Saturday, December 19, 2009


First, the good news. Paul's eye is much improved. Looks like it probably isn't a tumor and the inflammation is decreasing. His lense is being reabsorbed without too much difficulty. His medication has decreased to once a day. He's playful, friendly and very curious. He doesn't like doors of any kind, on a crate or in the bathroom. He purrs up a storm and loves to be cuddled and played with. The rest of the story is the reason why I've skipped 3 days of writing. Too much. We've lost kitties. We have 5 kitties left, 4 here, one at foster (one died at foster too). One of the ones we have, Isabelle, has been battling her URI and is getting intensive care. She gets her oral and nasal antibiotics, she's tented in a cage and vaporized 3 x a day. Today, she's finally getting better. We added colostrum that we add to water and syringe feed. She's gotten about 2 oz today and it's made a great difference. She'd quit eating so it serves as nutrition and an immune boost. Peter is a bit punk, not gaining much weight and still shy. Another, a long haired grey tabby we've yet to name, is going strong, playing and eating, gaining weight, but still shy. 2 died during the night on Tuesday, one at the vet on Wednesday, and 2 died yesterday. Three had similar symptoms, 2 had different symptoms, even than each other. We're still unsure what killed them but believe it was a combination of things, their URI's, depleted immune systems and for some, possible panlucopenia. The last one, yesterday, was fine at 9am, and gone by 5pm - no vomit, no diarrhea fine in the am, then gone by 5pm. One of the symptoms shared by 4 of the ones that died is that their body temperature cools. Once a cats body temp goes cool, there's not much that can be done. As hard as this is to hear, imagine how hard it is to experience. The cat we had tested at the vet had no nutriphils, one of the bacteria fighting cells. We returned to Henry's Friday. We took the 4- 6 week old kitties - sorry we didn't get pictures, they were adorable. Long hair fuzzy kitties, 3 female, 1 male, pretty wild but because they're young, they should socialize fairly easy. They went from Henry's to Elmhurst Animal Care (EAC) for their vaccines, Frontline, and one got a Feline Leukemia test. Our Outreach Director, Janet P, found a home for them at CatNap, where they went from EAC this morning. We learned that another litter had been born about Thanksgiving. Out of 3, one tiny 2 week old remained. Her mouth and nose were red, she was missing a toe, she had scratches and small wounds all over, in addition to being overrun with fleas. The vet said she still had a lot of spunk so our wonderful volunteer and now foster mom, Kallie took her and her supplies home to feed, express and lovingly care for. Little one has 3 people caring for her (we think) round the clock. She's had a rough life. Henry rescued her from the house cats when they were throwing her around between them. He put it in the carrier before we got there. One of her siblings had no legs. Henry didn't know if it was a birth defect or if the cats ate the legs. I don't know if it's true but I've heard sometimes the dad kills kittens to encourage cats to have more little ones. I also wonder if, when living in crowded situations, they might kill the young, more volnerable ones. We're going to trap the remaining cats. Five will be returned to Henry after their surgeries, vaccines, and wellness checks and/or meds. The fate of the others is still unknown. With so many variables, healthy, sick, low funds, no place for them to go, there are decisions to be made. Each cat has to be trapped, evaluated and vetted. We are going to try to save as many as we can. We have more leeway with the project. Now that so many are out and we're helping, Henry is feeling less anxious. As hard as this has been, the next phase I think, will be harder. As I've said before, Henry is not a bad man. When his wife first started bringing cats into the house, he was getting them sterilized - the whole thing just got to be too much for him. A wife with Alzheimer's and a son with rage issues strong enough for institutionalization. He wants what's best for the cats he loves and cares for, he just needs his life back - at 89, the sooner, the better. If you'd like to be part of the team to help the house cats, please contact us by email or comment. We need all the help we can get. Of course, we always need more money, foster homes, adopters, sponsors too. If you have a couple of house cats, why not one more? We'll help with incorporating with your current babies and wouldn't adopt out sick cats to homes with healthy cats. Give a cat a home for the holidays sorry, blog won't let me post photos!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Henry's Cats - To foster

