Fun for Kids — and Cats!

My son got this Rube Goldberg machine kit for his birthday last week, and Seamus is IN LOVE.

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A Year in Foster Care

Last January, Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland picked up 13 cats from our local kill shelter. Many were ear tipped, some were sick, and others had been branded as “feral.” Without rescue, they would have died in the shelter.

But there’s a happy ending for most of the group. In the past year, some of them have been adopted (hooray!), and others are happily living in a managed cat colony.

But there are three who are still waiting for their family to come along: Cinderella, Jack, and Anna. While in foster care, Anna has met Billy, and the who have become quite fond of each other. They’re a bonded pair.

We’re sharing their pictures here because we hope you’ll share their post. Rescue Angels knows these guys’ forever homes are out there, and maybe your share on social media will reach the perfect person!

Cinderella
Jack
Anna and Billy

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Reflecting on a Busy Cat Week

If you were to ask me why I got back into rescue, I’d tell you about the past few days. It was the most eventful week since I got back into cat rescue a year ago.

We started fostering just before Christmas last December, first for Roo, who was adopted a couple of months later, and then for Judy, who only stayed with us a week before moving on to another foster home. Then, in March, we took in Dickens and Poe, the two skittish foster brothers who needed time and patience to learn to trust humans again. Last Saturday, Dec. 10, they finally went to their forever home together. Being able to help cats bridge the gap from shelter or outdoor life to a forever home is one of the reasons I got back into rescue. Last weekend was bittersweet because I loved those boys with all my heart, but I was so happy to see them go home with a true cat person.

Poe
Dickens

Then, the next day, we set the trap for backyard cat Fireheart. Instead of catching him, we landed little tortie Spottedleaf. Caring for feral cats was the reason I got involved with Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland, the organization is foster and volunteer with. Rescue Angels has an active TNR program, and I had learned the hard way that feral cats stand no chance at our local shelters.

Spottedleaf

It was hard to let Spottedleaf go last Wednesday. I knew the weather was going to turn cold on Thursday, but she had let me know without a doubt that she was totally over being in a trap in my garage. My son and let set her free on the back deck where we’d trapped her.

Two days later, we finally caught Fireheart. We’ve been feeding Fireheart in the yard since July, and I got used to seeing him in the yard. He was a frequent visitor, often coming during the day. Fireheart was neutered and vaccinated, and on Thursday, I brought him to the same caretaker who has Bluestar, another of my backyard cats. I already miss seeing him in my yard, but I know he has a safe forever home and that he is reunited with his buddy Bluestar.

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Fireheart

So, it’s kind of been an up-and-down week. Each transition has been a mixture of joy and sadness, which, I have learned, is sort of the essence of rescue work. You let these animals into your heart, and seeing them off to their forever homes – whether inside or outside – brings tears of joy and sadness.

It also brings a realization that the work is never done, that there are more animals that need someone to care for and love them.

This busy cat week has ended, but I’m fairly certain a new one will begin soon.

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Dickens and Poe’s Gotcha Day!

Last March, we agreed to take in two foster cats, brothers who were about 6 months old. They needed socialization and more space to roam than their previous foster could give. Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland also asked us to give them new names, so we called them Dickens and Poe.

Dickens and Poe were terrified. We isolated them to a bathroom to start. The first night, Poe hid behind the toilet. Dickens took up residence among the clothes in the adjoining closet. You couldn’t go near them without them running away or cowering into the corner.

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Dickens

Fast forward to last Saturday when Dickens and Poe were finally adopted! Their new owner is a cat person, and she totally gets these two. She knows that they might hide behind toilets and in closets the first night. Maybe the second and third nights, too. She understands that their trust has to be earned, that humans have let them down before.

But man, what a reward she will get when they come around! Poe is a little bolder, and, don’t tell Dickens, but I am going to miss him the most. Poe is chatty and in your face. When he wants your attention, there’s no ignoring him. He’ll rub against your hand until you pet him. He uses his whole body weight to give kitty hugs against your legs or your chest or your back. He’s a major lap cat, so on these chilly nights, he’s going to want to sit with someone. And when he’s tired, he’ll nap on your lap for hours.

