Ollie’s Story

By: | November 13, 2019

Ollie, an 11-year old blonde tabby cat, came to the APA with his brother, Henry, whose health was rapidly declining due to feline leukemia. Heartbreakingly, staff noticed that Ollie would wrap himself around Henry, as if holding onto hope that he could somehow protect and save his brother from the disease. After losing Henry, Ollie became very depressed and refused to eat, his hope fading away. Our dedicated staff would not give up on him, so instead cuddled him close and provided nourishment through syringe feedings until Ollie could once again eat on his own. After he emerged from his depression, his social personality impressed even the hard-core dog-lovers of the APA staff.

While all of our staff members came to know and love Ollie, there was one person, Jenn, who had an especially soft spot in her heart for this very special cat. She had already been considering adding a senior cat to her “small army”…was Ollie the one? He spent the next 30 days in Jenn’s office getting special attention while he recovered from losing his sibling, regained his appetite (tuna!), and awaited test results to determine if the feline leukemia virus had developed in his own body. Jenn formed a special bond with her new office mate and soon let everyone know that, if Ollie was healthy enough to be around her current pets, she wanted him to join her family. Hope! Ollie soon began to flourish and regained a healthy weight. Each day Ollie greeted Jenn at her office door, his demanding meow growing stronger (and more endearing) each day. He also started what Jenn referred to as an “intense cuddle routine.” Once she was settled at her desk, he would curl up in her lap and snuggle the entire day. He loved Jenn as much as she loved him—she knew he would fit in perfectly with her two cats.

The day after he tested negative for feline leukemia, Jenn took Ollie home – a new family and a new name: Omelette!  Alongside his other feline and canine friends, Omelette can often be found snuggling or looking dreamily out the window. We imagine he is fondly remembering his brother, Henry.  He continues to greet Jenn at the door each time she arrives, but now it’s at the door of his own home.  Hope for Ollie…by way of the APA.

He seemed like the perfect fit. -Jenn

Darla’s Story

By: | November 13, 2019

Darla knows that hope comes in many forms. Clinging to life, Darla and her two puppies were discovered in a rural Missouri ditch. Hope first arrived in the form of a kind-hearted man who rescued the trio and brought them to the safety of his home while he began searching for shelters to give them a second chance.  Through our collaborative transfer program, in which the APA works with over 100 animal rescues and shelters throughout the Midwest, Darla and her pups, who may not have survived outside much longer, made their way to the APA.

After their arrival, Darla’s puppies were nursed back to health and quickly found wonderful adoptive families. Darla’s journey, however, became a bit more complicated after APA staff noticed a lump on her chin. An x-ray determined that Darla had osteosarcoma, an aggressive, terminal bone cancer in her jaw. Despite her bleak prognosis, Darla was eating well, in good spirits, and her pain was being managed—it was clear she was thriving from the love and care received at the APA. That wasn’t enough though. We wanted Darla to experience the comforts of a warm, loving home for the rest of her life, however long that may be. So, the APA reached out to our dedicated foster volunteers to search for a twilight foster—someone to provide love, care and hope for Darla, as she, too, had so much love left to give.

Little did we know, Darla was destined for hope of a different kind.

Isabella had just moved into her own apartment with her dog, Ginger. She had been considering an addition to her furry family and one day decided to visit the APA. Not knowing exactly who she was looking for, she started by visiting with kittens…but then asked about animals that nobody wanted or had special needs. An APA staff member told her about Darla and her condition, and Isabella asked to meet her. Darla was brought out and placed in Isabella’s arms—Darla’s sweet disposition, gentle spirit, and soulful eyes, full of hope, captured Isabella’s heart. Though uncertain of handling the responsibility and heartache of adopting a dog with declining health, Isabella instantly fell in love. She knew Darla would be her new family member.

Over a month post-adoption, Darla is still wagging her tail, eating “like a queen,” and running with more energy and speed than Isabella’s other dog.  Isabella and Darla are living each day to the fullest together—creating a life full of hope and happiness.  Hope for Darla…by way of the APA.

