Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah from everyone at Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society!
May you all have a wonderful day filled with laughter, love and some adopted furry friends!
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah from everyone at Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society!
This sweet girl was surrendered to a local shelter when she was approximately 5 years old. As a delicate Siamese-mix, she was devastated and petrified in the shelter environment. We were able to transfer her out and place her in a foster home. It took a few months before Harlow relaxed enough to show us her true nature: sweet, polite and friendly!
She was recently adopted into a very full and loving home!
Her adopter sent us an update email:
Hi! I wanted to give you a little one month update on Harlow. She has acclimated very well! I am definitely her human. She sometimes runs when Jay comes in the room, which is hilarious! She loves to get up on the bathroom counter and in the sink to keep me company while I get ready for work every morning. She has her little napping spots all over the house, like the chairs under the dining room table and under the big fish tank. She lets me pick her up and snuggle her but still isn’t a lap cat. She’s fond of Piper but hisses at Gus and today she snuggled up with Piper on the couch! So, all in all, she’s doing great and if her excessive purring is any indication I think she’s quite happy!
Images from her new home:
Do you have an adoption update to share? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Onychectomy, popularly known as declawing, is an operation to surgically remove an animal’s claws by means of amputating all or part of the distal phalanx, or end bones, of the animal’s toes. (definition per wikipedia).
But, let’s be honest about declawing … it is the mutilation of the animal’s paw so that the claws can no longer grow. The claw is removed along with the bone it is attached to (imagine your fingernail and finger up to the first joint). The traditional way of doing this is with an instrument that looks like a really big pair of nail trimmers – guillotine-style. Chop! Off with the claw and bone … and wait, half of the paw pad. Yup, that part of the animal that is used for walking, running, and balance – sliced in half.
Go on, imagine it … don’t make me post the pictures.
Guess that’s why several countries have banned declawing – it is illegal in Australia, Brazil, Israel, Finland, Estonia, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and United Kingdom.
And despite the clear ethical guidelines given by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) (meaning: declawing should only be done in very extreme cases), surveys suggest that 95 percent of declaw surgeries are done to protect furniture.
Argh, so it is legal to mutilate a animal’s paws so that the furniture is not potentially damaged.
I’ve thought about this procedure a lot lately and it’s no surprise that I spend a lot of time watching and caring for cats. I’ve seen how they use their claws – primarily for stability and play.
A cat without claws is almost equivalent to a human without thumbs or big toes.
Think about how much you use your thumbs … and if they were amputated, how much you would have to alter the things you do on a daily basis? Good luck trying to pick up that coffee travel mug … or quickly maneuver the car steering wheel … or turn a round door knob. And those big toes … the majority of your balance when walking comes from the big toes.
As for those arguments about why cats should be declawed:
1. “I don’t want my furniture ruined.” ~Well, you probably shouldn’t have cats … or kids … or any parties that involve food or beverages. The pet supply stores have a large selection of scratching posts – give your cats their own furniture! Stores like PetSmart offer all kinds of options. Don’t have a lot of space? Something as simple as this cardboard scratcher works for many cats:
2. “My kids will get hurt.” ~No, no, no … the majority of cats are not out to harm your kid. Unless, of course, your kid is completely rambunctious and attacking the cat. Teach your children how to properly play with a cat using a wand toy that will keep the hands safely away from the cats claws.
3. “All my other cats are declawed.” ~So? Again, the new cat with claws is not on a mission to seek out and hurt the cats with no claws. A well-socialized cat has no agenda for blood. Watch a pair of cats that have their claws play-fight: no blood, no injuries. For more information about how to successfully introduce and socialize a new cat, check out our blog post on Cat Introductions.
4. “I don’t know how to trim the cat’s nails.” ~You are a very smart person – you can learn. And if that fails, there are plenty of ‘cat people’ out there that can do this for you. Here’s a video of how to trim a cat’s nails:
Recently, The Paw Project movie was released. Screenings are listed on their website … if it shows up near you, please go see it! http://pawprojectmovie.com/
For more information: http://www.pawproject.org/
The New Jersey 2012 municipal shelter statistics are finally available (in general, rescue groups are not included).
