Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Angora Allure-a

As we say goodbye to January, we bid adieu to eleven animals, too!

That number may not be as high as what we're used to from December, but it's actually quite a large percentage of our current population, because we're feeling quite empty right now! We've got maybe 15 cats, three dogs, and one guinea pig available. You should see our lobby.

There are usually lots of cats here ... 

Handsome has a room all to himself!

That's about to change, however. Firstly, we've got a lot of cats scheduled to come in in February. Secondly, our canine supervisor, Robyn, will drive to New Hampshire this weekend to meet a transport of young dogs from South Carolina who are being pulled from a high-intake municipal shelter. This shelter receives around 5500-6000 animals every year (by comparison, we take in about 800 a year, and that number is carefully controlled by our intake-by-appointment-only policy, to avoid overcrowding). According to Robyn, the overcrowding they do experience results in 95% of the animals they receive having to be euthanized for lack of space. We're happy to help them lighten that load just a tiny bit ... 

Back to the good news. Fuzzy pittie Dodger (the last of the batch of fuzzy pitties!) found a forever home this week, and his mom has since let us know over Facebook that he's aptly named (he's proven to be quite artful): "Today he has learned how to escape 2 stacked gates, and also how to open a heavy fire-rated door with the lever handle ... and it's not even 2 pm!"

Dodger climbing a ladder to raid his treat stash!

One kitten found a new home: Stevie. As did our last bunny pair: Oreo & Samoa!

Seven cats found new homes! Grover, our last transformed feral kitten, was officially welcomed into a life of domesticity by a smitten young couple. Both Fraidy and Carrie ended their stay on the adoption floor after just a couple of days, and we had another black cat adoption with Sid. Lovely, shy tiger Kylee stole a heart, and two seniors found new homes: Oreo (age 9) and … our featured adoptee … Mya (age 8)!


Mya is remarkable in many ways. A lovely Angora, she sports a diluted pink and gray coat, which is nicely set off by her distinctive sap green eyes. And her personality is just as lovely: Mya is outgoing, confident, and sociable with people--and positively enthralled with dogs. But this sweet cat had a long haul here, due first to litter box issues, and secondly to chronic asthma.

Mya was relinquished by her owner in September. She had found Mya as a stray and taken her in to a home that already included a lot of animals: cats, dogs, a ferret, a lizard. When a visit to the vet revealed that Mya had asthma, the owner could no longer afford her care. Furthermore, Mya was having a hard time managing the other animals in the home, who weren't always nice to this newcomer.

It became immediately clear that Mya had trouble with the litter box. By the second day at the shelter, she had gone outside of it, and it happened several more times before we were able to move her into a litter box testing zone (for whatever reason, we've found ourselves up to our elbows in "pee cats" lately: cats who exhibit inconsistent box use. With only four testing zone kennels (and a mandated two-week period in the zone, at least), our pee cats have lately had to wait their turns). By this point, our medical supervisor, Jen, had discovered crystals in her urine (can cause a urinary tract infection in cats, which would definitely cause inconsistent box use). She switched Mya's diet to u/r (prevents crystal formation in the urine) and started her on amoxi to quell an infection. Often, cats develop crystals in their urine when stressed. And from the sound of Mya's contentious relationship with the other animals in her previous home, there's a strong likelihood that stress was the culprit.

This is a good time to mention that Jen and I recently attended a nutrition seminar presented by Drs. Kessler and Berger of Affectionately Cats (Williston). They have groundbreaking new findings on feline nutrition, and the lecture was quite eye-opening. We hope to host them at HSCC in March for a free seminar for the public, so I won't relate everything, but a keystone of their hypothesis is that dry food is the cause of the top three feline medical issues seen by vets (UTI, Gastristis, renal disease). Our house cats descended from wild cats who lived in desert environs, so their bodies are built to store water. Because of this, they don't have high thirst drives (if your cat is in good health, you don't see him/her at the water bowl very often). Take the fact that they don’t drink much, and add it to a diet of dehydrated food … and you get dehydrated cats. This leads to all sorts of issues, particularly with flow and sediment build-up in the urinary tract. To make a long story short, these findings have led the vets to reconsider the usual prescribed UTI dry diets of u/r and c/d. They contend that simply giving the cat a totally wet-food diet would resolve urinary issues. We are taking all of this into consideration as well, here at the shelter. Of course, we're also having to work within a restricted budget.

Back to Mya: in accord with the previous owner's report of asthma, we did notice frequent bouts of coughing and wheezing. Jen started her on prednisone to calm inflammation in her airways, and recommended that she go to a smoke-free home and use a very low-dust litter.

After a full month in the zone, Mya's litter box issues cleared up, thank goodness, and she finally made it out to the adoption floor two months after her arrival, in mid-November. Despite her asthma, special diet, and senior status, we assumed that such a unique-looking cat would get a lot of interest. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

Mya went unnoticed through the rest of November, December, and January. Her coughing seemed to increase with her length of stay in the Tokyo cage. We were careful to try to get her out more often for exercise, and loved watching her interact with our shelter manager's big German Shepherd when she visited the administrative area. She frequently rubbed on his baby gate, inviting a hello. She also quickly became a favorite among the volunteers for her warm personality. Yes, she had a lot working against her. But she had so much more working for her …

Finally, last week, a couple came in whose daughter had worked at HSCC in the past and is starting vet school this fall. They have three senior dogs: a collie and two beagles. And apparently those dogs just love cats. In describing what Mya's life would be like in their home, they wrote, "Our house sprawls and there are cat toys and a cat tower and catnip and dogs and plenty to see. Sunny windows, too." Sounds pretty perfect, no? They were immediately struck by Mya's sweet nature, but a little nervous about their fireplace: would that cause an asthma attack?

It was determined that Mya would go with them on a foster-to-adopt basis: they could have a one-week trial run with her. As we said goodbye to Mya on Tuesday, we crossed our fingers and toes that this home would be the one.The very next day, we received an email from the adopters, entitled, "Mya's first night--splendid!" They reported,

"Just a quick update to let you know that Mya is doing great, seems incredibly happy, is very social & affectionate.  She had one brief coughing episode late last night and another this morning around 7:15, but neither one lasted long - less severe than the one we experienced on Saturday while visiting with her.

She has taken up all of my previous cat's favorite perches, including sleeping next to me on the bed.  She is anxious to explore more of the house, so she'll get expanded territory tonight.

So far, so good!"

Today is the decision day: adopt, or return? We've heard nothing else yet, but are taking that as a good sign. From life as a stray (and who knows what before that), to bad relations with other animals in the home, to transitioning to shelter life, having trouble with the litter box and dealing with asthma … to a rambling, sunny house with people who are just as warm as she is, and all the canine companionship she could wish for. Keep your fingers crossed with us!**

That's the good news this week.

More good news to follow soon (you'll see) … !


**UPDATE on Mya: She's been adopted for good! With a $70 donation over and above her adoption fee! Congrats, Mya, for finding such fantastic people :)

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