A Place in Your Heart: Adopting a Special Needs Cat

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Special Needs Cats

According with the ASPCA, 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters every year and only 1.4million are adopted. Feral,  senior and special needs cats are those with lower adoption rates, while kittens usually are adopted very fast.

Special needs cats tend to be overlooked at the shelter mainly because they require a higher level of attention, care and resources from their owner.They tend to endure more time at the shelter, witch can be very stressful for the cat.

With today’s veterinary technology,  special needs cats are able to live longer, happier, healthier lives. They just need to find  a loving home and a dedicate owner.

FIV- Positive Cats

The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a infection carried by a retrovirus that causes immunodeficiency disease in cats. It’s transmitted to other cats, through scratches and bites, but not through contact or through the air. 

The FIV virus affects the cat’s ability to develop a normal immune response, leaving the cat vulnerable to others infections caused by normally harmless bacteria, virus, protozoa and fungi that are found in everyday environment.

In order to avoid a FIV-infected cat to contract secondary diseases, the owner should avoid feeding her raw foods such as meat, poultry or eggs. Is mandatory that the cat lives indoors in order to prevent the secondary infections.

Secondary infections can be life threatening if not treated for the FIV cat immune system is unable to respond.

A FIV positive cat can live for years without showing any symptoms of immunodeficiency, living a normal life. Most of FIV cats that has the disease are un-neutered males fighting for food, females or territory, who picked up and spread the virus. They are feral, stray or cats that live outdoors without control from their owners.

There is no risk for humans and other species and with love, proper care and regular vet visits FIV positive cats can enjoy a normal life with no apparent health problems resulting from the virus.

FIV positive cats still find it hard to find new homes, even though they are normal, loving cats that deserve a chance to live a happy life.

The Six Toed Cat and the Sea

Hemingway probably had mistaken the titled of his famous and Pulitzer Prize book, “The Old Man and the Sea”. What he actually meant was to write about the Six Toed Cat and the Sea.

Yes, definitely Hemingway loved polydactyl cats !

Polydactyly is  a genetic anomaly that causes the cat to be born with more than five toes on one or more of its paws. Polydactyl  cats are most commonly found along the East Coast of the US , Canada and in South West England and Wales.

But how did Hemingway know about it ?

He probably didn’t !! 

But the story Key West polydactyl cats, or simply Hemingway cats as they are known goes back to 1928 when Hemingway lived in Kew West, Florida. There he met Captain Harold S. Dexter from Massachusetts and his  famous cat, Snowball. Hemingway took a white kitten from Snowball litter and brought home. He and his kids called the kitten Snow White. 

Hemingway’s home was turned into a museum (The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum) and today there are approximately 40-50 polydactyl  cats living in the premises and some of the cats are descendants of Snow White. As Key West is a small island, it is possible that many of the cats living on the island are related.

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The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum – 2015  Photo: Ruth Szwarcbart – iPhone

 

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Hemingway Studio -The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum – 2015 Photo: Ruth Szwarcbart – iPhone

Hemingway cat (1 of 5)

 

It’s known that cats have inspired many famous  writers  through history such as Hemingway, Mark Twain, Bukowski, Edgar Allan Poe and Jean-Paul Sartre. Other famous artists also loved their feline companions – Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo. 

But no one needs to be a famous artist or a famous writer to have a loyal cat by his/her side. There are many cats in shelters, waiting to inspire their human companions.

But if you want to be like Hemingway, a good start is to meet Tyson, our polydactyl cat. He is waiting for you at The Gifford Cat Shelter in Brighton, Massachusetts.

 

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Photo: Ruth Szwarcbart

 

The Ten Commandments

 

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image: The Ten Commandments, 1956 – Paramount Pictures

 

Well, I not sure if Moses knew anything about it… But there are Ten Commandments of the Responsible Pet Owner. Maybe they were not written in stone but it’s good to know about them.

Every year hundreds of pets are abandoned by their owners all over the world, they are left homeless roaming in the streets, neglected with no food or water in an empty house or  surrendered to an animal shelter.

In order to prevent all this, even before  buying or adopting a pet, every owner should consider:

1- Commitment

The lifespan of a dog or cat is aproxemately 10 to 20 years.The owner should consider that his/her  pet  will need proper nutrition and health care and it can be costly. It should also be a family/couple decision and  all family members should agree and help. 

2- Lifestyle vs. Pet Temperament

Do you have an active lifestyle? Do you like doing outdoors activities? Or do do prefer spend the weekend reading in a quiet environment? Choosing the right pet breed is very important to avoiding any unrealistic expectations or frustrations with your pet. 

3- Protection

Make sure your pet is protected against diseases taking her to the veterinarian for vaccines and annual check-ups. Don’t let your pet outside in the elements; give them proper shelter, food and water. Never let your pet locked inside the car in the Summer. 

4- Keeping Your Cat Indoors

A cat should always live indoors to prevent that she could be hit by a car, abused by kids, and/or attacked by animals – dogs, hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, alligators or bears. Keeping your cat inside also avoids that the she won’t prey on the wildlife affecting the ecosystem.

5- Being a Good Citizen 

A responsible dog owner always maintains his/her dog on a leash (unless in a dog park  or in a dog-friendly beach), and always clean after her.

6- Love and Afection

Recognize your pet needs giving her love and affection. Consider hiring a pet sitter or enrolling your pet at a pet daycare if you don’t have enough time.

7- Training

Giving basic training to your dog will teach her proper behavior like walking on a leash, avoid jumping when you come home and  waiting for her food.

8- Identification

Some states require proper identification on the pet’s collar. Any kind of identification will help to find your pet in case she gets lost or run away (they can be startled be loud noise or  fireworks). Another very common form of identification is the microchip , tattoo and dog GPS tracker.

