The saying goes, “It takes a village…” Here at Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue Society (KCZD), we believe it takes a community! We have worked for the past eleven years to build a strong family of volunteers, and a strong relationship with our community. One of those relationships is with our local shelters. Our shelter partners know our priority is life-saving, and routinely reach out to us when a cat comes into their care who is considered special needs and in danger of being euthanized because of this designation. One example is Bocelli, who was suspected to be blind and would not have done well at the shelter. They reached out to us to help Bocelli live the life he deserved!
Another strong relationship we value is with local rescuers. Local rescuers have huge hearts, and use their time and money to save stray kitties who are wandering around our neighborhoods. One of these very special people rescued a kitten with cerebellar hypoplasia or CH. We were asked to take her in to save her life and find her just the right adopter who would be ok with her wiggling and unsteady movements, and we did just that. Below is Jackie and Boccelli’s story, written by our volunteer Michelle Y, who learned all about special needs, and how that doesn’t have to define a life.
Jackie came into our family as a foster kitten when she was nine months old. She has cerebellar hypoplasia, a condition which is caused by the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination, not developing properly. As a result, she kind of wobbles while walking and faces some challenges eating, drinking, and using the litter box. She was also blind in her left eye which was scarred and swollen due to an infection she had very early on.
Karma Cat + Zen Dog was very supportive the entire time we were fostering Jackie and continued to help after we adopted her. On top of providing us with the supplies we needed to have a successful fostering experience, they also gave us a lot of trust. We communicated with the team of medical directors and administrators on a regular basis, and shared thoughts on new things we wanted to try out with Jackie. We really enjoyed observing her and experimenting with different solutions to make her life easier. Jackie’s head bobs around quite a bit and we noticed it was difficult for her to eat food out of a normal bowl. She would bump her head on it and wasn’t able to eat all of the food from the bottom. We tried elevating the bowls but she still had difficulty so we would feed her by hand every day. We decided to try using a different style of bowl because she would eat a lot more when we hand fed her. The new bowl is very shallow with no walls and is slightly elevated. It is the perfect solution, she can eat all of her food without issues.
Jackie also had some complications using the litter box. The first one we tried was covered with a small entry door but it was not easy for her to get into or out. When we took the lid off, however, the box was too small and because of her lack of coordination she would thrash around and litter was thrown all over the place. We switched it out for a larger litter box with higher walls which worked out much better for her. The folks at KCZD gave us the freedom to try anything we thought of to help Jackie. We began to realize that we had fallen in love with Jackie and we wouldn’t be able to give her away, so we adopted her before anyone else could. Jackie is a lot like other cats in many ways, and also different in her own special ways. There was a learning curve with caring for Jackie as there is when adopting any animal. Jackie falls constantly, she runs into walls and furniture, she makes a mess of her litter and food, and she brings pure joy to our household every single day.
Day to day, Jackie requires more attention than most other cats. When she wants to look out the window, she asks us to pick her up and put her on her favorite hammock. Sometimes she needs help getting into or out of the litter box. We make sure not to leave anything with sharp corners or hard edges lying around so she doesn’t hurt herself and we keep her away from stairs and heights. She likes to play with toys that roll and she likes being chased around the house. She is very social and playful and loves to wrestle with her brother, Bocelli.
Bocelli was our second foster after we decided to adopt Jackie. He is blind, but that isn’t immediately obvious upon meeting him. He can do everything other cats do. He jumps, he runs, he plays. It was really cool learning how to effectively interact with him. He likes when you make noise by rubbing your fingers together before petting him so he knows that it’s coming and he doesn’t like being pet anywhere but on his head. He prefers playing with toys that make noise and his favorite ones are crinkly balls. He has excellent hearing and uses his sense of sound along with the vibration in the air to hunt and track down bugs.
It was interesting watching him navigate our house on the first day. He mapped out our entire house by slowly exploring the perimeter of each room and learning where the furniture was. We don’t move things around too much or leave anything out of place or he’ll bump into it. He immediately bonded with Jackie and Squid, our other cat. He is so sweet and we all fell in love with him, but we were worried about foster failing two times in a row. KCZD supported us in making the best decision for our family and Bocelli, and confirmed that although they would be losing us as fosters, they were thrilled we would be providing both of the cats with a loving forever home.
The folks at KCZD were so helpful after we decided to adopt the cats. They made us feel confident that we were making the right choice and although we wouldn’t be able to foster cats anymore, we would be able to help volunteer in other ways. We have seen so much dedication and hard work from all of the volunteers in the short time that we have been with Karma Cat + Zen Dog, and we look forward to helping the organization to continue to provide homes for awesome rescued animals.
Neither of these kitties would have had an easy time surviving in the shelter or on the streets, but thanks to our strong community relationships, they are both happy, healthy, and loved in a forever home. We want to continue to help kitties like Jackie & Bocelli, and in order to do that, we are trying to raise $3,000 on our Community Thrives fundraiser page. If we meet our goal, and we know our community will help us do that, we’re eligible for even more grant money; last year we received $6,000. To donate to or create your own Community Thrives fundraiser, click here.