Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So, Ben just went back to the shelter today for neuter surgery and the adoption floor. Last night, he left me with some pictures I had to share. I'll post them in sequence, so you can see the developing fun.

I came into the bathroom last night and this is what I found. Someone discovered the toilet paper roll and holder!

What's this?

Now, like many of my kitten predecessors, I will help you remove the icky mauve plastic wall tile, too!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Foster kitten Smoke, who was still sitting at the shelter alone after his sister was adopted, was put on hold yesterday and taken home today. I got to say good-bye to him and meet his adopter.

Yahya went back to the shelter on Tuesday for neuter surgery after getting the go ahead from our vet. While I wouldn't say he is nice and plump, he is a slim but healthy weight. It was amazing to watch how quickly his wounds healed up. We were thinking the largest one would need stitches once the infection cleared but it closed up nicely on its own. It was about the size of a quarter when I brought him home and within two days it was dime sized and when I returned him it was a dot. Today, it's completely healed and his fur is already growing back. He has white, light orange and dark orange fur all in that area and it looks really cool growing back. There are still 3 small scars where the bot flies were removed which are bigger than anything left by the large wound. When I left today, he was curled up on his fleece blanket with his green hippo stuffed toy.

I brought Ben (in the photos!) home that same night I returned Yahya. He lagged behind his siblings in his prior foster home and they had to return him before going on vacation. He was steadily gaining weight in the shelter again so I have him for a while for weight gain. He's a tiny little thing compared to our last few but very loud.

The oldest of our classic editions, as Alan calls them, Tora the 14 year old brown and white tabby is really sick. We have him separated from everyone else in our bedroom, mainly to give him space from the crazy dogs. He kept up us the first couple nights because his breathing was so awful. His lungs are full of fluid. He sounds better after a few days of meds which brought his temperature down. The emergency clinic diagnosed an upper respiratory infection but it's much worse and without the nasal and eye symptoms we usually see with URI. We're not totally sure what is happening but he does have some kind of respiratory infection as well as a UTI and asthma. The x-rays showed a lot of fluid around his lungs and possibly his heart. I'm worried about how congested his lungs still sound but he's eating well and trying to escape the room, so he must be feeling better. It's crazy how quickly cats can go downhill. One day he's getting a little matted, which was new and worrisome, and the next he's agonal breathing. It must be their small body size. We will probably be going back in sometime this week if he continues to sound so horrible. He is a house cat but did manage to sneak out an accidentally left open door and was out for a few hours earlier in the week. He's looking a little scraggly in this photo and I think this is the first time ever that he's actually looked like an elderly cat. He's starting to get old cat skinny hips. After kidney stones 5 years ago and a small cancerous tumor removed 4 years ago, he's had a pretty awesome run of health. The cancer was most likely injection site located cancer which has a very high recurrence. We've been very lucky up until now.

Needless to say we are being very careful to practice good hygiene to protect both the kitten and the sick cat from each other. We always keep the fosters in a separate room that is well-cleaned between uses. So far, neither of the other two classics are showing any signs of illness.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yesterday, I brought two kittens back to the shelter for spay and neuter surgery, a full week after their sister, the little fatty, Rosie, was adopted. Ember and Smoke http://tiny.cc/zt96c, as of close time tonight, were both still available and showing up on the website. Ember has some of the most beautiful tortie coloring I've ever seen. Smoke is a huge cuddler and is also very pretty with black fur sprinkled with wisps of white. I kept them a little longer than I had planned because our surgery list was very long and crammed with other kittens earlier this week and I found out they both had roundworms.


