Cat Library

Borrowing a book from a library may not be high on many people’s list these days, but instead of a book what if you could borrow a kitten? How would you take out a kitten you ask? Well, there is a kitten librarian receptionist of course! This is an older story that I came across but worth sharing as it demonstrates a positive and innovative way to help homeless cats.

The Dona Ana County office building in Las Cruces, New Mexico installed a Kitty Kondo, what employees later renamed the cat library, in the lobby of their building where cats from the local animal shelter are made available for adoption. Animals considered less adoptable or special needs in a shelter environment, like cats that have been abused or have minor medical issues, are also given equal time in the Kitty Kondo. There is a great deal of exposure, perhaps more so than in the shelter, by having the cats in the center of a very public place with literally hundreds of people walking through the lobby daily. The end goal is to help reduce euthanasia, increase cat adoptions as well as educate the public about cats that need homes. The other winners in this are the employees who get free stress relief by being able to check out a cat for an hour to have at their desk while they work.

The kitty condo is 5 years old this May and with a 137 cat adoptions to date they have lots to celebrate. All work including socializing, cleaning and feeding is done by employees and, the cats come spayed or neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated, checked for feline leukemia and heart worm all for a minor adoption fee of $50.

The program has attracted a lot of attention and has created interest in other governmental offices which means it’s only a matter of time before we see more programs like this pop up elsewhere – a win-win situation for all involved.

Saying Goodbye – A Tribute To Spinner

I read the following quote last year and for some reason it sat in the back of my mind. “The trouble is – you think you have time.” It’s a little cliché, but profoundly simple in its meaning and would become more so as the events of the past few months unfolded. I consider myself to be proactive, but like everyone I will put off things thinking I have time to do it later. Time to finish a project, time to make a decision, time to pursue a dream or time to spend with those who are important in our lives – human or animal.

In September the time I thought I had with my cat Spinner would be suddenly cut short bringing everything in my life to a halt, and literally breaking my heart in the process.

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Spinner 2006 – He knew how to work a good photo

I adopted Spinner in 2005 from Toronto Animal Services where he had come in as a ‘stray’ (for his back story check out my guest blog post about Spinner on Katzenworld). He was a very special and unique cat – physically he was a handsome stunner with the personality to match. He fit into our already two cat household and became good friends and adopted brother to our beautiful and gentle house-panther Simon.

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Spinner and Simon enjoying the cat bed and the sun

In 2009, our tabby Cleo passed away and in 2010 Simon, both had lived to 18 years old. Simon’s passing was really difficult but Spinner was there to help me through it. When you lose a pet you realize how precious your time is with them so Spinner now the OC (only cat) was spoiled. Spinner was a special cat in many ways, beautiful on the outside with a funny, sassy, smart, talkative, loving personality that won hearts and had me wrapped around his little paws.

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Sleeping in his favorite chair

Spinner was the cat that was always there, literally. He ran to the door when I got home, looked for me when I wasn’t there and slept by my side every night. If I was on my laptop he would settle in between the laptop and me resting his chin on my arm. If I was on the couch he was there and if I moved he followed. He loved to be held, would wrap his arms around you in a hug and enjoyed jumping on your back when you bent over. He loved belly rubs and purred all the time – he sounded like a tiny motor boat. He was a super relaxed cat and enjoyed the attention from people around him. Whenever someone new met him they couldn’t help but fall in love.

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All tucked in for bed – the cold months were made for cuddling

No matter what kind of day you had Spinner made it better and when things weren’t going well, they were made better by being around him. Spinner was my best friend and knowing he was home made coming home better. There was no reason to think that his time would be cut short as his recent senior wellness check at the vet this spring showed all was in excellent order, for a 13 year young cat he was doing great. Then, just after the September long weekend – he stopped eating and I booked an appointment for the vet the next day.

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The first vet diagnosed him with pancreatitis but a trip the Vet Emergency and X-ray the next day revealed that he had a large mass in his chest cavity. The vet said it was likely cancer and due to the location no traditional means of treatment would help. They also had no way to know for sure how bad it was without a biopsy which they were reluctant to do because of the location. Immediately the option was to provide palliative care – which meant fluids, vitamins, sub-q and an appetite stimulant to get him eating and to keep him comfortable. At that point I don’t think the diagnosis fully sank in but I will say Spinner was handling things better than me.

