Thursday, February 23, 2017

Where do our cats come from?

Feline Rescue cares for up to 70 cats at our shelter and over 150 in our foster program. Our mission is to provide safe shelter, veterinary care, and socialization for stray, abandoned, or abused cats until good permanent homes can be found for them. For almost 20 years now our volunteers have worked with community members, other shelters and animal control facilities to help cats.

Lisa had been adopted from Feline Rescue in 2006 and then returned
to our care in 2016. Feline Rescue always has room for our cats to
return to ensure they are cared for and safe for the rest of their lives.

Foster kittens Lilo and Stitch were transferred from a
regional humane society for medical care prior to being adopted.
Our cats are found homeless in garages, under decks or in backyards by people in the community.
Our cats are abandoned in our parking lot in bags, boxes, and carriers.

Berry was left on our front door step. She has been at our shelter
since October 2015 available for adoption.
Mittens was a stray kitten found by someone in the community. 
Our cats are taken in from other shelters or animal control facilities where they are at risk of being euthanized due to overcrowding, illness, injury. behavior or length of stay. Our cats have been rescued from hoarding situations.

Julliard's and Aberdeen's mom was pulled from a local animal
control facility by our shelter intake coordinator and moved to
foster care once we realized she was pregnant.
Our cats are newborn kittens, pregnant cats, young kittens, adult cats, cats with chronic health conditions and elderly cats. Many of the cats cared for at our shelter or in our foster homes are shy or scared when they first come to us. Many more come to us injured or ill.

Amelia was transferred from Red Lake Rosie's Rescue to recover from
a leg amputation. Feline Rescue has partnered with RLRR for years.
Feline Rescue has an amazing group of shelter and foster volunteers willing and able to work with these cats to regain their health, help them learn to trust people again and to acclimate to living indoors.

Bailey was very shy and untrusting when she arrived.
Cat whisperer Bill worked extensively with her on building confidence and trust.
Last year, we took in 1,189 cats (604 in Foster and 585 into the shelter) and we adopted out 1,096 (520 from Foster and 576 from the Shelter). These statistics reflect an increase of just under 50% over our 2015 results for both the intake and adoption of cats.

Our dedicated Outreach volunteers actively participate in spay and neuter advocacy in the community and cat retention program efforts including connecting cat owners with resources and providing access to litter, food, and other necessary cat supplies to enable cats to remain with their families. We offer low-cost alternatives to those who might not otherwise have the funds to alter cats. In addition, we work with the community and with other local rescue groups to prevent increases to the feral cat population. Last year, our Outreach volunteers assisted with the spay/neutering of 1045 cats, with 424 surgeries in the third quarter alone.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Taco Tuesday

As a five month old kitten, Taco was found behind a dumpster, unable to walk or even stand. With some road rash evidence on his hips and legs, it was determined that he had been hit by a car and then dragged himself to safety behind that dumpster. One of his rear legs had two fractures; his other rear leg was dislocated from his hip, and he had two pelvic fractures.

Initially, our vet thought he would have to amputate the broken leg. The fractures were healing on their own; his leg was misshapen as a result. But that leg was strong and our vet decided that it would be able to sustain Taco's weight. The other leg had a femoral head ostectomy (FHO). What is that? With people and dogs, dislocated hips are surgically enhanced with an artificial hip joint. With cats, the head of the femur is removed and a false joint develops as scar tissue grows around the femur and hip. There is no "ball and socket" anymore but rather a free standing femur connected to hip by scar tissue.

Taco went to his foster home to recouperate after his surgery. He was confined to a kennel to keep him from running, jumping, even walking on his injured legs. In anticipation of surgery on both legs, his entire back third of his body was shaved, giving him a "pants-less" look. Taco was quite happy to sit in his bed in his kennel all day. His caregiver constructed toys that hung down over his bed so he could play even while tucked in. His food bowl would be held in front of him as he ate so that he didn't even have to leave his bed. Taco rather enjoyed this posh lifestyle. He enjoyed it a little too much. If Taco didn't have to move, Taco didn't move. He left his kennel two times a day for physical therapy to strengthen his muscles. After that, Taco lounged in his bed the rest of the day. If a toy darted past him, Taco would bat it back... but if it went out of range of the bed, Taco let it go. The door to his kennel could be left open and unattended without Taco even thinking about leaving his cushy bed. His caregiver worried about him.

One day, a new kitten moved into his room. When Taco saw her walk by his kennel, Taco leaped to his feet and DARTED out his kennel. He happily sniffed her face. Finally Taco had a reason to leave his kennel. He was in love!

For the first week, Taco played lightly with his new friend, batting stuffed mice to her and endlessly licking her head. Two weeks later, he was plodding slowly after her in a kitty game of tag. By week three, Taco was running and jumping, engaging in his favorite game called "I can top that." Literally. Indu is a skilled climber and loves to dart to the top of an 8 foot cat tower, one that actually touches the ceiling. While Taco has not ever gotten to the top level (thank goodness!), he has scooted up to the second level. The problem isn't getting up, it's getting down. Jumping down on his healing legs can be a little painful. Taco knows his limits.

