Story Time @ S.T.A.R.T. II

When Morpheus was first diagnosed with cancer, I read to him daily.  After he took his medication, we would sit together on the bed and I would take us on an adventure where cancer didn’t exist.  Usually it was somewhere in the Star Trek universe.  Most times Morpheus fell asleep.  Each novel I read dealt with bravery and sacrifice.  The morals hit close to home for both of us.  At times I asked myself if reading to him helped him at all.  Like my vet pointed out, hearing my voice relaxed him and put him at ease.  It was certainly making him feel more comfortable.  But most importantly, we were spending quality time together.  We read Star Trek novels everyday for a month and half together.  The last book I started reading with Morpheus was one of Philip K. Dick’s collection of short stories.  We never made it the end and the book is in his cardboard box with several of his favorite toys on the shelf in our bedroom closet.  I can’t finish it.

Then a few months ago (I’m sure you animal lovers have heard about this), there was an article about school children reading to the dogs at a shelter.  This always stuck in my memory and I thought it a great idea.

So, the past week, we have been integrating cats into our cat room at START II, slowly tearing down cages and closely monitoring behaviors and interactions.  The kittens have been having a blast running around and sleeping wherever.  Some of the adults would rather nap in the corner, but the kittens are haywire.  I decided to have a story time hour (or two) with the kitties in the cat room.

Yesterday after I finished cleaning, I started reading Isaac Asimov’s The Complete Stories Volume 1 aloud to the kitties.  I sat against the wall on a cat bed, pulled another cat bed next to me, and began.  No sooner did I get done with the first page, I had 7 kittens surrounding me, two on my lap, five in the bed next to me.  The adult cats were able to roam freely without worrying about kitten playtime crazies.  After about half an hour, many of the cats were relaxed and purring, belly up and happy.  I’ll be making it a weekly tradition now.  Every Monday, the kitties will get story time with Col.  The book is large, so we’ve got plenty to keep us busy. 😉  Wish I had a photo of it.  Other volunteers got a kick out of the scene.


Orion’s First Vet Visit

Ron and I took Orion to Animal General yesterday for his first geriatric check-up.  Everyone fell in love with him!  Dr. May tended to him and gave him a complete exam.  We had blood work and urinalysis done.  She was surprised (other than his weight) of how good he looked, especially his teeth!  🙂  Physically, everything looked like things where functioning correctly, but the tests would give her more information.

We waited up front for Dr. May and crew of vet techs to finish up with Orion.  She came into the lobby and said that everything was fine and blood and urine samples were taken.  Apparently, the vet techs were so in love with Orion and touched by his adoption story, he received the Wizard of Oz treatment – clipping of his hind claws and brushing of all his matted fur.  Mind you, I had brushed all the mats out of his back, but still had his legs, chest, and belly to conquer!

During this time, I spoke to Dr. May privately.  I told her in detail Orion’s adoption story.  She was emotionally overwhelmed and excused herself.  Before she left, she said, “What you did was a good thing.”

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.  The vet techs said it, friends at START II said it, and my friends on WP said it.  Yet, I don’t see it as a “good thing.”  I only see it as the “right thing” to do.  I certainly wasn’t going to let a mildly deformed looking senior cat sit in a shelter to die of FIP or euthanasia, when his only crime was being “old.”  Yeah.  That kinda outraged the public when Soylent Green came out.  How would people like it if their older parents or grandparents were euthanized because they were simply too old and a burden to take care of?  My point exactly.

Like I said, Ron and I promised to adopt mostly “special needs” cats.  And in the height of kitten season, a senior on death row goes beyond special; it’s more like urgent need.

So, I received a call before with Orion’s test results.

Dr. May said that everything check out – his kidneys and thyroid are functioning as they should.  However, his platelet count was a little low (23%, when the low normal is 29%), so that raised a flag.  Only because of his age though.  Because he’s malnourished, it could be that everything is thrown off.  But she suggested an x-ray just as a precaution.  If anything cancerous shows up, it would be early enough to treat with medications.  I kinda expected something like this to happen.

If our home needs to turn into a hospice for Orion at any time, than that’s what we will be.  We were prepared with the facts, that he was 16 yrs old and at any point his health could decline.  We refused to see him sit in a shelter and get worse, not provided the proper veterinary care he deserves.  We refused to let him sit in the city pound and die because he was too old.

We love Orion.  And we will do what is in his best interests.  Not ours.

So, we’re off to the vet next week for some x-rays!  Hopefully, they’ll come back clean!

Orion Post-Wizard of Oz Treatment.

Post-Wizard of Oz Treatment.


