Penny passed peacefully with her favorite vet’s assistance while squirrel watching and listening to me singing my awful rendition of “Earth Angel” and “The Penelope Song”.
I didn’t have NEAR enough time with Penny, and she was NOT mentally ready to leave…
But I have to remember that things happen in God’s time, not ours.
Her body was shutting down.
And as much as she tried to rally the past month…As much as she fought HARD to maintain a normal life…The kidney disease won.
However, she died in remission from diabetes. Small victory. But a victory nonetheless. She was buried in my backyard with her OTJ (Off The Juice) party hat that I made to celebrate her achieving her second remission.
I still have to write on our journey with Feline Diabetes and Feline Chronic Kidney disease.
Because one of the inspirations and driving forces behind this blog is Penny’s journey and her incredible strength and will to win.
And she DID win. Because she outlived the “averages” by over a year with a STELLAR quality of life.
Because she achieved that oh, so obscure second remission from diabetes.
Because her spirit NEVER gave up. She was hellbent on living her life to the fullest…up until her last day.
Because we have a story to tell to save lives. Penny has a legacy to carry on. And her spirit is here with me to share her story with the world so that we can help other special needs cats.
“Turn your mess into your message.”
We will shout from the rooftops on how to prevent Feline Diabetes because in most cases, it IS completely preventable.
We will also show that a cat can live a QUALITY life for a long time even with Stage 4 kidney disease.
There are those in Social Media Land who have traveled this journey with us. Some since her diabetes diagnosis in 2013 and some since we started our Facebook page in 2017. She has touched SO many lives already.
And we are just getting started.
I always said I wouldn’t treat kidney disease in a cat because I thought it would be “torture” and we would just be fighting something progressive and incurable. Until I was faced with it with my little Soul Mate.
Love changes EVERYTHING. Love makes us do things we normally wouldn’t do.
She wasn’t “tortured”. She acted healthier since that diagnosis than in some of her years when she was “healthy”.
Her best life yet!!
Given the chance, I would have fought with her for TEN YEARS if we could have maintained her quality of life for that long!
And I’d do it ALL over again – without a doubt!
Kidney disease may have taken her body, but it will NEVER take her spirit, our bond, our love, and our memories.
Those are Penny’s and mine to keep!
We have had signs that Penny is still here. I sensed that she was holding on because she didn’t want to leave here. I told her she didn’t have to. Just because her spirit was leaving her body didn’t mean that it had to leave home.
This IS her forever home, after all. That means FOREVER.
Chatty (now Cosmo) when he first came to me in 2015… scared, sick, and ass kicked.
And I am FUMING!
As I have four backyard cats who probably had homes at one point and are now “feral”…
I see pets on death row everyday on my Facebook News Feed …
I see rescues and volunteers knocking themselves the hell out and facing daily heartbreak. These heroes are overextended mentally, emotionally, and financially…often paying out of their OWN pocket trying to save the lives of these unwanted kittens and cats…
Chatty (now Cosmo), top, in his forever home with his new bonded brother, Winston (also a ‘feral’ rescue) six months after I rescued him.
And I look at my five indoor cats…even though I really should only have two for my size house, time and finances. But their mama, who was probably dumped off in the woods one day, showed up here already pregnant and I didn’t even know it til I saw her 1-month-old kittens … and because I rescued these kittens when Weeny died, it meant another rescue or shelter cat did NOT get a home …
I really don’t think people REALIZE the impact their negligence has on shelter cats, feral cats, and the people who see their heartbreak on a DAILY basis.
I’ve spent $500 out of pocket in the past 18 months neutering any cat who even LOOKS at my property….nevermind what I spend to FEED them because SOMEBODY has to give a shit …
With all the low cost spay/neuter programs making it cheaper to spay or neuter your pet than it is to go out to dinner….
I just wonder…
Why the HELL are there people out there STILL not spaying and neutering their pets??
I honestly think those people who are irresponsible pet owners should be forced to do volunteer work at a shelter, or go watch “feral” cats (often just pet cats who once had a home and were DUMPED) get rounded up and euthanized, or should spend the time so many of my friends spend trapping these poor babies for TNR (often we pay for this out of our OWN pockets, by the way), or watch all the shelter pets suffer their heartbreak, illness and despair … just get put to sleep to “make room” …
Trouble, after he got hurt in a cat fight while defending his territory.
