We have a lovely new arrival! Colette! She was found by the 580 freeway in Richmond, and is as sweet as can be! She's about six months old, maybe a bit younger. And I know it's not about looks, but she's beautiful, with tiny tufts on her ears! She is being examined, spayed, chipped and tested for FIV and FeLV as I write this ! (Feb. 7, 2022) Colette is very gentle and really affectionate, with all comers. She is looking for a safe indoor-outdoor home
Where to start? Got a call from a distraught woman. Her sister had developed dementia, and had been moved out of her house. The cats were in bad shape, she said; shut down and traumatized. She had taken them to the wonderful (!!) Mau House Cat Hotel in Richmond, but could not keep them there. I resisted, having so many others needing care, but she was so desperate....
I'm SO glad I took them! When I got them home, I found them to be filthy and withdrawn, though the back one was full of nervous energy. He had not even made eye contact at Mau House, just kept his head down. Bettina had severe mobility problems. both were incontinent. They would not have done well in any other shelter, that's for sure.
I got Silky neutered, and got them both baths. Due to Bettina's condition, no surgery for her was advised.
Bettina is withdrawn and passive, but Silky, though affectionate, loses it at times and bites. Bites hard. I got one in the ankle, and have been barely able to walk for the last week. Am being very cautious now.
There's always hope! It will take time for these two. Bettina gets acupuncture, and they have both seen our chiropractor.
There's a lot more to say, but GOOD NEWS is that one of our board members has put up a MATCHING GRANT of $1000.00!!
If we can raise that amount by December 31, she'll match it. Please help us to reach our goal for this generous matching grant!
End of life care is an area of veterinary care long neglected! I have been dismayed by the premature termination of our animals' lives when they start to go downhill. We can and must do better. They can enjoy life even with a terminal illness, just as we humans can!
My friend and mentor, Gail Pope, of BrightHaven (brighthaven.org) has a saying: "Living well through the last breath". And indeed, our animals can! Gail, founder of BrightHaven, has been doing animal hospice for over thirty years, and has seen almost all of the animals in her care through dignified, pain-free natural deaths. Euthanasia has a place, but is not necessary in most cases.
I have seen many animals through a natural death, though not for nearly as long. As with humans, the animals almost always shut down, go into a coma state, and pass easily.
Introducing Animal Hospice Group! (www.animalhospicegroup.com) TAKE A LOOK!! Gail has teamed up with three other great teachers to create a course in end of life care: palliative care and hospice! It is an extensive series on on-line lectures, with reading material and discussion groups. Just wonderful!! And it fills such a huge void in animal care! Tell your friends! And a great deal of the subject matter concerns ways in which to assuage vets' and human caretakers' fear of death. Grief counseling is included in the extensive curriculum. I have completed the course work, passed the exams, and am now a CAHP: a Certified Animal Hospice Practitioner.
Death is not painful. Some conditions can be painful, as with humans, but not death itself.
At the end of the course, students become certified to guide folks through end of life care of their animals. I have guided three friends when they chose a natural death for their animals, a cat and a dog, and they were grateful, and happy to be with their animals until their natural end.
Again, TAKE A LOOK: animalhospicegroup.com. You'll be glad you did!!
Here's a good article from the LA Times about Trap, Neuter, Return programs. Not a magic bullet solution . The problem is as always with the humans...Read and share...we have a long ways to go.
Below are the eight, mother and babies from two litters, who got lucky and off the streets. Most are not lucky.
Beloved sisters! Sunny is missing in this photo. They all came together, having been found in a box in the El Cerrito CA. Pet Food Express parking lot. Their life improved greatly after that point :-) We shudder to think what it had been theretofore. Nonetheless, as cats do, they demonstrated nothing but love and happiness here at our home/shelter. Melanie, in the foreground, will just lie by herself and purr...and purr...and AnnaBelle knows she's a princess...loves the service here, and is not shy about asking for more! Shining examples of how to live, these beauties!
Here's all three, and Sunny with Melanie...(Emma in the background)
Such a great feeling! These two, their two siblings, and their mother are safe and sound!! They would not have lasted long where they were found, at the entrance to Wildcat Canyon Reg. Park. A friend called me this morning in a panic. She'd seen them off the road, up a few steps, close to a wall of ivy. I approached VERY slowly. With each step, I moved my carrier closer. I put a dish of food out and she smelled it. If she ran off I might not have been able to catch her.
First miracle: she was calm and allowed me to pick her up and put her into the carrier. However...! The babies were all connected to her and to each other by a long string. At first I'd thought it to be very tangled umbilical cords, but no.... They went into the carrier as one. Not too good, as damage may have been done when I picked the mom up.
Second miracle: no permanent damage had been done, it seems. One of the babies' ankles was wrapped in one of the cords, and the foot had swollen. I was able to cut the string and untangle them all.
Third miracle: I'd been leaving them alone as much as possible so as not to stress them, but, since the carrier was wet, I decided to move them into the big box I'd fixed up. Glad I did. I discovered a fifth! Cold and wet! EEK! In a newborn, that condition can kill quickly. I warmed him up and dried him with the hair dryer on low...and have been giving him supplemental feeding. He's smaller than the others, and was most certainly not getting his share of milk. But he has energy...haven't seen him actually nursing yet, but he's staying warm, and getting fed one way or t'other.
I spoke with my homeopathic vet who said to give the one with the swollen foot a high potency dose of Arnica Montana. Did that. Because there was still wet blood, it seemed that the three undeveloped ones had been delivered recently, perhaps within a few hours, and so the foot had not probably been without circulating blood for too long. Fingers are crossed.
The four are all healthy, about one day old, and nursing. the fifth is okay too...had just gotten away from mother's warmth. Mother is lovely and sweet. Mother ate a big meal with lots of supplements for milk flow, etc. She is probably dehydrated, but fluids can wait. I'll call her Cibelli.
