Perhaps the greatest blessing that comes from doing rescue work is being with mothers and their babies! the mothers are creative, wise, skillful, vigilant, loving, no-nonsense: just incredible. They coo and talk as at no other time...and nurse and educate the little ones for months. (I hate to see them separated too soon) They are young and old at the same time, playing with the babies with abandon, and putting teeth to the neck when attention is not being given...they give birth, and keep the nest clean for weeks...we love them...here are some of our brilliant mothers from over the years!
I'll have to tell you; impossible to imagine or guess. It was in Caroline's eye. Yes. We had a chiropractic visit scheduled, and her eye looked irritated & A bit swollen, so we included Caroline in the chiro group. (She checked out perfectly, spine-wise!) Dr. Margaret looked at the eye, and Dr. Anne too. they figured she'd gotten a scratch, and reccomended antibiotic ointment in the eye three times daily. I kept her in the big back bathroom...she was content, ate fine, etc., but the eye was slow to heal. She's a very robust girl, and should have healed faster. Took her back, Dr. Anne said that she must have something in it. Sent her to Dr. Han (Dr. A doesn't do sedation as part of her holistic practice) . Dr. Han is VERY skilled with his hands. I love him, and have been seeing him for over 45 years! Yes again! Dr. Han did NOT sedate her, as most vets would have done, merely numbed her eye with drops. He then got a small tool, and pulled the above stick out of her eye. Yes.
don't ask me how it got in there; she must have run headlong into it. Dr. Han had never seen a foreign object of that size in a cat's eye...staff was amazed. Over an inch long. Glad it's out.
Caroline the VERY next day! A robust cat heals quickly!!
Again the stick! I'm keeping it along with other amazing things off and from inside the cats.
If you know Dave Chappell's routine "Baby on the Corner", aka "3 AM in the Ghetto", you can imagine how I felt yesterday when I drove into the BART station and saw a young man standing on the corner, all alone, with a small kitten in his hands. "Something's WRONG here!!" Braked, put on my blinkers, got out, and went up to the young man. Teenager? Twenty? I thought he might have just plucked this little one from the parking lot. Turns out someone had 'given her' to him that day, and he had (!) brought her on BART from Hayward, (no carrier or even blanket) and was waiting for a friend to pick him up. Alarm bells galore! He was a sweet young man, calm and self-possessed, and most fortunately, receptive and willing to listen as I gently explained the many serious risks this kitten faced in her current situation. Most of you, dear readers, can easily imagine plenty of those, so I'll move on. (You might not know that there would be lots of fireworks that night, as it was July 6)
To my great relief, he conceded that he didn't have a clue about caring for a kitten, and, after some thought, surrendered her to me!
And just as I was putting her into my car (in the carrier I always carry :-)) his friends arrived to pick him up. Night of partying? Gosh knows. But I do know that someone was watching out for little Carmella here; if I'd come by five minutes later, she'd have been gone. She's a powerhouse: must have called in some chips. Ball of fire, she is! AND! Next day, a woman brought a sweet little boy, found under the hood of a car, who is just her size, so now she has a friend! Life is good.
In spite of having to get up early even! Things started out with a bang, when Toffee (above) arrived home after a four-day hiatus! Got our lives back we did. He was the companion to Oracle, who passed on last month, and I just don't know how I would have managed if he'd gone and stayed gone. The bloody imagined scenarios, etc. So that would have made it a great day right there!
Then, got ready to go to what sounded like an iffy rescue. Another woman without a home wanted me to keep her cat. Of course she wanted to GET a home, and take her back at that time...to digress, just watched a wrenching movie Dogtown Redemption, about the folks, mostly homeless, who live by collecting what used to be recycling material and trading it for cash. Archie's former caretakers had lived by doing this till the (it must have been) Alliance Recycling in Oakland shut down. Small world. Then the S.F. Chron had a big feature about the many, many homeless camps in Oakland...