Or even for my “lucky” ones…my backyard cats, who had to get their asses kicked repeatedly and kick ass repeatedly to establish their “turf” here. And the ones who lost that Turf War, like one of my original feral cats, Hitler? I believe he’s eating down the street at another feeder’s house but did try to come back here a couple of months ago after being MIA for a year and Trouble ran him right out. The heartbreaking thing is that when he saw me bringing him food, he meowed at me for the first time EVER. And because he’s too feral to be handled or rescued, I couldn’t do a damn thing for him but hope that I would see him again. And I haven’t yet…
Hitler, one of my first feral cats … who was chased away when Trouble set up “home” here.
Poor Tiggy, Shadow and Domino, my three ferals who have to sneak in and grab their food while my Core Four resident ferals aren’t watching and hopefully they get to finish their meal before they are “caught”.
Or Junior, who scrapped with Trouble and scrapped with Trouble repeatedly, almost every day, for six months, before he finally calmed down enough to become friendly to humans and we could adopt him out to my aunt.
But both boys have the permanent scars on their faces and ears to show for it.
I. JUST. CAN’T…. sit back and freaking watch people be so irresponsible with their pets and keep my mouth shut ANY longer!
There is absolutely NO good excuse why a pet parent cannot spay or neuter their pet, barring a heart condition or some other illness that makes anesthesia too risky. But at least don’t let them outside to procreate then!
Please spread the word. Share this post if you think it will help! It’s ‘Kitten Season’ in rescue world. And SO many rescues and shelters are already overloaded! These people work TIRELESSLY saving lives. So many of these kittens won’t make it and they and their mothers will suffer this season. A lucky few, like my four “kits”, will survive. But they were VERY lucky their mama found me when she was pregnant.
Two of the LUCKY ones, my rescue kits Rascal (top) and Mischief (foot in mouth, bottom).
Rascal, about 2 months before I rescued him and one of his suspected daddies, Hitler
This can be a touchy and controversial subject. I’ll do my best to share with you MY reasoning without taking away from somebody else’s decision to rescue.
Let me start with my cat Smidgen, who I had growing up. We adopted her when I was in 9th grade from a pet store (I know, I know…this was the 80s and we didn’t know any better!) at the mall. And she was RIGHT at home when we got her here. After my previous two cats had been hit by cars, I made my mom PROMISE not to let Smidgen out.
But, my mom, being the bull-headed Taurus Italian “I know best” mother that she is, started letting Smidgen out when I wasn’t home one day. She felt bad because Smidge was a little wild and got bored with playtime easily. I was a teenager doing my own thing, and Mom didn’t really know what else to do to entertain her.
And we got very lucky with Smidge. Even though she had never been vaccinated past her kitten shots, even though she was FIV+, and even though she was an indoor/outdoor kitty, she lived a very healthy 14+ years before she passed and never had a health issue until the end.
When I moved out at age 23 (Smidge was 9), I knew that she would NEVER be happy in a one-bedroom apartment after being the Master of her 3-acre domain for almost 10 years, so I made the very unselfish and difficult decision to leave her home. She was also very bonded with my dad but we never lost our bond, either.
To this VERY day, even though I’m a FIRM advocate for keeping pet cats INDOORS, I still stand by my decision. Smidgen wasn’t happy being an indoor-only cat and I couldn’t have imagined her life any differently than the way SHE chose to live it.
So, back to my feral cats. People see my videos of them on Facebook…two can be pet, one sings with me and rubs all over me like I’m her property (although she cannot be pet yet), and one of the two who can be pet can also be pilled and syringed liquid medication. You can meet them in the “About” section of our site!
Fluffy (top left), Oreo and Trouble enjoying a Spring-ish day.
But they weren’t always that way! It took me almost three years of feeding Oreo before he would allow me to pet him. And I actually let HIM pet me first! Trouble would head-butt my hand while feeding him, but he was such a loose cannon before he got neutered that he even sent me to the ER on St Patty’s Day in 2016! I was afraid of him for a LONG time!
But as they both calmed down after their neuters, they definitely became more sociable and more like pet cats than feral cats. Fluffy still swats at me when I put treats down for her and I can ONLY pet her about five swipes on her back WHILE she’s eating before she literally turns on me. And I cannot even walk towards Orange without him running away.
Yet, they are out there to greet me everyday and they enjoy my company, as I enjoy THEIR company. And I adore them with all my heart and worry about them EVERY day! Especially with the way cars FLY down my street!
