Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Maine's newest shelter is freakin awesome

The Animal Refuge League in Westbrook Maine has been run out of a building that was built in 1956. It functioned but it was beyond time to upgrade. For years they have been working on their upgrade; raising funds, making plans, construction.

Last week they closed for a few days while they moved into the new building and opened to the public on the day after Thanksgiving.  I stopped by on Sunday to take a look around and was lucky to run into someone who gave me the full tour. They still aren't fully moved in but I was still moved to tears about how amazing this place is.

The sign as I drove up

This is the entrance to the facility. I didn't take a photo of the lobby because there were two employees right there and I felt a little silly doing it.  Once you walk through the doors you are in a great room that is pretty barren save for the reception/adoption area in the back. This seems like a great space that will have a lot of function, especially on busy days. to the right is a room where they house the small animals. You can see the cages through the small windows.

To the left is the cat area. You go through a door and you are in another large room that is surrounded by rooms and three large display cages. In the middle of that room, they have some stackable cages for kitties that need a more enclosed space.

Cages in the center of the room. 
They have access ports that can be opened or closed.

Three larger single cages with trees. I bet these would be good for bonded pairs
You can see the lobby behind them.

Two "get acquainted" rooms, so you can sit down one on one with a kitty

If you look to the left you can see another sign. It is next to a door that leads to a galley-like kitchen area where they do cat food prep. Yes, the cats have their own food prep area.. let me repeat that, the cats have their own food prep area..  and no, I did not cry.. 

The first photo is the first cat room and the next two were from the second. These are communal rooms that each have a sliding glass door out to a 'catio' area that is enclosed with a mesh so the cats can get a lot of fresh air. That white block in the lower right corner is a cat door so on days they don't want to have the large doors open the cats can still go in and out. Didn't cry over that either.. really :)

Some of the kitties available for adoption.

This was really awesome. This is a hose and control system for cleaning. If you were to take a closer look at the knobs you would see they have the ability to use hot water. These things are everywhere in the shelter. 

There is a third cat room, also with a catio that I didn't get photos of. I also love how each of these rooms has shelves and perches so the cats can get up off the floor but not so high up that a person can not interact with them.  The first cat room also has a 'tree' consisting of several large platforms that look sturdy enough for several people to sit on. And in the most inspired act, if you ask me, is the room where they hold kittens waiting for adoption is on the far end of the cat area so people have to walk past adoptable cats to get there.
At this point, I met up with one of the employees and she took me for a full tour of the facility. I saw the cat food prep area, the area where they have multiple smaller rooms filled with cat cages. Each pod is separate so if they have an outbreak of a contagion they can keep the cats isolated. We also saw numerous bathrooms. They are everywhere, absolutely everywhere, which I can only imagine is such a relief as often they are an afterthought.

Look at the amazing classroom they have for humane education! Look at it! Do you need tissues?

In a quieter section of the facility, they have 'new guest' rooms for both cats and dogs. This allows cats, who might need a little time to adjust, to be able to chill out. If you look closely there is a guest checked in. I love how most of these rooms have their own sinks.

Their commercial laundry facilities. They have two washers and two dryers. I was told they were super speedy. In the next room, they had the commercial dishwasher that also cleans the metal litter pans. It washes and disinfects in about a minute.. A MINUTE!  *hands out tissues*

They have a dog washing room that has a built up floor so if there is a spill it won't go into the hallway. Their intake area is housed in a completely separate area of the building. If you look at the first photo again it is actually on the left side of the building and it uses the same entrance as the spay neuter clinic... which has... get this.. an automatic door!!

The dog area was awesome too. The kennels were in a giant room and they backed up to a hallway that gave access to the kennels from the back as well as their front facing door. That hallway is enclosed so if you have a dog that likes to bolt, they would be contained. They had more get acquainted rooms for people who might want to sit down with a dog. They had multiple outside areas so the dogs could be let off leash to run - including the dogs that aren't available... all with astroturf.

