adoption

Allegra’s World: Adoption Anniversary

tortoiseshell_cat_coloring

Today is my adoption anniversary! I’ve been in my forever home for two years now! Back then, I thought that day was the happiest day of my life for sure. But every day since then has been even happier, and things got even better when Ruby joined us last year.

I love my life! I love my Mom, and I love my little sister, even if she sometimes is a pain in the you know what. We have so much fun together, and Mom makes our lives so nice.

Look how tiny I was back then!

tortoiseshell_kitten

When I first came here, my big sister Amber taught me how things were done in my new home. Continue Reading

The Joys of Adopting an Older Cat

Buckley at the Middleburg Animal Hospital

Older cats are often overlooked in shelters filled to the brim with cute kittens and young adults. However, an older cat can make a purr-fect companion for many reasons.

In my years of working with cats, I’ve always been drawn to older cats, especially the really old ones with their graying muzzles and eyes filled with the wisdom of the world.  My own experience of adopting an older cat came with Buckley, who was most likely somewhere between eight and ten years old when I fell in love with her.   Even though she was only with me for three short years, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a single moment.

I adore my two girls who are barely  more than kittens. I adopted Allegra a little over a year ago, when she was seven months old, and I adopted Ruby less than two months ago at nine months of age. I wouldn’t trade the experience of watching Allegra grow into a beautiful young lady these past twelve months, or Ruby’s joyful kitten exuberance for the last two for anything,  but there were times, especially after Amber died, when I thought back fondly to the many joys of living with an older cat.

Avoid the kitten craziness

When adopting a senior cat, you avoid the kitten craziness phase.  While it’s fun to watch a kitten play and race through the house, remember that the playing and racing can happen at all hours, including at 3am, when you want to sleep.  Additionally, kittens can be hard on your home furnishings.  To a kitten, the whole world is a toy, which can lead to the destruction of anything from carpets to furniture to favorite family heirlooms.

Senior cats are already spayed or neutered and litter box trained

A senior cat is already spayed or neutered, and in most cases, litter box trained.  He will most likely be current on all vaccinations, and may even come with a complete health history.

What you see is what you get

With a senior cat, what you see is, for the most part, what you get when it comes to temperament and personality.  One caveat:  if you meet your potential older family member in a shelter setting, make some allowance for the fact that the cat may be stressed or frightened.  Ask to spend some time with the cat in a quiet area, if possible, to get a better sense of her true personality.

Older cats make great pets for seniors

A senior cat can be a wonderful choice for senior citizens who might hesitate to adopt a cat because they’re afraid the cat might outlive them.  Older cats often wind up in shelters because their owners died, and there were no relatives or friends who would give them a new home.  Bringing a senior cat whose owners died and a senior citizen looking for a feline companion together could be a match made in heaven.

A senior, or at least slightly older, cat could be a better choice for a family with young children than a kitten.  Kittens are fragile, their tiny bodies can be easily crushed or injured, and their sharp teeth and claws may inadvertently hurt small children.

Older cats make better companions for another senior cat

A senior cat may make a better companion for an older cat who lost her companion.  Senior cats are used to the more gentle energy of a mature cat, and a kitten’s high energy and constant motion can be aggravating and stressful for them.

Consider adopting a senior cat with special needs.  Diabetic cats, cats with missing limbs or eyes, and cats with special medical needs all come with the same wonderful personalities as healthy cats, and they tend to be incredibly grateful for being adopted.  Make sure you understand the costs involved in caring for a special needs cat before making an adoption decision.

Have you ever adopted an older cat? Share your story in a comment!

Photo of Buckley when she was still my office cat at the animal hospital

 

Allegra’s World: First Adoption Anniversary

Allegra's adoption anniversary

Today is a very very big day for me! It’s my adoption anniversary! A year ago today, Mom brought me home to live with her and Amber! I thought it was the happiest day of my life then, but every day since then has been even happier. I’m such a lucky kitten!

I was a little nervous that day, when Mom came to get me at Great Falls Animal Hospital, where I was staying. Oh yeah, and if you’re wondering how it was possible that Mom was able to resist my considerable cuteness and wait six whole days after first meeting me to bring me home – well, I got myself in a little trouble at the animal hospital. When the foster mom I had lived with before brought me there so more people could see me and so I could find a home (and didn’t that work out just beautifully!), the nice people at the animal hospital wanted to give me a good exam. And let me tell you, when  the woman in the white coat tried to stick something up my rear end, I wasn’t having any of it. I whipped my head around and bit her! That’ll teach her to stick things up unsuspecting kittens’ rear ends!