So why don’t I rescue them?
Because they are friendly to ME on THEIR turf. Oreo and Trouble are JUST starting to make friends with my mom and they are cool with my neighbors so long as the neighbors stay “over there”. It can go either way if I take them out of their turf. And I could “try” to tame them..hell, we are already halfway there, but I know how bonded cats can get to their territory.
So what if I brought Trouble in and it didn’t work out?
He can be a loose cannon, is territorial, and still marks even though he’s been neutered for over a year as of this writing. So what if he urine marks at his new indoor home? Or gets territorial with the other cats in the home?
As far as adopting him out, he’s FIV+ and anybody who has worked in rescue will tell you how DIFFICULT it is to adopt out an FIV+ cat because of the stigma attached to “Feline AIDS”. I REALLY wish vets would stop using that terminology!
So what if it doesn’t work out and he loses his territory that he fought SO hard to establish (same with Oreo). Then what will happen to him? A shelter? We know feral cats who are out of their element do not have successful outcomes at shelters and, most likely, he would not leave the shelter system alive.
So why would I uproot him like that from what he considers HOME just to satisfy my need to rescue him? I live in a town that is TNR friendly, in a county that just passed a TNR-friendly ordinance, in the first state that passed a declaw ban statewide and is making leaps and bounds toward animal rights every day.
So WHY would I break his heart like that? He has secure shelter in our shed, his heating pad, heated pet bowls, his favorite box, regular feedings, vet care, and me to feed, cuddle and play with him every day. We have 3 acres of land and my house backs to woods. Yes, I worry ALL THE TIME about predators and the cars speeding by my house.
Fluffy enjoying her heating pad.
On the flip side, I did rescue my kits at 4 months old. Rascal was about the only one who really was friendly out there. I could barely touch Mischief when I rescued him and if it weren’t for him being so bonded to his brother, I don’t think he would have adjusted so well. But, he does have issues. And 18 months later, we STILL don’t have him FULLY integrated into the household. And he had to start Prozac last Summer because I was at the point that it either had to work or he would have to be re-homed with his VERY bonded brother, Rascal, to a home without cats or euthanized. And I couldn’t stand the thought of either.
As for Patchy and Spunky… poor Spunky spent the first six months of her indoor life spending over 80% of her time down in our unfinished basement. And Patchy would intermittently hide in a storage box on the highest ledge possible down in that basement. They FINALLY adjusted with some confidence-building exercises, feline facial pheromones, and a WHOLE lot of love and patience on our part!
However, my mom still makes Patchy a nervous wreck and Spunky still beelines for the basement as soon as a stranger so much as pulls up in our driveway.
Yes, they are TOTALLY worth the effort! And if my feral cats didn’t have it SO good, a couple of them would have been rescued by now. I HAVE adopted out two of my former ferals already…the two who I KNEW, without a DOUBT, would be happier indoors than out there.
But I cannot and will not subject my current feral cats, who I know better than anybody, to a life that does not serve them. And if my patient neighbors move or the laws change in my township, county or state, I most certainly will do what I can to save each and every one of my feral cats..even the more “feral” feral cats!
But, in the meantime…
Like Red says about Andy Dufresne in Shawshenk Redemption…”some birds aren’t meant to be caged.”
Trouble enjoying the sunshine and schmoozing for treats!
Big Orange was originally named “OJ”. But, after a couple of weeks, I could no longer stand having a cat sharing the same name as OJ Simpson. So, I started calling him the big orange cat, and because of my lack of creativity and imagination, the name ended up sticking.
Big Orange came out of the woods and joined our family one day shortly after the Blizzard of 2016 and decided this was his home.
Before he decided that my yard was “home”, he would sit under the camper at my neighbor’s and wait for me to do the dusk feeding, sneak in, get his food, and leave.
Orange perches on the trailer hitch of the neighbor’s camper watching me put out food.
A timid guy, he was constantly being bullied by Trouble and a sometime feral (Blondie) who was trying to break in here last Spring before Trouble and Oreo chased him out once and for all. I found out later that this same cat was bullying Big Orange about 1/4 mile away at another feeder’s house.
