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The Sniffles & Boo-Boo Fund

It was a long night, filled with gut wrenching dread. I got a call around dinnertime that Polly was NOT doing well at all. Her eye was sealed shut and worse, she was SCREAMING. Maria called me to give me this urgent update and while we talked, I could hear Polly wailing. It was too late to go to a “regular” Vet. Our only option was to go to a 24hr ER Vet-also know as: “open your wallet and empty it out. Thank you. Now we will provide your animal with care.

©2010 Maria Sandoval. Polly cries-where is the cure for me to get better?

There was no hesitation. Even if it was coming right out of my almost -empty pocket. Get all the kittens and Mama Mazie to the Vet NOW! Maria had just gotten home from work and was faced with a white-knuckle drive to the Vet. I was in a daze. What to do? I didn't want Polly to die!

I realized I had NO IDEA where Maria was going, so I called her back. She said she was just about to call me to ask me to look up the number so she could alert them to her arrival. I offered to do that for her, getting online and quickly finding the Vet. Then Maria got quiet. She is a tough-cookie, but I could hear her choking back tears. She said she didn't think Polly was going to make it. She said she heard there is a “death scream” that kittens make and that's what Polly was probably doing!!!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. If this isn't the most miserable kitten, ever. Poor Polly.

I felt my gut drop to the floor and my legs got wobbly. I got choked up, but I really wanted to help Maria. I told her to stay strong, that we were doing EVERYTHING we could for these babies. That if we could not save them it would not be because we didn't give them every chance we could. Some times Mother Nature makes the choice for us, but I have to say, I hung up the phone and cried.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. No words.

Being 1000 miles away, helpless. All I could do was call the Vet, warn them, then follow their rules by scanning my Driver's License and credit cards and emailing them the info so their bill would be paid. It was the least I could do, but thoughts of Princess FiFi danced around in my head. Her care set us back $2000.00. We were able to raise about half of that in donations and Animals in Distress was abel to pick up the rest of the tab, but this was ONE KITTEN and I had THREE, plus their Mama. Oh boy...I did not want to do THAT sort of math.

©2010 Maria Sandoval. Cara Melle struggles, too.

Maria got there in good time. They took the family in the back and Maria sat in the waiting room while I sat with my phone in my hand, trying to face eating dinner, until I got an update. I didn't feel hungry. I was too sick. I was imagining what was going on. Time ticked hour...then I get a text from Maria. A cat who came in just after she did came back a box. That really set me off. I didn't want to have any of our kittens pass away. The waiting was grueling for both Maria and I. There was nothing we could do but just keep waiting and say a prayer for the poor kitty who didn't make it.

©2010 Maria Sandoval. Even Chester is sick, today he is a bit worse.

Another hour passed. Nothing. My imagination was running wild. Didn't they always get the money worked out FIRST before they did treatment? Why didn't Maria get an update?

A third hour passed. I was hoping that other animals were in more serious shape and were being cared for while our family was just waiting in the back room. ANOTHER HOUR LATER we found out, that was the case.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Mazie and her family waiting for the Vet.

Polly had no fever. Though she was uncomfortable in her breathing, there was no “crackle” sound in her lungs. Her brother and sister were afflicted, but not quite as bad. Polly was crying, I'm guessing, because she was so hungry. If she couldn't breathe through her nose, she wouldn't feed off her Mother-how could she breathe? So the Vet fed each kitten and said they were big enough to get some cat food/baby food/milk replacer. This would make it easier for them to eat. Once fed, Polly quieted down. She must have been exhausted, too.

They made a few other suggestions, like running the shower a few times a day so the humidity would help them breathe. Polly gets some sterile saline and eye ointment many times a day. Syringe feed as needed if they don't lap up the food on their own. Monitor, monitor, monitor.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Only Mama can make it better. Polly finds some peace after a very tough day.

The family was already on antibiotics since they'd just been to the Vet the day before. They felt there was nothing more to be done just now, so Maria packed everyone up and went home. She told me she was going to take the next day off-for which I was very grateful. I would not want to leave those babies alone until they get to a point where they are more stable...KNOCK WOOD...