9- Spay and Neuter

A litter of puppies or kittens can be very charming, but everything changes when they start to get older and there is no much space in the house for all of them, not to mention the cost of vaccines and veterinary appointments. Spay and neuter is a responsible way to avoid overpopulation of stray cats and dogs as I mentioned before in another post.(Spay & Neuter. )

10- Adopt, Don’t Shop

If you decide to buy a puppy or a kitten don’t buy from a pet store, because most of the pet stores do sell puppy mill puppies. Puppy  mills are a very cruel way to breed dogs and cats, for they are kept in a very inhumane and filthy condition and people just care about making profit.You will need to find a responsible breeder and visit the premises to make sure all puppies and kittens are living in a loving and healthy environment.

The best alternative is to adopt.Adopting a pet who needs a home is one of the best things you’ll ever do. Animal shelters and rescue groups always try to find the right match for their animals and provide all medical attention their cats/dogs need, and there are some many pets in need for a loving home.
  

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Nora is a beautiful cat for adoption at Gifford Cat Shelter.  Photo by Ruth Szwarcbart – May 2016. All rights reserved.

More information about Nora and other cats at http://www.giffordcatshelter.org

 

References:

The Humane Society of United States – http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/puppy_mills/tips/buying_puppy.html?

Arca Brasil – http://www.arcabrasil.org.br/10-mandamentos-posse-responsavel.php

American Veterinary Medical Association – https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/responsible-pet-ownership.aspx

 

Lucia, sweet Lucia !!

 

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Meet Lucia  !!

Lucia is a sweet 7 year old girl who is waiting patiently for her forever home. She is diabetic, but can easily live a long and happy life as any other cat, as her diabetes is properly treated.

Diabetes is a common condition that affects humans, but can also affects domestic animals like cats and dogs. It can be caused by obesity, other diseases and medication. Genetics can also be a risk factor, and certain breeds of dogs  and cats are more susceptible (Dogs: Australian terriers, beagles and Samoyeds; Cats: Burmese) 

In some cases, a cat or a dog  could be required to receive daily doses of insulin and to be put on aspecial diet.

Lucia is currently on a low-calorie diet and receives insulin shots every morning.She is already used to it and won’t struggle to get treated.Other than that, she is very playful and loves chasing little toys around the shelter.

 

 

 

A Cat Called Crème Brûlée.

It was a beautiful hot summer morning. Singing birds crossed the clear blue sky, but we went straight through the door. We had a mission that day and nothing could distract us. 

Inside the shelter cattery, lots of excited children crammed all the available spaces between the cages wanting to see the kittens. Patiently we waited for all the children to leave. They had finished the kid’s program at the shelter and were visiting the cats. 

On the right corner of the cattery stood a cage with a litter of four small kittens. They had been found alone in a restaurant basement,  with no sight of their mother. The kittens  were brought to the shelter, treated for diseases, and after spayed and neutered they were released for adoption.

I’m not sure if they were found in a French restaurant, but the kittens  were given exquisite names of the French cusine: Crème Brulée, Pomme Frites, Quiche Lorraine and Cordon Bleu.

Our mission was a simple one – adopt a calm and mellow kitten that could get along with a cat we had in our household, but for some crazy reason we fell in love with the most  rambunctious, energetic and strong minded cat that ever existed in that shelter!

Crème Brulée was a little tiger!! Instead of a mellow and sweet kitten, we brought home a wild, stubborn and most opinionated little thing that would turn our lives completely upside-down.

Our first tentative to introduce Cody (of course we changed his name!) to Kitty, our other cat was a real disaster, with growling, hissing and some kind of attempet to murder, but after 2 weeks their existence together seemed to start improving little by little.

We were not really sure if  Cody was from another species or some kind of alien from another planet. Maybe he was a kangaroo, for his crazy high jumps out of the blue, or if he was some kind of spider from some unknown lost continent. I was not sure why my husband nick-named him Spider Cat!

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Ever since that day back in the shelter, there has never been a day like the other with  Crème Brulée (oopss !! Cody !!). We have so many stories, so many adventures to tell !!

 

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The fact is that we love this stubborn, rambunctious and crazy cat to death and he has been a real  blessing to our lives !!

 

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Spay & Neuter.

What ????

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It’s Spring time, and that means lots of kittens arriving at the shelter. Last year an estimated 20 million kittens were born just in the Spring season alone here in the US. The “Kitten Season”, as it’s called,  stands for  the period when births peak, and happens twice a  year: Spring and Fall, with  the more intense kitten season occurring in the Spring.(1)

Although 13 million of the 20 million kittens come from free roaming cats (1), many kittens come from regular household surrendered  to animal shelters by their owners, others come from hoarding situations and many kittens are just found abandoned by their mothers.

Programs as Trap-Neuter-Return helps minimize the number of free roaming kittens, but pet owners  also can do their part, by spaying  and neuteirng their cats, and also keeping them indoors.

P.S. Many animal hospitals and clinics provide low cost spay/neuter services for feral cats and for low income owners of cats and dogs.

 

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All photos taken with iPhone 6. Photos by Ruth Szwarcbart .All rights reserved.

References :

1 – Galiotos,  K. : “Kitten Season: Huge Numbers Pose Problems for Shelters”, Pet Smart Charities Blog. petsmartcharities.org

 

 

 

 

Best Candidate !!

The best candidate in this election is Trump !!

Trump is a 2-year old male cat that wants to govern you household. “It will be wonderful”-he promises-“and I’ll make your home great again !!”

No, Trump is no GOP candidate ! He is just a sweet cat waiting for a loving home to call his own. I’m pretty sure you’ll approve of his ideas !!

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Trump

 

You can meet Trump and other candidates for adoption at Gifford Cat Shelter at http://www.giffordcatshelter.org