Unfortunately, humans have a whole bunch of stupid laws, and one of them says that if a cat bites a human, she needs to be quarantined and watched for signs of rabies for 10 days. Even though I was current on my rabies vaccination, Mom couldn’t take me home until the end of that quarantine period.

But finally, the big day arrived. As I said, I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. Mom had already told me that I would have a big sister. I looked forward to meeting her! I don’t think Amber was as excited about me coming home as Mom was, she hissed at me a lot and ran from me that first day. I didn’t let that upset me, and instead, proceeded to explore every inch of my new home. There was so much to see! The best part was that there were these huge big windows to look out! I could see birds and trees and people walking by, it was so cool!

By the time it got dark that first day, I was pretty tired from all the exploring. Mom said that she and Amber were going to bed, and showed me where that was. She said I was welcome to join them. Amber added “but remember your place, you’re the new kid here. I always sleep in Mom’s arms, and that’s not going to change just because you’re here now!” At first, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to join them, but as the house got really quiet and dark, I jumped up on the bed with them. I wanted to be close to Mom, but I didn’t want to disturb Amber, so I crawled under the covers and wedged myself against the back of Mom’s legs. Oh, that was so nice! I felt warm and safe. I drifted off and dreamed happy kitten dreams that first night in my new home.

Amber and Allegra opening case of cat food

Things only got better. By the second day, Amber and I were already in cahoots, helping Mom unpack a case of cat food.

Amber teaching Allegra

By the third day, we were hanging out together. Amber taught me lots of stuff about how things are done in our new home.

Amber and Allegra birdwatching

I really came to love my big sister very quickly. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together. She got really sick and died just a few short weeks after I came home. I still miss her, and I know Mom does, too.

I never thought I’d find such a wonderful Mom and such a wonderful home. Every day I think it’s the best day ever, and it just keeps getting better and better! I am the luckiest kitten on the planet!

The top 7 things about older cats

Guest Post by Dorian Wagner

Pimp is taking the spotlight because he has taught me some very important things through the years about why older cats are fabulous. (Don’t tell him I called him “old!” He’s not old yet, just a little bit on his way…) 

Pimp is 11, and every single year he gets better and better. The longer he’s with me, the more love he shows and the more grateful I am that I have him. He’s taught me a lot in his 11 years — a lot of it recently. 

I have always adopted kittens, but I’m starting to see why older cats deserve to be adopted, too, and maybe even more. They have so much love left to give. And so without further ado… 

The Top 7 Things Pimp Wants You to Know About Older Cats

1. Old men are not dirty.
You know the stereotype about dirty old men? Doesn’t apply to older cats. He knows where his litter box is, and doesn’t need to be taught. He doesn’t raid the garbage can like rambunctious kittens and doesn’t knock over my red wine glass in a fit of flying kitten fur. 

2. A little gray is sexy.
Don’t you dare tell Pimp his gray whiskers aren’t sexy. He’s one good lookin’ older dude! Maybe he’s not quite as shiny as he used to be, but he’s just as soft as ever… and just as cute. 

3. Good food is one of the most important things in life.
(And so is good wine, but that’s for me, not Pimp. Ahem.) It’s crucial to feed your older cat good food, because their tummies are more sensitive. But seeing how much different food affects Pimp has taught me that even younger cats need good food. You are what you eat… and you want your cat to be good, right?

 4. It’s not picky, it’s “particular.”
You don’t need every toy in the world. Just because some new gadget comes out or there’s some fancy new model, it doesn’t mean that what you have isn’t perfectly fine. Some of Pimp’s favorite toys are older than his brother, Moo, and he’d rather play with them than anything new and flashy I get him. He doesn’t ask for much.

5. A comfy bed is better than any flashy toy.
Adding to #4, older cats realize that there are more important things than how many toys are in your toy basket. I used to get Pimp mice every year for his birthday, and he loved them, but lately I’ve gotten him things to make him comfy — and he uses them way more than all his toys combined! Soft beds = 20 hours a day. Fun toys = 30 minutes. (Don’t worry, he still gets tons of toys!) 

6. Peace and quiet is underrated.
Pimpy says relax. Older cats are content to just lie around, lounge and not create too much ruckus. You don’t have to entertain them (or else lose your nice curtains or favorite vase) and you don’t have to babysit them like kittens. They are easy and content to “just be”… so you can just be, too.

7. Love never stops growing.
Sure, your older cat may be done growing, and may actually be shrinking a little instead, but their heart somehow keeps expanding with more and more love. When Pimp looks at me, it’s with such love and adoration, and such happiness and sweetness. He knows he’s loved and he’ll always be taken good care of. He knows I’ll do whatever I can for him, for as long as he needs it. And he knows how lucky he is.