But, don’t get too excited – they aren’t really that pretty. Better than some states, sure … but are they acceptable in the age of knowledge, ever-increasing pet care (i.e. money spent on our pets) and increased taxes?
Of those shelters choosing to report, over 26,000 animals were put to death in NJ shelters in 2012. That is 30% of those impounded. THIRTY PERCENT. If you have 3 animals in your house right now, just look at all them and imagine one dead because the shelter system in this state (and country) is broken.
The report shows over 22,000 of those killed in 2012 were cats. That is 82.6% of all animals impounded. WHAT?
60 cats per day. New Jersey is failing when it comes to saving cats.
Keep in mind that reporting is voluntary so the actual numbers are likely higher. And practically ALL municipal shelters are funded with tax-payer dollars. YOUR MONEY.
So, what can be done?
Karma Cat + Zen Dog started in Middlesex County, New Jersey and we do the majority of our adoptions here. Likewise, at this time, the majority of our animals are rescued from Middlesex County. According to the above report, Middlesex County killed 1,667 animals in 2012. Of that number, 1,264 were cats … 89.3% of shelter intake.
But, really: NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED IN EIGHT YEARS. Especially for the cats …
“Nobody WANTS to kill healthy pets” right? Well, sorry, but why are over 1,000 cats killed in Middlesex shelters every year?
Oh, right … “Pet Overpopulation” … We’ve all heard the tag line: “too many pets, not enough homes”
It’s just NOT TRUE!
For pet overpopulation to be true, the number of homes/families looking for a new pet must be lower than the number of available, adoptable pets. So, let’s do some math …
Part 1: How many homes are available for pets? According to the U.S. Census of 2011, Middlesex County had 296,076 households (1) … for the sake of this post, let’s assume that number is the same for 2012 (the year of the latest shelter statistics).
Part 2: Of those Middlesex County homes, how many have pets? If we assume that our county is “average” for the U.S., then according to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Market Research Statistics (2) 36.5% of households will have 1.6 dogs and 30.4% of households will have 2.1 cats.
Crunching the numbers, that gives 172,908 dogs and 189,015 cats as pets in Middlesex County, NJ. (Hey, look at that – more cats than dogs!)
The life expectancy of dogs varies by breed and size … the life expectancy of medium size dogs is 10 to 13 years (3). Cats live 15 to 17 years on average (4). Averaging, we get 11.5 year lifespan for dogs, and 16 year lifespan for cats. This means that, …
Of the 172,908 dogs in Middlesex County, 1/11.5 (15,036) will pass away each year and of the 189,015 cats in Middlesex County, 1/16 (11,813) will pass away each year.
Part 3: Compare Part 1 and Part 2
This also means that 26,849 pets (15,036 dogs + 11,813 cats) could be replaced every year in the county to maintain a constant rate of pet ownership. While it is true that not everyone replaces a beloved pet immediately, and some people decide not to replace a pet that has died, others decide to obtain a companion for the first time, so we can assume that the rate of pet ownership remains roughly constant over time.
This graphic should help illustrate the point that there ARE enough potential homes for ALL the euthanized animals in Middlesex County:
The above estimation only works if all the cats & dogs entering the shelter system are adoptable. One of the major issues is that there is no comprehensive program for feral cats. If there were a program to 1. keep feral cats out of the shelter system and 2. provide vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries for those that do end up at the shelter, we would likely see the number of cats euthanized drop drastically.
Enter: TNR! Trap-Neuter-Return!!
Healthy cats do not belong in shelters. TNR is the only way to save cats’ lives, reduce and stabilize community cat populations, and free up very badly needed shelter space for adoptable animals. This is how communities should be spending their money on cats instead of killing them.
