13 December 2010

Home for the Holidays

Home for the HolidaysFour local animal shelters are participating in a Home for the Holidays campaign to promote animal adoptions.  The entire month of December adoptions are half price and the goal is to place 1,000 animals in homes before the end of the year.  The fees vary from shelter to shelter but that means a pet can go home for about $40-65, and that includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, and microchipping.  For the price of a nice meal you can give a homeless animal the beginning of a new and wonderful life.

The shelter I volunteer at has been crazy-busy the last few weekends as people come to look for the pet that is the right match for their family.  We've done over 125 adoptions since the beginning of the month! I am so glad to see some of my furry friends going to a new home where they will be cared for and loved 24/7.

We have just 11 days until Christmas, and 18 days until the end of the year.  I'm not sure how many adoptions the other shelters have had, but I'm hoping we can meet our goal of 1,000 animals in their forever Home for the Holidays.

02 December 2010

Remembering the ones who weren't adopted

It's fantastic that the shelter is adopting out so many animals lately and everyone rightfully celebrates with a big "whoohoo" when they announce the adoption total at the end of the day.

But for me, there have been a few who didn't get adopted who are difficult to forget. In their memory I dedicate this page:

A great week at the shelter

The shelter has been very busy with people coming in to adopt animals who will be going "home for the holidays".  I was very happy to see five of the cats I mentioned a couple days ago get adopted. Twiskers and Aurora are both fantastic kittens and I hope they thrive in their new homes. Josephine the calico fluff-kitten was adopted, as was Aslan the giant fluff-ball-lover.  It was funny to watch that big fluff lay on his back and get his tummy rubbed by his new family. Butternutt, the boy who slept through "Black Friday" went to a rescue group who will work to find him a new home.

On another good note, my big buddy Alberto was neutered this week and was moved from his single-cat cage into a multi-cat habitat room.  He took to his new digs quite well and settled in with a few other big boys and a calico girl who had her severely burned tail amputated by the shelter vet.

All in all, a Fantastic week at the shelter and for the many cats and dogs who were adopted.

27 November 2010

Cats Facts - Tongues and Whiskers

Ed drinking

Since the 1940s when an engineer at MIT filmed a cat drinking, we knew that cats lap water by entending their tongues straight down toward the bowl with the tip of the tongue curled backwards, so that the top of the tongue touches the liquid first. Recent slow-motion video from researchers at MIT, Virginia Tech and Princeton shows that the tip of the tongue barely touches the surface of the liquid before the cat draws its tongue back up. As it does so, a column of liquid forms between the moving tongue and the liquid’s surface. The cat then closes its mouth, just in time to capture the liquid before gravity pulls it back down. This style of drinking is very neat. Water doesn't get on the cat's chin and isn't splashed all over (like dogs).

Many people think the little barbs on a cat's tongue help it drink. But the new video shows just the tip of the tongue touching the liquid. You probably know from your cat licking you that the tip of the tongue is much smoother than the center, and doesn't have the big barbs. The tongue barbs are used for grooming and eating, and they may also help the cat keep the liquid in it's mouth. But that part of the tongue isn't dippped into the water when the cat drinks.

I've also read, and observed in my cats, that they swallow after every 4 or 5 laps of water.  Lap, lap, lap, lap, swallow.  Lap, lap, lap, lap, swallow.  It's very rhythmic. This behavior makes sense as the cat gets enough liquid into its mouth to swallow and not have it drip out as it tries to lap up more water.

Another interesting thing about cats and drinking or eating is that many cats do not like to eat or drink from bowls that touch their whiskers. Small round bowls or bowls that are too deep can cause a lot of bending on the whiskers when the lowers its head to eat.  This is one reason why some cats will paw the food out of their bowl or will tip their water dish.  If your cat does this, try a shallow oval-shaped bowl and see if your cat is more comfortable with that bowl.  Kitty may still play with the food or water, but then you probalby just have a playful kitty. At least you know it's not becuase his whiskers are getting squeezed by a small bowl.

26 November 2010

Black Friday at the Animal Shelter

"Black Friday" means a shopping frenzy to many people. To me, it meant spending time at the animal shelter with my black, white, gray, cream, orange, and calico friends. Here are some of the crowd I socialized with at the shelter today.

Two of my favorites, Twiskers and Aurora were very happy to get some attention. Aurora Twiskers is as sweet as they come. A quiet, affectionate boy who enjoys being cuddled. Aurora has the cutest round face you can imagine. She's still learning how big the world is, but was very calm when I held her up near the window and let her see the staff who were cleaning the loudly woofing dog kennels.

LindyJosephineLindy and Josephine were glad to get a few moments away from each other. Kittens can be so trying, expecially when you're cooped up with one 24/7! Lindy was glad to have time to run around the room, chase some toys, and get a good stretch. Josephine is still a little shy, but she's coming out of her shell. And it's a beautiful, fluffy shell. She must have 2 inches of fur coving her little kitten body! Since they're together in the same cage, Lindy must be Josephine's mom, and I'm just trying to imagine what dad looked like for gray, short-haired Lindy to create such a colorful fluffball of a kitten.

RenoirRenoir was the Black Cat for Black Friday.  There are always plenty of black cats at the shelter because their adoption rate is lower than other cats. Superstition, no cute markings, whatever the reason, it seams odd to those of us who love cats and appreciate them for their unique personality that anyone would overlook or decide against a cat just because it's black.  Renoir got some good lovin' today, and some extra quiet time while Alberto had a turn out of his cage.


Oh, Alberto. You big, affectionate, vocal boy. You're not a little kitten any more and you're growing into a handsome young man. I know you wish you could have all the attention instead of having to share the volunteers with the other kitties, but you just go ahead and meow and tell us your story!  Then come out of your cage and give us your loving head bumps and body rubs. You're so handsome and loving I know you'll find a home. We need a better photo of you because your gold eyes are stunning. You just need to catch the eye of the right visitor so they can see what a wonderful boy you are.

Then there were the big kids in the multi-cat habatat room. 

SiskiyouAslanSiskiyou is just the sweetest and most handsome lover boy you can imagine. He enjoys getting his head petted and he lifts it up against your hand to be sure you know how much he appreciates the attention.  The big fluff cream tabby Aslan tried to keep nosing in on all the petting. He's so gorgeous and friendly it's hard to give him a little nudge away so the other cats can get some attention. I guess this was my Black Friday "pushy customer" and it was my pleasure to be pushed by this big ball of fur.

ButternuttAnd then there was Butternutt. Like many of us, Black Friday meant nothing to him.  He was content to stay curled up in his favorite sleeping spot.

I know I got the best deals this Black Friday. For just the cost of my time, I received love, affection, and the appreciation of animals who are patiently waiting for their forever home.

Remember your local shelter this holiday season, whether it's to adopt, volunteer, or donate.

25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Sammi & RavenIt's Thanksgiving Day and time to be extra thankful for all the wonderful things we have. As Indulged Furries, we have full bowls of healthy food, warm beds, toys, veterinary care, and owners who love us. We know we are fortunate to have so much.