I had hoped to get them back on Saturday so I could take Yahya home sooner. Yahya, a male orange and white tabby kitten came into the shelter a mess. Staff pulled 3 bot flies (cuterebra) out of his neck. (Don't google cuterebra if you are squeamish--they are the closest thing to Aliens I've ever seen!) He also had a large, wide open wound on his neck that was surrounded by necrotic tissue and infested in maggots. It may have been a bot fly hole that got torn and/or infected. He was skinny and scraggly and the most pathetic kitten I've ever seen. The bots were some of the largest we've ever pulled out of an animal and were probably making it difficult for him to swallow. I washed the wounds--Yahya was amazingly well behaved in what was basically a very intrusive and long bath with lots of probing of sore places--and the vet gave him something for parasites and prescribed an antibiotic. I learned that I'm really not that bothered by the creepy crawlies in the wounds especially since I told myself the maggots only attack dead tissue. (I found out later that that wasn't necessarily true but they did seem to be only around the dead tissue in this case.) Over the next week, the bot fly wounds healed quickly--it's amazing how quickly they heal--and Yahya had to put up with the vet debriding the large wound and daily cleaning.
By this past weekend, we were able to stop debriding. The scab is only about the size of a nickel now and it's surrounded by pretty new pink skin. He's still sloughing some of the dead skin but is looking like a kitten and not a walking wound now. During all of this, he was a trooper but he got a little scared of people since the treatment was probably painful. He's home with us now to gain some weight and learn to trust again. The vet thinks he only will need about a week before he can return for neuter surgery. We're hoping his testicles will deign to drop by then as he's now cryptorchid. (We originally thought he was a she because of that and who really wanted to subject him to more probing after everything he'd been through that first day?)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three out of the five in the litter of foster kittens reached spay and neuter surgery weight on Monday and went through surgery on Tuesday. Here's a picture of Meg that we didn't use for the shelter website for obvious reasons. I chose to use names of characters from Dickens's novels, probably because I recently finished reading Dan Simmons's book Drood which has Dickens as a character. I realized that Dickens has awesome male character names but the female names and characters leave something to be desired. The litter was named Pip, Nicholas, Oliver, Bella and Meg. Bella and Nicholas are awaiting another foster home to get up to surgery weight while I have a new litter of 5 much more at risk foster kittens at home. The litter I have was with their mom waiting for foster for over a week and while waiting the mom got sick with upper respiratory infection. The kittens were at a healthy weight and were eating on their own so we separated them and so far they are doing fine. Mom can focus on getting better herself now. In the meantime, I will worry about Bella and Nicholas until they are out into a new foster home.

So, this brings me to the purpose of this post. Pretty much every shelter in the country is inundated with kittens and cats at this time of year. Foster parents are crucial to keeping these animals healthy until they are able to be adopted. Foster families are also needed for animals recovering from illness or injuries and other special circumstances like pregnancy watches in guinea pigs. Many rescues use foster families instead of having shelter space. I haven't ever heard of any shelter saying they have enough foster volunteers. Foster volunteering is one of the most flexible of volunteer positions at AHS. You choose who you want to foster including what type of animal and what situations and when you want to do it and how long. To stay active you only have to foster a few times a year. You do have to apply and go through a training, but all of that is set up to be very convenient. It is one of the most emotionally satisfying volunteer experiences I've ever had, it's great fun, and you can cuddle kittens all you want. As someone who loves her three cats but doesn't have a single lap cat amongt them, I can tell you that cuddling kittens is one of the great stress relievers of this world. Fostering can be tough at times but if you look back at my experiences, you have to remember that in the past I was taking kittens that I wasn't comfortable sending out with regular foster families. All of the kittens we send out for foster here are healthy body weights and if they don't have mom with them are doing fine on their own. Fostering a litter with a mom is a nice break as mom does most of the work for you. All you need is patience, an open heart and a room you can clean and where you keep them separate from your resident pets. If you live in the Twin Cities are and would like to explore becoming a foster volunteer, please visit the Animal Humane Society website at http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/help/volunteer/gettingstarted. Make sure you note that you are looking to be a foster volunteer as that process is a little different from our regular on-site volunteer opportunities. If you live in another area, you can find local rescues and shelters at Petfinder. There are shelters to match any animal lover's philosophy, so if the first one you find isn't a good match, you should be able to find one that's better.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why it took me four nights to finish the last 20 pages of Ben Parzybok's Couch! (What you aren't seeing is one of the grey kittens attacking the hand holding the book every time I started to read.)

Now I'm trying to read Holly Black's The Poison Eaters and finding the kittens are fascinated by the shiny cover.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here are photos of a new litter of five foster kittens that I brought home for socialization and a little weight gain. We have one buff tabby, one orange tabby, a solid grey spitfire and two other grey ones with white paws and bellies. They were hissing and spitting on Thursday night when I brought them home. I'm keeping them in a large dog kennel to get them used to being handled and being around people.

