Category Archives: Musings

The Journey of a Shelter Cat

 

We have been asked many times, by many people, why someone would adopt a cat from out of state when there are very likely cats in their area that need homes. There are several reasons, but to me the most profound of those reasons is Love.

Social media has impacted so many aspects of our lives, and as cat lovers it only makes sense that we look at pictures of cats in whatever way we are connected. Social media has allowed thousands more people to see the plight of shelter animals across our country. It has moved many people, in many different ways, to help those cats. For some, it is crossposting. For others, it’s sponsorship.

Rescue groups have sprung from the ground like new grass in the spring, creating other ways for us to reach out and help homeless cats. There are fosters, transporters, networkers. The call goes out, wi-fi kicks in, and more and more cats are saved every day. But there is a methodology that must be applied in order for all of this to come together, in order to save that cat sitting in a shelter looking at nothing but death in the morning if someone doesn’t speak up. It takes teams of people to make a save work. Where once we would say, “It takes a village.” We now are able to say, “It takes a nation.”

Let’s hear it straight from one such cat. This is Jaguar, aka Jag’s, story. Keep in mind what I said in the beginning, the most profound reason is Love.

“I don’t know how I got here but I know I don’t like it. It’s loud, and cold, and nothing soft to lay on. No one will listen to me meow. It must be because there are so many others meowing. I can hear barking too. And there is a smell here, a smell that scares me for some reason, but I don’t know why. All I want to do is get away. The meow that was next to me yesterday was a different meow than I hear today. I hope that meow found someone to listen. I’m sick now. I can hardly breath, and my eyes are all funny, I don’t want to eat anymore. I really wish someone would hear my meow. A nice lady came by a few sleeps ago and took my picture. She heard my meow and stroked my fur. I thought she was going to take me with her. But then she closed the door to my metal box and moved on. I wonder why she didn’t like my meow. I heard her say, “kill listed” but I don’t know if that means she will be back for me or not. I know I have a person out there somewhere, I don’t think it was the lady that heard me meow. I wonder where my person is. How long will it take them to find me? Do they know I’m here?”

 

Jag shelter pic

 

“Maybe this is my person, she has heard my meow and is taking me out of the cold box with nothing soft to lay on. Why are they putting me in another box? It’s all closed up and I can’t see much, but I feel me moving. It must be a good thing, that awful smell is going away.”
 

 Jag’s person lives in Tennessee. In December, she was tagged by a friend on Facebook with a picture of this sick little stray in a kill shelter in Florida. They tagged her because she knows people, has connections, has a network, and a weakness for black cats. What that friend didn’t know at that time was, she had found Jag’s person. Jag’s person sees lots of homeless shelter cats on Facebook every day. But Jag was different, and his person has never been able to say why that picture made her do what she did. All she knows is that as soon as she saw that picture there was a connection. It was like he was looking into her heart and asking her why she wasn’t there to get him.

Things snowballed from there. Jag’s person sent a message to a friend in Florida, who in turn contacted one of her friends. That friend runs a rescue, and placed the call to let the shelter know that Jag’s person had been found. Someone would be there within 24 hours to spring him. The very next day, Jag was on his way to the vet. He was a very sick kitten, but the vet felt he would be okay, and with proper care would one day grow to be a rather large cat. The foster kept him overnight, but became worried when he wouldn’t eat. So she took him to the rescuer. The rescuer had to force feed him, but he was on the mend and able to eat on his own in a couple of days time. She became his surrogate for two months. By February he was ready to go home. Imagine Home happened to be doing a transport the following weekend, from Florida to Michigan, for two cats out of Miami, so it seemed to be the perfect time to get him home.

jagpic
 
Jag left his foster/rescuer on Friday, and spent the night in Orlando with a very special friend. He joined the transport midway through Florida, on Saturday. He only made it as far as Atlanta, GA that first day before they all stopped to spend the night. The next day would be the last day Jag would ever wonder if the right person heard his meow.
 
“I thought I was home. But then someone put me in a little box and took me away. At least I could see out the door of this one. It was a very confusing time. I remember faces looking at me, and saying ‘how darling!’. I’ve since learned that’s a good thing. But even though I meowed at all of them, none of them ‘really’ heard me, but I could tell they tried. And then there she was. I could see in her eyes that she had been waiting for me to come and meow for her.”
First time ever seeing him
“I knew she was mine. It’s funny how I knew I was finally home. Really, properly, finally home with my person. I knew it as soon as I stepped out of that little box.”
you can be my new forever mama
 
“I have grown into a cat now. I’m more than twice the size I was when I got here. There are no other meows here, but there is a barker that I like to play with. That cold metal box with nothing soft to lay on, the fear and smell, the not knowing what would happen to me is a very distant memory. I’m so glad my person found me. I meow it to her all the time, and let her know by laying on her and rubbing her face with mine. She says I have a big purr. I don’t know what it took to get me here, I’m just glad my person made it happen.”
brubbies cropped 8-26-15  Snapshot_20151105_2
 
So you see, it takes teams of people coordinating efforts to save a cat. And remember what I said in the beginning about Love? I know this because I am Jag’s person. I wasn’t really looking for a cat. I knew my cat would eventually find me. I knew he would be from a kill shelter. I didn’t go to my local shelter because that shelter has a no kill policy, their cats are safe.
 
So when you see a picture of a cat that touches you in some way, please remember: There are many ways of helping shelter cats.
 
                              Share ~ Foster ~ Donate ~ Drive ~ Adopt

Cats on Keyboards

In the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced world, we have learned to multi-task to accomplish our daily goals. While the kids are at soccer practice, we run errands. Pick up the dry-cleaning on the way home from work. Clean house while doing laundry, and catch up with friends and family on the blue-tooth, while doing weekly chores. At the end of the day, after everything is checked off the ‘To-Do List’ we can allow ourselves some down time. But even then we are still dividing our attention.

While the kids are in the bath there’s just enough time to make a nice cup of tea, and fire up the computer. Yet, this is only in preparation of the short amount of time we’ve set aside for ourselves. Before we can sit down and truly relax, we must get the kids tucked in, and clean up the inevitable mess they’ve made in the bathroom. So, with a sigh of relief and a general feeling of contentment, it’s time for that tea while having a chat with our friends.

Ah… but how could we have overlooked the necessity of spoiling the cat? Leave it to the cat to remind us! We do a quick flash-back, “Yes, I fed you. Yes, you have fresh water. Yes, your litterbox has been scooped.” The cat’s reaction to this is, “It has been two very long hours since you fed me. I require treats now or I may just fade away!” The computer is now being held hostage until we comply with the cat’s demands.

“No treats? No facebook!”
cat-on-keyboard 2
Courtesy: jacarandaanimalhospital.net

Now, back to that ‘just for me’ time we’ve carved out of our day. And the multi-tasking continues. Facebook is open, we have a couple of chat windows open, then the kitten shows up for some much needed attention. “Okay, I can do this while I chat.” Well, the kitten has a different idea. Suddenly the fingers are toys to be batted at. Hence begins the first of the messages from our fellow cat lovers, “Is the cat on your keyboard again or have you done a faceplant?” This is in response to the message they just received that goes something like this, “kdljfldjaldsjkldjfdoi”.

“Fingers! Gimme!”
cat on keyboard 7
Courtesy: www.pinterest.com

Well, by now our tea is cold, so once again we have to step away from the computer. An idea strikes whilst in the kitchen, “I’ll take the treats and distract the kitten!” So off we go, feeling very confident that we will now have our keyboard all to ourselves. But we find the kitten gone in search of something else to play with. Well, why not? We took our fingers with us when we went to the kitchen. But there is still a use for the treats we carry, and a need to let our friends know that the cat has usurped the keyboard in our absence. Crafty kitty! She’s messaged a friend, “nmjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj mjAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” We have to follow that with, “Yes, it was the cat, no I don’t need medical attention.”

“On your puter, chattin wif your friends.”
cat on keyboard 6
Courtesy: www.sodahead.com

Treats now lovingly hand fed to the lap warmer we are affectionately entertaining we actually do get some “for me” time. But it’s not to last. There’s a crash in the bathroom followed by a streak of something flying by that looks suspiciously like the kitten. “Oh joy! What now?” So we empty our lap of a sleeping cat, fleetingly wondering why we ever got that kitten, and go investigate the source of the crash. “Will I need the broom and dustpan?” Wonder of wonders! No broom needed this time. So, with a sigh of relief we head back to the computer. What we find is another use for the treats we have stashed in the desk drawer. The computer has completely been taken over!

