Storytime: A Cat Named Sue

Originally published in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Cats.

A Cat Named Sue

Sue 

Early last year a unique kitten came into my life. My heart belongs to all animals, but special needs animals hold a particular place. This is a result of my cat, Weaver, who was born without the use of her rear legs and was incontinent due to the nerve damage from various birth defects. Weaver was a part of my life for eight years until she passed due to kidney failure. She was the reason I rescued a special kitten from animal control when the plea came out over the rescue email lists of my area.

I was sitting at my desk trying to wade through the mountains of paperwork in front of me, when a plea for a six-week-old kitten, who had just been brought to an animal control in north Louisiana, came into my inbox. I found it odd that a plea for a kitten was going out on this list, as most people on the list were dog people, and emails about cats were rare. The subject line read: “Kitten with Deformed Legs at Animal Control: Needs Rescue,” and the message was from a dog rescuer who happened to be in the animal control facility when the kitten was brought. She took photographs and quickly sent out the email.

The rescuer normally did not work with cats, but the little kitten pulled at her heart because the center was not going to even consider finding placement for her; the kitten was to be immediately euthanized. The lady convinced the officers to give her a day or two to try and find a rescue to take the kitten.

Upon seeing the pictures of the frightened kitten, I knew I had to do something. All I could think about was Weaver and how no one wanted to give her a chance when she was that age, yet she had become the light of my life. I quickly responded and spent the entire morning making phone calls and trying to convince the animal control director that I have experience with cats like this and can give the kitten a good life. I am glad that I did, as I later found out that no one else stepped up to help.

Two days later I met the kitten and a transport volunteer at a little convenience store. The kitten I received was in desperate need of a bath and lots of love. This was the same time that a plain and slightly unusual Scottish lady named Susan Boyle had astonished the world with her powerful voice. Before she began singing during her first performance, everyone considered her a joke and judged her based on her appearance. When she opened her mouth, the beauty of her voice had people all over the world crying. I named the kitten Susan, as she seemed on the outside to be a total mess, but in her eyes I could see love and a fighter’s spirit.

Susan was probably the result of someone trying to breed Cymrics, as she is a longhaired Manx (which is, by definition, a Cymric). Her rear legs were curled around like curly-Q fries. She could not urinate on her own and had to have her bladder expressed several times a day. I would come home during lunch every day to take care of her and give her a bath. She was a spunky kitten and was living up to her namesake.

Sue would go with me to adoption days on weekends, and everyone loved her. As she became older, she did not like the outings quite as much, so I would instead leave her home to play with the other cats, while I went to adoption days or to work.

I brought Sue to several veterinarians, who all said she was a wonderful cat who had a lot of spirit and determination. They agreed that when she was old enough, she should be fine to go under anesthesia to be spayed, but a turn of events soon had us all floored by the extent of her birth defects.

When she was a little over six months old, Sue developed a urinary blockage. I was unable to express her bladder one evening. Knowing that urinary blockages were deadly, I took her to the vet immediately. She was getting weak, and I was scared to death I would lose her, but I knew she was a fighter. I had to leave her at the veterinary clinic because they had no open appointments; I had basically just shown up and pleaded for help. After an hour or two, I received a phone call from her veterinarian.

“Hey, I’ve got an update for you.” he stated.

“How’s my little girl?”

“Well…that’s the first thing we’ve got to talk about.”

“What do you mean?” I asked very confused.

“Miss Susan is actually Mr. Susan.”

“I’m sorry… There’s nothing back there.”

“Well he does have one thing… The rest is probably inside him, or he doesn’t have them at all. He does present externally as if he is a female, but if you apply pressure back there, you will see he’s a boy.”

I was astonished. Susan had been to three different veterinarians, and nobody realized that he was male? Of course, I never went poking around back there to make sure, and nothing ever poked out when I had made him urinate, so I wasn’t the wiser. We talked for a while to discuss the blockage. Apparently it is much more common for males to have urinary blockages than females. When a cat has a blockage, he or she must get to a veterinarian immediately, or death within a day or two is probable.