Once she placed Darla in my arms, I melted—my heart became full.  -Isabella

Two Kittens are Better Than One

By: | November 4, 2019

One is the loneliest number doesn’t apply to everything, but the song rings true with kittens. Every cat owner wants a happy, healthy, well-adjusted, “good citizen” cat. Kittenhood is a time of growth and development. A kitten’s ability to learn appropriate behaviors is amplified when adopted with another kitten because, absent their mother, interactions between the kittens provide each kitten with important feedback information. They learn from each other when play or biting is too rough and how to share space. They also observe each other’s actions and consequences. Bonded kittens get a head start on their learning track because they already trust and are paying close attention to each other.

Kittens require a lot of attention, and one kitten requires even more. Kittens are curious, energetic, and playful. They are testing their environment, their abilities, and their boundaries all the time. They are also establishing their daily routine. A playmate helps a kitten to focus and burn off some of this energy, resulting in less attention-seeking behavior and potential destructive behaviors. They can also wear each other out, resulting in a much more peaceful night of sleep. It can be difficult for a person to provide a kitten with all of the needs a kitten has to play. If there is an older cat already in the home, adopting two kittens means they will most likely focus on each other, and leave the more senior, lower energy cat alone. Two kittens can actually make an owner’s life easier!

Cats are not solitary animals. Without companionship, a kitten can get lonely, bored, or anxious. Growing up with another kitten means having a companion when the human parents are away and having a companion for life–something that can help create lifelong comfort and security for your cat. If you’re thinking about adopting a kitten, consider two kittens. We look forward to adorable photos of your kittens cuddling!

 

Pam Hill, Local Cat Behavior Counselor
314-722-5592, info@thatcatgirl.com

Catch and Kill vs TNR: A Look at Sustainability

By: | October 16, 2019

One of the major opponents to TNR are bird people. They often cite a study, conducted by scientists Clark and Castillo for the Department of Environmental Studies – Florida International University, which found that after 2 years there was no change in the feral cat population – and that these cat colonies had even increased, somewhat. This is not particularly revolutionary data – TNR never purported to change the feral cat landscape in just two years. Instead, in a 17-year-long study conducted by Daniel D. Spehar and Peter J. Wolf, we see something much more interesting: after nearly two decades of TNR, all the cats are gone. Further, they write, “Up to one-third of the cats trapped were sociable and adopted into homes; the remainder were sterilized and vaccinated before being returned to the waterfront, where they declined in number over time due to attrition.”

But let’s let Clark and Castillo continue. In their zeal for catch and kill, bird enthusiasts only read the headline of the study. But the scientists write more:

“Our results emphasize the role that human interference and negligence play in the population dynamics of managed cat colonies. lllegal dumping of unwanted cats and the attraction of stray cats to the provisioned food counter-balanced reductions in cat numbers caused by death or adoption.”

Over the course of two years, this is a reasonable conclusion. Their inclusion of “adoption” here is also interesting: the 45 cats born per year for every human is not a problem we can adopt our way out of. Shelters who trap feral cats, warehouse them endlessly in a misguided attempt to socialize them, and then find themselves too full to help actual friendly kittens could heed Clark and Castillo’s words. With nowhere to go, friendly cats get dumped.

Clark and Castillo, in their conclusion, continue:

“Our small sample size (two cat colonies) and short time duration of observation (1 year) may limit the strength of our results.”

Hmm. Another major difference: the study over the course of decade’s deals with hundreds of cats – the Clark and Castillo study has less than 50.

In another study, Wildlife Research scientists write about catch and kill vs TNR:

“After 1 year, populations treated with euthanasia generally decreased whereas populations treated with TNR either remained unchanged or decreased slightly […] Euthanasia resulted in greater total population decreases than did TNR and a combination of euthanasia and TNR; however, the total effort required to reduce each population by 1% was highest for euthanasia.”

Again: over the course of 1 year. According to this study, TNR was most effective when 75% or greater of the cats were sterilized. (Or trap and kill most effective when 75% of the cats were euthanized).