A couple of the kittens launched themselves at the closed door of the kennel when they spotted the dogs, spitting and hissing. It scared the dogs so much I had to walk them past the kennel to get them out of the room again. I wore leather gardening gloves at first but during the first day was already able to stop using them.

Most of the kittens are already purring up a storm when they are held. All of them startle easily and sometimes still hiss when surprised.

The solid grey kitten is the hold out and still hisses when you reach in to pick him up. Alan spent some extra time with him today. When given the choice of moving off our laps, though, he prefers to stay put rather than moving back into his safe kennel space and he does seem to enjoy being petted.

Monday, February 08, 2010

I had no idea the Minnesota Puppy Mill Bill was so controversial but because of a group of pretty nasty, anonymous comments on a post from last year's bill, I've had to finally turn on comment moderation. I'm sorry for any inconvenience for nonanonymous posters.

And so, because I was going to post it anyway. Here is information on the current bill. This bill is really needed--I've worked with some of these rescued dogs--and all the breeders I've spoken to have been in favor of the bill as they've seen some of the abuses that happen out there and are concerned about them, too.

From the Animal Humane Society website:

Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill 2010
Can you imagine your pet(s) not having enough food and water or a warm, safe place to sleep? What if they weren’t given the opportunity to exercise or experience everyday interactions with humans?

For many dogs and cats across the state of Minnesota those circumstances are the only ones they know. Join us in our efforts to help these animals.

The situation
Minnesota is among the top producers of puppies and kittens in the United States. Breeding these animals is a multi-million dollar industry with no state licensing or inspection. While many breeders in Minnesota act responsibly. The problem is the inhumane breeding and care practices. There are reports of breeding facilities housing more than 1,000 animals. Many of the animals live in horrific conditions—cages stacked on top of one another in unsanitary conditions, inadequate food, water and veterinary care; with animals receiving little or no exercise or socialization.

In our work, we see the tragic results of animals coming out of these facilities.

Many states have enacted legislation that provides licensing and inspection of breeding facilities in this country. Minnesota can no longer turn its back on animal cruelty.

Learn more

Read the bill, learn about opposition

Learn about the issue of inhumane breeding

Review recent puppy mill cases

How you can help

For further research on puppy mills and more about the Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill, visit our friends at Animal Folks Minnesota.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I'm sitting with the littlest of the foster kittens on my lap with Kachina the dog tucked up next to us. Kachina is fascinated by the foster kittens and is steadily staring at her. The little one has her paw curled over her eyes and has rolled over on her side so I can pet both her back and tummy. We're both worried about her, I think. (I would take a picture but I don't want to disturb either other of them.) We've lost little ones before and I admit I'm nervous. I was trying to fatten all of them up pre-surgery and thought they might be coming down with upper respiratory infections, so I gave them free access to canned food. This resulted in liquid diarrhea for everybody. I removed the canned and am supplementing the dry kitten food with some that is watered down, boiled and mushed. Everyone including the little one were eating the canned food. Now, this one has decided she'll be finicky and I'm not sure how much she's eating. Everyone else is still pigging out whenever I'm around. The diarrhea is much better but with five of them, it's hard to tell for everyone. She's easily half the size of the next smallest and isn't as active as the others. So, I worry and wonder if I'm being paranoid or not being worried enough. She hasn't lost any weight but she hasn't gained any, yet. She's the first kitten in a long time who sat on my lap nicely while I've been writing. I worry that that is a sign she's getting sick, although she did climb around a lot when Alan first brought her out. We lost the last kitten to "failure to thrive" which is a way of saying we don't know what happened. I really don't want to go through that again so soon. She's loooking at me now and made a litte complaining mew because I'm typing too much and not petting her! Maybe she's just being lazy and wants a warm lap and cuddles!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Now we have the obligatory foster kitten post...

Three kittens suddenly became five the next day as a couple more showed minor upper respiratory infection symptoms. An assortment of sizes and colors--all from the same home with three possible mothers and at least two, likely three, litters. We have three grey ones with an assortment of white paws in a couple cases and one with a stub of a tail (all different sizes), a siamese mix, and a larger sleek and slim tuxedo girl.

They all seem to be fine now so the symptoms may have been related to their living conditions or a vaccine reaction. We'll have them until Monday. Five really isn't any harder than three. Right?