Never say never again.

Last year I dove into the world of animal rescue.  Head first to be exact!  After coming home and finding a flyer posted next to the elevators at my condo complex, stating all stray cats would be trapped and taken to the shelter.  The shelter here in Miami is a high kill shelter.  They recently stopped taking in cats, and any strays brought to them are killed. See what I did there? I didn’t say euthanize.  That’s because if you take the word by its meaning, they you will see that you really cannot euthanize a perfectly healthy animal. No, our shelter kills, and it kills a lot.  Sure, their numbers have gone down, but only because they now ship dogs and cats to other shelters and sometimes work with rescues.

Anyway, when I saw this I knew I couldn’t just leave those cats to that fate.  I’ve been covertly feeding them for a couple of years and really knew nothing about where to take them for help.  I took to Facebook, and began my journey.  I hooked up with some good and caring people.  These people had been in rescue for years and knew the ins and outs.  I was able to make some connections and found out there was a program in my area that would help me in getting these cats spayed and neutered.

I was able to find a home for one cat that was feline leukemia positive, as well as four others.  At one point I had ten cats in my apartment.  Yes, ten!  I have six of my own, so the additional four was quite frankly a nightmare.  Of the four, two were about five to six months old, one was shy but the other was quite feral.  At one point I was keeping them in my spare bathroom and the feral one got out.  She gave me a hell of a scratch before she got into the carrier.  The other two were about four months old.

With some help, a home was found for the two older kittens, and I kept the smaller two until a home could be found for them.  This was eight months in the making.  I have had these two girls with me and while I will tell you it has been incredibly stressful at times, I absolutely adored these girls. My journey with them ended last night.  Today they are on their way to a new life.  I can’t even express the sadness I felt knowing that I had to let them go.  It was as though part of my soul was being torn from me, and I think it was.  They took a little piece of me with them, and in turn they left a big piece of themselves with me. Their impact on me will last until I take my final breaths on this earth.  I never wanted to foster, because I knew how hard it would be to let them go.  But they taught me that as hard as it is, when your part is done, you let them go.  You let them go because it was your job to prepare them, to show them how to trust and what it means to be loved.

As sat there in my car with my foster girls, Isis and Astra, and who I eventually came to call Smudge and Mochie, I said to myself, “I can never do this again.  I can’t allow myself to feel like this again.” I could very easily have been a foster failure, but my space dictates that I cannot bring any more cats into my home permanently.  Permanently being the key word here.  You see, as I was saying good-bye to my friend who is taking the girls on to their next stop in their new life, she asked me if I could foster a little kitten.  A tiny baby not even six weeks old yet, until the end of April or mid-May.  I smiled and didn’t even hesitate.   I hope to welcome my new charge this week.

 

Smudge and Mochie

Smudge and Mochie

Smudge Mochie

Too many reminders of how short life is.

I was sitting at my computer this morning, going through my Facebook News Feed as I do every morning before I set to work.  I came across a page I follow.  I follow a lot of pet pages.  Many of these pets are former abused, neglected and/or have medical issues.  The people have these pages for their pets to celebrate these pets, and bring awareness to the cause of special needs pets.  One pet was Rosie, from Everything Rosie.  Rosie died last night, she succumbed to pneumonia.  Rosie was a puppy-mill survivor.  Her mom gave her an amazing life and her last years were nothing but happy, I’m sure of it.  This little dog was loved beyond belief.

Last month it was Wallace the Pit bull, then this week it was Rufus the Cancer pit bull.  Then I read on another page another pet is sick and not doing well, and a friend’s cat died suddenly this week also.

I’m just very sad now.  All I want is to be home with my furries.  I pray they all know how much I love them.

Opinions wanted about my article!

Some of you may have read I am writing a short article, in the hopes of submitting it to some cat magazines and having it published.  It’s finished, but still a work in progress.  I now I’ve got a bit more work to do here, and adding a little more personal experience with these different types of litter may be included, but I’d love some opinions from you all.  Even if you don’t have a cat, or any pets, your opinion would be appreciated.

Here it is…so far:

Litter me this, litter me that, what kind of litter is best for your cat?

I know what you’re thinking, another article about litter, OY!  But hey, litter is important, and we who serve the furry gods know just how important.  More so perhaps than making sure crazy uncle Fred doesn’t sit next to the boss’ wife at your wedding.

Most people I know who have cats buy the litter they like in the beginning, and while most cats cooperate, many don’t.  I’ve known many a cat servant who has gone through several different types of litter before they find one their cat likes.

As with ANYTHING, there are pro’s and con’s to each type of litter you buy and use.

Clay Litter:

To begin with, most of us start off with the clay litter.  This type of litter is fairly inexpensive, at first glance.  However, it comes with, I believe, the most issues.  The main one being when it gets wet, it stays wet for quite a while.  As we know, cats, most cats that is, hate getting their feet wet, so this will be an issue.  Each time your cat uses the litter, you would have to change out the old and add new.  Here is where your initial inexpensive litter becomes pricey.