It was very lucky that I had to express Susan’s bladder because I knew right away that he had a blockage. This is why it is so important to keep an eye on your cats to make sure they are using the litter box properly and not having any issues. Susan was lucky, and after three days at the veterinary clinic, he was now able to come home. I had to bring him back once more after about two days when he became blocked again, but after that he did very well. Thankfully he has not had another blockage since.

At that point I was facing a new dilemma…do I rename him? I was used to Sue being my little Susie-Q, so now what? My friend said that I should just keep the name Sue and say he was named after the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue.” I laughed and said that was a good idea. I think I jinxed myself at that point, as Sue has grown up to be quite the little tough guy. He is the most dominant cat in my house, feeling that he has to prove he is the biggest, baddest cat in our little world. This is funny since he is still relatively small with a female-looking face and long fur, which makes him look even more like a female cat. He’s turning out to be My Boy Named Sue, and I love every minute of his antics.

Just think, a little over a year ago animal control would have euthanized this spunky fellow because they felt he couldn’t live a normal life. It just goes to show that like in the case of Susan Boyle, we should not judge people or animals before getting to know them.

Emily Harris

Do you have your own story to share? Submit it here!

Storytime: A Happy Survivor

Read this and other great stories about cats in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Cats.

A Happy Survivor

Cat Rescue Story 

After work I climbed the 36 steep rock steps to the deck of my house in the remote mountain area west of Estes Park, Colorado. Nearby I saw the resident fox waiting, protecting his den on the hillside behind the house, hopeful for after-dinner scraps to feed to his kits. The chipmunks scattered as usual, the birds fluttered around the feeders, and a new visitor was hanging around this evening—a handsome but terribly thin cat, who ran and hid as I approached. As he bolted, I could see his ribs sticking out. For how long had he been starving?

When I reached the top step, I stood on the deck and looked out at the surrounding beauty of the Roosevelt National Forest. Despite the coyotes howling in preparation for their evening hunt, it was a peaceful moment with sweet deer grazing nearby. Then I again saw the stray cat, whom I would soon name Jack. He peered around the corner of the cabin at me. I already had two female cats in the house and certainly didn’t need another, but it was October, the weather was getting colder, and well, I’m a sucker!

I fed Sophie and Phoebe their dry kibble. Then I took a bowl outside and sat on the deck. Sophie and Phoebe meowed at the door, probably wondering why they were not allowed out. They didn’t know about the foxes and coyotes that were looking for a tasty meal. Soon enough, Jack came near. He carefully approached me while I talked softly to him. It didn’t take long for him to curl up in my lap, purring loudly and enjoying his dinner.

As much as I tried, he did not want to come inside that night. My heart ached as I worried about him being outside alone. The next morning I put more food out, and as I stood watching, the fox attempted to take his food. I shouldn’t have worried—Jack shooshed him away and happily ate his breakfast!

Like I said, it was October. October in the Rocky Mountains is cold and unpredictable, so I was glad that a few nights later I was able to coax Jack into the house. Both my girls accepted him right away. He purred loudly and was clearly appreciative of a warm home and a good meal.

My husband was working out of town when Jack adopted me, but he had already grown used to my need to “rescue” pets. When my husband called the night Jack came inside, I told him, “We have a new cat.” He said, “I knew it!”

It was obvious that Jack had been someone’s beloved pet, so we posted signs at the ends of our dirt roads. Some people called, but no one described a cat like Jack, so he became ours.

Our Jack was a mere 13 pounds when we rescued him with his bones poking out, but now, years later, he is a healthy, happy 23 pounds. I often wonder if some family out there is missing him or wondering about him, but despite our efforts, no one has ever claimed him. That’s sad for them because Jack is wonderful! He is the love of our lives. He purrs louder than any cat I have ever known.

Recently our sweet, brave Jack surprised us yet again. We moved to another remote mountainous area, taking Jack and the others with us. Here Jack enjoys hunting mice, proudly leaving them at the doorway each morning. One day in September our mountain community was turned upside down by the Reservoir Road Fire. Sadly, Jack and his kitty siblings were too frightened to come to us when we were forced to evacuate with flames raging close behind. Two of our cats were rescued by firefighters that first day, but Jack remained missing.

