Please Help Suka, If You Can

Over the coming month I would really like to help this foster and her dog out.  The whole story is at this link, but suffice it to say, the little girl was dumped on the foster when her owner left the state without her, and she just lost a litter and almost her life.  The bills are too much for the foster - they could barely handle caring for her in the first place.

If you have a dollar, five dollars, ten dollars, anything at all to spare, please consider it.  Suka needs an adopter, but right now, she just needs to heal.

Suka's Chip-In.

Adopting Out a Critter

I have a friend who rescued a pit bull puppy from being dropped at the pound (they do not adopt out the breed, so he would have been put to sleep), and it inspired me to talk a little bit about how to adopt out your pet, puppies, kittens, etc.

What Should You Do First?

Unless breeding is a serious endeavor for you, you will usually be expected to neuter or spay your cat, dog, or rabbit before rehoming it.  Smaller or more exotic animals would have different expectations.  Kittens and puppies can be fixed very young (talk to your local vet) and will experience fewer complications and pain.  Think about it - if you're already having to find a new home for this animal, do you really want it breeding and making more that need homes?  In my not-so-humble opinion, breeding is always better left to those who do so responsibly and for the purpose of bettering a breed or type of animal - and they won't be adopting them, they'll be buying breeding stock with verifiable pedigrees.  There are enough mutts in the world, lovable though they may be!

Depending on the age of the animal, you will be expected to have it up to date on its vaccinations and medical procedures.  It should be in excellent health, tested for typical diseases, and protected against them.  Check with your vet about the appropriate time to vaccinate young animals - if given shots TOO early their maternal antibodies will fight it off and leave them immuno-compromised and not yet fit for a new home.  Young animals should also be appropriately socialized (with people, other animals, the vacuum cleaner, etc.) and old enough to be separated - weaning is not usually long enough and they will still be learning their social skills for another several weeks.  If your animal needs any special grooming, it should be also taken care of so it doesn't go home with a new owner with matts, skin problems, or hairballs!

It's worth it to wait until the animal is healthy before finding it a new home, or if this is the reason for rehoming, to be completely clear with the pet's needs before negotiating the exchange.  It doesn't help anyone or the animal to surprise someone with a sick or uncared for pet, and it may wind up in a home you didn't approve if they can't handle it.

It's not necessary to include leftover pet food or favorite toys, but it's a good idea if you can.  These things can help a critter adjust better to its new home, in addition to making life a little easier for the new owner.

How Do You Advertise, and Who Can Help?

You can advertise everywhere, but it is completely up to you to make sure the people who respond are the best fit for your pet.  Here are some suggestions to try:
  • Craigslist or other online organizations
  • Your local newspaper classifieds
  • Signs at grocery stores and gas stations with permission
  • Neighborhood or group newsletters
  • Bulletin boards
  • Social networking sites, like Facebook
I also really recommend working with your local no-kill shelters.  Kill shelters are usually too pressed to move their own animals to be able to help, but no-kills almost always can do something, whether it's spreading the news about your critter by word of mouth or actively helping you advertise.  If they have events or adoption days you may even ask to include your pet in exchange for helping request donations or volunteering.  Most no-kills are frequently full, but if you can't find your pet a new home and want them to help make sure it's a good one, it's worth asking about.  Check Petfinder or ask around for nearby breed-specific shelters, too.

How Do You Pick the Right Home?

How many precautions you take and how seriously you question potential adopters is entirely up to you, but it is definitely your responsibility and there's no real way to get around it.  Once the animal is out of your hands you don't have any say over what happens to it, so it's worth it to make sure the person you give it to is going to take good care of it.

What's the worst that could happen?  Let us count the ways.  Some people adopt animals thinking they'll enjoy them, but quickly grow bored.  When they decide to rehome it, how could you know they'll put as much care into picking a responsible new owner?  I usually insist that people only adopt an animal from me if they intend to keep it forever - until the day it dies.  Not everyone views pets as commitments.  I also insist that if they ever decide to get rid of it, for ANY reason, whether it be the next day or ten years from now, that they contact me and attempt to return it first.  Many pets become very attached to their owners and it can be hard for them to adjust after living with them for a long time - a problem which is especially heartbreaking when some folks try to get rid of geriatric pets when their care becomes expensive.  Be sure the adopter knows and understands your request if you want them to be a permanent home.

