The following is an animal story/rant. If you have a weak stomach for animal neglect/abuse/abandonment, read with caution, because I've been doing this for about a decade now and I still have no clue how to handle it.
I actually have two stories. First – the short one. I was corresponding with a woman who had posted on Craigslist that she was looking for a cat to add to her home. Hey! I have nine up for adoption. We set everything up and she was just perfect – all that was missing was a homecheck and leaving the kitty with her. Next thing I know, an email is in my inbox saying she no longer needs one, as one came to her, not of her own free will.
Bless this woman, seriously, because she didn't mean it floated down from the sky on a little fluffy cloud and purred into her arms. What happened was, some douchecanoe saw her Craigslist post and responded with "We are moving and leaving our cat behind. You can take her or leave her there, we don't care."
The email was deactivated after it was sent, so she couldn't respond. She had no phone number, name, nothing. Sure enough, when she arrived, the house was abandoned, and a scared, beautiful cat was huddled outside of it. They took her in and are now making an appointment to get her fully vetted, because the owner kindly left NO information on its state of health, age, vet records, nothing. I offered to help in any way I could, but if it had happened to me, I'd be looking up public housing records and hunting the bastard down. Who the hell does that?? That's abandonment, and in a respectable town, the cops would give a crap. Here, nothing. Nothing at all. A cat needs food once or twice a day and some pettings now and then. They need a litter box, a scratch post, and an annual trip to the vet miles cheaper than a dog. Who can't take a freaking cat with them, and if you can't, who the hell leaves it in their house rather than dropping it with a rescue, shelter, or giving it to someone else?!
I am glad the cat is with her. But I could kill the person who put her in that position.
Anyways, I'm glad it didn't work out, because I just got some very unfortunate news from the vet today. About five or so months ago we picked up some tiny kittens. Actually, we picked up 12 adult, feral, deformed cats from a woman who refused to fix her 50, 60, who knows how many completely unsocialized, unvetted, barely fed cats. I don't even know if they were hers or just congregated at her house because she fed them for free through a local program (the woman I work rescue with – the cat wing of our rescue that I frequently foster for). She keeps calling the "mysterious" litters popping up here and there "blessings."
In reality? The first time the woman I work with went out to help her with them and offer to get 12 adults fixed, chipped, vaccinated, and ear clipped through a local charitable program, there were dead kittens strewn across her perfectly watered yard. Of course, she can't afford to deworm the kittens, can't afford to drive them to a vet to do the FREE fixing they have offered her, but she can afford to water her yard in swealtering Texan summers.
Look, this woman was so doped, IS so doped, she regularly almost dies. She was bragging that day about how she almost died by falling asleep in her cereal. Nothing she says is sequential, and she sees absolutely no problem in the swarms of unsocialized, terrified, deformed cats breeding on her property, or the dead kittens dropping like flies and being just left there.
So I gather up as many crates and carriers as I can. I have a few, and borrowed from about four other people to get enough and barely fit them in my car. We were supposed to catch one the lovely woman's husband had thrown against a wall and broken its hip, but he was too quick for us. We barely caught one that was so deformed she had to walk on her elbows, and she flipped out so bad from being in a carrier that she bloodied her nose on the bars. It took hours. When we saw the state of the kittens, we took every survivor – six of them. That was all that was left. We told her we'd bring them back if they survived – but we knew she wouldn't remember and that we would be keeping them and rehoming them.
Now the neighbor is poisoning her cats, and you know what, honestly? Learning what I learned today, I'm not sure it's a bad idea. Euthanasia, rather than poison, but you see something like that, it fucking gets to you. And on top of that, the woman has new "blessings" arriving every day, despite the 12 we managed to fix.
The first night we brought the kittens home they were WAY too small to put through the TNR program. A kitten needs to be at least 3 pounds to be neutered – remember that, it's important later. Within the first twelve hours they went from lethargic and freaked out to faces completely solidified with nasal and ocular discharge – eyes sealed shut and barely able to breathe. They wouldn't move, and we thought they were going to die that day. We rushed them into the clinic and made an emergency, very expensive appointment. They helped us dissolve the goop from their faces, gave them IV fluids and an antibiotic, and some wormer. By the next morning they were normal kittens again. Nobody liked their medicine, but for the next month I was in there every four to six hours treating, cleaning, playing, feeding a mix of wet food and kitten milk replacement and water so everyone would stay hydrated, feeling for temperatures. We put a ton of work into these six babies.