Older cats are extremely special. They often easily adjust to your home and don’t cause much trouble. If you have the room in your home and your heart, why not take a look at some of the senior pets in your area that need homes and go adopt one today. (Or tomorrow, Cute knows you may need a day to get their comfy bed and good food ready…)

Sure, they may need some extra care as they age (For the record – Pimp is going to live forever. I’ve already informed him of this.), but the love you’ll get in return and the fulfilling, incredible feeling you’ll get from taking care of them will give you a ton of joy.

Think of your grandma or grandpa — you would want them to be happy and comfortable in their sunset years, right? Older pets should have the same luxury!

Dorian Wagner is the creator of Your Daily Cute.

How To Live With Pet Allergies Without Giving Up Your Pet

It always breaks my heart when I hear about someone who had to give up a pet because a family member became allergic.  And I often wonder whether there wouldn’t have been options  before  making such a drastic, and painful decision, which is why I was delighted to come across this article on Adopt-a-Pet’s blog.  Yes, the tips presented below require some effort, but isn’t the effort worth it if it means keeping a beloved family pet?

Tips to Reduce Pet Allergies

Guest Post by Jennifer, Adopt-a-Pet

You can reduce or even eliminate allergies to your family pets, just by following some very simple steps.  Cats and dogs are the most common pets that cause human allergic reactions. While it is rare for a human’s allergies to a pet to be so severe (and unresponsive when all these tips are used) that they can no longer live with that pet, that doesn’t mean they are fun. So try our easy tips below, and you won’t have to give away your family dog or cat to solve an allergy problem in yourself or your kids!

Step 1: Reduce allergens in your life.

The more your body is having to put up a “fight” to allergens, the harder it is for it to win. Do you know everything you might be even slightly allergic to? An allergist can test you for a few dozen allergens, but in the battle against allergies, it may be easier to start out with reducing as much as possible the most common allergens in your life. Pet dander, dust, mold, pollen… they all float in our home’s air and stick to every surface! When you reduce ALL the allergens in your home, you reduce your allergic reaction to your pet. Here are just some ideas how:

  • clean your house daily with natural, perfume free cleaning products
  • vacuum what you cannot mop, such as couches, your mattress
  • get a sealed “allergy” vacuum – that filters & traps dust/allergens inside
  • use pet hair rollers daily (or more often!) on fabric surfaces – we like the sticky washable ones
  • replace carpet with hard surface flooring, or keep pets out of carpeted rooms
  • if you cannot remove carpet, steam clean monthly (or weekly/biweekly)
  • if you must have rugs, replace wool with cotton, & wash using 140 degree+ water weekly
  • replace curtains with hard surface window coverings that can be wiped down weekly
  • invest in high-quality HEPA air purifier – starting with one in the bedroom
  • cover mattresses and pillows with specially designed allergy covers
  • wash blankets weekly on hot using hypo allergenic laundry soap
  • wash your clothes and  yourself in non-perfumed soap and shampoo
  • leave your shoes at the door to avoid tracking allergens inside
  • try eliminating or drastically reducing dairy (milk, eggs) from your diet
  • try eliminating other common food allergens from your diet (wheat, soy, peanuts)
  • avoid scented body care products

Step 2: Reduce allergens from your pet

If you are having a reaction to a newly adopted pet, often simply letting another family member or friend (or paid pet cleaner) handle that pet and cleaning as much as possible for you, while you slowly over a few weeks get used to that new pet, can be a huge help. Here are some other tips to try to help as well:

  • wash your hands immediately after handling your new pet
  • brush your pet daily – dogs outside your home, cats in a bathroom with a closed door, surfaces wiped off  afterward (ideally done by a nonallergic family member)
  • after brushing, using a towel dampened with water, wipe off their fur, then wash towel (do not reuse)
  • bathe dogs weekly – use a gentle moisturizing unscented pet shampoo, or alternate one week with just an unscented conditioner
  • once a week, wipe down pet using a pet allergen reducing liquid like Allerpet for Cats or Dogs (about $7) available in pet supply stores or online.
  • use a damp towel to wipe down pets that go outside, before they come inside, to wipe off outside allergens
  • clean litterboxes daily, outside, and wash out completely weekly
  • use unscented dust-free cat litter
  • wash pet beds weekly in unscented laundry soap & hot water
  • wash your pet’s toys weekly
  • feed your pets premium food (helps keep skin healthy)
  • if your pet has dry or flaking skin, with your vet’s approval, feed a skin & coat supplement
  • keep pets out of your bedroom… or at least off the bed!

