Last night when I got home from work, it was past midnight. As I walked out to the horses I looked up and saw all the brilliant stars in the heavens. The air was still and traffic had long ago let up on the road. On Sunday night, this town rolls up the sidewalks early. I could feel the warm air on my face and the horses nickered in anticipation of grain and hay. Suddenly, I heard a loud meow of distress. At first, I thought it was one of my cats in the enclosure. I had worked an 8 hour shift and thought perhaps McKinley or Everest had spotted me and wanted to visit. So I stopped and waited. By this time, I was close to the horse fence. I heard the meowing again, this time louder. A strange meow, not one I recognized. The cat, whoever it was had sent a signal a feline SOS.

I opened up the tack room and grabbed a flashlight with a strong beam. Shining it above my head, I scanned the branches of the centuries old pine tree near the barn. I swept the light back and forth looking for the source of the sound, and then I spotted the cat. A small kitten clinging to a cluster of branches about 20 feet up. A tuxedo kitty by the look of things. A very frightened tuxedo kitty.

It took me about an hour of coaxing to convince the kitten who didn’t know yet that cats have to climb down a tree backwards- to walk across a wide expanse of the branches and jump onto the barn roof. It was a long hour and I knew if I couldn’t get this kitten to trust me- he would find himself confronted with the family of coons who call that tree home. I know full well that raccoons will kill kittens and even cats if they occassion calls for it.

I had climbed up a ladder and put a bowl of wet food on the roof to coax the kitty out of the tree and finally after many trips all over the tree, the kitty understood what I was asking. Once he was on the roof, it was simply a matter of climbing up and grabbing him.

He was a mess of cobwebs, pine needles and dirt. I would say he is about four months old and he was trembling. I scruffed him and carried him gently to the house. When we neared the kennel where I had put Baron- he saw him and started to growl and scrabble in midair. His hair went up and I knew without question that Baron had chased him up the tree. This feeling was further reinforced, when I finally got him nto the house and set him on the floor. Kody came over for a sniff and he gave Kody barely two thoughts before he rolled over on his back and allowed him a lick.. Kody has always been a dog so cat and kitten-friendly.

So although Panic isn’t with us anymore, God has sent another creature in distress. As skinny as he is, I know he hasn’t had groceries in a very long time. I am calling him Levi.

Hard Choices

When you work in the capacity of rescue, sometimes it falls on you to make hard decisions; unpopular ones as it were if you ask someone who has never rescued their opinion about it. Now today, I find I am faced with a hard choice in regards to Indiana. He has been under the care of my vet for a week and a half with the only symptom being a very high fever. They have tried all sorts of different avenues to promote healing, but so far nothing not: sub cu fluids, antibiotics, pain meds, steroids are able to lower his body temp for long. Last night he quit eating so now they are force feeding him. It is costing me $12.00 a day to keep him there and that is just the boarding costs not the meds, treatments, tests etc that he has had to endure. He is playful, using the litter box although now I am told he has diarrhea and he shows no other symptoms besides the fever.

I have two options here- I could sign the papers to have him euthanized but this I would not do, because I just saw him yesterday and he shows no indication that he wants to end this. Or, I can sign him over to the vet clinic and they will make all decisions now in regards to his care. So I chose the latter and signed him over this morning.

My husband is going to need long-term supportive care. The antibiotic they have him on, the ONLY one the foot is responding to is $800.00 a month. I had to ask myself who was more important, this gray kitten that was dumped in my lap or the man I chose over 21 years ago to “love, honor and cherish.”

I love every cat and kitten in my home. Anything that is done to them healthwise comes out of our pocket unless I happen to get a donation or two and those are always welcomed. But I have to be realistic here- it is highly likely that with his refusal to eat that Indiana has decided it just isn’t worth it anymore and he has started to shut down. The next step if he doesn’t take to the force feeding is to tube him and so I am stepping down as his caregiver and not making anymore choices about his fate. Let someone else have that responsibility. I hope he pulls through as he is a loving kitten.

Among the chaos

Through all the chaos, the one steady, the one constant has been my cats. I can always count on them to make me laugh. Everest still races me to my computer chair in the mornings. Taylor will expose her belly to me every time I pass her lying on the cat condo. She loves her belly rubs. Charlie will always tunnel into my pillow as I try to make the bed- and Guinevere in her strange crab-like way will headbump my ankles as I neatly tuck in the corners of our sheets.