A few days later we were allowed to visit our home for a short time to gather important things and assess damage. While my husband gathered our belongings, I combed the ash-covered hills, calling for Jack.

We were only allowed 30 minutes at the house before being escorted back down, as it was still unsafe for residents to be there. So when Jack didn’t respond, I sat on the steps and began to cry. Then, suddenly, I heard a faint meow. I listened carefully and heard it again. There, crawling out from under some burnt timber was my Jack! I picked him up, hugged him, and cried! He quickly began to purr, and I knew all was well with the world again.

Today, Jack and the rest of the family are safely back at home. Jack still purrs louder than any cat I have ever known, and tonight I fall asleep peacefully knowing my happy Jack is next to me. He’s happy and so are we! –Shereen Raucci

Story Sharing Kickoff

Well, friends, it’s been a long time.

I (Kyla, Happy Tails Books founder) stopped blogging for a year or so because life just got in the way. As you may know, Happy Tails Books has been a labor of love for me and my partner-in-editing (and, at times, crime), Lowrey. It it our volunteer work for the most part, not our jobs. However, my new job has afforded me more time to spend on Happy Tails Books, so looking toward the New Year, I’m excited to get moving on some new books and to pick back up where I left off with this blog.

Because my new job requires me to live out of the country (yes, of course, Bill is with me), I am unable to foster, so instead of sharing my own stories from here on out, I’ll be sharing select stories from the thousands we have published in our books. I will share one or two a week, and sometimes we’ll give away a free eBook and/or paperback.

Let’s Get Started!

The first story will go live tomorrow! Please, join our Facebook group or scroll down and put your email in the “Subscribe to our Blog” link to the left to receive emails when we have new blog posts.

“Adopted. Who’s next?” T-Shirts

Sorry for the long lull in posting. Our t-shirt fundraiser was more successful than I could have ever imagined, and it’s sure been keeping me busy. We’ve got a new joke around here: “Kyla sells t-shirts and everybody suffers!”

Well, my friends and family, who graciously assisted me in packaging up and shipping out more than 300 shirts, may have suffered, but at least we were able to help those who work to end animal suffering. We donated $5 back from each shirt sale for a total of about $2,500!

In the past, we’ve make our donations annually, but this year we’re donating bi-annually so that our partners will receive their money more quickly. This month we’ll be donating over $4,000 back to our partners. We hope to triple that by the end of the year!

Even though our $5 t-shirt fundraiser has ended, each purchase still results in a donation back to rescue organizations. We are looking to add more breeds to our line of shirts shortly.

Rescue SPOTlight: Alliston & District Humane Society

This week’s rescue SPOTlight is on Alliston & District Humane Society of Ontario, CANADA, an organization that is helping Up For Pups, our sister non-profit organization, to create a Rescue Best Practices Manual:

• Mission: The ADHS attempts to provide shelter for stray and unwanted animals with priority given to abused and neglected animals.
• Date founded: 1988
• Types of animals you take in: Dogs, Cats, Small animals, Farm animals (in foster homes).
• Size of Rescue (Small=less than 50 animals, Mid=51-200 animals, Large=201+ animals): Large

• Your name: Emily Day
• Your position in the rescue: Secretary, Board of Directors
• How long you’ve been with the rescue: 5+ years
• What you like best about animal rescue: Working directly with the animals.
• What you think is hardest about animal rescue: Saying goodbye.
• Share one quick story about a rescue experience: There are so many … We currently have a 7 month old male Beagle puppy, Charlie. He is a bundle of energy but hasn’t had a very nice beginning. He was found in a cardboard box on the side of the road – covered in mange. After being treated for mange, the people who found him decided that he had too much energy for them, and they did not want him anymore. They gave him away for free to a friend. This friend had the pup for a week and decided that he was chasing the cat too much and had to go. Charlie ended up in our care. He is a friendly enough guy, but he has some wicked separation and abandonment issues. He is rambunctious and has a LOT of energy. He mouths. He jumps. He tugs on the leash. He cries. He screams. He is a DRAMA QUEEN. Our volunteers are working with him to overcome these and many other issues he came in with. Charlie will stay with us until a new home is found or a suitable foster home is located.