But this story is not over yet. None of the kittens are in the clear. Some may improve, while others get worse. Because it could easily come to pass that we will need more and more Vet care, I felt it was time to start asking for donations to provide Vet care for Polly and her family, as well as for any cat or kitten in our program. I'm not asking for much, just enough so we have some protection in place, in case we need to get Polly back to the Vet or to see an eye specialist, if it comes to that.

The donations needed go to Kitten Associates, Inc., my rescue group. We're about to become non-profit so your donation will be tax deductible, retroactively. We just need to wrap up our paperwork over the next week.

Last night I posted info on our Facebook page about the kitties. Thank you for your help and for your good wishes and prayers for this very sweet family. It really helped last night. I'm happy to add that Polly got through the night all right and is resting comfortably with her siblings, as Mama Mazie watches over them and Maria keeps them all safe.

Not on My Watch: The Halloween Express Heads North

Two weeks ago four little tabby kittens were going to be euthanized. They were showing signs of developing an upper respiratory infection— sneezing and runny eyes. At the time it wasn't severe. In fact, it could have passed in a few days. The problem was, at Henry County, every sick cat gets euthanized-even IF it could have easily recovered...even if it didn't need to be treated by a Vet. That's the rules. There are too many animals in a facility that does not have quarantine rooms and if they did, they would be “full up” since the animals are exposed to each other and the stress of being in a shelter can make them “break” with a URI, too. Cats are really fragile creatures. I've come to learn that after last year's fiasco with “Santa's Team.” Dogs can take more stress, where cats seem to fall apart. To be crass, it just sucks. It's not fair. It's a senseless death for these animals.

Instead of waiting or emailing, I knew I had to call if I was going to save these cats and call I did. I called everyone at HCCAC and made SURE they were NOT going to euthanize the cats. As some of you know, the cats had 30 minutes-or less to live. A sobering thought, to say the least.

But we don't have to cry over these cats. They're not only safe, but yesterday afternoon, they said farewell to their beyond-fantastic-foster-mama, Maria and began their journey to Connecticut and to become Kitten Associates latest foster kittens.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. From left to right: How do I know? The orange cats are Skittles and Candy Corn and the silver tabbies are Treat & Treat.

Maria made sure to get everyone to pose nicely for the camera before she had to pack them into their cat carriers. For once they stopped moving long enough to get a few cute photos.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. I think this is Skittles? Maria? Who is it?

We cannot forget a special someone who will also be part of the Express to Connecticut-our Rocco! Rocco has been hanging out at Maria's, getting belly rubs, getting some good food. All he's doing is waiting for his ride. With that big belly and sweet face, I just KNOW we will find him a great home soon. Of all the cats, I'm most excited to meet Rocco. Knowing he was abandoned by his family, that he's an adult who's already lived half of his life, well, he should have all the love and comforts we can provide to him. Through everything, he remains a sweet, friendly beast. I just love him already.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Rocco! You are so CUTE!

Adoptions have been very slow for me. I still have four foster cats. Soon I'll have eight. I keep hoping I'll get some adopters-espeically for Moonie & Patty. They're asleep in a cat bed right next to my desk. They seem to belong here, but I can't afford ten cats of my own. I'm glad they fit in well since I'm guessing it will be awhile longer before I find them a forever home. At least they don't have to be locked up in my tiny bathroom any more. I think my cats are starting to calm down about having them here, too and the fountains of cat pee are slowly diminishing.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Hold still? for the camera?

Since Izzy and Mark aren't taking another trip down south (really, they DO have a life, you know!), thanks to Judith Hougaz and Deb Parry, the kitties are riding on a PETS, LLC transport. Sound familiar? If you watch “Last Chance Highway” on Animal Planet, it will all make sense. Kyle Petersen, the owner of PETS, also runs dogs (dogs!) to the northeast, some for a rescue group run by a very perky dog lover named, Shelley Brookwalter. Shelley and Kyle's friendship and partnershp to save animals is a highlight of the program. It's a heartwarming show, but it does irk me that cats are rarely ever transported and certainly never part of the show.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. All aboard!

These are the accommodations. Keep in mind, they would be the same in anyone's car, as well. Of course the difference is there are also no barking dogs and more attention on a private transport. It's tough. Most transports are just like this or worse. The hope is they will get going FAST and get it over with SOON. I trust that Kyle runs a tight ship. I used them last year and all was well. Hopefully that will be the case with this run, too.