“Go way! Dis private chat!”
cat on keyboard 5
Courtesy: www.yummypets.com

Even when we’re not multi-tasking with the cats and computer we still must be vigilant. I still haven’t figured out how my cat hacked my hard drive. A two minute trip to the mailbox resulted in my laptop spending a week in the shop.

“Oh look! Here she comes! She’ll be impressed with my mad skills!”
cat on keyboard
Courtesy: boingboing.net

And mad skills they are indeed. Hide your credit cards.

“amazon… *click* …cat toys…*click* …nippy mice, pack of 12… *click* …treats… *click* …kitty condos…*click*…Oh wow! Fibe levels! Yesh!…*click*”
cat on keyboard 4
Courtesy: www.yummypets.com

Kittens vs Cats: Adopting a Senior

With the power of social media at our fingertips we are seeing a plethora of senior cats in shelters. Most people think they are there because of behavioral or health issues, though that is rarely the case. More often than not, it’s due to familial upheaval and sadly, simple abandonment.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners categorizes seniors as being 11-14 years old. With veterinary medical knowledge and practices being what they are today many cats can live to be 18-20 years old. Thyroid imbalances, kidney issues, and some kitty cancers are now easily treatable. Cat owners have also become more savvy in the care of their furry family members. Specialized dietary needs, controlled environments, and safety precautions are now the norm instead of the exception.

So why would you adopt a senior kitty instead a kitten?

When you adopt a senior kitty you know what you’re getting. Their personalities are already developed. With a kitten you really don’t know if it will grow into a lap cat, or a more independently spirited feline. Their size and the type of coat they have will not change. And typically they have already been spayed or neutered, and will not require the complete set of vaccinations and dewormings that a kitten needs.

Now I can hear you saying, “But kittens are so very cute and can be a lot of fun,” and I will not disagree with you.
But they are also a lot to handle in the first months of their life. When you adopt a kitten you have to realize how much time and work will go into getting that precious little ball of fluff to adulthood with your home and your sanity intact. Look around your home, go ahead, I’ll wait. The nice set of drapes you paid so much for are kitten magnets. That new chair that took you so long to find, picture a rambunctious kitten hanging off the side. And your favorite leather couch? Well, let’s not go there. Until they are trained they may prefer your furniture to the fancy new scratching post you purchased.
senior blog kitten climbing curtain 2

Training – therein lies one key element, and a strong point for adopting a senior kitty.

Senior cats come pre-trained.
They already know what a litterbox is for and have no trouble using it. They’ve almost always been introduced to a scratching post, and those drapes? Well, climbing everything they come across is a thing long in their past.

The activity level in your home will be something else to keep in mind when adopting your new feline friend.

Senior kitties do very well in homes where the humans work (or play) outside the home for long periods of time. They also do well in homes with human seniors. They are more laid back, and napping can be a household activity.

senior blog old-cat-sleeping ginger

Senior kitties are also great with babies and toddlers. They can be very soothing to a cranky baby and are more likely to endure the occasional ear bending or a tug on the tail from your three year old.

Do you already have a kitten running amok in your home? Are you thinking another kitten for it to play with would be a good idea? Consider instead adopting a senior cat.

They can be a steady and calming influence to your kitten.

They are great trainers! They can show your kitten how to use the litter box, how to take advantage of the scratching post, and will take a firm stand on the kitten’s biting and clawing. They can teach your kitten what is and what is not acceptable.
senior blog kitten and cat

The best reason to adopt a senior cat is the fact that they are much more difficult for shelters to adopt out.

So many senior kitties will live out their remaining years in a cage, in a no kill facility. And a cage is no place for a cat to spend the last years of it’s life. When senior cats are adopted, they seem to understand that they’ve been rescued, and are all the more thankful for it.

A cat deserves a lap to lay in, a warm spot next to you on the couch when you read or watch tv, a human of their very own to let them know they are loved, and that they do matter.
senior blog Boots

References:
nextavenue.org
animalleague.org
petmd.com
theanimalrescuesite.com
petfinder.com
felinexpress.com

Pics courtesy of:
www.thesharonicles.com
consciouscat.net
MSPCA via Boston.com

The Stigma of FIV

In every aspect of our lives we see stigmas.  They have been created by fear, misconception and misinformation.

stig·ma noun \ˈstig-mə\  a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something

Now just think about that for a moment.  Think about the stigmas that people have that can be deadly to some of the animals that find themselves in a shelter.

One such stigma, in this very modern world of ours, is that black cats are considered bad luck. They are the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized when they find themselves in a shelter [1]. It’s suprising where this myth began, and interesting how it’s been perpetuated through the centuries of time [2]. Even more suprising, our difficulty in overcoming the myth.

 Melanistic Feline

Picture: BekBek Estes Text: Teresa Harrison Best

Our focus here is to dispel the stigma that FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a deadly and highly contagious disease.  Like black cats, FIV cats are often left behind.  In some cases, a diagnosis of FIV is an automatic death sentence to a shelter cat.  In this very modern world of ours we have the ability to call to us so much information. Indeed, it’s right at our fingertips. So why are FIV+ cats still ostracized and killed?  Because the ‘stigma’ of disease holds sway.  How do we stop it?  We educate ourselves and others.  We can begin with three simple truths. These truths need to be made known. [3]

TRUTH: FIV is not a serious threat to other cats, pets, or even humans.

TRUTH: FIV+ cats can live long, happy, fulfilling and healthy lives.

TRUTH: FIV+ cats can live safely with NON FIV cats.

In a post on the Imagine Home page [4] we had several comments from people that are owned by FIV+ cats that live happily alongside their NON FIV housemates. Two such posts:

::Rita S Benlolo “I have 4 of them and they live among my other non fiv kitties. They are all fixed and get along peacefully.”

::Patty Shabrou “I only have one FIV+ kitty, but just try telling all four of mine that they shouldn’t be living together. They play together, wrestle, romp, chase moths, eat and sleep together. Where one goes, they all go.”

Let us together help spread the word and save the lives of FIV+ cats.  Please click on the links below. You will find them very informative.

[1] http://blog.petsforpatriots.org/stigma-plagues-black-pets/

[2] http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/pets/black-cats-dark-myths-bad-luck-and-truth-behind-it-all

[3] http://www.fivcatrescue.org/fiv-myths.html

[4] https://www.facebook.com/imaginehomeorg/posts/799645170080022

http://bestfriends.org/Resources/FAQs-About-Feline-Immunodeficiency-Virus-FIV/

http://www.animalleague.org/expert-advice/health/articles/everyday-health/truth-about-fiv-cats.html

http://www.care2.com/causes/as-it-turns-out-fiv-positive-and-negative-cats-can-happily-live-together.html

The Adventures of Brownie

One kitty in need, and more people than I can count on his side.  But it wasn’t always so.

It was never learned how he got there, just that he was, and he was in dire need of help.  Apparently downtown Los Angeles is a repository for homeless kitties, too many to count. Brownie was one such kitty. But he was seen by the right people, angels of mercy and love, they came to his aid.  Let’s start at the beginning of what we do know.

Shannon had just started a job in an office in downtown LA and  some of her co-workers came to her desk talking about a cat outside the building.  In the late afternoon she went to check on the cat and cried when she saw him.  Being a kitty person herself, she had food in her car.  She took him 2 cans of food and said that he was so hungry that eating was painful.  He whimpered while he ate.

Brownie as first seen by Shannon. (photo courtesy Shannon)

Brownie as first seen by Shannon. (photo courtesy Shannon)Brownie, shannons first siting 2

In steps our second angel, Melissa.  She had seen Brownie and had started taking food to him.  She took canned food but also took some dry food and would shake the bag to get him familiar with the sound so he would associate it with being fed.  Being concerned about the predators that would and could and did harass Brownie, she lured him to a bush and taught him to stay there out of sight to keep him safe.  Between the dogs, the hawks, and a certain very mean homeless man Brownie was constantly in danger.