Orange quickly took over the heating pad and feeding station out front of the house that was left vacant by Blacky when Blacky became sick and his mama was holding him inside the house to recover. When Blacky was allowed to come out again, his mom had it set up so that he could come and go as he pleases, so he gets to sleep at home and mooch over here now! More on Blacky to come…
But, Orange is definitely a feral. He quickly moved over to Blacky’s second vacant station under our back steps because he would get scared and run off whenever Mom would go out front to smoke. It’s been about a year now and he still runs away from me but is social enough to come out to greet me and you can actually see him trying to work up the nerve to rub against my legs but he hasn’t quite gotten there yet!
(UPDATE 8.22.17) We have made slow progress, but progress nevertheless! He has bumped my hand with his head and allowed for a few pets for time to time. He no longer totally runs away from me when I walk towards him. He will now allow me to put treats right in front of him without him getting totally freaked out.
One of many pics I took of Orange when he first came around to try to see if he was already ear-tipped.
Orange didn’t act like all the other Toms out here. I assumed he was a Tom because female orange tabbies are rare-ish and he just was NOT acting like an intact Tom. He was NICE! lol! I’ll never forget the first day he got close enough for me to see, for sure. I was out by that back feeding station at the far end of my yard putting out food and he got the nerve up to come closer to me. And guess what? I was RIGHT! He was already ear-tipped!! Which is the BEST kind of new feral cat a girl can have!! So when I saw I had an ear-tipped feral on my hands, I remember saying to him, “Welcome to the family, Orange!!”
He’s been living under my back steps and in my back yard for about a year and a half now. And, like I said, he’s trying REALLY hard to trust me. He will dance in front of me at a distance as if he wants to rub against my legs and he does come out to greet me with a squeak at feeding times. He sounds just like my Spunky. He’s also trying to break into the Shed Clique (Fluffy, Oreo, and Trouble). But, Trouble terrorized him for their first six months here and Orange would run back under the steps screaming like a little girl. Knock wood, they have gotten better recently. Trouble now “lets” him hang out in the yard. He will come hang out with Oreo when Trouble is not around. Fluffy sometimes chases him back to his area but in the past couple of weeks she’s growing more tolerant of him, as well.
UPDATE 8.22.17: He is now officially part of the Shed Clique with my new boy, Domino. He and Trouble sometimes greet each other nose to nose. But, now Trouble and Oreo will not use the shed for shelter when it rains. Something we are working on…
Orange, just trying SO hard to trust me!
He’s scared of us humans but craves feline companionship. I’m not sure if he’s related to my kittens at all, but whenever he’s at the glass sliding door in the kitchen and I say really loud “Hi Mr Orange!!”, Mischief and Rascal will drop whatever they are doing to come say “hi”. I would LOVE to talk to an animal communicator and see if the kits knew Orange when they were living outside!
Mischief and Orange during one of their daily love fests.
My hope one day is that when there is an “opening” that he can come inside. But, he has to get used to me first. The last thing I want is a former feral who will be terrified of us and of living indoors.
But, until then, he lives a pretty happy life under my steps and in my backyard helping to protect the property. I recently figured out that Orange is a “lookout” for Trouble and Oreo. Maybe that’s why Trouble “lets” Orange live here now!
NICKNAMES: Mr. Orange, Captain Pumpkin, Pumpkin Face, Squeaks
I didn’t want to write this today. But he came up on my Facebook memories.
And I want to honor him today as today is his Gotcha Day. This post was originally written on March 9, 2017.
The first time I saw Checky, he was in my back window and I thought he was my old guy, Oreo. But, back then, Oreo wasn’t as social as he is now. And this cat was awfully thin to be Oreo. We had just gotten out of one of the coldest Februaries on record and it was raining this particular evening. I usually don’t feed my feral cats after dark but I went out there to feed him.
As soon as I went outside, I KNEW it wasn’t Oreo. He was all over me like stink on poo and VERY VERY hungry. I fed him and tried to coax him to stay on the heating pad in the shed, but he just followed me to the back door. I snapped this pic to post on social media in case somebody local had lost their cat.
But, I live in the woods. So I know what happened. This poor baby was dumped. His ass was kicked. He was rail thin and sicker than ANY cat I had ever seen.
I found out the next day that he had been staying in neighbor’s garage and living on their covered porch. But they were feeding him table scraps and didn’t vet him or anything. As kind as they were to him, I knew he needed more.
So I SCRAMBLED… contacting the local rescues and NO luck. I finally got a local rescue to agree to help him. It was the ONLY rescue in our area who stepped up! So we set up an emergency vet appointment for the next day and I set out to trap him.
