Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 
from Kate and the furballs

2012 was a bit of a chaotic years. We had new foster cats come in and old ones find homes. I found myself a new job, then lost it due to illness. And the whole household had to move from the 3-bedroom house we had called home for 8 years to a spare bedroom in my parents' house. Still, all's well that ends well and the year is kindly leaving us on the whole better off than when the year began.

Here's to hoping 2013 brings happiness, warm laps, and plenty of sandpaper kitty kisses.

Best wishes,
Kate, Diedra, Ashi, Ivy Girl, Dexter & Bubbaloo

In case you missed any of the ins and outs of the past year, here is an update on each kitty:

Tyrone is still happy and healthy and living in northern Utah with Kristin and the kids. This year he got a new kitty brother - named Kitty - adopted from our sister Abbie when she moved to Michigan.

Mouse was picked up by Best Friends Animal Society when they opened their new adoption center in Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. The intrepid little darling was there less than a week before finding her forever home.

Sandi was also picked up by Best Friends for the new adoption center. It took her a little longer - about 2 months - but she also found a forever home in a house with no other cats to take attention away from her.

Boots had to be returned to the Ivins No-kill Shelter because of behavioral problems. He just wouldn't stop spraying, no matter what we tried. The timing was perfect, though. Within a couple of weeks a family came looking for a cat and Boots, who was usually very timid around strangers, came right up and curled up in the daughter's lap. They took him home as a temporary foster, then adopted him a few weeks later. No problems with spraying in the new house; he is perfectly at home.

I had pretty much despaired of ever finding Bob a forever home, but I was reluctant to adopt him permanently because Diedra was so afraid of him. His FIV-positive status kept him out of the adoption centers and turned off many potential adopters. He was posted on Best Friends' "for adoption" list and put on the waiting list for their FIV house. On the same day, I got word of another potential adopter wanting to meet him - a young couple visiting St. George from Idaho Falls - and received notice that room had opened up at Best Friends. The couple came and met him and it went well, but they seemed uncertain, so I made arrangements to transport him to the sanctuary in Kanab. But the couple called back; they just couldn't stop thinking about Bob. He is now living the good life in Idaho with a kitty brother to snuggle with and an Eskie to torment.

Ivy Girl
After several months of having a whole house to play and exercise in, Ivy's muscle control improved dramatically. The cerebellar hypoplasia still leaves her with a head bobble and she still occasional has trouble with falling over, but she is a completely different cat. She is still deaf, of course, but that doesn't slow her down in the least. With the help of a set of portable steps, she can now get on my bed and she has claimed the entire end of the bed as her own. She loves to sit in the front window and watch the birds and chase my mom's oxygen tubing across the floor.

With the big scary Bob gone, Diedra has become the undisputed queen of the house. She claims the best sleeping spots for herself and is always there at gushy food time, making it known that she had better get her bowl first. She still loves high places, and can be found lurking on the top of my desk or on top of the piano doing her gargoyle impersonation. She also love watching the birds and will sometimes ... if she feels like it ... share the window sill with Ivy.

Ashi's life had been pretty dismal in the old house. Living with a vegan was hard on that cheese-loving old gal and her only joy seemed to be the occasional nap on top of the dryer while it was running. All that has changed at Grandma's and Grandpa's house! Thanks to those stairs she can get on my bed and its electric blanket and the Fat Brown Cat has learned that Grandpa is a total pushover so she is always getting special treats from him, usually CHEESE! There are also a lot more laps to choose from - and did I mention she gets cheese?

Dexter & Bubbaloo
Dexter (gray & white) and Bubbaloo (orange tabby) are my parents' cats so they have shown up in Kate's Cats a couple of times. Now they are a permanent part of the crew. Dexter is a shy old lady cat - she's about the same age as Ashi - who spends most of her time sleeping on my parents' bed and/or cleaning Bubby's ears. Bubbaloo is younger, but since he hasn't had anyone to really play with he got lazy and fat. Yes, he even outweighs the Fat Brown Cat. He has livened up since I moved in with my crew and we have even caught him and Diedra playing together - but only if they think we aren't watching.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Failing as a Foster Mom - Part 2

When I got into work on Tuesday - after Bob's first 24 hours in confinement - he hadn't eaten anything. He just sat huddled in the corner of his kennel looking pathetic. Logically I knew he'd be fine. We board cats all the time and they usually don't want to eat for the first day or so. Then they settle in and are fine. Well, logic aside, I was devastated. I spent my lunch break cuddling him and trying to get him to eat some treats. I was in tears again when I left to go home.