 

Brownie's home in LA (photo courtesy of Melissa)

Brownie’s bush in LA (photo courtesy of Melissa)

Shannon only worked downtown 2 days a week.  So she enlisted some of her co-workers to feed and watch over Brownie when she was not able to be there.  She also enlisted a homeless man to feed and watch over Brownie when she could not be there and went on the weekends to make sure he was fed. Melissa was there 5 days a week.  Well, it just stands to reason that these 2 strangers should meet.  One day Shannon saw Melissa in the bush, feeding Brownie.  She approached Melissa and so began their joint efforts to save this beautiful homeless kitty, as did their friendship.  In the 6 months that they cared for Brownie, they also spent time contacting rescues and fosters to try to get him in a safer place.  They tried to find Brownie a home.  On this front they were woefully unlucky, at least at that time.  Then, in desperation, Shannon posted about Brownie on the Crazy Cat Ladies Unite Forum.  Now watch carefully, for here enters our third angel. All the way in distant Montana, Michele sees Shannon’s desperate post.  She begins to talk with Shannon while searching for a place for Brownie to go.   Things began to tumble in a veritable wave that was building in an exhaustive effort to save Brownie.  Moving quickly now, our fourth angel appears on the scene.  Michele knows a lady in Illinois that is a respected rescuer and well known cat lover.  Michele reached out to Chris to see if she could take Brownie in.   Well, I don’t think I have to tell you what Chris said.  But Brownie now must be captured, vetted and made healthy enough to travel. That was not as easy as it sounds.  Brownie, though trusting Melissa and the homeless man that fed him enough to let them pet him, he still did not trust them enough to be picked up or held.  On the day they went to capture Brownie, another lady showed up with a trap.  She is an independent TNR person, and had hoped to capture Brownie, neuter him, and release him into a colony where he could be kept safe and was assured of being fed.  She loaned her trap to Melissa and Shannon and it took them 3 days, hours of laying in the dirt, never leaving the trap, to entice him into it.  Once they had him though it was straight to the vet.  Brownie was taken to an amazing vet, Dr. Odama of Veterinary Health Center. They donated all the boarding and spent lots of time rehabbing him to be social.  Shannon’s co-workers even donated money for the vet bill.  It was then that we learned that Brownie is FIV+.

Brownie had a spa day to get ready for his big adventure! (photo courtesy of Melissa)

Brownie had a spa day to get ready for his big adventure! (photo courtesy of Melissa)

 

Relaxing at Melissa's, just waiting on that trip to the airport.

Relaxing at Melissa’s, just waiting on that trip to the airport.

 

Patiently waiting, and of course, getting love and attention.

Patiently waiting, and of course, getting love and attention.

In the mean time, plans were being made to get Brownie to Illinois.  How was that to happen?  Well, Chris reached out to the only person she knew that could possibly be able to pull off such a feat.  Yes, I’m the next one in line. Chris was still willing to take Brownie in spite of his FIV status but I contacted Jessica of Keeper Kitties Rescue in Michigan and she stepped up to the plate.  So now we had a place for Brownie to go.  He was spending his time getting fat and sassy at the vet’s office but we had to be able to get him to Michigan.  My next plea went out to Davica, our angel in the skies.  She quickly agreed to accompany Brownie from LAX to O’Hare. As part of a 27 hour transport, saving the lives of 2 kitties, Davica arrived in Chicago at 10:50 pm on Friday, December 6, 2013.  It was a close call though due to delays coming out of New York but Davica had help making her connection.  Brownie got a police escort so he could make his flight! This is what Davica posted to us, ” Someone who works at airport remembers me from a blind dog I transported out of LA..he saw me running and told a lot of people to run with me to get attention so they hold flight..POLICE SAW AND AIRPORT WORKER SAID ITS CATLADY CATCHING FLIGHT FOR KITTY AND POLICE WENT IN FRONT WITH SEGWAY TO TELL THEM CATLADY IS COMING LOL..we made flight”

At LAX waiting for Davica. (photo courtesy of Melissa)

At LAX waiting for Davica. (photo courtesy of Melissa)

 

Snuggling with Davica as they wait to take off from LAX (photo courtesy of Davica)

Snuggling with Davica as they wait to take off from LAX (photo courtesy of Davica)

 

Late night landing. A bird's eye view of O'Hare. (photo courtesy of Davica)

Late night landing. A bird’s eye view of O’Hare. (photo courtesy of Davica)

Our next angel, Karen, is there with her husband to meet Davica. Once in her safe keeping they headed home to Gilbert, Illinois for the night to spend time snuggling our brave boy Brownie.

Safely at O'Hare in the arms of Karen. (photo courtesy of Davica)

Safely at O’Hare in the arms of Karen. (photo courtesy of Davica)

 

"Hey! I like this place! They have food!" (photo courtesy of Karen)

“Hey! I like this place! They have food!” (photo courtesy of Karen)

 

"Food AND a big nippy mouse! All for me!" (photo courtesy of Karen)

“Food AND a big nippy mouse! All for me!” (photo courtesy of Karen)

The very next morning found Brownie on the road to his next angel, Teri.  Teri had the distinct honor of taking Brownie to PawPaw, Michigan to meet Jessica! Perfect place to make a transport transfer!

Onward to Michigan! (photo courtesy of Karen)

Onward to Michigan! (photo courtesy of Karen)

 

Almost there! This is Teri. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

Almost there! This is Teri. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

 

And our Keeper Kitty Angel, Jessica. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

And our Keeper Kitty Angel, Jessica. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

Brownie has now made it to Michigan. He is enjoying the comforts of Jessica’s home and resting up while she is out shopping for a special bed. Shannon had bought him a bed that he loved but it would not fit in his airline carrier so had to be left behind.  He will make his way to an extended foster tomorrow.

It really does take a village.  One very scared, emaciated, sick and lonely kitty is now safe and he did a wonderful thing.  He brought together all these people.  It started with 2 strangers, scared and anxious and in tears for him much of the time. It snowballed as the efforts grew more intense and desperate.  Friendships and lasting bonds have been made in the saving of Brownie’s life.  He will  never know what he brought together.  But I can tell you that he is grateful all the same.

Resting comfortably at Jess's in a borrowed bed from the Princess of the house.

Resting comfortably at Jess’s in a borrowed bed from the Princess of the house.

 

Annie – My Angel and Original Imagine Home Model

As we get closer to our anniversary, I just wanted to take a minute and remember my Angel Annie, who was the model for Imagine Home’s original hand drawn logo.

annie

She got her wings on December 4, 2011 after sharing my life for 10 years. Annie was considered unadoptable/unsocialized and consigned to living her life out at the wonderful no-kill shelter. But when I went to adopt a kitty for my new home, she found me and picked me, so I had no say in the matter. She taught me patience, tolerance, and most important of all: how to speak cat. She is the reason I help other kitties. I miss you every day my princess. 

Dionne

Focus on Fosters: The Forgotten

Foster-PoemThe rescue community is widespread, varied in its methods, and made up of primarily locally based networks for rescue, foster, transport, vets and adoption.

Facebook and the internet have helped the rescue community make great strides towards a better solution for our pet over-population issue by providing a medium for sharing animals on a much greater scale.  Thousands of animals are killed each day just for space.  Those who work tirelessly day and night to save so many animals from certain death are the true angels in my eyes.  We all must know our boundaries and keep within them as much as we can to avoid stress, burnout and financial hardships.

But that is a story for another day.  Today I want to focus one aspect of fostering in rescue that largely goes un-noticed, where more animals get lost in the cracks every year.

Foster homes are such an integral part of the process.  They are the ones who first get these animals from “those” places and give of their time, love and money to transform a traumatized being into a potential loving family member.  They are the ones who usually end up with permanent fosters, usually more than they can handle.  Possible financial issues and feline temperament clashes come with the territory.

Many foster animals fall through the cracks and don’t get the exposure they need to find the perfect loving home for them.  These animals (IMO) are the ones who should be networked more rigorously.  How many times do you hear “All fosters are full”?  Does it occur to you that if more people adopted from foster care, then the more those fosters can rescue and socialize another kitty to be your next family member.

Advantages of adopting from a reputable foster vs. a shelter/animal control facility:

  • Known long-term health issues, if any
  • Short-term health issues have often been resolved, like upper-respiratory infections
  • Known temperament — within a home environment — means less surprises. A foster parent can often write a full dissertation on what a foster animal is like, unlike the list of checkboxes on a cage card at a facility.
  • Luxury to set up transport if adoption is to be long distance — no need for urgency at 2AM.
  • More-socialized kitties waiting for you to choose the kitty right for you and your family.
  • By selecting an animal that should be a good match for your family, it decreases the odds of the animal being returned.  Happy endings mean one less animal in the system.

Everyone wants to save a kitty, but once the kitty is “safe” in foster…the nobleness of adopting wears off and they are off to the next kitty that needs immediate help.  Meanwhile, there are hundreds if not thousands of kitties in foster care waiting for their chance.  Adopting from a foster saves 3 lives: the foster kitty, the next kitty a foster home can help, and the next kitty who gets a chance today because a kitty went to a foster home yesterday.

Consider your options before you adopt.

Fleas and other ramblings.

I sat down this morning to do some technical work on our website and back office databases, but this came from my fingers instead.