The neighbor called me when they saw he was on the porch the following morning, so I went over and got him to take him to his NEW life.
We took him to the initial vet appointment. By the time we got him there, he was covered in diarrhea. He was Snap tested… everything negative…initially looked okay but just malnourished and everybody chalked up the diarrhea to worms or a parasite, so he was given all the meds for those problems. I took him over to the rescue. When the director put him in that cage, he looked ABSOLUTELY heartbroken. He didn’t want me to leave. I wasn’t sure what to do because we didn’t know what was wrong with him, and I had Penny, who was diabetic and therefore immune compromised, and Weeny, who had MAJOR “cat issues”.
But I couldn’t get his heartbroken little face out of my mind and heart that night.
When the rescue called me two days later to tell me that she couldn’t keep him, he was just too sick and she was going away and didn’t want to put his care in a volunteer’s hands, I knew I just HAD to take him. He trusted me and I couldn’t let him down.
So Checky became our pet that day. He just didn’t know it yet. And I was excited. I couldn’t wait for that moment that I would return to the rescue and pick him up to bring him home later that week!
Checky sleeping in his favorite spot in Mom’s laundry basket.
She agreed to care for him for a few more days to try and get him stable before he came home. She was making little progress. No matter what she did, she could NOT slow down his diarrhea. She bathed him multiple times, which was hard because he was so bony and frail, and she would go check on him in the morning just to find him covered again.
So we took him to the emergency vet. And spent $500 to find out that nothing was wrong in his blood work. We even got him 2nd and a 3rd opinion.
Poor Checky had had FIVE vet visits in four weeks.
I did manage to slow down his diarrhea but we could not get him hydrated or gaining weight (and I used Young Again Zero, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Fancy Feast…anything high protein/low carb/high quality that he would eat). Then he started peeing over 12 times per day. Yet, his kidney and thyroid values and blood glucose were fine. No matter WHAT I did, I just could NOT get him stable.
And then I made a decision. I could not torture this poor cat any longer with vet visits and medications. I’m not a big fan of over-medicating cats. Enough was enough. I stopped all meds except for the B12 injections and probiotics to try to slow his diarrhea down, kept him well-fed and well-hydrated … the rest was between him and God.
He was camped out in Mom’s room because we didn’t want to bring him out with Penny and Weeny until we were sure he didn’t have something contagious. He snuggled Mom every night…ALL night. He would go up to her while she was sleeping multiple times and just tap her arm so she would pet him. Every time he saw us he would start “making biscuits”. And he had this sweet little meow that reminded me SO much of my late Tabby.
Then he stopped eating. He wasn’t able to eat because of a mass or infection in his mouth. We spent his last days spoon feeding him baby food, bone broth … I even made him homemade pureed chicken with bone broth. It would take the poor little guy a half hour to finish maybe 1/4 cup of cat food.
I knew he would not survive a dental. No way. Not in the condition he was in. My vet agreed. To this very day I don’t know if it was oral cancer or just an abscess, but since he had had several courses of antibiotics, including two courses of Convenia that was still in his system, I knew it probably wasn’t an abscess.
So we made The Decision. And it was the hardest one for me to make. I feel he had been cheated out of the life this sweet little guy SO rightfully deserved. He deserved better than being dumped, getting his ass kicked, finding us… only to die. That’s why today is SUCH a difficult day for me.
So, on April 13th I called the vet to come out and help him cross. While we were waiting for the vet appointment, I went into his room to spend some time with him and let him know just how loved he was. We had a radio playing country music (that was the only station we could get on the radio).
And while I was spending time with him, “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts came on. I’m not a Country music fan but I think the entire world knows this song. And I just cried and held him and told him how much I loved him. I know God sent him to us to know love and comfort and good eats before he died. And I’m grateful God chose us to love him and make him a member of our family, if only for a short time.
Checky passed peacefully, surrounded by love. Even our vet cried when he gave him the injection. Hundreds of people on Facebook, who had been following Checky’s story, cried along with us.
This little cat doesn’t even know the impact he made on this world in his short time in our family.
He’s buried in our backyard with all of our other family pets. We promised him that this was his forever home. And that’s exactly what it became.
Fly free, Checky. You will never, ever be forgotten. We love you!
Checky, as he realized this was his forever home.
