Childhood Experiments in Midwifery

By: | February 26, 2019

At roughly 5 or 6, my parents made the catastrophic decision to add a baby to our family. His name ended up being Jackson and he’s actually pretty funny so all things considered I guess that worked out. But, I must confess, at the time this choice struck me as pure calamity.

To lessen the blow my parents allowed me to have what I wanted absolutely most on this earth: one kitten. We already had a pet dog – my mom’s beloved elderly sheltie mix (a pet she got in law school). But this kitten would be mine.

We got the kitten, as many people do, from a friend. My mom’s longtime friend had a ranch – and ranches tend to have outdoor kittens. As we know, 80% of kittens in shelters come from outdoor cats – and my new kitten was no different.

Sorry, I mean my kittens were no different.

My mom’s friend presented me with an adorable 7 or so week old tortie kitten and I named her Kira. But, well, Kira had to have a friend – and I had my eye on her fluffy black sister.

“Well,” said my mother, “Go ahead and call your dad, but you have to ask him.”

Of course I got my second kitten.

We drove home with them that night and made what I now know was a hilariously bad move – we let the kitten immediately loose in the bedroom. These formerly outdoor kittens, now removed from their mama and their siblings, hid under the bed for a week. I was desperate to snuggle them and laid nearly constantly next to my parents’ bed, my face pressed sideways into the carpet. “Pleeeease, I love you,” I whined at them.

“Eh, give them time,” suggested my mother.

Eventually, though, as kittens do, they came around. Marissa and Kira grew to be both snuggly and aloof – that is, basically your average cat. I adored them.

We had an ample backyard and it was roughly the year 1998 so my cats were indoor/outdoor. Nowadays my cats are strictly indoor (please see Mabel’s escapade for more information), but at the time this was our normal.

You probably see where this is going.

One day Kira and Marissa seemed to disappear. They weren’t on the porch or in my room or even their favorite spot on top of the fridge. My parents and I looked for them and finally found them in the garage, nestled in a box of forgotten old sweaters.

Both nursing kittens.

Kira had 5, Marissa 2. They were impossibly cute and I was thrilled. Less thrilling, I’ll admit, was the fact that Marissa had birthed a stillborn kitten. I remember still this kitten, rigid, by herself in another box.

I know now that pregnancy is hard on mamas. Birth even more so. And kittens are so impossibly fragile. That day my mother and I gently wrapped the kitten in a washcloth and buried her in a box under a tree. I painted a rock with chalk as a headstone.

Ultimately, Kira and Marissa were good mamas and all 7 kittens thrived. We dodged upper respiratory infections, parasites, and other common kittenhood illnesses.

We were lucky. Only one kitten injured himself in his time at our house (either from playing too hard or hitting his head on a cabinet). Because 6 year olds are literal, I named him Hurt Head. My parents paid for a vet and were given antibiotics.

We rehomed each of these kittens to friends and strangers.

Unaltered, unfortunately.

It would be easy to see this as a failing on the fault of my parents – easy and wrong. There were no high volume or low cost spay and neuter clinics in my community in 1998. Adoption was not the common, accessible choice it is now in 2019 at the APA.

Through advances and inclusions great and small we rewrite this narrative.

In 2019 here’s how the story goes:

My mom’s friend has an outdoor barn cat. She has a few, actually, so she contacts her local animal welfare agency. They are so excited to hear from her. They explain TNR and she borrows a trap. Since this is a free service she TNRs 15 cats on her property.

My mom’s friend tells her about this welfare agency. We adopt a fully vetted kitten from this organization. Maybe I even get 2.

Hey, maybe I get 3.

Well, that’s one way. But what if it went like this?

My mom’s friend has an outdoor barn cat and she gives birth. We take 2 of her kittens. Weeks or months or year later a woman knocks on our door. She explains she’s the outreach coordinator for a local nonprofit and would we like to fix our cats? She explains the health benefits. My parents are easily convinced. Frankly they were never opposed.

Another:

My mom’s friend has an outdoor barn cat and she gives birth. We take 2 kittens, they grow up to be my perfect angel adult cats, and one day we discover they have a litter – 7 between them. One of the kittens is stillborn and we mourn her.

My parents are unsure what to do next so they contact an organization, maybe even the APA.

The APA advises that they’ll take the kittens when they’re weaned. My parents have questions about how to care for kittens – especially when one we call Hurt Head bonks his noggin and gets an infected sore. They bring the kitten to the APA and the APA helps them with what to do.

The kittens all go to the APA when they’re ready. They’re fixed and chipped and vaccinated. In my capacity as the outreach coordinator, I bend space-time and I spay Marissa and Kira.

My parents like kitten midwifing so much they connect with the APA’s foster coordinator, Ashton, and continue to care for neonates. Eventually, we TNR the barn cats from the beginning of the story.

The difference in these stories isn’t my parents. My parents are the same people – vegetarian animal loving lunatics – in every story. The difference is accessibility and approachability. The difference is outreach and compassion. The difference is you, dear reader, supporting places like the APA and people in our community.

If you or someone you love (four legs or two!) needs more information about adopting, fostering, or free spay/neuter packages, call us at the APA. We’re open 7 days a week and we’d love to hear from you, whatever your story is.

Fostering for the APA – A Testimonial

By: | February 15, 2019

Fostering for the APA is great! The staff are so responsive to any need you have and the Facebook page is an excellent way to connect with other people who are fostering. Getting approved to foster was easy and they provide a no pressure way to request the animals you want but also take a break when you need it.