I wanted to share my most recent experience, both for education, and to show how Imagine Home has helped me.  I will ask for your forgiveness beforehand as I tend to get a little wordy.  I promise it will be worth it, just hang in there.

First, a bit of background about how I came to be part of Imagine Home.  Three words:  Jack the Cat.  To this day I don’t know why, but I was selected from Jack’s page to be one of the first members of a wonderful team of ladies helping kitties.  That team has evolved into the current Imagine Home you see today.  I didn’t always rescue kitties.  I always loved them, but never thought of giving of my time to help, and had no idea of the sad state of animal welfare in this country as a whole.  It took a severe bout of depression to lead me to seek an outlet to help save myself.  That outlet came in the form of volunteering at a local 501(c)(3) rescue.  FYI:  VolunteerMatch is a GREAT place to find opportunities for helping in your area.  Then I started following cats on facebook, and found myself watching and following, like with thousands of others, the search for Jack the Cat. The rest, as they say, is history.

Image

Hugo, my helper, my best friend, my problem child

I have 4 cats (really 3 and a foster) and flea control is always a problem.  Hugo was born a barn cat and would simply “die” of frustration if he was never allowed outside.  He regularly wrecks screens to get there and will whine for hours if he does not get his way. He never goes far, always coming back in to check where I am, or to use the litter.  No, he will not use the outside as a litter box to save his life, go figure.  Of course I am always diligent about putting flea medication on him year round. But any OTC or vet-prescribed medication gets expensive when you have multiple cats, so I am not so diligent about keeping flea control on the other three (yeah, I’m not perfect, please don’t judge).  What I didn’t count on was my great hunter Hugo bringing me “gifts”.

Hugo snuck in a dead mole while I wasn’t watching and voila! Suddenly the cats are all infested with fleas.  I did the usual spraying of the floors and under furniture with carpet spray killer and treated the kitties with my preferred brand of Advantix.  Fleas all gone.  Unfortunately I missed a few because before I knew it, suddenly they were back with a vengeance.  It was time for another round of meds for all of them, so off to the pet store I went.  Surprisingly they were out of the product I usually use, so I took some time looking at the other brands and remembering all I had heard about each brand.  I also took into account the brands my shelter uses.  I ended up going with Capstar pills.  I had always heard good things about their product and had no reason not to trust it.

Back home and dinnertime.  I put the Capstar in food for all the kitties. Let’s just say I value my skin enough to not want to have to manually give some of them pills.  There, that was done and I thought nothing more of it.  Fast forward a half hour, I am sitting on my couch and Skyla comes to sit beside me.  Only she is panting.  And her eyes are glazed.  Instant panic mode, ya think?  I checked her out a bit more and it looked like she had been given a few shots of caffeine, her heart was racing, she was panting, her eyes were glazed and fully dilated, and she started scratching and almost chewing off her skin.  I heard a grunt, and looked over to see Hank in the same predicament.  A quick check of the other two and they seemed a bit wired, but not like my “grey patrol”.

Image

The “grey patrol” Hank and Skyla

The very next thing I did was post in our Imagine Home office what was going on.  Within seconds, the other admins were on the net doing research for side effects and finding poison control center phone numbers.  Yes, most of this is already on my refrigerator, but I was not quite thinking clearly.  I also knew sharing with the other admins would make me feel less alone in my terror, and the more eyes the quicker things get done.

Of course I have already sent a pic of the product batch to my shelter to see if they have any in their inventory.  I will also be calling CapStar as soon as they open, to report this and determine if they have had other reports.

I am extremely lucky to have one of the best vets in the world.  They are less than a mile from my house and are 24/7 on call.  Within 20 minutes of my initial call to them, Hank and Skyla were with me at the clinic being checked by the vet. If I remember correctly, the last emergency I had (sadly, the euthanasia of my sweet Annie after her multiple stokes paralyzed her) was less than 10 minutes from my call to their exam, that is how good they are.  My next phone call was to the director of my shelter for her experiences with Capstar.  Hank and Skyla came from there so the director has known and cared for them both since they were babies.  Meanwhile our admins have found all sorts of articles about Captsar and the symptoms my kitties were showing, poison control centers, natural flea remedies, and a host of other information.  The final result was definitely a bad reaction to the Capstar, although strangely enough, the symptoms usually only show up in dogs, it is extremely rare to find in cats.  My vet commented how shocked she was to see not only one case, but two in the same household (not related).  The vet said they would be fine within 12 hours and gave them both a mild sedative to help calm them. Within an hour of getting home, both kitties were calming down and almost back to normal.  The only good thing I can say is at least the fleas were all dying in droves!!

There is a moral to this story somewhere, and take from it what you will, but here is what I took from the whole experience:  I would not have made it through the evening without my litter sisters (the Imagine Home admins) right beside me the whole way.  Our bond has gone beyond saving kitties to a full fledged support system.  I feel so privileged to be a part of this group, and hope you enjoy all of our efforts as much as we do.  Right now it seems we only do transport, but it is what we know and do well.  Our ultimate goal at Imagine Home is to be a one stop place for just about everything kitty.  Our website is in the works, and our CafePress store should be available within the next few weeks.

What will you do when your kitties are suddenly sick?  Do you have a 24 hour on-call vet? Do you have friends you can call to help? Do you know how to find out what is causing it?

Imagine Home can be one of your sources. It’s what we do – for the kitties. <3

Do you have a plan??

We see it all the time.  Owner died, had to go to a nursing home, moved….and family doesn’t want to (or can’t) keep kitty.  Beloved pets end up dumped in a shelter – depressed, confused and frightened.  Their fate hangs in the balance.

Elliot 111212

I am currently indentured by two amazing furballs, Molly and Drake. They let me share a home with them in exchange for food, water, playtime and love.  I work a job that often puts me in dangerous situations.  I do what I can to make sure I get home safely every day, but I can’t guarantee that.  The reality is that none of us can guarantee that we’re coming home when we leave the house each day.  (Sorry to be so morbid, there really is a point to all of this).  I’ve often given a half-hearted thought to what would happen if I didn’t make it home one day, but haven’t done much about it.  In a few weeks, I’m scheduled to have surgery.  Nothing out of the ordinary, but it involves anesthesia and an overnight stay in the hospital.  This made me start thinking a little bit more seriously about the need to have a plan in place for my kitties if anything were ever to happen to me.

Helping Momma feel better 11022012

I talked to my dad.  My first question “if anything ever happens to me, will you take care of my kitties?”  His response?  “Nothing’s going to happen to you.”  *sigh*  I think this may be why people don’t make plans for their furbabies.  People just don’t want to talk about it.  But, I pressed on because I believe it’s necessary.  “Dad, you know that anything could happen to any of us at any time.  I need to know that Molly and Drake will be cared for if that happens. Will you keep them and care for them or do I need to make a list of people you can call for help?  I DO NOT WANT THEM TO END UP IN A SHELTER!!”  Thankfully, he agreed to care for them, at least in the short term, and not send them to a shelter.

I am still planning to make a list of names/numbers that he can contact in case it becomes to much for him (he’s not exactly a spring chicken, you know?).  Both of my kitties have special dietary needs and tend to visit the vet a little more than your average furbaby.  As much as he loves Molly (he and Drake really haven’t bonded), I’m not sure that he’ll be able to deal with her needs in the long term.  And, as I said, he and Drake haven’t really bonded.  Drake hasn’t really bonded with anyone but me and my special male “friend” (which cracks me up because my friend isn’t really a fan of cats, but Drake LOVES him!).  I have no problem with him splitting the two of them up – and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind either.  They spend a good part of their day fighting with each other.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that they will never love each other, but am thrilled when they manage to at least tolerate each other.  But, I digress, back to my point.

I have talked to a couple of friends and other family members (and still have more that I want to talk to about this) and asked about their willingness to be Godparents to my babies.  I want to be able to leave a list of names and contact information for my dad so that he has people that he knows he can call if he can’t keep my babies.  A group of trusted folks that I know will be willing to help find the best homes; homes that will give my babies the love that they deserve if I’m not here to do it myself.  I’m fortunate to be a part of this amazing group (Imagine Home) that loves kitties as much as I do, so I don’t think there will be any issue with my babies being cared for, but I still need to give my dad a concrete plan.  One less thing he has to try to figure out on his own if he’s already trying to deal with the fact that something happened to me.

