A week ago today, Tweetie bit me when I tried to pet him. Since it broke the skin and Tweetie hadn't had his rabies shot yet, I was "strongly urged" by Dr. Larry to get my arse to the ER to get post exposure Rabies treatment. I made a few calls and found out it would be covered, but the insurance company "urged" me not to go to the ER. The only place that HAS the meds IS the ER.
So I cleaned out the wound and decided to just give it some time. Tweetie had already been in our Program for more than the 10 day observation period, so odds are, he and I would both be fine.
I think this is a metaphor for Tweetie. At first, I was "urged" to consider releasing him. He'd bitten me and the Director. He was fearful, but not aggressive (whew). It was an appropriate "treatment."
As you know, we decided to give it some time and see how Tweetie did on his own. Isolation can some times push a feral kitten into yearning for physical connection so deeply that he'll seek it out from the ones he may have feared most, humans. But not every kitten will respond well and there's a tipping point at which we MUST release them if we can't coax them into being social butterflies.
Yesterday was an important clue to how things might go with Tweetie, once he was returned to living in my bathroom (still have other fosters in the "guest room" so this was what was left). I realized I was reluctant to engage with him, fearing another bite. After feeding him, I decided to just let him unwind for an hour. He'd just been returned from being neutered and getting his shots and being parted from his family and I didn't want to add to his stress.
I went up to see him again. I found him lying in a comfy cat bed in the bathtub. He was stretched out, relaxed. I called to him in a whisper as to not stress him. I kneeled down slowly and prepared to extend my hand out to pet him, keeping my fingers together (or else they think you're putting your claws out at them!)...when I heard something.
Tweetie was purring.
I began to pet the back of his head and he kept on purring. I petted his back and he tensed up a bit, but let me continue. I even rubbed his belly a bit, which scared him and he jumped up and ran to the cat condo near the tub. With me sitting, he could, in a sense tower over me. I felt this was better for him, too. He relaxed. I petted him a bit more, then he had enough and ran to rake his claws onto the cardboard scratchy thing.
We had a nice play time. I got him some new toys which he enjoyed.
Then he did something that broke my heart.
He dove onto the bathroom rug and furiously began to "make muffins" on it. His purr filled the room. He was, most likely, comforting himself and thinking about his Mama. I wanted to pick him up and hold him, but it's too soon to try that. Tweetie has shown remarkable progress in a very short time, but I need to be patient and take it slow.
I just started to implement tags, that you'll see listed at the bottom of all my new posts. Click on any tag to see related articles I've published that contain those words or phrases.
Now, I've written about 500 posts, so keep in mind it will be awhile before I finish getting every one tagged properly. I may just curl up in a ball and cry, wishing a genie with magical powers would just "poof" and make everything tagged now, but if I had a genie with magical powers, I sure as heck wouldn't waste a wish on tagging Blog posts!
Really. Who do you think I am, anyway?
Oh yeah. I forgot to upload this a few weeks ago. I guess things got a bit busy. This is Sprinkles first litter pan poop. I'm so proud of her! She got her first round of shots and her first checkup today. She's doing great! (and I think she's gonna get adopted by a really great lady...shhh...don't tell)
I'm really choked up right now. I just finished having a nice, cleansing cry. Some of my tears were for seeing the Masters of Mayhem leave to be spayed/neutered and on to wait for their forever homes. The rest of my tears, were allocated to Tweetie.
As we often see, the kittens we rescue during TNR, aren't always easy to socialize. Some are flat out wild beasts who will only be tamed over a long period of time, if ever. Because we don't have the time to socialize each kitten, we have to choose which are candidates for placement and release the ones that will simply take too much time in foster care to turn around.
It's the part of doing rescue work that I don't care for. I know the kittens who are released will have a harder life. At least they'll have good health and a caregiver to start with. The rest is up to them. I'm a big softy. I admit it. I want ALL the kittens to get a good home and not have to live under a fallen tree or under someone's shed, but it certainly beats being in a cage in a shelter, where they will slowly go mad, never be adopted for being too fractious and end up being euthanized.