A combined cuddle session with Ashi and Ivy Girl.
Fortunately for everyone, our vet clinic was closed on Wednesday and Thursday for the Fourth of July holiday. The kennel staff still went in to take care of the animals, but I was off - and I made myself not go in to see Bob. I had to have faith that they would call me if anything were truly wrong with him. I spent my time instead cuddling with Diedra and the other girls, trying to get everyone to settle down.

On Thursday, I took advantage of my rare weekday off of work to go talk to Aggie at the shelter. I told her what had happened and what I had done so far. She reassured me that Bob's time out was a good thing and she told me she wasn't sure where he could go, either. She would normally send an FIV-positive cat into a foster home (which she had already done) or to Best Friends. Unfortunately, Best Friends had sent out a letter saying they were beyond capacity for FIV and FIP cats and that their wait list was so long they were no longer taking names. She told me she would keep trying, though, and that she would put the word out for other possible foster homes or sanctuaries.

You can tell Sandi was devastated to have Bob gone.
However, she told me they should have space in their rooms for older, adoptable cats. So, they couldn't take Bob, but they could take Sandi! She told me to go ahead and bring Sandi back to the shelter, and if for some reason she couldn't go to Best Friends, she had another foster mom who deals with crotchety old-lady cats who had some room. I figured any relief from the pressure at home was good, so I went home, game Sandi some good snuggles and some of her favorite treats, and loaded her up.

While I was dropping her off, Aggie told me some wonderful news. Boots was adopted!! After all the heartache and agony and stress, that gorgeous boy has a home. Aggie said it was a great family from Dammeron with two teenage girls. They came down to the shelter 5 times, and each time Boots put on the charm and crawled into their laps. They finally took him home and he is doing great. (This was the point when I broke down sobbing in the adoption center. It's a good thing they stock Kleenex.) Mouse had gone to Best Friends to be spayed, then went to the adoption center in Salt Lake. Apparently it took all of 2 days for her to find a home.

Diedra wandered out of hiding to help me get some computer work done.
I went home feeling better, but still like a failure. Almost a year of trying to find those two homes and they were adopted within a couple weeks of me taking them back. I know I played a vital part in them being adoptable in the first place, but I still can't help but feel like I should have been able to do SOMETHING to find them homes sooner.

The house felt pretty empty Thursday night with only me and 3 cats. We had some quality snuggle time with Diedra, Ashi and Ivy, then went to bed. When I got into work on Friday morning, Bob was quite vocal and had been eating like mad. Every time I went in the back or he heard my voice in the back room, he would start yowling. I took advantage of him being in the office to update his vaccinations and have one of the docs look at him. I was expecting a howling mess, but Bob surprised me by being mellow throughout the exam. He is perfectly healthy, by the way, although the doc said he is probably older than I originally thought he was. He put him at about 9, not the 5 or so I thought he was.

Bob was REALLY happy to be back at the house. He actually drooled on my foot. 
I packed Bob home on Friday afternoon. I was crossing my fingers that having Sandi out of the house would help with the friction. Bob was really happy to be back at the house. He has been following me everywhere and has been really snuggly. So far no fights - although Diedra is back to hiding under the bed when he's in the room. Yesterday I finally heard back from one of the Network Specialists at Best Friends with a few more tips and an offer to help network to find Bob a home. So there is hope.