You can help:
Inspiration for portions of this post: http://uppermarlboro.patch.com/groups/no-kill-prince-georges-county-md/p/examining-the-pet-overpopulation-problem
There’s a reason we recommend certain things when adding a new cat to a home … we’ve been down this road quite a few times and we kinda know what we are talking about. No, seriously … of the 10+ adoption counselors, we have something like 75 cats amongst us. We’ve “been there, done that” and we have the range of adoptable cats from “hey, whatever man” (awwww, Bubba-C) to “I’M THE PRINCESS OF THIS INDOOR CASTLE AND YOU ALL SHALL BOW TO MEEEEE” (all capital letters on purpose, thank you Siren).
All kidding aside, there is a process that can make the addition of a new cat into a home go smoothly. Follow these 5 steps to a successful cat addition:
And here are the details to hopefully avoid this:
Even if the cat you are adopting is good with other cats, there is always the possibility of problems when introducing strangers to each other. There are several steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of problems. Before bringing your new cat home, create a separate “territory” for him/her. This area should be equipped with food, water, a scratching post, a litter box, access to natural sunlight, and comfortable resting places (a hiding spot is normally a great idea too).
Your other cats should have their own separate territory. Make certain that both areas (the space for the new cat and the space for the other cats) contain multiple hiding places so the cats can easily retreat if necessary. Large cardboard boxes with holes cut in two sides make great hiding places. The second hole allows a cat to escape if cornered by another cat. The boxes will come into play once you start allowing the cats to interact directly, but it can be helpful to introduce the boxes first, so that the cats become accustomed to using them. Keep in mind that cats like to hide in high places, so remove fragile items from large shelves or block access to the small/knick-knacky shelves.
Place your new cat in the designated space as soon as you arrive home, and spend a minimum of one hour with him/her (and the other cats in the household) per day. Play with them regularly and watch them closely for signs of stress or anxiety, such as hiding, aggressive behavior, decreased appetite, and/or excessive vocalization. If you see any of these signs, your cat MIGHT be having a stress reaction to “the change”. Breathe, relax, take a step back. But, if the signs persist for more than several days and/or if your cat stops eating, consult with your veterinarian.
If any cat is showing mild signs of stress, give him or her time to acclimate to the new situation. If all the cats appear comfortable in their spaces, place the new cat in a different room after two days (equipped with the same amenities), and allow your other cats to enter the new cat’s original territory. This will allow each cat to become accustomed to the others’ scent in a non-threatening way. Allow the cats to acclimate to their new areas for at least one day.
Caveat: If your new “cat” is really a tiny kitten (say, less than 4 months of age) … as soon as they are accustomed to YOU, their new litter box and their new food … LET THEM MEET THE OTHER CATS. In general, introductions with kittens can go much faster as older/established cats usually do not look at a less than 4 lb kitten as a threat. A nuisance, well maybe, but not a threat. Let the hissing happen … let the established cats have their say and raise their paw. The kitten will quickly learn who is boss and will, typically, adjust their behaviors.
Here’s an additional way to introduce cats to each others’ scent: Cats have glands in their cheeks that produce pheromones. When your cat rubs her cheek against a wall, chair, or your leg, she produces pheromones, which are chemical substances that can help to relieve anxiety and provide information about the cat who is producing those pheromones. Exposing each cat to towels that were gently rubbed on the new cat’s cheeks may be a good way to introduce them. Some cats respond very well to a synthetic pheromone (a spray or diffuser) – these can be purchased online or in pet supply stores.
Next, you can start allowing the cats closer access to each other by placing them on either side of a closed door so that they can smell each other directly. The next step is to allow them to see each other through a baby gate or a door that is propped open two inches. If the cats are interested in each other and seem comfortable, allow them to meet. Open the door to the rooms between the cats and observe them closely.