So up until this morning, I was mentally preparing myself to be okay with Tweetie being released in the next week. He's getting neutered today, then evaluated, then probably returned to where he was first trapped. His old home base.
Then I got a short email. It was from Sockington's owner, Jason. Whose famous cat looks like he's Tweetie's father. He asked if he could possibly help little Tweetie and then...everything changed.
I realized it would be wrong to release Tweetie, when he has so many friends rooting for him. That perhaps, this one time, this one kitten's story of learning to love, might be worth telling. I spoke with our Director and we had an uncomfortable conversation, which, thankfully, blossomed into understanding and a little "bending of the rules."
Tweetie was slated to be ear-tipped today, just in case he ended up being released. It would prevent him from having additional sedation and stress, but I asked to cancel the procedure, worried that it would effect Tweetie's chance of being adopted. In our give and take, I offered to cover the medical expenses should Tweetie need to be ear tipped at a later point and instead of being evaluated by the Director just now, Tweetie is going to be released...
This is going to be tough, but I need to give it a try. Tweetie is going back into my bathroom. He'll be on his own, without his siblings. "Tough love" may help turn him around. I'm going to give him the time he needs—which may be months, but I'm going to stick by him and with any luck, one day I'll be writing about Tweetie getting adopted.
This is very risky. Tweetie could end up not turning the corner, then we'll have to release him, but at what point? If he gets too old-even 6 months, he'll be harder to place and I can't have Tweetie in my bathroom forever.
For now, I'll be writing about Tweetie's journey to find his love for people and and my struggle to help get him there.
NOTE: I just created a special Twitter page for Tweetie. You can follow his "Tweets" here
Barely twelve days ago I took in four kittens. They've been living in my bathroom/laundry room and for an hour or two every day I let them into the adjacent hallway so they have a chance to get in a good run.
I'm impressed by their endless enthusiasm for play time. They run, jump, attack each other, climb up my front, back, legs, until I look like I tried to escape over razor wire at a Federal Women's Prison.
Even though I've blown through an entire tube of Bacitracin, in this short amount of time, I've fallen in love with the little buggers. Each one is special and I must admit I'm jealous of whoever gets to adopt them.
Twitter, is a quiet, friendly kitten. She's also a dead ringer for the first foster cat I took in over 15 years ago. She loves to play.
Angel is brave, bold, big, beautiful, with a quick purr and a sweet cry, whenever he knows food is being prepared. He loves to sit on my lap, then use the higher vantage point to jump onto the other kittens.
Fluffy, you complete me. I'm a sucker for tuxes and not only are you a fine tux, but you've got the sweet and silly personality to match. I love to watch you run. You have awesome fluffocks (butt fluff) and you crack me up. I think your name isn't good enough for you. I hope your new family calls you something more fabulous. Not that this IS fabulous, but for some reason I want to call you, Molly.
Lastly there's Tweetie. The cute fellow who looks like a celebucat, Sockington, and who is responsible for my wee website to actually get more than 40 hits in one day. Tweetie, I've seen you slowly come out of your shell. You let me pet you. You even purred. You even seemed to like it. Sadly, it may not be enough. I did try to convince our Director to let you stay here, after you're neutered tomorrow, but she has to evaluate you and if you don't pass muster, you'll go back outdoors.
I don't want to say this as a death sentence for you, but it hurts because I see your heart and I see you try, but deep down if you just had to live with humans and no other cats, I think you might be terrified and unhappy. I hope we get lucky and find an understanding adopter for you, but it has to happen in the next few days. Whatever happens to you, you won't soon be forgotten.
While I won't miss the mess that will take a good day to clean up and I won't miss having to move a blockade out of the way to do a load of laundry, I will miss the little 2.5 pound Masters of Mayhem.