Driving home that night from the vet it started to process and I began to research other options and booked an appointment to see a holistic vet for the following week. In the meantime Spinner perked up the next day and started to eat so I promised him we would try to do everything to help him as long as he wanted – that if we could cure him we were going to do it, he was going to be the ‘miracle’ story you read about. That afternoon emotionally and physically exhausted we had a nap, Spinner squeezed in between me and a pillow and purred – it would be a special memory that I will always hold in my heart.

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Enjoying a spot of sun

Spinner did well for a week but then he stopped eating again. I had tried everything to get him to eat on his own but as a temporary measure the syringe feedings would help him get by as his system started to settle. As long as he was drinking, going to the bathroom normally and maintaining healthy weight the vet said that we could keep him comfortable and in the meantime a trip to the oncologist was recommended for the final opinion on the mass.

Spinner was trying, I could tell and I knew he was trying for me. He had become a different cat in a very short time, he stopped playing and took to sleeping under the bed or on top of it he began spending less and less time with me. He showed little interest in anything except sleeping and taking his food, drinking or using his litter box. There were however many good moments where I was hopeful the support was working to build his immune system and he would have the miraculous cure that I was hoping for. Whatever he wanted or showed interest in he would get – cat grass and spider plant to munch on, his favorite treat of peanut butter and trips outside for fresh air. During this time I was a mess and when I did cry it was a wail – a sound of deep despair, it was the sound that I can only describe as coming from my soul. It was hard to keep it together but I was able to function normally by focusing on caring for him. When I broke down Spinner would often come out from under the bed lay down on the floor, look at me and start to purr – we had many cuddle sessions like this which would last for a short time before he would go back under the bed again.

The trip to the oncologist sadly, did not go as I’d hoped, in fact it was worse than I or the regular vet had thought – Spinner had multiple tumors in his liver, pancreas as well as the one in his chest cavity. The oncologist also found a lump on his shoulder bone which she suspects is where the cancer started. It was a rare and very aggressive cancer and there was no treatment, no cure, keeping him comfortable until he said it was time was the only option and that it would likely be a few weeks. The official word that there would be no cure, no remission was devastating, he was only 13.

In under five weeks Spinner had declined but he didn’t start to deteriorate quickly until late September early October. A week before I made the call to a vet to discuss at home euthanasia he did two things that he hadn’t done in over a month – he went to the window to look outside and he sat on my lap, stared into my eyes then jumped off. I realized that all this time he was preparing me for life without him, even though he slept by my head every night he was sending me a message and the signs were clear. I was worried that I wouldn’t know, but there was one clear sign that would help me make the decision that all pet owners dread and even fear.

He was such a gentle, patient cat and was unbelievable through everything and I never wanted to let him go, however I couldn’t watch him get worse I had to let him go. Six years ago I had to make that choice for Simon and the memory of that experience brought back all the emotions, but I don’t know if that was a good thing. I knew what was coming, the pain, sadness, emptiness… the only difference was I had already started grieving for Spinner before he was gone and it had been happening for weeks.

I made the call to the vet to look at booking an appointment and even though I knew it was the right and compassionate choice it did not make it any easier. During my initial call I didn’t commit to a day or time instead I took a day to decide and had a conversation with Spinner. I told him that I loved him and that it was OK for him to go home, that he would see Simon, maybe Cleo to and any of his friends he knew before he came into my life. I was sorry I couldn’t help him and I would miss him more than I could ever say – we should have had many more years together.

I stayed home on Spinners last day, which was beautiful and sunny. He had one last meal in the morning and I told him that he would no longer have to endure syringe feedings. We had a nice visit outside in the sun where he walked around the garden sniffed the flowers, plants and fresh air. When he was ready he walked back inside to rest. Some of my friends who had known Spinner came by for a visit and to say goodbye and of course Spinner being a social cat made sure to come out and greet them all.

The vet arrived at the scheduled time and as we prepared and went over how everything was going to transpire, Spinner calmly lay on the same pillow where he had slept every night for the past month surrounded by his friends and with me by his side. Surprisingly I had stopped crying earlier in the day and this strange calmness came over me. As I spoke to Spinner and gave him tons of kisses he purred. He purred right up until the sedative took effect and his eyes closed. On October 13 at approximately 8:30 pm he took his last breath and his heart slowed to a stop.