They have an amazing conference area that is one giant room that they built in sound dampening which was awesome.   I might just have to break out a thesaurus if I want to continue to tell you how awesome this is.

I will share the sign as I was leaving.. 

I don't see an official announcement of the number of animals adopted, but I thought I heard someone say there was only one dog left and I saw that there was probably a dozen cats.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Meet the new fosters

I received an email yesterday from the shelter mentioning they had six recently neutered kittens and I was asked if I might want to foster three of them. I immediately replied that I'd foster all six but whatever they needed was fine.

Apparently, the other three were already spoken for, so I ended up with just three. Two girls and a boy. Paris is mostly black and Prism is the tuxie. Pirate is the boy.

They were in the cage while I washed the floor. When I opened the cage door, it was pretty apparent they had absolutely no use for human beings. Paris was mostly okay with my wanting to touch her and I was able to pick her up and give her a hug and a kiss before sending her on her way to explore the room. Prism and Pirate however.. when they saw Paris was outside of the cage they doubled their efforts to get out, just not where I was.

I was able to put my hands on them and Pirate even purred for me. (He has the softest fur)

They were just neutered and are only here for two weeks until they are ready for their booster vaccine. They will go back on the 9th and go up for adoption that weekend. Hopefully, they can come around and realize just how awesome wrapping a person around their paw is. I will do my best.

The webcams are running, so you can check in on them whenever you would like.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The State of Casa de Gato

Now that things have settled down a bit, it is time to focus on the needs of The Crew.

Jack has one eye that has been watering on and off for a few weeks now. I really need to get him ito the vet for a general once over and a specific look at that eye. I have a feeling we might be dealing with bartonella and I intend to have him tested for that.  Other than the eye, he does need more grooming now than he has in the past - prior to his I131 and becoming hypothyroid - but I am happy to do that.

Muffin is also pretty stable. She is still limping slightly, but she has learned how to get down the stairs so I'm thinking she is doing well. I put her on Adaquan and give her cosequin a few times a week.  She is also due for a general check up just to be sure.

Eli is a bit more concerning. I am a bit worried about his bladder so I have been giving him the UT supplement when I am able to. Whenever he starts screaming when we aren't in the room I make it a point to give him one. His mouth could also use a seriously good cleaning.

We are coming upon static season so he is often around hoping we will pat him until he starts sparking.. he must be the only cat in the world who loves static.

I love how Twee's forehead whiskers look like antennae. Twee also has had weeping eyes. I have tried antibiotic ointment and natural remedies so I need to her have her tested for bartonella as well. Twee has been spending a lot of time with the CatMan, which has been very nice for both of them.

Fleurp was attempting to give me the cold shoulder because I would not give her treats. It didn't last for long thank goodness because she is so darn cute.

Things are going well with Fleurp too *knockwood* She has been holding a steady weight and is even coming into the bedroom more frequently now that Kit has passed. I am unsure as to why that is, but I'm happy to see it. It wasn't like she didn't like Kit, she spent a lot of time with her in her last few days, I guess there are some things I am just not meant to know.. that and why she seems to be chasing ghosts (or maybe it is a fly??) and is running around the house like her tail is on fire.. (it's not, I checked)

Skippy was none too pleased I woke him up from a nap to take his photo..  Skippy is also doing well. His weight is a constant; my weight notebook has his weight always the same. I need to find him a nice Christmas bow tie... but I have been considering trying my hand at making one as I have all of the necessary supplies to do it. We'll see.

Me? I'm okayish. The keen ache has dulled and I'm sure as time goes on it will be easier and easier to remember. For now, I'm doing my best to avoid remembering. In other news, my stomach has decided to go on vacation.. which is interesting. Every once in a while (I think the last time was two years ago) for a few days to a week it absolutely revolts at even the idea of food and makes my life very interesting. I wouldn't mind so much if it would tell my brain to stop getting hungry. I can usually eat jello and toast as long as I go slow, so I get through it easily enough.  What really bothers me most is that I have some really awesome Thanksgiving leftovers in my fridge I can't eat.

