What was quite unusual, however, was that the burn was in the shape of a heart. Fiona was wearing her heart on her sleeve or her side if you want to be specific. The burn was painful and Miss Fi has to be on antibiotics and pain medicine.
Fi, also, has to have hydrotherapy to help treat the burn. Hydrotherapy is basically a bath for the wound. Every day she gets to sit in the sink while her foster mom sprays the area with cool water to help clean it out and stimulate new cell growth. Fi is very good about laying patiently for several minutes while the water flushes out the wound. We think the cool water must feel good to her.
What Miss Fi isn’t patient for is having the “onesie” put on her to protect the wound from getting dirty. The onesie is just that: a newborn onesie like little babies wear. Fi’s foster mom says that she is sure that putting a onesie on an infant has to be easier. Poor Miss Fiona not only has to have the onesie, but she also must endure having an e-collar on because she has several times found her way out of the onesie and strutted around naked.
Fiona is doing much better now. She has weekly vet appointments to make sure that her heart shaped wound is healing. She is still on antibiotics and pain medicine, but her foster mom tells us she is feeling better. Today she climbed over two baby gates to get out to go explore her foster home. She is still waiting for her forever home, so if you would like a wonderful girl who puts her heart out for all to see, check her out on www.bandocats.petfinder.com or contact us through the website. Poor Fi has endured everything with us and in her Petfinder pictures, you will see her wearing rabbit ears for Easter!!
Since I posted for Miss Flower on The Animal Rescue Site as a shelter story and one of my favorite rescues of all times, I received a letter from Miss Flower’s mom giving me the story of her life after adoption. And now here is the story of Miss Flower before she came to us at Black and Orange Cat Foundation. This part of her history was written by Kim, who has been working with us for over a year getting the cats around her house fixed and vaccinated. Kim and her husband, Paul, live in front of a trailer park, so they typically have tons of kitties that come into their yard looking for food. The day Kim trapped Miss Flower was one of only a few times she had ever seen this little girl.
I’ll let Kim tell the rest:
“and the before story-
Our neighbor hood was overrun with cats and kittens of all ages. Many of them were sick with runny noses and nasty eyes. My husband fed them twice a day and the weaker ones were always his favorites. We took the sickest ones to the vet if we could catch them, but we did not have the funds to treat them all. For some, all we could do was feed them and hope they would stay strong enough for their own immune system to fight their disease.
Then we learned about Robin Craft and the Black & Orange Cat Foundation which has a trap, spay/neuter and release program and also has foster care and an adoption program. We caught several of the friendly cats and took them for the spay/neuter and release program. One of the early groups we caught had a little black and white fuzzy kitten who had shown up only recently to the food bowls. We had not seen her enough to name her.
We would drop the cats off and the next evening after their surgery we would receive a call giving us an update on how the cats did. We were told that the little black & white fuzzy had a hard time recovering and needed more veterinary care. Robin said she would take care of all of that and let us know when she could be picked up. For several weeks we received reports on the little kitten doing better, received a treatment, still weak, she wants to live, and always everyone loves her. During this time Robin said she would make a nice pet. My husband and I already had an older cat that was not cat friendly and had told Robin we were not prepared for a new cat. The kitten was put up for adoption. The kitten was named Flower and Robin’s eyes always twinkle when she talks about her.
Back to the rest of the cats- our cat population is much healthier, seldom do we see sniffles or runny eyes. Fewer cats have injuries from fighting and the beautiful healthy coats are nice to look at and even better to pet. Our older cat passed and we have adopted 4 of the kittens from our neighborhood and found homes for several others.
We always remember to donate to Black and Orange Cat Foundation, it makes our hearts feel good and each day when we see the outside cats so beautiful and healthy we know we are donating to a wonderful cause.”
After submitting my entry for The Animal Rescue Site’s shelter stories contest, I got the nicest email from Miss Flower’s mom, Melissa. She took up the story of Flower from where I left off.
“Miss Flower’s Happy Ending… By Flower’s Mom, Melissa
My husband and I first learned about Flower unintentionally while we were pursuing another kitty named Yogi. We were unable to adopt both him and his brother, Bear, and Black and Orange did not want to separate them. While disappointed to hear about not being able to adopt Yogi we know now, looking back, that everything turned out exactly how God intended. We were asked if we wanted to meet a very special, very sick, little girl named Flower. After hearing her miracle story of survival we couldn’t wait to meet her.
We arranged a meeting at Petsmart. The first time I held her, I could feel that she was barely more than a skeleton. Her spine was visible and she was extremely weak and just laid limp in my arms. We instantly fell in love and decided immediately that we wanted to adopt her. After waiting for Miss Flower to become healthy enough to be adopted and out of the intense care of the vet and her foster mom, Robin, we finally got to bring her home. When we brought her home she weighed about 5.5 lbs. We were told she needed to be “fattened up” and we knew that wouldn’t be a problem at our house, as we love to spoil our kitties rotten.
Flower needed a lot of extra love, patience, attention and reassurance that we were her forever home and that she could trust us. That didn’t take long at all to happen. She has a flame point Himalayan “sister” named Star (also a rescued kitty) who was unsure of Flower at first, but like us, couldn’t help but fall in love with her and want to protect her.
It has been about a year since the day we brought her home now. How is Miss Flower today? She is a very happy and healthy young lady. She can be considered a “full figured gal,” last being weighed at almost 9 1/2 lbs. Her coat is shiny and as soft as velvet. She loves to be cuddled and held like an infant and to sunbathe in her personal window bed. In the winter, she enjoys laying on the “toasty” bed in the living room, which is complete with a heating pad under her crocheted blanket made specially for her. One of her favorite hobbies is to lay and play in tissue paper and our entire living room floor is constantly covered with all different colors. She always is close to us and in the same room, even if it is just sleeping on the floor next to us.
We can’t imagine our family being complete without Sweet Flower. She was kept alive by the grace of God and we never forget that she could easily not be with us today. She has brought more love and smiles into our family than ever thought possible, especially from a little girl with such a rough beginning. We are beyond blessed to have had the Black and Orange Cat Foundation introduce us, as she is a huge and important part of family and we wouldn’t be complete without her.”
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.
Brian showed up at PetSmart this morning while we were there to clean the adoption room to show off his B and O t-shirt and his kilt designed by “AmeriKilt,” which calls itself “The American Kilt.” It is made to look as if it is produced from the same material that CarHart uses to produce many of their coats. Unlike more traditional kilts, it also features pockets and a “sporran” or “man-purse” right on the front of the kilt.
We wanted to make sure we got PetSmart in the background, because they do so much for us and we could not get as many cats adopted as we do without our cage space.
We thought it was very appropriate that Carol was wearing her PetSmart Charities t-shirt while Brian had on one of our B and O t-shirts. We could not have planned it any better. Brian also posed in his kilt with little Milton, one of our newest kittens.
We thought we might all get black and orange tartan kilts to wear in October for our adoption event. Be on the lookout for us!!