A Shelter Gave Away My Cats and Said ‘Tough Luck’

Posted September 30th, 2014 by admin

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My family was going through a rough patch, which was stressful on the human members as well as the furry ones. I was stressed to the max, at my breaking point, and with two cats who apparently felt the same way and were telling me all about it by peeing in the house including on the couch and the carpet. We all needed a break.

It became very evident that we all, cats included, needed some downtime. With a screaming baby, a rocky marital situation, and a special-needs three-year-old, the best option that I could come up with was to give the cats a break from the tension of the household. A friend of my brother’s offered to let them stay with him while I sorted out the situation with my marriage and my children. The plan was to temporarily rehome the cats while I tackled the issues I was dealing with, and once the house was calmer, to bring them back into a more peaceful situation.

Here are my cats, just lolling around like lazy teenage boys. (Photo by Eden Strong)

“This is perfect,” I thought as I packed up their food and water bowls. My brother’s friend had been thinking about getting two cats anyway. As a bachelor he often got lonely, but with his long work hours he didn’t want to leave a cat home alone all day. That said, he was unsure of the commitment two cats would require, and so when I brought up the fact that my two were stressed because of our home situation, he jumped at the chance to be a temporary foster home.

A week later he came over and met the boys. I gave him a notebook where I had written down info about the cats and all their equipment, and off they went. 

I checked on them weekly. Because my brother’s friend lived several hours away, the updates were always via phone. “How are they doing? Is everyone eating okay? Do you need anything? How are they adjusting?” I sent him money every month to cover their food.

As the three months came to a close, I was impatient to get them back. I called and left a message asking when it would be convenient for me to pick up the boys. When I didn’t get a return call that day, I wasn’t really worried. 

“He must be traveling,” I told myself, but as the days wore on, the anxiety started creeping up. When two weeks went by without any word from him, I begged my brother to call his friend’s father and make sure he was okay.

Two days later my brother called me.

“Eden, I talked to him. I … uh … I don’t really know what to say,” he reported. “The cats are gone.”

“What do you mean GONE!?” I practically screamed into the phone. “He killed them!?”

“No, no, nothing like that,” my brother said. “He, uh … he gave them to a shelter.”

I sat there for what seemed like an eternity as I wondered whether I still remembered how to speak English, because I had heard what he said, but it didn’t make any sense. 

“I guess they were peeing all over his house,” my brother said, “and he got mad one day and took them to a shelter.” 

I raised my boy from kittenhood, and now he was gone. (Photo by Eden Strong)

What came next was a flurry of angry questions, accusations, and threats, all directed at the poor guy who had nothing to do with the situation except for being in the unfortunate position of being the one to break the news to me.

I immediately called the shelter in the area but it was closed for the evening. After a sleepless night and lots of tears, I was able to reach the shelter not two seconds after it opened the next morning.

What I found out didn’t settle me, or the situation, at all. 

My cats had been brought to the shelter two months prior and signed over “by their owner” as relinquished animals. The shelter had not scanned their microchips and therefore had no idea that they were registered to a different person in a different state. My beloved boys had been split up; one was adopted to a family and one adopted by a shelter volunteer. 

I was furious. I wanted my boys back and I wanted them back NOW. The shelter, unfortunately, didn’t see my point of view. As far as it was concerned the animals had been relinquished and I no longer had any rights to them. 

After multiple phone calls, the shelter contacted one of the adoptive families to let the family members know of the mix-up and to see if they would be willing to give the cat back. The reply was no. The shelter also told me that my other cat had settled very nicely into his new home with the shelter volunteer and also couldn’t be returned.

What could I do? Short of hiring an attorney and suing the shelter, there was no way for me to get my boys back.

Because the shelter didn’t check the ID of my brother’s friend and match it to the information on the cats’ microchips, I had lost my babies forever.

To be honest, I believe the cat who was supposedly adopted to an outside family might have been put down. He had a serious heart condition with an audible murmur. Every time I took him to the vet, the vet would comment that he simply could not believe the cat was still alive.

My tabby boy had a serious heart condition. I really don’t want to think that the shelter euthanized him. (Photo by Eden Strong)

It sickens me to think that he might not have made it out of there alive, but the little voice inside my head says that the shelter vet would have listened to him and known how sick he was; there is a good chance the shelter didn’t want to invest the effort in him.

It’s been two years now and I’m still only slightly at peace with what happened. I try to convince myself that there were no guarantees that the cats would have settled happily back into my home, but that doesn’t ease the pain in my heart or my anger over the situation.

