Bluestar’s Next Move

I was so excited Saturday afternoon when Bluestar rolled over while I was petting her and purred up a storm.


But the days in a cage wore on her, and by the evening, she was back to hanging out at the back of her cage and not coming forward when I walked toward her. She took a swipe and hissed while I filled her food and water. Her posture and movements told me that she was scared and confused, and she wanted out. Who could blame her?

Bluestar needs something we can’t give her at our house right now: More space and time. I knew going in to this that keeping her in a big cage in my garage for too long might not work and could be too stressful on her.

Why didn’t we bring her inside? Part was logistics. If Bluestar wanted nothing to do with people, it would be difficult (and dangerous to everyone) to get a terrified cat into a carrier or trap.

The second reason was for the safety of the five cats currently living at my house. Bluestar had been inside for just a few days, and while she appears to be perfectly healthy, we know little about her health. All the cats in the house are up-to-date on their vaccines, we didn’t want to share worms or fleas or something else.

So I made the call Sunday morning to move her to the outdoor home I had lined up for her. During her acclimation period to her new home, she’ll have a lot of space, other kitty companions, and big windows and cat trees. She’ll also have plenty of human interaction, so if Bluestar decides people are A-OK, she could go into foster care. Or, she could get a “job” as a barn cat.

And if not, she’s got a safe forever home with people who will love her and care for her as long as she lives.

She’s there now, and I was promised updates. It was hard to say goodbye, but life is going to be good for Bluestar. I just know it.

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An Update on Bluestar

It’s been a few days since we trapped Bluestar, and I’m no expert, but I think she’s doing well! She was spayed on Wednesday, and she got her rabies vaccine and tested negative for FIV/FeLV. Hooray!

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She’s recovering in a big cage in our garage for now while we learn more about her to determine her path. She’s got a warm bed, good food, and lots of human visitors.

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So far, we’ve learned that she doesn’t mind having her forehead and ears scratched by a finger or two, but she’s less sure about a whole hand petting her. She rolls over easily, and talking to her can make her purr.

Volume up so you can hear the purr!

#TBT for Black Cat Day

I have two black cats living in my house right now. In honor of today’s Black Cat Day and Throwback Thursday, here’s the first pictures I took of permanent resident Aine and foster cat Poe. I love these two!

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Aine, taken at the humane society the day we adopted her.
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Poe, in his favorite hiding place when he first arrived at my house.

Tell me about your black cats!

Dear Bluestar

Dear Bluestar,

Right now, I know you’re scared and confused and probably a little mad, too. It’s OK. I understand. You weren’t expecting what just happened to you.

But I swear to you, pretty kitty, that today is the first day of the safest part of your life. I never told you this, but I worried every time I drove through the neighborhood that I’d see you dead on the side of the road. I worried that someone else would spot you and call animal control.

Tomorrow, you’ll go to the vet. They’ll do a surgery on you (unless you’ve already had it!) and give you a shot. When you’re done, you’ll come home with me, and we’ll go from there. Maybe you’ll decide humans are not that bad, and we’ll find you a loving home.

Or maybe you’ll miss the outdoors too much. That’s OK, too. I have a loving outdoor home lined up for you, just in case.

No matter what choice you make, you’re safe now, Bluestar.

Love, The Food Lady

Compassion for the Humans, Too

There’s something I didn’t think about when I got more involved in companion animal rescue: You have to deal with quite a few humans, too.

It’s easy to feel sympathy for the animals when they’re at shelters, living on the streets, or being surrendered by an owner. What’s harder is to reserve some compassion for the humans involved in these situations – especially when you don’t agree with their actions.

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Our Seamus, who was originally adopted by someone else but returned because of sneezing. Their loss, our gain!

I never really gave this much thought until a few months ago when Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland, the organization with which I volunteer, posted a picture to Facebook of an animal who had been surrendered by its owner. We were helping to find it a new home. I forget the circumstances of the surrender, but I do remember that there was more to the story than we could post. We needed to protect the owner’s privacy.

Well, many of those who commented on the photo vehemently disagreed with the owner’s decision. Their comments were nasty and judgmental. We ended up deleting some of the comments because of offensive language.

That led me to the Internet in search of an article to post that offered an alternate view. I found “The Case for Compassion” at the ASPCA Professional website. The article struck a chord. I bookmarked it because I frequently go back to it as a reminder. It’s definitely worth a read (and an occasional re-read).

Writer B.J. Rogers argues that we should approach animal surrender with compassion first. Most people who surrender their pet are heartbroken. They do not make the decision lightly. Many have already exhausted other avenues and tapped out resources to resolve the problem, whether it’s financial, medical, behavioral, or other. They don’t want to lose a member of their family. Surrendering is their last resort.

If we jump to conclusions and treat them as criminals, we make the process worse for them. We pile on to the guilt they are already feeling. There’s a saying that keeps popping up on my Facebook feed, and I think it applies here:

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Like Rogers, I readily admit that I am guilty of jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst about people in these situations. But I have learned a lot since becoming more involved in animal rescue the last few months. Now, when I have the chance to talk to people who inquire about surrender, I try to ask questions and learn more. There’s always more to a situation than they will initially let on, and many people aren’t aware of the resources out there for them and their pet.

Do some people lie about why they’re giving up their pet? Sure. Do some people treat their animals as possessions rather than sentient beings? Of course. But that is not the case for everyone. I am a firm believer that we help the animals by being kind to their humans. Energy and time spent hating the humans cannot be used to find a happy new home for a surrendered pet.

Compassion for the animals is a given. Some care needs to be saved for the humans, too.

The Lessons of “Nobody’s Cats”

The first time I read “Nobody’s Cats,” it made me cry.

The kitty on the cover looks like my Aine, who began her life as a feral kitten.

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The story made me think of Mama Spots, Sneaky, and Tiny, the backyard cats who lived in my yard last year and who were killed at the shelter.

And the boy in the story reminded me of my son, a cat lover who just wants them all to have a home.

This lovely children’s book is written by Valerie Ingram and Alistair Schroff, and it tells a true story of a community coming together to help its cats. Besides the story it tells about trap-neuter-return (TNR) and caring for community cats, I love this book for a couple of other reasons.

First, the actions taken in the book are spurred by children. They saw animals in need, and the grownups in their lives took them seriously. Instead of putting the kids off and hoping they would forget, the adults helped them come up with a plan and put that plan into action. What an important lesson for a child to learn: That their opinions matter and that speaking up can make a difference.

The other lesson I love in this story is the power of one voice to spark change. With big problems – feral cats, in this case – it can seem impossible for one person to make a difference. But, because these children spoke up, action was taken, and the lives of humans and animals were improved. Imagine the changes we could make if we all used our one voice!

“Nobody’s Cats” is the perfect book for animal-loving kids, and a great story for today, National Feral Cat Day!

UPDATE: You can order physical copies of “Nobody’s Cats” as well as the authors’ other book, “Out of the Cold,” via The Lakes Animal Friendship Society website.