Checky’s Official Song: “Bless the Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts
Nicknames: Johnny (he was initially going to be named after my late dad and the Rescue Director’s late dad), Checky.
All treatments, foods and supplements mentioned in this blog are based on my own research, experience and done with my vet’s knowledge and consent. Consult with your vet as necessary.
Because I was feeding feral cats and not doing TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return).
And I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS, and my folks ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS…spayed or neutered our pets as soon as they were “old enough”.
The first time I saw Fluffy, she was eating under my back steps and my feral cat, Tiggy, chased her out and a fight ensued.
I praised Tiggy for chasing the “stranger cat” away (even though Tiggy is a TRUE feral and to this very day, three years later, is still afraid of me!)
Now, knowing what I know, and loving Fluffy AND the kittens she was pregnant with at the time, I feel REALLY bad about that!
Fluffy with one of the ‘suspect’ kit Daddy Cats, Hitler.
The next time I saw Fluffy, she was with one of my regular feral cats, Hitler, who was “showing her around”. He would bring her to eat, show her how to drink out of the bird bath, and would protect her while she was eating.
Me, having NO idea she was pregnant because I ALWAYS spayed my pet cats, thought, “Awww…how sweet. He’s taken this kitten under his wing!”
She WAS just a kitten then. Maybe only 6-9 months old? And she was blowing through SIX cans of Fancy Feast per day, so I figured she was “still growing”.
Well…yeah! I was right about THAT, at least!
They chummed around every day and left together. Every morning he would wait for her to arrive so she could eat me out of house and home!
Imagine MY surprise when I saw two orange and white, 1-month old kittens, in my shed around June 21st?
The next day, we had a thunderstorm blow through that was SO bad, it took three days for the National Weather Service to determine that it was actually NOT a tornado, but a micro burst. This storm knocked out power in MOST of South Jersey for 5-8 days.
During that time, I had brought my cat Penny’s insulin to my neighbors, because they were running a generator out of their garage and it needed to be refrigerated. That’s when I found out that Fluffy and Hitler had kittens. Four, to be exact. Two orange and white kittens, one who looked like Fluffy, and one who looked like Hitler.
I had been HAD. #chump
The neighbors told me that the kittens and Fluffy were living in their barn, and even though they weren’t “cat people”, they thought it was cute watching the kittens frolic in their backyard and watching her teach the kittens how to hunt.
My next thought was that I HAD to find rescue for these kittens. I just HAD to give them a chance. But it was at the height of a VERY bad kitten season. I must have contacted over TEN rescues in my area and nobody could help. And I knew that dropping those kits off at a shelter would likely be a death sentence.
Luckily, my neighbors were totally cool about the kittens living there and eventually the kittens ended up moving over here. I did assure them that I was going to try to find homes for the kittens and neuter everybody else, because the neighbor did mention she wasn’t sure what she was going to do yet but maybe she would take the kittens to a shelter. So I took over to make sure that wouldn’t happen.
In the meantime, I could not find them homes. And my baby cat, Weeny, who was coming up on her 4th birthday, was diagnosed with a rare (for cats) malignant mast cell cancer. We figured it out AFTER it had already spread to her lymph nodes.
In the meantime, Fluffy and her kits had gone missing in mid-August for three days, at which time my mom and I went into a panic and decided to go for a hike in the ACRES of woods behind our house to try and find them. We didn’t find the kits, but we DID end up with the absolute WORST case of chiggers known to man. Rule #1: Never go hiking in mid-August in the woods in the Wharton State Forest!
Fluffy and the kits came back that evening. AFTER we got chiggers!
Soon after they returned, Fluffy started to distance herself from the kittens. She would eat and hang out in alternate places. I had to put food in other places besides the regular feeding stations I had set up outside. And she was eating enough to choke a horse again..
UH OH…Now I’m smarter. I KNEW what THAT meant.
I was SO terrified of TNR because I was afraid someone would get hurt, or they’d never return again, or someone would die at my hands. But I had to do SOMETHING.
So I made the appointment, talked to my friend Dana, who lent me her humane trap and came over to show me the ropes. I caught Fluffy five days after I rescued her boys.
I was a NERVOUS WRECK. I knew a spay/abort was risky. But it was the end of September. Winter was coming. And I was out of resources to help her new litter. It was a VERY tough decision for me so please don’t judge. I prayed to God and St Francis to forgive me. I talked to MANY people and looked up lots of advice from the experts. And while I was driving Fluffy to AWA, I was apologizing to her and begging for her forgiveness.
