Murray Update

February 1, 2008

I wrote a day or two ago that our little foster cat Murray is having a hard time walking. We took him to the vet, and it could be worse, I suppose, and we might find out that it is. The vet has determined that Murray has cerebellar hypoplasia. I think. I thought that the vet made a very quick diagnosis and could not adequately explain why Murray’s walk has gotten much worse in the past few days since CH is supposed to be nonprogressive. The alternatives are not good either. So we can hope that it is CH which simply means that Murray will walk funny his whole life, but I have a feeling it will be worse. Poor little guy. Our shelter really likes the vet we go to, and he charges us only half price, but I’ve never had good experiences with him. He is super-quick to diagnose and always 100% sure of his diagnosis. And has been wrong in the past. The result is that usually we end up paying out of pocket to get a second opinion, which several times has been important for our little kitties, but if the vet would just listen better and not be so sure of himself, we wouldn’t have to do that. Sigh. Let’s just hope that, for Murray’s sake, he is right. I hope we’ll know more tomorrow after phone consults with other vets. :(

Murray said to thank you for writing nice comments about him and that he appreciates the support.

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Murray the Kitten Teaches Me About Compassion

January 30, 2008

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So, we took in a foster cat named Murray last summer after another foster home said that he was impossible to tame. He was found on the streets of Dorchester, MA as a kitten and all the cuddling of him didn’t seem to work like it did with other kitties. He is the only kitten we’ve ever had to wear gloves with because of biting. But he has improved. He even purrs sometimes when we pet him when he is half-asleep and he ADORES our semi-outcast cat, Gustav who none of the other cats like so well.

June passes, as does July. Come Christmas, Murray is still happily living with us, only letting us touch him when he is sleeping or eating, of course making it impossible to adopt him to a permanent home.

Wolfgang says to me, “Murray is such a cute little dum-diddle-dum.” Just sort of wandering through life, not knowing how good he has it, maybe not the brightest cat ever, and with this funny little waddle where his legs sort of fly out in every which way. But he loves Gustav so much and snuggles up to him and is clearly a happy little guy, enjoying eating a lot, and taking 8 naps a day.

Come mid-January, we are saying, “Gosh, do you think something is wrong with Murray’s legs? His walk does seem to get worse.”

And come yesterday, Murray was running away from me and he legs got all tangled up and he fell. Maybe just a slip?

Then eating his breakfast this morning, his legs were slipping out from under him. The vet said it isn’t an emergency, and tomorrow will be just as fine as today so we take him in tomorrow. I’m not sure if this is because they were just too busy and figured it is so dire, what difference does a day make? (Preliminary internet searches don’t paint a promising picture of back leg problems in cats.) But we can only go to this one vet because he only charges the shelter we volunteer for half-price, so we just wait until tomorrow.

As I was trying to lure Murray out from under the bed to check on him, I realized how much he has taught me. Wolfgang and I are just so worried about him. We want to make sure he isn’t in pain. Enough to eat? Does he want to rest in the nice warm cat bed by the heater? We want everything to be okay with him and for him to live a happy, good life. And it just made me think about all the animals that have sweet little personalities just like Mr. Murray who suffer so much and never get the sort of love and kindness that Murray has been able to get – Murray brings out the love in us – the caring, the compassion, and the selflessness. No small task to bring that out in humans which, in some respects, have a spotty record of caring, compassion, and selflessness, this human included! But, Mur says, “Hey, even though you were planning on going to a class at 1:30 tomorrow, this is the only time the vet could see me so you’ll just have to not take that class.” In their own ways, animals and other dependent creatures (like human children) call us to be our best selves – to care for those who need caring for, to attend to suffering, to give love.

For me, care for Murray and care for the suffering of other animals that have the ability to suffer are such important parts of my faith and my life. I know I am not a perfect and it is just a little part I can do. But, as much as it hurts me to see Murray’s little legs, I am so happy to be able to care for him, take him to the doctor, and give him extra treats. I just feel like so often we say, “Oh, what can we do about all the suffering of the world? All the misery?” And our little animal friends are sometimes teachers to us if we are wiling to listen.