Toffee is here on my desk, VERY happy to be home, won't leave me alone. My face is in his fur.
I pick up the woman at the E.C. BART station, and we make a plan. She had been renting a cement floored garage (no windows, water, kitchen: a garage) and things got bad. She left June 7, and the folks agreed to keep her cat (who turned out to be a lovely Tortoise-shell colored lady) Well, that didn't go well either, and the cat stayed outdoors...in a pretty urban but safe enough part of Albany. She was not sure she could get the cat...find the cat...would not venture onto the property, but...we made a plan, I stayed in the car, and she went to the sidewalk and called around for her Mookie. Mookie appeared right on time, and let herself be carried over to and put into the carrier. Not often does it go this smoothly!! We got Mookie home, and into the big cage in the living room we had ready for her. The woman stayed with her a long time, reassuring her that she would be safe now, and cared for. She is a smart one, and figured out quickly that she could exhale a bit. she'll do well.
It was shaping up to be a spectacular day!
But wait there's more! Friend Tom was released from the hospital and is safe at home. And we got a 4th of July card from a friend, and Mookie settled in nicely, and Caroline's eye is way better, AND Gloria ate a real dinner for the first time in four days. As Hughes said, "My bowl is full"!
BIG news about Archie's chances!!
It's been a while since I updated Archie...his wound (from the collar dug into his armpit) was almost healed, then it opened up again. He has been getting ongoing treatments from the laser, and the chiropractor. His main doctor did a culture of the site, to see what was affecting it, and what medicine would be appropriate. She recommended three weeks (!!) of Clavamox. She had previously recommended one homeopathic remedy and one herbal (which I could NOT get into him regularly, and I'm good...)
Archie was annoyed, to say the least, about the on-going irritation. He bears up well, but gets cranky now and then.
So...I finally thought to call a friend, a nurse who has studied wound care at length. Don't ask: I should have thought of her way back when!...bless her, here is part of what she wrote me:
So, You say the wound was healing but then regressed. I suspect that there are a couple of things that might have happened: a} the wound surface developed a "bio-Film" which is like a complex of bacteria matrix which adheres to the wound bed and is super hard to get rid of... and then, b) the wound edges got mixed up and "roll under" and was unable to send chemicals across the wound bed to regrow tissue. The bio film blocks the wound bed surface chemical communication and the wound edges roll under...."thinking" the wound is healed.
1. clean the wound gently with a little salty water. About a teaspoon of table salt in and 8 oz. glass of water will do. Just pour it over the wound and then pat it dry with a clean cloth.
2. you can shave the area around the wound to make a place for a bandage to stick. about .5 inch around should do.
3. as your vet to give you some silver nitrate q-tip sticks if the wound edges look rolled. If not you can irritate the wound edges by rubbing with gauze on your finger.... enough to make it bleed a little. This will open up the wound edges so it can get ready to heal across the wound.
5. Silver is a natural anti-microbial. there are some silver impregnated gauze, or bandage supplies at your pharmacy. you can ask the pharmacist. They can get a bit expensive but I think its worth it.
6. Moisten the gauze and apply it directly to the wound bed. then wrap the wound and arm pit with roll gauze and tape it. Leave it on for 3 days and check for changes.
I'm excited. We had to order the pads; docs and pharmacies didn't have them...and one good Samaritan donated them!! Over $100.00 they were!
He sees Dr. Han for the new treatment early next week...I am so thrilled! Will keep you posted! This guy has suffered long enough!! Please help him with the new treatments, and please share his campaign! GO ARCHIE!!
Just buried my baby tiger Willem, was feeling dragged down by grief, and turned to care for my new rescue...Hughes. Thinking of his needs and picturing his recovery is the best salve...
