Three cats in the back seat on their way to a new life who are meowing along to “The Ride of the Valkyries”. Kitties, if that’s the song of your people, you’re going to be fine.
All four of the cats I recently accepted from a friend to foster and surrender, Lil, Dale, Cleetus and Cuddlebug, are now on their way to new and happy lives. I am glad to be able to help my friend by taking care of them until they could be surrendered to rescues and shelters so that she doesn’t need to worry what will happen to them. We have three more to go in this situation, and I feel the next group will work just as well.
First, Lil was adopted last week! Even though she was found to have medical conditions and needed surgeries and had not gone to Pet Valu as planned, an adopter went to the sanctuary and just fell in love with her and another cat, wanting to adopt both so they’d have company. Nancy decided she’d be more comfortable in a home before and after her surgeries, and so off she went, adapting right away. Her adopter contacted me to let me know and sent me a few photos. Nothing could warm my heart more. Lil is scheduled for her surgeries this week and is expected to do well.
Dale, Cleetus and Cuddlebug
I spent the first part of Monday feeding Smokey for the morning shift, then collecting Dale, Cleetus and Cuddlebug to take them off to their new opportunity. I had applied to surrender them to Animal Friends Pittsburgh the day I took them in, which is where I’d surrendered Gabby late last year. They are a no-kill shelter, but cats for surrender have to be adoption-ready in health and temperament in order to be accepted. At the moment, it’s an asset if they are also spayed or neutered. In the course of fostering I’d had them spayed and neutered and given rabies and FVRCP vaccines at a recent HCMT clinic, and assessed their personalities.
Often cats emerging from an overcrowded house are traumatized, unsocialized, aggressive and not in good health, but these four were all in good shape on all points. There wasn’t a mean hair on any of them, they were all socialized and if not friendly then only timid, but all could be handled. Knowing that temperament could make or break their surrender, I wanted to give them all the best chance at adoption by making their foster experience, for as long as that would last, positive.
Dale was like the heartthrob of the group with his fluffy fur, big puffy cheeks and crossed bright blue eyes; I never had him in good enough light to catch those eyes in a photo. But for being about four years old, unneutered, pretty big and father of quite a few kittens, he was very timid—I could feel his carrier trembling when he was in it.
I could only fit one more crate in Amy’s basement along with Smokey, and with Dale being an older unneutered male I wasn’t sure how Smokey would react, especially since Dale had scratches all over his nose and might have been fighting with the other cats in his house. I could imagine a constant howling battle or two cats trying to compete from their respective crates, and backsliding from Smokey’s socialization if he was territorial. The day I took them I scrambled for ideas and then happened to see my friend Melody on Facebook and messaged her to see if she had space for a temporary foster. She is an experienced foster and I knew she’d know how to handle a cat like Dale if he was aggressive, and would be a good judge of character overall so that I’d know what to expect of him when surrendering. She could take him on, and she could take care of him along with her regulars, which would mean I didn’t have to visit her house each day to feed and scoop for Dale. In time, Dale also had the opportunity to roam in her basement, and then explored the house, and it all worked out well for him.
Dale was not aggressive unless he was startled, he was timid but friendly and enjoyed affection, didn’t mind being picked up and held, and as his testosterone faded he became more relaxed. Still, I wasn’t sure how he’d do with total strangers in a strange place after a car ride. When he was surrendered to Animal Friends he did well with his combo test for FIV/FeLV, the only time I thought he might put up a fight. They oohed and ahhed over him and changed his name to Butters.
Cleetus and Cuddlebug
Originally these two were in one crate to save space in Amy’s basement and make caring for them a little easier. Shannon visits Smokey once a day and generously offered to help with letting them out to roam while she was there, feeding and scooping, and cleaning up. The two scuffled in their crate all the time though and Cleetus ended up sleeping in the litterbox, so I got another smaller crate for Cleetus before their surgery appointments and that worked for both. They were still a little fractious until their surgeries, then afterward they were good friends and explored the basement together.