Here’s what we know to be true, based on our observations here in St Louis:

  • Catch and kill will reduce the number of cats temporarily – that’s common sense. But just as the Wildlife Research scientists assert, it’s hugely resource intensive. No one is going to raise their hands and offer to help trap and kill for free. That makes euthanasia expensive and therefore unsustainable – especially when we remember the bird study’s assertion that illegal dumping of cats and cats wandering into the area is a problem that will continue. Thus, necessitating more catching and killing on and on and on forever and ever.
  • TNR brings human beings together. Over 1700 cats were TNRed last year by St Louis Feral Cat Outreach alone. The humans involved in this effort included the 80 or so volunteers, plus all the colony caretakers of 1700 cats, plus many concerned citizens doing one-off TNR. These are all people who worked for free. Given the state of flux at our animal controls, it seems unlikely that something as resource intensive as paying trappers to trap and kill is the answer to the feral cat problem.Wildlife Research continues:

“Therefore, both euthanasia and TNR would require immigration to be concomitantly controlled or reduced under both scenarios.”

Translation: Catch and kill doesn’t work if people are not fixing their cats. Catch and kill doesn’t work if people are illegally dumping animals. Why is this relevant? Because it speaks to the most important reason why TNR is sustainable but catch and kill isn’t: TNR forces human beings to be pro-active in the reduction of community cat populations. It forces shelters to contend with litters of kittens. It gives adoptable community cats a chance at indoor life.

Something catch and kill proponents forget: TNR empowers colony caretakers, who love their cats, to do something about explosive population. Instead of hiding in the shadows, caretakers are now choosing to join with animal welfare groups and fix their cats. When it comes to beloved community cats who these folks will do anything to protect, the choice is do nothing or do TNR.

That’s what sustainability looks like.

The community cat problem will not be solved by a handful of Animal Control Officers directed to trap and kill.

So you wanna help the birds?

Here’s how to help the birds:

  • Support local shelters when they stay open admission. Birds are most at risk because of illegal dumping of animals – so with the troubling increase in managed intake or limited admission no kill shelters in the region, that’s what’s going to increase cat populations. This is what contributes to illegal dumping, a problem that’s pointed to in every major TNR study.
  • Support spay and neuter efforts – pet cats who are allowed to roam outside must be sterilized.
  • Work to protect bird habitats decimated by humans. Although we’ve only touched on the cats and their destruction of bird species, it’s also true that the most massive impact on all species in North America is from humans destroying habitat. Be mindful of your consumption.

So. It’s true that catch and kill decreases cat population, at least in the short term. But it’s a tactic that is grossly expensive, extremely cruel, and unsustainable.  If you want an army of volunteers and colony caretakers making a difference, right now, for relatively cheap – you’ll need to look to TNR.

Read the studies:

https://abcbirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Castillo-and-Clarke-2003-TNR-ineffective-in-controlling-cat-colonies1.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5704110/

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ab8a/31b2c6459dba0ded3f7ef545b916a62080cb.pdf

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

By: | October 15, 2019

Halloween should be a fun, exciting and safe event for all, including our furry friends. Please keep the following safety tips in mind for your pets as you celebrate:

  1. Repeated ringing of doorbells & people at the door in strange costumes can be stressful for many pets. Even normally friendly pets may become fearful or unexpectedly aggressive. Please keep them in a quiet and safe place on Halloween.
  2. Pet Identification – Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If, for any reason, your pet escapes or gets lost, a collar with tags and a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he will be returned to you.
  3. Candles & Jack-O-Lanterns are a fire hazard if placed within a pet’s range. Wagging tails and frightened cats running through the house can easily tip over a carved pumpkin or candle.
  4. Candy – Halloween equals candy for many people but do not share with your pets. The four most common food-related Halloween hazards for pets are chocolate, candy overindulgence, raisins and candy wrappers.
  5. Pet Costumes – If you plan to put a costume on your pet, make sure it fits comfortably, doesn’t have any pieces that can easily be chewed off, and doesn’t interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing or moving. Before Halloween, take time to get your pet accustomed to the costume and never leave your pet unsupervised while he is wearing a costume.