Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Exciting Week Ends!

This post is the final in the Adopt A Less-Adoptable Pet Week Blog Marathon. You can read the previous post at Sebastian's blog,

I told someone at work today about all the wonderful guest bloggers during this week's Blog Marathon, and what wonderful stories they all told.  And that led to the following conversation:

Why do people shy away from embracing the love of a pet who may be less than perfect?

On the surface, 'less than perfect' seems obvious: there are animals missing an eye, three-legged animals, deaf or diabetic ones.  I understand concerns about vet bills that add up, or a concern that one's environment might not be a safe one for such a pet (for instance, my home would be far too dangerous for a completely blind pet because of its open layout and the potential hazards that presents).

But I would argue those reasons aren't as clear-cut as you might think.

Consider this: the same people who would shy away from an FIV-positive cat are often the same ones who wouldn't think twice about adopting a seemingly hale and hearty - and currently the most popular - breed of cat: the Siamese.  But did you know that the Siamese is known to have the highest number of genetically linked diseases?  For example, Siamese cats are three times more likely to develop cancer of the intestine than any other breed. 

The same goes for dogs.  A current favorite, the English Bulldog, is fraught with health problems. And then there is hip dysplasia, common with both German Shepherds and Labrador retrievers, as well as the problem of cataracts in poodles. You get the picture. 

So for those of you reading this who may volunteer at a shelter, or who may have a friend or relative considering the addition of a furry family member, I urge you to suggest a less-adoptable animal.  If they're looking for perfection, there are no guarantees. And they'll be missing out on an opportunity not only to find a loving forever friend, but oftentimes the rewards that come from owning a 'less than perfect' animal are – with a nod to the MasterCard ads – priceless.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sight Disabled Cats: Homer, Coolio, and Stan

Today's post is written by a guest blogger who needs no introduction: Amy Palmer. She's a "cat whisperer" over at Wayside Waifs - and is also famous for taking Sebastian's dictation down for him at (she's his Mom!).

  This post is #16 in a series. You can read post #15 on Sebastian The Sensitive Soul's blog.

If you have read Gwen Cooper's “Homer's Odyssey”, you know that even if a cat doesn't have eyes, he can still be fearless. 

Homer once scared off a burglar! He doesn't need vision to be a fully-abled cat. If Homer can live a normal life without any eyes, having one eye is a piece of cake for Stan!    
photo courtesy Amy Palmer

Stan is an 8 year old, domestic medium hair cat with a gorgeous white coat who is available for adoption at Wayside Waifs. And he happens to be missing an eye. Big deal. He looks a little different but he doesn't let it bother him. He knows he's a handsome fellow!

And how about Coolio? She doesn't let a little vision problem keep her down! She's playful and full of energy. Her right eye appears a little cloudy, but otherwise she looks pretty normal. She had a previous eye problem that caused her iris and cornea to fuse, causing permanent limited vision in that eye. 

photo courtesy Amy Palmer

All of these cats are considered “less adoptable” but in reality they are no less adoptable than a fully sighted cat-they just look different. Sometimes a cat with sight issues will need special eye care, but in the case of a missing eye, no medical care is needed. It's just like owning any other cat.

There are some tips that will make life easier for a blind or sight-disabled cat. First, if a cat has partial vision, try not to approach on the cat's blind side. If the cat is completely blind, try saying the cat's name before touching him so you don't startle him and he can orient himself to your position.

As far as the cat's living conditions, an open layout home will be more difficult for a sight-disabled cat to navigate. Walls and doorways give a blind cat a way to orient himself in his surroundings. Also, it's best to not rearrange furniture. Doing so can confuse a blind cat. That goes for the cat's items as well: keep his bed, bowls, litter box and scratching post in the same location.

