Moving with Cats: A Survivor’s Tale

I’ve never had to move cats before.

Smirnoff, at age 3, had been living in my old apartment for the past 2 years, which is a significant two thirds of his life. Bacardi wasn’t too far behind. I was a little nervous after watching episodes of My Cat From Hell (Animal Planet), as well as knowing the histories of several cats at our shelter (such as Whiskers), knowing that after a move, cat hierarchies can change in a new territory. Smirnoff and Bacardi are a mismatched pair, after all. They like each other, but they’re not really bonded. So I had my reservations.

Still, I have done enough adoption interviews at the shelter to know that in any new environment, you should keep your cat(s) confined to a smaller space, such as a bedroom or bathroom (with litterbox, water, and food included) so as not to overwhelm them.

My plan was simple: move the cats and their stuff first. Set them up in the bathroom of my new apartment. Keep them in there for a couple days, or as long as they would tolerate it, and hope that no fights break out. But I know how to introduce cats. If the worst came to the worst, I could separate them and slowly re-introduce them. It would be arduous, but possible. I felt I was mostly prepared. What actually happened wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Continue reading “Moving with Cats: A Survivor’s Tale”

The Fallibility of Cats

Cats, like humans, are fallible. People who come into a shelter—or a pet store or a breeder—looking for the perfect animal, are asking too much. Even the best cats have their own preferences, their own personalities, their own way of doing things.

I like to think that our shelter has some of the best cats around. We take care of them with food, and medicine, and most importantly love. Sometimes an adopter comes in to look at one cat and soon finds themselves swarmed by volunteers who all have something to say about that animal and its personality. I like to think that we know these cats like old friends.

We can’t know everything. So when a cat that we’ve spent hours of time with passes away before we’re able to find it a home, it’s hard to deal with. I’m not talking about a cat that had major behavioral issues. I’m not talking about a cat that had known medical issues. (I’ll save the no-kill debate for another day, because now’s not the time.) I’m talking about an adoptable cat, one that was on its way to going home, that suddenly gives up before we can fulfill our promise of giving it a better life.

I’m sending this email to just let all of you know, that unfortunately our beloved [cat] passed away last night, we found her after adoption closed during our evening closing procedures. The cause is unknown, but she was SNAP test negative. A necropsy was performed, and it was likely due to some underlying heart condition.

[The cat] will be missed, just know that prior to adoption closing she did receive multiple head rubs and lots of chin scratches. Continue reading “The Fallibility of Cats”

Foster Failure

I always thought that fostering would be easy. I know, I know. But in my head, it always seemed like the perfect set-up, especially for people who go on vacation a lot or don’t have a ton of money to take care of an animal of their own. You simply take a cat (or dog, or small animal) home for a week or two, or perhaps six months at the longest—you can set your own time frame—and then you return it to the shelter to be adopted into a wonderful home. It’s like rent-a-pet, only you’re doing a great deed for an animal in need.

Still, I had never fostered because I was at work or in evening classes, plus my roommates who’ve filtered in throughout the years would have killed me. That, and I wasn’t sure how Smirnoff and Bacardi would handle another cat. My current apartment is too small for a third adult cat and its layout is too open to introduce a new cat properly, but I figured a kitten would be ideal since they’re so small and require very little room (to begin with). So when I finally made the decision to move apartments, and with the possibility of fostering in the new apartment blossoming, I figured I would give it a test run before the actual move to see if it was even a good idea. Mostly, it was to test Smirnoff and Bacardi.

Raymond was a cute little two-month-old kitten who was on quarantine (Q) at the shelter. He was on Q because he had scratched the person who found him as a stray, and legally he wasn’t adoptable for 10 days. I’m not sure of the reason for this law (it might have something to do with rabies?), but when blood is drawn, the cat in question is put on Q. No exceptions. When I saw Raymond, he only had two days left, but since he wasn’t adoptable during that time, I asked if I could take him home to foster. Again, as a test. Continue reading “Foster Failure”