Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blog the Change: July 15, 2012

Today's post is special, because it is sponsored by Blog the Change for AnimalsToday I am writing about feral cats and a program called Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR). 

Face it, we all know there are a lot of cats out there - many of which are feral. There are many places with great feral cat colonies. Some of which, are maintained by kindhearted people. They feed the cats and make sure they have fresh water.

I've grown up in a cat household - whether it's my cats inside, or a random cat outside - there is always a cat to be found where ever I am. So, I just happen to find myself today, July 15, on vacation in Cape May, New Jersey.

Cape May is known for their feral cat populations, the ordinances to keep cats inside and also known for the Cape May Bird Watching. I know many individuals around town, who help maintain the colonies through TNR, as well as placing adoptable kittens. 

I shared this on Facebook yesterday.

One of cat rescue groups in Cape May is the Animal Outreach of Cape May County
"Animal Outreach is a 501(c)(3) organization of dedicated individuals who work every day to help animals throughout our South Jersey communities. We assist owners in need, sponsor strays, foster cats, kittens, dogs and puppies awaiting adoption, and provide humane education to the public.
In addition, Animal Outreach has purchased a parcel of land on which to build a no-kill shelter and sanctuary."

Cape May is a wonderful example of the benefits of the TNR process; saving cats, returning them to their domain, without destroying them. That's all us cat rescuers ask for!

Another local New Jersey feral cat situation is in Atlantic City, NJ. This blurb, from the The Feral Cat Project: 
"With an estimated 350-400 cats living under the boardwalk, complaints were plenty. Slated for euthanasia, the Cat Action Team was formed to protect the cats and offer TNR alternatives. Once trapping began, approximately 60% were removed for adoption or socialization. The other 40% returned to their homes under the boardwalk. Signs posted by the city educate newcomers of the do’s and don’ts. DO enjoy the cats. DO NOT feed them or dump new cats."

And local to where I live, in Virginia, is the George Mason (University) Cat Coalition. Over many years, and many cats - some of which lived to be over 15 & died of natural causes (granted there were a few hit by cars), has been a very successful TNR program. They are currently down to two "feral" cats. Annie, and her sister Catnan. And if anything says "feral" about Annie, it would be this picture...

How many feral cats do you know who dress up?

So I will leave you to think about this: The next time you find a feral or stray cat outside that you don't know what to do with, think about the Trap, Neuter and Return program. It has been working wonders - yes, it is not always an option - but when the opportunity is available, seize it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Moki the Wobbly Cat: Changing The Word Disabled

My photo of Moki at BlogPaws SLC 2012. Showing all the cat ladies his grass walking skills!

This blog is coming to you live, from one of the hottest days in June (June 29, '12), as well as the worst storm of the summer in Northern Virginia - which was later known as a derecho. Writing by my Hello Kitty lantern in the dark, I am telling you about a special little soul that I had the pleasure of meeting at BlogPaws in June.

Disability. It’s a word that many people, many Americans, many pets such as cats and dogs are associated with.  It is a word that comes with a stigma, words like handicapped and unable are often mentioned with disability.

Want to know some words not associated with disability? Moki the Wobbly Cat. Moki, a differently abled cat, is a little brown tabby who overcame all odds to live to his fifth birthday.

A little background about Moki...

My photo of Moki - BlogPaws SLC 2012
Moki’s owner, Crystal Fogg, took Moki in as a feral kitten. When he was all of three months old, he developed a virus that caused a neurological disorder. Moki has been to multiple vets, including the vets at UC Davis (and on an unrelated note – they have worked very hard on FIP research), and even they have not been able to diagnose what caused the neurological disorder. It is possible it was a virus caused from a strain of the Panleukopenia vaccine, but there is no evidence proving this speculation.

I had the pleasure of meeting Moki and his mom Crystal at BlogPaws on June 21-23, 2012. I was so excited that Moki was attending the conference. I had seen Moki on an episode of Animal Planet’s Must Love Cats, where I learned about Moki’s condition and the rehabilitation he does.  Moki does acupuncture – or acupoky as he calls it – as well as hydrotherapy (in water!!) and other climbing therapies to help his muscles in his legs. Crystal works at the non-profit foundation Scout’s Animal Rehab Therapy Fund, which helps underwrite therapy for service animals. Moki gets his therapy at Scouts House.
I even got to hold Moki!
Mom and Moki

If you had heard about Moki and his condition, you might call him disabled, but he is not disabled, but differently abled.  What does that mean? I have to explain it to you in my own personal story.

My late grandfather, Lester Shubin was a WWII veteran, and the developer of the Kevlar © Bulletproof Vest. He always struggled with disabilities, but none as great as becoming a double leg amputee. And of course, when you’re in a wheel chair, spending oodles of time in therapy and learning how to drive with hand controls – the word disabled rings in your ears. And I’ll admit, at first to me, my grandfather was seriously disabled.

But after meeting Moki this past summer, I realize my grandfather – like Moki – was not disabled, but differently abled. Just because he was confined to a wheel chair, didn’t mean he wasn’t going to learn how to drive a car again. So he had a red Cadillac SUV installed with hand controls that he drove, up until the day he died.

Moki’s message of being differently abled is the best message anyone could send to handicapable people and pets, all over the world.  Meeting Moki opened my eyes to the abilities of differently abled people and pets, and how they really are just like anyone else.

Check Moki out on Facebook & his website!