©2010 Maria Sandoval. This is Steve. Maria gave him the third degree! He better take good care of those cats-OR ELSE!

If there was only some way to tell the cats that!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. WE WANT OUT!

Poor Skittles and Candy Corn are just not havin' it!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. REALLY! LET US OUT!

I feel worse for Rocco. He is old enough for this to really hit him hard. If only we could tell him what waits for him. I think he'd be happy to wait a bit longer and endure the noise and stress of the trip. Hang in there, buddy!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Awww...Rocco! Don't be scared. This is the worst part of your life. I promise it will get better really soon.

I have to agree with something Maria said to me can't be 9am Saturday soon enough. That's when I'm scheduled to pick the cats up. Connie will be there with me to get Rocco. He'll be going to Animals in Distress just in time for an adoption event. My guys will be meeting Honey B. and Yodel. I sure hope they get along or I'm gonna be in trouble because they'll have to stay in the same room! I also hope the new crew DOES NOT GET SICK...OH GOD...NOT THAT AGAIN!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Skittles and Candy Corn. I sure hope to adopt them out together!

It's Friday afternoon. Moonie has his paws on my leg while Patty spoons him. It's quiet. The cats are all napping. The sky is overcast and the golden autumn leaves seem to glow. I can't help but know it's the calm before the storm, but I'll deal with it, whatever comes to pass. It's just that caring for and loving sixteen cats is a bit much-even for me.

Deep breath. Knock wood. It's going to be okay.

Not on My Watch: Terrific Tuesday!

I don't think anyone could possibly chronicle with any detail how DIFFICULT, how many e-mails, how many questions, how many late hours, it took to rescue what started out as Four Maine Coon Mix kittens from Clayton Co. Animal Control in Jonesboro, GA.

I've never pulled cats from Clayton. I don't have anyone with a GA license who can help. There was a big team of people networking to find the one person who could help get the kittens OUT before it was too late.

©2010 Clayton County Animal Control. The clock is ticking. Can we get these cuties out ALIVE?

Yesterday, I spent most of the day and well into the night trying to find that one person. Along the way I found out about other people who pull from GA shelters, other rescue groups, ONE IS IN AUSTRALIA!!! Everyone was trying to help, but the GA License is tough to get and once you have it, you can't just let anyone else use it. So we were left with either trying to get someone local to adopt the cats or finding a local rescue group to take them in-when all are “full up.”

In the end, it was our Maria who totally kicked ass. She had taken the day off to get Vet care for the other kittens she is fostering for me and for another rescue group. Since the Vet appointment was changed, she still had the day off so she decided to go to Clayton and find out what was going on with the kittens. She managed to find out that there were five kittens originally. Three were adopted over the past few days. Two were left. We didn't want to chance leaving them, in the hope they, too, we be adopted. Two kittens are a lot easier to find a rescue for then four, anyway.

We were still scrambling, looking for a rescue to pull the cats on our behalf. Samantha Shelton, the Executive Director/Founder of FurKids contacted me and offered to help pull the cats for us. They have 500 animals in their facility and they rent a HOUSE for cats who have FIV+. Do I love them, already? YES. I do.

At the same time, the group Maria works with, RescueCats, offered to take the kittens, use their GA license and find the kittens homes in Georgia. I would not be transporting them here as I had been planning for the past few days. I was sad about that, but so GLAD they were safe.

A few minutes ago, Maria called me. She told me she got to Clayton and it was CLOSED. They were closed for an employee meeting at 2pm! Maria held her ground and saw a guy near the door. She sweetly managed to convince him to, at least, ask someone to help her even though they were closed. As you see, below, no one says NO to Maria!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. WOOOHOO!!!! AT LAST!!!!

So all is well.

To me, though, the biggest miracle of all was the e-mail I just got from Betsy at Henry. It simply said:

“Safe, just went to local licenses rescue! YAY!”

Her e-mail was referring to the Big Chicky-Baby Kitties I told you about last week. I found out on Monday that Henry is so overcrowded they put down eight cats. I didn't want to know which ones. I feared the worst. For these big sweethearts, their fate was not another sad ending. They are safe and sound and one day will find their perfect forever homes. Until then they will be out of the cage and into a foster home.