Cuddlebug was in-your-face friendly when she came to me, and she left that way too. She was a few weeks pregnant when she was spayed, and after what I was told about her litters, that they were premature, stillborn, and rarely survived, I’m glad she didn’t have to carry them to term. She is young, and there was likely some inbreeding in this situation that may have affected her kittens. So pretty with her gray and white fluff, pink nose and bright green eyes, she will have no problem reaching out and choosing a new human.
She did very well with her surrender appointment, as expected, and her name was changed to Jelly.
Even though this photo of Cleetus is blurry I still wanted to share it. He was a little touchy and timid at first, not minding being touched but not really enjoying extended petting, he might smack your leg when you walked past him, and swat your hand if you reached at him unexpectedly. None of that is aggressive, but they were habits that could disqualify him. And he had that annoying habit of unneutered male cats of wrapping his arms around your forearm, sometimes with claws, and not letting go, as if he was ready to start some unwelcome activity with your arm. That’s not unusual but sometimes they latch onto your arm and will even bite—after all, they are mimicking a sexual experience. Ugh. Shannon and I just tried to avoid all the things that got Cleetus going and used his extreme food motivation to interact with him and he was otherwise just a normal curious kitty exploring a new space and getting cobwebs on his whiskers.
Within days after neutering his tail was in the air and he was greeting you as you see above, rubbing on your shins, trotting along while you walked and trying to walk figure 8s around your ankles. Last summer when I was helping her with her cats, Cleetus was so timid I never saw him. We felt he’d be more relaxed and friendly when there were fewer cats in the house, and he was quite different from last year. At his surrender appointment he was the only one who was a little scared by the blood test, but didn’t give anyone a hard time. His name was changed to Toast.
Sometimes people get into situations, and when it comes to cats, however the situation developed, I’m not there to judge. I’m there to help the cats, which also means helping the person. Even when a person is overwhelmed by the cats in their care and ask for help, it’s still hard for that person to let them go, to choose who goes and who stays, and to know they’re not going to be euthanized or given to someone who won’t care for them.
Even though activities like trapping, transporting, making connections for surrender, surgeries, daily visits to feed and scoop and socialize and all the other things that go into rescuing cats friendly or feral take time and money, I’m glad I have the skills and support to help where I can. I’m glad I could get these four into a good place.
Would you like to help?
As always, I love being able to help cats. My goal is not just to go out and trap or accept cats, but also to help people resolve issues or help find affordable services, and be a good example to others who are following. I write my articles to give lots of information so that others learn how to do this too, and if they find a cat in a similar circumstance they have an idea what’s entailed, whether it’s TNR or fostering to adopt. Even more than fostering, bringing a cat in from a perilous life outdoors is so rewarding. Helping a person with their cats, even if it means taking some of them to be adopted by someone else, is difficult but often necessary, and I try to be as kind and compassionate as possible.
Of course, it’s also time-consuming and has its expenses, and I’m on a tight budget. Thanks to those of you who have sent donations that paid for spays and neuters and food for Smokey and the ferals we TNRd. If any of my readers would like to help me with the spays and neuters for these cats, or gas money, no small amount when running back and forth to fosters and transporting to surgery and to surrender appointments, I would really appreciate it. You can always buy something from my website www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net including the Pittsburgh CAT calendar, below. I’m always working on new items for cat lovers to give as gifts to others or to themselves. Donations can go to my Paypal address bernadette (at) bernadette-k (dot) com, or you can go to Portraits of Animals and purchase a gift certificate in amounts of $5.00 or more and let me know it’s for me, or whatever else you’d like to do.
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Pittsburgh C.A.T. 2019 Calendar: Rescue, Foster, Rehome, Repeat 2019
Each month features a cat or cats and the story who Pittsburgh C.A.T. volunteers rescued through TNR or rescue from abandonment, neglect or abuse, offered medical treatment, fostering, socialization, and a loving forever home that met their individual needs. Read more and purchase.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!