Monthly Archives: March 2017

Entertaining a Cat.

Cat sitting in a cardboard box

Henry is a cow cat, a black and white, non-tuxedo cat, a rescue, maybe about nine years old. Cow cats are notoriously close to their humans, I’m told (“needy” is a word I hear a lot), and Henry is ultra affectionate. He’s also playful and (to me) surprisingly smart.

I came home from a meeting today to find that he had lined up all of his bigger toys: three scratching blocks of different varieties, Lambie (big stuffed animal), Chickie (ditto), Mousie (you get the drift), tennis ball, two organic wool clothes dryer balls that he filched from a laundry basket one day when I wasn’t looking, two sparkly balls, three balls with little noisemakers inside (a gift from a dear but clueless friend), a medium Amazon box, part of a feather, and his aluminum foil ball. At the end was his newest store-bought toy: a circle toy that has a ball in it that he can touch and reach and knock around the circle but never get the ball out.

As I massaged my fingers from their clenched position (20 miles on icy highway at Interstate speeds, driving an SUV in a high wind blowing across stubble fields), he began to play. He’d made himself an obstacle course to leap around, climb over, stalk from behind, run around, and generally tease himself with before getting to the highly-desired circle toy that was his reward for his basic-training-style efforts.

Initially I felt guilty for not recognizing that he needs more mental stimulus, then proud of his brainpower, and then curious. How do we keep an indoor cat active and engaged, especially in a small apartment when bird feeders are forbidden and funds are limited?

Some experts suggest getting a second or even third and fourth cat. After the initial settling of the pecking order, they often will play, hunt, and sleep together.

Interactive time with the human is also recommended. Most cats love to “help” change the sheets on the bed. Why not take an extra five minutes and give them a bedmouse to stalk and pounce on? Or let them get under the sheet and then pat that furry little bottom or tummy?

If your cat responds to catnip and you don’t object to its use, try keeping the nip in a lidded container along with some of the small toys. The toys will pick up the scent of the nip and become highly valued play objects for the remainder of their probably-limited life.

Some cats enjoy watching cat videos on TV or computer, or will watch a screen saver endlessly. Some enjoy listening to bird song on YouTube, or the sound of a cat purring. When you pause at the keyboard, find a website for your cat, who is probably sitting between you and the monitor anyway.

If you have hardwood or tile floors, give the cat a couple of chopsticks to bat around, or an empty plastic water bottle, a rolled up sock (with a little catnip on the inside?).

Or, for the ultimate experience: tissue paper, and for exceptionally good kitties, tissue paper in a box. Oh joy! Tissue paper in a box with a treat or favorite toy hidden in the folds. Eureka!

What have you come up with to amuse your furry little Einstein?

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Saving Grace

Told by April Hurley, founder of Angel's Hope

"We provide a Spay/Neuter Program in McDowell County, WV. It’s the poorest county in the state and very underserved in terms of animal services. Stray/homeless dogs are common in the area.

Grace, her siblings and mom, and another litter of puppies and their mom, and another dog began showing up at the home of a person that used the spay/neuter program. They were going through people’s garbage looking for food, sleeping under her house or in the woods, and running on/off the road of the hollow.

When I found out about the dogs and that Grace couldn’t move, I couldn’t let her suffer. We had them take her to a vet in WV and assumed she’d been hit by a car. That’s when we found out that she’d been shot. The vet in WV did not think she would live even for a couple of hours and advised to euthanize her. If that’s what needed to be done, I at least wanted someone to be there to hold her when she went. I asked them to meet me to bring Grace and I took her to the specialist.

The ER doctor did the basics as far as stabilizing her, but felt that with surgery she could have a good life. The neurologist agreed and the surgery was performed on 2/12/2017. Initially, the neurologist felt that there was a slight chance the spinal cord had not been damaged, rather compressed, and that once the bullet was removed, Grace may have a chance at walking again. However, when he performed the surgery he found that the spinal cord had in fact been damaged. She also had a fracture and he had to remove the bone from that. In addition, she had lice and later we would find out liver flukes.

Because she had so little positive interaction the first four months of her life, she is very reserved and does not at this point seek out attention from humans. She is not aggressive at all and allows me to do everything I need to do for her: expressing her bladder, cleaning her up, bathing, petting, sitting with her, putting her in and out of her cart, lifting her etc. She just doesn’t initiate contact. When we have her in her cart, she will occasionally follow me, but it takes some coaxing.

Prior to her injury, she’d been living with her family and with several other stray dogs, so she has interacted with other dogs. We’ve introduced her to two of our senior dogs and she again didn’t do very much. They sniffed her, she sniffed them, but she wasn’t interested in following them or interacting with them more. She may be unsure and a bit nervous because she can’t move as she once did. We haven’t introduced her while she’s been in her cart and will be doing that soon.

We are currently doing physical therapy every day. She requires that her bladder be expressed and she doesn’t have control of her bowels. When kept on a consistent schedule and feeding regimen, she remains pretty clean, but a family should be prepared that she will need bathing regularly to remove any urine that has leaked and also if she defecates when no one is around, she may need cleaned up.

Regarding her future medical needs, she may get UTIs often and the family should be prepared for this added medical cost.

I feel her ideal home will be one that the person(s) has experience with special needs dogs and that is home more often than someone working a regular work week as Grace needs someone to interact with her pretty often to help her come out of her shyness and also mild depression at this point.

A home with no kids or older kids that will interact with her gently will be best. As far as dogs, maybe a small-medium calm dog that will also be gentle with her and help her remember how to interact with other dogs and could be company for her, but if they don’t have a dog that may be fine as well.

Her family will have to be patient with her and understand that her background makes it difficult for her to initiate contact and that she isn’t going to be super outgoing in the beginning or maybe ever."

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Now some personal commentary from Sara at BOGO Bowl. For five years I loved and was loved by a beautiful boy named Chance. Chance was paralyzed in his hind end after being hit by a train. Unlike Grace, he could self-express (which turned out not to be a great thing if I'm honest) but like Grace, he required some special care. Do I regret a moment of our time together? Not one.

My friend Susan has had her boy Duke, who is also paralyzed, for 6 years now. Duke has to have his bladder expressed, which is no big deal.

Then there are dogs like Josh and Lt. Dan.

My point is, if you think you might be the right person or family for Grace, but you want to know about the realities of caring for a special pup, you'll have resources.

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