There are also those on the other end of the spectrum who bite off more than they can chew.  These are people who take in pets they cannot actually afford to care for, don't have time to give enough attention to, or just simply cannot handle.  They don't have to be hoarders for this to apply.  For avoiding issues like this I have a few requirements:
  1. I ask that I be provided with copies of records of prompt vet care if anything wasn't done by me (immediate fixing, heartworm test/pills, vaccinations, whatever was not yet done).  Have a verified means of contacting them in case you need to check up on it a month or so later.  This is usually only done for the first little while - it would not be acceptable to "check up on" a new owner a year later - though you can totally visit if they welcome you to!
  2. I also ask what kind of a home they are providing.  For animals that have certain needs, like acreage, a yard, extra steps, extra exercise, anything like that, it's a good idea to make sure before adopting out that all things are in place.  No pet should go to the new home until all the facilities are there and waiting.  You can ask to do a "home check," if it is something very important or if you suspect they may have too many animals or not enough space.
  3. I ask about their other pets.  Some species are incompatible, and some critters just do not get along with others.  It's a good idea if they have other animals to request vet records to prove their care is done on time, to see the pets to make sure they are in good health and well-fed, and to introduce the animals carefully and see if they get along.  Likewise, it's an excellent idea to have the prospective owner meet the pet before they make a decision!  This is when things like "too hyperactive" or "too big" come up, and it's better that be mentioned before they go home!
  4. I double check that the new pet would not exceed any legal or spatial limits.  Even if all the critters are well cared for, a situation can quickly become practically or legally out of hand and you don't want your pet to be the straw that broke the camel's back!
There's also those interested in fighting animals, those who don't mind abusing or neglecting them, and even those who hate a particular breed enough to pretend to want it in order to have it put down.  When it comes to horses, there are "kill buyers" that will adopt a horse only to turn around and either send it to slaughter, or sell it at a higher price claiming if it isn't adopted it will go to slaughter.  Kind but gullible people then "rescue" your animal, paying the con artist a profit!  Don't let your animal go to a stranger.  Even if a person doesn't fight animals personally, they too may see an opportunity to make a buck selling or breeding the animal to sell to those who fight or abuse.  These people can be obvious or they can seem perfectly nice - there is no way to tell without doing a little research.

It is not a bad thing to ask to do a background check (though you don't HAVE to!), and even to ask local pet stores and shelters if they have ever adopted an animal to them.  Many shelters will be able to give you a heads up if a person is a known animal abuser, or if they adopt a high number of pets they don't currently still have!  Ask for the name of their veterinarian and verify they are a client there - many people who abuse or misuse animals attempt to do the vetting themselves, or not at all, to prevent alerting authorities.  As far as doing a background check, the process is inexpensive, effective, and quick - with results coming back in just a day or two.  This is the same thing you'd have done if you were going for a job interview, only this time, the job is taking good care of a life.

This is the background check system I found but haven't tried yet, that searches specifically for a lot of valuable information like past animal incidents:  It also searches an animal abuse database, though I'm not sure where it pulls its information.  There are a million background checkers out there - go shop around for one you trust or ask local shelters what they use.  You will need personal information from the adopter, so be sure to get their permission.  This will also alert you if they suddenly become angry or accusatory - a background check is a very private thing to ask and some frustration would be totally reasonable, but it's also a normal thing, especially if the animal you are adopting out is not a popular one (like "aggressive" dog breeds).  Not everyone who refuses abuses animals, but you should absolutely follow your gut instinct if you get a bad feeling about someone!  It is more important to find the animal a safe new home than to keep from hurting somebody's feelings.

Should You Ask for a Rehoming Fee?

The rehoming fee so frequently asked for serves one main purpose.  The core reason for a rehoming fee is in exchange for services.  If you have spent money on vet bills, special food, toys that come with the dog, or if you have been caring for him for years, a rehoming fee is the new adopter's payment for those things being already done.  It is not a way to get your money completely back for the dog's care, but is more about ensuring the initial vetting is done before your pet leaves your care while saving the new owner money (that might otherwise keep them from getting it done quickly). 