These babies are going to foster tomorrow! Meghan and Al are wonderful kitty people. Won't be long and they'll be ready for adoption. They are 2 of the friendlier of the bunch - still scared but not as much some of the others. We still have plenty available for foster. We provide all necessary food and crates, etc. WE NEED MORE FOSTER HOMES - PLEASSSSSSSSSSSSSE I spoke to Henry today. He's in the midst of a huge change of life. Two weeks before we met, he'd gotten into a car accident. His fault. His foot slipped off the pedal. He and another driver went to the hospital. He's since gone to court and lost his license. Today, he took his bicycle to get groceries. It was mild - tomorrow it won't be. So, we deal with the cats and leave him to be? I don't think so. I'm calling the Health Commissioner of his municipality, the woman who originally called us, to see if they have some sort of senior services that assist in their area. Back to the cats. All the house kitties are about the same. Still either friendly or shy, sickish or getting healthier. Mike, one of our new volunteers involved in this project found out about Z today. Not an easy thing to tell a new volunteer who, the last time he saw Z held him in his arms while he purred and nuzzled. He, Mike, has been wonderful with the kitties and is greatly responsible for a lot of their care. We're still giving doxycycline for their URI's. Most are relatively easy to medicate. 3 are difficult and 2 we can only give in food. One of them quit eating canned and we're having to feed in a pureed chicken and Prowl (see for info) mixture. (We have it for one of our other kitties - Binka, who has an enlarged heart and liver and digestive problems so is on a special diet - a cutie who we're hoping will grow into her enlarged organs). We're investigating a mushroom mixture to help boost their immune systems and combat the viral issues. ............We're due to see Henry on Thursday. He said there are 4 (not 3) little ones, born Nov 5, that are now running around. It's too early to take them from mom but we're hoping to evaluate their medical condition and possibly take mom and the babies for a couple weeks, then return mom. She's one of 3 we're planning to leave there. I say hoping because they hide behind a pile (the only inaccessible place in the house but for between the walls) and we're hoping they come out.... maybe we can lure them with oily tuna. Not looking forward to Thursday, the stench, the situation. The inventory. Still no place for the cats in the house. 16 cats need a home and that doesn't include the 10 kittens we have. Thank those of you who have donated money towards this project. It really helps and we most certainly appreciate it - in these tough economic times, donations are even more appreciated. We haven't even come close to covering cost so any money sent this way is welcome.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Henry's Cats - And then there were 10

Sadly, we lost Z Saturday. He left feeling loved and in comfort. In the days prior to his passing he received and responded to a lot of love, it was beautiful. He loved being held, didn't even need to be petted, he just loved laying in someone's arms where he purred and nuzzled. His eyes looked better than he had in days but he just couldn't fight the infection. Its one of the rough parts of rescue, loosing them. We understand it's part of life. THe fact that these cats came out of such a sick home, if we save 1/2 of them, it's better than their previous fate. But it's hard. Neither of the photos picture Z - the red is Paul and the greys (yet unnamed - suggestions?) are 2 of the almost socialized and healthy ones. Gladly, a lot of the kitties are doing really well. They're learning how to play, responding to their meds and a routine is settling in. Playtime in the bathroom that now houses the cat tower - metal frame about 4 ' high, surrounded by netting with hammocks in the middle for extra fun. Some, like Paul, Peter, Emma, Cat # 3, 5, 7 (we haven't named them all yet). Others just sit and watch, like they're back in their cages but more of them are learning how to play all the time. Their coats are much healthier already and hey've all put on weight. Paul has his next visit with the ophthalmologist Dec 18. Where his lense should be is a pale mass encased in vessels. It could be due to a ruptured, necrotic lens being reabsorbed, or a congenital malformation of the lense or, unlikely, an intra ocular tumor. He's on opthalmic prednizone for the inflammation - we're hoping for the best. He's a sweetie. THe friendliest and most playful of the bunch. Depending on the outcome of the visit, he's ready for adoption. We'll post here and on our petfinder account. This picture is a few days old, he looks even better now. His picture is at the top of the page. Some of the kitties are taking longer to recover from their URI infection. 5 out of the 11 are really shy and 3 of them are questionable for socialization............. if they aren't socialized, then what. Emergency volunteer hours are needed to get these cats socialized. Volunteers can come as little as often as abailable, scheduling is a must tho. - no drop in's please. We'll be going to Henry's (sorry can't take it out of 'bold') this week to inventory for age, temperment, description to see if any are able to be socialized and adopted. Still no word on placement. No one has stepped up to volunteer to take any of the feral type house cats. We're having a difficult time thinking about what's going to have to happen if no one comes forward. Decisions and end dates are going to be set soon. Writing to one of the volunteers who's going to accompany me to the house, I spoke of deadline, end date. Never have those words been as appropriate and horrid.