If any cat shows signs of significant stress or aggression, separate them again and introduce them more slowly. Once the cats have acclimated to being allowed to sniff each other through a door, bring each cat into a large room, on opposite sides. If you have a willing helper, each person should play, pet and/or give food treats to one of the cats. If you do not have a helper, place the more comfortable cat in a cat carrier with a bowl of canned cat food to keep him occupied and play with the other cat. Over multiple sessions, gradually bring the cats closer to each other. This exercise teaches the cats that they get special rewards in each others’ presence, and that nothing bad is happening. With time, the cats will learn that they are not a threat to each other.
Remember, an anxious cat is much more likely to behave aggressively than a cat who is comfortable and relaxed. If you use patience in the initial stages of the introduction process, you will increase your chances of a harmonious household. One of the keys to success: YOU have to be comfortable and relaxed too! Fake until you make it!!
The above recommendations are guidelines to increase the likelihood that your new cat will get along with the existing cat(s) in your household. If you have tried these techniques and your cats are still not getting along, please seek the help of your veterinarian or a behaviorist … none of your cats want you to give up on them, they just want you to understand and adjust accordingly.
Recently, we met someone that was appalled that our kittens were spayed/neutered at such a young age. This person was convinced that we were abusing our animals by letting them undergo surgery before they were 6 months of age. Oh my!
So, we’d like to share some information about pediatric/juvenile spay/neuter surgeries.
It is safe to spay or neuter most kittens and puppies at 8 weeks of age. We generally wait until kittens are over 2 lbs (which is typically around the 9 to 10 week age mark) and we never bring sick kittens to the spay/neuter clinics.
The risk of surgical complications is much lower for kittens and puppies than for mature pets:
Spaying/Neutering prior to adoption ENSURES that we are not taking a risk of adding to the cat population with any accidental pregnancies. With over 20,000 cats euthanized at New Jersey municipal animal shelters each year, it seems very irresponsible for us not to spay/neuter every cat that we take in.
There are exceptions, kittens that are slow-growing or have other medical issues that prevent them from being able to handle the anesthesia. ANY surgery has a risk factor and we value the life of every single animal that comes through our doors.
Additionally, we have a very high level of confidence with the veterinarians that we use that perform the pediatric spay/neuter surgeries.
Believe in what we do and our mission? Help us help more cats by sponsoring a spay/neuter surgery!
Donate here: SnipSnip!
Who supports juvenile spay/neuter?
A partial list: http://earlyspayneuter.blogspot.com/
As many as 5,000. That is the astounding number of cats that could be produced by only two unaltered adult cats in merely five short years. Why am I citing this worrying statistic besides pointing out the need for you to spay/neuter your cats?
Because we are now involved in a desperate situation and we need your help.
We are assisting a “hoarder in the making” who took in 16 kittens in the summer of 2012. This person had no money for vaccinations, FeLV/FIV testing, flea treatments, medications or spay/neuter surgeries – and on top of this, considering the startling breeding statistic above – you can just imagine how this could turn into a dire situation very quickly. With (thankfully) only two litters produced, the number of cats in the household is now up to 23.
What makes this person a “hoarder-in-the-making” and not a bona fide hoarder? The plea for help. This is often the hardest thing for a hoarder to do. And though it is a difficult situation, we are thankful that this person chose to finally reach out for help – before it was way too late. It goes without saying: this never should have happened at all.
Wikipedia defines animal hoarding as “keeping a higher-than-usual number of animals as domestic pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them, while at the same time denying this inability.”
And for this case, having two out of the three “hoarder characteristics” has created a bad situation.
People who accumulate a large number of animals; fail to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care; and fail to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals, the environment, and their own health.
Hoarders justify their behavior with the view that the animals are surrogate children and that no one else can care for them. They harbor a fear that if they seek help the animals will be euthanized.
This large number of semi-unsocialized cats, from just one home, that have upper respiratory and eye infections equates to lots of money and time needed to save these cats. It is a doable, but an unfortunate and daunting, task to undertake.