Rehoming fees are NOT:
  • in exchange for your time caring for the animal.  That responsibility is expected to be done out of the kindness of your heart - not something the new owner would pay you to do.
  • in exchange for the breeding of the animal.  A fee for a bred animal is not called a "rehoming fee," it's a sale cost.  If you are breeding your pets and selling them, please remember to do so ethically.  That includes being clear about where they came from, their backgrounds, and any procedures you did or did not have done before they were taken home by new owners.
  • a way to make money out of an accident.  If your cat got pregnant by the local neighborhood tom and you suddenly have eight kittens on your hands, a rehoming fee is not a way to get money back for the inconvenience.  It would only be appropriate if you got them their vetting and/or fixed the animals first.
  • a way to ensure the new owner is responsible or wealthy enough to care for the animal.  This is faulty logic.  The only way to make sure the owner is responsible is to check them out yourself - a dog fighter can make thousands off of a dog they bought for $30 bucks, and you do NOT want that on your conscience.  I have also been told that if a person can afford to spend $50 on a puppy, they can surely afford to get it immediately fixed and its shots all on time.  In reality, this is $50 that could have been spent on the animal's vet bills, but was instead put in your pocket.
So what SHOULD you ask for a rehoming fee, if you have invested money in the critter?  Well, it depends.  If you've had the pet for years and years, you probably are more concerned about finding a good home and less about being compensated.  In this situation, just do what your heart tells you.  Anything over $50-75 is a little suspicious (but it will always depend on your situation, special needs dogs and cats can totally be exceptions), not to mention hard for a new owner to swing.  If you just had a litter of puppies, though, and had them all dewormed, vaccinated, fixed, and microchipped, shoot for about 10-20% of your direct expenses (don't count normal foods, toys/collars/leashes that don't go with them, or anything like that - just vet bills, special needs or surgeries, and the like).  For most critters this is around $10-50.  You are welcome to ask for more or whatever you feel is fair, but do understand for larger fees many people would prefer to go to a rescue and have their choice of any animal!

Okay, that's just about everything I can think of.  Hope it helps you out if you ever find yourself needing to rehome a furry friend!

-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

Even More Updatingness

The kittens are getting BIG!  Batman is bigger, stronger, and more playful, but still way stunted.  We have to make sure he eats enough and often enough so he can catch up growthwise, because falling behind could turn him around for the worse at any point.  My only real concern about him right now, though, is that he has a bit of a goopy eye.  In any other situation I wouldn't worry much, but they came from a colony with known rhinotracheitis problems and, try as I might, I still worry about us giving it to him from our cat.  As long as it's just eye goop and not ulcers or fever I'll try to be calm.  -.-  Leia turned out to be a BOY, so he's temporarily renamed Han Solo.  Or Jabba.  Haven't decided yet.

Penny is 2 and a half weeks post-surgery now and looking great.  We're getting her stitches out tomorrow, and next week she'll be going in for an x-ray.  The goofball thinks she's already healed up and keeps trying to jump and run at every chance she gets!

We also just decided to temporarily foster a dog from a shelter about 4 hours north of us.  Well, I say we, but I adopted her due to my fiance's insistence.  Not sure how that's gonna work out, but it's better than a 7 month old dog getting put down because no one knows about her.  You can read about if if you'd like on my significantly more opinionated/gripey/vet-and-rescue-oriented blog here.

While we're on the topic, I'd really like to talk about shelters.  Actually, I have a ton of things to talk about, but they're all long, extensive topics I'd like to put more thought into first.

Different shelters have different policies, even in the same town as each other.  There are two things I hear way too often, though:
  1. "As nice as no-kills* are, they only give the pets at the pound/city shelter ___ days to live, so it's better to adopt from them."
  2. "I support the shelter/animals by donating to the Humane Society of the United States/PETA/SPCA."
Both of these are said by perfectly smart, caring individuals, but both statements have major flaws.  Let's start with #1.

It's true for the animal you adopt that you are saving it, no matter where you get it from.  However you are not just benefiting the animal you pick when you bring one home, you're making its space, supplies, and care costs available to other animals.  In a kill shelter this is a drop in a lake.  In a no-kill with limited resources, it means the world.  Opening up a space in a no-kill means one fewer animal in the kill shelter.  Of course, that does NOT make one better than the other, as both are (or should be) working toward the same goal, but I hate to see no-kills denied visitors because of the guilt trip.  If one wants to slow or halt the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals, education and spay/neuter are the first steps!  :)

Aaaand now #2.  I'm gonna try and word this one as inoffensively as possible, though I'm pretty passionate about it.  I have no personal beef with the spca and appreciate many of their programs, but they and their policies vary quite a bit between locations.  Do your research on where your money is going, because quite a bit for national organizations winds up making commercials and products before it ever reaches the animals.  Peta, oh Peta.  Peta has been noted many, many times, both on a public scale and by its members, promoting a vegan-only lifestyle and advocating against pet ownership at all.  If you're funding Peta, understand that their goal is not to help homeless pets find homes.  Do your homework on where your money goes!