Today, we're extra thankful that Raven was not seriously harmed last week when she ate a long piece of yarn. We were very lucky that it passed through her system with the help of medications and she didn't need surgery. She has returned to her playful, affectionate ways.

We're also thankful that Sammi's health continues to be good. She has absolutely no problems being a three-legged kitty and her medication & special diet keep her digestive system working properly.

I spent a couple hours at the animal shelter early this morning. They're closed for the holiday but the staff & volunteers were there making sure all the animals' cages got cleaned and making sure everyone had food, water, and clean bedding for the day. I will be back at 9am tomorrow to help out again, and I can't think of a better way to spend a day off from work. Helping care for shelter animals with other dedicated animal lovers is infinitely more rewarding than jostling among crowds of people at a shopping center.

The turkey is in the oven and the house is starting to smell like a holiday feast. There will be plenty for everyone.  We hope your holidays are as bountiful and love-filled as ours.

23 November 2010

We dodged a bullet

Raven We’re meticulous about not leaving string, teaser toys, rubber bands, or little objects for our cats to get into. Over many years and 7 kittens/cats & a dog we’ve never had a problem with the animals getting into anything…..until now.

The other night Raven started vomiting violently. A small hairball came up, but not one I would expect to cause so much vomiting. The next morning she’s still vomiting, not eating, and not looking good, so I take her to the vet. The vet suspects she got into something and we went through the list: new food, human medications, holiday decorations, new toys, household cleaners….I couldn't think of anything. A few minutes later I remember I was trimming the edge off a fleece blanket and ended up with about a 15-inch strip a little wider than some yarn. Raven was laying on it and maybe I forgot about it when I picked up the trimmings. I would expect her to play and tangle herself in it, but I never imagined she would eat it. The vet was a bit skeptical too but says it’s something to keep in mind. He gave Raven medications and instructions for me to observe her carefully.

After 7 days of making 2 trips to the vet for lab tests, X-rays (showing her intestines were enlarged), medications to stop vomiting and keep her g.i. tract moving, sub-q fluids and at-home care with more medications and monitoring, Raven finally “produced” and I found the fleece!  I did forget to pick it up, and she did eat it (I still find it hard to believe she ate it). I’m just thankful she didn’t require surgery to correct an intestinal blockage and my mistake didn’t have more serious consequences.

This is my first, and hopefully last experience with a cat eating a foreign object. Raven is ok, so it will be a Happy Thanksgiving at our house.  She might even get to eat a little piece of turkey.

Please take a few extra minutes to go through your house and make sure it's as safe as possible for your pets. And remember with the holidays coming with all the extra decorations, ribbons, packing peanuts...that you take an extra look for items you never suspected your pets might get into.

18 November 2010

Time flies at the shelter

Last week, there were about 150 cats available for adoption in our shelter. About 50 are lucky enough to be in one of the multi-cat habitat rooms where they have a little space to walk around, sit on a chair, or climb a cat tree. The remaining cats are housed in cages, either alone or with some littermates. My main focus in volunteering is to socialize the adoptable cats who are housed in the cages. 

Last weekend I spent 12 hours at the shelter - 6 hours both Saturday and Sunday. I spent 3 hours cleaning & helping with laundry, and 9 hours socializing with the cats. When socializing, I try to spend 10-15 mintues on each cage - and that cage may have just 1 adult cat or may have 4 kittens. If a cat seems stressed by the interaction, I may spend only 5 minutes petting or just talking to it while I clean up its cage. But a cage of rambunctious kittens may need 20 minutes of play time to burn off some kitten energy.  Sometimes there's a cat I take a liking to and spend a little extra time with.  But I try to be "fair" and give all the cats the same amount of attention.  

Along with socializing each cat/cage I make sure they have a clean cage, fresh water, food, and a clean litter tray.  This can take a few minutes for each cage, especially a cage of kittens who spilled their food and tipped their water bowl.  So, all-in-all, it may take 20 minutes to take care of the cats in each cage.

One of the things I do to try to prevent the cats from getting frustrated about not getting attention is I socialize in only 1 room at a time. Our shelter is set up with 10 cages per room. Realistically, it takes at least 2-1/2 hours to get to all the cages in that room because of the time spent cleaning, helping a shelter guest, or getting side-tracked with something.  Then I move on to the next room.  In each room, the cats seem to realize that they will each get a turn out of their cage.  I find it heartbreaking to go into a room, take some of the cats out, then leave others disappointed that they didn't get a turn.  Their life is already so difficult that I don't think it's right to add any type of disappointment to their life.  There are days when you get a little off schedule due to spending extra time cleaning or potential adopters needing the room to visit with a cat. Then the last few cats in a room may get short-changed on their time. If this happens on Saturday, I try to make up their time on Sunday. If it happens on Sunday, I don't sleep well.

I wish I could spend at least 20 minutes with each cat, but there are simply too many cats and not enought time. But this weekend it was gratifying to know that working together, the cat volunteers were able to give almost every adoptable cat some attention! That's an amazing feat considering the limited number of volunteers and the abundance of cats.

08 November 2010

Update on the "almost" momma kitty

The kitty I wrote about in October who was in the shelter and pregnant has been adopted!  She was spayed on October 21 and just last week she found her forever home. Hopefully her new life will bring nothing but warm, cozy nights with a loving owner, an overflowing food bowl, and lots of toys and love.

27 October 2010

Brushes and other "comfort" items for shelter cats

Our animal shelter doesn't have money in the budget for "comfort" items like toys, beds, or grooming supplies, so I'm trying to find ways to get some of these supplies for little or no cost. This requires a bit of creativity and luck.

I recently ordered plastic practice golf balls. They're like golf-ball sized whiffle balls. The cats love them, they hold up well, and can be washed many times. With a bit of web surfing, I found a golf supply store that sells 12-packs at a good price. Soon, the shelter will have over 350 balls for the cats to play with. That should last a while! Someone else ordered 200 ping pong balls - another favorite of the cats.

In the free toy category, I have an inquiry in to a local sewing group to see if they might save their empty thread spools for me.  And on my desk at work I have a box labeled "Corks for Cats". Coworkers think it's fun to bring a wine cork from home and drop it in the box.  Something they would usually throw away can be put to good use!

Brushing the cats makes them feel good and helps them look better for potential adopters. But in a shelter, a brush can be used on only one cat, then it has to be sanitized with bleach before being used on the next cat. In a big shelter, this means lots of brushes are needed before a "load" of dirty brushes is washed and clean brushes are ready for use on another cat. Right now we're mostly using old dog brushes on the cats. But these are too big and firm. Again, with a bit of web surfing and a stroke of good luck, I found an online store that had a great deal on brushes, so I ordered 50 of them! I think they were unprepared for such a large order, because the brushes are coming in two shipments. I'm sure the cats will enjoy being brushed with a nice soft, small bristle brush instead of a dog brush.

21 October 2010

Quick shelter update

I stopped by the shelter after work today to check on the pregnant cat that was being spayed today.  I got there just at the right time to be the one to take her from the hospital section back to her cage in the adoptable area.  She was alert, active, and eager to be returned to her cage - which I had refreshed with a bowl of food, water, and a soft bed.  She made a bee-line for the food bowl since she hadn't eaten for almost 24 hours.

