Make it count


During the last few months, whilst we had the outbreak of two deadly viruses (and several less hostile ailments) I simply did not dare bring more cats into my already large crew of cats. It's been a tough decision to live with because there were four more needy young cats living at the nearby dumpster where I daily feed 10-12 cats. I knew the younger ones - all between 5-7 months old - really needed rescuing from living in the harsh winter temperatures. We've had our coldest winter here ever (freezing temperatures and even snow, which rarely happens) and it's been evident from their poor health that it's been very tough on them. 

But... this winter I've singly been trying handle what (from my time as a volunteer) normally would be requiring a team of 12-15 people, so I knew at some point I had to cut off - there is of course only so much one person singly can do. Well, one week ago the hard fact hit home. I found one of the young cats (the brother of the grey boy in the above image) lying in the small polystyrene boxes I'd provided for them - head dangling out in an alarming way. I knew it was bad an instantly went for a transport box - then off to the vet. Upon examination he found the cat to have a bad respiratory infection + hypothermic, anemic, dehydrated and riddled with fleas. He was put on fluids and intravenous antibiotics immediately. For a short while he flourished (and when I visited he responded so sweetly, purring, talking and giving me nose rubs - he was a feral!) but sadly he died Sunday night. Yes imagine my emotional agony, if only I had...

Now there's three young cats left. The youngest one named Elvis - the little one above coming out of the box (maybe you remember him from this post - last image), Grey - the brother of the one that perished - and Tabby (underneath image), the brother of Tiffy from last post. I have seriously been considering rescuing the three of them but Elvis is extremely feral and has been impossible to get even close to over the last three months. He sleeps snuggled up with the other two, so you get the predicament. If I save those two what will become of Elvis? He is the smallest (and seriously cute!).

Well, after the little grey cat died I knew I had to do something. They couldn't continue to sleep in the extremely cold temperatures we've had recently. So I did a little research and found an instruction for a feral shelter - one that's meant for Canadian feral cats to survive the winter! It's made from 2 inch (5cm) thick polystyrene - the kind that's used to insulate houses (that should keep the cold wind out!!) but - most importantly -  it is lined throughout with a survival blanket (like thin silver foil) which retains body heat! Lastly it is padded with an old woolen blanket. Before launching this little castle I warmed the woolen blanket on the radiator. I was amazed at how it seemed to warm up the inside of the box. Last night when I went 'round to leave the box for them (with a few whiffs of Feliway and leaving a small scrap of fabric from their old box) I was AMAZED to find that they forewent their dinner and went straight into their new much warmer home. I sat in the car for a while and they didn't reappear. Only this morning did I see them again - reluctantly coming out of their new home. 

This blue box is made under the banner  "No cat should die in vain" (attributed to little grey) - I just knew I had to make something that will have made his life count. Now I hope his brother and friends get to make it through winter, not needing to sleep near to hypothermia each night. 

P.s. I know this is just a few cats and is just a drop in the ocean - but I'm a firm believer that a difference has to start in the small.