Now, the HSUS.  This is the one I have to really breathe about.  The HSUS is NOT affiliated with your local humane society.  They're called the same thing, but they are not the same organization.  The HSUS gives less than one percent annually of their funds to pets, and that is spread out in different ways (not all given directly to shelters).  Your shelter can apply for a grant, but it shouldn't hold its breath.  The other over-99% of its funds go to paychecks, lobbying (including against owning pets, like the current famous exotic reptile ban, one of many examples), advertising, and launching raids that then leave hundreds of animals at local shelters without aid or space.  I'm really sorry guys, that's the most I can dull it down.  The difference is rights vs welfare, and I definitely recommend googling both and deciding which you support. 

ANYWAYS, my point is that by donating to the Humane Society of the United States, you are NOT contributing to your local animal community, or to anyone's animal community.  The best way to support your local shelters is to donate to them directly.  Investigate them first - where do they get their funds?  Are they legitimate and are they doing a good job with their animals?  What do they need - would they prefer material donations like blankets or dog/cat food, or do they need money?  Donations to nonprofit shelters are tax-deductible, so it's a win-win.  You know your money is helping real animals, and your shelters can keep doing what they're doing.

It takes a community to make a difference.  If you like critters, take a Saturday to volunteer now and then, give a few bucks to an organization that needs it, spread the word around.  It is possible to become a real, no-kill community, but it takes coordination, teamwork, and a whole lotta love.

-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

* No-kill means that a shelter does not take in more animals than it can support, so does not euthanize for space.  A no-kill may still euthanize an animal in extreme situations, using a veterinarian and under that vet's advice.  Unfortunately, some animals come to shelters unable to recover from past injuries, illnesses, or traumas.  A kill shelter such as a pound or city shelter is usually required to accept ALL animals, regardless of condition or space, up until a specified limit if applicable.  Those critters come from animal control, owners, found animals, transfers, etc., and there simply isn't room for all of them.  Different shelters will have different policies to determine how long they can keep animals and what makes them adoptable, so check with yours.  It doesn't matter if you're looking to adopt from a kill or a no-kill, you should still ask to see numbers, save rates, and any other data you need to feel comfortable that they are legitimate, clean, and responsible.  It's most important that you find the animal that is right for you, not where it comes from!

Kitten Update

Well the little guys have names now:
Batman - The dark tabby boy
Luke - The normal tabby boy
Leia - The normal tabby girl


Batman's health went up for awhile, and yesterday he even started sitting up and attempting to walk around (instead of crawling).  This is actually stunning to me, because he opened his eyes before the other tabbies too, and now he's showing better motor abilities despite being noticeably behind in growth.  They were 14 days old Tuesday (since now it's technically Wednesday), and until today Batman was actively nursing (means he's in less pain) and momma was frequently grooming his genitals (means she doesn't think he's going to die).

Unfortunately, he's had a rough day today.  It's been tough to get him to eat and requires several minutes of stroking first.  He sleeps with the others but his tummy isn't as round and his chest feels flattened, almost.  He's even been making cries that aren't as pained as that one scary day, but definitely not normal "I'm hungry, where's momma" cries.  It takes several tries of placing him on mom's nipple before he'll eat, and it seems like he's easily distracted from it, turning his head to wander and cry.  At least he takes kmr better, even if it's only a few drops at a time.  Usually kmr will at least get his tummy going and he'll be better about nursing.

We're looking into increasing the humidity as well as the temperature, which we've noticed is far better for him at around 80-82 F than the 77 it sometimes falls to.  We have a space heater with a thermostat pointed away from the cage and a temperature gauge inside of it.  When stores open in the morning we'll pick up a little humidifier and see if we can help those lungs out a little bit.  Cross your fingers!