She's available for adoption again and hopefully she'll find her forever home soon.

20 October 2010

Never a dull moment at the shelter

Spay your petsAfter spending 6 hours getting cats out of their cages and cleaning, I had time to get just one more cat out before the shelter closed. A first-time volunteer said one of the cats was a bit sassy so she petted her a just a few minutes at the cage. I decided to see if the cat would also be testy with me or if it just had a bad moment. The cat was at the front of the cage and enjoyed my petting it through the cage door, so I opened the door and set my hand inside the cage. She rubbed my hand and enjoyed more petting and was trying to get out of the cage, so I took her out. She had a little gray tabby head on a big, solid belly, and an amputated tail. My first impression was what an odd looking cat. The more I looked at her, the more I thought she was too big around the middle without having any extra weight on any other part of her body. Running my hand around her firm belly I could feel large nipples and thought, oh no, she's pregnant! I called in one of the most experienced volunteers to ask if one of the adoptable cats could be pregnant, and she said it shouldn't be. The vet was still here so I could take the cat to him and ask him to double-check. 

The vet felt her belly and immediately turned on the ultrasound. Sure enough, she was gestating several kittens. We re-housed her in the medical room and she will undergo surgery tomorrow. It may seem sad, but her kittens will be aborted and she will be spayed. The shelter is full to capacity with 200+ cats & kittens and that doesn't include the ones being held at foster homes until space becomes available in the shelter. There just "isn't any room at the inn" so the kittens will not be born. But she will be well cared for and will become adoptable again after she heals from surgery.

It's not surprising she had a sassy moment. She was pregnant, probably not too comfortable, and didn't feel like being bothered. But she was a very sweet girl with me and the vet staff and I'll make sure to check on her in a few days and give her some extra attention to make up for some of the turmoil she's going through.

18 October 2010

Caught in the act - twice!

Naughty CardRaven got the second punch on her Naughty Kitty card this weekend. Her dad caught her holding onto the passener-side window frame of the car, scrambling to climb up. Unfortunately, that means she put scratches in the side of her daddy's car! Having his car turned into an expensive cat perch was an adjustment that was not easy for dad to make.  But being indulged means the cats almost always get their way - as long as nothing gets damaged and they're not on their allergic dad's half of the bed.

Raven's saving grace for having put scratches in the car is that the car is 8 years old, and the scratches appear to be on the very surface and can be buffed out. But nevertheless, Raven got her ticket punched. Luckily, she didn't hurt her paws as she desperately tried to cling onto the window frame.

It was a "naughty" weekend all around. Maybe Raven felt a little daring since it was her birthday (October 16). Her other brazen act was to walk across the kitchen counter while I was cooking dinner. We always discourage the cats from being on the counters, but they are forbidden from being on them when I'm cooking. They're not even allowed in the kitchen because I don't think it's safe to have them under foot. But Sunday, Raven decided to strut her stuff across the counter, right in front of me as I prepared dinner! She got a "Naughty kitty!" and a nudge in the right direction (the floor). Like the misadventure with the car, only her pride was wounded.

We did end the weekend on a good note. Lots of snuggles and everyone cuddled in bed together.

11 October 2010

Pizza, really?

PizzaI can understand Sammi liking buttery mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, chicken, and turkey. Those are all foods you'd expect a cat to enjoy and even beg for. But pizza? I made pizza for dinner tonight and as we sat down to eat, Sammi came over and started licking her lips and put her front paw up on the coffee table to get a better look at our meal. Then she sat next to me on the couch and started nosing towards my plate trying to get a better look & smell - and hopefully a bite. At least she didn't start drooling!

Because she takes medication to control her bowel disease, we're always extremely cautious about feeding Sammi anything other than one particular brand of grain-free food. It's a special treat for her to get a few pieces of a different brand of grain-free dry food, or a few pea-sized pieces of cooked chicken or turkey when I cook that for our dinner.

Tonight she was persistent about trying to get a taste of our pizza. One of my previous cats, Felix, enjoyed eating tiny bits of salty feta cheese. He also loved the smell of black olives. He would roll on one like it was catnip, but he never ate it. I figured one of the two smells was enticing Sammi, so I offered her a tiny piece of feta. Of course she loved it. Then her dad offered her a tiny piece of black olive. I didn't think she'd eat it, but she gobbled it down it and wanted more. The only other topping was turkey pepperoni and we weren't going to let her try that. Of course she couldn't have the grain-filled crust, so she was out of luck. She was disappointed to not get any more pizza toppings, but seemed content when I let her have 3 pieces of "treat" kibble.  We couldn't let our little princess think we were teasing her with food.

I know, we're softies. But Sammi already lost a leg,  takes daily medication and rarely gets food treats. So, we give her a little indulgence every now and then.  After all, we must live up to the name "Indulged Furries.

As always, Sammi's sister Raven slept through the dinner adventure.  Raven eats different brands of grain-free cat food as her treats, and has no interest in cat "treats" or even human food. Either that or she just doesn't like my cooking!

10 October 2010

Getting back to volunteering

Spay and NeuterFor the last two months I haven't spent much time volunteering at the shelter. For 5 weeks I was trying to get my two cats to accept a third cat. It did not work out, and I was upset that the adoption failed, that I would not have my "ideal" three-cat family, and that I brought turmoil into our house.

After a few weeks of getting our two cats back into their normal routine I read an article about adding a cat to the family that reassured me that I didn't make a bad choice about tyring to rescue a third cat. It made the point that you can pick your friends and you can pick your cats, but you can't pick your cats' friends. That's exactly what happened in our house. I may have wanted a third cat, but Raven didn't. She is happy living only with Sammi, and that's the way she needs it to stay.

Having made a committment to volunteer, I decided it was time return and continue what I set out to do. It may not be much, but giving a few cats a little attention and breaking up the boredom of their day may help keep them healthy and happy while they wait for their forever home.

I spent four hours in the shelter socializing with the cats. I was surprised at how many kittens were in the shelter again. Apparently this is the late-season wave of kittens and there were so many little faces mewing for attention! There were plenty of adult cats too. Along with another volunteer we had time to get about 15 cats out of their cage for petting and playtime. They were all so eager for attention and happy to walk around a room, jump up on a bench, and stretch their bodies. Giving those cats some much needed attention was rewarding, and reassured me that this is a worthwhile use of my time.

As the shelter was about to close, I spoke with a couple with two young children. They came in looking for a dog but decided a cat would be better for their family. Their son was less than 2 years old and their daughter was about 4. The little girl started crying when she learned that she couldn't go home with a kitten she had taken a liking to. I knelt down and explained to her that after they chose a kitty, she would have to wait a few days while we made sure the kitty couldn't make any more baby kitties. During that time, her mom and dad could get ready for the new kitty by getting food and bowls and toys. I had brought in some cat toys, so I let her choose a few to take home. It made her happy to be leaving with something. It wasn't a kitty, but it was toys for her future kitty, and that made her happy.

