One year without my Steve. One year of fostering special needs cats without my social bridge.
In the past year, I’ve found a niche at the shelter where I’ve been volunteering for almost 10 years. I’ve honed in my work with special needs cats. I now work exclusively with the “bad nuggets.” That is, I work with the cats who have severe behavior issues. The cats who have been on multiple bite holds. The cats who would be euthanized in most other shelters. I’m doing the same work Jackson Galaxy did in his shelter in Boulder Colorado many years ago. In fact, I met Jackson Galaxy the day after Thanksgiving, and he encouraged me to make house calls. Basically, to do what he does!
I still love, and would still very much work with, the cats with health issues. But it seems more people are capable of handling health issues, and very few people handle the bad nuggets like I do.
I don’t remember the last time I updated, but we adopted a Calico earlier this year. She was a bad nugget. She was in a staff member’s office with a sign on the door that said “enter at your own risk!” I instantly fell in love with her. My husband met her and fell in love, too. She’s fluffy and sweet and has Steve’s eyes. And the best part is that she sits on the side of the tub while we shower!
We also adopted a pit bull (finally)! Raise your hand if you’re shocked she has health issues!
Anyways, here’s Steve (as I fondly remember her) and Wasp
I can’t believe I’m writing this post, but we said goodbye to Steve today. It was very unexpected. She wasn’t acting right this morning, so I brought her to the vet this afternoon. Long story short, her liver and what’s left of her colon are failing. They could do a couple of surgeries, but we would be putting her through a lot of pain and trouble for what amounts to a band-aid. We’d be right back in the same spot in a few weeks or months. I couldn’t do that to my Steve. She’s been my nurse, my rock, my best friend through so much. It would be selfish of me to make her suffer so I could get a few more days with her.
Nothing will fill the hole she has left. I love her so much.
Someone asked in my tattoo post for an update on Steve’s crew! A lot has been going on.
Meet Channon! Yes, I promised Jay no more third cat. We were fostering Channon and her sister Yelena (both named for the female characters from the comic book Spyder was named after) after they were rescued from a hoarder and needed help with socialization. Yelena came right out of her shell and got adopted quickly. Channon was very slow to blossom and when we tried to bring her to the shelter to go up for adoption, she got a little nasty with the vet and refused to come out of hiding in her cage. We took her back home and tried to adopt her out from foster, but no one wanted her. She had a lot of characteristics that reminded us of Spyder, so we decided she could stay furever!!
Channon fits in for the most part. She and Steve get along real well. Saxon bullies her a little. Everything I’ve read is that the order of things got all screwed up and dominance is being reestablished. Poor Channon is the low man on the totem pole. I will say that it’s nice to have another female in the house!!
We fostered a couple of special needs cats after Channon and currently have a formerly feral kitten who is now just a typical calico (read insane) looking for her furever home. Our shelter took in 68 animals from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, so we’re doing adopt from foster for her so she’s not taking up space at the shelter (which is bigger now!! The humane society moved into its brand new building over the summer!!).
ALSO!! We are fostering one of the Hurricane Harvey dogs! All of the animals that the humane society took in due to the hurricanes were previously in shelters and did not belong to anyone. The shelters in TX and FL sent those animals to other shelters (mostly up north) to make room for animals displaced by the weather, left behind by their evacuating families, or similar situations. That way, as people get back on their feet as they recover from the storms, they can go to their local shelters and be reunited with their pets!
This is Jello! He is named after Jello Biafra, the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys. He came from Houston, TX. He’s a year old and is a serial pee-er!! He’s learning his manners. He’s also heartworm positive, so we’ll have him for 2 months keeping him calm while he goes through treatment. Much like the last Chihuahua we fostered, Steve isn’t sure what to do with him. He’s smaller than her, but he smells like a dog. What is this nonsense?
And Steve…Steve is Steve! She’s healthy and happy. We’ll be moving soon, so she’ll be going through that for the first time. The apartment I’m hoping we move to has big front windows. I think Steve will like those!
We just celebrated Steve’s 4th Ampuversary, and her 4th Gotcha Day is coming up in a few days (as is her 2nd Surgiversary for her colectomy)! I’ve wanted to do this for a while, and the time was right!
I got a tattoo for Steve!! Those are as accurate to her paw prints as possible! I wasn’t able get any kind of impressions of her paw prints, so I took super close up pictures of each of her paws and sent those to my tattoo artist who recreated the fluff on generic kitty paw print clip art! It will look a little different when it heals, but I was so excited I had to share!!
If you follow Steve’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/stevetheprettytripawdkitty/), this isn’t news to you, but I’m very sad to share the news that Spyder crossed the Rainbow Bridge in January. The very thing that brought him to us almost 8 years ago is the thing that took him from us. He had painful polyps inside his ear when we took him in to foster and the vet removed them free of charge when we decided to adopt him. The pain they caused was probably one of the reasons he wasn’t very social to begin with. At the end of last year, I noticed he was having bad ear trouble again and I brought him to the vet. It turned out that the polyps had returned and it just wasn’t in our budget to remove them. The vet also thought Spyder was older than his adoption paperwork showed. Jay and I decided to just spoil him and keep him comfy as long as possible, but just a few short weeks later his health had declined, he had stopped eating, and Steve and Saxon were treating him like a total stranger. It was an incredibly tough decision, and while I’m sad that he’s gone and I miss him, I don’t regret it.
When we adopted Steve, I promised Jay that we wouldn’t get another cat when one of them passed away. When Spyder died, there was a hole in my heart and an empty space in the apartment. Jay said that we could foster a dog until kitten season, so I reached out to my rescue friends and a short time later, we had a Chihuahua in the apartment. A Chihuahua!! He had a bite history and I had to train some resource guarding out of him. He lived here for a month and just got adopted by an older couple who has two Boston Terriers, one of whom is deaf!