I’m also putting together a biography of each of my babies.  Who better to describe their personalities, quirks and habits than me?  If my babies need to find new homes, their prospective new slaves (um, I mean parents) need to know what they’re getting.  For example, Drake would probably be best suited to be in a home alone.  He’s very territorial and seems to actually get jealous when Molly is getting attention.  They’re both on prescription diets and are both fed a specific amount of food at specific times during the day (yes, I revolve my schedule around theirs!).  Drake loves catnip, Molly isn’t really a fan.  I could go on and on and on.  Things I plan to include in their bios:  Current vet information (my vet actually has an online “portal” that they use to keep pet info up to date, so I’ll include that website and user/password information); medical conditions (including any past experience with giving meds- ie, pills, liquids, etc…); current dietary information (what food they  eat, where I buy it, how much they eat and how often, any treats); litter box information (how many, where they are, what kind of litter they prefer); playtime (what kind of toys they like/don’t like, playtime rituals); personality information (ex:  Molly isn’t a snuggler, Drake gets jealous, etc…); names and contact information of people who are willing to help if they need to find new homes (include the type of help they’re willing to provide – fostering, adopting, etc..)

I’m wondering what your plan is for your kitties (or yes, even the silly doggies) should something unexpected happen to you.  You can share that information in comments here.  Eventually, I’d like to put it all together and add it to the resources we have on the Imagine Home facebook page (and ultimately the website).

<stef>

(By the way, the kitty at the top is Elliot, who has made himself very comfortable in his new home with Admin Linda – here he is today)

elliot today

My First Transport – By Guest Blogger Colleen Fishter

Following is Colleen’s chronicle of her first transport – we’re excited and honored that she chose to do her first with Imagine Home.  We’re even more excited to have Colleen tell you the story herself.  Like what you see?  Check out Colleen’s personal blog here: https://colleenfishter.wordpress.com/

<stef>

I did my first transport this morning. Five hours up and back, 231 miles round trip, two states, half a tank of gas, a few tolls, and one beautiful, sweet, sleeping kitty named Khingee on her way to a new life… priceless.

When I opened her carrier door, this beautiful fuzzy head popped out.

When I opened her carrier door, this beautiful fuzzy head popped out.

I became aware of the idea of transport a couple years ago when I was involved in helping to organize a rather large one. For a while after that, I’d watch the transports happening in different groups through posts on Facebook. And often, I’d cry. Not because they are a sad thing, but because they’re so unbelievably wonderful. A group puts together a route with appropriate length legs often through multiple states. Then people along the route sign up to drive their vehicles and transport a cat home… as if through an assembly line.

At the beginning you have a cat that needs rescue. At the other end, there is a home. And in between, these amazing people who make it all possible. I wanted to be one of those people. So I signed up with two different groups to drive. And then, I waited. The transports always seemed to be in another part of the country, or on a day when I wasn’t available. Then, earlier this week, an email came from Teresa at Imagine Home. “We have a transport in your area! Khingee is scheduled to go to a new foster on Saturday, March 30th. I was wondering if you would be interested in driving a leg to get this sweetie to a safe place?”

“Yes,” I replied. Then I looked at the map. Uh oh. The entire trip encompassed three legs from Derwood, MD to Middletown, NY. I would be the first leg, driving her as far as Newport, DE. It was a route I had taken last weekend to attend a rescue event in Pennsylvania. I knew the drive was long, almost two hours, and I knew there were three or four tolls along the way, depending which roads I traveled. I panicked. A change in my job situation last December has forced me to be much more cautious with my funds. Could I afford this? I wasn’t sure. I went so far as to have Teresa and Kelly, the coordinator for this transport, look for a back-up.

Khingee peeked her head up every once in a while to check out the sites.

Khingee peeked her head up every once in a while to check out the sights.

The Imagine Home description of Khingee explained she was the product of a broken home. Mike and Jennifer saw her on a visit to that home, and found her enduring a horrible skin irritation from a terrible case of fleas. They took her to the vet, and then into their home. The fleas are long since gone, her skin is healthy, and her fur is as beautiful as it was meant to be. She is a sweet, happy and playful kitty, but had consigned herself to the basement due to the territorial male Bengal cat that already lived in the house. Mike and Jennifer cared for her well being and happiness, and in the end, they felt this very affectionate beauty would be happier and more content in a home where she did not have to fight the reigning male. They cared enough to give her up, so she would have a chance at a home better suited to her needs. The transport would deliver Khingee to a foster home of the Helping Animals Rescue Team (HART).

When I re-read this, and had time to think, I realized the cost to me didn’t matter. I wanted to help this cat. I needed to do this transport. Tears come to my eyes every time I read the posts about them for a reason. Maybe transport is where my heart lies? I needed to know the answer to that question because of a promise I made. As we sat in the vet’s office September 1, 2012, holding Shelby for the last time, I promised her I would do something to help others in her name. It is a promise I intend to keep, although I’m still figuring out the form it will take.

So Friday mid-day, I emailed Kelly and Teresa and told them I wanted to do the transport. I had already communicated with Ed, who would be the next leg of the trip north, and set up a meeting place, so that was done. Next I spoke with Mike, who had Khingee, and set up the perfect place for me to pick her up. I was nervous. Nervous about getting to the right place at the right time (I’m not great with directions). And nervous about how I might react to the whole process.

Carrier all buckled up and ready to go.

Carrier all buckled up safely and ready to go.

When Mike opened his car door this morning just before 9am and Khingee stuck her gorgeous little head up to the door of her crate and slowly blinked to say hi to me, I knew it was all going to be OK. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I talked to Mike for a few minutes regarding the supplies he was sending, when she had eaten breakfast, and how she had been while in their care. And then, it was time to go. I buckled her carrier to the front passenger seat of my car, texted Dionne at Imagine Home to say I had picked up the precious cargo and we were on our way. I also was able to snap a quick picture of the darling girl before she put her fuzzy head down on her pink bed… and drifted off to sleep.

Khingee was the perfect passenger… she slept most of the time. Every once in a while picking her head up to look at the trees going by. I talked to her often, just in case she wasn’t really asleep. I told her about my kitties and how I’d sing to them on the way to vet. I also admitted I’m not a very good singer, so she might prefer I just skip that all together. I let her know this was my first time on the new Inter County Connector in Maryland, so it was special that she was with me. When we passed Baltimore, I gave her my take on the city. I told her about years gone by when my family would drive this exact route north to New Jersey to visit family. However, she was going even farther then that… she was going to New York, where I have visited twice. When we came to the first toll booth there was a huge semi truck in the lane next to me and I worried it might scare her. As I put the window down, I looked over and she had raised her head in a bit of a panic. She looked at me. I said, “It’s OK, you’re safe.” I turned to give the money to the teller, and when I looked back, she was already on her way to dream land. Guess she believed me. And that made me feel good.

Khingee rested her head and paw outside the carrier as I talked to her while we waited.

Khingee rested her head and paw near me as I talked to her while we waited.

Before I knew it, we were in Delaware and at our meeting place. I found a nice quiet spot away from everyone else to park so we could wait for Ed. He had texted to say he was in a bit of traffic and would be another 15 minutes or so. I’m sorry he had the traffic. But I’m so glad I had those minutes with Khingee. I unbuckled her carrier and turned it to face me. When I opened the metal door, the most beautiful little fuzzy head popped out. She reached her small paw out to me and then rested it on the console between us. I scratched behind her ears, rubbed her head and her nose, and pet the gorgeous fur on her back. And of course, we talked some more. Well, I did most of the talking as she’s a quiet kitty.

I told her how special she was because she’s my first transport. I assured her I would save her pictures and remember her always. I told her about my promise to Shelby and that she was now a part of it. I showed her the pocket stone containing fur from Shelby and her sister Molly, which I had brought with me. It all just felt right and I promised Khingee there would be many more after her. I think she was pleased… or maybe she just liked all the petting? Either way, I will remember that conversation for many years to come.

Me with Khingee right before I passed her over to Ed.

Me with Khingee right before I handed her over to Ed for the next leg of her journey.

When Ed arrived, I asked him to take my picture with Khingee. Next I passed over all the supplies and explained everything Mike had told me. And then I handed over Khingee. He remarked how beautiful she was, and I of course agreed, as he placed her gently in the back seat of his SUV. I got back into my car and texted Dionne my final update. But really, I just wanted to wait until Khingee pulled away on the next leg of her journey to meet Stacey, who would take her the rest of the way home. Unfortunately, that extra time in the car made me desperate to find a bathroom and I had to walk inside. When I returned, she was gone.

And that was probably for the best. There were no tears on my part, which surprised me. Well… no tears until now. And I think that means I was supposed to be on that journey with her. I am many things. But now I am also a transporter. And Khingee was my first.