The past few days have been pretty busy.  On Sunday afternoon, I found a post on FB from my sister-in-law about a senior cat on death row at NYC Animal Control.  He’s 16 years old, an owner surrender.  I just can’t fathom surrendering a 16-year-old cat to a shelter.  If the shelter didn’t euthanize him, he was certainly die alone.  Let’s face the facts – city-run shelters overcrowd easily, hence why all of them euthanize.  (I say all because I have never heard of a city-run shelter not euthanizing.  If you know one, please comment on this post and prove me wrong.  This is like the one time I would love to be wrong!)  If by chance, he managed to stay off the kill-list for more than a week, it would be likely that health complications would arise.  I’ve seen senior cats at the shelter come down with severe depression.  In turn the cat’s immune system weakens and something serious sets in.  One time a cat, MooMoo, was so heartbroken by being dumped at START II by his companion, he entered this state of depressions.  He came down with such a bad case of conjunctivitis that his eye ulcerated and needed to be removed.  After he was in foster care post-surgery, he developed FIP.  The whole ordeal was traumatizing for MooMoo (who rapidly declined within 48 hour and need to be put to sleep) and the volunteers.  But, MooMoo’s story is another blog post.

I knew that if this kitty (whom was named Uno) remained at the shelter, no one would adopt him.  I couldn’t bear the thought of Uno sitting in a shelter awaiting death alone.  I shared the post with Ron.  My sis-in-law got me info to be considered for adopting Uno.  It was a process similar to other shelters/rescues with a pre-screener, interview, and contract.  To be perfectly honest, since Juno and Apollo’s crossing the Rainbow Bridge, it really hasn’t been the same without the presence of an older, wizened kitty here.  Granted, Pandora is ten, it’s not the same as being sixteen.

NYC Urgent Cats contacted me within a couple of hours after I filled the pre-screener.  By evening’s end, I was in contact with Heather, director of cat rescue at AmsterDog Rescue.  It was going to be a race against time to get Uno out of the shelter.

While I was rearranging my schedule at START II planning to take a ride to Harlem, I was informed that Uno could be delivered to me.  I sorta did a double-take over the phone.  That was not something I was expecting.  There’s a group called Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, in which adopted rescues are transported to their new homes within the tri-state area! So, Heather made all the calls to the right people and prevented Uno from being on the following morning’s kill list.  She also arranged his transport with Mayor’s Alliance to my apartment.  And she metaphorically held my hand throughout the entire process.  Which I needed.  I was an emotional mess.

Uno arrived yesterday afternoon, just after 2pm.  When I brought him to his room, he was scared.  His fur was matted severely, he was all bone, and beelined for the water bowl.  I can’t imagine how his previous owners treated him.  I was less than impressed with their answers on a questionnaire included with his medical paperwork.  I spent all afternoon with him.  He circled the room a few times, getting the lay of the land.  Each time he circled around, his tail was held higher.  So happy to see that.  He loves to give head butts.  This morning, he was waiting by the door.  When I opened it, he looked up at me and meowed.  Uno loves attention! And he’s gonna get plenty here.

The next task was renaming him.  While Uno certainly described his ear “situation,” it sounded too much like Juno and we couldn’t have that.  We settled on Orion, after the huntsman that Zeus put in the night sky.

Orion has a geriatric vet visit on Friday morning.  He’s gonna get the works!  I have a feeling he has hyperthyroidism, but the vet will determine in a couple of days.

Until then… Here’s a quick picture I snapped with my phone.  Not the greatest of quality, but 1 hour after his arrival.

Orion an hour after being home.

Orion an hour after being home.

And I would also like to extend a huge THANK YOU to my sis-in-law, Nikki, Heather @ AmsterDog, and all the kind folks at NYC Urgent Cats and Mayor’s Alliance.  Without your help, Orion wouldn’t have had a second chance!

Rags to Riches Adoption

Last week I wrote about Blaze, the cat that was rescued by a good Samaritan when a group of kids tried breaking his legs.

Well, Tuesday night (July 2nd), Blaze was adopted!

He went from an abused street cat to a little girl’s best friend.  A family saw Blaze in Wayne on Sunday and fell in love with him.  He worked over his new forever family good, too!  Blaze made himself cozy in his new guardian’s lap and sat next to their little girl (her lap was too small for them).  That cat is going to be living in a nice neighborhood with a family that loves him to pieces.  Between Sunday and Tuesday, the little girl kept asking if they were going to pick up Blaze.  They will grow up together and be companions to each other.  And they will form a bond that is unique to a little girl and her favorite kitty.

Many tear-filled congratulations to Blaze!

I’ll miss him, but I’m so happy for him at the same time.  I knew once he had an opportunity to meet the public, he wouldn’t be staying long in START II’s care. 🙂