The three undeveloped ones will be buried...bless them.
,Without question, the most loving cat we ever had. He would wrap his arms around my neck and give...tiny love bites. He was so tuned in to us...never demanding, though kind of sweetly asking often...
He came to us later than he should have: he had a terrible abcess which covered the entire side of his head, and was so far advanced that the infection had pushed his eyeballs out of his head. (No gruesome photos to follow). I'm grateful to live so close to great doctors. He started antibiotics, and saw the ophthalmologist. He was at this point, blind. It was a long, but steady recovery. He was so traumatized that he didn't move off his new home, the couch, at all. We had food and litter there. He would creep back and forth on the (long) couch, and eventually...BIG day... got down off the couch.
He continued to improve. we could see that he was one of great courage and fortitude. He was gentle and accepting.
His infection died away, the swelling went down, and gradually, his eyes returned to their rightful place in his head. Dr. Zarfoss could not really tell what his vision was, but, since he went farther afield every day, we knew that his sight was coming back! This is a photo of him after his recovery.
Happy times. He recovered completely, Thank you, doctors, and Catfish for not giving up!!
This stalwart mama came to us pregnant, from a reasonably good situation: safe neighborhood, regular feeding by a nice woman...who hadn't called when she had delivered her first (?) litter. She didn't know what happened to the babies :-( but her Last litter was born safe, indoors, at our home. On March 5, 2021. We have a big bathroom in the back of the house, with a bay window and glass door which leads outside. We fixed up a box for her there. She had a week of great nutrition before she gave birth to these fat five babies. BIG and fat! They weighed almost twice what a normal newborn weighs! Holy googly-moogly! I was flabbergasted. Healthy too! They're five days old in this photo,
I named mama Frances, after the redoubtable Frances McDormand. She put up with being kidnapped and confined, sensing that she and the babies were safe. I left her alone. Didn't try to handle them for several days.
Mama is built like a tank! She's all muscle. No neck; can't be scruffed! She ate like a stevedore...we like that!
After delivery, Frances was still big. I wondered if there were more babies inside her...but no...she is just big. Never seen a cat with a body like this. Strong, for sure.
As the weeks went by, she stopped trying to put the hurt on me when I came in to change her bedding, her water, etc. At about four weeks the babies started eating solid food. Took quite a burden off Frances....
They didn't just start eating: after looking up into fur for a nipple, a pile of stuff on the floor did not impress.
It's a process, putting a bit into their mouths, then having them lick it off your finger, convincing them not to bite your finger, lowering finger slowly to bowl...takes time. Of course they still nursed as well.
Frances adopted two, Johnetta Lewis and Tuxedo Ted, who had lost their mother. Stellar feline, she!
Fast forward: remember that back door? The babies started going out, exploring the patio. They come alive when they get out into the living world, yes they DO! The smells in the wind, the bugs and plants...they run all over the yard now...and always go back in after a couple of hours!! We like it like that!
Frances has gone out a few times. By herself, then with the babies. However, Frances seems to want them to go under the house. I don't. ( I once had a mother who tried to convince her babies to mistrust humans, to be 'wild') Frances led them there; at least they wound up there together...fortunately, the babies came when I called them. Now Frances and babies go out at different times. Babies have not since gone around and under the house.
Two have found a home together...happy they are! Great folks!
Frances lets me pet her now. She rubs her face on my hand. And I'm wondering, since mother has been here so long, if she wants to go home...certainly not till the other kittens have been adopted. Nothing has to be decided right this minute...
Leo was found in the middle of the railroad tracks in Richmond, CA. He was brought to us by a friend...and fellow animal lover. He was tiny, but old enough to eat solid food (whew).
From his first day here, Leo was a serene, gentle, loving cat. He was adopted with a fellow orphan from Richmond, Andrew, with whom he'd become close. The adopter, living on Arlington, had fears that Andrew would get hit by a car, and so Andy and Leo came back to us. Can't say I regret it! Both are stellar felines. Andrew is a bit sensitive and not as secure as Leo, and I think the man had reason for his fears; Andrew is not as confident as Leo. I've been calling him Handsome Andrew to build his confidence. And, yes, he's gorgeous!
But back to Leo...Mister Sunshine.
Leo is a joy to have around...a calming, sweet presence. No drama. He's a cuddler; an undemanding, happy soul. He's a great role model!
Cat O' the Day: Sunny (Sunflower)
Where to start with this upstart? She came to us after having been left with her three sisters, in a big box, in a parking lot. One was literally skin and bones, and died within hours. Two had become blind; Ophthalmologist said likely from eating dog food, BUT!!
As cats do, they survived handily, and are with us now, the sweetest of cats! The SWEETEST! Sunny is a calico, with a stiff twisted tail and stiff little legs. She is tiny but mighty, albeit understated. She stayed under the covers for months, just in case it wasn't safe outside of them, and perhaps because she'd never had a warm bed. She navigates beautifully...going for it full-tilt even if it means bumping into things a lot. Don't let folks tell you a blind cat needs to be kept indoors!!
Sunny is very affectionate, but don't try to pick her up! She freaks! Makes vet visits a blast, though she quiets right down for her acupuncture needles!
You can see her ear tip...turns out a trapper friend had trapped her and her sisters, years back, and had returned them to where they were trapped. Who knows what they went through after that....but let's not dwell...
Sunny is close to her two sisters, sleeping with one or both when she's out of bed.
She goes NUTS when she gets her hands on a toy mouse...and even with batting it around, keeps good track of it. I've tried to get videos with sound those little cries...you'd not believe it!
Sunflower is a bright light around here!!
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, now Animal Fix Clinic. In 2009 her own non-profit was formed..