“To the world you are just one more rescue person. To a rescued pet, you are the world.” – Author Unknown

 

Luigi Come Home

Image

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT FOLLOWS IS MY OPINION AND MY OPINION ONLY.  THESE WORDS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE OPINION OF IMAGINE HOME.  I AM ONLY PUBLISHING THIS UNDER THE IMAGINE HOME BLOG BECAUSE, QUITE FRANKLY, IT WOULDN’T MAKE SENSE TO ANYONE READING MY PERSONAL BLOG.  I’M ALSO NOT PROOFREADING BECAUSE I WILL END UP REWRITING AND LOSING WHAT I REALLY WANT TO GET OUT THERE, SO PLEASE EXCUSE ANY TYPOS. IF ANYONE DISAGREES WITH THE CONTENT OF THIS POST, PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY.  MY PERSONAL EMAIL IS IMSLINKEE@MSN.COM AND I’M ON FACEBOOK AS STEFANIE CELESTE.

I will never forget the moment I heard that Luigi had escaped transport – I was standing at the paint counter at Home Depot waiting for them to mix my color when I decided to look at Facebook on my phone.  I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.  It would all I could do to fight back the tears.  I knew that losing it in a public place certainly wasn’t going to help Luigi at all.  I got my paint, paid for all my stuff, went out to my car and I cried.  I cried for Luigi, I cried for the transporter who was devastated, I cried for his foster mom – I cried for all of us.

At this point, it really doesn’t matter how it happened.  Knowing how it happened isn’t going to help in getting him back on the road to his foster home.  It’s kind of a heart attack, you don’t have to know what caused it to treat it.  Yes, you need to know what caused it to prevent it from (hopefully) happening again, and that is being addressed.  But constant berating, belittling and blaming isn’t going to change the fact that Luigi jumped out of the car and we need to find a way to get him back.

I’ve kind of been watching everything unfold from the sidelines.  This whole thing, along with a bunch of stuff happening in my personal/professional life right now, has me paralyzed.  I have been adhering to the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” adage.  I have so much going on outside of Facebook that I haven’t been able to sleep, have barely been able to do my job without having emotional meltdowns and am barely hanging on by a thread.  In order to save myself, and save others from unnecessarily being dragged down with me, I have “shut down” in a way.

When I have ventured on to Facebook/Twitter, I have not liked what I have seen.  I have watched friends be attacked from all sides for what they are, or are not doing, to help.  I have seen posts on various groups on Facebook that, if the people spouting off were in the same room with the recipients of the harsh words, I’d bet would NEVER be uttered.  The internet and social media gives us a feeling of bravery, of invincibility of, whatever.  We feel like we can say what we want, when we want, any way we want.  We forget that, even if we don’t mean to sound rude or ignorant, our words on a screen can come across that way to the person on the other side.  We forget that we cannot have an argument with ourselves – it takes two (or more, in this case) to tango.  We take sides.  We defend the people that we are friends with, sometimes even when they’re in the wrong.  I’ve been “unfriended” by some, simply because of my association with others (and I’m sure I’m not the only one).

While we do all of this, one thing is certain.  There is a kitty who is lost and who needs ALL of us to work together to find him – if he chooses to be found.  As humans, we have opinions – we think we know what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, who needs to do it and when.  As humans, we also have an inherent nature to disagree with each other, and to think that OUR way is the best way.  As humans, we also have the ability to communicate and to work through those differences – if we choose to do that.  So far, I haven’t seen that.  I’ve seen a continual barrage of “you’re not doing this, you’re not doing that, you have to do what I want, you’re wrong, blah blah blah”  And then we delete, ban, unfriend, whatever….the people we don’t agree with.  Would we be doing that if we were face to face with each other?  Do we ban, delete, unfriend the people in our “real lives” (vs. Facebook friends) when we disagree with them or with something they’re doing?  (I hope not, because if so, that defeats the purpose of what I’m trying to say).

WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS!!!  LUIGI DESERVES SO MUCH MORE THAN WHAT WE’RE GIVING HIM!!!  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not taking anything away from the efforts that have been made.  I know that people aren’t eating, not sleeping, driving miles upon miles to set feeding stations and checking traps, posting fliers, talking to locals, contacting vets, sharing widely on facebook (I apologize if I miss anything that has been done).  But what’s NOT happening is communication and cooperation.

If you’re at work and someone does something or says something you don’t like, do you call them out in public, in front of everyone, and question them about it?  I’m guessing no, because I know if I did that at my job, I’d be looking for another one very quickly.  I’m guessing that you either address it privately with the “offending” individual or bring it up to a supervisor so that they can address it privately.  If your family member or loved one says something you find offensive or rude, do you just assume that you’re right and they’re wrong and disown them from your life?  Or do you take some time to clarify what they meant  and work out the differences?  Why can’t we take the same approach in our facebook lives????

I’m sorry I’m rambling – I’m just so beaten down and frustrated.  I’m walking around on the verge of tears 24/7.  I’m helpless to do anything productive to help find Luigi.  I feel like I failed Luigi by not making the 5 1/2 hour trek to Virginia the minute I heard it was missing.  Yes, I’m human too.  In my heart I feel like I could have done something to make a difference.  In my head, I know that’s probably not the case.  But my head isn’t doing a good job of telling my heart that, my heart is broken by this whole situation.  Broken by Luigi’s escape, broken by the actions and words that have torn so many people apart (so many good people who, in better times really have the same goals) and broken by the fact that I know there is absolutely nothing more I can do.  All of this animosity and hostility  is doing NOTHING to help Luigi.

To those who are close enough and have been able to be on the ground in the area – baiting traps, setting up cameras, passing out posters – I thank you from the bottom of my shattered heart.  Please know that I’d be there with you if I could (as would alot of other people I’m sure) and I appreciate everything that you are doing to help this little boy find his way back to where he needs to be.

To everyone working hard on the internet (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing everything you can to keep Luigi’s face out there in public.  We’ve seen how sharing can help bring a positive outcome to many situations.

To all of us, I admire the human heart and human spirit.  I implore us all to take a look at ourselves.  To think before we type.  To focus on one thing and one thing only…

FIND LUIGI

Image

One Final Act of Rescue

Facebook is an amazing thing.  Yes, there are days that I would love to just deactivate my account and go back to that simpler time when my iPhone wasn’t surgically attached to my hand so that I could keep up on the lives of everyone I know (and some that I don’t know).  But the reality is, Facebook has opened a whole new world for me.  You may have seen the post that has gone around Facebook:

Facebook post

Before Facebook, I always wanted to do “something” to help animals, but I never knew what I could do.  I looked into volunteering at my local SPCA, but discovered that my sensitive nature did not fit in with their program (I’d end up being a hoarder!).  Then, in the fall of 2011, Jack the Cat got lost at JFK airport.  I started following his story on his Facebook page.  On that page I “met” alot of people.  Alot of people who are just like me. People who want to help.  People who are the “voice for the voiceless.”  Just as the image above says, I have many friends without whom my life would be empty.  I’m now a part of this amazing organization that has given me an outlet for my passion to help.   Some of my “real life” friends get it.  Some of them don’t, and that’s okay – I’m sure they have things in their lives that I just don’t get either!  Most of them at least respect what I’m a part of and what it means to me.

There are many who do much more than I do when it comes to the rescue world.  Most of my contributions occur behind the scenes.  That was not the case with one of the wonderful people I’ve  “met” along this journey – Birdy Sims.  Birdy was right out there on the front lines trying to help kitties.  Over the years, she saved countless kitties – either by taking them in herself or finding happy homes for them.  Just recently, she asked for our (Imagine Home) help in finding homes for three kitties that had been horrible situations (Kira, Katy and Chester – you can find them in our Adoptables Album on Facebook)

In addition to rescuing kitties, Birdy also loved to participate in transports.  Just yesterday, she planned to help transport Larry and Astaire to their new forever home in Oklahoma.  She was so excited about it that she was planning her various doctors appointments around the transport!  Sadly, the universe had other plans.  Sometime in the early morning hours of January 12, 2013, Birdy passed away.  When we received the news from Birdy’s husband, Loren, we were heartbroken.  To say we were in shock would be putting it mildly.  When Kelly spoke with Loren, we received another shock – he still wanted to take the leg of the transport that Birdy had committed to doing.  Clearly, with so much on his mind, we were prepared to do whatever needed to be done to fill that leg, but Loren was adamant that he wanted, even needed, to do it.  We all agreed that if he was up to it, we couldn’t think of a better way to honor Birdy’s memory than to do what she loved best – helping kitties.

Today, my heart still aches.  It aches for Loren, for the rest of Birdy’s family and for all of her friends.  The outpouring of love for Birdy on her own Facebook page, as well as on the Imagine Home page, has been amazing and a testament to the woman Birdy was.  We are working on some things behind the scenes to honor Birdy, and her contribution to the rescue world.