Spay & Neuter graphic courtesy Tangri Adapt A Rescue

04 October 2010

The turmoil is behind us

Sammi and RavenIt's been a tumultuous couple of months here at the Indulged Furries' home with Mozart's coming and going, but we're back on track now. Raven has returned to her usual playful, quiet, "anywhere is a good place for nap" personality. My sensitive little girl is still a bit over-reactive to sounds, but I'm confident that will stop in a few more weeks.  It's comforting to see her doing all her normal behaviors: playing with her toys, chasing her dad around the bedroom, and collapsing in the middle of the floor for a nap.

Sammi is also doing well. Several months ago her vet noticed a piece of root remaining in her gum from broken tooth. Since we were trying to get her bowel disease under control, the tooth had to wait until her overall condition impoved. Now that her bowel disease is better and she's at a healthier weight, we took her in to have that tooth taken care of. The vet decided it wasn't so bad that we had to deal with it right now, and he wasn't eager to put her under anesthesia just for this. The plan is to watch and wait until it starts bothering her or until she needs her teeth cleaned again.  The anti-inflammatory medication she gets for her bowel disease may be helping keep that area of her gum less inflamed, so maybe it will be a while until we have to deal with it.

I haven't forgotten about our almost-brother Mozart.  I visited him a few times in the shelter and after 2-1/2 weeks a rescue group took him and two other cats. So, he's out of the shelter, safe, and probably happier than he was here - frustrated at being unable to play with Sammi or even meet Raven. The vet agreed with me that he and Raven were probably giving each other kitty signals that made Raven afraid. I'll never know what the issue was, but I now know that Raven needs to be feel safe in her two-kitty-only home.

24 September 2010

Kitty updates

RavenRaven here. It's been 1 week since Mozart left us. Mom is still upset that she could not keep him and fulfill her desire to have a 3-cat home, but she knows it's best for all of us (me, Sammi, and Mozart) that he went back to the shelter to wait for a home that is better suited to him.

I'm a playful girl, but that big orange & white thing terrified me. I spent as much time as I could hiding in the garage, even though he was closed up on the bedroom side of the house. The problem was that he was desperate to come play with me and Sammi, and we were not interested in playing with him. Sammi doesn't even let me get cozy with her, so she certainly wasn't going to let a big, young boy get in her face.  He was very respectful of her warning hisses, but being a playful boy, he just kept trying to approach and play with her.  Sammi was getting annoyed, and started taking out her frustrations by being snippy with me!

Mom thought Mozart and I would be good playmates, but she was wrong. I like my quiet home and I don't want to play with anyone but Sammi.  We have our games all worked out and I know all the rules about how to play gently with my 3-legged sister. 

Mom still doesn't know what it was, but Mozart scared the dickens out of me and I didn't want to even look at him through a baby gate.  It certainly didn't reassure me that he meowed and banged on the door to get onto our side of the house, even when mom was spending the evenings with him on his side of the house. He even learned to put his big, strong paw under the door and pull it open and get onto our side!  We think he's more interested in being with other kitties than being with people, and we girls don't want a rambunctous boy bothering us all the time.

After Mozart left, it took me 4 days to stop being scared and start acting normally again.  I still like to visit the garage, but I'm not hiding out there any more. I'm back to playing in the hallway, watching mom get ready for work in the morning, and sleeping in my favorite window during the day - free of fear that that big orange & white boy will escape from his side of the house and come get me.  Last night I got scared when I thought I heard something coming into my room, but it turned out to be nothing and mom gave me a good cuddle to calm me down.  

Mom went to check on Mozart in the shelter a couple days ago.  He's in a multi-cat room and even though he was upset to have his world turned upside-down, he did seem very happy to be with two other boys who were eager to play with him. Mom spent 2 hours with him and took him lots of toys.

Mom was certain that Mozart would be a good kitty for our family and that he was meant to be ours. But his personality at home was very different from what it was at the shelter (over 7 days of visits).  But my very stressed and fearful reaction to Mozart has convinced mom that it will be just Sammi and me from now on. We're happy, and that's what's most important. Maybe mom's role in Mozart's life was to get him out the shelter for some good vet care and get him started on journey to finding his perfect home.

19 September 2010

Sad hearts but hoping for the best

It's been a stressful and disappointing time here at the Indulged Furries home. After spending several visits with Mozart at the shelter and deciding he would make a great addition to our family, we adopted him and began the settling-in and introduction process. Things went well at first, but that didn't last long. Mozart was a very calm kitty in the shelter. I know there's a lot of stress there and his behavior wasn't "normal", but I didn't see any signs that he would become an extremely alert and active boy. He liked other cats, but I had no idea he craved being with cats more than with people.

After the first week or so, he started reacting to every sound and movement and wanted to play, play, play. And it was pretty fiesy play - biting his toys, pulling the feathers or other parts off of toys - nothing bad, just very strong, predatory play behavior. He didn't exhibit that type of behavior in the shelter so maybe it was his true nature after getting into a home and starting to feel better. He was extremely matted in the shelter, so I had him shaved. I knew that alone had to make him feel better. He also had what appeared to be a pretty heavy tapeworm burden, which we had treated. And we got him started on  medications for his mouth condition, which I did not know he had until after we adopted him and took him to our vet.

After 2 weeks of "meetings" through louvered doors, the introduction to Sammi went well and Mozart was very respecful of Sammi's alpha-kitty status. Whenever he tried to approach  and greet or play with her, she'd give him a hiss and he'd walk away. That frustrated him, and he'd keep trying to play with her, but he didn't chase or become pushy. We expected Sammi to be standoff-ish and was hoping Raven would be his playmate. But Raven didn't share my goals. She had accepted him through the door, but after 5 weeks of trying to introduce them using very gradual methods, the sight of him still scared her. She did not want to see him, even through screen doors when he was in a bedroom and she was in the living room and they could see each other across our back patio. And there was no way she was getting near a baby-gate barrier we installed in the hallway. She was stressed, scared, hiding in the garage, and not acting normally. She and Sammi were also starting to act sassy with each other, which they had never done before.

Over the last week, all the cats were getting more frustrated and stressed. When I supervised Mozart's outings from his bedroom, Sammi was always on alert to Mozart's where-abouts. Raven was still safely secured in another room  not wanting to meet him.  Mozart frequently meowed & banged on the door to get out and play with the girls, even if I was on "his" side of the house with him. His goal was to play with the girls, and their goal was to avoid him.

We know peaceful introductions can take time, but things were getting worse instead of better. Because Sammi has only 3 legs, we cannot risk her being chased or played with too boisterously. She also has other health issues that are not helped by high stress levels. Since Raven was obviously much more shy than we though, we did not have any hope that she would want to be a playmate for Mozart.

Taking everyone's stress levels and frustration into consideration, we made the very difficult decision to take Mozart back to the shelter. Our girls need their quiet home and Mozart needs a home where he can be an only cat or have cat family members who want to play with him.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make, but despite my sadness, disappointment, and concern for Mozart's future, I know it is the best decision.