I think of them often, the fur kids who were stolen from me, and I wonder how they are. I’ve registered their microchips to show them as stolen animals, but with valid adoption papers from a shelter, I doubt any vet would report them.

I miss them, every day. I raised them up from kittens into the 11-year-old cats that they were, and now I have no idea where they are. I’m sad for the future that I’m missing, and I’m heartbroken that they were separated. 

I thought I was doing everything right. I thought I was acting in their best interest, and I failed them. I just hope that whatever family has them now, that the family members understand how special they are — and if only one made it out, I hope the other can forgive me.

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About the author: Eden Strong is a quirky young woman with a love for most animals with fur. She readily admits to living her life completely devoid of most social graces, and so far she’s still alive. More of her crazy antics can be read on her blog, It Is Not My Shame to Bear

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    Remember Draven Rodriguez, the kid at Schenectady High School who found himself embroiled in a local controversy about his plans to pose with his cat for his yearbook picture? Well, it turns out that after a compromise with the school’s principal, Diane Wilkinson, was brokered Draven has achieved his lifelong ambition and posed with his cat and some lasers. Hurrah, right?

    Photo via Trinacria Photography

    As we mentioned in an earlier update to the tale, after the school initially blocked Draven’s attempts, the principal stepped up and suggested that she and her own Chihuahua named Vivienne join Draven and the long-haired Mr. Bigglesworth in the portrait.

    Now that’s happened and the resulting image has been included in a special part of the yearbook with the intention of raising money for the ASPCA.

    Image via CBS6

    Beyond the ambit of the yearbook, it seems that Draven’s cats-and-lasers prank has also begun to catch on on the wilds of the Internet’s meme scene. Here, for instance, is the dance disco-jock Kaskade mocked up to replicate the portrait — a development that Draven himself seems very pleased with.

    Image via Twitter

    We reached out to Mr. Bigglesworth himself for comment on the whole shenanigan but he has yet to return any of our emails.

    About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.

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      Wildlife Numbers Halved Over Past 4 Decades

      Posted September 30th, 2014 by admin

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      PARIS – A survey of over 3,000 species has found that animal numbers have plunged by more than half in just 40 years as Earth’s human population has nearly doubled, conservationists said Tuesday.

      Leopard (Panthera pardus) watching zebras

      Credit: Getty Creative

      From 1970 to 2010, there was a 39-percent drop in numbers across a representative sample of land- and sea-dwelling species, while freshwater populations dropped 76 percent, the green group WWF said in its 2014 Living Planet Report.

      All told, “the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish across the globe is, on average, about half the size it was 40 years ago,” it said.

      The 52-percent decrease confirms mankind is chomping through nature’s bounty much faster than the rate of replenishment, WWF warned.

      The last Living Planet Report, in 2012, found a 28-percent drop in numbers from 1970-2008, but this was based on only 2,688 species monitored.

      MORE ON PAWNATION: Frisky Donkey Couple: 1, Prudes: 0


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        While held captive in a laboratory, Leo the long-haired cat had his third eyelids surgically removed. This act of cruelty was performed under the auspice of a study designed to help research vision correction in humans. Before Leo found his features butchered even further in animal testing, though, the folks at the Humane Research Australia organization stepped in and whisked him away to safety.

        All images via Facebook

        “The night we picked Leo up from the airport was cold and wet,” says Helen Marston of HRA while recalling Leo’s couriered journey from Sydney to Melbourne. “Knowing the ordeal he went through, when his carrier was finally delivered to us we waited with apprehension for a frail, frightened cat. But peering through the cage wire of the crate handed over to us was a sweet young boy who immediately stole our hearts.

        “We could only imagine what this little guy had been through,” continues Helen. “We promised that from this day forward he would be safe and free from the stress and pain of experimentation.”

        Upon secure arrival in Melbourne, the plan was for Leo to be fostered by Rhianne Cork. The temporary safe haven quickly turned permanent though, as Rhianne says, “I realized I would be devastated if anyone took Leo from me and so adopted him. Of the many cats I’ve taken in he is my sole foster failure. That says a lot about how special he is!”

        Rhianne goes on to talk gushingly about Leo’s personality. “His curiosity for the world around him is endless and innocent and so charmingly all-embracing,” she says. “Various aspects of life that would trigger caution or fear in other cats, Leo takes in his stride: The minute anyone comes to the front door, he is there to greet them with head-bonks and smooches no matter who they are. He comes and sits next to small children. He isn’t even scared of the vacuum cleaner!

        “Considering what he was subjected to at the hands of humans in the past, you would forgive Leo for being cautious or distrustful, but his beautiful nature is completely opposite to this.”