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Our final moments together – Spinner was beautiful and peaceful

Before we wrapped Spinner up in a towel with his favorite toy mouse and placed him in a fleece blanket lined basket that the vet provided I noticed something. His eyes had shut completely and there was a single tear in the corner of one of his eyes. I wiped it away and we gently wrapped him up placing him in the basket. A part of me knows he did not want to leave and I like to think that the single tear was his way of saying goodbye, that he was just as sad at having to leave me as I was having to let him go.

The next days following were hard, very hard and the reality of his loss hit me. His absence was at times unbearable and knowing he wouldn’t be there when I came home was really difficult. It has been up and down since, some days it is fine and other times it hits me, but I guess that is all part of the grieving process. While it does get better there are some losses you never really get over, they stay with you, take a part of you and even change you, I know this was one.

Spinner will be gone a month next week and before now I hadn’t been able to write about him or determine how to pay tribute to a very special cat whom I adored beyond words. I am lucky to have tons of photos and video of him, so I put together this video to showcase his beautiful personality and moments throughout his life with me.

Spinner I hope you are watching and with me still, thank you for being part of my life.

Special thanks to Dr. Banks of Midtown Mobile Veterinary Services for taking the time to talk to me about at home euthanasia and providing the information that I needed to make a very difficult decision and to Dr. Ellis for her professionalism, kindness and compassion with Spinner on his last night.

Senior Cat Sunday

There have been many changes taking place at the Toronto Animal Services South location where I volunteer, I will be writing about this in a separate future post, cat adoptions have been on the increase and intake has been on the decrease. During the last few years this has also meant there have been less cats to socialize as the turn around time for adoptions has become much quicker.

While the younger cats, especially kittens, go faster older cats tend to still be overlooked which means in many cases they wait little longer to find homes. Cats have generally been considered to be a senior between 7 and 10 years but recently the different life stages have been revised, so a true senior cat can defined as being between the ages 11 to 14 years (geriatric is 15 plus). With the right care and attention which includes annual vet check ups, proper nutrition and exercise, they can live long active lives making them wonderful companions – and the best thing is you know exactly what your cats personality is like from the start!

If you follow me on Instagram I often post available cats for adoption from the shelter, but I felt a few of the older cats who have been there for a while deserve some extra focus. If you live in Toronto, or know people who do and are looking for a wonderful older cat, please share this with them.

Meet Baby Face a 7-year-old cat that really earns his name, he came in as an owner surrender and is very shy at first but, as soon as he gets to know you he is extremely sweet. He loves to stand on his hind legs and give you head butts or role over for a tummy rub. A very eager to love and be loved cat, Baby Face has been in the shelter since April 6, 2016.

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ID# 737950 – Baby Face is a gentle boy who is also good with other cats

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Mia is a part of the big and beautiful cat club, she is long-haired black cat that will need some help ensuring she stays focused on her diet and weight management. She came in as an owner surrender and is 8 years old. Her long hair will also need to be groomed on a regular basis to ensure she does not get mats, while she is tolerant of other cats she may be prefer to be your one and only. Mia has been at the shelter since April 16, 2016.

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ID # 489892 – Mia loves a cozy cat bed and to be the focus on your attention

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Finally Pumpkin, who is the oldest of the bunch at 11 years old is a lovely black and white cat. She is a quiet girl who loves to settle in a cozy space or a cat tower where she can hide out. This affectionate girl will bring a calm to your household and, while she can be tolerant of other cats, Pumpkin would prefer to have you all to yourself. Pumpkin has been at the shelter since April 22, 2016.

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ID # 740964 – Pumpkin’s very distinct markings add to her charm

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Generally cats from about 7 years and up will have a harder time finding homes, it is good to remember that just because they are labeled as ‘senior’ or ‘older’ it doesn’t mean they cannot live a long, healthy and active life. For some great tips on how to care for an older cat and help them get the best out of life, check out this great post by International Cat Care.

All cats listed above are available at Toronto Animal Services South Shelter, adoption is open to the public 7 days a week between 12-3pm.

Spinner’s Tail

My friends at Katzenworld invited me to do my first ever guest post on my cat Spinner. Please be sure to check it out their blog and my post including photos that I have not previously shared! Enjoy.

Thanks to Marc for allowing this opportunity to share with his community of cat lovers 🙂

Spinner’s Tail.

 

Yoga For Cats

A no-kill pet facility in Illinois, Homeward Bound Pet Shelter, has teamed up with a studio Yoga at Connie’s for special classes featuring adoptable adult cats that are allowed to walk around freely during the sessions. I wish my yoga studio had cats, I think I would have gone to class more often!

