Guest post by Barbara J. King

18 Apr

Books aren’t my only love in life. As some of you may know I am also an animal lover and have rescued/adopted enough animals in need to start my own petting zoo. Seriously. Animals seem to know and basically just show up in our yard. So I was tickled pink that Barbara J. King, author of Being with Animals could stop by the blog and talk a bit about the rescue work she does with cats.

Sometimes, the work of cat rescue is emotionally searing. Last year, a family friend called to say she’d found a newborn kitten on a boat near her house—curled up in a crab pot. The mom cat had moved her litter off the boat and hadn’t returned. What to do?

We collected the kitten and named her Marin. Because she needed round-the-clock feedings, we handed her off to a kitten fosterer. (We work hard for our rescued cats, but we need to sleep, too.) When she’d matured a little, Marin went into the “adoptable cats” program at a PetCo store. Unexpectedly, she refused to be handled, and bit people, marking her as unadoptable.

We weren’t ready to give up. Moving Marin into my study, I spent many hours playing with and socializing her, an endeavor that takes patience and a certain immunity to scratches and bites.

She and I bonded intensely. Still, the biting continued. Would giving her the run of the house help? Wham! Seven rescued cats went into feline overdrive at the sight of this small newcomer! The usual comical sequences resulted: stiffened-back stand-offs, low moans, hissing fits—but no serious conflicts.

Then one morning (and not for the first time), Marin bit me hard. We finally faced reality, and transferred her into our backyard pen– a spacious enclosure my husband built that houses 11 (now 12) ex-feral cats, all too shy or feisty for adoption.

These cats enjoy a two-story “house”; sun-dozing opportunities beneath bushes and on a picnic table, good food and our daily love. Marin will do fine there, but still, it was a hard decision.

More often, cat rescue is exhilarating. A while back, we took in John and Michael, kittens with medical problems and 24 hours away from euthanasia. Within a short period, John’s eye troubles cleared up; we adopted him to a young couple, thrilled with his exuberance.

Michael, we kept. He’s the most endearing, ear-tufted, big-pawed Maine Coon you’d ever want to meet. We treated his corneal ulcers, and love him for himself, with his harelip and a certain cognitive slowness. He is HIV-positive, and prone to secondary infections; we watch him closely and begin antibiotics quickly as needed.

Every morning, Michael rushes up onto a table near when I eat breakfast, to request “the ribbon game.” Deliberately, he bats at a favored red ribbon as we play together. Michael proceeds at a different speed than most cats, contacting a toy with his not-quite-right-eyes and a slow paw. But daily, he purrs, and purrs.

What does it take to be a cat rescuer? My husband (retired, he does most of the work) and I are fortunate to be able to pay bills for food, spay-neuter surgeries, and medical care for numerous cats. We bring to the task a high tolerance for those weeks when there’s one too many litterbox change, hairball, or hour spent at the vet.

Most of all, we’re primed to enjoy our cats as cherished individuals, with distinct personalities and needs. With this perspective, helping cats brings us happiness every single day.

Aw, rescued cats are the best! I should know, I have 9 living in the house and one on my sun porch roof!

Make sure to pop back in tomorrow for my review of Being with Animals and a giveaway.


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