An open letter to my rescue kids…
You are my family. Every single one of you. I don't care that you have a tail and poop in a box. If you spend one day, one week, one month with me, I may not be your forever family, but you will always be mine.
Just like a human family sometimes you drive me crazy. There’s moments I’m so overwhelmed or frustrated or exhausted I want to cry (and sometimes do). When I’ve spent so much on different foods I can’t afford groceries and you still won’t eat, when you cry and cry and cry... and I don’t know what you want, when you pee on my bed because Indy’s being cranky & holding all 3 litter boxes hostage. In each and every one of those moments I am your mummy, and sometimes mummy’s screw up.
I’m sorry for the times I lose my patience, sometimes it’s not even about you but I am only human, (just a teeny part cat), and take out my feelings on the ones I love most. But no matter what, when you need me, no matter what you need, no matter what’s happening in my life, I’ll be there.
When people ask me “how do you do it” I don’t know what to say. How does anyone do anything for the people & things they love? I do it because your health and happiness means more than my own. I do it because it’s not your fault your mummy had selfish irresponsible owners. I do it because you didn’t ask to be born, because you can’t help yourself, because you’re so damn cute.
To my rescues who have left me for their forever homes and families – in your place came 10 more who needed food and water and someone to show them what love feels like. I didn’t give you away, I loved you enough to let you go. I think of you often and pray I made the right choice and gave you the best future possible.
To my rescues who aren’t so lucky… I will feed you with my own hands, I will go without sleep or food for as long as you need me to, I will spend every dime I have to make you well. Just please know everything I do I do with my full heart and the best intentions.
If I give up on you too soon because I believe you are suffering, I’m sorry. If I prolong your struggle because I think we can save you and I cause you to be in pain, I’m sorry. No matter what, when I see that look in your eyes I’ll help you across that rainbow bridge with the most comfort, dignity and compassion that I can muster.
You have to do your part too though. You have to try your best to be strong and let me get you well. I know those needles and icky foods and thermometers up your butt SUCK but know that they suck for me too, and I’m trying so hard to help you. In return, I promise you when I start to break down because I’m so tired and so sad I won’t let you see me fall apart, and when you tell me it’s time, I’ll hold you tight until you get where you’re going. I hear it's beautiful there and boy will you have some awesome new friends.
This is about you. Every minute from the moment I read that first Facebook message that there’s kittens in distress and leave home in 2 different flip flops to find you, until I get that beautiful photo of you in your new family’s arms, or when I ask our sweet Jett and Gizmo to be waiting for you and love you as much as I did when you cross to the other side, it’s about you.
I don’t expect many people to understand my bond with you. Sometimes I don’t understand it myself. Especially when I’m on my 3rd inhaler in 2 weeks or doing my 19th load of laundry in a day because someone, everyone is having diarrhea.
But I love you. I love each and every one of you so much. My little corner of this world full of kitties who know what it feels like to be safe, have full tummies and full hearts will be my legacy.
Some people call me crazy cat lady, you guys call me mom 😝
I hate the term “foster fail”. Failure implies something negative, and the bond we share with our pets is the farthest thing from that. So if it's not a fail, what is it?
The most common foster fail is my favourite kind, and what I like to call the foster WIN! If I had $1 for every time someone said “I could never foster, I would keep them all!” I would be writing this from my very own animal shelter so massive it would put the airport to shame. The only thing that makes adoptions even more special to me is a foster fail adoption.
How could a person willing to open their heart and home to an animal in need, and falling so in love with them they can’t let them go, ever be a fail? I have 3 of my own foster wins, at least 2 of whom probably wish they were up for adoption with all the foster siblings they’ve had lately. So “foster fail” v.1 will from now on be referred to as "foster win" aka "you can never have too many cats|.
