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Sometimes I Question My Sanity - 3/11/2010

OK, probably others question my sanity a lot more than SOMETIMES.  Warning:  You may not like this blog if you're squeamish and I wouldn't recommend eating while reading.

Today I'm left wondering, "Do I even like cats?"  The last 24 hours have been probably the grossest of my existence.  And today I can't even blame it on Forgotten Cats.  I had to take 2 of my 4 cats to the vet.  I had this "inspired" idea that I would take them in the same carrier.   I've found that despite the initial hissing, they seem to keep each other calm for the ride in the car.  Until about 20 minutes ago, I had been complimenting myself at length for the sheer brilliance of this plan.  The visit to the vet wasn't so bad at all.  Just a couple of well-formed turds that the vet himself felt obligated to remove -- clearly he doesn't work with feral cats all day.  I'd barely noticed them.  Anyway, on the way home, literally within walking distance of my driveway, Hilary started making what I'd assumed was a puking noise.  I said, to her, "You'd better not be puking out of that carrier onto my book!"  (I'd left a paperback on the floor beneath the carrier.)  Yeah, I wish that's what she'd been doing.  Nope.  It was Pudding Poop!  And it was all over the carrier and both cats. 

I panicked.  I let them out as soon as we got home.  And then there were Pudding Poop Paw Prints all over the house.  You know those cute little paw prints we're always putting on everything?  They're not so cute when they're made of poop.  (Oh no!  I just now saw something that I thought was more poop, but, thankfully, it's just a hairball.  What a relief!) 

Hilary was the only one I actually had to bathe.  I didn't have time to do it right.  I just picked her up and threw her in a bathroom sink.  After I was done with her and she ran off, before I could dry her, of course, I discovered a solid turd on the counter.  Where did that come from?  The stuff is everywhere.  I was reminded of the time over 15 years ago when we gave our first two cats baths.  It was a disaster.  I remember our vet telling us after the fact that the key to giving a cat a bath is to keep it off its back so it can't scratch you by flailing its feet.  My husband said, "I think the key is to keep the cat off my back."  Afterall, he'd ruined a white shirt with rips and blood stains through the experience.

And then there was the poop-laden carrier.  I've considered calling home improvement stores and letting them know that poop makes excellent caulk.  Honestly, it was more than I could handle.  I doused the thing with Clorox Cleanup and threw it in the garage.  Since at this point, I'm seriously considering burning down the whole house, I see no reason to clean the poop out of every nook and cranny in that carrier.

And that was just today.

Yesterday afternoon I had "prep" duty at the Claymont clinic.  Just a couple of hours.  Prep is the job I consider the most fun.  The cats come to you already asleep, you shave them and scrub them, and deliver them to the vet.  It's not all that mentally or physically strenuous and there's usually some pretty good banter going on.  Then Cheryl, the knockdown person, brings in this black cat, points to his nether region (where I have to shave, by the way), and says, "Do you think that's lice?"

Despite the fact that every time our vets go to a professional conference they're told that "lice and mites are rare in cats," we do see quite a bit of it.  It's not really that big of a deal.  It's easily killed off with topical products like Frontline and the species are specific to cats, so we can't catch it.  We usually take it in stride.  We treat the cats.  We keep them carefully separated from the others.  We wear aprons or change our clothes right away.  It's a nuisance, nothing more.  But fercripessake, usually all we see are eggs.  These little buggers were crawling all around.  And they were clustered... ahem... WHERE I HAD TO SHAVE!

So, that was gross.  But it's good.  The vet (Jackie, who worked two long days with the flu) said the Frontline lasts a month and the "fermites," as Jackie referred to them, won't survive that long without a host.  These feral cats will be fermite-free from here on out.  Once I stopped itching, and we were all itching, even the people in the office who never touched the cats, psychology is a powerful thing, I felt pretty good that we'd made those cats' lives significantly better.

And that wasn't even the grossest thing that happened yesterday.  I won't tell that story here.  I'll save it for if we ever get on Dirty Jobs.  But I will tell you that amid the grossness of a uterine infection, we saved a beautiful tortishell cat with white feet who would have surely died if she hadn't been brought to us to be spayed.  She's a beautiful kitty.  And she will be for a long time to come thanks to the vets and volunteers at Forgotten Cats.

I know I left you all hanging about the big day in Willow Grove on Tuesday.  It was a big day.  120 cats came in.  It was a hard, stressful day, and, yes, that was the first of the two days that Jackie worked through the flu.  In the morning, when we finally saw the list of cats and how many were on it, Rae said, "We're going to need pizza."  I lucked out.  Rae and Carol Ann did the hard work of knockdown that day.  I just followed behind them, wrote numbers in the cats' ears, delivered them to the preppers, and then replaced the newspapers in their traps.

So, for this week, we sterilized about 210 cats, about half in Claymont and half in Willow Grove, not bad considering that kitten season is not yet upon us.  Every cat we sterilize prevents countless others from being born which means that many other cats will not be homeless and eventually euthanized.  It's worth mentioning that Forgotten Cats does TNR the right way.  We help colony caretakers trap every cat in a colony all at once.  We sterilize all of them.  This is the only way to make it work.  I mentioned in my last blog entry that a single female cat could theoretically produce 420,000 off-spring in a 7-year lifespan.  This means you can't leave a single female cat unspayed in a colony.  Leaving a couple of cats unsterilized in a colony is virtually the same as leaving them all unsterilized.  Within a year, you won't notice the difference.  The population of cats will simply grow to a size that consumes all the food and space available.  Trapping all the cats at once is one of the facets of our organization that makes us so special.  We have the traps available to get all the cats at once, we have clinic capacity to sterilize them all at once, and we have the space available to take care of the cats while they recover from surgery.  There's no one else in the entire Philadelphia region who can do that.  I'm not even sure there's anyone else anywhere who provides the entire suite of services that we do with a volume sufficient to handle a 100+ cat colony in a single project.  This is a great organization, and YOU are part of it.

So... don't forget to vote in the shelter challenge today.  And remember that there are only a few days left in the Money Match Challenge.  Oh, and I almost forgot (actually, I did forget and had to come back and edit this!), the Forgotten Cats Cause on Facebook surpassed 5000 members yesterday!!!  Woohoo! 

--Maria

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