It's been a pleasure knowing you and I wish you all a great journey and a happy, wonderful life.
Later that same morning, about 5:06AM:
I realize I never bothered to look at the insert in the box the pain meds came in. I only had to medicate Bob for four days, so why get involved with reading miniscule type with my old people eyeballs?
Really, how bad could it be?
Then I went online and saw THIS.
Apparently Metacam is NOT approved for use in
Last I checked, BOB IS A
And WHY didn't anyone bother to tell me it has known side effects of
ACUTE (horrible terms since it's far from CUTE) RENAL FAILURE!
This is for a CAT who is at least 15. It would be one thing if Bob was young, maybe he would have better odds of surviving this stuff, but GEEZUS. Maybe we should have let him suffer for a few days with a sore tooth hole and not risk
Just makes sense to me and ever more so at about 5:37 am.
So let's be calm. It's just one web site with about 30 horror stories of cats on Metacam. I found another web site that said, hey, it's not THAT bad and since cats can't handle pain killers, this is about the best that can be done for them and the benefits outweigh the risks.
This is like the time I took VIOXX. Wow, did I feel good, but luckily I didn't take it for very long because it could have DIED from it. Oops! Guess the FDA missed that one. Oh and when I took "Yaz---that fun and funky birth control pill that's supposed to make your periods like a blissful day at the spa? Well, I was on it for four months. I didn't SLEEP. I got PMDD, instead of PMS and I was violent and suicidal, but hey, I'm just one dumb person. Probably was something else that did this to me though oddly enough, I slept like a rock and didn't try to off myself when I stopped taking it. Now there's a lawsuit claiming increased numbers of women having Heart Attacks, Strokes and Blood Clots from this crap. Huh. Guess it wasn't just me having problems.
This reminds me of the saying; "That which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger (or more pissed off or have not-cute renal failure)."
I'm thinking I have to call Dr. Larry and YELL at him, then ask him if I need to bring Bob to the ER. Bob's breathing seems heavy. I'm trying not to flip out. I wake Sam up, because why should I have to have all the fun, alone? I ask him if he remembers seeing Bob use the litter pan or drink water. He remembers one, but not the other, I remember the opposite. Good, so he must have done both? I get Bob to drink warm water mixed with tuna water so I know he's got some fluids on board. I lay down on the hardwood floor, while he sits in the "cat loaf" position on a comfy cat bed. Fat as I may be, I have not nearly enough padding to be comfortable at this point, but I love Bob and I want to watch him. I'm waiting for a sign, telling me I need to get dressed, rush him to VREC in Norwalk and drop about $1,000.00.
Nothing. No sign. My right shoulder and hip are complaining. I'm really tired. Fuck it. I go back to bed, knowing I have to get up in less than two hours because we're signed up to do a dog transport. Ugh.
Of course, I can't get to sleep. I think about the nice lady's web site. She says Metacam is ok. She has complex math that makes my head spin. How many KG's is Bob? How many mL/KG dose did he get? I need my Parents. They did math!
My alarm goes off. What sleep? I get up to check on Bob. Somehow, while I was lying in bed worrying, one of the cats blew this hairball.
I really like how there's a little swooshy tail at the right tip of the hairball. That's classy.
I can't believe I'm going to confess this, but I got two forceps out and "teased" apart the hairball, to see if I could get any idea of what color the fur was. Sure enough, it was Bob's.
He puked up his food because this Mother of a hairball was ready to blast out. Bob's breathing has always been a bit heavy, but he's had ultrasounds done. He should be fine. All that pissing and moaning for nothing?
Maybe yes, maybe no. I'm still going to have a TALK with Dr. Larry about this.
and no, Bob did not get any more Metacam. Nor will he. He ate well, had a nice long nap on the deck. I have yet to see him drink or use the pan, but I will be watching. I WILL BE WATCHING!
