5 Years’ Worth of Cats, Part 1

Part 1: Introduction
In 2010, shortly after I graduated college, I met a cat named Smirnoff. And what seems so crazy to me now, five years later, is that on the day I adopted him I had 1) never stepped foot inside an animal shelter before and 2) knew very little about cats. I mean, I knew one thing. I knew that cats were generally considered to be pets. I had even met a very friendly one once while babysitting for a neighbor, so I knew that once in a great while, a cat might like to sit in a lap. But that was about it.

Yet here I am, in 2015, employed as the regional foster coordinator for one of the nation’s largest no-kill organizations. I spend 40+ hours each week in an animal shelter, and can tell you more about cats than you could ever really care to know. No, really. I know, for instance, that a cat with extra toes is called a polydactyl. I know the names of all the different cat coat types, and the difference between a tabby mackerel and a tabby classic. I know that cats are induced ovulators (just like rabbits), which is one reason why we have so many strays and kittens. I know that cats are lactose-intolerant despite loving milk, that they produce pheromones to mark their territory and to make things smell more familiar (which is why they love having their cheeks and chin rubbed), and I know how to calculate the stomach capacity of a neonatal kitten. In addition to Smirnoff, I have two other adopted cats (and, miraculously, also a boyfriend), and live 3,000 miles away from where I began this journey. I’ve met Jackson Galaxy twice, volunteered/worked with four different rescue organizations, started a youtube channel, a podcast, an instagram feed and… oh yeah, I have met thousands of cats. Literally. Thousands*. And it’s only been five years.

(To give you an idea of numbers, since I began working at Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles in 2013, our adoption center has sent home over 3500 cats. And I personally did the adoption of over 600! That doesn’t include all the cats I’ve met but didn’t do the adoptions for, all the cats I’ve worked with at other rescues, and all the neonatal kittens I’ve helped since becoming the foster coordinator at the beginning of this year. I have over 120 cats and kittens in foster care as I type this! And then, of course, there are all those cats I met between 2010-2013. Which was, you know, a few.)

So it’s with a little bit of awe that I look back on the journey that got me here. It’s too much for one blog post, so I will break everything up into different topics, because let’s face it – not everyone will want to read a million paragraphs about cats in one sitting.

So be on the lookout for many more blog posts coming soon (and hit “follow” if you don’t want to miss any of them)!

Myself with Smirnoff in 2010 (top) and 2015 (bottom).
Myself with Smirnoff in 2010 (top) and 2015 (bottom).

NEW Episode of “Cat Chat with Liz and Marci”

Hello wonderful cat people! There’s a new episode of “Cat Chat with Liz and Marci” for your listening enjoyment. This episode covers cat adoption (what it’s like, what to expect, etc.) along with the things that come with your new cat: vaccinations, spay/neuter, and more!

So go ahead and listen (or download for later) and share with all your cat-loving friends!

Purrfect Picks: Phantom

Purrfect Picks is a new type of blog post where I’ll be periodically highlighting some of my favorite kitties at the shelter and why they are so awesome (and why you or someone you know should adopt them!)

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NAME: PHANTOM
AGE: 8 years old
GENDER: male (neutered)
DESCRIPTION: gray domestic long-hair

Phantom is a sweet, gentle cat who reminds me a lot of Dahlila. Not only does he look a lot like her (the long gray coat that creates a slightly grumpy look) but he is similarly chatty. He enjoys giving a grumpy meow in greeting and purrs up a storm once you start petting him.

He does well with other calm cats. He might not appreciate a younger cat pouncing on him, but any cat who’s willing to sit quietly near him is just fine. We don’t know whether he has any like or dislike for dogs. He was recently housed with a few other cats in a small communal room and did well.

Phantom is FIV+ which makes me love him even more. A lot of people get scared off by FIV*, because they think it means the cat is sick or will get sick. But as long as the cat is kept indoors and away from outside diseases, he should remain happy and healthy.

*For those who don’t know, FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s the cat version of HIV, with the big difference that there is no such thing as “cat AIDS” (no medication is required). The cat’s immune system is compromised, which is why it needs to stay indoors and away from infectious diseases—it would take more effort for the cat to get well if it ever got seriously ill. FIV cats can live with other cats, as long as they live peaceably. (Minor scuffles and scratches will not transfer FIV from one cat to another. It is only through the transfer of fluids, such as sex or deep bite wounds where it can e transmitted. So as long as your cats are fixed and don’t get into huge fights, they can all live happily and healthily together.) And, FIV cannot be transmitted from a cat to any other animal. [You can read more here.]

When Phantom was first rescued, the vet was concerned because there were hard lumps in his abdomen. Fearing it might be tumors, Phantom had a radiograph done, which revealed not tumors, but megacolon (i.e. a bad case of constipation). So currently Phantom is on some laxative medication and was moved to single-cat housing to monitor his defecation, poor fellow. Other than that, Phantom is a healthy cat with a lot of love to give!

As a middle-aged cat, Phantom is super easy-going. You can hold him, hug him, trim his nails, and give him a good brush (which he needs, as his belly fur can be prone to matting). He certainly doesn’t require excessive attention, but he’ll happily accept it.

Phantom is great cat for someone who wants an easy first cat, or a mellow guy to add to a multi-kitty household. I love spending extra moments with Phantom, because he’s such an easy cat to please and loves, loves to purr!

You can read Phantom’s Petango profile here.

To adopt Phantom, visit bestfriends.org/la.