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Poe

Dickens will take longer because he is so shy and skittish, but you can tell from his face that he craves attention. He hangs out at the edges of the action, wanting to join in the fun, but too scared to get too close. But when it’s quiet, he’ll come looking for affection. Maybe it will be when you’re snoozing a few extra minutes in the morning or when you’re staying up past your bedtime watching TV. He’ll come looking for pets and belly rubs, and he’s got the loudest purr when he’s happy. He’s hard to get into a carrier, but in my attempts to do so on Saturday, I got to snuggle and hug him. I’ve never been able to hold him in all these months.

When I tell people that we foster cats, they always tell me how they could never do it because they’d want to keep them all. And I have to admit, that sentiment is true. I wanted to keep Dickens and Poe, and I cried the day they left. But we already have three cats, and if we took in all the cats we fostered, we’d reach a limit. Then we couldn’t save any more lives. There’s a quote going around that explains perfectly how I feel about fostering:

fostering-saves-lives

We fostered these guys for more than eight months, and we’re planning a move, so it’s time for us to take a break. But we’re not giving up on rescue altogether. We’ve got cats in the backyard to trap and neuter, and I am heavily involved with Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland in other ways.

And someday, there will be more foster cats.

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The cost of a free kitten vs. the cost of a rescue kitten

120716-kittenThe signs are everywhere in the spring: Free kittens! You’ll see them advertised on Facebook, Craigslist, and roadside signs. Friends may stop you and ask, “Know anyone who wants a free kitten?”

Many rescue groups are taking in these free kittens, too, whether the cats are being surrendered to them, rescued from a kill shelter, or trapped from a feral colony. Want to adopt one of these kittens? In Southern Maryland, the average adoption fee for a kitten from a rescue organization is $125.

If that seems like highway robbery, consider the cost of these items for your new kitten:

  • Vet checkup: $10 to $50+ for an office visit, depending on the vet
  • Rabies vaccine: $5-20
  • Distemper vaccine: $10-20 each time, administered three times
  • Microchip: $45, including registration
  • Spay or neuter: $50 or less at a low-cost clinic, in the hundreds at a vet
  • Deworming: Around $20 for a home remedy, as much as $70 from the vet

(Sources: PetEducation.com, PetCareRx.com, and Petfinder.com)

Let’s add all that up. At the extreme lower end, you’re looking at $160. At the upper end, your costs could be $445, using $200 as the cost of spay or neuter.

When you adopt a pet from a rescue organization or shelter, all of the items on the list above are included. The animal has already been seen by a vet and given the necessary vaccines. It has been spayed or neutered. Other problems, like fleas or mites, have also been treated, and your cat has been tested for diseases like FIV or FeLV. Because they care for several animals, rescue organizations can often get these services for less than the general public.

Your adoption fee, however, covers so much more. Rescue groups and their volunteers or staff also provide these services:

Socialization: If the animal came from outdoors or a bad situation, a foster home has been enlisted to help the animal become socialized and learn to trust humans.

Litter box training: This is necessary if mama cat wasn’t around to help the baby learn that skill.

Personality profile: If an animal has lived in a foster home, the foster family knows that animal like their own pets. They can tell you how they react to various situations and stimuli, and what the animal likes and doesn’t like. You’ll also know how the animal copes with dogs, other cats, and children.

Support for the organization: Rescue organizations – especially those that are run by volunteers – have no overhead. Many don’t even have a building – they are foster home based. Every dollar these groups take in goes back to the care of the animals they rescue.

Help for other animals: Whenever you adopt from a rescue organization, you free up space in a foster home for another animal in need. These organizations actively look for animals to rescue, whether they are springing animals from kill shelters, trapping kittens and friendly adults from feral colonies, finding homes for strays, or working with owners who can no longer take care of their pets.