It's 4:30 AM as in THE MORNING BEFORE THE SUN RISES AND I SHOULD BE SOUND ASLEEP IN MY BED. But no, once again, for the fifth time this week, I awaken to the sound of a cat puking.
While my fading dreams tease me to return to them, my desire to be a good Cat-Mama, ok my desire to make sure they didn't puke on my parent's antique oriental rug, drives me out of bed. Also, as some of you may recall, last year Bob Dole, the cat was VERY ill for many weeks, vomiting many times a day and always around 4 or 5AM, thank you, Bob. Bob was diagnosed with Pancreatitis and since it's a bitch to deal with, the sooner I figure out Bob needs meds, the sooner I can get him back to feeling better.
Now, I can almost tell which cat is puking just by the sound. Each barf has its' own unique timbre. For example, Gracie moans prior to puke-off and her offspring, Tunie, cries as though she were reenacting the death scene in La Boheme. It's great to get enough pre-puke warning that I can quickly usher (chase) the cat off the (damn) rug.
Bob, on the other paw, has a very LOUD gulping sound. It rattles the windows. When Bob's about to blow, there is no question. He usually does three warning "gulps," followed by a splash, sort of like a drink recipe if you don't count the fact that the contents don't end up in a glass and you'd probably never get a good tip if you tried to get someone to taste it.
I hear the telltale "Gulp, Gulp, Gulp." I race down stairs, trying not to break my neck since my legs haven't caught up with my brain. I reach the last step and see Bob waving slowly towards me. His gait says "Old Man," but he looks up at me those Puss In Boots (from Shrek 2) Eyes, pleading to be fed, again.
"There will be no food at 4:30am. I'm not teaching you to wake me up this early to feed you. No way." and with that, I begin the far too familiar search for The Unholy Grail, hoping I will see it before my bare foot accidently does, first.
My dear parents oriental rug, which I just hauled to my house last summer, after selling and emptying their home after they had both passed away. The rug is HUGE for my small house. It's wildly colorful and doesn't really fit my decor, if 100 lunchboxes and a collection of salt & pepper shakers that look like miniature appliances count as decor. It's got a boo-boo in the corner from my mother leaving a wet plant on it without any sort of protection, so I had it patched. It's not worth that much money, but it's the rug my Mother made my brother and I sit on while she mopped the kitchen floor. It became our island and we could go no further than the edges of the rug while the floor was wet. Mother would set the timer for 30 minutes and leave us alone. We would touch the floor every two seconds. It sure seemed to be dry, but why couldn't we leave the rug?
Because my Mother wanted a break from two crazy kids and took a nap for half an hour and her kids were too stupid to realize what was going on.
So this is why I have to protect the rug.
Woah. Bob barfed. A lot. On the rug. I quickly estimated it would be a two trip clean up. One to pick up the big blob, one to wash off the rug. I started to worry. Bob might be getting sick again...or...was it the Metacam he was taking for post surgery pain?
What I found out next almost made me scream, but heck, this post is getting kinda long, so I'll finish it up later. I need to get my Rant on and I'm still undecided on whether or not I need to have a LOUD, YELLING, SCREAMING "TALK" with Dr. Larry.
Wow. Bob is a new cat!
Was the dental surgery, which included removing two of his few teeth, the reason for his almost joyful expression when I saw him this morning? Or was it the fact that his anal glands had been emptied of "Thick, Pasty, Yuck...a double-glover for sure;" according to Super Deb, who either watched Dr. Larry do the deed, or was stuck having to do it herself.
What I don't understand is that of the three cats who've "been expressed," only ONE of them showed any symptoms of needed anything done. This bothers me. How am I to know if they're feeling uncomfortable, walking around with big, fat, gooey glands? I read that high fiber diets help clean them out, but that would only be due to making heavy duty turds that would push against the glands and clean them out as the poop passes.