From what I understand, cats are not bonded to their unborn kittens. They only become bonded once they give birth. And I could not allow those four kittens to be born and have to tough out Winter while I had no more resources to help them.
We set up Fluffy’s recovery area in my friend Dana’s secure garage, in a secure dog pen, with a little feral cat den, somewhere for her to go to the bathroom, and eat. We had planned on keeping her for at least three days to recover.
Fluffy, the day of her surgery, when Dana first found blood.
But, Dana called me later that night. She found blood. LOTS of it. And more the next day.
So, I had to bring her back for a second surgery. When I went to Dana’s to pick her up, even though she was hissing and spitting, as soon as she heard my voice, she went from growling to squeaking because she recognized me. That just BROKE my heart. What if she died? I could never live with myself…
I spoke with the doctor at AWA that day and she was further along in her pregnancy than originally thought, and they didn’t suture something inside correctly because there was a lot of blood. They fixed her up, gave her an antibiotic injection, pain injection, and instructed me to hold her at least five days because she lost a lot of blood and was slightly anemic.
I was beside myself with guilt and heartbreak. My very first TNR and I almost killed this precious baby…
BUT…she recovered BEAUTIFULLY. And once I released her, she returned five days later like nothing had happened.
And, after another nine months of her only coming to eat and living somewhere else, and sometimes going missing for up to four days at a time, she decided that she liked it here and would live in my shed and backyard “full time”.
And after another couple of months, she started to rub against my legs. Now, she lets me pet her, but ONLY while she’s eating. And, sometimes she still scratches me when I give her treats.
But, she will also sit on my foot when I’m ready to leave the shed because she does not want me to leave her. And she’s a “social eater”, so I have to stand there, NO MATTER THE WEATHER, while she eats her crunchies.
And you thought I was lying about her sitting on my foot so I wouldn’t leave!
She is happy, healthy, and LOVED today. I hope to one day bring her inside, when she is ready, and when her bonded protector, Oreo, passes on. But, she’s living a better life than she probably EVER imagined, and she never has to worry about taking care of anybody else besides herself EVER again!
NICKNAMES: Fluffaluffacus, Pretty Little Princess, Witchy-Poo, Bitch (when she swats at me lol), Boss Lady, Bossy Paws, Squeaks
I met Penny (nee Penelope) at Pet Smart when my late cat of almost 16 years, Tabby, passed away. I was heartbroken and devastated, but I had been seeing a very shy and detached 9-month old rescue kitten at Pet Smart who was not doing very well up there. She had been living there for MOST of her life and was definitely too shy to be on display like that all the time. I decided that since I had a home and she needed one, I wanted to meet her and see if it would be a good fit.
When I went to meet Weeny (nee Irene), Penny was looking at me with those EYES from her cage and I studiously avoided eye contact with her because I KNEW I was in trouble if I so much as LOOKED at her. I put in an adoption application for Weeny, continued to avoid eye contact, and left Pet Smart.
The next day I brought my folks to meet Weeny. I was living with them at the time and my dad had gotten very close with Tabby in the four years since I had moved back home, so I wanted them to be on board with giving Weeny a much-needed home.
THIS time, all the cats were in the room behind the cages for their “free time”. Weeny was busy playing with the other cats. So, Penny had the opportunity to introduce herself to us and basically THREW herself at us and BEGGED us to get her OUT of there.
She made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. So a SECOND adoption application went in for Penny that day, and we adopted both kitties that week!
Penny was 3 1/2 when I adopted her from Jersey State Animal Rescue. She was one of their show cats and actually won ribbons in the Domestic House Cat Division. If you Google their logo, you will see that unique diamond face at the top of their logo. She is our retired show cat, our poster child, and our little hairy human!
Penny hasn’t had an easy life. She was bullied at the rescue. She was being bullied by one of the other cats the day I decided to adopt her. And she has her issues as a result. She’s a social eater and suffers some separation anxiety. Knowing how she LOVES people, I imagine her life at the rescue was pretty lonely with being bullied and not having as much human contact as she probably craved. They did their best, I’m sure, because they take VERY good care of their cats, but that’s no replacement her very own home and her very own humans.