Uncharacteristically, I just don’t have many of my own words, so I will leave you with this:

Unlike most days at the Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people know exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.

It wasn’t long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often. He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness.

Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again. As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass.

Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge. With no place else to turn, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like him, also elderly and infirm. They weren’t playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting.

One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn’t understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for a while to explain it to him. “You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to the rescue just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of the rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge.”

The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, “So what will happen now?” As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the gloom lifted. Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life. “Watch, and see,” said the second animal.

A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed her towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together.

“What happened?” “That was a rescuer”, The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of her work. They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn’t place on earth across The Rainbow Bridge.”

~Anonymous~

I believe in my heart that, on the morning of January 12, 2013, Birdy Sims performed her last act of rescue.  Rest in Peace Birdy, you will be missed.

Birdy tribute

<stef>

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year!!!

Three little words, yet they always seem to signify something BIG.  Out with the old – in with the new. A chance to start over; to begin again.  The opportunity to learn from the past, while dashing headlong into the future.  It can be scary and and exciting all at the same time.  The most important thing to remember is that, together, we can do many great things.  Let’s take a look at what we’ve accomplished already….

October 31, 2012 – we went “live” and started the page on Facebook.  Nine women who, a year ago, were strangers posting on a Facebook page.  Over the course of that year, we became friends (confidants, sisters, littermates, etc…).  Whatever you want to call us, we are now ONE.  One group of feline loving folks who have a common vision.  Some of us have been fortunate enough to move our friendship from behind the computer screen to real life.  Coming up later in 2013, we all will ALL be together (can’t wait to share THAT story with you all).  And, since October, our litter has grown by one.  Each one of us has strengths that we bring to this group.  We work well together.  But we alone are not Imagine Home.    Without you, we cannot do the many great things we envision for the future.   Without you, we are just ten women with a vision, but an inability to make that vision a reality.  YOU are Imagine Home.  We are ALL Imagine Home.  (To learn about your Imagine Home admins, please click here https://www.facebook.com/notes/imagine-home/your-imagine-home-team/479706148740594)

November 2012 – things really started taking off.  Sign up sheets and secure databases were created to keep track of volunteers.  We can’t do what we do without volunteers.  Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization.  If you’re interested in being a volunteer driver for us, you can sign up here.  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dER6LWY2dlpQY1g2N2tMVWZMN3N1VGc6MQ

Maybe you’re not able to drive at this time, but you have some room in your home and your heart to help a kitty by becoming a foster?  You can sign up here to do that. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dE9weUM5UXM0RjYzX09ka3VpeDhUQWc6MA

We also created a database to keep track of member recommended rescue organizations.  Do you volunteer somewhere and want to include them in our list?  Maybe you just LOVE the rescue where your newest family member adopted you?  Add those organizations here https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHMtOW56Mnl4ZkNlUFVMZURPblNjenc6MA

We also created an Adoptable Kitties album for those kitties that are Imagining a Home of their own.  Check it out here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.484168658294343.115923.476095912434951&type=3   Have a kitty that you want to add to the album?  You send a picture of the kitty, with all of the pertinent information, to stefanie@imaginehome.org and we’ll add kitty to the album.  We just ask that you keep us posted on the status of kitty so that we can move kitty to the Happily Home album when they’ve adopted a new person to love on forever.

Behind the scenes, we started the process to become an official non-profit (501c3) organization.  We will definitely keep you posted on our progress on that front.

Our website was launched.  It’s still under construction, but you can go look at the pretty home page now, if you want  http://www.imaginehome.org/

Transport planning also kicked into high gear during November, with several kitties headed to their new homes in December!

December 2012 – kitties, kitties everywhere!!!  Events were launched for several Imagine Home planned transports (any transport that is requested directly through, and planned exclusively by, Imagine Home will have an Event launched on the Facebook page) and requests were put out for help with transports sponsored by other organizations.  Because of the amazing generosity of our volunteers, many kitties were able to get home this month.  Big Boy, Snow, Kristofur, Angel (fka Kibbles) and Henry – just to name a few.  But there are more still waiting to get home – and requests are coming in every single day.  To see a list of our pending transports, check here https://www.facebook.com/imaginehomeorg/events  But, don’t forget to check our page every day.  You never know when a request might come in for a leg on a transport for another group.  This is where we need the most help.  We need volunteers to sign up to drive, sometimes to keep a kitty overnight on an especially long trip and, most of all, to share, share, share the pending transports. I know we all think “but I don’t know anyone in that area” so we may not share.  However, you never know – one of your friends may see it and think “hey, Aunt Betty lives out that way, let me reshare this so she can see it”  We have seen it time and time again – social media really can be useful.  Let’s take advantage of it!!

Becca’s Corner was launched on the page also.  Keep an eye on the page throughout the week for helpful tips or fun posts/questions.

A Frequently Asked Questions note was started in December as well.  Check it out here https://www.facebook.com/notes/imagine-home/frequently-asked-questions/491435340901008  Do you have other questions?  Please send us a message, post on the page or email any admin.  We’ll be sure to answer you directly, and to also put the question and answer into this note.

So, what’s in store for 2013??

Welllll – As of today (the minute I’m writing this) we have 648 “likes” on the Imagine Home page.  Wow!  648 friends!!  Some old, some new, all amazing!!!  In 2 short months, we have grown by leaps and bounds.  If that’s what happens in two months, we can’t wait to see what happens by this time next year!  You can help by sharing our page with your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors – anyone you can think of that has access to a computer, smartphone or tablet!  We need to keep the momentum going so that we can grow.  The bigger we are, the more kitties we can help.

We’d also like your feedback.  How are we doing?  Is there anything we can do to improve?  Is there anything else you’d like to see us add to our list of lofty goals?  Of course we can’t be everything to everyone, but we’re always open to suggestions, thoughts and comments.

We’re going to continue our pursuit of non-profit status.  We’re going to continue reaching out to rescues, shelters, veterinarians to help where we can (and of course to solicit help where it may be needed).  We’re going to keep coming back to you, our friends, to help us build our network of drivers, fosters, recommended rescues/shelters/vets.  We’re going to continue to research topics that might be of interest to you and pass that information along.

So, whatever you’re doing tonight – this last night of 2012 – we all just want to wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

See you in 2013!!!

Imagine Home Henry Happy New Year

<stef>

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thanksgiving.  A uniquely American holiday.  And, in true American fashion, the historical meaning of the day has been thrown aside and the day is now just a prelude to the “official start of the holiday shopping season” – Black Friday.  AND – in even more typical American fashion, Black FRIDAY now starts on Thursday – some stores are opening as early as 8pm on Thanksgiving evening.  *sigh*

Believe it or not, I’m not here to bash people who are into Black Friday (or Black Thursday and a half) shopping.  Having worked retail for many years, I simply refuse to participate in the madness.  A local garden center is also not opening until 9am and has a great sale on fake, prelit Christmas trees that starts at 5pm (Friday, not today).  I think I will head over there tomorrow evening and see what I can find since my tree definitely needs to be replaced because some furry creatures have seen fit to nibble on some of the wires of the tree I have now.  Which leads me to the real reason for this post.

Thanksgiving.  A day to reflect on our blessings and be thankful for the things that we HAVE, not the things that we WANT (even if they are on sale!).  And what better place to start being thankful that for our furry little family members?  Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for my two legged family members also.  But, if you’re a cat person (or even a dog person), you know that the love and affection of those four legged furballs is sometimes what keeps us sane.

I currently have two – Molly and Drake.  I love them and they love me.  I can’t exactly say they love each other, though.  I think Drake sees Molly as a living breathing catnip toy.  I think Molly sees Drake as a furry, fat annoyance that Mommy should have left at the shelter.  They do get along sometimes, though.  Here’s proof.  Although, you can see that Molly has that look of annoyance on her face.

Anyway, I digress.  If you know anything about me, you know that I have some ADD tendencies.  I start one thing and then I’m off to something else (kind of like the “kitty room” in my house – trying to get it painted – spackled holes in May.  Yup, that’s as far as I’ve gotten).  So, I started this post with the idea of talking about Thanksgiving.  And what I’m thankful for.  And how that relates to Imagine Home.  Ok.  Back on track.

So, let me tell you about my kitties.  Yes, there’s a point to this, I promise.  I’m going to start with Patches.  Here’s my pretty girl helping me decorate for Thanksgiving in 2010, which would end up being her last Thanksgiving.

