22 February 2011

Of Cats and Animal Control

Today is National Spay Day at the Humane Society of the United States, a worthy cause if ever there was one. Click on the link for more information.

Mick and I have a program of our own we've funded for several decades. We started out with two cats - my Sage and Boo from before our marriage - and adopted more from the huge feral colony that lived in the neighborhood where we had our stained glass studio. It was out-of-hand, so as we had extra money, we used a special program that Hamlett Spay and Neuter Clinic offered. We got a live trap from them, did the dirty deed, took them in for surgery, kept them inside to recuperate, and then released them. Many of them were previously owned and abandoned, and became adoptable by the end of the process. We ended up being the owners, of course. (Feel free to imagine a sheepish grin here.)

When we moved to the country, we had sixteen cats, all non-breeding but with special needs. Nine have died over the past six years, and we've replaced a few with local strays... of course, they've been neutered, too. Our mission continues, just in another place and time.

If more people would help with this, there would be far fewer animal control problems in the world. Unless you're on a farm where the natural cycle includes population control via predator and starvation, neutering is the only process that makes sense, not only to control populations but also to control disease. Think about a contribution to your local spay/neuter fund, won't you? Your veterinarian probably is tapped into a program and would be glad to accept a few extra dollars to funnel into this worthy cause.

So now for the fun - here are a few of my furry and lazy children:

Chai is my prodigal cat child who has been lost several times, we think locked into a storage shed somewhere nearby. One time she was gone for six weeks and I thought she had surely been taken from me for good. It was really a miracle when she returned and it took a few weeks for her to get her weight back. The last time she disappeared was only for two weeks. I think this is when my hair turned completely white. I can't even imagine having a human child of mine running away - the excruciating heartbreak and worry of that. It would kill me, I have no doubt.
Scout was one of Mick's faves. He was the last of a local litter that carries the leukemia virus, and all died of it before they turned a year.

Beamer was part of the car club (we give each litter themes) and became ill very suddenly with complications from his feline leukemia. He was a gorgeous and very photogenic cat. But a bully, and I have to say that there is  much less stress in the colony since he left us.

Olivia was Scout's sister - a sweetie - and she died of FeL just after her first birthday. Likely from the stress of spaying. She had a habit of hiding in the bath tub and that's where she went to die one day while we were in the city.
Bentley is another boy from the car club litter - he has feline leukemia and we thought we'd lose him early on because he's a climber, fell from some high place, and broke his jaw! He had surgery, and recovered from the jaw rewiring and a dislocated hip. We're surprised he's still around and healthy, and think perhaps it has to do with his low-stress personality. Maybe the heavy dosing of antibiotics and painkillers during surgery played a role, too. It's hard to know with this disease.

Sweet Elmer - he was my special boy, but we knew early on this little litter wouldn't last long. They had intense rounds of upper respiratory disease (feline herpes) at birth, and compounded with the feline leukemia, didn't have much chance from the start. We did what we could to give them a short but happy life.

Sassafras and his brother Gingko, came with us from the city. They have stories to tell at another time! Sassy is one of the most elegant cats I've ever seen. He's also a talker thanks to Mick, and a source of great irritation some early mornings.
Buddy is the oldest cat we've ever had. He was an abandoned tom cat for years who hung out around our shop and who unfortunately had feline aids and wasn't expected to live. But we had him for 8 years after his diagnosis/neutering and, again, think his longevity is a direct result of a very mellow personality. Nothing stressed Buddy and all the cats we ever had adored him. He was the alpha cat from the day he joined us, and died last year, mostly from the deterioration of old age. I simply let him go without intervention, and he went as calmly and gracefully as he lived. There was a lesson for me in that process that I'll write about soon. I still miss him dreadfully though. He was my sleeping buddy.

Edsel Ford was another one of the car club boys - he was the first to die of feline leukemia, and caught us totally by surprise. That seems to be a marker of this disease - everything is fine one day, and suddenly there's a rapid decline. Edsel's ailment manifested as a crippling of one back leg which turned out to be either a rapidly growing tumor or a clot, and within two weeks he was dead. I miss him - he was an emphatic cat and has his own special story.

Catmandu - adored by all the felines! 

 "Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance." Dan Greenburg

Weather: 54/7
Writing: Does this blog count?


Judy Whelley said...

What a remarkable post! I admire you for caring for these cats and giving them a true home. The pics are so cute!

Dani said...

You have no idea how many, Judy. We've probably had 50 in the past 20 years. Most of them were health-compromised in some way, bless them.

Lee Ambrose said...

Dani - I really needed this post! I've been missing having kitties SO much. Your post and all of the adorable photos/bios warmed my heart!

Dani said...

Lee, I often wonder about your Maggie, but hesitate to ask because I know that's just like ripping off a scab. I always like to pretend they found a nice home...

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