When you are first introducing a sight-disabled cat to your home, start slowly. Let him get acquainted with just one room first. You can expand his world as he gets comfortable.

photo courtesy Wayside Waifs

Sight disabled cats can be the result of many issues: injury, infection, tumor, or simply age. There is no reason to think that a cat can't deal with it though-cats are very adaptable! Other senses heighten to make up for the loss of the other, plus, those whiskers work wonders with navigation. Don't let a missing eye cause you to miss out on a great new friend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Less Adoptable: Cats with Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

This post is #14 in a series. You can read post #13 at Sebastian The Sensitive Soul's blog.
Where do I begin? With Cloudy, I think. As much as this post is about Feline Leukemia (FeLV), it's also about her. Because, truth be told, I fell in love when I saw her.

This is Cloudy.
photo courtesy Mary Montgomery
Cloudy was found in a very busy (dangerous!) part of Kansas City back in June. She was about a month and a half old at the time. Not long after she arrived at Wayside Waifs one of the foster volunteers, Mary Montgomery, saw her… and like me, it was love at first sight. 

Cloudy went home with Mary, and as the days progressed, Mary began to notice that she might be deaf – no surprise, as most blue-eyed white cats (over 70%) are deaf.  So Mary began teaching Cloudy to understand basic sign language, things like "come," "eat," and "no" (how's that last one coming along, Mary? *wink*).  If you'd like to know what it's like to adopt a deaf cat, you can read about it here.

photo courtesy Mary Montgomery
Mary was told when she took Cloudy that she had tested with a "weak positive" for feline leukemia.  But since many kittens receive these antibodies from their mother while nursing, it's hoped that a well-cared for, healthy kitten might be able to clear the virus from her body.

What is feline leukemia, and does it make a cat less adoptable? The answer to the second question is a resounding YES.  FeLV is contagious, so if you are already a cat owner, a FeLV kitty is not for you. Cats can transfer the virus to other cats through bites, mutual grooming and sometimes by sharing litter boxes or feeding dishes. But only to cats; dogs and humans can't catch FeLV.

Feline leukemia is the most common cause of cancer in cats and it can lead to severe immune deficiency, suppressing a cat's ability to fight off an infection on her own.

It's impossible to predict the life expectancy of a FeLV-infected kitty, but most don't live more than two or three years before they come down with an illness they just can't throw off.

The best thing you can do is stack the deck in their favor:  Feed them the absolute best diet you can. Avoid giving them uncooked food or unpasteurized dairy to eliminate food-borne bacterial or parasitic infections. Schedule exams at least twice a year, and make sure your vet pays special attention to gums, eyes, skin and lymph nodes. Watch her weight! Weight loss is often the first sign of illness.

photo courtesy Mary Montgomery
It's going to take a very special person to adopt Cloudy. Because, you see, she was retested. And she was unable to fight off the FeLV infection. So her time on this earth is limited. 

Mary and I can't take her because we have cats of our own and it would be criminally irresponsible to expose them to this disease. But there has to be someone out there – someone with a big heart and a lot of love to give. Someone who will do as Mary and I have, take one look at Cloudy and fall madly in love.

When Mary shared Cloudy's story with me, something she said struck home: with cats like these, it's the quality of life not the quantity that counts. Because Cloudy has FeLV, people will pass her by. And they will miss out on an incredible opportunity: to give the priceless gift of love, and understanding, and a home.

The gratification they'll experience, and the love she'll give them in return – beyond measure.

Signing off now. My heart is breaking. Oh please…someone give our precious girl a home so she can die knowing she was loved….
 If not adopt, then would you consider fostering? To give Cloudy the very best possible chance of survival, we're looking for a home with no pets at decrease the chances of Cloudy catching anything from another animal. 

(And if you can't foster or adopt, please...pass the word along! Share it on Facebook, retweet her story, email your friends!)
Update: you can now contact us at 
So if you have any questions about Cloudy or any of the other special needs kitties, or are interesting in adopting...feel free to send us an email! 

Did we mention how clever Cloudy is? Here is her latest trick:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Less Adoptable: Tigger the Tripod

Today's blog is written by guest blogger, Jeane Ann Baumgartner. This is Tigger's story. This is her story, too. Enjoy...and have a tissue handy!