This incredible lad (I'm thinking he's male) came onto our patio last night about feeding time! We don't get many strays at all, and, fortunately, most cats in this area are well cared for. He is covered in mats, is thin and weak, and has a respiratory infection. He went into a trap, but didn't freak out. Bless him, he has known humans. He let me caress his head just now, but is wary. Goodness knows what he's been through. It takes months for mats to get this bad. I couldn't get an appt. with the groomer till next Friday, but he sees Dr. Han Monday. That will give him a couple of days in which to de-compress and gain strength.
He's getting flower essences for trauma relief and lots of good food. Send him some love!
Little one got separated from his mother...tragedy of springtime: folks see newborns, or babies, and snatch them up. These folks said that they did wait for the mother (YES!) and several hours had gone by. It was getting dark. Plus, they thought they'd heard him (it's a boy!) crying the day before...so I said bring him over, Now! He was covered in (tmi) fly eggs. Bless him...They were easy to remove, mainly with a flea comb, and I got some warm milk replacer into him pronto. Maddie's Fund, www.maddiesfund.org, has an invaluable Stomach Capacity Feeding Chart: you can search for it on the site. Tells how much they usually weigh at every stage, from newborn to four weeks, how much to feed, and how many times daily (and nitely), approx. (He weighs 3.2oz.) Babies actually nurse on and off constantly, but this schedule will do. You need a small scale, easily obtained at a drug store, and to weigh them every day to make sure they're gaining weight. So far so good with William. I sure am tired.
Meanwhile, as we try to find a nursing mother to take him in...
Yes, a teeny bit off topic, but...I'd been hankerin' to be with animals other than cats...
I have lived with snakes, goats, sheep, cows, turtles, etc., and miss their company. So when my friend asked me to go for a spin in his Gorgeous Red Ferrari, I said that a trip to the Little Farm in Tilden Park would hit the spot. Nice windy road up to the Little Farm, through the park, all the new greenery and flowers delighted us; it was a great day.
We parked, turned to admire the Ferrari, dappled with sunlight, and started towards the farmlet. Whoa! A hatchback open to a cage with four gorgeous chickens in it! ??? The man with them said he'd seen them when he arrived at the L.F., and had realized they'd been dumped there. :-(!!. He'd gone home, gotten the big cage, and he and his wife were collecting what turned out to be eight chickens. He had chickens at home, and knew the score.
We continued on, met cows, goats, geese, sheep, pigs, more chickens, and had a wonderful time.
As we returned to the car, we saw...oh oh!! ONE chicken. Hmmm...I always carry a blanket for capture and a carrier in my practical Volvo wagon, but there was, no surprise, nothing in the Ferrari.
We called the Park, and after some time found a Ranger who was close, had a carrier, and would come help! Others were not so nice: "Well, she'll be gone by morning..." Geez! This poor hen had been dumped, left behind when her mates were rescued, and deserved a better fate.
Meanwhile, the hen had jumped into a nice lady's car! Bingo! Easy to catch now...but! The Ranger made a grab for her without a plan in place (mainly having the carrier ready and open) and she scooted away. Well, now she's on open ground...The other chickens had let themselves be picked up, but now this lady was spooked. Long story short, she finally hid in a bunch of (alas) stinging nettles, and thought she could hunker down there in safety. So I was able to Slowly reach down, move the nettle branches, and scoop her up carefully, with one hand around her neck (gently). WHEW!!! If she'd not gone into the nettles.....I hate to think....
So! Home with hen in Ferrari! I held the carrier off my lap to ease the bumps. She was quiet.
I always have a big cage in my living room ready for emergencies. So in she went, pretty calm. SWEET chicken! Incredibly beautiful. For birds who had not been loved (I'm assuming; they were dumped and put in grave danger: hawks and coyotes), they looked darn good. Who knows whence and how they came to that spot. Folks often think "they'll survive" when the dump cats, kittens, birds, rabbits, etc. Well they usually Won't!
This is getting to be a long post...but..here's a picture of the Ferrari! And of the Chicken!