Since we didn't know much about the colony, we took the utmost precautions to protect our other fosters. They were on their own air system. We had a set of clothes for inside the room adn one for out. Upon leaving the room, we betadine scrubbed anything exposed for at least 30 seconds, mixing it up now and then with isoproponol. It was a pain. We worked round the clock to put weight on these guys, grow muscle, keep them healthy. And I thought we did a swell job.
Then I got a look recently at Dove, the runt of the group. When Dove came to us, he was swollen like a balloon with worms. The woman claimed she couldn't afford it…anyways. Dove wasn't acting right. His inner lids were pulled half over his eyes, he was moving slower, his meow was weaker, and he was skin and bones despite being fed very well. He wasn't dehydrated, so we made an appointment.
We were thinking immune. Rhino is a common disease that affects kittens more than adults, so since the adults were mostly healthy (except for severe deformities), we assumed that was the cause of the conjuctivitis as kittens. But…this kittens was not thriving. When the doc weighed her, he was 2.8 POUNDS. He weighed less than he did five months ago. We considered intestinal parasites, deficiencies that prevented absorption of nutrients, and either genetic or diseased immune problems, in addition to the fact that runts generally have a weakened immune system due to getting fewer antibodies from momma's first colostrum. So…we are testing for a fecal float tomorrow to look for eggs and other signs of parasites or deficiencies, and today, we drew blood and did a snap test for the dreaded FIV/FelV.
Now…these tests have a high rate of false positives and negatives, so when the doc came back in saying unfortunately, our little Dove was positive for Feline Leukemia, my first question was if we could confirm the diagnosis with a Western Blot. The cost on that, though, is about a hundred bucks, best guest, maybe more. On the other hand, since the other five kittens have a high risk as well, it's about the same cost to get all five of the others tested. Six positives means the test probably wasn't wrong. I can still adopt to single-cat homes that know the consequences of an immune-deficient disease, shortened life span, and vulnerability, and to homes with positive cats that need friends but can't adopt healthy ones…but basically this just ruined all the adoptions I had lined up.
On top of that, I'm going to have to pay for all that testing (well, the rescue is insisting on paying, but I hate to take away from other pets after I've just been told they could die in just a few years, depending on, and if Dove doesn't put on weight it could be much, much less), and Sir wants to keep Dove. To be honest, they are a perfect match, and if we can get the kitties out of our bedroom, we can make it work but – if our pet cat, who has rhinotracheitis, ever has a breakout and sneezes and gives it to Dove, it could kill him. This just wasn't the news I wanted. I want to be sad, I want to buy something, I want to FIX THIS, I want to know how to react. I want to be on top of things, and say okay, this is how we can handle this.
But mostly? I am fucking ANGRY. Because in the fucking end, what this means? Is that those 50, 60 cats running around at that crackhead's house, around the town, into other people's yards, all that? ALL LIKELY TO BE FELINE LEUKEMIA POSITIVE. New blessings arriving, deformities rampant, cats that can barely walk if they even survive kittenhood, and all of them spreading FeLeuk all over the place. Running wild and giving it to any cat they fight with. FUCK. I could just strangle that woman. You don't give a shit about "your" cats if they are feral, running wild, being thrown against walls, being fed via handouts because you're too concerned with paying for drugs and watering your yard in a drought than vetting the animals you allowed to take over everything. Who the hell can just sit there and let that happen?
I don't know what to do. I want to SCREAM. I hate cleaning up her mess, endangering my fosters, losing adopters, hearing that these babies we have put so much love, so much care, so much effort into raising have a few years at best. But I shouldn't jump to conclusions. The last FelV cat I worked with tested both positive and negative. I just… I have no idea how to wrap my brain around this.
I am so tired. I am so angry, frustrated, tired. Where is the law in all of this. I can barely function in my own life, and every time I think things might look up, I've got a swarm of adopters, I'm coping with the death of my grandfather, I'm learning how to knit, I'm cleaning a bit, rather than sitting in a coma scared to move…then something like this comes right back down on me again.
When it rains it pours, okay. But it's been raining on me for YEARS. I need to catch a break. I NEED something to pay off, anything.
I need something to go right without immediately being smashed by another crisis, another disaster, another emergency, another failure, another bout of bad news.
I am back to chewing my lips to shreds, my fingers are torn to the muscle from picking at them, and if I just feel stalled. I want to be better. I want to be able to organize my new purse out of my borrowed one without crying because I can't figure out the right way to organize things inside it. I want to be involved, actively. I want a home again. I want silence, stability, and more xanax. I need something. Something!