I get choked up every time I look at their photos and think about what a big of a miracle it was for these girls to get out ALIVE.

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control. Fran is saved!!!

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control. Cami is saved!!!

Once in awhile, we win one, or two or in this case FIVE. In the middle of all this craziness I found a little siamese kitten at Floyd County-another Kill Shelter. I told a group in New York about her, and she got rescued, too.

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©2010 Floyd County Animal Control. This little baby is going to New York!


Foster Cat Journal: From Foster Mama, with Love

Maria sent me some photos of some of her fosters. They were all just pulled out of Henry County Care & Control. None of them stood a chance of surviving or getting adopted, yet here they are. They beat the odds!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Rocco dreams of his forever home and is very glad to be out of that tiny cage!

Rocco is a mellow guy. He digs belly rubs and just hanging out. Considering he lost his life-long home and must be very confused about what lies ahead, he's taking it on the chin.

It cost $32. to get Rocco busted out and vetted. He was already neutered. That's it. $32 to save his life. I didn't even have to do a fundraiser...of course, to get him to Connecticut might be another story.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Rocco enjoying the sunshine.

Maria discovered a lump on his back flank. Hopefully it's just from getting his vaccines and nothing more. Other than that he's eating well and livin' large. We look forward to his arrival in Connecticut. An adoption at the shelter, just today, opened up a bit more space for him. My dear, Marshmellow (who I was considering adopting) is spoken for. He'll be flying to Minnesota to live with his new family!

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©2010 Maria Sandoval.

The first litter we rescued this week, are lovely little babies. They were starting to get URI's, the death knell for kittens at a shelter. Some are doing worse than others. Hopefully, they will start to get better now that they don't have the stress of shelter life to deal with.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Nap time for this litter of four babies.

Being sick is such a tough start for these little ones, but it's something I see all too often. In fact, the idea of getting kittens that aren't sick seems like an unheard of dream come true.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval. Little flame point in her soft bed.

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©2010 Maria Sandoval.

©2010 Maria Sandoval. I don't feel so good!

©2010 Maria Sandoval.

These little guys will be traveling to New York and New Jersey as soon as they are well enough to go. I know they will find great homes in a heartbeat!

Not on My Watch: Big Red

There's nothing particularly special about a big, red tabby cat who sits in the lobby of Henry County Care & Control. His days of being a cute kitten are years behind him. He was surrendered by his family. They didn't want him any more. We don't know why. We just know they left him in this cage that's barely big enough to hold him.

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control. He doesn't know what he did to deserve being in cage, but Big Red hopes to get out.

He's flanked by two other big tabby cats, from other families that gave up on them, too. They all just sit there, waiting to die. The odds of them being rescued are about nil.

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control.

I want a magic wand. I would wave it over everyone and, first, of course, get them to SPAY & NEUTER their dogs and cats. Next, whatever cat was stuck in a cage at a kill shelter, I would transport them into a new home-one that would love them and care for them and never give up on them. Lastly, I would make Animal Shelter and Rescues not necessary. With no overpopulation problems and no surrendering of animals, we would be able to spend our lives simply loving our pets, with never a tear shed over an animal being euthanized due to space issues or curable illness.

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control.

But I don't have that power, nor do I have the ability to rescue adult cats. Fostering from my home, not a shelter that has visiting hours, makes it impossible to place adults. I know I need help with this. I need a shelter that won't kill this boy, who can take him for me. I need a friend...but who can I ask?

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control.

Call it being annoying or call it calling in a favor, but I sucked it up and nagged Carole at A.I.D. to take this cat. He's declawed and neutered. He's very affectionate, too. He could get a home here in Connecticut AND A.I.D just had quite a few adoptions so I know they have space!

I didn't get an answer right away. I had to wait a few days. I spoke with Carole, who told me she didn't want any more males at the shelter right now and listed all sorts of reasons not to take him, but I had just done her a bunch of big favors, including raising almost $900 for Princess's vet bill, so heck, she caved in and said YES. I hope Carole's not mad at me, but honestly, it's about the cat. He's just a big, red goofhead. He needs OUT of that place.

