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Monday, October 31, 2011

Bluebird 1997-2011

Tonight I walked through the feeding routine, my body working on automatic. Sky went into his carrier as did Lady. I opened the smaller feed container to withdraw the scoop and scooped the food out of the larger container for “the boys” in their cage. From the frig I withdrew the many cans of food to distribute to the other cats and placed Rainbow’s bowl atop the frig. Setting the cans upon the counter I noticed that I’ve still got “her” can.

Mewdy Blue hopped up into his carrier to await his dollop of food while Glitter accepted her bowl of dry food on the shelf beside him. I pulled the lid from the smaller container out to block Glitter’s access to “her” bowl then closed my eyes as I remembered. Next I plopped a small can of special food in Lady’s bowl and closed her carrier door. Sky was next with just a spoonful of his special canned food and a scoop of his dry food.

Finally I fed the remaining cats their dry food on the floor, the top of the shelves, the ledge and the spot in the living room. I looked at “her” can and stopped for a moment. I wouldn’t need that. Then set out the many different pills. There was the metronidazole, but only one this time, the prednisolone, only two, and one atenolol.

I looked at the lid still blocking Glitter’s way and recognized that it didn’t need to be there. On this night so much has changed; my routine, my life. Bluebird is gone and everything is wrong.                                                                                                 

That’s the feeling when you lose a loved one, especially one who was such a large part of your life. She has been a huge part of my life for 14 years insinuating herself on my heart and leaving pawprints on my soul. Her mother was a feral cat and she started out as a mama’s girl hiding behind her mother’s fur whenever I entered their room. Once separated from her mom, Bluebird came out of her shell and demanded to be the center of attention. The only girl in a litter of five she became a Prima Donna.

Grief includes so many feelings, many more than the “5 stages” you’ll find in books, especially if the one you grieve is a beloved pet. First you will have spent some time caring intensively for a sick pet, then you may be forced to make the ultimate decision. Choosing to end the life of your precious pet is difficult, yes, but it is also a gift you give to one who trusts you. You are choosing to end the suffering, the pain and the stress the illness or injury is causing your pet.

You can expect to go through all the stages of grief afterward and find yourself expecting to find your pet at every turn. You may also begin to suffer in silence because you fear that others around you would never understand. Try to find someone you know would understand, a friend, a counselor or a support group, to help you through this process.

Tonight I’m still thinking of Bluebird nearly every minute. She’s everywhere in this house in my memories and in the atmosphere. She’s everywhere in my life where ever I may go. I have to believe that she hasn’t left, that she’s with me every minute as I go on in this world until we are reunited once again.

Bluebird has flown over the rainbow, a place where I can’t follow just yet, her voice filling the sky – what news do you sing now, my pretty Bluebird? She is with her mom

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The value of showing Household Pets

Jabberwoky Glitter and ACFA judge Don Finger

If you get the 2012 issue of the Cats USA magazine, out this month, you will see an article (by me!) about showing Household Pet cats (HHPs). And if you’ve read my past blog entries both here and on my earlier KCCI site you know that I love showing cats. I believe that cat shows not only showcase the pedigreed cats but also help educate the public about cats in general. In fact, I think education is the most important aspect of cat shows.

The presence of HHPs gives the public an opportunity to see what their cats should look like. To start with here’s a few “requirements” for HHPS:

·      they must be white, black, blue, red, multi-colored or any other color
·      they must be either longhaired or shorthaired, curly-haired or straight-haired
·      they must be either male or female but if over 8 months of age they must be neutered
·      they must be at least 4 months old
·      they must be healthy, well-groomed and easily handled by strangers

It is this last “requirement” that cat shows can help cat owners attain for their cats.

The term, healthy, refers to a wide range of considerations. First the cat should be vaccinated against the basic, common viral infections including Rabies. He should also be free of parasites including fleas, ear mites and intestinal worms. What about his weight? Your veterinarian can advise you best about that but you can also compare your cat’s “figure” to a body condition chart such as the one here: .

Grooming, as well, can encompass a lot of things. For instance, how often do you brush or comb your cat’s fur? For most longhairs a daily brushing would be best while for shorthairs you may be able to get away with weekly brushing. At least weekly you should be checking your cat’s ears, teeth and eyes for any sign of disease or just dirt. During each grooming session also run your hands down his body to check for any lumps or bumps. Knowing what is normal helps you to recognize when a pathological condition arises.

Sometimes show cats are simply born with outgoing personalities that win them awards but you can help your introverted cat improve his outlook on strangers. Ideally you should start when your cat is a kitten but even adults can learn to trust other people and situations. First, be sure your cat is accustomed to the carrier by leaving it out at all times and perhaps even feeding your cat in it. Take him on periodic car rides that don’t include a visit to the vet. It would even be a good idea to take your cat to other households or a pet supply store to get him used to strange surroundings and people. Any cat that can handle these situations should be a good candidate for cat shows. But even if you don’t intend to show your cat he will be much happier if he is comfortable around other people.

Thus when cats are presented at cat shows the cat-owning public gets to see healthy, happy cats; and showing HHPs lets them know that, yes, even mixed-breed cats are valuable members of the family. So many times at shows spectators approach my benching cage and ask what breed my cats are. When I answer that they are HHPs their response almost always is “Oh, just HHPs?” or “Oh, just mixed-breeds?” My immediate reaction is to smile and gently correct them by saying “we never say just.” With HHPs at a cat show the average cat owner can more easily relate to the cats. They may more easily see that their own cats are just as good as anyone’s.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pet Dumping

I am appalled at the thoughtlessness of some people. Recently my sister found a “pack” of 10 kittens unceremoniously dropped at the roadside on her way home. Understandably some of them were frightened and ran away from her, but she caught the ones she could and took them home. These kittens were from at least 3 different litters. Most were so thin I could see every bone in their tiny bodies. Most also sported painful, weepy eyes.

How can people be so uncaring? I can’t imagine dumping a pet out in the country to fend for itself. These are usually pets that have been cared for and fed regularly so they don’t know how to provide for themselves. They may have even been indoor pets and are terrified of the great outdoors. Here they must risk their lives just crossing the road. Predators seek them out (coyotes, hawks, eagles, owls and dogs). And some uncaring souls shoot or poison them.

Perhaps these “dumpers” imagine that farmers will happily adopt their animals. But farmers and acreage owners usually have pets of their own and don’t have room for more. Besides, who says abandoned animals will even make it to a household? If only these people would leave their pets at shelters where they will be cared for and hopefully adopted. There is no shame in leaving a pet at the shelter. In this economy people are losing their jobs and even homes and are unable to properly care for their pets. Isn’t it better to take them to a shelter than to leave them in a ditch in no man’s land? If you are worried that a shelter will euthanize them, seek out a no-kill shelter.

Years ago when my family moved out to the country we began to collect stray animals as they were dumped near our acreage. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep them all indoors so many died young or disappeared. This is the fate of outdoor pets. I was just glad that we were able to give them the love and care they needed for as long as we could.

My sister is unable to keep the kittens she found so she did the responsible thing and took them to the local shelter. Hopefully they will get the treatment they need and eventually find very good forever homes.

Have you ever rescued an abandoned pet? Have you ever caught someone dumping a pet/pets? Were you ever in a position of being unable to properly care for your pets? If so, what did you do? I’d like to hear of your experiences.