You Mistake Me For Someone Else

I’ve had a few trying days in relation to my cat rescue duties.  Last week I was asked by one of the Purrfect Cat officers to attempt to trap a litter of kittens and their mother in the yard of a man who called several pet rescue groups looking for help.  One of them—not ours, is able to take the kittens but not to trap them, while all our fosters are full up on cats but can manage to find the time to do the trapping.

I took on the job and have been wondering why ever since.  I understand that the general public (of which I was a member not too long ago) does not understand how an animal rescue functions, but I’d think that most rational people understand there are limits to how much we can do and what we are willing to do.

 During our phone conversations and while picking up each trapped kitten and resetting the trap, it became obvious that he had no clue whatever what it is we do.  I began to realize that he saw me as someone who could randomly trap any animal he regarded as a nuisance and take off it somewhere and “find it a home with somebody.”  This seemed to include the animals that may very well belong to his neighbors, but happen to come into his yard on occasion.

I pointed out several flaws in his thinking, but he brushed them aside and started to interrupt me with the same kind of assurance and confidence generally demonstrated by a child about to stick a fork in an electrical outlet.  Instead, I interrupted him.

I explained that the cats we take we also take care of.  I said “I have a dozen cats (slight exaggeration, but I was trying to make a point) that do not belong to me.  I have to feed them, house them and take them to the vet when they are sick, and it is me that is paying for that.  And anyone else who fosters cats and dogs is doing exactly the same thing, up until the day that animal is adopted; something that often takes months.”

Aside from all of that, I don’t go around kidnapping pets.  Yes, it would be great if everyone kept their animals indoors—or at least out the yards of neighbors who do not want them there, but I can’t carry them off just because someone let Socks pee on your azaleas.  His regard for the pets of others became very clear during my most recent conversation with him.  He called to say that a brown-striped cat was in the yard and he thought it might be the mother cat.

I looked at the cage on my patio containing the black cat I trapped three days before in his yard; the one he said at the time was the mother cat.  Aside from a lesbian cat couple who adopts, there isn’t a scenario I can think of in which these kittens could have ended up with two mothers.  I asked him about the black cat and he said I should take this one, too, you know, just in case.

I like to think I was diplomatic, but I’m pretty sure I sounded seriously impatient and annoyed.  In the course of two minutes I reviewed just what it is we do, and then explained that each time I trapped an adult female cat in his yard I would have to take it to a vet for examination to determine whether or not it was spayed (and thereby, potentially the kittens’ mother), and that this would be at my own expense.  I also told him that any cat that had been spayed was presumably someone’s pet and would have to be let loose in the exact place I trapped it: his yard.

He didn’t like that too much.  But you know what?  I don’t like that I am sitting here waiting for a vet to call me so I can find out if that poor black cat was in fact a pet that I unwittingly kidnapped.

Charles on behalf of Purrfect Cat Rescue

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Cat of the Week: Bubba & Sugar

This is a two for one.  Bubba and his best friend Sugar.

Bubba is about four months old but a little small for his age.  He was shy and needed some help figuring out how to be a cat, so Sugar took him under his wing.  Sugar, despite being a boy, too, and just a month or so older than Bubba, took on the role of mother and friend.  He taught Bubba how to care for himself and how to play.

They are a lively pair, playing with anything tossed their way, but both enjoy sitting on laps and being given lots of attention, especially Bubba.  They like each other very much and would make a good pair to someone looking for two cats, but his foster is pretty sure that Bubba is now independent enough to part with Sugar for the right home.

Sugar wants everyone to know that this picture does not do him justice.  To meet him or Bubba, visit our storefront at Newpark Mall (see “where to find us” tab for times and days).

The Biggest Reason to Spay and Neuter

There are any number of reasons to spay or neuter your dogs and cat: reduce the risk of reproductive-organ cancers in both male and female pets; lead to better behaved females because they no longer go into heat; make for longer-lived males because they feel less competitive towards other males and are less likely to fight and roam.

I could name a dozen more reasons without much effort, but as someone who works in pet rescue my number one reason is pictured below.

 

Yesterday, I trapped these two kittens, part of a litter of four that was born in someones backyard. I was surprised they were so young since it’s not kitten season—and, yes, there is a kitten season.  Female cats have smart bodies.  They know when they should go into heat so that she can birth, nourish and ween her babies with plenty of time for them to become independent and resourceful before they are left alone to the elements.  Kittens born in late fall and in winter do not stand a great chance of survival, even in the milder winters we have here in the bay area.