At this point, whether I find Bob a home or not, I don't know if I'll be able to foster any more. I have lost confidence. I don't know how to network this town. I have talked with other foster parents, but they tend to foster kittens and young cats, which move very quickly through the system. It is a whole different game fostering FIV-positive cats, senior kitties or cats with anxiety disorders. If I do foster, I will likely switch to working with one of the rescues, which tend to have a lot more support for their foster families. Or maybe I'll do kittens for a while. I could use some cute and happy.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Failing as a Foster Mom - Part 1

Handsome Bob.
I haven't been on here in a while. I had promised myself I would try to keep it happy and wonderful ... and that just wasn't how I was feeling. Despite my best efforts, I was failing as a cat foster mom.

When I fostered before, it was in a much larger area with a lot more support. Here it was basically just me. The shelter manager, Aggie, is supportive, but the support groups that are supposed to be helping Aggie and the foster families spend more time fighting with each other than anything else. There are other rescue groups in the area that are wonderful, but they concentrate on pulling at-risk animals from the kill shelters and don't have the resources to help animals that are essentially safe. And so it was basically just me trying to find homes for 4 special-needs cats ... and I wasn't able to do it.

Boots and Bob: Best buds.
Things got worse when Mouse hit an age to go into heat. I wanted to get her spayed as soon as she showed up, but that was the time when my safety net the Big Fix suddenly stopped coming down to Southern Utah. The rescues down here were scrambling to find a way to bring low-cost spay/neuter to the area. Best Friends started offering low-cost surgeries to the public to help, but it required transport to Kanab - 2 hours away. My car was unable to make that trip (it barely makes it to work and back) and I couldn't afford to take a day off of work to drive out there. I was on a waiting list for the shelter to take her, but there were so many cats and kittens being surrendered, I kept getting kicked to the bottom. So I had to keep all the cats inside and hope for the best.

Mouse and Boots, the snuggle monsters.
Well, it was causing all sorts of chaos in the house. Boots and Bob were both neutered, but they were still affected, and the stress caused Boots to start spraying. He had always done a little bit - an anxiety reaction from the poor scared boy - but it got completely out of control. My house constantly smelled like urine and I couldn't keep up with all the spots. Both boys also became belligerent toward ALL the girls, and fights started cropping up between them and Sandi. Diedra went into hiding.

Mouse liked to keep an eye on things.
Finally, I couldn't take it any more. I loaded up Boots and Mouse and went back to the shelter. I was in tears as I explained why I couldn't keep them any more. The lady who took them said they had a slot for Mouse in the next load for Best Friends and she would go that week (why the HELL couldn't they have gotten her in 3 months before?!) and they agreed that the stress was too much for Boots. I sobbed all the way home, feeling like a total failure.

I spent the next few days cleaning EVERYTHING in the house trying to get rid of the urine stench, but things were still not going great. Bob was seriously missing his friends. He really is a social guy, and Sandi and Diedra won't have anything to do with him. Ivy will tolerate him for short periods of time, but she won't snuggle and groom like Boots and Mouse would. Bob just wandered around the house looking lost, then would try to corner one of the girls. The result would be a loud, angry spat.

After Boots and Mouse were gone, Bob followed me around looking lost.
Last weekend the worst happened. Bob tried to corner Diedra, and she fought back. And he attacked. He has never attacked one of the other cats before and it scared the hell out of me. He is big - he has lost some weight but he still weighs in at about 19 pounds - and biting is the one way he can spread the FIV. The squirt bottle didn't work to separate them and I had to pull them apart. Bob went immediately into confinement in one of the bathrooms and I was left to nurse a badly bruised and bleeding arm. Fortunately no skin was broken on either cat, although a lot of fur was left behind.

I don't recommend breaking up a cat fight with your bare hands. It hurts.

Bob went to work with me the next morning and he spent the week in one of the cat kennels. I was hoping things would calm down at home without him there, but Sandi and Diedra were still jumpy and cranky and Sandi kept going after Ashi. I made another round of calls and sent more more emails to EVERYONE I could think of and then some trying to find a place for Bob. Unfortunately the answers were the same as every other time I had contacted all the rescue groups and foster homes: no one wanted a 9-year-old FIV-positive cat in their house. Bob had nowhere to go and I didn't dare bring him home.