Articles by Mills

You are currently browsing Mills’s articles.

Sitting on our cat bench

This beautiful young lady is ready for her new home.

A charming young girl

UPDATE

March 14, 2012
Sabrina was adopted by loving couple in Fall City.

Odel and Winnie take refuge in the bookcase

Odel and Winnie came to our house on February 18. Captured as ferals and already over 12 weeks old, they would prove to be a challenge to socialize. But after nearly two months indoors, they have been well fed, altered, and endured lots of human contact. When they first showed up, they just wanted to hide and hiss every time either of us came into their room. They often would take refuge behind my books in the bookcase. I would take the books out one at a time to see them pressed up against the wall, giving me the serious stink eye.

They continued to hiss and spit at us almost every time we came near them. We kept a large cage on the day bed with open doors where they could always run to feel safer. Also, that’s where we fed them so they learned to run into the cage for meals. Inside the cage was a small cubby where they could hide for extra security. After a while we removed the cubby, forcing them to be out in the open more. They became more comfortable outside the cage and would often snuggle on the pedastle near the window.

Odel and Winnie snuggle

In March we had three windows in their room replaced. A very traumatic week for them with all the banging and movement. Once the room was back in order, we removed the cage.

Winnie - the reluctant burrito

After the clinic, we separated them so they can become more bonded with people rather than continue to cling to each other. Winnie has taken up residence in Tom’s office while Odel keeps me company in my office during the day. I’m sure they miss each other, and we look forward to letting them play together in the future. We spend time each day holding the kits in a burrito to help them get used to us.

They love to run and romp. They both have climbing posts and toys. They both quickly developed great litter box habits, but Winnie has a way of kicking an amazing amount of litter out each time he uses it. Although we’ve heard many cats don’t like these, a covered litter box may be the ultimate solution for him. Their personalities are distinct, with Winnie being much more relaxed in general while maintaining his physical independence, while Odel is more intense, fiercely standing his ground when threatened, but who mainly is scared and just wants to be loved. Both prefer the company of humans to being alone. Even as I write this Odel is tearing around the room with his mouse toy, jumping over my legs and purring whenever I talk to him.

Both cats love to snuggle with Nelson

Coming from a feral background, both kittens also love the company of other cats. There’s lots of purring and following our resident boy, Nelson, when we let him into their rooms.

These boys would make excellent companions to a household with some feral experience. Winnie still does not and may never like to be held. He no longer hisses when you come into his room, but he will run away if you get too close. Still, his trills and play antics are a joy to be around, especially if he has his play companion, Odel, or other cats to romp with. Odel does not prefer to be picked up, but once snuggled in your arms wrapped in a blanket, he will relax and purr contentedly. But, he may not choose to stay long, especially if he’s in play mode. Both kitties love to play with toys on a string, mice, ball in a doughnut, and undercover mouse. I suspect, with patience, Odel will become more and more affectionate towards people while Winnie will always be curious but is likely to maintain his physical independence.

Odel wonders what the future holds for him

These beautiful boys  would do great in a stable home with lots of room to play where there is little expectation for them ever being lap cats. They will continue to need socializing for a while and may not yet be ready for roaming freely in a large house. But as time goes on, I suspect their affection will grow as they feel more secure and settle into their forever home.

I created a
flyer to post in pet stores.

 

Winnie with our crazy resident cat Nelson.

Winnie Being Pet

Winnie being wary

Update: Both these cats have gone to great homes!

Tags: , ,

I recently read a handout from Alley Cat Allies that recommended a pre-exposure rabies vaccination to anyone who handles wild animals (i.e., feral cats). With a mind geared towards minimizing high-consequence risk, I called around to find out more.

The first thing I learned is that there is a distribution problem with rabies vaccine this year and King County Health reports that they “do not have vaccine available for pre-exposure rabies vaccination”. This is to ensure there is enough vaccine available for post-exposure vaccinations.

I turned to my Group Health primary care provider, and she passed on my inquiry to their infectious disease department who provided detailed information about rabies and vaccinations. I gathered more information from the Center for Disease Control website.

The pre-rabies vaccinations consist of a series of three shots taken on day 1, day 8, and day 22 or 29. This series does not eliminate the need for care should you be bitten by a rabid animal, but it does reduce it. I was quoted a cost of $243 per shot, making this ounce of prevention equal to about $729 at Group Health.

Post-exposure rabies treatment with no pre-exposure vaccination includes one dose of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period (at an estimated total cost of $2,000). Contrary to popular belief, the shots are not given to the stomach, unless that is where you were bitten.

Either way, that’s a lot of money.

The other bad news is that untreated rabies will kill you, but the really good news is that it is 100% preventable if treated in time (once you start to show symptoms survival is rare).

The rabies virus is transmitted via saliva which means bites are the most likely way to get it, although you might also get it if the cat licked its paw/claws just before scratching you.

So, what do you do if you’ve been deeply scratched or bitten by a cat that has not been vaccinated for rabies? First, consider the situation urgent. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Do this as soon as possible, and, if at all possible, capture the cat so it can be tested and observed for any signs of illness. Also, contact your doctor to make the determination on whether and when to start rabies treatment.

For the time being, I think I’ll pass on the pre-exposure rabies vaccination. It just feels like too much money. We already have solid procedures in place for moving and feeding the ferals as we prepare them for spay/neuter and vaccination (cats are generally not vaccinated for rabies until they reach four pounds).

Instead of the vaccine, I’ll focus my next bit of research on tracking down a pair of elbow-length scratch proof and bite proof gloves and let you know what I find.

Biscuit and Ginger hiding under the jade plant

Last week a family of feral cats was trapped, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated. Mom was returned to the wild while the kits undergo socialization to prepare them for adoption. After a certain time in the wild, cats will never be suitable pets. Socialized young enough and they can make wonderful companions. Biscuit (boy) and Ginger (girl), both around 8-10 weeks old, having been living in Tom’s office this week while he’s out of town. They are adorable and still pretty shy but already less skittish and hissy. A big part of socializing them is just letting them get used to you. They already have learned to love “da bird” toy, and allow me to hold them every once in a while. I love this job.

We are working with the Ally Cat Project – a small cat rescue in Seattle which works primarly to place feral cats in barn homes and shy but socializable kittens as companions. You can read more about Alley Cat on their Petfinder Page.