The 2nd kind of foster fail is something I was lucky to only have experienced once in 15 years, but unfortunately it came back to visit me twice last weekend. When I lost Presley and Jett, the only thing I felt more than heartbreak was failure. Even once we knew it was an irreparable birth defect, when those kittens were surrendered to me, I made a commitment to give them a happy, healthy life, and I failed.
It wasn’t until I started following the tragic loss of 4 kittens in the care of an absolutely incredible foster mom via social media (@foster_furbabies) this week, that I realized foster fail v.2 needed an overhaul too.
Losing Presley and Jett wasn’t a foster fail, it was a foster try. I tried to give them a chance at a better life, to get them healthy, to get them hydrated and get some weight on them; and in the end, I tried to give them the most peaceful and comfortable journey across the rainbow bridge I could.
Maybe there’s more I could’ve done, or less, or things I could’ve done differently. But I know when those 2 little guys left us, I had tried absolutely everything to save them. And I truly believe Jett holding my hand while he passed was his way of telling me I didn't fail him.
Kitten season is just getting started, and while these little ones are so delicate and fragile, giving them that chance - whether it ends in an adoption, a foster win, or a foster try – will be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever experience as an animal lover. It’s impossible to fail.
A little delay in getting this up but I’ve been so busy processing the 20 ADOPTIONS we’ve had in the past 2 weeks!
Tis the season, where anyone and everyone seems to be giving away “free kittens” on kijiji. A regular animal lover taking advantage of these “free kittens” is a disaster in progress, and here’s why.
Firstly – nothing is free. I try not to generalize but when it comes to this topic, people who are careless enough to allow their cats to get pregnant don't have the knowledge of animal health and wellness to have any idea what it is exactly they’re giving away.
The ad always says “8 week old kittens”; to date, I have yet to come across kittens who are actually 8 weeks, and not being separated from their mothers WAY too early. They’re almost always advertised as “eating hard food”; kittens at 5-6 weeks of age have very specific nutritional requirements, especially when not getting it from their mom, and adult grocery store brand kibble is most definitely not it.
I've provided a best case scenario break down of just how "free" they are over the first few months.
Considering the majority of the folks giving away these kittens are irresponsible pet owners and have no idea what to even look for in terms of illness, be fully prepared for those little extra's!
These tiny girls spent the winter outside in Barrhead, and were then kept in an outdoor unheated garage until I was able to get them. They had frostbite on their ears which had fortunately healed, but had GI issues like severe diarrhea and vomiting from a lack of proper nutrition, and exposure to chemicals and who knows what else in the garage.
They had a tremendous amount of oil on their fur that they had been ingesting when grooming. Not to mention how terrified they were of everything, and the intense time I spent socializing them and working through their anxiety.
This litter came from a house overrun with cats, kittens and people. Living conditions weren’t exactly sanitary. No one knew which kittens came from which cats, which cats lived there or who had just wandered through an old dog door. I was pulling these almost free, $20 each kittens out of the ceiling insulation, inside broken appliances and under the siding of the house.
These kittens had a SEVERE upper respiratory infection as well as very upset tummies. With the help of our incredible vet they started to show signs of improvements within days. With their fever and discharge from the nose impairing their breathing, had these boys gone to a regular family wanting a kitten, it’s highly improbable they would’ve made it.
Ronan, Reilly, Frankie and Whiskey were being advertised as 8+ weeks old, healthy & having had all their vaccines. After almost 2 weeks with me, sweet Ronan is only now 404 grams. The FIRST FCRP vaccine is to be given over 500g, with the boosters to be done 4 weeks apart. Aside from the vaccines not working and having 0 benefit when given so early, early vaccination can cause a multitude of awful side effects, from fevers, vomiting, diarrhea to seizures.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the “foster” casually mentioned that the mum had coccidia, a horrific parasite with an even more horrific treatment, which all 4 kittens had to be tested and monitored for (you don’t want to know what that cost me, even if you’re sitting down) and put on special – and expensive – food to help their tummy’s adjust.