Right after I brought the Chihuahua to his new home, I had to pick up a senior dog who got dumped out of her foster home for unknown reasons! I got her home and immediately realized she was deaf! You may remember that we had a blind cat last summer (she’s in a great home now and the feral cat, Scrambles, lives on the same farm as Maysoon!), but I’ve never had a deaf animal! I mean, Spyder was going deaf in his old age, but this is a pet who I need to communicate with!! I need her to understand what I need from her, and I need to understand what she needs from me! So now I’m training a deaf dog with sign language! She’s also borderline incontinent, so our kitchen is lined with pee pads and I bought little boys underwear and Poise pads. She doesn’t really like other animals, but seems to be tolerating our zoo pretty well. She and Steve have a weird understanding of each other. They more than tolerate each other. I’d go so far as to say they get along. Her name is Xena, and there’s a chance she’s here to retire. Jay and I are still sorting that out.
So how is Steve doing? Steve couldn’t be better! She’s a bottomless pit who will literally eat anything. She’s eating the dog food, the dog treats, her food, these treats I found from Wellness that are like crack to her!! My brother is renovating the apartment downstairs and the noise is causing incredible anxiety in Yorrick and Saxon. Xena can’t hear it, so she doesn’t care. Steve is bomb proof. She. does. not. care!!
First off, if you haven’t gone over to read Esteban’s blog (my former tripawd foster), get over there and read it!! http://catinhat.tripawds.com/ I’m so happy to see pictures of him in his furever home!!!
Anyways, a few days after Theia came to live with us to learn that it’s not scary to be blind or to live with people, I got a text from the Animal Welfare Manager at the humane society asking if I could work my magic on another semi-feral kitten. So now we have two fosters! Scrambles the Death Dealer (Jay named him after a reference from a cartoon on Adult Swim) is getting snuggle therapy for about an hour or so a day with me and spends the rest of his day causing trouble with Theia! Oh yes…they play! THUD THUD THUD day and night! They’re doing good for each other!
Theia gets to come to gen pop tomorrow. I’m really interested in how it will go! We have to be very careful not to move things so she can get used to where things are. Wish us luck!
Those of us in the foster program at Mohawk Hudson Humane Society weren’t entirely sure what to expect from “kitten season” this year because of the extremely mild winter we had here in Upstate NY. Last year’s kitten season was pretty slow. We optimistically chalked it up to all of the humane education we’ve been doing – maybe people have finally gotten the message and are spaying and neutering their cats! Will that trend continue this year? Will the warm weather bring out all of the unaltered cats early and we’ll get hit hard and early with kittens?
So far no. I’ve had an empty kitten closet for a pretty long time!
But it’s occupied now! Not with kittens, but with a four year old long haired black female cat previously named Splenda. We changed her name to Theia – the Greek Titan goddess of eyesight. Theia is blind, but that’s not entirely why we’re fostering her. She is very shy and has some trust issues, which I imagine somewhat stem from her inability to see what or who is coming at her. We have never fostered a blind animal before, so we’re learning as we go. Theia is very sweet (I’m guessing that’s why they called her Splenda at the shelter) and is making the learning process very easy!
A lot of my Humane Society friends told me that they weren’t surprised to find out that Jay and I took Theia in for foster. We’re becoming pretty well known for taking on the “difficult” cases! I don’t think they’re difficult; just different…a learning experience!
As for Steve, my niece and nephew are getting old enough to understand that Steve is different from most cats because she has 3 legs. They were over here for Easter and were asking questions about her. I explained to them that even though she’s missing a leg, she can still run and jump and play with her brothers. I told them that her missing leg doesn’t slow her down any. I showed them that the only problem that she has is that she can’t scratch her right cheek, so they gave her lots of scratches there! Maybe it’s a little silly, but I’m hoping that the more they’re exposed to her and the more they see that she’s not really different, the more they’ll be able to accept other people’s differences as they grow older and experience the world. 🙂
Goodness, where have I been?! Working, fostering, planning a wedding…
Business is so good, I had to stop taking on new clients until after the wedding so I can focus on planning!
After Ull (the last foster I blogged about) got adopted, we were asked to foster a cat that was described to me as shy but sweet. It turned out she was completely feral and I couldn’t get anywhere near her!! Thankfully, a family had gone to the humane society looking for a barn cat during the time I was fostering her and feral cats make great barn cats!! After her (Maysoon), we fostered a kitten who needed to learn some manners. He was only with us a couple of weeks before going to live with our friend who absolutely loves him!
Steve has continued to show improvement since her colon surgery. It’s still weird to me to get excited about poop, but every day that she has a solid poop is a day that I get excited! We still have streaky days. We still have butt print days. We haven’t had a bath day in a while.
One of my clients adopted a 10 year old Beagle, Buster, about a month ago. They’re absolutely in love with him and spoiled him rotten. He had a terrible cough, so they took him to the vet (his vet is Steve’s vet!!) who referred him to a cardiologist for a heart abnormality. It turns out that he has heartworm disease. They’re heartbroken and very scared to go through the treatment, but they want what’s best for Buster. I know a little about heartworm because of my 7 years volunteering at the humane society, but I’ve never taken a dog through treatment. However, the advice I imparted on them I stole from the Tripawds community. I told them that Buster has no idea what’s ahead of him. He only knows what’s in front of him and takes life one moment at a time. He knows that he is loved and he knows that they are doing their absolute best to care for him. They have a long road ahead of them, but they can’t look at the length of time and they shouldn’t fear anything any more than Buster does.
If anyone knows of a community of support for heartworm disease similar to what we have here for Tripawd families, I would appreciate being made aware of it so I can pass the info on to my clients. They would love to have the kind of support that the Tripawds community offers!!