Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gracie's recovery, day 4

Gracie is very slowly and very surely perking up. She had her bandage taken off today and the vet said she looks really good. I'm not sure "looks good" describes it, but it is definitely an improvement from before. This is a real fighter. Not only is she getting used to being a house cat after living the wild life for the first 6 months, but getting used to two new cats and the loss of a limb. A lot of adjustments! She will need some time to figure out how to get around more stealthily with her new physique. I felt sad for her when she fell over during this video, but if you're not falling you're not trying, right? Maybe that only applies to skiing, I don't know.

Being scared of the other cats in the house hinders her recovery. She is still living in the bathroom and it's pretty small. There aren't really too many exciting things to do in there so there's not much reason to move around. Maybe she'll learn to flush the toilet. Although I'm not sure how, since we haven't used that bathroom for over 2 weeks. The vet thinks that after the sutures come out would be a good time to introduce all of these guys. I guess I should be glad to have another female in the house. This almost evens out the gender count at home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

She plays

These are some pictures from yesterday.



We went to the vet for a bandage change today. They took the bandage off completely and planned to leave it off until I reminded them that Gracie likes to lie around in her litter box! We'll leave the bandage on until Wednesday. Hopefully she'll be feeing much better and would rather hang in her bed instead of the poop box. The doctor said she seems to be doing well and things are healing up nicely. The visual image is a little Bride of Frankenstein, but not too bad. I'll have two days to get used to the image in my head before bye-bye bandage.

So tonight I went in to give her medicine and hold her for a little bit. She loves to be scratched under the chin. She purrs so loudly! After petting her for awhile I introduced the catnip mouse again. She actually batted at it for the first time. I was so proud! She looked very interested in it as I bat it around on the floor. Maybe some pouncing is in our near future!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The recovery - day 1

Gracie one day post surgery:

The Fence, Gracie's nemesis:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Officially a tripod.

The vet called earlier today to let me know that Gracie is now a tripod kitty! He said she was hopping around before the surgery and he thought she would do great without all that dead weight. I can't wait to see her! She will have a drainage tube for 5 days and we'll have to monitor her closely for infection. In 2 weeks she'll have her staple sutures taken out and be almost as good as new!

Thanks, Dr. Fernandez!

I've got two legs.

Gracie has three. I think.

We took Kitten to the vet yesterday for a bandage change but there was so much continual damage they decided to keep her there and perform the surgery today. I am supposed to get a call when they are through. It's a little after 11:00 now.

Miss Kitty will have her front right leg amputated at the shoulder. Sounds gruesome, doesn't it? She will come home on Saturday and have to go back to the vet every few days for bandage changes and then to have her stitches removed. People at the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition have given some money individually to help pay for these costs and we certainly appreciate it. Yes, it is expensive! How could it not be? But this kitty happened to end up in our fence and we will make the financial parts work. Consider it taking care of God's creation.

The videos I've been seeing on YouTube show tripod cats to function like many other able-bodied ones. I even saw a video of one cat a week after surgery and it looked like he'd been three-legged all of his life. Type in "Milton cat - one week after surgery part 3." His bandage is off and his fur has not grown back in, but it is not gory or anything. Unless that kind of thing totally freaks you out.

Oh, on another note, my neighbor captured the patriarch of this feral cat colony in a humane trap the other day. He has been neutered and returned to his colony.

So I'm off for lunch with the psuedo-crunchy Christine! I'll post another Gracie update later.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Guess what. I like her! This little hissy kitty is turning into a real sweetheart. I am looking forward to getting to know her as a tripod kitty. I was just watching YouTube videos of three-legged cats and it seems to me they look pretty happy! Most are missing a back leg and Gracie will be missing her front, but they all seem to get along really well!

Last night a neighbor came by to meet Miss Kitty, so that I could get her opinion on whether or not she seemed adoptable. My neighbor felt quite confident that she would be. And so do I now. There was not going to be much of a life for a 3-legged kitty out on the streets of San Antone. At first the goal was reunification with her feral cat colony. But everyone is afraid that she would likely be harmed by another neighborhood cat or dog because she would be seen as the weak link.

One week from today she will have her surgery. Her post-amputation care will include regular dressing changes, medications, and stitches removal. Then after she is healed from this she will be spayed (insult to injury, right?) and adoptable. It has been a long week of kitty care, but I feel good about what we are doing. There must be a reason it was our fence she was caught in. More and more people are becoming emotionally invested in her life and recovery. This bodes well for kitty!

So am I going to fall in love with her and want to keep her? Uh, well, uh, no dear, not at all. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two days later.

OK, so that wasn't really what I've been learning.