31 August 2010

A third cat was inevitable

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="185" caption="Mozart"]Mozart[/caption]

I had no intention of adopting a third cat, but volunteering at the shelter sets you up for lots of meetings with animals that need homes. And sure enough, my path crossed a kitty that seems to have been destined to be part of our family.

There seem to be too many coincidences for our meeting to be accidental. My Golden Retriever was named Bentley. He died 1 year ago, just 4 days after his 17th birthday (August 8). I adopted him from owners who no longer had the time to properly care for him, and he needed help with some serious health issues. This kitty's shelter name was Bentley, and I met him that same week in August. He's a long-haired orange & white cat who was severely matted and needed help. I've always wanted an orange cat, so it seemed odd that I'd meet an orange boy with the same name as my wonderful dog, needing help, the same week my dog was born.....hmmmm......I suspect some furry spirits made sure our paths crossed.

We adopted kitty-Bentley and renamed him Mozart. He has a purr you can't believe - loud, long, and musical.  He was so severely matted that he was uncomfortable having his body touched, so I immediately took him to a groomer who gave him a "lion cut".  I worried that we'd have to rename him 'Samson' if he lost his purr along with all his hair, but that didn't happen.  Mozart still has his purr which you should be able to hear if you turn up your speakers a bit.

He's settling in well and we're taking the introductions to Sammi and Raven very slowly. He is an active, playful boy. Sammi does not want a playmate, and has let him know that she has a 1-foot personal space boundary that he must respect. He runs up to greet her or play and she gives him a good warning hiss. He has been respectful of her and for the most part leaves her alone. 

Unfortunately, Raven is afraid of him and they have only seen each other across a room without her getting upset, hissing, and moving away. But she comes back so that she can watch him...from a distance.  Hopefully another couple weeks of low-stress and treat-filled 15-minute introductions will put her at ease and she will accept him as a housemate - and we won't have to keep them in separate sides of the house for too long.

At his first vet checkup we took care of his uninvited "friends" (tapeworms) and we learned that Mozart has stomatitis, which is a serious disease of the tissues in the mouth. Vets believe its caused by the immune system over-reacting to plaque on the teeth (or even to the teeth themselves).  He got a shot of antibiotics and we go back next week for a folllow-up and discussion about how to try to control the disease.  Unfortunately, it's a very frustrating disease to manage and it can become very serious. Many cats only get relief by having their teeth pulled and/or being on long-term medications.  We'll have to wait and see how that goes, but I'm sure once we start some sort of treatment plan he'll be feeling better (his gums are very red and painful).

I feel a little guilty that I've had to minimized my time volunteering at the shelter so that I can work on integrating Mozart into our family. But I think my kitty-karma is staying in balance by giving one of the formerly homeless cats a place to call home.

15 August 2010

Volunteer Tales

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Spay and Neuter"]Spay and Netuer[/caption]

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post about volunteering, and I've put in about 30 hours at the shelter. It has been interesting, exciting, overwhelming, and gratifying. Every time I go in I learn something new about the shetler and what the rules are. Everyone is excited when an animal gets adopted, especially if you've put in a lot of time socializing that animal. I was surprised by my protective feeling for one cat that I had spent a fair amount of time with who was being adopted. She had been returned by an adopter for a ridiculously lame reason (the cat jumped on the counter), and a man came in to adopt her for his family. I was caught off guard by my protectiveness of the kitty - wanting her next home to be her last. I believe any good home is better than the shelter, but I was surprised by how quickly I took a personal interest in the welfare of this cat.

I also helped a group of teenagers search for their lost cat. We walked through many rooms of cats and kittens and I was disappointed when I heard one of them talking about "when their kitten grows up and has babies".  I reminded them how important it is to spay their pet because, as they could see, there a countless homeless pets in the shelter and many are euthanized. But they were a little too young and naive to "get it". I only hope I planted the seed of understanding that cute as your kitten is, there are hundreds of other cute kittens and cats out there that need homes, and you don't need to make any more.

Being an animal lover and wanting each animal to have a quality life, it does get overwhelming seeing cage after cage of cats & kittens just sitting in their cages with nothing to do. It's also discouraging to know that the supply of cats and kittens is never ending. This week, I heard we had about 280 cats in the shelter.

In order to reduce the chance of feeling overwhelmed, I've decided to focus on the adult cats that live in the cages. There are multi-cat rooms in our shelter with furniture, perches, and room for the cats to play a bit, and the cats in these rooms have a pretty good living arrangement. The caged cats have their basic needs met with shelter, food, water, and clean bedding. A mom & kitten may be housed in a single cage, or a few kitten littermates, or a solitary adult cat. They can only take about three steps in their cage, don't have any room to play, and get very bored and stressed. Each room of 8 cages has an adjoining large room where potential adopters can spend time with a cat.

My goal is that every adult  cat is taken out of its cage at least three times a week for 10-15 minutes for some interraction and a chance to stretch or play in the big room. I know that's a lofty goal that will require the dedication and time of many volunteers. And I realize my goal may be unatainable, but I figure it's better to try and fall short than to not try at all.  Another volunteer sent out an email with a quote from Helen Keller that I thought was appropriate:

I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

If I have 2 hours to volunteer that means I can get 5 or maybe 6 cats out for 15 minutes each. I also spend some time checking all the cages for food, water, and litter box cleaning. Some of the kittens are so desperate for attention that you can't ignore them, so that takes a little time too. There's also the chance that a visitor will have questions or will need help looking at the cats, and that takes priority since the point of sheltering the animals is to get them into permanent homes.

There are some cats that really need to get out of their cage to play, some are content to stay in their cage an just be petted, others want to come out and sit on your lap for petting. Playing, petting, brushing, cuddling, or just walking around the big room sniffing and getting a stretch - whatever the cat seems to need is what I try to give it.  I do try to be a bit sneaky with the cats who just want petting and I move around the room and try to get them to come to me for petting.  At least that makes them move around a little more!

If it's a hectic 2 hours, the last cat or two may only get 5 minutes of my attention because I want to give them some petting or a chance to stretch in the big room. But I figure that's better than nothing. And I can't spend too much time worrying about the cats that didn't have a chance to get attention that day or it would be too disheartening. I am only one person and I can only contribute a tiny piece to this very big puzzle. But so far, the volunteer experience has been positive and I look forward to going back another day and trying to help the animals just the little bit that I can.  

Spay & Neuter graphic courtesy Tangri Adapt A Rescue

28 July 2010

Volunteer Tales

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Spay and Neuter"]Spay and Netuer[/caption]

Sunday I completed my third volunteer training session at the animal shelter and I'm now an official volunteer who can come in to clean cages or socialize with the cats. This is the most basic training, and I'll learn more as I volunteer more time and ask to be shown how to do more things. Over the last 3 weeks we've become familiar with how the cats are housed in different areas depending on their health and adoption status.  As you enter the shelter you see the multi-cat "luxury suites". Then there are the rooms of cages with adoptable cats, and a room where the cats with the sniffles need to be isolated and observed or treated before being placed back in the adoptable area. Then there's the areas of cats that are not available for adoption. These may be strays that are held for a certain number of days in case their owner is looking for them, the recent or soon-to-be moms, and the animals that have been confiscated or are in protecitive custody.  