Through all of this, the sudden departure of Panic, the disappearance of Mike, my cats have remained steady as a rock. If I bury my face in their fur they accept my need for comfort even though most of them were as wild as a March hare when they first arrived here. They don’t mind being a crying towel- they don’t judge me because my house is a wreck and they all run to the door at night when I get off of work.

I think, unless something else unpleasant happens, Mike is due to be discharged tomorrow. He will then be admitted to a nursing home for two weeks where they will administer the antibiotic four times a day. His youngest son will be here on the 30th and stay for a week before returning home to Anchorage.

Today is another day- and I hope I can greet it with as much exuberance as my cats show me daily.

Results in

“NEGATIVE FOR RABIES!” I was so glad to hear that result over the phone tonight! There had been enough matter to test- so now there is a big sigh of relief that I can get my animals their rabies shots but on my time-frame and not someone else’s!

There will be a period of a few days when the necropsy will be finished and perhaps the mystery of what caused sweet Panic to go ballistic will be revealed.

There was concern that the infection in Mike’s foot had traveled to the bone, but the MRI shows otherwise. They are still not releasing him and when I went to see him this morning, he was not a happy camper. I had no idea he could complain so much! I know he is scared and bored- but good heavens- one hour of complaints was all I could handle so I got out of there.

Indiana’s fever has gone down and now that they know my clowder isn’t rabid they have taken him out of isolation and put him in the general room. Some of the girls have fallen in love with him- but he still has to stay there because his temperature is 104 so it isn’t over yet.

Lab Rat

After my experience this morning at the Diagonostic Labs, I feel just like a lab rat caught in a maze. Before I could surrender Panic over to them for testing, I had to recount every minute of the last moments of her life. I still cannot get away from the image of her lying on her side, gasping for air while her legs paddled wildly jerking in violent spasms. I had to say what she had to eat that day, when she pooped, did she pee? I felt once again like a criminal confessing to a crime.

If they can’t get enough of her brain matter to test, then they will do a necropsy to try and determine the cause of death. They requested half of the payment up front which I gave knowing full well another necessary bill won’t get paid this week now. Then they took her away and I will not get her back.

If the test on the brain is inconclusive, I will have to go through the rabies shot series and vaccinate every animal on my property against rabies, or lose them all. They will be seized and “humanely euthanized” and apparently this means all the animals not just the cats.

If I do vaccinate, I have to keep all the cats inside the house for 6 months- boy won’t that be fun? If I don’t comply, they will seize the animals and place them in quarantine and I will be slapped with a hefty boarding bill. Man, I swear, say the “R” word and men about you lose their heads.

I still don’t think this is rabies so I am praying that the tests come back negative and the cause of the seizures found. If not, I will have to find a way to raise the $592.00 needed for the rabies vaccine within the time frame alloted.

Mike is in the hospital and if I weren’t so dog-tired, I would write more. But all I want to do right now is find my soft pillow and go to sleep.

The Cost of Rescue

This morning, I was awakened by a cat pounding across my body. I was lying on my back catching much-needed z’s when I was jolted awake. I am used to being awakened by kittens playing in the night, that is what kittens do, but this was different. The weight was that of an older cat and there was distress in the room.

I threw on the light just as I heard a “gaaak…gaaak…gaaak” sound. I looked around trying to figure out what cat was in such distress and that is when I saw Panic laying on her side. Her paws were paddling in the air madly, her mouth was opening and closing like a fish out of water. All the other cats had scattered away from her and I closed in quickly reaching for her.

At first I thought she had something in her throat. I am finding more and more dead mice and shews in the cat enclosure and I thought a bone had been caught in her throat. There was no way I was going to stick my fingers down the throat of a cat in what looked like a grand mal seizure, so I grabbed up a plastic hanger and using that, I pried her mouth open wider and peered inside. All I could see was thick white mucous which in retrospect I find strange because she wasn’t frothing or drooling at all.

I was panicked but I tried to calm her, scruffing her and holding her on her side, but her eyes were wide open as if she had just glimpsed the entrance of hell and she showed no recognition of me and clawed my hand quite severely.

I yelled for Mike but he was slow in responding. It was 1:30 a.m. and he had been asleep since 6:00 p.m. But finally he came over and tried like me to figure out what in the devil was happening.

She has been seizing now past 5 minutes and her body was becoming more and more rigid. I knew that there was little hope to help her. It was Sunday night and by the time I called the vet, made the trip and got her in who knows what sort of agony she would be in. Then, as quick as it began it was over and she was gone.

I then started thinking about the bat that got into the house about two weeks ago. That led me to wondering if this could be possibly be rabies (please God, NO!) Panic had just turned a year old- I had her as a preemie and her health was so compromised I didn’t vaccinate her. She was up for adoption. I phoned the police who told me to take her and myself to the ER and talk to the ER nurse.