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All Images from Homeward Bound Pet Shelter on Facebook

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A total of six cats roamed, stretched, snuggled and distracted during the class in which human participants raised over $500 for the shelter. The innovative adoption event also resulted in at least one of the cats finding a forever home.

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Shelter volunteers who put together the event tell The Dodo that giving people the chance to interact with the cats makes a huge difference and that they plan on having more yoga cat classes. They also hope that other cities will explore this unique way to place shelter cats into permanent homes.

If you want to give yoga a try at home with your own cat check out Feline Yogi, one of the vendors I saw at CatConLA. They sell kitty sized yoga mats so your cat can “practice” yoga right alongside you.

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Post-Impressionist Cat

When an abandoned cat was found on the streets and taken in by The Mayhew Animal Home, in Kensal Green London, the staff would soon discover that the feline shared more than a distinguishing physical characteristic with her future namesake.

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Image – Artist Susan Herbert – source Pintrest

Unlike the famous human artist Vincent Van Gogh the cats injury was not self-inflicted, and upon further inspection the vet staff determined that a previous surgery on her ear had been performed incorrectly and was the cause of her ongoing ear infections. It was decided the best course of action was to remove the whole ear, which corrected the problem and left the cat with a very memorable look and name – Van Gogh.

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“She came in with one part of an ear missing and a distressing flea allergy” Van Gogh – Image Mayhew Animal Home

Van Gogh proved to have a knack for post-impressionist art and the cat, who is four years old, soon began creating her own paintings, the staff noticing that her “mucky paw prints seemed to make a pattern.

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Van Gogh, the first cat-impressionist with one of her paintings. Image – Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

Van Gogh’s feline senses helped her interpret and create her own versions of famous paintings like The Starry Night and Sunflowers. Her medium of choice however is fruit juice, this protects her paws and ensures she stays safe during her artistic forays.

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The staff told The Telegraph that Van Gogh has been showing a variety talents since she first arrived and has even managed to make a few phone calls by draping herself on the handset. While Van Gogh may not be looking for an agent to represent her work, she is most definitely in search of her forever home.

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Image – Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

She’s a very special cat who is hugely affectionate and will make a lovely pet for someone. She loves to be cuddled all day long.

Van Gogh’s work is also being sold by The Mayhew Animal House, all the money raised will go to help other animals in need. If you live in the UK and would like to adopt Van Gogh, or know someone willing to give her a permanent and loving home please visit her adoption page.

The D Word

K.C. is a 3 year old declawed tabby cat who is available for adoption at Toronto Animal Services, she is a sweet girl who was surrendered by her former owners and is now looking for a permanent home. 

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K.C. ID 700022 – available at Toronto Animal Services South

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Declawing, or the “D” word, is sometimes seen as a normal surgery that’s done so cats won’t scratch the furniture, but what is declawing and why is it such a nasty word?

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 Here’s why

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Facts about declawing – source The Paw Project

  • Declawing is amputation. To declaw a cat, veterinarians cuts off the last knuckles of a cat’s paw – cutting through bone, tendons, skin and nerves.
  • Declaw surgery can be an extremely painful procedure with associated health risks and complications such as infection. It is one of the most painful, routinely performed procedures in all of veterinary medicine.
  • Declaw surgery can produce permanent lameness, pain or arthritis.
  • Declawing is the same mutilating procedure for house cats or big cats.
  • Cats may be abandoned by their owners after being declawed because the cats develop behavioral changes or other problems after the surgery including biting and urinating or defecating in unwanted areas outside of the litter box.
  • Declawed cats with these behaviors are more likely to go to the pound.
  • The pain of declawing sometimes causes cats to be reluctant to walk or play, and as a result, owners sometimes neglect them or mistreat them.
  • Declawing is performed solely for the convenience of the person who has the animal and there is absolutely no benefit to the animal.
  • Declawing is currently banned in 38 countries

The Paw Project is a non-profit and their “mission is to educate the public about the painful and crippling effects of feline declawing, to promote animal welfare through the abolition of the practice of declaw surgery, and to rehabilitate cats that have been declawed.”

Alternatives to declawing include regular nail trimming, using Soft Paws® and ensuring your cat has the set up for exercising their nails the right way. Scratching is a natural instinct, by being informed and providing cats with the right tools it will let you both keep what is important.

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Info-graphic source the The Cat Coach

To help get declawing banned in Canada check out AdoptMe Canada, and in the US The Paw Project.