Random Felines said…
all cats should matter - and if more people cared like you, the world would be a better place. but, you are right that you can only do so much....and you have saved so many lives - not that it makes the losses any easier. good job on the new house!!
Sandra said…
Joan, if only ... it's the most recurrent thought of all of us who rescue animals. In spite all the lives we do save, the ones that we can't haunt us, don't they? We all come to the conclusions that we need to cut off at some point but we soon derogate such decisions when we see an innocent animal in need. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed and feel like all I do, all I am, is a cat rescuer. In those times I find it hard to go on like that but the second I see "my strays" waiting for me in the morning to be fed, my heart melts and I am resolute to try even harder:)
That is one cosy shelter - we've had a very rough winter as well, a few weeks were really harsh and as our "shelter" has no electricity we helped the cats to stay warm with hot water bottles. If they sleep on them, they remain warm throughout the night (in the shelter, but I believe they would, too, in such an insulated shelter). I
And no, it is not just a few cats, it's Elvis, Grey and Tabby, each one of them is important and every life saved matters. We cannot save them all, but we can try:)
Cat said…
Oh Joan it is a castle indeed and they will be cozy and safe inside!!! I can imagine Little Gray is pleased that his brothers are warm :-)
Dear Joan,
don't want to much from yourself. You do so much for all the cats. Where to start and where to end? And after the cats, there are so many creatures and humans who would need help. We cannot do everything. It's o.k. when everybody do what he can. It is sad that the little grey cat died, but at least she purred once to you. This box is a clever idea. Great for all feral cats to bring the over the winter. I totally understand that they feel safe and warm inside and didn't need any invitation to move in. Cats are clever. I wish you health and happiness and a positive change with the cats.
Best greetings, Johanna
Joan, once again I am in awe of your finding a way to do what you can! I would never have thought of making the cats a 'castle' and you did! It again shows your kindness and dedication to the cats, and how you continue to find a way to make what some may see as impossible, as possible!
Anna E said…
Thank you so much for sharing this story and the images! The little grey cat certainly didn´t die in vain (although very sad that he didn´t make it..)A sigh of relief and awe goes through me when I watch the home you have made for the young cats (so you did find a rescue blanket after all?); No castle or domicile could be build with more care and love than this "shelter". For it is built with dedication, concern and a deep wish to see these young lives survive and grow to their fulness and bloom.It is sooo wonderful and endearing to see these little faces look out of their new Home. Once again you made a differece, in a most original way :-)
The Cat Guy said…
running into our limits is hard. I hope you can treat yourself with the same amazing compassion you have for the cats you serve.

That insulated kitty home looks great! I'm all for warm kitties!!
Crafting Queen said…
You are doing an amazing service for these cats. You can only do what you can. Love the little boxes. God bless you and keep you strong. Hugs Anesha
Marg said…
Oh Joan, you are so right. There is only so much you can do. I know just how you feel. I had two tom cats wander in here one day, they were very friendly and looked just fine. So I did not feed them and told them to go home. I felt like they were all right except for needing to be neutered.
That box looks terrific. I have one of those foil like blankets on my porch and the cats really like it. I am going to check out that box.
Thanks for the info.
Cornelia said…
Allegiance, perseverance, hope for better life for all, compassion, grace and needful new knowledge radiate in plentitude from this your life story and all your life stories with God's Little People. A few cats are such important drops in the humanity ocean. These drops have the eminent power to charge in important values and significances for all future life on planet Earth.
Old Kitty said…
Thank you so much for giving little Elvis, Grey and Tabby a warm home. At least they're safe and protected and know you are looking out for them - they're adorable! Take care
Anne Butera said…
Joan, you do so much. I know it's hard not to, but don't be hard on yourself about what you don't or can't do.

The shelter is amazing! Thank you for sharing the template.

And I love your photos! Sweet, sweet.

And I agree with you about every little effort making a difference. I love this quote from the Greyhound adoption group where we got our boys: " Adopting just one greyhound won't change the world, but the world will surely change for that one greyhound." You've just changed the world for three more cats. That is worth a lot.
Yes, I again agree with Johanna, you cvan't do everything and you have been so fabulous with your rescue efforts... this new box/ cathouse sounds really extremely useful !! Thanks for the tip, and hoepefully all your kitties will thrive now with the spring coming ! xxx Bea
Thank you so much for everything you do for the cats.
rosenresli said…
You are so right!
I don´t know where but I read a story in which an old man saw that a young man rescued starfishes on a beach and dropped them into the sea again. There were thousands of starfishes and the old man said that there are too many to rescue them all. He said the work of the young man would be unnecessary because of the too many starfishes. But the young man grabbed another starfish, dropped him into the water and said for this one starfish it is important. The old man was ashamed, grabbed a starfish and than another and dropped them into the sea.

You cannot rescue all of the poor kittys but you do your very best and if you can only rescue a few of them - for these kittys it is so important!

I love your idea to give the feral cats a warm house for the winter.

I wish you and your cats a better future as in the past and much days of health and sunshine. I hope you will learn to smile and have joy again.

With my warmest wishes to you,
Anonymous said…
Oh my gosh, God bless you for your heart! I have taken in so many strays and cared for so many others, and I'm just sick (literally!) when one is sick, or can't be helped! How do you do it? I let it really bother me, and it gets me so down and sad. I'm so sorry you lost this little one, but this is a fabulous home you've built for them!! Well done, good and faithful servant!!

Margo @ Legacy of a Single Girl

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