As far as Penny - we finally have the money for her surgery!!  She's getting her leg fixed up next Tuesday, the 15th.  It's going to be frustrating, and I anticipate a lot of "surprise" costs, but at least it won't hurt her anymore.  Here's hoping they can do a repair!  :)

And now...a comic.

Sharing the bed.

-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

P.S. -  Kitten Valentine's Day cards are up on my Etsy here.

Kitten Drama

Well, four beautiful, seemingly healthy kittens were all born Tuesday afternoon, one week ago:


My all-time favorite kitten picture


Nursing...the wrong side of mum

As you can see, we had two tabbies, one very dark tabby (he looks black, with stripes), and one black kitten who might have had a little bit of striping on her front legs.

Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon I went in to check on them and found the black kitten upside down and passed away.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch mom looking around for it when I took it out, but I had to remove it immediately.  Without any concept of what sort of health background these guys or mom had, all I could do was guess.  I recalled that the black kitten had been mewing more than usual and crawling all around the kennel that morning, and took the kitten and my phone to go call to price a necropsy.

A necropsy is a good idea whenever other animals might be in jeopardy.  Yes, sometimes kittens "just die," but if there are three others at stake and such an unknown health status, it's important to know what caused it if possible.  If you think you may need to get a pet necropsied, be sure and refrigerate (not freeze!) it immediately and try to get the procedure arranged within 24 hours so there is minimal tissue decay.

In this case, we called the woman for whom I am fostering these cats, particularly concerned about the mewing and howling the dark striped kitten was making that worried me he had the same condition.  She gave us the number of a vet out of town that had seen the other hoarded cats, and we hopped in the car and made the 30 minute drive out to the sticks.  We brought the dead kitten in a plastic bag, in case it could be of use.  Twice on the drive alone, the dark kitten had to be held and stroked to convince it to stop screaming.

We finally arrived and brought in the kittens, where the vet first thought the dark kitten was only crying because it was hungry or needed to urinate (something mom isn't quite as good about doing for them as nursing).  However, it soon started screaming again and she had a look at it.  It calmed down after being peed and put back with mom, so she decided to take a look at the dead kitten for clues.  The intestines showed it had been being fed regularly and didn't have any problems there, but further investigation showed massively damaged lungs.  They were the same color as the liver...which should definitely not happen.  The kitten had died of pneumonia.

It was difficult to impossible to tell if the dark striped kitten had the same problem and if so, if it would recover.  The dead kitten also showed signs of being pigeon-chested, a genetic deformity that happens in people as well and can make it just that much more difficult for the sick kitten.  So, with fingers and toes crossed, our only options for treatment are two shots of penicillin (one that day and the other tomorrow) and supportive care - frequent attempts at feeding, manually stimulating urination, and keeping the room they were in at a balmy 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

So far it's been about 24 hours and dark kitten has only screamed once, and that was when I tried to feed it two hours after coming home.  Actually, I haven't been supplementing because I can convince it to nurse about once every 30-45 minutes on its own.  I supplement momma with KMR and if I can find it, L-lysine, a medication that is great for helping breakouts of herpesvirus, or rhinotracheitis in cats.  It's better if I can get the kitten to eat naturally, because I don't want to risk aspiration of the KMR into the lungs, which might compound a lung infection into a lethal problem in a very, very short time.  Since we're by no means out of the woods, though, I have the KMR on hand for in case it isn't eating enough.

Herpesvirus, which displays as a recurrent respiratory infection in cats, is most active at temperatures just below normal body heat.  So, by keeping the room at that 80 degrees like I mentioned, we can keep the air going into the kitten lungs warmer than usual.  This may seem like it's bad for pneumonia, but actually, it's going to help the little kitten immune system fight its best battle.  Speaking of, interesting fact - apparently the first kitten or two to be born obtain more colostrum, so naturally have more robust immune systems.  This is why the last two kittens in this case seem to be having a harder time fighting off something that hasn't manifested clinically in the other two.  Voila.  I learned something.

Here are the three little survivors, the black one being my biggest concern (but fighting a great fight!):

I'll keep you guys posted.

Oh, by the way!  I just found out that Penny is going to be receiving at least $300 from a GLC fundraiser!!!  It's not official yet, so I haven't added it into the total, but wouldn't $670 be an amazing number to see?  We are almost there!  :)

See you guys soon,
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

Kitten Milk Replacement

Kitten Milk Replacement, or KMR, is like magic.