 

In January of 2007, my mom adopted Patches from the SPCA.  See, my mom was very sick and she lived alone.  She thought that the company of a kitty might help her to feel better.  So, the day my mom got out of the hospital, she and I went to the SPCA and Patches strolled into our lives.  The application was submitted and the next day my cousin Kyle took my mom back to pick Patches up and bring her to her new home.  Sadly, about a month after she came home, Patches started to get sick.  Because my mom was sick, she couldn’t care for a sick kitty, so Patches came to live with me (yes, there’s a clause that says the kitty has to go back to the SPCA if you can’t keep it anymore, but I knew that would be a death sentence for this pretty girl and I wasn’t going to let that happen).  It took almost another full year to find out what was causing Patches’ problems.  In July 2008 she was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  I was devastated.  But I was determined to do whatever I could for her.  She went on chemo meds (pills) and steroids and we made the trek to the vet every three months for blood work and follow ups (did I mention how much she hated the car ride??).  There were up days and there were down days.  And, sadly, on February 4, 2011, she lost her battle and I had to let her go.  I curled up in a ball and I cried for days.  Not only had I lost my precious little girl, but, in some ways I lost my mom all over again since my mom was the reason Patches had come into my life.  At that time I said “NEVER AGAIN”  I was adamant that I would NEVER go through that pain, that incredible feeling of loss and heartbreak.  I was NOT going to bring another kitty home.

On May 31, 2011 I went back to the SPCA with the intention of donating food. I had alot of food left from Patches and I had some “points” at Kmart that were expiring, so I used them to buy a bunch of dry/canned food to donate.  I dropped the food off and decided to go in and play with the kitties in the kitty room.  You know, just to get them out of the cages and give them some love.  I was NOT getting another cat.  I went through the room letting kitties out one by one to get some love and some exercise.  And then…..BAM….I fell in love.  Molly was the prettiest grey kitty I had ever seen.  And she just reached that paw out of the cage and meowed at me and I was DONE!  I hightailed it out of there so fast the folks at the front desk probably wondered what the heck was going on.  Remember, I was NOT getting a kitty.

I spent the next few hours ruminating on the image of this beautiful girl reaching out to me.  But, I had a dilemma.  I was leaving for a short vacation in a few days.  I didn’t think it would be fair to bring a kitty home and then leave it. (yes, I was starting to cave).  My facebook friends weighed in with comments ranging from “don’t do it” to “you know you’ll regret it if you don’t get her”.  I called the SPCA and asked if I could pay the adoption fee, but not pick her up until I came back from vacation.  They said “no, we need the cage”  We need the cage????  Fear in my heart that if Molly wasn’t adopted, they would put her down.  ACK!!  I could NOT let that happen.  I called my dad “Daddy,” I said (yes, when I want something I still call him daddy!).  “Would you mind letting a kitty stay with you for a few days while I go away?”  He agreed that Molly could stay there.  So, the next morning, when they opened, I was back at the SPCA to put in my application for Molly.  I went into the kitty room to say good morning and to grab her card for the adoption folks and BAM!  There was Drake, in a cage caddy corner from Molly.  Now, I hadn’t seen him the day before because I skedaddled out of there so fast.  And what did he do?  Stuck his little paw out of the cage toward me and meowed.  *gasp, thud*  Guess who’s taking two kitties home?  We let them out of their cages together to make sure there would be no drama and all seemed fine.  The information they had said that both were owner surrenders – Drake due to allergies and Molly due to her family moving.  The one shelter worker told me that Drake had been adopted and returned twice.  That sealed the deal for me.  I was afraid he wouldn’t get another chance.  So, off to the front desk I went with two cards to put in my applications.  Because both were already spayed/neutered, there was no hold time, I could take them both home that day.  Of course, remember what I did the day before?  Donated all my food.  Ooops.  So, I asked them to give me a couple hours so I could run to Petsmart and stock up on food, litter, carriers, etc….$450 later I was home unloading my car and then headed back to pick up my babies!  Here they are waiting to go home.

 

So, why am I torturing you with the story of Molly and Drake (names they came with, but I didn’t change because I thought they sounded cool!)?  What does the story of Molly and Drake have to do with Thanksgiving?  Well, I’m thankful that they’re in my life.  I’m thankful that they chose me to be their new Momma.  I’m thankful that I changed my mind about NEVER bringing another kitty into my home and my heart.  I’m thankful that Patches brought them to me (yes, I believe that she had a hand, er paw, in this).

Ask anyone who know me and they’ll tell you that I love my kitties more than I like most people.  They’ll tell you that I structure my life around them.  Recently the Northeast was hammered by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy.  We lost power for a couple of days at my house.  I didn’t want to stay home alone in the dark another day, so I packed up the kitties and we went to my dad’s.  People have said “you took your cats too?”  Um, yes, of course.  You wouldn’t leave your kids home alone in a house with no electric or heat, would you?  Nope,  neither would I.  Does that make me a crazy cat lady?  Maybe.  Am I ok with that?  Absolutely.

A few weeks ago, I had a procedure done and was camped out on my sofa for two days.  This is how I spent those days (that’s me under the quilt).  They barely got off me for two days.  They knew I wasn’t feeling well and they snuggled in for the long haul.

 

Am I thankful for my kitties?  You betcha!!

Are you still wondering what any of this has to do with Imagine Home??  Sorry.  My ADD really got the best of me – and when I start telling a story, well…..

Imagine Home.  Imagine. Home.  There are countless kitties out there who are doing just that – imagining home.  Some are safe in foster care and loved by some of the most amazing people out there (fosters have the biggest hearts, I admire them so much), but still dreaming of a furever home to call their own.  Some are stuck in shelters, wondering how they got there.  Dreaming, imagining, what it would be like to have a human, soft blankets and a warm lap to call their own.  Some are still wandering the streets hoping that some kind soul will take them in and give them a plate of food and a warm place to spend the night.

How can we help?  Well, with  YOUR help, we can grow.  That’s the first step.  The more people who join us, the more reach we will have.  The more reach we have, the more kitties who will benefit.  Right now we’re helping arrange transports.  We’re sharing stories of adoptable kitties.  We’re building databases of user recommended rescues, veterinarians, transporters, fosters and general helpful information.  We want to be the “go-to” place for the the rescue world.  But we can’t do it alone.  We need you to help.  We need you to share us with your friends.  We need you to let us know what you know.  Do you have a favorite vet?  Tell us.  Does a certain rescue hold a piece of your heart?  Please, share!  Do you know of a kitty who is looking for a forever home?  Absolutely send us that information to post.  (Just a disclaimer – right now there are so many groups that post Death Row kitties that we are going to stay out of that realm for now.  Of course we want to see all of those kitties get home too, but we have to focus on what we know we can do and do well).

Think about your own furbabies.  Are you THANKFUL that they’re in your life?  Do you wish that you could do more to honor them (and taking in more right now is not an option for you?)  Have you always thought “I wish I could do more?”  Well, you can!  WE ALL CAN!  That’s what this group is all about.  Each person doing what they can.

So, on this day of thanks (here in the US), I am very thankful.  I’m thankful for the group of women who decided to start this group and allow me to work with them; I’m thankful for all of our friends who have joined us on this journey; I’m thankful for the roof over my head and the kitties who rule the roost; I’m thankful for my family and friends who support me in everything I do.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends

<scm>

Who we are and what we want to do….

Imagine Home came about by accident, or providence, ultimately through the tragedy of Jack the cat. We were brought together to form an organization to help rescued cats. Over time, we found that we had formed an unbreakable bond above and beyond the organization; a bond that can only become stronger as we are joined by more like minded people.

We have many goals, and our dreams are big, but we also understand our limitations. Without our members and volunteers, we would be nothing but another group of women sharing their lives. We must start small, and rely on those who truly want to help.

The animal rescue world is massive, with many varied venues, and we hope to create a common place where one can find all the resources they need to facilitate the rescue and adoptions of cats.

Our Immediate Vision:
Assist adopters, fosters, transporters and rescues in any way we can through our volunteers and contacts. We encourage you to share your recommendations of individuals or groups to add to our network. You are the means for us to be able to do this.

Our Long-Term Vision:

Maintain databases and recommendations for
Rescues
Transporters
Fosters
Veterinarians
Lost and Found
General User Advice and Resources
We are always a work in progress. Just as in life, a person who never changes becomes stale and dull, so it is with a group. We reserve the right to gradually change focus and goals if deemed necessary by public need.
Does it sound like we’d be a good fit for you? If so, please come on over to Facebook and like our page.

We’re looking forward to growing with you!

Kelly, Noelle,ecca, BekBek, Tracy, Teresa,Linda,Lisa,Nellie,Karen