*No sad “before” pictures needed – I’m sure you all have seen your share of sad animal photographs.
The “hoarder in the making” says the kittens came from a shelter in the summer of 2012 and claims that the shelter would not take them back when they were old enough for adoption. However, representatives from the shelter stated the person would always give excuses for not bringing the cats back to the shelter. With the continually-limited shelter resources we are all painfully aware of; man-power and money, the original 16 kittens slipped through the municipal cracks.
Although, can you really blame the shelter manager for not wanting those cats to come back when the ultimate control of the shelter is a non-related department within the town? This is a department that can enter the shelter at any time and say “there are too many animals here, some have got to go.”
Read: bureaucracy + lack of compassion = convenience killing.
Now before you go condemning the shelter manager, firsthand experience tells us that this IS a compassionate person that does care about the animals. Tears are shed whenever an animal is euthanized there. Volunteers are welcomed and given as much responsibility as they can handle – for the benefit of the animals. Medications are purchased, vaccinations are given and somehow the manager keeps a small fund for spay/neuter surgeries. These actions have garnered local support to further improve shelter conditions. But, the improvements will sadly be limited unless the shelter can gain some autonomy from their overseeing department.
Back to the current issue … our “hoarder-in-the-making” is under threat of prosecution and foreclosure and someone needs to step up for these cats and new kittens. That’s where Karma Cat & Zen Dog comes into the picture and why we are reaching out because we need your help.
We don’t have a facility to call our own, so taking on 23 cats and kittens all at once is nearly impossible. HOWEVER, I am happy to say we are working with the shelter to get all of the cats out of the house, vetted and most importantly treated and SPAYED/NEUTERED.
Here’s what you can do! You can help by:
The cats involved in this case include: Rachelle, Deven, Louisa, AnnaB, Kaitlyn, Wally, Anya, Oz, Xander, Angel, Buffy, Cordelia and Faith. Sly has already been placed. Four have already made their way back to the shelter (for adoption), three are with another group, and the shelter is working on the two remaining cats. We will be helping them with the spay/neuter surgeries.
Please help us help them.
What’s YOUR plan?
So, you’ve been doing animal rescue for a few/many years. Or, maybe you have a big heart and a deep-enough wallet? Along the way, you’ve acquired a few animals – the ones with impaired vision, temperament issues, social challenges.
But what happens to them when you can no longer care for them? Do you have a plan in place?
It’s not enough to think/assume/imply that your family will take these pets on. And it’s not fair to assume that they can and will open their home(s) to these precious souls.
Here are the things you need, at a minimum, to transition your animals to someone else if/when something prevents you from caring for them:
Some people will question this decision but it can make the difference between life and death for your pets. If rescue organizations are your only option (because you know your family can’t/won’t step up), providing monetary assistance for your pets will enable more organizations to help. Rescue groups often have reserve funds, but they are usually very limited – and in place for the animals that are currently in their care. And what you really want for your animals is a SANCTUARY – a facility that can commit to the proper care of your animals for the rest of their lives.
N.J. Stat. § 3B:11-38
Year of Enactment: 2001
Summary of law: A trust may be created for the care of a domesticated animal. The trust terminates when no living animal is covered by the trust, or at the end of 21 years, whichever occurs earlier.
Because most trusts are enforceable by law, pet owners will have peace of mind knowing their pets will be cared for according to their instructions. The directions left in a trust can, and should, be very specific. If your cat only likes a particular brand of food, your dog looks forward to daily romps in the park or if your pet should visit the veterinarian three times a year, you can specify this in a trust agreement. A trust that goes into effect while the pet owner is still alive can provide instructions for the care of the animals in the event that the pet owner becomes gravely sick or injured. Since pet owners know the particular habits of their animals better than anyone else, they can describe the kind of care their pets should have and provide a list of the person(s) who would be willing to provide that care.
One practical way of creating a trust is to create one for all of the pets you will have in your lifetime, rather than to create a separate trust for each pet.