I've been learning that even when we are ugly and behaving badly that God still loves us and Jesus still died for us. Whether or not we "deserve" His love, we get it. He tends to us when we feel like nobody cares and maybe even nobody has reason to.

And I've learned all this from a kitty cat.

When we brought the kitten in to our home after my neighbor Sarah and I rescued her from the fence, I figured we were just a temporary holding tank. I thought Sarah would take her to the vet and then take her home to care for her. But Sarah had to work that afternoon and I ended up taking the cat to the vet.

The doctor said there were no broken bones and that she may or may not regain use of her arm. The veterinary bill was $150, which my sincere, animal-loving neighbor had given me before she left for work. No prob. I would give the kitty the medicine and she would learn to walk without her leg until the feeling maybe came back. At that point, there was still a little bit of hope for the limb. The kitty let us give her the medicine, so it seemed like things might be easy.

Until the smell. The wound had become infected but there was still circulation to the limb, so there was hope that she would regain use of it. The bill was $60 including the office visit, treatment, and meds for the infection. Upon going back today, however, more cells had died and there is no choice but to amputate the limb or euthanize the cat.

Yes it would be cheaper to euthanize the cat. I know it is an animal and not a human. But at what point is an animal no longer worth saving? No, this is not a beloved house pet, but it is one of God's creatures who needs help. I would not have taken this on by choice, but it has kind of fallen in my lap. Now it's not such an easy decision.

We've had this cat for a week and have been through a lot together. I know, "IT'S A CAT!" but it is still a living creature. I believe she will be adoptable, and I have been promised some assistance with the vet bill. Yes I will likely end up taking care of the cat after this procedure, but I'm willing to do it. She is used to me and she trusts me. And yes then we will try to find a home for her.

I have also learned that different causes speak to different people. Someone asked me today why I was going through so much effort to raise money to save this three-legged cat. Shouldn't I be more concerned with raising that money for medical care in Haiti? Or to help feed hungry children in Texas?

Of course I am concerned with those things. And at other times in my life I will absolutely give to similar causes as these. But right now I have a sweet kitty in my bathroom who I think has a great chance at being adopted and having a good life. There are plenty of happy, three-legged pets out there. In fact, more than one person has told me that pets with disabilities are often more quickly adopted than healthy animals. I am sick about what has happened in Haiti. I have several friends who have children, family, and friends in Haiti and are very worried about their lives and safety. It's terrible, and I am praying for those families.

If Gracie the cat, and yes, I named her, did not seem appropriate for adoption I don't think the best solution would be to have her leg amputated and let her back into the wild. Originally the goal was to get this feral cat back to her colony. In that case the most humane thing would be to euthanize. But now she's tame. She purrs. She's beautiful. In my heart of hearts I think she is adoptable and will bring someone a lot of joy.

I am not an animal rights activist. I'm not a vegetarian and I don't believe that plants have feelings. But I do believe that God created animals and He cares about His creation. I do have a very specific kitty to help. I'm not going to go out and roam the streets searching for kittens to take in, and I'm not going to stop giving to other charities because right now our money and the money of some other cat lovers are going toward saving the life of a previously feral kitty.

When I had a miscarriage years ago I began giving to the March of Dimes. Then that memory and resulting passion faded and I stopped donating there. I donate to the Special Olympics and other similar organizations because I am a music therapist and work with people who have those concerns. When there was cancer in my family I donated to the American Cancer Society. Right now I have an animal that needs help, so I am giving money to help her. Who knows to which organizations other circumstances might lead us in the future.

This post has changed directions. It was originally about what I believe that God is teaching me through this "feral cat ministry." Now it is me processing my beliefs regarding charitable donations. If you don't want to contribute to my ministry because there are other areas of ministry that you feel more passionately about, then give there. That's awesome! Keep me informed of other ministries and areas of need in the future. In the meantime, where's Bob Barker when I need him?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What I am learning this week.

First off, I am learning that animal rescuing is not a passion of mine. I am happy to help out a few animals I've become attached to, but I am not in this business for the long haul.

Last Monday the kids and I were playing in the backyard for the first time in what felt like ages. We were playing chase and hide-and-seek and having a lot of fun. But I kept hearing this aggressive meowing from our neighbor's yard. Each time I would walk toward it it would stop, so we'd keep playing.

Finally I went all the way to the back of the yard following the meowing and saw what looked like a chipmunk stuck through the fence. On closer inspection I noticed it was a very swollen cat's paw and the meowing was coming from a pretty, long-haired grey kitten who was looking hurt and angry! I couldn't figure out how to get her out, so I packed up the kids and walked over to the house where most of the kitten was stuck. Nobody was home.

