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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.