Clay clumping litter:

A better option is buying clumping litter.  Here you can find clay-based and plant based options.  Clumping litter will form into a solid piece as soon as it becomes wet allowing you to just scoop the clump out of the box.  However, this type of litter can be very dusty, so you will have kitty tracks all over, not to mention this may present an issue with those who suffer from allergies, be they human or feline.   Also, if your cat is allergic to corn or wheat this litter will be an issue for you and it’s best you avoid it.  My own experience with clay based litter was I found it was too dusty for me, and I didn’t like knowing my cats were ingesting the product.  They get the dust on their fur and feet and the pieces get stuck in their paws and they swallow it.

Corn and Wheat clumping litter:

I have found that corn litter, while is advertised as a natural odor eliminator, didn’t quite work that way for me.  As for the wheat, it did control the odor slightly more, however the clumps eventually would get stuck to the box.  You may as well invest in a jack-hammer to help you clean the boxes, because it’s near impossible remove the clumps that stick to the boxes!  I wonder if the ancient Egyptians used wheat litter to build their pyramids because this stuff isn’t going anywhere!  I won’t tell you how many boxes I threw away before finally changing litters.

Pine pellets:

Pellet litter is made mainly from either pine/wood, recycled paper and recently I used a product made from walnut shells.  Of the three, I have found the pine to be the most effective for odor control.  I live in a not too large loft.  With 6 cats and a dog, believe me, I appreciate the odor control!  A trick many of us know is adding some baking soda, preferably the kind without aluminum, as this can also be ingested by your cat and cause health issues.  The biggest issue however with the pine is it could pose a health concern if your cat is asthmatic.  I recently have begun to suspect one of my cats suffers from what I hope is just a mild case of asthma.  There is a naturally occurring substance in both pine and cedar, plicatic acid in cedar and abietic acid found in pine, that can damage the respiratory tract and cause problems with asthmatic cats.  For this reason, I am looking at some alternatives.  This is an ongoing process, as these days funds are low and it isn’t easy finding something as cost effective as a forty pound of pine pellets for $8.00.

I was able to try out one product, a walnut based product, that seemed like a good alternative, but as with these previous litters, it has it’s pro’s and cons.

Walnut based pellets

I asked the feed store I purchase my pine pellets from if they could order me a bag of some walnut based pellets.   The pellets were slightly smaller than the pine pellets, mainly because this is made for “cat litter” purposes, and the pine litter I buy is used as “horse bedding.”  That’s why it’s so inexpensive, it’s the labeling.  Anyway, the first thing I noticed was how dark this litter is.  It’s like a really dark charcoal gray.  I immediately didn’t like that.  If you are like me, and regularly monitor the color of the litter, this dark color makes it impossible to see any change of color in urine.  By that I mean, finding blood. I recently  had one of my boys develop a case of cystitis.  I noticed Vlad using the box a little too frequently, and as I waited for him to come out of his box at one point, I noticed a drop of blood hit the litter.  Now, Vlad is black, and I saw the drop of blood as well as some pinkish color in the litter because of the yellowish coloring of the pine litter.  Had I been using the walnut based litter, I never would have seen this.  That concerns me.  Also, just for daily scooping it’s hard.  I mean, it’s REALLY hard to see the poop!  The odor control was so-so too.  I wasn’t a fan, even though two of my cats didn’t seem to mind it.  Actually the one that I do suspect as being asthmatic, Oksana, hasn’t set one foot in the litter.  She prefers the pine in the other boxes.

Crystals:

This is something I have never used.  When searching for a litter I stuck with the one that had been next on my list, which happened to be the pine pellets.  I also don’t like the idea of silica being something my cats can ingest.  I have however read that the odor control with this kind of litter leaves much to be desired.

Most litters I have highlighted come either unscented or scented.  In my opinion, I think the “scented” is more for the human, and not so much for the cat.  Cats don’t want to smell their own urine or feces any more than we do.  Finding something that can minimize the odor is the key. For me, pine has worked the best.  I do not have to dig for brown gold on a daily basis, because as long as it’s covered, the pine covers the smell.  Of course, unless my cat Czarina gets into the box.  I don’t mind telling you, her stuff is toxic.  She was a stray for about 3 years before I found her and brought her indoors, although I do suspect she at one time may have belonged to someone since she was already spayed and showed no sign of having been part of any TNR program.  She’s never really though learned how to bury her poop, and sometimes one of my other cats finds it so particularly offensive that they bury it for her.  But when they don’t, I have to dispose of it immediately, because it WILL fill the entire apartment with the smell.

Lastly, there is a product I have used that I would gladly use more if it were not so economically unfeasible for me. Dr. Elsey’s is a brand that has several products for different situations.  There is a special “Cat Attract”, “Kitten Attract” “Senior” and “Respiratory relief”, litters.  I have used the Cat Attract with the last stray I rescued.  Tatiana was nine months old when I brought her inside, and had no clue what a litter box was.  For several days she either went inside the carrier she was hiding inside, or on the floor.  After having to clean the carrier several times and lining the floor with pee pads, I decided to buy the “Cat Attract” litter.  It worked within the first hour of placing it in her area.  This is an excellent brand of litter.  It is pricey however.  Not so terrible if you have one or two cats, but I myself have six, so it’s very difficult for me at the moment.  If things change for me financially however, I do plan to move to this litter.  Let’s hope the cats decide to as well!