A Day In The Life Of A Cat Rescue
by Elisa Black-Taylor
Roll Call at Furbys House
First of all I'd like to thank Michael for the opportunity to write A Day In The Life Of A Cat Rescue. Sometimes I take it for granted that all cat lovers live the life we do.
I'd also like to add that my daughter Laura, who is with the cats 24/7 does almost all of the work while I hold down a job outside the home.
I don't know whether to approach this article as a comedy or with a dramatic approach. Anyone not involved in rescue will think we live a strange existence.
Running a rescue for 30 cats is the most rewarding experience we've ever had. For one thing, you wake up to different faces in your bed each day. At least I do. Usually I have my two large dogs, Dreyfuss and Cody. I also have at least three cats who sleep with me each night. Renny the feral, Miss Kitty and Mandy. Every now and then I hear Garfield with his hoarse "baby" meow and I meow back at him and he joins me. Lucky is also a frequent bedmate. Our deaf cat Annabelle sleeps on my night table, as does Cocoa, who is toothless and declawed.
Laura chooses her bed buddies. She also has the smaller dogs who sleep with her. Usually Frog, Jasper, Sammy, Lola and Gizzy sleep with her. The remainder of the cats sleep in the living room.
The living room is set up solely for the comfort of the cats. They have a feeding bar with a huge feeder that holds enough dry food for one day. There are also several watering spots, including one on the floor that holds around three gallons.
The majority of the cats eat on the feeding bar with the exception of Misty (declawed), Samantha (hates other cats) and Miss Kitty (also hates other cats).
Misty lives on top of the refrigerator and has a bed in a cabinet near the back. She takes her meals here and only comes down for some petting or to use the litter box. She is also on Nutra-Stat as she's a senior cat with not much of an appetite.
Samantha eats on a bar in front of a mirror and Miss Kitty usually eats in my bedroom.
Lily is also a hider and lives in Laura's bedroom. Cassie also likes her privacy, but she eats with the others. Cassie has also learned how to spread her body across the whole bowl of food on the feeding bar in a way that prevents the others from eating. She's been known to nap on the food bowl, much to the annoyance of the hungry cats.
The cats have a long buffet table with several types of beds. There's a plain box with a blanket, a double condo, a Bootsie Bunk Bed, a lambskin pad and two cages. There's also an expensive bed with carpeting on the outside that Furby won in a contest a few months back.
The living room also has a cat tree with four sleeping spots. The cats love the two perches near the top of the tree and seem disappointed if they have to settle for another sleeping spot.
The favorite sleeping spot other than the cat tree is the top of our old retro TV. Up to six cats can curl up comfortably there.
Laura usually ventures into the living room each day before I do. Food and water must be checked. Also each cat is accounted for to make sure there are no health problems. Those on medication are given their pill. Laura is an expert now on pill giving, but every now and then I have to hold the paws while she administers the medicine.
Furby is on B-Complex injections on a weekly basis since losing weight a few months ago when he had a URI. He hates these, but he's getting his rugged good looks back thanks to this appetite stimulant. To give him the injection, which is given in the muscle, I have to hold him by the back of the neck while Laura administers the shot. Then he gets a bite of cheese as a treat. If we're lucky, Furby DOESN'T get a bite of US!
After the food, water and medication are given the litter boxes have to be scooped and emptied. This takes a good half hour. Floors also have to be mopped on a daily basis. We have one young cat, Johnny, who has diarrhea that just won't clear up. The vet can't find a cause and he's gone through many medications, including probiotics. So he has to be cleaned up after several times a day.
The cats lay around much of the time just being cats. Our mealtime is the biggest challenge. We don't put the cats in another room or in cages. They're fed raw chicken gizzards as a distraction and enjoy this treat while we attempt to eat a meal.
Several of the cats are wise to this trick and sit by us as we eat, waiting for a chance to steal a vegetable off of our plate. They love squash, broccoli and spinach. A few have learned the trick of scooping up a bite of food in the paw. Furby and Mandy have also been known to grab and run with a whole piece of pizza. Food has to be nailed down with a fork or it's fair game to the cats!