This post is #12 in a series. You can read post #1 at Sebastian's blog,

Two weeks had gone by since we had lost our cat Junior. The house was sad and empty and I couldn't stand being home. We started our search for a new male kitten less than 48 hours after our loss. My husband patiently took me from shelter to shelter but I wasn't making that connection. I wasn't ready.

My Dad called me one evening to let me know there was a kitten in the Kansas City Star that needed adoption. My Mom had been worrying about his chances all day because he only had three legs. I immediately felt an obligation to this cat. How could I not rescue the crippled cat?

Baby Tigger
(photo: Jeane Ann Baumgartner)
I looked up the shelter's website and was instantly disappointed because the first cat I pulled up was the one I wanted. I had found our next family member and I couldn't have him because I needed to save the kitty with the missing leg. I looked closer at the sweet face and saw some black stitches where a front leg should be.

This WAS the crippled kitty. I read that he was a Manx. A Manx is a wonderful breed and that meant that he was missing more than a leg, he was missing a tail as well.

My husband and I went into planning mode before we went to meet him the next day. We prepared our guest bathroom where we would keep him the first few nights. We devised a plan for ramps to be built along the wall of our stairs. My husband would have built anything on those steps to make me smile again. I was taking the loss of Junior hard.  

I look back on that night now and laugh. One of the first things Tigger did when we brought him home was hop down those stairs. Ramps not included. Tigger pretty much hops wherever he likes. As a younger cat he would get himself in trouble by getting up where he couldn't get down. 

Tigger in his new home
(photo: Jeane Ann Baumgartner)
We've installed our "Save the Leg" Campaign all over our home. Losing a front leg is the hardest for a four legged animal to overcome because it affects their balance. Our campaign generally consists of some doggy stairs and foot rests placed throughout the house so he can get down from places without a crash landing.

Tigger prefers a food bowl where he can rest his stump while he eats. When we put him down we place back feet first. He needs a little extra help bathing. His feline brother and sister help him with the right side of his face and some personal areas that need extra attention. Pet wipes handle the rest. 

Tripods have to keep their weight in check so we offered up a baby brother to help him exercise and I keep an eye on his food intake. What strikes me most often is that I forget his disability unless he is hamming up his Tiny Tim impression.

Add caption
Adopting Tigger has shown me that good can come from bad. We have a deal. He doesn't have to be glad he lost his leg, and I don't have to be glad we lost Junior. Without both events we wouldn't have found each other. I can't imagine my life now without this joyful creature.

I hope you can offer an animal with special needs a home. My wish is that you forget their disability as well and focus on what they add to your life, not what they have lost.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Less Adoptable: Pets with Chronic Ailments

This post is #10 in a series. You can read post #9 at Sebastian's blog,

Licorice (photo courtesy Catherine L. Sherman)
Meet Licorice. 

Isn't she adorable? You wouldn't know it by looking at her but she has two strikes against her. 

One, she's a black cat.
Two, she currently has tummy issues.  

Ryker would have called them "magnificent barfisodes." And he would know.

You see, Ryker suffered from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  On good days, he'd vomit only once. On bad days, he could have as many as nine. Sometimes he'd have a run of 2 to 3 barf-free days in a row (woo!). We joked about how he'd raised it to an art, Feng Shui-ing his barfisodes so they were displayed in the most artistic manner: on the (white) bedroom pillow…in the center of the (white) sofa…at the entrance to the (white carpeted) family room....

IBD is a chronic disease for which there is no cure, and no known cause.  There are few things more frustrating to a pet owner than a chronically ill animal. And if this is known about the animal at the rescue shelter, well…that can certainly make the animal less adoptable.

This was why Ryker's breeder was going to euthanize him, on the advice of her veterinarian.  Ryker was a purebred Tonkinese, but he was also my rescue!

The good news about chronic illnesses such as IBD is that they are manageable. In the case of IBD, it meant trying out various hypo-allergenic or limited ingredient diets,  giving each one a full 2-week stint before moving on to our next candidate until we found one that worked.