The momma kitty we had seen the over the past two weeks had been moved from the maternity ward over to the adoptable area. The first week she had about 6 kittens. Last week she had 3 kittens. This week she was in a cage alone, waiting for her forever home. Our volunteer trainer thinks her kittens did not survive. But momma kitty seemed very content and was extremely happy to be getting attention and petting. She was like this even on the maternity ward, always wanting someone to pet her. I hope she'll find a home and I think she will because she is gorgeous and very affectionate. 

In the unadoptable area of the shelter was a very friendly black cat who needed some TLC. The note on the cage card said it's owner had died. This poor kitty had fur mats over large areas of it's body, but was still very friendly and even started drooling when one of the volunteers started petting it. The cats on the unadoptable side of the shelter aren't given quite as much lovey-attention as the other cats because they're still adjusting to being in the shelter and are being observed for their behavior and medical status. When I go back I hope to see that it's "hold" period is over and maybe even gotten a "lion cut" to get rid of all the fur mats.  

The three training sessions have been very interesting. We've gotten a glimpse into how the shelter operates, seen lots of rambunctious kittens and a wide variety of personalities among the adult cats. The kittens are all very cute and I hope they find good homes. But it's the adult cats who tug at my heartstrings. All the animals are there through no fault of their own and are fortunate to be getting shelter and good care. But I just imagine that the adult cats feel a bit confused about being in this situation and want to get out of their boring cage and be in a home with someone and sit on a couch or lounge in a windowsill. 

If you or someone you know is looking to add a cat to your family, please visit your local shelter. There are so many wonderful cats to choose from that I'm sure you'll meet your new best friend. 

If you're wondering, I'm not ignoring the dogs that are at the shelter. Learing to walk and provide basic care for the dogs is a different training class. Right now they have plenty of volunteers to walk and socialize the dogs, so I'm focusing on the cats. 

Spay & Neuter graphic courtesy Tangri Adapt A Rescue

26 July 2010

Sammi enjoys the backyard

Sammi outside
Sammi relaxing outside
Sammi continues to build her confidence and explore new horizons. We've taken her outside 3 or 4 times, but she's never been completely comfortable. On the last trip she was calm but just layed in the grass and didn't walk around much. We'd pick her up and carry her to a new spot, where she'd sniff a bit, then lay down. But today, Sammi did not like being left in the house while I took Raven out for some outdoor time. Sammi meowed very loudly in protest, and was not happy that her sister was outside and she was stuck behind the screen door. So her dad put her harness on her and brought her outside. It took her a minute to get used to the feeling of the harness, but she quickly figured out it wasn't in her way and she started walking around and exploring. Our yard is about 80 feet (25m) wide and she explored most of it. Her dad followed her around, always being close enough to pick her up in case she got nervous or tired. We use a lightweight 8-foot long leash to attach to the harness. This gives the cats enough room to walk around, but they can't get so far away that they can get into trouble or jump up the fence. Sammi decided to settle into the plants for a little hiding and enjoying the fresh air in a nice cool shady spot. She was very relaxed and we could tell she was enjoying herself. We were happy to see Sammi feeling confident, exploring the outside, and expanding her world a little bit. This is just one more step in her 3-legged adventure.

23 July 2010

Oopsie Daisy

Sammi on floor
How did I get down here?
There seems to be a problem. I came running throught the door, jumped onto my black step, and was headed for the countertop to get myself a little snack. But all of a sudden I ended up down here on the floor.  It took me a few seconds to realize where I was, but then I figured out what happened. I was running really fast and I thought I would take my first step onto the counter with my left front leg. But my leg wasn't there!  

This is the first time my mom saw me miss the counter so don't feel bad for me. I'm very agile and capable with only three legs. I jump on all the perches, run down the hall and jump on the bed, play, and bop my sister Raven.  It's just that sometimes I forget about my missing leg and try to use it. This time things didn't work out exactly as I expected, but I was fine. After making it look like I really meant to miss the counter and check out the floor, I turned around and jumped up on my step and hopped onto the counter for a few bites of food. But next time I'll have to slow down and remember that my leg isn't there.

19 July 2010

Raven's Ticket Gets Punched

Raven's Naughty Punchcard

Raven got her Naughty Kitty ticket punched today. She earned her Naughty Kitty ID card about a year ago when she climbed to the top of a bookcase and knocked a glass thermometer off the shelf. She wasn't hurt, but left a mess to clean up.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="176" caption="Speaker with scratch marks (click to enlarge)"]Speaker[/caption]

Today, the first of her 10-punch ticket was punched. She was caught in the act of taking a vigorous scratch at her dad's stereo speakers. We know she enjoys scratching the speakers and we tried to make them less appealing by putting double-sided adhesive tape on them. Today, not only was she scratching alongside the tape, she had pulled one piece loose and was licking it!

We thought she liked the upright stretching and scratching motion  so we made a carpeted scratching board that leans against the wall just opposite the speakers. We even play there to encourage scratching. But despite having plenty of "approved" scratching areas, it's obivous she's been visiting the speakers quite often while we're not home to catch her. Not only has she been visiting them, apparently she's taught Sammi that the speakers are fun to scratch. As I was looking at the damage, Sammi came over and reached her one front leg up on the speaker and took a good stretch.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="176" caption="Carpeted Scratching Board"]Scratching Board[/caption]

I'm not sure how we're going to discourage scratching at the speakers since it's obviously become a habit. It's not in the photo, but the left side of the speaker is just as scratched as the front. The cats have usually been very good about learning where to scratch by our saying "no" when they're being naughty and taking them over to an approved scratching area for some scratching and play. But the speakers must be too tempting with their tall, vertical surface with cloth that lets them sink their claws in.

I know two kitties who will be getting their claws trimmed tonight to try to limit the damage to the speakers - which they know they can scratch when we're not home.

Raven has many years of curious-kitty playfulness ahead and I hope her 10-punch ticket will be enough. If not, we'll have to find a 20-punch Naughty Kitty ID Card.

18 July 2010

Volunteer Tales

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Spay and Neuter"]Spay and Netuer[/caption]

Today's volunteer training session at the shelter was more hands-on. Our shelter has two types of housing for the animals. The "luxury suites" are the indoor multi-cat rooms that have a cat perch or maybe a donated living room chair, cat beds, scratchers, and toys. They have the pretty towels & beds, and a regular litter box.  This is "marketing" to make people comfortable coming to the shelter and see cats in relatively low-stress living conditions. But the majority of cats are housed in stainless steel cages. There's one adult cat or multiple kittens per cage. Each cat cage is a cube about 3 feet on each side. There are three compartments, each with its own front door, and holes where the cats pass from compartment to compartment. The larger side has a little upstairs shelf. The narrower side has upper and lower decks. The upper deck is for resting/hiding, the lower deck is for the cardboard litter tray. I'll try to get a photo, but the drawing below gives you an idea of what each cage looks like. 