Henry's Cats

Another part of working with the kitties is really crappy.............. as in litter, and lots of it! They are a lot of work. Changing and filing water and food bowls, changing bedding, sweeping and washing the crates, changing and cleaning the litter boxes, cleaning the litter boxes and dishes, clearing and cleaning the playroom after each session. Times 11. This is about a 3 hour job. Meds are 2 or 3 times a day. Vaccines, de-worming, de-fleaing, topical application for sores. During the day, pans are cleaned as needed, as are water bowls, and any litter on the floor messes, sometimes, mixed with water - mmmmmmmmmm. Nice clay. Then there's placement. Where can these kitties go? Calls, emails and inquiries trying to find foster homes. People willing to take them, care for them, socialize and love them. Checking with shelters for placement or fosters. Then, when we are fortunate to find someone to agree to homing, socializing and caring for one or 2 of Henry's babies, there's training and prep and packing for the move. Then there's the paper work keeping track of them all, the visits to the vet, the wonderful 'kitty buddies' that come to help socialize the newly formed team to help care for Henry's cats. As I've stated before, we're a TNR group. Our specialty is working with cats living in the streets, to help get them sterilized and cared for. To help people who feed the cats take care of the cats. We aren't equipped to care for these or any kitties............. but we do, because no one else will, but I digress. This is only the kitties. There are still 16 cats and 3 young kittens at Henry's. We've yet to find homes for them. A home for them is a place that will take them in, let them live there, care for them. The cat may or may not become friendly. They won't attack. They're use to having people around but they haven't had much individual attention. A yard would be considered if the conditions were right. A heated garage, to come and go. Good food, TNR, vetting as necessary.......... the relocation process essentially means they have to be confined in a space (to be discussed, not a crate) at their new home for 4-6 weeks before they're let out. If cats are just moved to an outdoor shelter, they bolt in search of 'home' and live miserable lost lives. Colonies are well established and not always welcoming. If you have a good home you'd like to offer, please contact us asap. Like those that have yard cats, that can't touch them, they love them anyway. We'll be putting a deadline on the house cats soon. Henry needs them gone. We have no place for them. We do have 2 kittens going to foster care tomorrow, 2 on Tuesday and we heard back from Treehouse, they are having their biggest event of the year this weekend. THe admissions committee will review our request to take some of the kittys next week. We requested they take Peter, Paul & Z, plus Emma, Earl Grey and Ellie. The 'eye' boys, because Treehouse is better able to care for their needs and Treehouse cares for cats and the three grey/grey tabbys because they're at a crucial time in their socialization. They're really skiddish and need more individual TLC if they're going to be adoptable - because if they're not................................. then what. We need volunteers until the kitties are all placed!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peter, Paul & Z, Henry's Cats

We pulled (took the kittens to their new temporary home) the kittens on our 4th visit there. On our 3rd visit, Henry said he found a dead kitten (a 3 week old) in the hall. He reached into a closet and took out plastic bag that contained the dead kitten. It was in a state of decay. He said he use to bury them but can’t anymore – he’s tired and weakened by 89 years of a hard life. Remember, his wife, the woman who brought the cats in, was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s , for years before she went into a care center. We took the cat. Put it into the trunk and buried it. The smell stays in your nose for hours. On our second visit, in addition to extra litter boxes and water bowls, we brought cat toys. Most didn’t know what to do with them.

There are 3 remaining kittens , born Nov 5, who are staying until they’re are 8 weeks old. We’d pull them but there’s no place for them and the mom to go. Sad, it’s a sick house. Not just because of the urine but because of what has to be, dead cats in the walls. Cats often go to dark secluded places to die. We’ve seen them enter through a crawl space. Not to mention the Herpes /URI infections that effects the entire household. But there’s no place to go. Which is the real reason most people don’t want to deal with hoarders. Because there’s no place for the cats to go. Because some of the cats have to be killed as a result. Because we’re in this to save cats, not kill them.