After a couple of months of Kitty Olympics throughout the house, his caregiver noticed Taco limping on his FHO leg. The most shocking part - his leg had rotated 90 degrees and was almost perpendicular to the way a normal cat foot should be pointing. Taco's x-rays would show that his femur had rotated and his patella no longer rested squarely over the tibia. His knee was off-center. His muscles weren't strong enough to hold the femur in place.

One vet recommended amputation. The U gave two options - corrective surgery or, since he gets around just fine, do nothing but a little PT to help strengthen his muscles. Most days, Taco isn't in any pain. On the day or two that he has seemed a little ouchy, he gets pain killers to help him get through that moment. He runs on that leg. He plays on that leg. It just sticks out a little weirdly. He knows his limits and seems to adjust to his handicap. He has what his caregiver calls the "Taco eating pose." His bum leg sticks out straight while he eats. He also seems to do his own PT himself - he often stretches his bad leg for a few minutes (his caregiver swears she's seen him do bicycle kicks, too). Taco will have x-rays on his leg in 6 weeks. We'll compare that x-ray with the one we just had taken to see if there are any changes - for the better or for the worse. It's possible Taco, with time, strength, and age, can hold those bones in place. If they're still rotating like crazy, we will opt to have corrective surgery. We want to do what's best for Taco, what causes him the least amount of pain.

Taco's FHO surgery came with a hefty price tag. Taco's corrective surgery will be three times as expensive. (We must admit that we got a little sticker shock when we saw the estimate). This is where you can help. Donations made in the month of February will be matched thanks to some kind donors. That's double the love! Donate today >

Taco is a happy guy. In addition to his girlfriend Indu, Taco has taken another foster kitten named Superfudge under his wing. The two definitely have a big brother-little brother relationship. Taco loves to pin Superfudge down to bathe him. And then, once clean, the wrestling match begins. Taco is 8 pounds; Superfudge is 4 pounds. Who do you think wins? And rounding out this merry bunch is Superfudge's girlfriend Mary. Yeah, that's right. Fudgie has a girlfriend, too. She adores him. He helped her come out of her shell. The four are hoping that someone has a wonderfully big heart and would like to adopt them all together.

Taco has come a long way from the scared, quiet little guy who was a mangled mess. He's insanely sweet. He prefers to lick a hand that rubs his belly. And he's in heaven having not one, not two, but three best friends.

By the way, Superfudge has his own story. Read it here >

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Shiva's story

When Shiva was two months old, she was found alone in a barn by a kind woman who knew she needed immediate care. Shiva had such bad infections in her eyes that both eyeballs had ruptured and were oozing blood and puss. The swelling caused hair loss on her face. It was difficult to look at her. 
After Shiva arrived at Feline Rescue, she visited a veterinary ophthalmologist. He wasn’t sure what her long-term prognosis would be, whether she’d need surgery to remove her eyes or to sew them shut. He could tell that one had had completely lost vision already but thought there might be hope for the other.

Shiva received eyedrops every two hours for several weeks, and then four times a day for several more weeks, in order to fight the infection and to keep her eyes lubricated while they healed. After two months of treatment, Shiva’s eyes are healed up, she has regained some sight in one eye and she will not need surgery. 

When people hear Shiva’s story, they often say “oh, that’s so sad.” But Shiva’s story is one of resilience and perseverance. Despite being abandoned so young and having such serious infections, Shiva is a complete spitfire, afraid of nothing and curious about everything. Her blindness doesn’t deter her  at all and she navigates her world with confidence and excitement. While in foster care, she’s found a great friend in another foster cat a bit older than she is and they are constant wrestling companions.

Thanks to our donors whose financial support allows us to care for serious medical cases like Shiva’s, Shiva now has a long, happy, safe life ahead of her and she’s ready to face it head on!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Feliway, a synthetic pheromone diffuser

by Emily Wallner

When adopting a new cat or dealing with anxiety in your cat(s), a frequently-made suggestion is to try a pheromone product referred to as Feliway TM. Feliway is the brand name of a product containing a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone that cats excrete and mark upon areas of their home. The pheromone is distributed by the cats rubbing their cheeks on items. This pheromone, and the synthetic copy of it found in Feliway and other synthetic pheromone diffusers, serves to mark property and relieve anxiety and stress. Using these diffusers can help to make your home feel safer to new cats, reduce anxiety, may help manage various behavioral problems, and can serve to make life transitions and changes easier on your feline family members.

