Cat Ladies To The Rescue

Where would we be without cat ladies?

I’ve written numerous blogs about our Street Kitty Fund and, in each of them, I’m the first to admit that of the five (now six) women who administer the Fund, I am the most medically illiterate.  To give you an idea of their breadth of knowledge – Caroline held down the SKF fort for two and a half years SOLO and can recite every cat ailment known to man.  Both Val and Tanya foster for a local rescue with Tanya specializing in the recovery of kitties after surgery and/or amputation. Jeanette cares for 13 colonies and fosters seniors with medical issues, and Dawn not only runs her own ICU for recovering street cats, but has also created a sanctuary where the seniors can enjoy their golden years in safety.

Given all of the above, it’s understandable why when a tricky situation arises during my week on duty, the first thing I do is head over our private thread for advice.

First up was a cat with an injured, infected eye.  The kitty needed urgent medical care, but the only way the caretaker would take him was if one of us would hold the cat through recovery? Although Dawn does, indeed, have her own recovery center, she’s also become the 911 for cat emergencies.  No exaggeration but her phone dings 24/7 with messages, “I just found a hurt cat, can you take it?”  And because she has a hard time saying no, she’s currently busting at the seams and in no position to take another.  However, if I didn’t say “yes” the cat would not be taken in for treatment and that’s not something I could live with.  So after confirming Dawn’s Inn was full, I headed over to a private page of colony caretakers and trappers, to see if anyone had room to hold this boy for a short while.  Within minutes, two of our most prolific cat caretaker/trappers volunteered so problem number one was solved.

The next issue would be more tricky. 

I approved a kitty with a broken tail for urgent care but was shocked when the vet called me, “This kitty is so sweet, but her tail is totally dislocated from her spine and vertebrae.  I would hate to think a person did this, but she has no other injuries consistent with accidental trauma like being hit by a car.”  (Translation: More than likely it happened by being violently swung by her tail.) The vet explained, this was a job for a specialty surgeon and the soonest theirs would be available was a month from now. 

We talked about how much pain this kitty was in and the very real concern whether her caretaker could manage the pain while waiting four long weeks for surgery, a surgery that came with a very large price tag and some very real inherent risks.  As our conversation continued, I started to wonder if euthanization would be the most humane choice?  Either way, I knew I needed to speak with the other SKF admins before making such a gut-wrenching decision.

Thus started a long thread of back and forths. Could we afford it?  What was the potential for success?  Could we reach out to other specialty surgeons for a sooner surgery date? Who would care for this kitty prior to surgery?  And who would care for her afterwards?

Our convo ended with no firm decision made other than the caretaker had to pick the kitty up by the time the vet’s office closed at 8pm.   I relayed that message to the caretaker and then got a ding on our SKF private thread that stopped me in my tracks.  It was from Tanya, SKF admin and medical foster for AARF:

I will personally guarantee to raise the money for surgery, foster the kitty through recovery and once healthy, AARF has agreed to take Angelica into their rescue and find a good home.

Seriously?  Did this now mean Angelica was not only going to get the care she needed, but also the prospect of professional help finding her dream family?  In a word, yes and we promptly updated the caretaker – she still needed to pick up the kitty by 8pm, but Tanya would take her the following day.

That was back on February 21. Angelica had her surgery on March 19 and sutures came out on April 1st so over the past 10+ weeks, we’ve been able to watch Angelica and her new bunny tail come into her own. Tanya will confirm that in spite of all she’s been through, she’s remained her sweet, gentle self. A week ago, Angelica received an adoption application and the family has now been approved with the caveat – the SKF ladies need updates and photos!

I wish all street kitties could have this kind of happy ending, but I know that’s not realistic. There are too many of them and too few people willing to help. However, my one consolation is knowing that I can always count on my Cat Ladies to come to the rescue.

Note: This year, we’ve increased our SKF budget to $150,000 and added another Admin to ensure 365 day service. Obviously, those two changes have meant we’re able to help more kitties, but we’re also able to better track outcomes. Since January, 53.38% of the kitties who have come through Fund are friendlies and now in foster or have already been adopted. Our hope is that number continues to grow.