So thanks Murray for letting me love you. And thanks for reminding me to love all animals the best I can who suffer just like you do with your little legs. I hope it is nothing and the vet makes you better.

Love, Elizabeth


Second Funny Thing of the Week

January 12, 2008

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10 Ways to Be a Better Cat Parent

January 10, 2008

10. Get your kitty a scratch board. Most of them come with catnip. It helps meet their need to scratch (helps your furniture, too) and they love it. Our kitties use them sort of like comfort blankets – when they are stressed or upset, they run to the scratch board, do some scratching, and then lay on it. (By the way, if you have considered declawing your cat (and thus he or she would have no need of a scratch board), this would rank very high on the list of ways to be NOT a better cat parent. You can read more here.)

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9. Take at least 10 (if not more!) minutes a day to give your little cuddle bunny your undivided attention. I find that mindless petting is appreciated, but not sufficient. Just take some time to say “You are my focus.” Rubbing, gentle combing (if they like that), playing, mixed with sweet talk (“Yes you are the queen of the household!” or “Who is the smartest cat ever?”) goes a long way and is greatly appreciated.

8. Don’t let your cat outside. It may seem like they love the outdoors and would feel restricted inside, but explain to them that cats that go outdoors have a significantly shorter lifespan than indoor cats – surely they would prefer to live longer. They may meow at the door for a while, but they’ll get used to it and appreciate that they are not hit on the street, mauled by a possum or raccoon, the object of a prank by local kids, or whisked away by a coyote. I grew up with cats I LOVED that were outdoor and if you would like to hear one of my many horror stories about the way our outdoor cats met their ends as an inspiration to keep your kitty inside, let me know.

7. New toys. The old ones get boring. I highly recommend feather sticks* and things that sparkle.

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6. If it is important to you that your kitty live as long as possible, consider feeding him or her good food. It is more expensive, but so much better than regular brand name foods that you get at the grocery store (unless you shop someplace like Whole Foods). Brands our holistic vet suggests are Pet Promise, Pet Guard, Wellness and Inova, and our cats like them all (more or less). If you buy mail order, bulk orders from places like www.petfooddirect.com can help save money. Watch out for the 22% off coupons sent to people on their email list ever few weeks and order only when you have one of those. Some people go as far as feeding their feline friends raw, fresh food, including thawed frozen mice, but this is a bit too much for us. (Note: Some people argue that cats can be healthy vegetarians. We are not convinced and not willing to risk our kitties’ health to test this out.)

5. Consider what vaccines are essential for your kitty, depending on whether or not he/she is indoor only, and is exposed to other cats. Over-vaccination has become a problem and appears to reduce lifespan and sometimes cause tumors. Ask your vet to check for antibody titers before vaccination boosters. You may not need to vaccinate as often as you think or with as many vaccinations as you think.

4. An occasional can of tuna goes a long way. Just don’t let the little monsters get too spoiled or else they won’t eat their other food.

3. Most cats like having a friend, especially if they spend a lot of time home alone. Introducing a new kitty can be tricky, but worth it. Read up on it before you do the big introduction. And, of course, always adopt from a shelter or from someone who is giving up his or her kitty – never from a breeder or pet store.

2. Keep that litter box super-clean. Cats have sensitive noses and no one likes to use the restroom while having to navigate around old poop!

1. Learn about cats. They have feelings, instincts, and ways of being that are way different than humans. Understanding them better will help you be a better cat parent.

Brought to you by Henry, the happiest cat in Washington D.C.:

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*Re: the feather sticks – I am not sure of where the feathers on these toys come from. I am guessing that birds are not raised and killed for these feathers, but I am guessing they are actually from birds. Which can’t be good. Bonus for someone who can find a feather stick with either synthetic feathers or from lovingly raised and unharmed birds. Which brings up the issue of mouse toys with real mouse fur. We have gotten these second hand from friends with kitties and the cats do like them a lot. But we don’t buy them. While I don’t love the idea of real mice fur on toys, this is not the hill I will die on. Do as your heart leads you.