I was told there that the racing around was not indicative of a grand mal seizure. That most people are so uncoordinated prior to a seizure that they can barely walk let alone run. They looked at my scratch- said it had to be a bite for me to be infected if rabies is indeed the cause. They sent me home with Panic’s body still in the trunk of my car.

A friend of mine lives close to the hospital and it was now 6:30 a.m. so I stopped to talk to Hailey. She offered to store Panic in her old refrigerator in the garage until Monday morning when the vet clinic opened. Since the cat has to refrigerated not frozen, I took her up on her offer. My big chest freezer would be the only way I could have kept Panic till Monday and freezing alters the testing process.

I have since talked with my vet who told me that this does sound a bit like rabies and ruling it out would be in my favor. I will be taking Panic to OSU first thing Monday morning to the Vet Diagnositic Labs and tell them about this horrendous event and go from there.

Whatever took Panic, took her hard and I have no doubt that she wouldn’t have been able to recover afterward. Most seizures last seconds or minutes but hers continued. Her core temperature would have dropped and kept dropping until her organs failed or she died. I wouldn’t let her suffer- she is a precious little calico kitty who gave Mike so many reasons to get up in the day.

I don’t know what type of lesson God intended to teach me this morning, that totally escapes me. I just know my sweet girl was in agony and I still feel her pain. Now, my own pain begins and I find that even in 80 degree weather here today, I cannot get warm. I am chilled to the bone.

I don’t think I will ever get used to the cost of rescue and I am not talking about the monies for food, litter, vets and various other items- I am talking the price I pay every time one of my rescues dies under my watch and my heart shatters just a little bit more. I hope this test isn’t expensive, but as the vet said, the cost has to met if nothing else for peace of mind.

Goodbye sweet Panic- tell Jeremy, Mom says hello~

Where there is a will…

Recently, I have been wondering if it is time to just stop what I am doing and find another path in life. What with the continuing decline of Mike’s health, all that needs to be done around the property and the house, keeping up with my clients demands and seeing to the needs of my own animals, I have been praying that God would give me a peace about just resigning from the rescue business. I see the worst in people when I am presented with a sackful of kittens someone dropped down a well, or a few years ago when I rescued a black cat someone tried to crucify on a stop sign! I see the evil and it is easy to forget at times that good people also walk among us.

I had to take the kittens to the vet a few days ago. The little mackeral tabby was doing so poorly and I was scared I was going to lose him. I called the clinic and they said they would work me in- so off I went- kittens in tow.

Once there, as usual, the waiting room was crowded. There was a woman with a small mackeral tabby kitten probably about 5 weeks old. It’s eyes were gooed shut, it was sneezing and it was sitting in a open crate, to scared or to sick to move. The woman said she had found the baby on her gravel drive that morning and she was bringing it in to be euthanized because she didn’t have time to deal with it!

We sat and talked a bit, I was constantly looking at this poor kitten who just seemed to have a really bad URI and ticks on his body. I felt so sorry for him/her. Finally, the woman said “If I give you $40.00 would you take the kitten?” (40 dollars would buy 4 bags of cat food) so I thought about it and told her if Ben didn’t find anything alarming wrong with the kitten, I would be happy to take it home. The minute I said the words, I wondered who had invaded my body without my knowledge! The woman’s face lit up like a christmas tree and she leaned over to give me a big hug of thanks. Then they called her into the room- and soon I was called to join them so Ben could talk to me.

The kitty is quite ill- the URI is severe, compounded by bad parasitic loads and ticks. Ben said he would do his best to save the kitten’s life, and if successful he will call me to come and pick him up. I told him that was fine with me and went back to the waiting room and my cats.

After my appointment- the woman rushed up to me in the parking lot to thank me again for taking the sick kitty. I told her, I didn’t have him yet so thanks weren’t necessary. Then she thrust her hand deep in my purse, told me to use the money for the kitties, hugged me goodbye and left.

Halfway home, I looked in my purse expecting to find the $40.00 and instead I found $100.00! I was so relieved because I had to get cat food that day and instead of it coming out of our house budget, I now had this wonderful windfall.

I loaded up my cart with both kitten and cat food and proceeded to the check-out counter. There was a distinguished gentleman in line and he looked at all the cans of food and commented “My but you must have a lot of cats!” So I told him about my operation and he ended up insisting on paying for all the cat food in my cart! Then he went back to the cat food aisle and brought back 2 more cases of canned food and paid for that!