It meant managing flare-ups with medical therapy, such as corticosteroids (prednisone) and the occasional antibiotic. We did this only when needed, and the medication was fairly inexpensive. Ryker and I even got into a "pilling" rhythm (though he hated the antibiotic – nasty tasting stuff!).

Cats with chronic disease aren't for every adopter. But they don't necessarily have to be the money pit or time-draining exercise that many may fear. Did we visit the vet more frequently than the average cat? Yes. But Ryker had pet insurance, and that helped out a lot. And my vet and I had those "flare-ups" down to a science:  a quick once-over, a bottle of pills and we were out the door…often with only a minimal fee.  And how often does it take to change a pillowcase or swipe up a mess with some carpet cleaner?

I can tell you I'd give anything to have a few more years of that. Ryker's been gone ten months now, struck down suddenly – not by anything related to his chronic IBD, but of all things, a blood clot  and there's not a day that goes by that I don't miss him with all my heart.

I can't fathom what life would have been like without him. If you or someone you know is considering adopting a chronically ill pet, I can tell you this: look past the illness to the heart of the animal…please! If your souls connect, then that makes it all worthwhile


Licorice has not been diagnosed with IBD or any other chronic disease. She's just currently suffering from a bout of upset tummy. This adorable little girl is currently available at Wayside Waifs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Recent Success Story for a Less Adoptable Cat

Guest blogger Bonnie Still, one of Wayside Waifs' fantastic staffers, agreed to take Mya's dictation for this story. Many thanks, Bonnie!
This is post # 8 in a series. To read post #7, you can visit Sebastian's blog at   
Meow, my name is Mya. I'm a 6 yr old gorgeous female Tuxedo with big beautiful eyes. I was just recently adopted and wanted to tell you my story.

Now, you may be wondering why such a beautiful feline such as myself would be considered "less adoptable". Well, I'm 6 yrs old. To a lot of people, I'm old. The other reason was because of my behavior when I had to stay at Wayside Waifs. You see, a year ago, last August, my owner died. Family took me in, but one of them turned out to be allergic. So, they surrendered me to Wayside Waifs.

In the beginning, I was very sweet and friendly, everyone could pet me and I enjoyed their company. By the time I was moved to the adoption floor, I got sick - an Upper Respiratory Virus, which is common in shelters and often caused by stress. Staff and volunteers started to notice how unhappy I felt. Those that could interact with me, stopped. It wasn't because they didn't want to be with me, they just weren't sure about my behavior. I was getting swatty towards them because I thought they were going to give me more of that icky medicine.

I was stressed, and wanted to go home. I didn't like the other cats, I didn't like the noise, I didn't like that when people came to see me that they would leave without me.

Finally, 9 months later, I was adopted! I was so happy! But, it was not meant to be, and I was returned. When I came back, one of the staff members was very concerned for me. She had hated to see me decline for 9 months, and didn't want me to go through it again. So she fostered me until I was adopted. This was fairly new for the shelter! That meant I was even more of a challenge to get adopted because I was only on their Website.

My foster Mom really helped me to be my true self and to relax - I even enjoyed bellyrubs! I was 6 yrs old and had no idea what to do with a toy, but I learned, and then all I wanted to do was play. There was no stress, just a warm, quiet place to stay with my new friend who took very good care of me.

Mya, chillin'
(photo courtesy Catherine L. Sherman)
But, guess what? After nearly 3 months with my foster mom, I was adopted to a wonderful family who really understood me, and wanted to give me a good home. My fave spot is on their bed, it's so comfy! We are still learning about each other, but of all the cats needing a home, they wanted ME. That made me feel very special and loved.

They believe every cat deserves a home, even one that can be cranky. Thank you to everyone that took good care of me, I will never forget you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Less Adoptable: Deaf Cats

This post is #6 in a series. To read post #5, go to Sebastian's blog, www. 

I'm sometimes asked "what's it like to live with a deaf cat?" My favorite answer comes from another deaf cat owner, who replied, "It's no different, really. I yell 'no!' and he ignores me just like the others do."