Technically this stuff is ONLY for felines, but if you have a rodent in desperate need of protein, milk, or nutrients, this stuff saves lives where nothing else can.  I supply it to pregnant and nursing mice, I give it to sick mice, and in the past it has made the difference for orphaned mice who had nothing else to drink.  And yes, it's even helped save the lives of some orphaned kittens - it's original intent.

It's basically...magic.

When using it for cats, I mix a small bit of evaporated KMR with warm water and blend that into a small amount of wet kitten food.  Part of the reason KMR is so amazing is that unlike cow's milk or infant solution, KMR is lactose-free.  Kitten tummies, and most small animal tummies in fact, can't handle lactose and this can make them gassy or dehydrated (by giving them diarrhea).  Another solution is to add lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, in order to make different forms of milk more digestible, but I prefer mixing KMR into other foods.

KMR is also great for...say...pregnant mothers like Ghost.  Pregnant cats need to eat a lot more protein - kitten food, KMR, and a fresh water supply are all vital to helping her produce milk and build up enough strength to have a successful pregnancy (not to mention she's feeding all those little ones inside of her, too!).

There's more of a difference in kinds of milk than just lactose, though.  Milk from different animals (cow, sheep, goat, etc.) contain different types and amounts of fat.  This fat is important to both mom and babies, as is the protein, so when possible it's important to stick to the right species.  KMR is specifically formulated for cats (in fact, it's against the label to use it differently) and has exactly what they need in it. SO....if you can use KMR, that's your best bet.

Of course, never forget that kittens and any other infant animal (people included) NEED the first 24-48 hours of milk from mom.  This milk is called colostrum and is full of antibodies that protect the kittens from many diseases until they are several weeks old (before which vaccines will only be destroyed by the kitten's natural immunities).  If you know your cat has a disease transmissible by suckling, check with your veterinarian long before the kittens arrive for advice.  It is never advisable to simply skip natural nursing for the first 1-2 days.

So yes!  KMR is amazing stuff.  I have some in my fridge every month of the year - when emergencies come up it's great to have on hand!  :)  By the way, Ghost is doing wonderfully.  No signs of labor yet and she seems to be in wonderful health.  She ate a ton of kitten kibble last night and has been taking regular meals of KMR in watered-down wet food.  She's also quite busy rearranging her nest and, much to my dismay, dragging towels into her litter box.  She is very sociable now, rolling completely over and purring when I pet her, and luckily the investigation is moving in full-swing right now and it doesn't look like anyone is going to try and move her from here.  Hopefully her shocks are done with for awhile.

"Yeeeessss...Pet me moooorrrre.  And look at my niiipppppplleesss... I am so fat and pregnaaaant..."
 Later Gators.
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

It's Barely Humor

Sassy has been renamed for the time being.  I learned some more about her situation, and after staring at those miserable eyes for a certain amount of time, you realize Ghost is the only appropriate name.  In time, I hope it's a joke about the past.

The Home
I should really say house.  No place like that could be called a home.  It was so much worse than we were told, and I consider myself blessed that I did not have to be there.

It took them a long time just to shovel enough crap (I don't mean junk, I mean crap) out of the way of the door so they could enter.  It turns out 65 cats, a few dogs, and several birds were only what was left after many animals and several pounds of feces had already been removed.  The house was a one-bedroom.  There was no place in the entire house in which the feces came below your knees.  The cats were in horrible condition, several of them not able to make it through the night if they weren't removed immediately.  One had to be put down.

According to the woman heading the operation, several of the cats had such severe disease or deformity that she could not even name some of the illnesses.  She says these are things she has never seen before, outside of horror or science fiction films.  She spent all day there.

The landlord apparently has no clue, and that's why the woman came to the rescue in the first place asking for the cats to be rehomed by Wednesday.  There is no way for him not to know now.  The place is probably going to have to be burned and rebuilt if you ask me.

The woman had no clue there was a problem.  She asked the rescue head, "Is it really that bad?"

Hoarders have mental addictions to hoarding.  It's a disorder.  It's included in the DSM as symptoms of a variety of problems.  She can't SEE that she doesn't love them, that if she did, she wouldn't treat them that way.  She can't SEE that it isn't normal.

