In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want everyone to show your gratitude for the felines in your life! While cats might be a bit subtle in their expressions of thanks, we know its there, don’t we? A bird-like chirp now and again, the question-mark shape their tail takes when they are delighted to see us, and everyone’s favorite: the sweet, slow eye-blinks of love. But just because they are subtle doesn’t mean we have to be! Here are some ways to show them you’re thankful for the joy they bring to your life.
1) Grooming session:
A good brushing can do a lot for a kitty; it prevents matting, especially in long haired cats, removes lose fur that can cause hairballs (which are no fun for you either!), it can be a great bonding experience with their human, it makes them look healthier and more beautiful, and offers guardians a chance to examine for abnormal skin conditions, growths, and other health concerns.
So take some time (even if your cat doesn’t absolutely love it) to brush them thoroughly. Offer treats while you’re doing it, especially if they are not big fans of being groomed. Feeling bold? Add nail trimming to the session, too.
2) Extra playtime
It’s easy to forget about play sessions with our cats, especially after long days at work, household chores, etc. But offering your cat regular outlets to expend energy will make both of you more relaxed at the end of the night. So put in the extra effort; put down the cell phone or turn off the TV and dedicate some time (or extra time, if this is already part of your routine) to play- no, really play- with your cat. Get them riled up, panting if possible, using whatever toy they like best; lasers, feather toys, mice, balls… For a most fulfilling experience, follow playtime with dinner or their favorite treat (For more playtime tips, check out my post ‘The Importance of Playtime‘)
Okay, so no cat wants to go to the vet, but it’s in their best interest. Domestic felines, like their wild cousins, are experts at hiding symptoms of illness (it’s an instinctual behavior that helps them avoid looking like easy prey to predators), so its important to take your cat for checkups and routine blood work, especially as they get older. Even if your cat is indoor-only (as they should be) and you choose not to get them vaccinated annually, check ups are key to making sure your cat isn’t suffering in silence.
Now and then its fine to give your cat something special to eat, especially as we ourselves indulge on Thanksgiving. Just make sure it is in moderation and kitty-safe! Here’s a great recipe from The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook.
Just like humans, cats benefit from having company of the same species. This is especially true if your cat is young, high energy or rambunctious, spends long hours alone, or recently lost a companion animal. Having another cat to roughhouse and play with typically decreases negative or destructive behaviors. Or, if you have a newly adopted young’n who tends to bother your older cat, getting another kitten will give your elder feline some peace. No matter what your situation is, chances are your kitty could benefit from having another. Not sure? Come in and talk to us about it- we’re experts on cat introductions and match-making. See our current adoptable list here.
Of course, if you really want to show your cat gratitude, your best bet is to open all the cans of cat food and bow down at their feet 😉
You can’t put a price tag on saving an animal’s life, or on the relationship you have with them. However, adopting one still requires you to dig out your checkbook. Some people are surprised at the cost of a group’s adoption fee (or that there is a donation fee at all). They expect it to be minimal because, after all, the pets aren’t ‘for sale’ anyway. Unfortunately, rescue groups are non-profit, always on limited funds, and without donation fees from adopting families, we would go under in no time.
What Donation Fees Cover
Some potential adopters have the mindset that adopting an animal is basically doing us, the rescue group, a ‘favor’ and therefore we should be grateful, and not ask for fees. Remember that in rescue no one is out to make a profit. In most cases, we barely break even. Adoption fees cover (barely) our basic costs, such as: spay/neuter, vaccinations (first vaccines for kittens/puppies require multiple boosters), deworming and flea treatment, testing for diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus in cats or heart-worm in dogs) as well as food and litter. If you were to get these services done at a veterinary clinic, you’d be spending significantly more. When adopting from a rescue group, you’re really getting a packaged deal and saving money in the long run.
Why No Pet Should be Free
Having adoption fees is important, aside from the fact that they cover a rescue’s expenses. Most people won’t dole out that kind of cash unless they’ve been planning to adopt and have considered the weight of the commitment. This deters ‘impulse’ adopters, and reminds people that being a pet guardian is a serious dedication- monetarily, emotionally, physically, and timely- and should not be done spur of the moment. If someone has trouble affording the adoption fee, it might not be a good time for them to adopt. Of course, you don’t need mountains of money to be a great, loving pet parent, but you do need to be realistic about the costs and be able to meet those requirements to keep the pet in good health for the rest of his or her life.
It is also worth mentioning, however unpleasant it is, that donation fees help prevent animal abusers from obtaining animals from rescue groups. Usually (but not always) people who intend to abuse an animal will search for free ones- especially on Craiglist and from ‘free to good home’ ads in neighborhoods and bulletin boards.
Why Fees Can Vary by Rescue
If you’ve been browsing various shelters and rescues in your search for the perfect new addition, you might have noticed differences in the costs and what is covered. This doesn’t mean that one group is better than another, just that each organization is in a different financial situation, and works on different scales. Therefore, they adjust the fees to their needs. For example, a large, county-wide shelter with in-staff veterinarians is typically able to have lower fees because they do higher volume adoptions, get donations that exceed their costs, and aren’t paying someone else for veterinary services. They might have sponsors, and likely have a larger staff that includes a grant writer to get state and national grants. Smaller, foster based organizations like Pet Adoption Network, have fewer volunteers, no paid staff, no physical facility. Therefore, our fees may not always compete with other shelters. However, you’re getting a great deal, in terms of savings, in either scenario along with a ‘priceless’ happy ending.