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="86" caption="Cage drawing"]cage drawing[/caption]

Today we learned how the cages are "refreshed", which is different than being cleaned. The cages are thoroughly cleaned each weekday morning, and sanitized if needed. Refreshing a cage inclues: 

  1. Cleaning the litter box. This doesn't mean cleaning like you or I would clean the box at home. I call my cats' litter box their zen garden. It gets scooped three times a day and cleaned immediately if I see they've used it. The sides get wiped with a disinfetant wipe, and the litter gets raked smooth. But at the shelter the litter box is a thin, collapsable cardboard tray. And you don't scoop & toss litter because litter costs money, and the shelter has an impossibly tight budget. Instead, you pick out any solid waste and dirty litter, saving as much as possible for reuse. Also, there can't be much more than a single layer of litter pellets covering the bottom box because that would be wasteful. And if the cardboard litter tray is wet with urine but isn't falling apart, it stays in the cage until the morning cleaning.

  2. Replacing the wet or dirty newspaper or towel that lines the cage floor.

  3. If the cat has a little bed, making sure it's clean or replacing it with a clean one.

  4. Refilling water bowls and making sure the bowl is clean.

  5. Adding a little extra dry food to a food tray if there are several kittens in a cage or if a cat looks a little thin.

  6. Wiping the cage and removing obvious dirt and litter dust.

After each cage was clean, we spent a little time giving the cats some attention. Mostly we were cleaning cages overflowing with kittens, and they all wanted lots of cuddling and attention.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to let the kittens play in the adjacent room where they would visit with a potential adopter.  After sweeping the floor and puting the dirty towels in a pile for transport to the laundry, it was off to the next room of cages. 

Two of us refreshed about 24 cages in about 1-1/2 hours. Then we learned how to use the commercial laundry machines and took a peek at one of the momma kitties and her three kittens. They're very cute now that their eyes have opened. At my visit last weekend I counted about 6 kittens, so several did not survive. 

On a very positive note, we did watch our trainer counsel a couple who were adopting a cute orange kitten. Our trainer was very happy because the kitten was one that she had been fostering. 

This week was another eye-opening experience just like last week. Our shelter is new, and first-class in terms of modern sheltering. But this is no luxury hotel. The cats are well cared for in terms of food, water, litter, and safety. But it's a stressful way for the animals to live. It will be difficult to remain a bit detatched from all their cute little faces and reaching paws. But if they weren't sheltered, they wouldn't have the possibility of finding a new home. 

Spay & Neuter graphic courtesy Tangri Adapt A Rescue  

17 July 2010

Whiskers Are Wonderful

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="227" caption="Whiskers"]Cats Whiskers[/caption]

I collect my cats' whiskers. I know that sounds like an odd thing to do, but it amuses me. 

Whiskers are a specialized type of hair and are part of a cat’s senses. Whiskers are thicker and longer than normal hair. They are set deeply into the skin and are connected to muscles and nerves. This makes it possible for a cat to move its whiskers and use them to feel, sense, and respond to their surroundings. 

Whiskers are used to measure the size of an opening, to help sense what’s going on at a distance by sensing air movement, to help feel and locate prey when it’s right in front of the cat’s mouth, and to communicate. 

A calm cat holds its whiskers out to the side a bit. A curious cat who is investigating what’s in front of him will push his whiskers forward. A scared or angry cat will pull its whiskers back against its cheeks. 

A cat usually has 24 whiskers on his face, 12 on each side, in four rows. The top two rows can be moved independently from the bottom two rows. Cats also have whiskers above the eyes, on the chin, and on the back of the front legs. 

Whiskers naturally fall out and are replaced. A cat's longest whiskers are as wide as its body. If a cat loses weight and becomes thinner (narrower), its longer whiskers will fall out and be replaced by shorter ones. 

Since whiskers are not just hair, but are a specialized sense organ, they should never be pulled or trimmed. 

In our house, finding a whisker is considered good luck. It’s easy for a whisker to get swept or vacuumed up, so you have to be on the lookout for shed whiskers. Sometimes we find them in the cats’ favorite beds. Sometimes they’re just lying in the middle of the floor. You never know where you might find a whisker, and that's part of the fun. Figuring out who the whisker came from is easy if you have different colored cats. Raven’s whiskers are black and Sammi’s are white. Smokey's were gray. It was harder to tell Felix and Ed's whiskers apart. They both had whiskers that were black at the base and white along the length. Ed's tended to be shorter & thicker and often had a kink at the base. Felix's were longer and finer. 

Cats Whiskers photo credit.

11 July 2010

Volunteer Tales

Spay and Neuter Your Pet
Spay and Neuter
I'm going to start a new type of post about my experiences volunteering at the local animal shelter. There are many volunteers who have devoted countless hours helping animals, so I don't pretend to be volunteer of the year. But I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences from the beginning of the process. Hopefully this is something I can stick with and not be overwhelmed by the dire need of all the animals. I'll try to keep the posts positive, inspiring and hopeful, but I'm sure some frustrations and sadness might creep in.  

I will begin each post with a reminder of what I think is one of the most important messages we can all spread: Pet overpopulation, unwanted pets, and euthanazia of millions of cats and dogs every year can only be decreased if people spay and neuter their pets. 

My volunteer adventure begins

Like many communities, our local government has massive budget shortfalls and animal services were on the chopping block. The best I can tell from reading the county budget statements was animal services budget was cut, nearly 1/2 of the staff positions were eliminated over the past two years, and the shelter hours and services were reduced. Thankfully, the government realized the shelter has a strong volunteer organization and decided it was worth keeping the volunteer coordinator position and all services that were being provided by the dedicated volunteers. 

We've often donated to our local animal shelter by giving money or pet care items, but I've never given my time. This was due to a combination of having to care for senior & ill pets and not wanting the additional emotional turmoil of visiting animals in a shelter, only to go back another day and know many were put to sleep. But the situation in our house has changed. We're not able to donate financially as much as we did before. But we don't have any elderly or terminally ill pets now, so that emotional drain isn't there. Knowing the shelter was in serious need of more volunteers to help the staff, I thought this would be a good time to attend a volunteer orientation meeting and learn what opportunities were available. 

Wow, what an education I got. I didn't know that the volunteers are essential to the daily operation of the facility. The county staff does the "official" and "legal" work, but they don't have enough people or time to care for the 300-500 animals that are in the shelter. So, volunteers help with feeding, cleaning cages, socializing the animals, walking the dogs, assisting the public looking to recover lost pets, helping the public look at adoptable animals and choosing the right one, keeping the laundry and dishwashing moving along, fostering animals, doing public outreach, and the list goes on and on. Volunteers and donations are also providing the "non-essential" items such as dog & cat toys, treats, gallons of hand sanitizer, fabric softener for the laundry, blankets, cat scratchers - pretty much everything that isn't food, water, medical care for the animals, or basic office supplies. 

My first training session today was an introduction to how the shelter works, what volunteers can (and can't do), and getting a tour of the facility. We got to see the parts of the shelter that the public doesn't see - the kennels where the newly surrendered pets are, the "maternity ward" of new kitty moms and litters of kittens, the animals in the medical area, the cages and cages of cats confiscated (rescued) from a recent hoarding case, and other inner-workings of the facility.  I'm training to work with the cats, so we didn't see much of the dog kennels - but we heard them! 