Can you get an idea of how beautiful she is? Hannah I named her. She is totally mellow and friendly! I had a "thing" for chickens when a kid, and still do! Racked my brain thinking of how I could keep her...but would have to keep her enclosed for safety, being an only hen would probably not suit her (depends on the hen) etc.
Plus, who am I kidding? I have way too much on my plate as it is. But a girl can dream....
The sweet clucking sounds she makes are just wonderful...peaceful and happy!
Anyhoo, I had to find her a great, not good, home, not one where she'd be killed after her egg production dropped or... Called Alice, who has her own little farm nearby. She said that if Hannah got along with the others, why, sure! It looked promising for a while, but when the alpha hen was let in with Hannah, Hannah was attacked. She just hunkered down, and Alice rescued her at once! Not working. But! Neighbor across the street had a mere two chickens, and was also willing to take Ms. H in! I love my neighborhood!! We took Hannah over there and put her into that enclosure.
All seemed fine for a bit, but then Hannah demonstrated her excellent flying ability...and this enclosure had no roof. But...guess what? We had a third option!
A friend with a sanctuary/hospice near Santa Rosa said they'd take our gal! The best of all possible worlds! We're off to Santa Rosa tomorrow! Meantime I'm spending the day with Hannah on my lap!! I'll certainly miss her!!
What to do if you see baby kittens!
First, back off, consider and observe!
Do NOT "rescue" them: it could be a death sentence.
If they are tiny and alive, there MUST be a mother feeding them. They can die within 24 hours if no mother is caring for them. The mother, if she's not with them, is no doubt out looking for food! An arduous and dangerous task, as she puts her babies at risk from predators and, unfortunately, human "rescuers".
So put some food and water out for mother, and watch and wait.
It is heartbreaking when folks call and say that they found babies, have had them for a day or so (!) and that they're not doing well. It may be too late for these little ones. And dangerous for the mother. Besides the terror, panic, and grief she feels at finding them missing, she is in danger of her milk becoming impacted, and infected, maybe fatally.
Here's a link to some really great information of what to do...from the wonderful Fix Our Ferals site! Please take a look! You may have to cut and paste the link.
It's a tough situation...and each calls for a different plan. It might be best to bring the mother and babies into a safe, quiet place in your home, stressful as it is for mother if she is terrified of humans, and of being confined. No easy answers here: call me and I can help you figure out the best plan.
One thing most rescue groups and shelters do not do, is keep the mother and babies together as long as possible. the babies can be handled, even it the mother is afraid, (I put a barrier, usually a vinyl record cover, between her and them) and mothers and babies should ideally be together for five or six months! the mothers have lots to teach, and the babies need mothering. The longer period makes adoption a bit more difficult, but the kittens can be socialized to humans even when they have a 'feral' mother.
Most of what I see in 'pet' (not too happy with that word) stores is bad for them in one way or another, and most of what I read about cats is not true, dangerous, or just plain ig'nant.
Cats are not: envious, mean, sneaky, duplicitous, grumpy, aloof, uncaring, distant, self-centered, clumsy, perverse, angry, aggressive...or endowed with any other such unpleasant human trait.
Cats are: Wise, sensible, competent, compassionate, empathetic, tolerant, accepting, long-suffering, forgiving (in spades) understanding, nurturing, self-aware, patient, kind, humble, curious (most folks get that one right) and just plain happy.
Look carefully at the cat, and keep an open mind. I know, pretty near impossible. One of my great teachers always said "get our of judgment and into curiosity" This idea has served me well.
We need to respect, to revere, all life. I deal more with cats and witness humans' relations with them, so I'm going on about cats here. Please look carefully, thoughtfully, at your cats and others, and let's give them the credit and admiration they deserve!
The founder of Bee Holistic, Cynthia Burke, has been caring for cats most of her life, volunteering with such groups as the wonderful Animal Balance, and Fix Our Ferals. In 2011 Bee Holistic Cat Rescue and Care became a registered non-profit.