Petfinder: The Greatest Thing Since Milkbones

Today is Adopt the Internet Day!

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day

Petfinder.com has been helping needy animals find homes for 15 years… as of today. This is a great organization that has totally revolutionized the way we find our new furry family members. I was excited to participate in this event because this website truly changed my life three years ago, when I entered the search item “Boston Terrier” and found MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue via Petfinder.com. Since then, I’ve found my calling in animal welfare, I’ve found the best (read: most challenging and rewarding) furry companion ever, and we’ve had almost 40 foster dogs through our home.

Petfinder.com helped give my life more meaning. Think what they can do for you! Help us adopt the internet today by letting your friends and family know about Petfinder.com. Here are a few ideas from the Petfinder.com website about how you can help others find out about Petfinder:

  • Donate your Facebook status and photo to an adoptable Petfinder pet. Simply replace your photo with one from the Adopt-the-Internet All-Stars gallery and post one of these messages:
    • More than 320,000 pets are waiting for homes on Petfinder.com. Help Petfinder Adopt the Internet today and find forever homes for as many as possible!
    • I adopted my pet from Petfinder and now I want to help get this pet adopted! If you want to help pets in need of forever homes, please repost this!
  • Share an adoptable Petfinder pet on Twitter with the hashtag #adopttheinternet.

Win $200 for Your Favorite Rescue!

Erika Pinkoczi, an author from Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Dogs, has generously offered to donate $100 to the rescue of a randomly-selected winner’s choice if we can hit 1,111 members on the Happy Tails Books Facebook page by 1-11-11. Up For Pups has offered to match it, so the total is $200. All you have to do for a chance to win is encourage people to sign up for the Facebook Page. A check will be mailed to the winner’s rescue choice within a week of 1-11-11.

Do you tweet? Here’s something to share: Chance to win $200 for the rescue of your choice by joining http://on.fb.me/eFqlHa . Need 1,111 members by 1-11-11. Winner randomly selected.

Good luck!

Rescue of the Year Competition

Rescue of the YearHappy Tails Books is having our first ever Rescue of the Year competition! Through November 25th, you can vote for any rescue on our rescue partner list to help them win $500 in great raffle items. Blogpaws donated Bissell vacuums for the competition from their recent conference, Peekeeper donated doggie diapers, and Happy Tails Books is donating stationary and books.

Please tell others about why you love your favorite rescue by commenting on this post, and cast your vote here.

*If your favorite rescue is not on our rescue partner list, please encourage them to apply here.

HappyTailsBooks.com Facelift

My eyes are bloodshot, my wrists are killing me, the butt-dent in my couch has grown significantly deeper, but I’m content as can be because the new website is posted! You probably didn’t know I was building a new website. Uh, well, I didn’t know, either, until this past Tuesday.

It was like one of those break-ups where you just can’t stand the sight of the person you left any longer. In this case, it wasn’t because the old website was bad or did anything wrong (although, I must note that it never bought me flowers), I was just tired of the drab old look. I think the background color got to me most.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I was DONE. I couldn’t look at the old website any longer. Plus, the holidays are coming, and I wanted to be sure shoppers with big hearts who want to take advantage of our great new gifts with the added bonus of our usual donations can find what they are looking for. Here are my favorite features of the new website:

  • Shop by breed, item, or title using the convenient search lists to the right, or just click the shop button above to explore all of our products
  • Submit word documents as attachments when you want to send in a story about your adopted pets – much easier for most authors to use
  • No more spam! This one you surely don’t care about, but I’m thrilled that the new website had an easy-to-configure Capatcha application (the little number/letter box that you see at the bottom of many forms). I like this one especially because it’s easy to read.
  • Clearer navigation with some new page names that should make it easy to find what you’re looking for.
  • Stay up to date and comment more easily with this blog.

I hope these changes enhance your experience on our website. Please shoot me a comment and let me know what you think. I look forward to all feedback/constructive criticism and any notes about broken links if you find any. I know that sounds hokey, as of course, all our links should work great! However, I’m not a web designer. I’m just a chick with a dent in my couch who wants to make it easy for others to help animals in need. Woof! -Kyla