Once again I will say, CATS ARE OBLIGATE CARNIVORES so FIBER is OUT. I guess I'm going to have to invest in rubber gloves or get used to paying an extra $28 for every wellness visit at the Vet.
Bob's got that "I just got my glands emptied, faraway look."
So, where was I? Oh yes, Bob's glands. They're empty. He's happy. I swear he was smiling, but that may be due to the fact that I was about to feed him. He had a brightness in his eyes, almost a sparkle. For such an old fella, it's remarkable to see. Regardless of what's making him look so un-Bob-like, it's worth it.
And no, I have NO plans of doing "home anal gland expression." I draw the line at washing their asses when they have "chocolate chips" (my term for bits of shit) stuck to their behind.
If you're nuts and want to know more about anal glands, check this nifty, rather obvious link: Anal Glands, The Movie It needs a 3D animation and some whoooshing sound effects, but you'll get the idea, anyway.
And if that didn't satisfy your hunger, you can read this article which has a sneaky plug for a product that's supposed to help clean out the not-Fun-bags. Not sure I believe it works or is necessary, but the rest is helpful. More Anal Gland Fun
So when in doubt, SQUEEZE THOSE BAD BOYS & EMPTY THEM OUT...
...By a PROFESSIONAL and please don't do this at home and if you do, don't tell me, especially if I'm ever invited over to eat dinner.
I've been remiss in mentioning my other foster babies. They've grown quite a lot since they first came here in early June. They were barely a few days old at the time.
It took almost 4 weeks before I was able to handle any of them since their feral Mama was not going to let me. Once things settled down and the kittens were big enough to move on their own, I found ways to begin the process of desensitizing them to being around humans.
As always, it's slow going and along the way I fretted about them reaching their milestones—especially little Twinkles, the runt of the litter.
She was the last to eat big kitty food, the one who always seemed very fragile when I handled her. She's still quite the Mama's girl, but she started to trust me enough to rest in my lap and now she plays along with her siblings, though she is slower to make sense of toys than the others.
The time is soon approaching when this litter will get spayed/neutered, then hopefully adopted (Pixie may already be spoken for!). Mama will be spayed, then released back to her caretaker and her life outdoors as she is, if there is such a thing, extremely feral. She has shown no sign of wanting to warm up to me in the past 7 weeks. I've tried to offer her treats and kindness, but they are received with hisses. That's ok. Her offspring are safe. She is healthy and gaining back some weight. She'll be ready when the time comes.
I'll miss these guys a lot. Sprinkles and Twinkles drive me crazy. I think they're twins. I can only tell them apart by their behavior. Sprinkles is outgoing and nutty and Twinkles is more reserved and sweet. Both of them are going to be great companions to some lucky family-so is Pixie.
I've got too much more to update...I've completely left out my own cats, Bob, Nicky and Gracie! There's lots more news, but for now, a much needed break from writing, photographing, feeding, cleaning up and playing with kittens.
Yesterday I posted a photo on Twitter of one of my foster kittens, Tweetie. He has an uncanny resemblance to The Famous Sockington, a cat so famous he has his own Army! Now, THAT is one cool cat.
Thousands of folks visited Tweetie's photo and visited my humble BLOG. Many were asking about adopting Tweetie, even though he's still a wild child and has a long way to go before he'll ever like people. It does my heart good to know about that support.
The sad reality for us, is that our rescue group is small and we don't have the luxury of time, to turn Tweetie, and those like him, into adoptable companions. This is why our group does TNR and we don't try to adopt out kittens who won't make good companions without months or years of work.
For those of you not yet familiar with TNR. TNR is "Trap, Neuter, Return" You can read this article on the ASPCA's web site
Tweetie IS adorable, but he's already bitten two people, myself included. Since he's been here, I've seen him soften a bit and I know I could turn him around, IF we had plenty of foster families or the money to open a shelter, since that would take the burden off me to foster more kittens.