The supplement business is a multibillion dollar industry that seems to offer something for everyone. But do they work? It’s hard enough to navigate for us humans let alone for our pets. As a bikini fitness competitor, I had to learn how nutritional supplements can benefit our overall health and wellness, but it was a frightening incident with my German Shepherd in 2011 that threw me into the world of veterinary supplements and their effectiveness.
One afternoon I noticed one of Alfie's nails had lifted and her quick was completely exposed. By the end of that day, all of her nails on all of her paws had lifted and she was totally unable to walk. My poor girl had to wear socks to prevent the quicks from bleeding; there were days I had to carry all 114lbs of her outside to pee. Alfie was diagnosed with Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO), a VERY RARE but painful condition causing dogs' nails to slough. There was little to no information on treatment options with the exception of steroids, which cause mood changes and aggression, and pain medication, which is incredibly hard on their kidneys.
I holed up in the University of Guelph Veterinary School library and came across research indicating the effectiveness of high doses of omega acids found in fish oils reversing the illness. Within a week of introducing these fatty acids into her diet, Alfie's old nails dried up and fell off, her quicks formed a hard shell, and she was up and walking. In fact, she was walking better than ever. The omega’s had all but cured her arthritis.
I’ve experimented with other veterinary supplements over the years and while some are a bit of a cash grab, others can really help your pets quality of life. Fish oils, glucosamine, and probiotics can make a noticeable impact in a short amount of time. Taking proactive steps, like giving your pets a joint supplement in their younger years, can delay the onset of arthritis and prolong their years of enjoying a healthy active life.
The trick is to do your research and find a reputable product line that’s not diluted with fillers. A very good friend of mine (store details below) has started carrying a fantastic brand, Dr. Mercola, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. An additional bonus, which anyone who’s ever tried to give meds to a cat will appreciate, is that they are more multi-vitamin styled products so you’re not risking life and limb administering multiple pills.
Check out the product site and do some research for yourself, but I highly recommend giving Landon a visit at his store and get the support you need to help your pet age gracefully with you!
Dr. Mercola Products
Maximum Health & Nutrition
13050 Saint Albert Trail
Edmonton, AB T5L 4Y6
(780) 455-7005 and
I often joke that cat people can't have nice things but in some cases, it really is true. We've all caught our kitties on the counter or on top of the cabinets, on the kitchen table, on top of the cupboards... let's face it, a determined curious kitty could probably climb Mount Everest without breaking a sweat.
Sadly, one of the most palatable but dangerous things for kitties of all ages are fresh flowers. Especially festive flowers such as poinsettia's and Easter lilies. Some will cause unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, others can be fatal almost instantly, causing kidney or even heart failure.
Needless to say, when it comes to cats and flowers, the best policy is better safe than sorry. I've included 2 links below with lists of toxic plants and their related symptoms, as well as the top 10 most dangerous plants as rated by the Pet Poison Control Centre.
We may not always be able to have nice things, but for all the love and laughter they give us, it's so worth it.
March 9, 2018
FIP. 3 little letters that will break the heart of any cat lover. Difficult to diagnose, impossible to treat, and almost always fatal.
With the sudden onset of symptoms commonly attributed to other illnesses, like vomiting and diarrhea, a seemingly healthy kitty can leave their family to join their rainbow bridge friends within a few weeks, even days with little to no warning.
As a long time foster mom, this is a disease I especially struggle with. Watching my foster babies thrive and grow with their forever families is what keeps me going when this never ending battle of rescue becomes overwhelming. And when FIP rears it's ugly head, these kitties are ripped from the lives of the humans who loved them even more quickly than it took to fill their hearts. I often feel responsible for the heartache, having placed these fur babies into homes that wouldn't get to keep them for long. But a big part of what makes this disease so awful is you just dont know, and once you do, it's too late.
