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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The joys and sorrows of rescue

This has been a great rescue year, but also a very sorrow filled year. Over 135 cats have come through the rescue so far this year. Many of those were TNR (trap/neuter/return) ferals so were only around for a few days each, many were ferals that were in danger and needed to be relocated to barn homes, and there were many others that were adoptables. And a few that may be long-term residents of the adoption program ("lifers") because so many people want the perfect cat. The one that runs to you and sits on your lap from minute one; unfortunately those people miss out on some of the most wonderful cats because some of those very special cats are the ones that will take a little longer than typical to acclimate to their new environment and come out of their shell. But when they do, they will give those humans so much love.

This year has also been full of tears as we've lost four cats this year. Over the course of this year, four cats had to be put to sleep because of health issues that were untreatable or so severe the cats had no quality of life. The first cat we lost this year was Cammie, sibling or other relative to Butterscotch featured in the last post. Cammie was 6 months old and still looked like she was 2 months old. She saw several doctors and had multiple tests done and the prognosis was not good and it was unfair to her to let her continue to suffer.

Next was Harry, Harry Winston - my diamond in the rough. Harry was feral but was so badly injured that his legs were completely bandaged and he allowed me to feed him and clean his wounds. He would not have gone back to his colony, he would have stayed with me but he passed away one evening on our way to the vet.

Third was Orange Fluff. A feral that needed a barn home but then became sick. She had glaucoma secondary to some unknown disease. But this was horrific, I've never seen anything quite so bad. She allowed me to give her oral meds twice daily without problem. That should have been a sign that she was seriously ill. I mean she was feral - very feral, but she allowed me to give her oral medication and put ointment in her eyes with no problem? She got worse and it was time to let her go. She was suffering and not letting her go is not rescue - it would have been cruelty. She wasn't with me long, but she still took a piece of my heart when she left.

The last cat was Layla. Oh my gosh, Layla. She captured my heart as they all do, but she took an extra little piece. Layla was a big girl. She was white with blue eyes (but not deaf) and had 8 toes on each front foot and toes on each back foot and several of the toes had double claws (26 toes but 30 claws total). She liked to be held like a baby and her tummy rubbed (all 20 pounds of her) and she could snuggle like nobody's business at bedtime. Layla was diagnosed with a rare nasal cancer - nasal oncocytoma - and chemo was not an option for this cancer. It was so bad when it was diagnosed that the tumor had grown up to behind her eye also. We treated Layla with pain meds and anti-inflammatories for a while but then she told me it was time. She was in pain and she needed me to let her go. It's like she gave me permission to have her put to sleep. It was so hard and it still is everything I think about her.
Several lives lost that might have been saved if they were rescued sooner. When I "lose" a cat, I sometimes feel as if I can't do this anymore. I can't continue because my heart is broken each time one crosses the rainbow bridge. Sometimes it's too much even with all the ones we've saved, the ones we lose devastate me.

But it is worth it. Because even if they were only with us a short time, we not only gave them food and medical care and a safe place to lay their head, but we gave them love and smiles and petting and brushing and human kindness - something a few of them had never known. That doesn't make it any easier but it makes me realize that I have to rescue - it's who I am.

I love them all. But this rescue year is dedicated to my Layla, my big beautiful girl.

1 comment:

Jill Walters said...

I didn't meet the others, but I met Layla and she was a sweet and wonderful cat. The first time I've seen double claws too! I was sad that her time had come.

It's so painful to lose any of them, but to paraphrase what you said to me only a few weeks ago - at least they have someone to care for them in those last days. Without you they wouldn't have had anyone caring for them and they never would have had a chance. You gave them all a chance.