She thinks she’s one of US and she thinks she OWNS me. She told an animal communicator that she thinks I’m HER pet. Which I already knew! She’s most content next to me (and Mom if I’m not around) and being adored 24/7! She’s charming, congenial, and VERY, VERY patient…until it comes to food!
She’s had her share of health issues over the years. In 2013 she was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes. We achieved remission in just six weeks (read about her journey here Feline Diabetes-Penny’s First Remission). She held remission for 14 months before she had to go back on insulin and also picked up a diagnosis of spinal arthritis along the way. She spent ten months in glucose toxicity/insulin resistance before we got her diabetes regulated. Six months after we got her regulated, she achieved her SECOND remission from diabetes. But, unfortunately, along the way, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Chronic Kidney disease in February 2016 (more on that to come, as well).
Penny’s SECOND “OTJ Party”…the day she was officially “off the juice” (insulin). She didn’t want to wear her party hat…lol
But that has NOT stopped her! She has been living her BEST life yet since that kidney disease diagnosis! She runs and plays like a kitten, eats enough to choke a horse, and honestly, some days if I didn’t see her litter box or her blood work results, I’d never believe she was so sick. I couldn’t have asked for ANY better quality of life for her than she’s had the past 17 months!
Penny was sent to me to teach me SO many lessons! Not just about cat health, nutrition and care, but LIFE lessons…such as my limitations exist only in my mind, when something is THAT important to me, I’ll FIND a way to make it happen, and that I should NEVER, EVER let external forces get me down. She truly is an angel here on Earth!
I don’t know what tomorrow, next week, or next month will bring, but since I thought 17 months ago that she would only have a couple of months (at best) left, I’m enjoying every last second of this “borrowed time” with her!
Precious Pup, Smelly Penelly, Gentle Giant, Sasquatch, Boss Paws, PITA (Pain in the A$$), Diamond Girl
“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder, “The Penelope Song” – John F Hooven (my dad), “Earth Angel” – The Penguins
Penny, her second day in her forever home.
All treatments, foods and supplements mentioned in this blog are based on my own research, experience and done with my vet’s knowledge and consent. Consult with your vet as necessary.
Dad and Mom on The Bench in 2012 waiting for me to come home from work so we could go adopt Penny & Weeny.
I started this blog to let others who naively believed that they adopted cats and are ‘cat parents’, and later figured out that their cats, in fact, own THEM, know that they are not alone.
The cats get my food budget, my clothing budget, my free time, my dating life, and now, apparently, my outdoor patio furniture.
Let me tell you about The Bench…
When Mom retired a few years ago, she purchased this bench so she could sit outside and watch the grass grow, which is what we do here in the NJ Pine Barrens in the Summer. And the bench SAT and SAT and SAT in this box for MONTHS while she waited for my dad to assemble it.
But he never got around to it.
So I decided to take a stab at my handyman skills and I was THRILLED when I got it to together, the folks sat on it, and nobody got hurt!
The Bench has very sentimental value. My folks were sitting on this bench waiting for me to come home from work on May 2, 2012, so we could all go adopt Penny and Weeny from a rescue. My folks spent many a summer night on The Bench listening to cicadas and tree frogs in the last years of Dad’s life. The Bench served as Dad’s link to the outside world in the Summer of 2014 when he was mostly bedridden and dying from cancer.
Now, the feral cat and the neighbor’s outdoor cat have claimed it as their own…
This week, we are enjoying some May-like weather here in South Jersey with temps in the 70s. I did some yard clean-up the other day and figured I would set up the cushions so that Mom could enjoy the warm, sunny weather.
Trouble-within minutes of me setting up the cushions.
Mom has NOT had a chance to enjoy it because not ONE hour after I set up those cushions, Trouble claimed it as his napping area every morning after breakfast. He worked out a deal with Blacky, the neighbor’s cat, so that Blacky could have it in the afternoons!
Where does that leave Mom? Sitting INSIDE on this beautiful day watching HGTV.
Neighbor’s cat, Blacky, taking the ‘afternoon’ shift on The Bench.
And so it goes when you are owned by cats… Even feral cats and neighbors’ cats!
I have a lot of experiences and stories to share about my five indoor cats, my eight or so feral cats (YES THEY ARE NEUTERED AND VACCINATED), and my ‘late’ cats and others who have passed through in my life.
They have ALL been lessons and blessings! I hope to entertain you, share what I have learned from Penny’s complex medical issues, caring for feral cats and the challenge of cat behavior, and connect with you along the way!