Determine the amount of cash or assets needed to adequately cover the expenses for your pet’s care. Generally, this amount cannot exceed what may reasonably be required given your pet’s standard of living. You should also specify how the funds should be distributed to the caregiver.
Life Insurance Policy
Animal advocate, John Sibley, recently posted about this very topic: http://johnsibley.com/2013/02/06/what-happens-to-our-animals-if-we-die/
He purchased a life insurance policy that directly names one animal sanctuary as the beneficiary (with their permission). That sanctuary will care for his animals if anything happens to him.
Because of one kitty, in the past two years, I have:
Today she left my office for a more complete life with one of the most compassionate and dedicated animal rescuers/advocates that I know. She joined two other kitties and five doggies (all rescues) in a real home. She will have more than one room to play in … more than one window to view the world … kitty and doggie friends … and the one thing that always made me so sad that I could never give her: house comforts like a couch and human bed.
Folks, Kandy has left the office. With tears of happiness and some (selfish) sadness, I sit in my office with empty arms wondering how I’ll get any work done without her holding my hand in place with her sleepy head and adorable white paws.
From an orphaned, several day old baby placed with a surrogate mother … to a bottle baby needing human help after the surrogate rejected the kittens … to fighting upper respiratory infections, ear infections, appetite loss, dehydration, a weird mass in her mouth and of course her diagnosis of FeLV … to 10 days past her 2nd birthday. A birthday that many thought she would never see.
Kandy is the embodiment of why we agonize over every rescued animal in our care. She is the example of bleak outlooks turning into wonderful happy endings. She, and every foster cat I’ve had since March 2010, is what makes it all worth it.
As rescuers, we often hear “oh, I could never be a foster home, I would be so sad when the animal was adopted (or I would never be able to let them go)”. I’ll be the first one to tell you that it can be difficult to say goodbye when your fosters leave BUT I can also tell you that it is worth it. Every one that leaves opens the door for another one to be saved. The joys of fostering are intensified knowing that your relationship is temporary. And, fostering greatly improves the chances that an animal will be adopted since personalities are better understood.
Please join us at Paws for Celebration this year – we will truly be celebrating our little poster cat!
Why are they the lucky ones?
Because a compassionate animal control officer (ACO) called on rescue groups to get the very pregnant Zazzles out of the shelter so she could have her babies in a quiet, calm environment. This ACO reached out so that all of these cats would have a chance at life and loving homes. She also opened up a cage for another animal to be saved. This ACO “gets it”.
This is how it’s supposed to be. Shelters working with rescue groups to save lives. But it’s sadly not always the case. There is no requirement for shelters to reach out for help. They don’t have to call on rescue groups or the public to be fosters. We don’t have a version of the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) here in New Jersey, so Zazzles and her kittens are truly the lucky ones. I encourage you to learn more about CAPA via this website: http://www.rescue50.org/capa.html or if you want a shortened version, I wrote about CAPA back in 2011. Delaware and California have versions of CAPA on the books already!
But there’s more to this story. We know that Zazzles actually had a home before ending up at the municipal shelter. She was loved and fed … given up because her family could not care for her any more. And, she was obviously not spayed. This is Zazzles’ second litter so this one adorable kitty has introduced a total of nine lives to this crazy world.
If only she had been spayed. Even after she had her first litter – the number of lives would have been cut in half. And the stress on her body; cut in half. Her risk of mammary cancer; cut in half (or probably more).
There ARE low-cost options to have your animals spayed or neutered. Just do a web-search for “low cost spay neuter new jersey” and you’ll get a whole bunch of choices. Here are a few of the ones that we have used:
A quick websearch will result in many more for you to choose from!
Need some answers about spaying/neutering? Check out this FAQ: http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/spaying-or-neutering-your-cat-faq
Got some extra bucks lying around? Donate here and we’ll have a cat spayed or neutered in your honor!