Then, slowly, one by one… You may need to start out using ALL the tips above to reduce your allergies enough to be comfortable. But then, try not using one, for a few weeks, and see how you do! For example, let’s say you’d prefer to have your pets sleep in your bedroom. However, at first, you may do best with no pets in you bedroom, keeping the door closed. Then in a few weeks (or months), try the door open with a baby gate or screen keeping pets out. Then allowed them in the room but not while you are in there sleeping. Then try your pets sleeping on the floor… and then, if you want, a pet on the bed! If at any point your allergies become uncomfortable, take one step back.

How I got to be an “expert” on pet allergies… I suffered from allergies my entire childhood. I had asthma and hay fever and was allergic to pretty much anything that bloomed or walked on four legs! I spent the latter half of my childhood living in the lush countryside with all sorts of animals, so I have decades of experience dealing with allergies to pets. I still have to follow many of the steps below to keep it that way, and new pets and certain times of the year or environments (a field of goldenrod) will make my nose and eyes tingle, but that mild reaction is just a faint reminder of the full-blown inability to breath, itchy eyes, and runny nose symptoms I used to suffer from on a daily basis.

I now live in a home with many dogs and cats and am almost totally allergy (and medication) free!

Disclaimer: these are just my personal tips. They are not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

Adopt-a-Pet.com (formerly 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com) is a non-profit pet adoption charity that helps shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise their homeless pets to adopters for free. We’re all about getting homeless pets into homes. We use the power of TV, the Internet and a toll-free phone number to connect adopters with shelter pets and help pets go from alone to adopted. We’re working to help the good people at shelters and rescue groups find homes for their pets.” target=”_blank”>Adopt-a-Pet.com is a non-profit pet adoption charity that helps shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise their homeless pets to adopters for free. They’re all about getting homeless pets into homes. We use the power of TV, the Internet and a toll-free phone number to connect adopters with shelter pets and help pets go from alone to adopted. We’re working to help the good people at shelters and rescue groups find homes for their pets.  Hundreds of thousands of pets are waiting for new homes – and you can find them on Adopt-a-Pet’s searchable database!

Photo by Photos8.com

A Senior Cat Gets a Chance at Love

Guest Post by Valerie Heimerich

Rita lived with the same owner for her whole life.  Then her owner decided she didn’t want Rita anymore and pulled the rug out from under the senior cat’s world.  The cat’s young owner had grown up alongside Rita; she was only 4 years old when the then-kitten came home.  But the young woman  decided to move in with her boyfriend and his parents, who already had one cat and didn’t want more.  She waited until three days before she was moving out and then contacted a Sacramento, CA cat rescue group.  She said she would be leaving the now 16-year-old cat behind in an empty trailer.
 
Rita was the equivalent of 80 years old in human terms.  Everyone loves a kitten, but who would want a cat that old?  

The rescue group worked hard and finally located a couple willing to take Rita in.  The couple contacted the original owner, who told them the cat had been to the vet regularly and had no health problems.   As it turned out, Rita was deaf, had partial heart and kidney failure, dermatitis, a severely abscessed tooth, and severe arthritis in her shoulders and hips.
 
But Rita was a little spitfire who refused to let those problems ruin her life.  Even with very painful arthritis, she liked to trot around, climb on things and play, and had a wonderful purr and loving personality.   After having 6 bad teeth pulled and being put on a twice-daily regime of the kitty version of morphine, Rita now gallops and romps, eats like a horse and completely rules the roost.

Rita is currently 19 years old and going strong.  Her eyesight is fading a bit and it takes her a minute or two to sit down fully, even with her arthritis medication.  But she feels so much better than she probably had in her last years with her previous owner.  Life, for Rita, is sweet.

The other cats in the household, though younger, stronger and much larger, show respect for Rita’s seniority, and she accepts their deference as her due. She has glossy, healthy fur and a real love for life.  Her new humans adore Rita and her nothing-can-stop-me-now attitude.  She has them wrapped around her little dewclaw and can get almost anything she wants from them. She snores like a freight train and it delights them. 
 
Now that is love.

Valerie Heimerich’s door has a big sign saying “SUCKER!” which is only visible to animals. She is an experienced humane educator and busy animal rescue volunteer. Visit her at sacramentocatrescue.com or by email at hartcats@live.com.  Valerie writes for examiner.com, for a list of her articles, click here.

Photos of Rita by Valerie Heimerich

Life after Loss: Getting a New Cat

Getting a new pet after losing a beloved animal companion can be very difficult for many pet parents.  Some are able to get a new pet within days of losing the old pet, others may take months and sometimes even years, or never get another pet again. This is not a decision that anyone else can make for you – there are too many factors that play into it to allow for some easy guidelines, but perhaps, the following can provide a better understanding of the process.