Tragically, FIP often effects young cats who come from shelter environments, animal hoards and off the street, and so many of us in the rescue community will likely encounter it at some point. All we can do is educate ourselves on some of the signs and symptoms so we can at least try to catch it earrly, and make the difficult but humane choice if that awful day ever comes, and love every one of our fur babies with our whole hearts every day.
Pinky, Herbie, Jayla, Sophie & Jackson - just a few of our rainbow bridge kids who gave us the gift of loving them until FIP took them away.
Fly free our sweet angels, your memory gives us the strength & courage we need to keep helping those that need it most.
The incredible story of Jon Snow - the cat everyone had given up on, is the very reason why we rescue, why we foster, why we adopt.
Get the tissues out for this one!
*photo courtesy of @JonSnowUpdates
Many years ago while travelling in Cuba, I overheard fellow tourists on our resort making plans to visit a rescue just outside of Varadero to deliver medical supplies and donations they had brought with them. Of course I couldn't help myself and had to know more!
There is a phenomenal group run by a lady from Alberta called APAC (All for Progress in Animal Care) Varadero. Founded in 2009, this organization is making an incredible impact to animals in need around Cuba. With the help of invaluable local vets and supporters, the group runs free spay and neuter clinics in communities in need, has an extensive trap and release program spaying/neutering and tattooing stray dogs and cats, and helping resorts to set up "cat colonies" where they're provided with a shelter and fresh water while helping hotels with their pest control. All these services are provided on the vets personal time, on a 100% volunteer basis.
In addition to their amazing work locally, APAC helps to facilitate adoptions of dogs with special medical needs with families in Canada willing to provide them with care simply not feasible in Cuba. It didn't take long before I was hooked.
On my return trips to Cuba, I would bring any supplies I was able to get my hands on, and on more than one occasion "escorted" a dog back to Canada. I had the pleasure of connecting friends in Cardenas to one of the APAC vets and they welcomed a beautiful stray puppy into their home. On all of my travels since, I've made an effort to find a local rescue and do whatever I can to help them help the animals.
What can I do to help you ask? It's easier than you think! I'm sure it's no surprise that the greatest need is for medical supplies. Before you leave home, ask your vet if they have anything they're willing to part with. They often have an excess of items like latex gloves, dressings and syringes. They will also often be able to donate medications that are approaching their expiration. These drugs generally have a shelf life well past the posted expiry date, but under the Veterinary Drugs Act must be used on or before, or discarded.
Antibiotics and pain medications in particular are incredibly expensive and in huge demand for these spay and neuter clinics. Something your vet may be getting ready to throw in the garbage could change the life of an animal in need! If you do plan on travelling with any veterinary drugs, be sure to check the local customs requirements on importing these items. Many countries will allow you to bring them in as long as they're in prescription bottles or sealed; if you're unsure, ask your vet to write a letter explaining what you're carrying and its intended purpose.
Escorting an animal back to Canada requires a little more time and effort, but the reward is tenfold. Rescue agencies will provide you with the necessary paperwork and all the information you need from departure to arrival. Customs forms will be completed by them, as well as any necessary accompanying veterinary records. All you have to do is check the animal onto the plane and pick them up when you arrive home! Adopting families are generally given all your travel information and are waiting on the other side of immigration to welcome their new fur babies home.
I've shared links to a few of the rescues I've had the pleasure of working with in my travels, but a quick search on social media or forums on travel sites like TripAdvisor often have information on any agencies in the area you'll be vacationing. When in doubt, try a search for a local Humane Society; they have a strong international presence and will often have contact information readily available if you'd like to reach out for a "wish list" to help you determine their greatest needs.
Safe travels, and happy tails!
All for Progress in Animal Care (APAC) – Varadero, Cuba http://apacvaradero.blogspot.com
The Animal House – Golden Grove, Jamaica www.theanimalhousejamaica.org
Playa Animal Rescue – Playa del Carmen, Mexico www.playaanimalrescue.org
The Humane Society of Cozumel – Cozumel, Mexico www.humanecozumel.org
The Humane Society of Puerto Rico