        Addressing Leo’s past in the lab, Rhianne says, “Looking at him, you would never know the horrible past he has endured — but if you look closely you can see the surgery scars around his eyelid that make me so sad. Yet this gorgeous, trusting boy lets me fuss at his face, wiping away the occasional eye crustie, smothering him with kisses, and he purrs throughout. He truly is an example of the beautiful resilience of abused animals — I don’t know that I could forgive and trust after what he has been through.”

        Image from Leo Escapes From The Lab

        Having shaken off his stint as a lab cat, Leo has also gone on to help bring awareness to the plight of animal experimentation by starring in his own children’s book. Titled Leo Escapes From The Lab, the story was authored by Helen and is based on the long-haired feline’s real-life ordeal. Seems like a literal happy ending on more than one count.

        Make sure to keep track of Leo’s progress and adventures (which often involve cramming himself into cardboard boxes) over at his Facebook page.

        Learn more about your cat with Catster:

        About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.

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          Has Your Cat Ever Stolen Your Favorite Blanket or Sweater?

          Posted September 29th, 2014 by admin

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          She took my sweater.

          My mustard colored “grandpa sweater,” which is soft and comfy, totally the wrong color for me, and smells like years of, well, ME — has been claimed by the little predator in my home. 

          We just made a big move, and while Brandy the Cat has settled in quite nicely, the final piece in the puzzle of her life was her security ______. 

          That is, the item in our home that makes her feel safe, comforted, and drooly. Formerly it was the pillow she commandeered off our bed. However that had to be given up to the moving gods after an unfortunate accident with my husband’s Man Hands and a box cutter. Don’t ask me what goes on in my home. 

          So while we carefully packed up HER drinking glass, and HER T-shirt (formerly my husband’s), and HER messenger bag (the one she likes to snuggle with, the rest got donated), her favorite place to retire at the end of a long day tinkering with her inventions behind our back, was no more. 

          I offered her less favored items of clothing to call her own, but of course — OF COURSE — she set her eyes on ol’ “Colonel Mustard” in the bedroom. 

          Here she is huffing my, uh, HER, sweater.

          And who am I to tell her no?

          I mean, I’m the no-good human who uprooted from her home, where all her smells and secret hiding places were, and plopped her in this strange, new place full of unfamiliar nooks and crannies permeated with the odor cats gone by. All for my selfish human reasons. I say this only a little bit in jest. I still feel supremely guilty, and if I were to give into my guilt I’d never, ever change an inch of my “cat approved” apartment let alone MOVE to a new one. 

          So when Brandy discovered the wonders of my mustard colored sweater, I couldn’t bear to take ANOTHER thing away from her. 

          It was about two weeks ago. I’d just come home from a trip to the grocery store, and I peeled off the mustard sweater and tossed on my bed. I went about putting away my groceries, sweeping the floor, chattering to Brandy like I do. 

          When I’d finished and headed to the bed with my iPad in tow for some much deserved binge watching of Arrow (my latest superhero TV addiction), I found her adorably curled up on my sweater, purring and kneading. 

          “Awwwwwwwwwwww –”

          (gasp for breath)

          ” — wwwwwwwww!”

          I took a picture and sent it to my husband. 

          So there we sat until nightfall, her curled up binging on the smells of home (I suspect the sweater also still smelled of her favorite closet/clubhouse), and me curled up binging on stilted dialogue and brooding vigilante antics. 

          And there she stayed. Intermittently purring, drooling, and kneading her perfect little white paws. I couldn’t remember the last time she looked so content. 

          She stayed there through dinner. She stayed there through my shower. She stayed there when I tried to move my sweater to turn down the bed. 

          I’m sure you’ve tried to move a cat who doesn’t want to be moved. You probably encountered a version of this face:

          I will cut you.

          I tried stroking her into a standing position. She burrowed in further. 

          I tried slowly pulling the sweater out from under her. She dug her claws in and hissed. 

          I tried (stupidly) gently rolling her off the sweater. BAD BAD BAD. 

          So instead, my husband and I wriggled underneath the covers, and slept AROUND Brandy and her mustard colored prize. I’m pretty sure she stayed there most of the night, only rising to use the litter box, then greet the day in her window seat. I should mention, a big reason we decided on this apartment is because of the little bay window we knew Brandy would love. 

          First night in the new place. She took to the window seat right away.

          And the sweater has been hers ever since. Sometimes I drape it over her favorite messenger bag on the floor for a special double whammy of kitty-comfort, but more often than not it lives on my bed. Where she prefers it. 

          So it’s not my sweater anymore. I know full well I’m buckling to guilt, and I’m potentially being played by my cat. And I’m okay with that. 