Then a lady called me when I got home. I had a stray come wandering into my yard a few days ago with a badly injured eye. I took the kitty to the vet and then found out about the owner through a fluke. She stopped by and gave me a check for the vet visit and gas. What a nice surprise.

To top it off, there was a generous donation given to the cat cause here when the mail arrived. God had heard my prayers, thought about it and decided it isn’t time for me to quit just yet. So I will plug on and try to get everything i need to do done while taking care of hubby and the precious souls God has entrusted me with.

Solo, the cat from the mill is now on the back porch. He has been neutered and thankfully, there is a home waiting for him. The lady will pick him up in about a week.

The little mackeral tabby is doing a lot better. The non-stop diarrhea has stopped for the time being and he has been eating well. Stimulating is still a painful time for him, it is a dirty job but someone has to do it! Guess I am that someone who is supposed to continue on, even though I am so tired these days I fall asleep while eating dinner.

Prayer vigil needed

Since early afternoon, the little mackeral tabby boy has been suffering with virtually nonstop diarrhea. He had been doing so well too, I am unsure what has happened here. But in the last half hour, I have changed his bedding eight times. I’ve started him on immodium liquid and hopt that does the trick- but the coffee is on and it looks like it will be a long night.

Guess there will be no more run-ins with the law now

This morning when I went to feed Solo as I have been doing now for several weeks. He came up out of the culvert and stayed just within arms reach of me. He was headbumping a nearby bush and I could just see him thinking- “I wanna headbump her….I wanna headbump her…..” So, I reached out with my fist clenched while looking the other way, and he ran off. I put his food out and went back home.

Tonight as I drove up to the fence, he ran out of the bushes and stood waiting for me at the end of the parking curb. I went over to what was turning out to be our special bush and poured his food- he was behind me. I suddenly felt him gently nudge my back! I reached out my hand to the side and snapped my fingers calling to him in his special call- he came over to me and headbumped my hand! I took a chance and started to pet him and he went totally nuts. He couldn’t get enough of this good stuff and even turned his scrawny belly up to me for a good rub. It was wonderful.

We had a bit of a love-fest and I stood up to go back to my car and get him fresh water- and he followed me! I opened up my car door, he didn’t run- he just stood there. I had no traps with me, no carriers, no cardboard box, nothing. I stood there for just a minute then knelt down, tapped my passenger seat, snapped my fingers and he jumped right in! I left the door wide open and he rolled over, looked at me then hopped down.

I went and poured his water, and again as I was going back to my car, he followed me. This time, I opened the rear car door, snapped my fingers and he hopped in. Before he could change his mind, I swung the door closed (thinking to myself “- what have I done?) I was at least 15 minutes from the house, I had a strange cat trapped in my car and I was outside the car. He just sat there- so I quickly walked around and got in and he didn’t try to escape.

When I started the car, that’s when the fun started- he began to race around the car- going along the dash and the the rear of my car. I just talked to him softly and finally he landed on the passenger seat growling at me.

I grabbed the scruff of his neck, and started petting him with my free fingers and that is how we got home. He laid there almost the whole time, except about the last few minutes he got squirmy. When we got home, I hissy-grabbed him, supported his rear legs and walked him in the house past all my cats and put him outside on our porch!

I have since dosed him with profender (a topical wormer and anti flea med) he has eaten, he has water and lots of places to hide and I have visited him several times. He can’t get out of the porch and he will come out and see me after he thinks about it.

I have a friend with a soft spot for mackeral tabbies, so I called her and she said if I continue to work with him for about 3 weeks, she will take him then. She is in the process of building a cat enclosure off her house.

So, Solo is safe. He doesn’t have to worry about cars speeding around a near-empty parking lot, reckless teenagers or mean people who want to hurt him. He will get neutered soon. I am tapped right now so I can’t get him done right away- but until then, he will continue to be a porch kitty. he is so so so thin- he needs good groceries. I will post photos tomorrow, I just want him to decompress before sticking a camera in his handsome face.

Color him safe- and color me stunned !

Making decisions

Although it is a bit of a hardship for us right now, I decided to take the kittens ito the vet clinic this morning. I took a fecal with me which they tested but it came up negative for known parasites. The conclusion drawn was that their systems are in an uproar and so the vet wants me to start them on solid kitten food! They aren’t real receptive to the idea- but holy smokes, they are so young who can blame the,? What I have done is started pureering the solid food so I can feed it through the bottle. They also got antibiotics and benebac- hopefully, these three solutions together will help solve the problem. otherwise, I have wasted my money.