After a little over 24 hours, Chance was doing well enough he was discharged. He is still pretty fragile, so we are not vaccinating him yet. His immune system is still pretty well occupied dealing with whatever put him into the condition he was found in.
But, that poses a problem. It is the middle of kitten season. Anyone who even remotely likes cats has a houseful of them! And, an unvaccinated Chance needs to stay away, away, away from the little germ bombs.
So, my wonderful aunt has agreed to foster him. She’s a life-long cat lover and owner, so he will be in good hands. Sadly, she lost her 11-year-old cat to a saddle thrombus (blood clot) a little over a month ago. Since all of her other cats made it to their late teens, she’s feeling a little cheated! And, she misses him terribly. So, hopefully, little Chance will give her something to do. Maybe she’ll decide she’s ready for a new kitten in her life?
Here is Chance in the hospital before we left. He doesn’t look too certain, does he.
I stood staring at the small kitten on the table in front of me while I held the tube near his face. Oxygen was flowing, but he didn’t seem to notice. He had three feet on the “Rainbow Bridge”** and I wasn’t sure he wasn’t about to add the fourth.
“Parvo is negative.” The vet came walking back over to us.
“And, I can trust that cause the white count is normal, right?”
We both stood staring at the unmoving kitten. He had a body temperature of 84 - nearly 20 degrees below normal! We took it twice cause I couldn’t believe that was accurate, but it was. His gums were completely white, indicating extremely low blood pressure. We had ruled out low blood sugar, feline leukemia, low red blood cells, and now “distemper”. We were running out of ideas.
I’d received a call asking for help for a four week old kitten who “wasn’t doing well.” The caller was my banker, the person who found the kitten was her mother, and the person who’d brought him to the clinic to meet me was her sister. All of them cat lovers.
This kitten was considerably older than four weeks, but he only weighed one pound. The placement of his ears, the definition of his facial bone structure, and his teeth all pointed to a kitten quite a bit older – somewhere around 10-11 weeks. But, if he was that old, he should have been closing in on three pounds, not one.
He was skin and bone, totally dehydrated, no blood pressure, no warmth to his body, but all the relevant tests said he was “healthy.” Okay, well, maybe not healthy, but definitely not dying of anything that we could identify. Several times I’d pried his eyelids open to see if he was still with us. Each time they snapped back shut.
What on earth was wrong with this kitten? And, what – if anything – should I or could I do about it?
Just about the time I started thinking the kindest thing would be to put him to sleep, he picked up his head, opened his eyes, and gave me a slow blink. Over the years I’ve learned this slow blink is Catspeak. Some people call it “kitty kisses” but I’ve seen it used in many situations beyond simple affection.
But what was he saying? Thank you? Or goodbye?
I took a deep breath and blinked back at him. “Okay. I’m going to name you Chance because I’m giving you a chance. And, little dude, you’d better take it.”
I turned to the vet. “Okay, let’s do it. Can you admit him and rehydrate him with warm fluids and let’s see where we go from there.”
Chance was put in the hospital and started with a bolus of warm fluids and then put on an IV drip. Meanwhile, it was getting dark outside so I ran out to get the horses fed. I was gone a little over an hour, and during that time – what a transformation! Amazing what a little water will do!
Three hours into treatment his appetite kicked in so Kate, the vet tech, offered him a small plate of baby food. His nose started wiggling and his eyes got very big. Normally a kitten or cat will start by licking the food, but not Chance! As soon as he located it he started grabbing big chunks with his teeth and barely chewing them before he swallowed! This was one starving kitten!
Skinny little guy, isn’t he. But, this was taken several hours into it, and he’s already looking a thousand times better.
How must it feel to be rescued after you’ve been abandoned? A lot of very special cats can tell you! There is a neighborhood in East Palo Alto where cats are routinely dumped. A young, single mom took on the task of making sure these “orphans” received necessary veterinary care including spay/neuter, vaccinations, and flea treatments, and then she provided them with food and ongoing monitoring.
But, now, rising expenses are forcing her to move. The good news is, she has found a place with good schools and room for her kids to grow. The bad news - she just learned she cannot bring all the cats. Although this is a good move for her kids, she is heartbroken at what it means for the cats.
Most of these cats were probably casualties of the economy to begin with. So, she is determined that they not be again. Although she needs to be out of her current place soon, she is determined to find homes (foster or permanent) before she goes. Many in the local rescue community want to help this woman – she’s done well for the cats, and we’d like to help her see them into good homes. There is a wide variety of colors, sizes and temperaments from the very loving (most of them) to the somewhat shy.
We will be helping her with Adoption Events – so keep an eye on the schedule on our website. And, please contact us if you would like to help foster! firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Lisa’s Cats” in the subject line.