It’s so rewarding to get a tiny kitten in, be able to play with it and cuddle it, then send it off to be placed with a loving forever home. I would never have the space to provide homes to all those wonderful animals but I do have the space to allow them to grow into the next step. Fostering for the APA means that more animals can be saved!

– Susan Depue, APA foster volunteer

We work hard to make fostering easy. As a foster volunteer, you will work with a dedicated foster coordinator to get everything you need to be successful — food, pet supplies, information and resources, as well as support. And, when the pets you are fostering are ready for adoption, you bring them back to the APA and we take care of that part – you don’t have to find them homes like many other places require (of course, we suspect many of your family and friends will want to adopt them when they see how great they are).

To learn more about fostering, please contact us at foster@apamo.org.

Fostering for the APA – A Testimonial

By: | February 8, 2019

The following testimonial is from APA foster volunteer, Susan Dohr. In 2018, we helped nearly 4,000 pets find homes. This would not have been possible without volunteers like Susan. If you are interested in becoming a foster volunteer, please contact us at foster@apamo.org.

I love fostering for the APA !  The APA has a very high adoption rate with very caring and dedicated staff who do their very best to get adoptable animals into loving forever homes.  My teenage daughter and I started fostering for the APA a couple years ago, because we love animals and we wanted to help make a difference in homeless animals’ lives.  Fosters play an early and important role in getting animals ready for adoption. Animals who are pregnant, too young, sick, recovering from an injury, or need some socialization benefit from a low stress home setting , where they can have their babies, grow and thrive, heal from an illness or injury, or simply learn to be less fearful.  This is where fosters come in!  it’s so rewarding  in itself to know you’re helping these animals get to the point of being able to be adopted into forever homes.  Fosters also help make space available for new animals to be taken in by the APA, saving even more lives!  If you’ve ever thought about fostering for an animal shelter, I highly recommend APA.  They take care of any supplies you might need and they provide the medical care for the fosters in your care. They will work around your schedule to make it convenient for you to come in if your foster animal needs vaccinations or anything. Also, our foster coordinator, Ashton, is always available for any questions or concerns we might have about our fosters. I won’t say it’s always easy to say goodbye to fosters once the time comes that they are ready for adoption, as we do get attached to them, but I remember to think of the bigger picture, the fact that new animals are always coming in, who might need some time in foster care and I want to be available for them.  I want to be able to help as many animals as possible,  for years to come. Fostering for the APA has been a great experience for us!

– Susan Dohr, APA foster volunteer

Foster volunteers are critical to the work we do at the APA Adoption Center. Foster volunteers help the most vulnerable pets – puppies, kittens and animals recovering from illness or injury – get a healthy start or second chance by providing them with love and care while they grow or recover.

We work hard to make fostering easy. As a foster volunteer, you will work with a dedicated foster coordinator to get everything you need to be successful — food, pet supplies, information and resources, as well as support. And, when the pets you are fostering are ready for adoption, you bring them back to the APA and we take care of that part – you don’t have to find them homes like many other places require (of course, we suspect many of your family and friends will want to adopt them when they see how great they are).

To learn more about fostering, please contact us at foster@apamo.org.

Fostering for the APA – A Testimonial

By: | February 1, 2019

The following testimonial is from APA foster volunteer, Debra Reed. In 2018, we helped nearly 4,000 pets find homes. This would not have been possible without volunteers like Debra. If you are interested in becoming a foster volunteer, please contact us at foster@apamo.org.

After retiring I knew my first endeavor was to get a dog. I adopted a puppy named Daisy at an adoption event and she became my constant companion. However, if I needed to run errands or attend a function, she suffered from separation anxiety. I decided some canine companionship may help calm her while I was away. Rather than get another dog of my own, I volunteered to become a foster at the APA.

I brought home a couple of pups I was confident Daisy would be comfortable with when I left home. The rewards of having the pups to mentor significantly eased Daisy’s anxiety. It also helped me feel so much better! Besides the benefits it brought to Daisy, there is nothing better than puppy breath morning, noon and night!

The unconditional love I receive from my those innocent babies provides both utmost in joy and comic relief! I recommend to any animal lover fostering with the APA. I have cared for 16 puppies and two adult dogs going through heartworm treatment. All the supplies you need to be a foster are taken care of by APA – food, crates, bowls, you name it. All you need is tender loving care.

Daisy now has two APA sisters-Lily, a puppy she has so much fun with and Poppy, a shy and timid girl that stole our hearts. Because my experience with the foster program was so positive, I am now looking into the  APA Petreach Program-where I can take my dogs to visit seniors citizens and children.

Thanks APA Foster Program-Best Year of my Life!!

– Debra  Reed, APA foster volunteer

Foster volunteers are critical to the work we do at the APA Adoption Center. Foster volunteers help the most vulnerable pets – puppies, kittens and animals recovering from illness or injury – get a healthy start or second chance by providing them with love and care while they grow or recover. 

We work hard to make fostering easy. As a foster volunteer, you will work with a dedicated foster coordinator to get everything you need to be successful — food, pet supplies, information and resources, as well as support. And, when the pets you are fostering are ready for adoption, you bring them back to the APA and we take care of that part – you don’t have to find them homes like many other places require (of course, we suspect many of your family and friends will want to adopt them when they see how great they are).

To learn more about fostering, please contact us at foster@apamo.org.