Each pet is unique

First and foremost, every pet guardian knows that it’s not possible to ever replace a lost pet, but that doesn’t change the fact that to many, it still feels like that’s exactly what they’re doing when they bring another animal into their lives. It helps to remember that each and every animal is unique, and that your relationship with the new pet will probably be completely different than the one you had with your lost loved one. I’d like to think that our animals would want us to open our hearts to another; that, in fact, they are celebrating when we’ve recovered from our grief over losing them enough to even begin to contemplate  a new addition to the family.

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How do you know when the time is right?

How do you know when the time is right? This varies from person to person. Just like grief is an individual journey, so is opening your heart to another animal. Don’t judge others, or yourself, if you’re not ready, or if you’re ready before others may feel that it’s appropriate.

This issue can be complicated in families where one family member may be ready for another pet, but the other is still deeply immersed in grieving the lost companion. This will require honest and caring discussions. Don’t surprise the family member who is not ready with a new puppy or kitten – rather than bringing happiness, this may complicate their grief, and it’s not fair to a new animal to come into this type of situation. Be mindful of other animals in the household who may also be grieving the loss, and think about whether a new pet would help them or whether it would add to their stress.

Think carefully about what kind of an animal you want to get. You may love a certain breed or coloring, but be aware that just because you adopt another animal that may look like your lost one, the new one will not be a carbon copy of your lost pet. He will be his own, unique personality and the two of you will form your own, unique relationship.

Do you “just know” when it’s time?

Ultimately, I believe that you “just know” when the time is right. Or, alternatively, a new animal will find you. Opening your heart to another and beginning the joyful journey of getting to know and love a new animal companion in no way diminishes the love you had for your lost pet.   Lost love and memories can beautifully coexist with new love and happiness.

New Family Member: Meet Allegra

The Conscious Cat has a new family member!  Amber and I are excited to welcome Allegra into our hearts and into our home.  Well, right now I might be a little more excited than Amber, but so far, things have been going really well.  Amber is watching the newcomer from a cautious distance, and if she comes too close for comfort, she lets Allegra know who’s in charge.

I found Allegra on Facebook on the Great Falls Animal Hospital Cat Adoptions page.  When I contacted the page administrator for more information, I was told that she was seven months old and “very very sweet, loves cats, loves dogs, loves people, loves life!”    I knew I had to meet this little girl.  The first time I met her, I spent about an hour in an exam room with her.  She was your typical ADHD kitten – discovering and exploring everything, whether it was a stethoscope hanging from a hook on the wall or a syringe cap on the floor.  She didn’t pay all that much attention to me, but I started to fall in love with her anyway.  However, I didn’t want to make a hasty decision.  I had only just begun to even think about bringing another cat into our lives.  I didn’t know whether I wanted a kitten or an adult cat.  So I went home, slept on it, thought about it – and I just couldn’t get Allegra out of my mind.  I went back to see her again the next morning.  And that’s when I just knew.   She was meant to come home with us.

Her background, as far as I know it, is this:  she was rescued from a county shelter in Maryland, and fostered by two different foster moms.  Her most recent foster mom described her as a “total love bug lap kitty” who loved to follow her everywhere.

I brought her home yesterday morning.   And so a new chapter in our lives begins.  Allegra spent most of yesterday exploring her new home.  She was particularly fascinated by windows – something she hadn’t been able to enjoy for the last ten days when she lived at the animal hospital.  Everything seemed to delight her – bumble bees flying by, leaves blowing in the wind, squirrels rushing by outside.  It’s so much fun watching her discover her world.

Amber is not so sure this was a good idea just yet.  I’m sure you’ll hear all about it from Amber herself soon.  And you never know, Allegra might eventually want to contribute to The Conscious Cat, too, once she adjusts to her new home and new life.

Happy Mother’s Day 2009

cat-mother-ad

Happy Mother’s Day from the Conscious Cat!

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom in your life, be sure to tell her that you love her today, and every day.  My mother passed away 15 years ago, and I still miss her.  Even after all these years, I still feel a pang when I see Mother’s Day cards appear in stores.

But I also celebrate Mother’s Day as Amber’s Mom.  Amber was a mommy herself when I first met her, so I thought I’d share her story here with you today.

In the spring of 2000, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital I managed by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she began to  relax a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul.  For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day.  She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck.

She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse.  There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons.  Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever.  Amber is one of these special animals.

Amber
Amber