We noticed Maxwell was deaf on his first day with us when he failed to react in any way to the vacuum cleaner. As a test, my husband slowly advanced the machine right up to his nose, where he curiously sniffed it and turned away. The vet confirmed it the next day.

Those first months were especially hard on me, as I had to be the 'bad guy,' administering those hated ear drops - two different meds - twice a day. I was also the one who took him to countless vet visits, and ultimately his surgery. I worried this would affect our ability to bond and that he'd associate me with nothing but unpleasantness (I'm so glad that didn't happen!). 

Deaf cats fall squarely under “less adoptable.” But why?

I think in part it's a concern over excessive medical bills. But deafness isn't a disease; it's a physiological condition and, unless complicated by infection, should not require medical care. In Maxie's case, one ear is malformed and his eardrum is hanging partially attached and as thin as tissue paper. Nothing we can do about it – he was born that way.

Another reason might be fear of the unknown or discomfort around an animal that is 'different.' Perhaps they fear such a pet would be less responsive, but that's not the case. With the loss of one sense, the others become more highly developed. 

Max doesn't really have a meow - he never could hear to develop one. But he is exceptionally perceptive, the first to notice you when you come in the room. And he's very tactile as well, the only cat of our three who uses his paws to open, lift or carry (he'll venture down into the basement to choose a trinket off my husband's workbench, carry it in his mouth up to our bathtub, and then drop it, just for the joy of watching it careen off the sides!)

How does one treat a deaf cat? The answer: same as any other – with a few very important exceptions.

First and foremost, a deaf cat should never be let outside. With one of their most important defense mechanisms gone, deaf cats are at greater risk.

Second, a deaf cat is easily startled. So when you approach – especially when sleeping – be sure to create a vibration by tapping on a surface or create motion by sitting a short distance away on a sofa or bed. Such movement will give him fair warning that someone is near. 

Third, never hit a deaf cat (not even a light bop on the nose in reprimand). Since they can't hear, they can't distinguish between a stern tone of voice and a loving one. All they will come to know is that human hands hit cats, so they'll associate them with painful, unpleasant things. Instead, use hand signals or facial expressions to reinforce your training.

One thing I noticed almost immediately with Maxwell was that he was a bit clumsy. Perhaps it was due to ear infection but his balance was not good, so he didn't exhibit the natural grace we associate with a cat. (Nor did he leap up onto counters or seek high places!)

Max is exceptionally trusting and innocent, and I'm more protective of him than I am our other two. He is such a joy, has so much love to give, that I cannot imagine life without him.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Less Adoptable: Older Cats

Guest Blogger: Michelle Cour, Wayside Waifs Volunteer (and “Wordsmith Par Excellence”!)
This is post # 4 in a series, read post #3, at

Hello! It's Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet week and unfortunately, one of the categories that's harder to adopt is pairs. Cats thats have lived together a long time are bonded and would not do well without each other. Unfortunately many people fear the extra cost or worry if they have the time for two. We can answer your questions and allay your fears.

We're Ronnie and Jelly and we'd like to do a commercial why cat pairs (especially us) make wonderful pets. Pairs are devoted to each other and are already good and close friends. You'd never have to worry if we'd get along together. We have a proven track record of success together.

Though cats love humans, y'all are a bit odd and often don't “get” us. Another cat would, and we need understanding as much as food, water and shelter. Not your fault—Mars and Venus thing! We can admire each other's unique abilities. Yours—to get the tops off the tuna cans, and ours—to twist ourselves into furry pretzels to clean our tushies.

When you're busy, we entertain each other and don't guilt you into holding or petting us, and let's face it, with kids and a spouse or a demanding job, when aren't you busy? Had a bad day and need something soft and comforting to hold? (No, not a beer can!) You need something soft and warm and with two, you'd have twice the comfort in half the time. Studies prove that petting a cat lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety. Get our purr motors going and that sound can lull you to sleep.

