It's a bit of pressure to create the first blog entry, but I guess the only way to do it is to do it! This blog will be a place for various Project MEOW events and projects, information about Project MEOW and cat rescue in general, and pictures of cats, of course. :)
To introduce myself, my name is Emily and I'm one of those Project MEOW volunteers who manages to attract all the stray cats within a 10-block radius of my house (one of our major volunteers, Michelle, is another one). This is not so bad when they're adorable tiny kittens--they get snapped up quick by either adopters or PAWS, our partner rescue organization who makes it possible for us to get discounted vet care and often take our adoptable "friendlies" into their system.
But sometimes you get a hard case. Hucklebuck is one of those:
Don't let the appearance scare you!
I'd been seeing Hucklebuck to and from my way to work for a year before picking him up. He was a sweetheart from the start, but was never around quite regularly enough for me to plan a rescue. I'd run back to my house to get a carrier, and by the time I returned he'd be gone. Or I'd be leaving for the weekend, or headed to work, and then I wouldn't see him again for weeks and weeks.
Well, it was March and it had been an extremely cold winter. I hadn't seen Hucklebuck since the fall and I feared the worse. Then one chilly, rainy night I was walking back to my home and there he was, sitting on a porch only a few houses down from mine. He mewed pitiously and it was clear the winter had not been good to him. He was terribly skinny, his coat was completely matted, he was weak, and there was a giant wound above one eye. A quick phone call later and my roommate was bringing me a carrier while I sat with Hucklebuck to make sure he didn't take off again. I needn't have worried--he was more interested in snuggling in my lap than eating the can of food I had for him!
So I brought Hucklebuck inside and the wonderful Project MEOW network of volunteers got together to get him care and a foster home.
Side note: Cat rescue may seem deceptively easy, but there are many points where volunteers are needed. The cat has to be kept isolated from other cats for 14 days to prevent disease transmission, so you need a volunteer who has a space where they can "iso" the kitty. Someone needs to make and coordinate the appointment at PAWS to investigate the cat's health and get them spayed, neutered, and vaccinated. If you have an easy case, you can take the cat straight to the spay/neuter and vaccination clinic. In hard cases like Hucklebuck, the cat first needs a vet appointment, then once they're well enough they can be taken to the clinic. You need a volunteer to transport the kitty, as oftentimes the person fostering the cat doesn't have a car or cannot take the cat themselves. And you need a long-term foster, as a person with an isolation space may not be able to hold the cat long term. More complicated than you expected, right?
As the wheels of the Project MEOW machine were turning, I was evaluating Hucklebuck for adoptability. How friendly was he? Would he get along with people? Would he be OK inside? It didn't take long:
I've rescued many cats, and he was one of the friendliest!
He went under the care of Cristen, one of our wonderful long-term fosters. She took great care of him--got all of his mats out, tended to his wounds, and nursed him back to health. But unfortunately, Hucklebuck tested positive for FIV. FIV is akin to human HIV, though less dire. If well-cared for, FIV-positive cats can live long and wonderful lives. It is not transmissible to humans, and it is only transmissible to other cats through sex and deep bite wounds (this is why we see a lot of our older strays, especially males, with FIV). You can read more about FIV here.
However, most people do not want to house FIV+ kitties with FIV- kitties, and PAWS will not accept FIV+ kitties into their system. The diagnosis is also quite scary for potential adopters and many people will not even consider them.
This is sad, as it leaves sweet, snuggly cats like Hucklebuck quite literally out in the cold! FIV+ cats are perfect for people who either own other FIV+ cats or are looking for a one-and-only. Have you ever seen such an ugly-cute face? That squinty eye is permanent--it's likely from a poorly healed infection from his previous life on the streets. I like to think it gives him character:
But that is where Hucklebuck's adoption profile stands now. He may be the perfect lap cat, he may want nothing more than to climb under the covers with you, he may be a perfect companion for anyone who wants a one-and-only buddy, but his age, appearance, and FIV+ status have left him in foster-home limbo, rotating between fosters as we try to find a forever home, if not just a foster that can take him long term. If poor Hucklebuck was a kitten when he was found I've no doubt he'd have a family by now.
It's cases like Hucklebuck's that make rescue worth it, though. The hardest cases are often the sweetest fellow and it is a great feeling to know I'll never see him on my way home from work again.