It was an interesting and educational session and next week we'll be starting hands-on training with the cats.  I'll let you know how hard it is to put the cute little fuzzballs back in their cages at the end of the training. 

Spay & Neuter graphic courtesy Tangri Adapt A Rescue  

03 July 2010

4th of July Name Game

We're joining in the fun and playing Frankie's Name Game, sharing how we got our names.

We adopted Sammi (left) and Raven (right) from a local SPCA. Sammi was named Samantha. She was 10 years old and responded to her name, so we didn't think it fair to change it. Her life was already in chaos having been recently surrendered to the SPCA to have her paw amputated. We decided it was best to keep her name and just use the fun version "Sammi".

Raven was named Bella. That name did not suit her at all and she didn't seem to respond to it, so we didn't have any concerns about changing it. She has beautiful medium-length, feathery black fur, so we named her Raven. Her new name fits her to a tee, and we can call her "Ravies" for fun.

Since we found this game on a doggy blog hop page and it's for the 4th of July, we thought it fitting to include our Golden Retriever Bentley and one of his handsome 4th of July photos. This photo was taken in July 2009, just before he passed away in August, 4 days after his 17th (yes 17th) birthday.

Well now I'll feel bad if I don't at least mention everyone else. The three former Indulged Felines were Felix (the wonderful cat), Smokey (solid gray), and Edward Lionheart (a big goof with a big heart). The three Indulged Hamsters were Gizmo, Rusty, and Zippy. Gizmo and Rusty were just cute names. Zippy zipped around his hamster cage. You can click on those links to see their cute little faces.

This badge was made by Sugar the Golden Retriever.

02 July 2010

Raven Gets a Full Pardon

Despite our earlier suspicions that Raven was a furry little predator who helped herself to a fish out of water, we've just learned that she was not the fish-eating bandit. Mr. Goby went missing around June 15th, and circumstantial evidence pointed towards Raven as the lucky recipient of an unexpected fish treat. But tonight we found Mr. Goby. Sadly, he was very dead. Mr. Goby was successful at jumping out of the fish tank. Unfortunately, he got trapped in the mesh cover of the tank (it's a filter that's used to help new coral adjust to the bright light of a new tank) and died. Lucky for us he dehydrated quickly under the bright, hot light and didn't become smelly.

Rest In Peace Mr. Goby.

30 June 2010

Sammi weighs in

Here's Sammi checking out her weight on our kitty scale. She's a lightweight at 7 pounds 13 ounces, but that's a big improvement from the 6 pounds 3 ounces she weighed when we adopted her a year-and-a-half ago.

She's gained 1 pound 10 ounces!!! That's a 26.3% gain from her original body weight!

Sammi said she'd weigh well over 8 pounds if she had all her legs. Even though she's gained quite a bit of weight, she still feels thin. I don't want her to be too heavy and put extra strain on her one front leg, but I wouldn't mind if she managed to get to 8 pounds. I think that would be a healthy weight for her naturally thin body type. Also, she's still not completely healthy due to inflammatory bowel disease, but we've made huge improvements in that situation and we've been able to keep her system well controlled with medication and a strict grain-free diet.

We've worked hard to get this far, and it's paying off!

Raven wanted to get in on the photo op and show how comfortable she is on the scale. In contrast to Sammi, Raven is a solidly built girl. She's not pudgy, but she certainly has more meat on her than skinny Sammi. She's trying to cheat a bit by letting her tail hang off the scale, but a girl is always allowed to fudge her weight a bit. She tipped the scale at 11 pounds 2 ounces. We'll keep her secret of what she weighs with her entire tail on the scale!

26 June 2010

Inspiring - cat hind leg & paw implants.

This is so inspiring I have to share. This photo was taken by Jim Incledon.

Oscar was run over by farm equipment and his hind paws were amputated. Vets put little peg implants in his remaining leg bone. Later, "paws" were attached so he could walk. Not only could he walk, he tried to climb the first day he had his new paws!

There's a great video on BBC news showing Oscar walking on his new paw "attachments" very shortly after waking up from sedation. The bone implants had been done earlier and already healed but it's amazing how quickly he was able to walk on his new feet. What's also uplifting is the obvious joy shown by the surgeon.  There's an article on CatChannel with more photos.

The medical progress being made with animals is amazing. I've seen photos of a parrot and a cow with prosthetic legs. Now a cat. It's not a financial option for 99.9 percent of owners, and I'm sure it's not medically possible for many animals. Maybe someday it will be a realistic option for more owners whose pets would benefit from prosthetics.

21 June 2010

A blast of cold air is never a good thing.

I spend most afternoons here in my favorite window seat watching the goings-on in the 'hood. The neighbor across the street is particulary interesting to watch as he does his gardening. I spend many a morning, afternoon, and evening here and occasionally let Raven borrow my spot and soak up some afternoon sun.

In winter, my window seat is a fantastic location for a nap because there's a warm blast of air that comes up from the heater vent to keep me toasty warm.

I wrote earlier that having only 3 legs made it hard for me to jump down, so mom and dad added an upside-down wicker basket with a wooden base for me to use as a step.

Everything was perfect until summer arrived and the air conditioner came on. I was getting a very COLD blast air up my window seat. No kitty wants to sit in a blast of cold air, especially since the idea is to sit in a warm, sunny window.

Something had to be done.
Mom and dad improvised another indulgence for me. They found a box that fit perfectly over the  vent and after cutting big holes in the sides to redirect the air, it became the perfect way to stop the blast of cold air from coming up my backside.

Heres a picture of the new set-up. The vent cover is behind my stepping-box. Now I stay warm and cozy in my window seat and have an easy and safe way to get up and down.

Mom and dad always find creative ways to make our lives comfortable. 

I'm glad I adopted them!

20 June 2010

Happy Father's Day

Today is Fathers Day and we wanted to show the present we got our daddy. Well, not the present, but the decorations we chose. We supervised as mom added lots of curling ribbon to the package. We wanted the ribbon long enough to reach from the top of our tallest cat tree all the way to the floor. That's 70 inches of ribbon for us to play with. Playing with ribbon is a treat because we're only allowed to do it when mom or dad supervises. It's fun to make mom drag the ribbon around the house while I chase it. Sometimes I cheat and lay on the ribbon so mom can't pull it. But she gets excited by tugging at the ribbon and I can feel it slipping out from under my body. When it's free, she runs around the house again and I chase it.

Sammi doesn't play chase the ribbon because it's too hard for her to run very far. So mom wiggles the ribbon right in front of her and "helps" Sammi catch it with her one front paw.

Sammi and I watched our future toy as dad got ready to unwrap his present.

Here a a couple other photos of our Father's Day Celebration.

Daddy and I had a nice snuggle. 

Then he offered Sammi a choice of catnip cigars.

We're very lucky to have a dad who loves us so much.


Then Dad went to play golf so mom played with us and our new toy. Sammi and I managed to play nicely together. Really long curly ribbon means we can sit a few feet apart and not annoy each other too much.

Whew, all that playing has left me exhausted. Time for a nap on my comfy couch.