Before Carole could change her mind, I contacted Betsy and gave her the approval to get this boy out. Needless to say, she was thrilled and surprised. The other two cats are still hoping for a miracle.

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©2010 Henry County Care & Control. Every cat deserves a name. Meet: ROCCO!

As of this writing, this big cat who tips the scales at 20 lbs...and he is BIG, not really FAT, is safe. His snap test was negative/negative and he got his shots. He meowed and yeoweled in the car and at the Vet. He hates being in the cat carrier and he didn't like getting all those shots.

If he only knew he was being rescued, he might have simply relaxed and enjoyed the ride. I'm guessing he is going to be a handful on transport day, but we have two weeks to wait on that and by then he may not care where he goes, as long as he NEVER goes back to Henry County Care & Control again.

I can't say what it is that made me go to bat for this cat. Perhaps it was that he was nothing special that made him so very special, after all.

Not on My Watch: By a Whisker

Last week, I learned a painful lesson. I waited a few hours too long to say, “YES” to rescuing some kittens from Henry County Care & Control. By the time I called, they had been euthanized. Some of them started to show signs of upper respiratory-something we could have easily managed in foster care, but the rules of the shelter are not forgiving.

I cried a lot that day and the images of those kittens are etched in my heart, forever. Though guilt weighs heavily upon me, it does not stop my need to try again.

Over the weekend, I found out about the kittens you see, below. There are two sets of two-really one litter of four in two cages. Each one sweeter than the last. I knew it would be tricky for me to take them since my fosters haven't all be adopted yet, but I was set on doing just that. I started the work trying to put all the puzzle pieces together. Could Maria foster? Yes. Could Bobby transport them to the Vet and get them from HCCAC for me? Yes. How much would this cost? I need to do a fundraiser.

©2010 Henry Care & Control.

Then, another rescue group in New York stepped up to offer to take two of the kittens-the cute lynx point/siamese mixes. Another group said they would take the other two. Fundraising didn't need to be done, but they didn't have a foster home or a way to get the kittens out of HCCAC. So I contacted Betsy at HCCAC and told her about my weird plan. My group pulls the cats, they get funded by another, they get transported to New York and ultimately get fostered and homed by another group! It's nutty, but who cares? Will I miss having them here, YES, but...they will be alive. That's what counts.

Crazy little details sorted. Directions, confirmations and approvals given, I made the call yesterday morning to confirm rescuing the kittens. My heart was racing. I hoped I hadn't waited too long (again). Betsy was out and they asked me to leave a message. I started to panic. I gave them the ID numbers of the kittens and said that I would be happy to take them and to NOT PUT THEM DOWN. I waited.

©2010 Henry Care & Control.

I waited an hour. I didn't want to be a pest. I hate to be annoying, but I was freaking out! I emailed Betsy. I waited. I finally called HCCAC again and she was still out so I asked if there was someone else I could speak with and a gentleman got on the phone and told me they cats were still "available" and that not to worry. Betsy would call back.

©2010 Henry Care & Control.

So. I worried.

A little while later my phone rang. It was Gerri Yoder, the Director at Henry County Care & Control. She told me that Betsy had contacted her and asked her to call me! That not-to-worry, the kittens were safe and they would hold them until we could pick them up the next day. She gave me her direct phone number at the shelter AND her cellphone number. I never have to worry that I can't reach someone who can help me help the kittens.

I stopped worrying. As soon as I started to relax, Gerri told me it was a good thing the kittens were getting a rescue. They had starting to sneeze-showing signs of getting URIs. Then, it hit me. If I had waited another second, they would have been put down. It was by a whisker that these kittens were saved. I wanted to throw up.

A little over an hour ago, these little babies were not only busted out and rescued, but they have already been to the vet and are on their way to Maria's house to be fostered for the next two weeks. They are just six weeks old.

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©2010 Henry Care & Control.

Two have the sniffles, but nothing too bad just now. Bed rest and good food will help them feel better soon. They are out, just in the nick of time...and now they have their whole lives ahead of them, instead of few hours left to live.

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©2010 Henry Care & Control.

Welcome to life outside death row, babies. Welcome! Oh and we have a few more kitties to welcome, too. When you rescue four, you just can't stop there, can you? Heck no!


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