Give a Girl a Chance – Get Good Karma

September 2, 2007

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We are regular foster cat parents. And we have run into a semi-desperate situation for a lovely cat named Marisol. We kindly ask anyone to consider offering her a home, or send this to someone who might have a space in their home and heart for a cat whose had a hard time of it, and a foster family that would like to be foster-free for a while.

Marisol was originally in a family that abused her. Then another family rescued her. Then they abandoned her. We found her in the middle of winter living outside, quite miserable. We adopted out the four other cats that were left with her. But because Marisol has some trust issues and was previously abused, and does not tolerate other cats well, we have had a tough time finding a place for her. A family that loved her adopted her, but also two other cats at the same time, and so they had to give her back because she did not get along with the other cats. She has had to live in a room by herself since she was returned to us. She is quite lonely.

We even got desperate and skeptically consulted an “animal communicator” (a.k.a. cat psychic) to try to determine why Marisol might be so unhappy with people touching her and we were quite impressed with her assessment, given that she knew nothing about Marisol’s situation prior to our talk. The animal communicator confirmed that she only likes to be touched when Mari initiates it, and that she is very unhappy that we have so many other cats running around. And, the animal communicator confirmed our suspicions that Marisol had the possibility to be a very sweet cat (less distance and moody and less resistant to being touched) if she is the only cat. For two days when she was the only cat in our apartment during our move before our other cats came, she was like a totally different cat and quite friendly. It isn’t that she isn’t happy to see us now, but she is clearly frustrated, stressed, and upset to have been abandoned and then cooped up in a room for nearly nine months with tons of cats running around the house (she can see them under the crack in her door and it drives her crazy).

Anyway, sorry for those of you who are not animal lovers – this perhaps seems a bit over the top, but we do feel like all cats deserve a good, loving, permanent homes and we just want to make sure that Marisol gets that. We know we can’t do that for all the cats in the world, but we try to do it for those that cross our paths.

We are looking for a loving patient family in the New England area with NO CHILDREN, and NO OTHER CATS or OTHER ANIMALS who would be happy to work with a cat who has had a hard time of it. She will not be a cuddle-bunny, but she LOVES to hang around people, play, eat, and just hang out. She may get to where she liked to be touched a lot, but for now, she just likes to be touched on the head some and mostly left to herself. She is quite unhappy in our extra room, yet we have grown to love her and feel like we need to find her a good home. As an exception, we will consider adopting her to an indoor/outdoor home, although we think an indoor home would be best. If outdoors, it needs to be a pretty safe situation. Please email elizabeth199 at gmail dot com if you have some interest in Mari. We are willing to take her just about anywhere if the family is willing to have her and be good to her.

Help me! Let me out of this room!

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Marisol the abused abanonded cat guest blogging.

May 17, 2007

So we are fostering a cat, Marisol, that has had a really hard time of it. And she spends her days and nights reaching her huge paws out from under her prison door meowing for us to give her more attention and play with her. If you are within a four hour driving distance of Boston, consider reading Marisol’s plea guest blog about why you might want to adopt her.

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Hi everyone. My name is Marisol. This is my first time blogging. I must say, the last six months have been hard. In October, my human, who had rescued me when I was a kitten from a terribly abusive situation, up and left town, leaving me and four of my friends outside. She just left us. THEN it wasn’t until J-A-N-U-A-R-Y that we were rescued. It was so cold, one of us got frostbite. We were rescued by a nice family, but the situation is that because of my history of abuse, well, I’m a little different from other cats and I haven’t been able to find a home. I did find one home, and they loved me a lot, but I hated their other cats (they just made me too nervous) and I was too aggressive to them, so the family had to give me up. It was very sad. Lots of things are sad for me. Now I’m in a loving foster home but there are still other cats around and so I have to stay in a room by myself all the time because I don’t get along with other cats.

I am looking for a loving, patient family with no children and no other animals, where I can be an inside cat, and where I will have lots of love.