A kitten has very little immune system.  Not all kittens born to a well-fed, healthy, and sheltered house cat always survive; those born to a feral or abandoned stray have even lower odds.  Particularly when the night temperatures are low.  Kittens can die of exposure, and they are much more prone to respiratory infections and other illnesses that often prove fatal to someone so young and vulnerable.  Then there are the more dramatic results of kittens being born during the colder weather seasons.

Last spring,  a litter I had been trying to trap climbed into a car engine to keep warm. The next day when that engine was turned on all but one died—the remaining kitten survived for two or three days with injuries that would have killed a person. I finally did trap him, not quite convinced (because I didn’t want to be) that I was only trapping him to have him euthanized and end a suffering I cannot even begin to imagine.

Again, I could mention all the reasons why spaying and neutering your pets is a good choice for both pet and owner, but instead, I’m going tell you why it’s good for me.

  • I didn’t enjoy climbing through litter-filled, insect covered overgrown shrubbery trying to locate a litter of kittens.
  • I didn’t enjoy listening to neighbors complain about all the “stray cats” when they had no intention of doing a damn thing about it.
  • I didn’t enjoy finding one of the kittens I had been trying to trap for weeks  in the street one morning.
  • I didn’t enjoy euthanizing sick cats whose owners let them roam free, unspayed, unvaccinated only to abandon them when they became sick.
  • I didn’t enjoy treating feral kittens for mange, ringworm, ear mites, and all the other nasty things they are prone to.
  • I didn’t enjoy holding a six-week old kitten in my arms, looking at his injuries and seeing bone, flesh, and tendons, things I normally only saw when cutting up a raw chicken (something I hope never to do again).

Yes, I’m being selfish.  I work in animal rescue and it is my most profound hope that responsible pet owners will someday put me out of a job.

Charles on behalf of Purrfect Cat Rescue

Cat of the Week: Zippy

Every week we will feature a cat or kitten currently available for adoption.  The first of these cats is Zippy.

Zippy is a male brown and grey tabby, born in May 2011.  He is very affectionate, enjoys being held and pet,  likes to play, and having been raised in a house with lots of other fosters, is good with most any cat.  He’s playful and sweet but low-key, and mostly sleeps the afternoon away at our adoption clinics so most people don’t get to see him shine.

Stop by Newpark Mall (days and times are listed in the “where to find us” tab) so you can spend some time with him and see just what an affectionate little guy he can be when given the chance.

Tiny Tim

While this blog is, officially, about the goings on of Purrfect Cat Rescue, from time to time, I and other volunteers with PCR may post something from our personal experiences in pet rescue.  This is something I wrote a while ago for my own blog.  I’m publishing it here to give people new to animal rescue an idea of why it’s so important to support PCR— or any other animal welfare group for that matter— and to remind them to properly care for the animals they chose to make a part of their life.

Charles

Tim deserves a post all his own as it would not be overstating things to say that he changed my life.

Tim was an adult and not at all tiny when I first met him, but he had a lame foot and I guess I wasn’t feeling very imaginative so I christened him Tiny Tim.  He showed up regularly for months for a daily meal.  One day he brought a friend, and then another: Tigger and Slim,  as they are now known.

It took a week or two for me to realize that Tigger and Slim (who, despite their names, are both females) were his girlfriends.  Very soon both of them started to put on some weight.  I think you could officially call this the moment I reluctantly became a pet rescuer.  Slim, so-named because she was not slim, took a shine to my only cat at the time, Figaro, so she was easier to trap.

At the direction of the local cat rescue (who had dozens of kittens waiting to be adopted) I chose to have a spay/abort performed on her.  A few people I know were saddened, maybe even shocked, that I had arranged for a cat abortion, but pragmatism is a major part of this job.  If there are already hundreds of kittens in your zip code who cannot find homes what practical merit is there in allowing more to be born if it can be easily remedied?  (My apologies to anyone whose Pro Life stance is offended by this blunt statement; give me a call and I’ll send you a hundred kittens to make you rethink it.)

While Slim was fairly easy to trap, Tigger put up a good fight on the two occasions I tried to trap her. After my second failed attempt at trapping her, she did not show up for two days; when she finally did,  she was noticeably thinner.