That forces us to weigh the options. If I kept Tweetie for six months, I couldn't take any more foster kittens. That would mean, at least 24 to up to 50 kittens could have passed through my doors, who won't even get a chance to be rescued AND at the end of six months, there is no guarantee that Tweetie would be adoptable by then.
As I write this, I know of two kittens living in a car at one of the nearby town's dump. A very nice man is looking after them, but he knows if they don't get into a home for socializing soon, it will be too late for them, too. We can't help him because adoptions are down to nothing with the bad economy. Once we free up room, we take more. I hope to help these kittens as soon as mine are ready to go.
Alley Cat Allies also has something to say about this problem, too:
"Depending on your initial decision, you will end up with either socialized, well-adjusted kittens who you can easily adopt out, or a colony with fully sterilized, vaccinated feral cats and kittens. Either decision is correct because, as you have read, taking on the task of raising kittens or socializing them is no easy feat. Be secure that you made the best choice for your circumstances and don’t second guess yourself. Kittens can pull at our heart-strings, but in the end, doing what is best for you will ultimately be what is best for the kittens"
After all this, I want to assure you that we are working with Tweetie, in the time we have. We have to face this dilemma with kittens every year. There are always a few we can't turn around, no matter how hard we try. For those, the most compassionate thing we can do, is provide them with a loving caregiver and a safe outdoor home to live in. It's not ideal, but when you look at the figures of how many millions of feral cats and kittens are euthanized every year; a life lived outdoors, in comparison, is a life LIVED.
Tweetie, got his start living life in the woods of Sandy Hook, CT. He and his mama, two sisters and a brother, all had to fend for themselves. They were all really skinny and had sickness in their bellies. One day a scary lady (who is really nice) trapped them and took them away. At least the Coyotes couldn't eat them any more.
Little Tweetie was scared. He didn't like people, even if his brother and sisters did. He didn't know what would happen next.
Tweetie and his family went to live with another lady. She said she was their "foster mom" whatever that is. She gave them lots and lots of crappy tasting medicine, but now they feel better. She also gave them a lot of nom-noms! No more bellies with worms. Now bellies with warm food. Yummy!
Tweetie loved playtime, too! He likes to run and hide with his toys. I guess he's not great with sharing, but he DOES love his family a lot. People, well they can pet him, but he's still not too happy about it. His Foster Mom is sad. If Tweetie doesn't like people then he will have to go back to living in the woods. His Mom doesn't want that to happen, even if she knows Tweetie might like it better. She thinks she can help Tweetie learn to love people, but she only has a few more days left to help Tweetie. Then time is up. Tweetie will have a caretaker who'll feed him if he wants it, but Tweetie will no longer know the comfortable life of an adopted kitty.
One day (okay, today) Tweetie's Foster Mom noticed something. "OMG! You look like Sockington, the famous kitty known throughout the land! Are YOU Sockington's secret SON?!No sooner than his Foster Mom "tweeted" about Tweetie, the news broke and poor Tweetie was inundated by Pawpurrazzi!
"Oh no! You mean photographers stay away from me!
What is Tweetie, aka Sockington Jr. going to do? Is he going to find a family to adopt him who understands his plight? Or will this little fellow go back to his life of obscurity, living out his days in the wilds of the woods?
And what of his possible father, the great Sockington? When asked, his only comment was: "WHAT NO WE WERE JUST FRIENDS NOTHING WENT ON" even after seeing the photo of Tweetie, all he could say was:"UM WELL AHHH GOTTA GO"
UPDATE: Little Tweetie is available for adoption for Residents of Connecticut (and possibly near neighbor states, but you'd have to email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out). You can fill out a Pre Adoption form for Tweetie, or any of his siblings, by visiting our web site. Please note that Tweetie is NOT a friendly kitten-yet. He will need LOTS of work with an understanding family with no small children, as he has been known to fear-bite. His siblings are all very friendly. Hopefully he just needs more time to come around than they did.