Using synthetic pheromone diffusers like Feliway is easy. It comes in multiple forms. One of the most popular forms is a plug-in diffuser. The pheromone product gets heated up in the diffuser and is released into the air. Depending on the size of the area you want to treat, you may or may not want to use more than one diffuser. Another easy method of application is spraying the Feliway by hand with a spray bottle. You can spray it into the air or directly on objects. For safety reasons, do not spray the product directly on your cats. Finally, there are calming collars. These collars look like flea collars and release a continual bit of the pheromone in the air around the cat.

Feliway and other synthetic pheromone products can be found at Target, WalMart, pet stores and online retailers. As always, pheromone diffusers are not a substitute for veterinary care when needed and their efficacy will vary. Your veterinarian can help you determine if these popular products are appropriate for your household.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The story of Superfudge

Superfudge came to us with a very delicate issue. To put it politely, he couldn't control his output. Some days, things would just fall out of him. Other days, nothing would come out. Nothing for over a week. During that time, his anus would protrude a good couple of inches past where it should normally be and the skin around it would be grey and purple, a sign that blood was not flowing properly to that area. To get him through this, Superfudge was on a mountain of medicines, had x-rays, an ultrasound, enemas, and even had a manual deobstipation. He had to be force fed to keep up his strength (and weight).

When Superfudge came to us, he was almost 4 months old and weighed just a pound. Four month old kittens should weigh four pounds. He was super tiny. You could feel every bone in his body. His long fur was constantly sticking up in every direction (he had a bad hair day every day). Because he had decaying feces inside him, the smell radiated from his fur. He stunk. He really, really, really stunk. And anything and everyone he touched also stunk. His caregiver referred to the uniquely pungent smell as "Eau de Fudgie." He didn't have any friends. He didn't want to play; he only wanted to cuddle (and none of the other kittens wanted to cuddle with such a ripe guy).
Superfudge was a fighter. He got stronger. And heavier. And older. And these three things together gave him the power to overcome his issues. He's still not 100% (his tushy resembles a baboon's butt right now but that should settle down once the inflamation subsides) but he can consistently get the poop out on his own. Superfudge is now over 5 months old but he looks like he's three months old. His caregiver celebrated the day he reached two pounds. And then three pounds. Now he weighs three and a half pounds! He loves to tear around the house with his best friends Taco and Indu. Yes, you read that right. Friends. He now has friends! He had friends who adore him. Superfudge does everything at high speed. He's got a lot of catching up to do. He eats well. He poops well. He plays well. He loves well. 

Throughout it all, Superfudge purred all the time. He's just a happy guy. Happy to be alive. Happy to be loved. Happy someone was taking care of him. He didn't always love his treatments. But he loves the people who took care of him. Heck, he loves everybody.
Superfudge's story has a happy ending because of the money our supporters donate. We couldn't do it without you! We have some extra generous donors offering to match any donations made in the month of February. It's a great time to donate, and help make sure the next kitten in need gets all the medical care required to get healthy. Supefudge thanks you. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tips for pet safety in the winter months

Remember, if it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don't leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats in your area, they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It's easy to give them a hand by providing a cat shelter. For instructions on how to build a shelter, go to Alley Cat Allies website.

Cars are one of many hazards to small animals, as warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

A passing snowplow can also be hazardous by throwing snow high enough to bury a cat wandering by. When you see a cat or dog roaming freely outside in freezing temperatures or heavy snow, please take action to protect or rescue that animal.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Managing anxiety in cats

by Emily Wallner
Anxiety in cats is a common and manageable issue. Sometimes it stems from an environmental factor, and other times, it is just how the cat is wired. When you bring home a new feline family member, typically some anxiety can be expected from either the new cat and/or any other cats in your home. Most of the time, this anxiety will level out as everyone gets adjusted to the changed environment and new structure of the family. Change is often difficult for cats, and it can take some time for everyone to feel comfortable with changes to their routine.
Anxiety is displayed in many different ways. Some cats hide or keep their distance. Some cats become unusually clingy. Some cats will appear to be restless and some might act out. Others will urinate or defecate outside of the litter box. There are also physical manifestations of anxiety such as an upset stomach, nervous diarrhea, developing hot spots, excessive grooming or constipation. 
There are a number of ways in which you can help your anxious cats. Setting and maintaining a solid daily routine for them will help them feel more secure. Using pheromone mimicking sprays or diffusers like Feliway can calm them down and help them adjust to changes in their environment. When our animal family members are stressed, often we become stressed, and vice versa. Cats are very perceptive animals, and taking steps to reduce your own level of anxiety will result in a calmer environment and, as a result, will help reduce the anxiety in your cat. If the anxiety is chronic, severe or particularly worrisome, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss options for intervention. 

"Your veterinarian may prescribe anxiety reducing medication (Prozac, Buspirone or others) to be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques," said Jerri Smith, DVM, medical consultant to Feline Rescue. "These medications may have undesired side effects, so they should not be used as a sole treatment and they should never be discontinued abruptly." As always, never medicate your cat without the instruction of and supervision by your veterinarian. 
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