Two do cost a bit more than one, but a single bored cat can overeat so not much difference. We chase each other and get exercise so are often healthier and don't need you for a playmate. When you're scooping out food, how hard is it to scoop enough food for two? Easy peasy! Most vets don't charge for a second office visit for annual exams, just the vaccines which are pretty cheap.

We have a special challenge so are looking for a special family. We're 4 and 5 years old, with probably 10 or 12 years left to live. Tons of fun and affection left, but let's face it, many people want cute little kittens. Just wait till they climb the drapes and shred them, or whine incessantly at midnight for attention! Kittens aren't problem free and need lots more of you than older cats. You also don't know what the final personality will be. With us you do - two sweet girls!
We have to go home together, so hope you fall for both of us. Looking forward to meeting you.

Veronica and Jelly Bean

Saturday, September 17, 2011

An Exciting Week For Us! (cue Allie's *Squee!*)

This post is #2 in the Adopt A Less-Adoptable Pet Week Blog Marathon. You can read post #1on Sebastian's blog,

We're Manga… Magan…Mangianana…

*eyeroll* MAGNANIMOUSLY, Faraday. Magnanimously!
(and he's named after a physicist. *shakes head*)

Maxwell:  uh, yeah, what she said.
We're letting Mommy have our blog this week for a Very Important Message.

 An' she's teaming up with Sebastian over at to make it a week-long MARATHON!
Hit it, Momma!

(breathy voice) oh that Sebastian! He's soooo dreamy! *swoon*

Cut it out Allie. I mean it. I'm gonna hurl.

As always, thanks guys. I think.


This week, we're co-hosting a Blog Marathon for Petfinder's "Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week".

And we're honored to have several guest bloggers join us – both volunteers and staff alike – from Missouri's largest no-kill shelter, Wayside Waifs.  There will be a new post here and on Sebastian’s blog each day this week.

Each day, we'll profile a different situation that make an animal less adoptable, and we'll feature one very special animal who 'lives' that profile.

We hope you'll join us on this journey and we look forward to reading your comments!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: 9/11 Dog Rescue Tribute

In the aftermath of 9/11 almost 100 Search and Rescue dogs spent day after day tirelessly combing Ground Zero for survivors. 

Ten years later, just 12 of these heroic canines are still alive. They have been commemorated through the talents of Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, and their stories are told in a book entitled "Retrieved."

If you're in New York City, you can see these stunning photographs, currently on exhibit at the Julie Saul Gallery, and at the Clic Gallery in NYC on September 29. 

For more information on these touching portraits, and the stories behind them, visit

Saturday, September 10, 2011

An Unusual 9/11 Tribute

Mommy found this article about a dog from Halifax, Nova Scotia who went to New York City after the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center and we thought we'd blog about it since tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the awful terrorist attack. 

His name was Trakr, and he was with an elite K9 Police Search and Rescue Unit. Trakr is famous because he located the last human survivor at Ground Zero. Time Magazine even named him one of history’s most heroic animals because of that!  Here's a picture of him after 9/11:

His human partner is famous, too. James Symington was one of the founders of the canine unit for the Halifax Regional Police, and we give him a HUGE highpaw for forcing senior officials to change their policy of euthanizing K-9 "officers" when they retired. (Can you believe that police department would have such a cruel policy? We pee on Halifax for that one! Why, they were even gonna euthanize Trakr - and he's a War Hero!)

Trakr and his partner retired and moved to California, where Trakr lived to be 16 years old. (He died in 2009 and we're sure Mr. Symington is sad and misses him tons.) 

Trakr made the news even after his 9/11 rescue, when he won a contest naming him the World's Most Cloneworthy Dog. (hmm, Mommy says she's not sure of that whole cloning thing, since there are so many animals in shelters waiting for their forever homes. What do you think?)

Regardless, Trakr was cloned and his 5 'siblings' were delivered to Mr. Symington on June, 2008:  Trustt, Solace, Valor, Prodigy and DejaVu. 

We do give a full round of appawse to Mr. Symington on what he did next though. These 5 Trakr clones now make up Team Trakr, an international canine Search and Rescue organization dedicated to continuing the legacy Trakr left behind.