I am about five years old, have all my shots, I am fixed, and I am healthy. I have extra toes on my feet which look sort of cute, I think. I am very playful. Because of my history of abuse, I often don’t like to be touched – and I tell you so by a little scratching and biting. If you aren’t too pushy with me, I wouldn’t hurt you – but I make it clear when I don’t want to be touched and I need that to be respected. I can be very loving when I relax, but that isn’t that often as of yet, although my host family thinks I have potential.

So, if you are a loving person or family with no children and no other animals and no plans to get any other animals, maybe you could consider me. I have had a hard time of it, and would love a stable, loving home of my own, with someone to care for me.

If you would like more information or to meet me, please contact Elizabeth my foster mom. I live in Somerville but my foster family is willing to take me far and wide for the right family. And the shelter that my family volunteers for will waive my adoption fee since I am a “special case.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Marisol the cat

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The Newest UU Kittens

May 10, 2007

 emma, tristen, and toby

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The Rescued Cats are Getting Famous!

March 6, 2007

Well, sort of famous. I send their story to a blog called 4 The Love of Animals because she seems to be doing such cool work trying to raise awareness and make connections particularly around issues of animal adoption. She has a store, and a blog, and a database with rescue organizations all over the country. Neat. Readers of this blog already know the story, but in case you want to relive it all over again, it is here.


Cat Update! Happy Tails!

February 28, 2007

Many of you have followed our cat saga with five cats that were abandoned, and needed substantial medical care. I am happy to say that thanks to many kind individuals – including UFETA members and blog readers who gave to help cover the costs of medical care – and two shelters – Second Chance Shelter in Jamaica Plain and Animal Umbrella in Revere – who gave money, medicine, and living space – four of the five cats are now in happy homes! We managed to adopt the Mama cat and two brothers to one home so that they can stay together (they were very attached!). A volunteer at the shelter fell in love with them and they moved in this weekend (I just found out). They are three very very sweet cats, but a bit older. So adopting three older cats into one home was quite the feat!

And we think we may have found a home for kitty number 5 – Marisol the attack cat. There is a family who will visit her soon that is willing to work with her and is okay with the possibility that she may never like to be touched.

So that is happy news. Thanks for all the help and encouragement, everyone.

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All the Cats are Saved

February 1, 2007

Well, for those of you who follow my cat rescuing adventures, we currently have all five abandoned cats in our extra room (see a few posts ago for the situation – how we got them, where they come from, etc.). Everyone has had shots, dental work (a lot of acute gingivitis), tests, check-ups and so on. A big thank you to some UFETA donors who helped to cover the cost of everyone’s medical care (which, by the way, was not cheap even with a 50% discount) and to Second Chance Shelter in Jamaica Plain who has helped to adopt Abby out and helped pay for the cost of the medical care. Goldie had frostbite, which was sad because it is quite painful. Everyone had fleas and earmites. Poor kitties’ ears are all red and Goldie was also allergic to the fleas he had, so he had sores and scabs from that. It is clear that the little guys are SO content and happy to be in a warm, clean, safe place. They LOVE to be rubbed (except Bigfoot/Marisol who is veerryyy temperamental). Mama Calico threw up today, all yellow looking bile (sorry to be gross) which does concern me a bit. So she may have to go back to the vet. But the point is that everyone is doing well and it was, I think, the most compassionate and caring thing to do to get them treatment and care for them (a few posts back you can see that I was considering whether or not euthanasia would be a more compassionate option since they are quite old and will likely never be adopted). The three older ones are moving to a great shelter where they don’t use cages and they will get medical care and human love and interaction. The two younger ones will be adopted to loving homes. They love to purr and the two younger ones love to chase the ping pong ball. Here are some pictures.

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JR sleeping

Goldie and Mama Cat

Mama Calico and Goldie

Comforting Goldie

This is me sleeping next to Goldie on the floor trying to comfort him because he was yowling the whole night and Wolfgang had to work the next day so I went in to try to get him to calm down and fell asleep. Wolfgang found me and took a picture.

Marisol

Marisol, also known as big foot since she has seven claws and seven paw pads on both front feet.

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Goldie greeting his mom Calico after she was caught several days after him. Once his brother and Mom joined him, he stopped yowling all the time. Thank goodness.