So I called Animal Rescue and they said they couldn't help with domestic pets. I tried to get her out from my side of the fence, but there was no way. I have no idea how she got so stuck. The opening between the slats where she was couldn't have been more than about 1 centimeter. I know how big a centimeter is because it's the size of a miniature marshmallow, right, Mom?

What could I do? It was nap time for the boys, I hadn't eaten lunch, and this cat was absolutely pinned in there. I ended up calling my neighbor Sarah who, in a related animal story, was keeping Pink the beagle who I've blogged of before. She had told me she had rescued many animals before, so I thought she might be able to help me with the kitten. She jumped over the fence, wrapped Kitten in towels and gave me instructions on how to open up the fence slat a little with the head of a hammer. She got the kitten out!

This paw was swollen enough that it was probably as big as a golden retriever puppy's. She had no use of it and obviously needed to be taken to the vet. So Sarah gave me some money and arranged a vet visit. They did an x-ray and discovered that nothing was broken, but she obviously had considerable nerve damage. So I came home with a strange, angry cat who has been living in our downstairs bathroom for a week tomorrow.

The vet gave us some anti-inflammatory medicine to give to the cat. I put out some signs and slipped a note under the garage door of a neighbor who I thought could be the owner. She later called me (this was Tuesday night) and confirmed to me that the cat was a bona-fide member of a feral cat colony in our neighborhood. This neighbor, Pam, had just returned from a workshop teaching about how to manage feral cat colonies!

More later, as I am now on nap duty.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A new respect for single moms.

Not that I am anything near being a single parent, with my husband out of town for five days, and not that I haven't in the past had a respect for single moms, but I've a new appreciation today.

Over the past three years and two months there have been weeks when Randy has been out of town, but I've always fled the scene! I've spent several weeks with my wonderful mother-in-law and one week a few summers ago with my mom and dad in Iowa. We became very spoiled when Randy worked his last job as he didn't have to travel at all. But in the past two months he has had to travel almost two weeks. I am just not used to this nonsense! But it's OK, honey.

Anyway, my MIL could not make it down this time and after traveling for the holidays I didn't want to traipse the boys all over creation, so we decided to stay put. So this is my maiden voyage of parenting two very active boys by myself for the week. Ee-yikes!

Today went very well until bedtime. Then yikes again! We went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch which gave the boys a chance to run around a little. They did great and we had fun. BB even ate all his chicken for the first time ever, but poor thing forgot to beg me for a brownie before hand, so I didn't have to get him "a brownie if you eat all of your chicken." Oh well! Nap time went great and BB only climbed out of bed once. A victory!

This afternoon we took it easy on the TV (only 45 minutes - wow!) and had some great races in the hallway - running, hopping, leaping, skipping, and marching. Then bedtime. Yikes (of course I know I'm overusing this word).

The kids were in bed by 7:30, but that is when the fun (ahem) began. BB is our problem bedtime child. He climbs out of his bed numerous times, asks for snacks, puts things in his brother's crib, jumps around in his bed, throws things out of his bed, etc. Cute, huh? Well he is, but not so much when we're ready to end the day. So there was a lot of mayhem going on.

The problem is that LB is a total mama's boy and can't stand it when I'm not right with him. So every time I have to put BB back in his bed, LB screams "Mommy! Mommy!" Well not every night, but tonight. So after putting BB back in his bed about 4 times, one time after which he came down to the kitchen for a cheese stick, and one time after which I found him sitting in our bedroom playing on my computer, I decided to bite the bullet and stay in their room until they went to sleep.

All was pretty quiet as I silently listed the 50 United States in alphabetical order four times, until BB stood up in his bed and was trying to touch me. Anything to get my attention, right? So I got up to rub his back and hair for a few minutes seeing if that would put him to sleep. He was quiet, but as soon as I stopped he started to stand up again. So I left. And LB screamed bloody murder for several minutes.

I decided to just let them fuss for a little while and take a break, but when I went back up BB was on his way to our bedroom again, the little stinker, and LB was still screaming. I'd had it! I don't remember exactly what then transpired, but I know that I not-so-sweetly scooped BB up and put him back in his bed and told him to go to sleep. Then I shut the door - a major no-no. But I know when enough is enough for me, so I just let them cry it out. LB gave up first, and BB eventually gave in, too. I went to check on them expecting BB to either be on the floor or in LB's crib, but he was sound asleep in bed. They both were. Halleluia!

So one night down, three to go! We can do it! Back to Chick-Fil-A tomorrow? Perhaps. But I do know that I need a good night's sleep, God willing. So I'm off. See you tomorrow.

Yikes. Double yikes!