There have been up to 15 cats on the sofa with us at one time. I'll have several in my lap as will Laura. The others will be laying on the back of the couch or on the middle cushion between us. I have a table on my end where I keep my drink and someone is usually laying there waiting for a spot to clear up on the couch.
Several cats give me the evil eye whenever I have the computer in my lap writing. My computer means three cats aren't able to lay in my lap. Tom just tried to wiggle his way between my head and my laptop and was pushed up onto the back of the couch until I have room for him.
Next week one third of our cats are going to Greenville for the best chance of adoption they've had. They are free to come back to us if not chosen, but at least they will have a chance to find a family of their own. The special needs cats will be staying with us. Also some of the ones who may not want to be on public display will be staying. I'm trying desperately to get them placed through advertising. It's very hard placing a cat in today's economy. People don't want the responsibility.
We're still grieving the losses we had to distemper back in the summer. It's hard when the only thing you can do is hold a kitten as it dies. We lost a bouncy, fluffy ball of love named Baby Fluffymunchkin Whineybutt to the same thing. He was healthy one day and dead the next. One of my friends is going through the same thing now. I wrote her story last week. All three of the kittens have died from what appears to be the same thing we lost ours to.
We've saved some who should have died. Stitch and Pinky should both have died. We've had kittens less ill die overnight. It's hard to know in advance who's going to survive a URI and who's not.
Death is a part of rescue. Anyone who can't face that fact and deal with it won't make it long in rescue.
Laura can give injections, so we ordered the vaccine to protect against the most common URI viruses. She can also run an IV if the need arises. I'm too squeamish. I help her by holding the cat still.
It's hard to keep in mind how many you've saved and not how many you've had die in your arms.
I can't forget to mention Furby. After all, Furby's House is named after him. He seems to know his responsibility to the other cats. He sleeps with them, he baths new kittens, and is even willing to ride along to the vet if needed. He sleeps anytime he rides and his presence is calming.
It's really unusual in that none of the cats involve him in their disagreements. He's earned the respect of everyone here.
We don't have many friends or family over. Between being allergic to that many cats at once and it being a total freak out to anyone who isn't a true cat lover, it's a solitary life. Which we don't mind. These cats have allowed us to watch them bond with others. Or not bond. Some cats just don't enjoy being around other cats.
It's heartwarming to watch the cats roaming the house free. I often wonder what new arrivals thought as they saw all of the cats just lounging around.
We have a queen, Samantha. Garfield is our king, even though he's only seven months old. We didn't choose them. The indoor cat colony we care for did. For now they are going to remain here with us.
When bedtime arrives for me and it's time to lay in bed and think, well, that's the hardest. I have to worry about where the money will come from for food and litter for the next week. We go through about 200 pounds of each per week. There are vet expenses to worry about. Someone is always needing medication.
I use chip-ins and Facebook to raise money for the cats. People don't realize just how appreciated a $5 donation is. Still I go to bed every night worrying. I can beg for funds for the cats or I can try (and usually fail) to handle the expense on my own. I've had my hours at work cut by more than half. So if I don't beg for the cats, no one else will.
I guess to sum it up, Laura does the caregiving and I do the worrying. I've chosen to share our Christmas photo with all of you as it has the names of everyone in our rescue. We received a lot of donations from friends who saw the card. And from the death of Baby Fluffy, who had only one month of life in a loving home after we took him in as a feral. His death has hit us harder than any of them.
During Christmas Furby offered a line of Christmas cards in exchange for $20 donations. This went over well for the first month and cost me little. Rescues must be run in part as a business or the funds just won't be there.
So if there are days when I don't write or I misspell words, please remember I may have 15 cats vying for my attention while I write. Midnightmunchkin Whineybutt, sole survivor of the Whineybutt litter, is now more famous than Furby. She keeps everyone up to date on the rescue on her Facebook page.
Yes, cat rescuers do have a multiple personality disorder, which is most likely to manifest itself on Facebook. Right Midnight?
I must close out this article now. Cocoa is laying behind me on the back of the couch chewing on my hair....
If anyone would like to help with our rescue, my PayPal address is
Any amount is always appreciated.