Clive and Callum
These one-and-a-half year old brothers came to us from a horrific situation: a mentally ill person had kept them confined in small pet carriers from the time they were very young. He had found them as babies living outside, and thought he was doing the right thing by taking them in. Unfortunately, these sweet tabbies spent over a year with barely enough room to turn around, let alone the room to play, chase things, or stretch. Although their hind quarters were weakened from lack of exercise, their spirits were strong. Callum, long haired and regal, was immediately excited to play with new things, like feather wands, but Clive, sweet and gentle but coy, was afraid of toys at first and took a bit of time to find his light-hearted side. Both are friendly loving despite their struggles, and have recovered physically and been adopted. Humane Law Enforcement officers, local animal control and Pet Adoption Network volunteers participated in this rescue.
Burlew A 9-week old copper-eyed, orange and white tabby named Burlew, and his siblings, were eating from a dumpster in Ciffwood Beach. They were all captured in humane traps and taken in to one of our foster homes. After a week or so, it was clear that Burlew had come down with a terrible virus – he stopped eating and would vomit immediately if force fed. He quickly wasted away to nothing but bones and was extremely dehydrated. A trip to the vet confirmed our suspicions: there was no cure, no panacea for his condition. His only chance was intense and round-the-clock supportive care to keep his body strong enough to fight this off. His dedicated (and experienced) foster family gave him subcutaneous fluids three times a day to stave off dehydration and force fed him in tiny amounts every hour or so to keep him from starving, in addition to administering antibiotics by injection. Despite all the needles and discomfort, Burlew remained high-spirited and affectionate- a real survivor. After more than a week of refusing food, he finally took a few tentative licks of wet food. Everyone was overjoyed; this was the start of his recovery. Strong and healthy for months now, Burlew is still waiting for his forever home and someone to share a pillow with at night. (UPDATE: Burlew was adopted in February!)
In one of the areas where we do trap-neuter-return (TNR), there was a single elusive kitten that we were unable to catch. For weeks we tried to trap or net her, but we could never get close enough to her because she had a really good hiding spot: an abandoned sailboat stored upside down that was too heavy to lift or move by hand, and set on the ground in a way that made it extremely difficult to reach the cavity where she was hiding. It’s likely that she was born in this very spot. Finally- when she was old enough to start enjoying wet food, and we were exhausted from failed attempts- we lured her out and into a trap. Success! And so the kitten was named Sunfish to remind her- and us- of her unique, nautical beginnings.
Teak One March night, a Keansburg resident noticed a beautiful tabby cat high up in a tree- who would not (and likely could not) come down on his own. After being turned down by the local fire department, the woman hired a tree-cutting service to rescue him! Some PAN volunteers lived in the neighborhood and had gotten involved, and this is how the high-flying cat was brought into foster care with P.A.N that night, and named ‘Teak.’ His new adoptive family, including two sweet children, decided to rename him Tarzan. So appropriate and so adorable for this branch-swinging feline!
Doc & Flashlight
These two 3-month old tuxedos were found in a cardboard box in Red Bank on the hottest and most humid day of 2013. They were suffering from heat exhaustion, starvation and dehydration. They were lying in their own waste and circled by flies. We rushed them to one of our foster homes and discovered that the female was too weak to even stand, and her body temperature had dropped dangerously low (a sign that she was losing her battle for life). We gradually warmed her and then hooked her up to a bag of fluids. After she was treated, the male got his turn with the lifesaving fluids. Once they were properly hydrated, we offered these weak little souls some puréed food and they ate desperately. It had obviously been a good while since their last meal. It was another 24 hours before the female could get her legs under her, but within a few days the pair had their strength back and were putting on weight and starting to play. In spite of the fact that they were obviously mistreated and abandoned by humans, Doc and Flashlight, now about 8 months old, couldn’t be more cheerful and lovable (not to mention cute). They are both lap cats, and get along great with other cats and dogs, too! They are still waiting for a forever home. They do not need to be placed as a pair, as they will make new friends where ever they go.
This past fall, during one of our usual Saturday adoption days, a man stopped in and asked if we would help him find a loving home for the 8-10 week old orange tabby he had been fostering for about two weeks. Of course we said yes, and then we heard this baby’s incredible rescue: the man and a friend had been driving on route 35 one evening and saw something hovering on the top of the cement median. They safely pulled over and ran out- it was indeed a kitten, a fiery orange tabby with one of the most boisterous, dare-devilish personalities we’d ever seen. We thought Blaine, after the stunt artist, would be a fitting name. What an incredible story! We won’t ever know how or why Blaine got to the median, but we are grateful that everyone worked together to save him. He found a home the very first day he was shown at Petsmart.
Balthazar Balthazar (who goes by many names, including Mr. Big and now Charlie) is a big, black, long-haired cat who was found living in a feral colony. His appearance- ragged, scarred, beat up- had earned him a reputation in the neighborhood as a tough and mean street-cat, but after he was captured and was recovering from his neutering surgery and his wounds, we discovered he was far from a tough guy. Instead, he was a sweet and gentle giant who was most likely dumped there and was not fit for living such a tough life. After some time and lots of TLC, his true look- gorgeous and regal- finally surfaced. Balthazar had a wise, wizardlike sense about him, like he had seen more things than we could ever know. Now he is living the luxurious life, one of sunbeams and comforters and windowsills. His new mommy sends us regular photo updates on Facebook (which makes us happier than you could ever know!).