Having a lot of pets is one thing.  If you had fifty pets and they all had fresh food, water, and habitat and all saw a vet when they needed, you'd still be fine in my book.  But if you have so many pets that you have knee-high crap in your home?  If 20-something of them have been fixed, but no one else has seen a vet even when it means death?  If you can't live without 8 of your 65 remaining cats, and all it took to START this was 8 unfixed cats?

You have a problem.

So in any case, today an investigation starts.  Rescue-lady has a collection of photos from yesterday and several of the cats into a vet (with before-documentation).  She spends today and tomorrow building the case and intends to crack the whip all at once, in one fell swoop, right before the hoarder woman leaves the state.  With luck and a bit of law, she won't be able to take the cats, dogs, birds, and others with her to TN.  I'm sure that seems unfair, to take away all her pets, but with only one of the cats she's taking being fixed, we would not be doing them ANY favors by letting them leave with her.  Normally I disagree with a lot of pet laws, and the humane society is NO friend of mine.  But this time - for the cats, we need every ounce of help we can get to keep them alive and rehabilitate them.

Ghost Last Night
Ghost was...well...a ghost last night.  No, she isn't dead.  Watching her was spooky, though.  She was so depressed she wouldn't move.  Wouldn't twitch an ear when you snapped, wouldn't look when you spoke or walked in.  I put water in front of her and tapped the surface to get her to see it was there and fresh - her glazed eyes floated slowly up and stared into mine, then drifted slowly off like she was in another world.  I could make no connection with her - the only thing I could do was feel her mammaries for milk and dab a little water on her lips for her to lick off.  She looked like she'd already died.  It broke my heart.

At first I thought she was tense - waiting to strike out if bothered.  She wasn't.  She was in a literal state of catatonia, unable to respond to anything.

I left her alone, hoping she would start to come to terms with her new environment over the course of the night without unneeded prodding by me.

Ghost Now
I'm happy to say she is doing WAY better this morning.  First, she now responds to things, even if not overwhelmingly so.  I covered the side of her kennel that faces the door so she would feel like she had a little privacy, so when I enter the room I talk to her so she's not surprised.  Ghost does not need anymore surprises.  Now - she actually turns to face you when you come in or talk to her.  When you offer a hand or food, she leans forward to sniff it.  HUGE improvement!  The food and water have been touched, even if not ingested, and the blankets are rearranged - nesting, perhaps?

And this is the BEST part - GHOST USED THE LITTERBOX!

This poor cat, out of a home where dirt was the litter and filth was piled knee-high, was a very good girl and used the box the first time she had to go.  I could not be more proud of her.  She is such a trooper.  I hope her and her kittens get to live out a normal fostering here, and don't need to be yanked away for medical or legal reasons.  She may need to be, depending on how the case goes, and I know they'll do the right thing - but right now I am so hopeful I could cry.

She and her room are under a strict quarantine right now.  My own cat is in a different room, so there can be no under-the-door sniffing.  Nothing goes in or out of the room except me, not even the trash (but there's a if I need to throw out litter that's how it'll reach the dumpster).  Anything that has to, like my hands for instance, faces either a bleach solution, betadine, or 91% alcohol and a wash with hot soapy water, depending on what it is.

One last thing - there MIGHT be a little bit of discharge on the blanket.  Her face is totally clean - no facial discharge, sneezing, or other signs of URI or rhino or anything.  Could babies be on the way?  I'll have to watch her closely today.  At least now I know that her mind is a little more present, and she may even be able to handle having them.  And if not, I have a good shot at her getting close enough to me to be able to assist if she needs it.

Fingers crossed!!
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~


Just a heads up - this blog may be making a very slight shift.  I love writing instructional or informative posts, like ones on medications, foods, litters, etc., but I only get around to that so often.  I'd love to start including posts related to rescue, veterinary stuff (I'm really loving the vet tech courses and would love to share some of that with you guys!), and sometimes a bit more about my critters, since my experiences shouldn't just teach me - they should help others, too.