As you can see I did a slight redesign on the blog. Comments? Suggestion? I think the font could be a bit bigger. I'm thinking of moving the labels to a page instead of on the sidebar. Does anyone use them? Do you like seeing them there or do they take up too much room?

The Fishies were all adopted on Friday.. the first day the shelter was open in their new facility.  I went and saw it yesterday, it made my eyes leak at how amazing it is, and how nearly unbelievably cat-friendly it is. I took some photos, I will share that with you this week. There might be new kittens at the end of the week, only time will tell.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Kit; Saying Goodbye

Kit from 2011 

Nov 11, 2007 

Daddy's first cuddle 

The day or the day after she was born May 15th 

I knew losing Kit would be hard, but I didn't realize just how hard it would be. Kit was 100% my husband's cat, as I'm sure you are well aware.. 

She would find use for me when I had broccoli or had a blanket over my lap but, on the whole, she far preferred her favorite human, and I can't say I blame her.

I miss her, I do. I adored her because of how happy she made him. What has been hardest on me though is watching him grieve for her. As an empath, I feel it quite keenly and nothing makes me tear up faster than thinking of things that she will no longer be a part of... like crawling up on his chest to watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving specials.. (which we were able to do one last time)

Kit's last photo.

Nine years was not nearly enough, but sadly it was what we had. In time, we will be able to smile because it happened but right now it still just hurts.

Her last days were hard. When she was diagnosed with lymphoma, I knew it was going to take her quickly because of how fast it popped up. We did not want her to suffer but we were not willing to let go easily. We had multiple discussions about just when to let her go. How do you tell when a cat who has a large lump on her throat is ready to go? At the time of diagnosis, she was still very much "Kit" and I could have gone a few more weeks before I found out it was going on if I hadn't put my hands on her that day. The vet said three to six months which would put her end of life somewhere in the new year - we hoped. But the more I thought about it, the less sure I was. The prednisolone put weight on her and seemed to make the tumor shrink a bit, so I had ideas that we would easily get through Thanksgiving, but we would have to make a decision after that. I spoke to my husband about it quite a bit in those last few days, preparing him that it was coming.

As the days went on, it became clear it was going to be close. She went off her food but happily ate treats. She was maintaining her weight. Yes, treats are not a balanced and appropriate diet, but it would have gotten us through Thanksgiving if the tumor didn't have a mind of its own.

I had taken a few days off to do things around the house but instead it turned into convalescence care for her. It became more and more apparent that her time was measured in hours and not in days. I wanted to make the appointment for Thursday but the vet didn't have an opening. They had a Friday early afternoon which sadly they had to postpone for a few hours.

The sunset on Thursday.

I wanted to make Kit as happy as I could. I dug out her favorite pillow that we had to put away a few years ago because it had a hole that was causing the pellets inside to fall out. I had such grand plans for making her a new one, I did. I have all of the components in my craft room except the stretchy fabric on the bottom. I looked everywhere.. I thought I had time.
She took to it immediately.

Waiting on Friday

Because she travels poorly, I had plans to give her a sedative and some Pepcid to make the journey easier but the tumor had advanced to the point where giving it to her was one of the most difficult things I've ever done.  When the time came, my husband opted to hold her instead of putting her in a carrier. We drove up and while the sedative helped it was still quite hard on all of us.  Her passing was a simple affair that we both were there for. We brought her favorite green blanket and she opted to lay on the floor.
A single star in the middle of the night's sky leads us home.
Nov 11th, 2016

The Crew adjusted very well to her passing. Skippy and Twee have stepped up to occupy the spot on my husband's chest that has been vacant. Fleurp is sleeping on the bed more often now. Everyone lost an ounce or two because they aren't being over fed (since he insisted on giving her a full portion of food despite her eating far less)

One day.. 
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