Someone wanted 7 cats, 2 for her and 5 for her friend. I told her about the relocation process and I haven’t heard back from her. I also asked if she might be willing to pay the clinic fee of $26 per cat……. Said it wasn’t mandatory – that we were appreciative she’d take the cats.

We’re applying to get some of them admitted to TreeHouse’s foster/adoption progra m. We’re waiting to hear from CatNap who said they’d help. Animal Care League said they didn’t have room.

The 11 kittens we pulled range in age between about 4 – 6 months. They’ve been with us for about 10 days and they already look much better. They’re putting weight on, their coats are getting a shine and their URI’s are clearing up.

Peter, Paul & Zee, three medium and short hair orange tabbies, soft as a cloud, have terrible eye problems. Peter is blind in his right eye due to a herpes infection that probably happened before they all opened their eyes. Peter has an active herpes ulcer that has eaten away his lense. We’re hoping the ointment will stop the infection and just leave him with a blind eye. Paul has inflammation of the cornea that could be due to genetics, infection or a tumor – we’ll find out next week. So far, their first office visit with the ophthalmologist including meds was $300……. They are sweet. Paul is the most friendly and playful. Z is really warming up. After meds tonight, during lovin time, he relaxed enough to stretch out on my his back so I could pet his belly.

Part of this is great – working with the kitties. Unfortunately, it’s such a small part.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Henry's Cats - Working With an Unintentional Hoarder

Not that we ever left. We have been here there and everywhere tho. The last few months, we've been busy doing TNR, kittens, fundraising, TNR, adoptions, kittens, education, conflict resolution, kittens, TNR, supportive care for seniors, a couple of fund raising and networking parties (our Party Like A Feral was a great hit - watch for it net October in honor of National Feral Cat Day) and now, our first hoarder. It's our hoarder that prompts our revisiting this blog - both as an educational exercise and because it's the face of something rarely addressed by those in rescue because it's ugly and difficult. Not many people want to do it. Many times, with no where to go, cats have to be euthanized. Over the course of the next couple of months, we hope to keep you updated about what actually happens when people have too many cats and are too old to care for them. Our hoarder is a lovely 89 year old man. An unintentional hoarder, with about 30 cats. It started when his wife brought in a number of cats she'd been feeding in the driveway. She's been in a facility for people with Alzheimer's for about a year. When they just had six, Henry (name fictionalized) took them into the vet, one by one. There were 5 females and 1 male. He had the male neutered. Apparently, one of the females was pregnant or he picked up the same cat twice because now there are about 30 cats, not including those that died along the way, to be buried or (I suspect) have died in the crawl space between the walls I've seen them enter. Henry knows he can't do this any more. He called his township, who'd just gotten one of our flyers, and they called us. On our initial assessment, we saw about 7 young cats between the ages 4-6 months old. They were friendly, a few to us and all to Henry. As we sat talking at the kitchen table, they surrounded him. He loves his cats. The house wreaked of urine and spray and something deeper. The house was clean and clear of clutter but any small appliances on the kitchen counter were urine rusted. There was no finish on the lower kitchen cabinets caused by the spray and urine. All furniture was shredded. The carpeting held stains from urine and fecal matter, tho none was observed in the body of the house There was some poop in the basement but considering he only had two litter boxes, the off box poop was limited to a few poops here and there. He cleans the boxes several times a day. The odor hits like a brick wall, then subsides but we can only stay about an hour at a time because then it hits the chest. It's amazing Henry's survived. Most of the cats had Upper Respiratory Infections. A couple had something wrong with their eyeballs (more on that later). There was also a mom with 4 kittens about 2 weeks old in a closet. Our next visit, we brought a number of litter boxes and water bowls and meds for the URI's to be added to their canned food. We were hoping to stage their improved health and slow removal at his house while we found foster homes and places for the feral types at his house. Not so. He called that night to say he couldn't do it. We went in the next day and removed 11 kittens ages 4-6 months old. We left the mom and the 3 week old kittens because we couldn't access them, they'd been moved from the closet, and we left the feral types until we can find a solution, one that rarely exists because there is no place for the cats. We're still looking for a solution and getting medical care, foster homes, adoptors while socializing the kittens. No one likes working with hoarders, it makes TNR look like a walk in the park. More tomorrow.............