51 Cats Journal (Part 1, Page 1)

Note: This journal chronicles the events that have taken place in our family from the point where Part 1 of our story left off until the day it was posted online.

Part 1: Our Family – Continued

April 6, 2010

Since it has taken me so long to complete our story, and I’ve yet to begin finding a place for it online, I’ve decided to keep a journal of the happenings here at home. Quite a bit has transpired since November, 2009.

Pneumonia For Two

Near the beginning of December both Nicki (our oldest) and Buttons (one of our youngest) contracted pneumonia. (I had already mentioned this about Buttons in our story. – See Part 1, Page 13.) My wife noticed their symptoms early and they received prompt treatment.

The Intimidation of Dakota

Midway through December, my wife also noticed that Dakota didn’t seem to be feeling well, and then she discovered that he had a large abscess on his tail.

For some reason Peanut has decided that he doesn’t like Dakota and attempts to intimidate him daily. At first it was only Peanut, but after a while other cats joined in. They surround Dakota and then just sit there and stare at him for what feels like forever. This makes Dakota very uncomfortable. Sometimes when he tries to get away, they will strike out at him. This time, a piece of someone’s claw came off in his tail.

The vet put Dakota on antibiotics and his tail healed just fine in no time. But I can’t figure out why this intimidation started or how to put a stop to it.

Suzy’s Pyometra

Near the beginning of January, 2010, my wife noticed little bloody spots here and there on the floor. As she observed the cats, she saw that Suzy was leaving these spots wherever she sat. An examination revealed that Suzy had Pyometra (an infected uterus) which is as dangerous as an appendicitis. Thankfully, she was spayed in time without any complications.

We could have had Suzy spayed years ago. But, we decided against it because, when in heat, Suzy was less high-strung. She would let us interact with her more. We were using these opportunities to grow her trust. Had she not gotten Pyometra we likely would have never had her spayed.

Fixing The Kittens

As you may recall, Sheba’s four kittens and the 18 feral colony kittens all came into our lives at about the same time. (See Part 1, Page 10 of our story.) Having 22 kittens fixed all at once exceeds our financial capabilities. This is one of the reasons why I feel our situation has become unstable. (See Part 2, Page 1 of our story.)

My wife is much better at social networking than I am, and she had made some valuable contacts during the feral colony stabilization. She was told that they would help us figure out how to get all the kittens fixed at little or no cost. So she took on this project while I focused all my attention on learning how to start a nonprofit, and later, writing our story instead.

Note: As I mentioned in Part 2 of our story, the Phoenix valley has a significant homeless cat problem, and because of the recent tough economic times, the situation is getting worse. Donations are declining, and every resource is stretched to the limit.

One of my primary design goals for our sanctuary is that it be capable of functioning efficiently at full capacity, regardless of the economy (economically insulated). Additionally, a network of these low-cost facilities should be able to absorb some of the local fallout (overflow) caused by economic downturns, thus relieving some of the pressure on nearby shelters.

In the past, when a city came under attack, didn’t evacuees primarily seek refuge among their relatives in the country? Well, for cats displaced during hard times, these sanctuaries could act as those “relatives in the country.”

When the kittens were about four months of age, my wife began working with her rescue-organization contacts. She was asked to wait until after the holidays, allowing the youngest kittens time to gain enough weight. After the holidays, she was told that they would need time to locate the funding and in light of the current economy they could not predict how long that would take. She was also informed that, through their program, all the kittens would be required to have one of their ears tipped, even though they were all tame, indoor cats.

We discussed it and decided that we didn’t want our kittens maimed for no reason. When my wife declined to use their program, they told her that they would go ahead and locate some other low-cost program more appropriate for our situation. She contacted them several times over the next seven weeks for updates. They said they were very busy, but reassured her that they were working on it. Then, by the third week of February they finally came through.

For the girls, they had managed to acquire applications for a program which would allow every unspayed female in our house to be fixed at no cost. This was great news. However, this program was currently overwhelmed, which meant that it could be as long as three months before the vouchers were sent.

They also connected us with a program that would neutered all the boys for a low fixed-cost. However, this program only accepts payment by check and will not work on scheduling appointments until after the check has cleared.

During all this, I was very preoccupied with our sanctuary project and didn’t stay aware of how much time had passed until the oldest kittens were around seven-and-a-half months. I then became very stressed and anxious that things were taking so long. Dr. J. used to fix our cats at about five months, so for me, waiting longer than five or six months felt like we were playing with fire. My wife had read in our cat owner’s veterinary handbook that the average male cat begins producing sperm at around nine months, and can fertilize a female about two months after that (at 11 months). So, she was not as concerned as I was.

Finally, on March 12th, 2010, the three oldest males (now eight months of age) and four others were neutered. Three days later, the remaining six were neutered. The vouchers for the girls had still not arrived, but since all the boys in the house were done, the pressure was off.

However, we were about to face the consequences of having waited so long —

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