She arrived daily for one large meal and returned to wherever her babies were hidden.  I tried numerous times to follow her but she always managed to outwit me.  When the kittens were about a month old she began to bring them for visits, allowing them to eat some of her food in preparation for their weaning.  The bed I had made for her long before she delivered them they began to use; within a week or so, they were mostly living in my yard.

None trusted me very much, but this did not stop them from following Figaro into the house to play in the living room.  This is where I made my big mistake.  Tigger—who you must remember is a feral cat, one that cannot be so much as touched by a human, began to bring the kittens in the house in the evening to spend the night.  They would all sleep under my sofa while she stayed in the yard, essentially guarding them.  In the morning, they would all leave and she would walk up the stairs and sleep the day away under my dresser.

The mistake I made was in not separating the kittens from Tigger once they were weened, keeping them locked in my room as I did with the later litters I have socialized. I should have established myself as the one they were reliant upon.  Instead they came and went as they pleased, and ultimately could never be socialized enough to be adopted out.  That was two years ago and those now-adult cats still come and go as they please, staying the night when the weather is bad enough, other times gone for days leaving me wondering if anything has happened to them.

Of all the stresses I suffer in animal rescue, none compares to the one I created for myself with this daily situation; I hope someday to convince all my cats that they are in fact my cats. .

Bringing this back to my original subject—their father, Tim continued to show up for meals and I made a few failed attempts to trap him so he could be neutered.  One night when he was leaving my patio he was seen by a neighbor’s dog who chased him up a tree.  The dog briefly caught Tim by the neck and he received a few scratches to the neck.  They would have been minor to an indoor cat that could be treated, but for a feral living in the elements they eventually proved fatal.

The scratches became infected and they, along with whatever other health issues Tim may have had, killed him.  The last time I saw him I knew it was too late to do anything even if I could have caught him.

Months later I learned the rest of his story from someone who lived in the area of my complex where I had trapped a litter not resulting from Tim. I was talking about the various ferals I have trapped and those I had not and she knew who I was talking about when I mentioned Tim.

Tim had once been a house cat but was left behind when his owners moved.  Happily for him, the new owners took a liking to the cat who came into their yard looking for food, and they took him in.  Eventually they adopted a dog who did not like the cat, and Tim was sent back outdoors.

A year or so later, they moved, taking the dog— but not Tim— with them.  Two sets of owners, abandoned by both, neutered by neither, out on his own.  It was shortly after this that he was hit by a car.  That event left one of his legs permanently disfigured, and it left him distrustful of people, cementing his fate as a feral from then on.   When I walked home after hearing this story I had tears in my eyes, but they were tears of anger more than anything else.

I understand that things change.  People who once wanted an animal no longer do: it’s too much work; the animal has behavioral issues; they cannot afford it; their new residence does not allow it . . .

What I do not understand is how someone can simply dump an animal.  There are pet rescues and shelters in almost every locale (several in mine) so there is no excuse other than selfishness and cowardice not to turn over an unwanted pet to the proper agency.  It’s possible that Tim would never have been adopted out, that he would have had to be euthanized, but maybe that would have been better than living and dying as he did.

I apologize for this picture, but I am hoping someone who needs to see the result of shirking the responsibility of a pet will see this and think twice.

This was the last time I ever saw Tim.  My cat trap was not set up that morning so there was nothing I could do but feed him.  I somehow knew I’d never capture him, even if only to have him euthanized.  Instead, my camera and I captured photographic evidence of his life and his death.  The picture is disturbing or saddening to most people.  To me, it’s a reminder of why I am doing a job that quite frankly I don’t like a lot of the time.

If you have ever had a pet euthanized you’ve probably received a copy of the poem “Rainbow Bridge” from someone.  I’ve euthanized so many cats—some of them my own aging pets, some of them disease-riddled ferals and strays—that I am sick to death of reading the damn poem. . .

. . . At the same time, I do wonder if someday I will see Tim again; I want to thank him for changing me from a person who bemoans a problem into someone who does something about the problem.

Welcome

This is new home to the Purrfect Cat Rescue blog.  In addition to this new location, our adoption clinic at Newpark Mall has moved from the lower level to the upper level near Burlington.  Once the dust settles in both locales, this site will be update regularly so check back; in the meantime, if you are new to our group, check out the tabs at the top of the page for some basic information on who we are and what we do.

Thanks for stopping by,

Charles (aka CatBoy) on behalf of Purrfect Cat