          Now and then, I miss my schlubby, cozy sweater, but then I spy my little loaf-cat nuzzling into it, motor running, and I can’t, I just can’t take it from her. Truth be told, there’s a little ego in this seemingly selfless gift to my girl. 

          She chose MY sweater. MY sweater, not my husband’s, MY sweater. He’s always been her favorite. They’ve always had a special bond. But lately, she and I have been through a lot — vet visits, protecting her from scary building inspectors at all hours of the day (perks of working at home), earthquakes — and I feel like our connection has deepened. 

          The sweater, I’d like to think, confirms it. It turns my heart to mush thinking that maybe — JUST MAYBE — that sweater comforts her because it stinks of ME. 

          Just let me have this. 

          So as I type this, I glance through my bedroom curtains (yay studio living!) at my bed, Brandy blinking at me from my sweater, and I melt. 

          Can I help you?

          Yeah, ol’ “Colonel Mustard” and I had some good times, but if his golden years are spent as Brandy’s security blanket, the best are yet to come. 

          Have you given up any favorite articles of clothing to your cat? Was it a battle or a surrender? Tell us! 

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            Get to Know the Manx: A Mighty Hunter and Sweet Companion

            Posted September 29th, 2014 by admin

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            One of the most defining features of a cat is her tail … unless she’s a Manx, that is. This breed’s unique appearance has spawned a crazy array of origin stories, but here’s the true scoop on how the Manx came to be.


            It’s thought the Manx cat arose from a spontaneous mutation in the native cat population on the Isle of Man, an island located in the Irish Sea about halfway between England and Ireland. Because of the isolated population and the fact that the tailless gene is dominant — it only needs one copy of the gene to express itself — the mutation spread among the island’s feline population.

            The first picture of a Manx cat dates back to the early 19th century, although verbal accounts of the breed’s existence can be found as far back as 1750. The Manx was one of the original breeds in the cat fancy and was being shown in the late 1800s. When the Cat Fanciers’ Association was founded in 1906, the Manx, along with the Siamese, Maine Coon and American Shorthair, was one of the first breeds ever to be shown.

            This rumpy Manx named Silverwing was deemed champion of a 1902 cat show in the UK. Image from “Cats and All About Them” by Frances Simpson. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons


            The Manx is a robust breed: rounded, muscular and double-coated. Because of the mutation that caused him to be tailless, his rear legs are much longer than his front ones, giving him an almost rabbit-like appearance and making him a very powerful jumper.

            Manx cats come in all color patterns, although pointed, dilute and ticked-tabby coats are disqualifications from shows in the Cat Fanciers’ Association standard. The International Cat Association, however, allows all colors. Manxes can be short-haired or long-haired, although the long-haired variety is sometimes referred to as the Cymric.

            Manxes’ tails can range in length from the rumpy (completely tailless) to the longy, which has a full tail, and several different tail lengths can be found in the same litter.

            Beatrice is a full-tailed or “longy” Manx. Photo CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

            Health and longevity

            The Manx is a generally robust breed, but the mutation that caused the taillessness can cause serious health problems when Manxes are not bred responsibly. One condition that appears in the breed is sacrocaudal dysgenesis, also known as “Manx syndrome,” in which the tailless gene causes the spine to be too short. This leads to damage to the spinal cord and the nerves leading from it and can result in walking problems, urinary tract defects, fecal incontinence, chronic constipation and megacolon.

            Manxes also tend to be more prone than most cats to mast cell tumors and corneal dystrophy, a clouding of the eyes that can lead to blindness.

            What it’s like to live with a Manx

            The Manx is known as an outgoing, athletic and intelligent cat. Many Manxes like to play fetch, and they can be trained to do tricks. Your Manx will need to have plenty of high places from which to survey her domain. You’ll find that your Manx is a very people-oriented kitty who will bond strongly with you and your family, and if you have young children, she will enjoy their company too. She retains her strong prey drive from her roots as a working cat, so she’ll need plenty of opportunities to express that prey drive in appropriate ways.

            The long-haired version of the Manx is also known as the Cymric. Photo CC-BY-SA Stanton McCandlish

            Manx trivia bits

            • The Manx is referred to as stubbin or kayt Manninagh in the Manx language.
            • The Isle of Man has featured the Manx on its currency, coins and postage stamps.
            • Koko, the famous sign-language-using gorilla, has had three Manx cats as companions. Their names were All Ball, Lipstick and Smokey.

            Do you live with a Manx? What is it like to live with her? Please share your thoughts and Manx photos in the comments.

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            About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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