So anyways, here we go:

Penny Update!
     We have about $380 right now, and are slowly but surely working our way up to that $900 number.  I know $1,000 was our goal, but the second we have enough to get her in, I want to.  The longer we wait, the more it scars over, and the less chance we have (if we had any to begin with) of repair.  If you know ANYONE you can pass her story on to, please let them know.  You can donate to her cause on the right-hand side of the page or at her website.  In the meantime, she's being her typical, goofball self.  :)

     Let me start of Sassy's story...not even with Sassy.  Actually, it really begins with my mum.  My mum went to the hair salon a couple of weeks ago and noticed a cat with a collar but  no tags desperately trying to get into the salon.  The employees were quite annoyed with it and said it had been coming around for a few weeks.  They told her she was declawed.

Well, my mum went back the next day with a carrier and kitty hopped right in.  She was extremely affectionate, and my mom did everything right trying to find her home.  No takers.  So my mom watches as the vet bills stack up with all the things that go along with rescuing a lost or stray cat - tests, shots, tags, and the big S - Spaying.

BUT...kitty puts on a little weight and my mom starts to wonder if she's preggo.  My mother wants to get her spayed anyways, but I convince her to determine for sure if she is or not first, offering to help if there are little ones on the way.  We get everything set up and await the call.  Turns out she's not preggo after all, though my mum is still complaining about the cost.  :\  Welcome to the world of rescue, mum!

Now, a few days after that cat's surgery, I see a post on Facebook from a woman I know at the rescue that we're working with for Penny, explaining an emergency situation.  A woman in town with SIXTY-FIVE CATS IN HER HOUSE is moving to Tennessee and stopped by the shelter to ask if they'd take in the 57 she didn't want.  28 are fixed, none have vet records, and one is pregnant and going to pop any second now.  No.  No shelter will take 57 cats.  Heck, our animal control/humane society can only take 50 per day, and that's from everywhere in the county.  When do they have to be gone by (because her landlord doesn't know about them)?  WEDNESDAY.

Look...I have worked with that many cats before.  I worked in a shelter with about 50-60 cats per house spread out over two houses and a barn.  That took about 50 or 60 litter boxes EASILY, isolation was hell, records were complicated, and it took about 3 or 4 employees plus the owner to take care of that many cats every day.  Boxes were scooped twice daily and it took a few hours.  Imagine filling that many water and food bowls (and yes, they HAD water and food bowls).  Just imagine that many cats for a second.

This woman had 65 in her house WITH her and her husband.  Neither is wealthy and the house is no mansion.  For litter she used dirt.  Half the cats have upper respiratory infections and no attempt at medication or isolation has been made whatsoever.  The fact that only one cat was pregnant was a damned miracle.  They must have done some strategic fixing, or maybe that's why they HAVE so many cats.  Ages between 2 months and 8 years.  The cats were flipping out in the house, but the second they were removed?  Calm.  They were dying, literally, to get out of there.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, I really do.  Things get out of hand sometimes, even to very good, normally responsible people.  But if it were up to me, that woman would not be allowed to take any of the cats with her on the move, let alone eight, no matter what that means we have to do with them.  She's only taking one that's fixed.  Next thing you know, Tennessee is going to be handling a woman with 60 or more cats in one home.  Pray someone smells it and reports her to the authorities before she hurts or neglects anymore cats.

Since we were all prepped and ready to go for my mom's cat, my fiance and I had a brief talk and I contacted her to volunteer to foster the mom and her litter.  I spent the entire night and morning re-cleaning the room she'd go in, moving the other critters out so she'd have peace and quiet, and setting up a big wire kennel filled with soft blankies and towels, a shallow litter pan, a water dish and a bowl full of kitten kibble.  I readied the KMR, covered half the kennel for privacy and security, and went to pick up momma cat.  It was a lot of work, but hopefully she'll have a little less stress and be able to have a safe, healthy delivery when the time is right.

This was about an hour ago.  I now have momma cat (ready to pop any minute now, according to the woman who pulled her from the hellhole house) all tucked into her new home.  It took me a long, long time to get her to come out  of the carrier - she was practically catatonic with worry.  She explored her new home and settled in quickly.  She is a beautiful, black, young kitty with gorgeous eyes, and I hope with all my heart that she didn't catch a URI from the sick cats of the house.  No more dirt litter boxes for her.  No more crowded homes, no more litters after this one, and no more neglect.  Sassy is going to have real meals every day, vet visits, tags, and paperwork, she and her babies are going to find amazing homes.  Let's just get through this pregnancy.

I'll keep you guys updated on both Penny and now Sassy, and when the little ones come along I'll share the experience with all of you.  :)

This is a happy ending!

-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~