Have you heard about the Twelve Cats of Christmas? It is an heartwarming story of the local animal welfare community coming together for a doomed colony of 12 cats and 2 kittens. Two humane organizations, representatives from 6 different rescue organizations, and several members of the public who had never been involved in cat rescue – all coming together during this season in which we celebrate life, to give life to these wonderful cats.
After sulking, carping and complaining for the past couple of days..and contemplating either a return to Corporate America or a stint as a confirmed hermit….
I sent out another email and somehow this one basically went viral locally. More responses started pouring in and as I began to make my calls, somewhat warily, I was stunned at the quality of people I’m connecting with. I am THRILLED!! We can start pulling these poor cats – FINALLY!!
Most of the fosters I’m accepting for these guys have from 0 to 2 cats at home, so they can really put a lot of time and attention on these guys. That is what is needed in order to make the transition from calm feral to family pet. I’m beginning to see some hope for these guys. HSSV has been so patient and so supportive, but these cats need to come out now!
I pulled the first one today – the young chocolate point siamese. He’s pretty fluffy, so he’s not a true siamese, but who cares. He’s adorable..and scared to death. I delivered him late in the evening to his foster home. They have one resident cat who doesn’t think much of the idea of a feline guest, but they assure me she’ll get over it. What wonderful people! I’m liking this line of work again!
Unbelieveable!! I just fielded a hostile email berating us for using “scare tactics” to get people to volunteer when “clearly” these cats were never in any danger.
Okay, let’s review this….
12 cats who cannot be touched. They are not going to be adopted out. They cannot return to their old neighborhood. There are more “barn cats” waiting for homes than their are barns to home them…unless you count the barns who’s cats are picked off by coyotes a week or two after they arrive.
A bazzillion responses to email requests for help. The emails are sent out 24 hours before these guys are going to be put down. The responses are still pouring in at the deadline. So, of course, we assume that there are at least 12 competent, qualified, willing and able people in this pile of responses so we commit to pull all 12 cats.
Which saves their lives.
Now we are wading through the responses and some people are mad the cats are still alive past the deadline?
I’m not sure what I need more – a vacation, a drink, or a new line of work.
Wow – we got a HUGE amount of replies to our emails. We haven’t even begun to wade through them but there are so many that surely there are at least 12 people who we can count on to take a cat for two months and get it tamed down. Ann and I talked with HSSV about 3 pm today and committed to pull all twelve cats! They are going to hold them for the couple of days it will take to wade through the responses and match them up and get the cats to them.
Well, not really. It’s supposed to be the end of busy season, but lately there doesn’t seem to be a lull in the action. I got an email from Ann, the Godmother of All Things Cat and Rescue in this area. She wanted to alert me to a situation that was “right up my alley.” That phrase always worries me. But, I wasn’t worried this time – we are full, I am spread too thin in my life, I’m moving, AND it’s the holidays. So sorry. Can’t help. Good luck. Good bye.
That worked for a few hours. Another email. And a few more as the pleas for action started circulating around the local rescue community. A bunch of “doomed” Siamese cats. Decendents of an abandoned pet who’s classless owners not only dumped her outside when they moved, they didn’t even bother to get her spayed. So she did what cats do and made a bunch of babies. Naturally there is the good-hearted neighbor who feeds them, but can’t take them herself as she already has 4 cats. And, of course the story wouldn’t be complete without the bad neighbor who hates the cats and does unpleasant things to them. There are allegations of BB guns, attack by dogs, “leg hold” traps. Until the whole mess erupts and animal control is called in and the poor cats are trapped and taken to the shelter. Since they are feral – cannot be touched, let alone adopted out, and, since their “home” is a hostile and dangerous enviroment, they can’t be sterilized (spay/neuter) and released. (TNR for Trap-Neuter-Return). They will be held for the (current) legal minimum of 72 hours and then put down.
But that is where this story changes direction. These cats were taken to Humane Society of Silicon Valley. who has then contract to provide the housing for trapped cats within the City of Sunnyvale. They are held for the legal minimum, and then evaluated for temperment and health, and if they’re lucky, are put up for adoption. However, if they are sick (with something that can’t be treated) or are feral, well, then they are put down.
These feral cats should have been put down, but they were not. And, they have Beth Ward to thank for that. Beth, the VP of Animal Care and Customer Service, reached out to the rescue community to see if any of them could be taken and socialized. This was the request I refused.
But, Ann had me in her sights. We routinely tame adult feral cats and those skills were needed for these cats. I succeeded at staying on the sidelines for almost a week, but with time running out I finally capitulated and agreed to train any volunteers “they” came up with on my techniques for taming, but that was it.