<![CDATA[Operation PAW - Foster Blog]]>Sun, 01 Apr 2018 19:24:54 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Babette Sends Greetings from Worm Central]]>Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:25:36 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/babette-sends-greetings-from-worm-central
Adorable, worm-afflicted Babette
Warning: don’t read this if you’re eating anything. Wait until you’re not. I’m going to discuss one of the least pleasant, but very necessary, parts of fostering.

Although Babette was de-wormed when Operation Paw first acquired her, and then de-wormed again a couple weeks later, Babette let it be known Saturday morning that she is Concerned about Worms.

She expressed her concern at five a.m., by means of retching repeatedly. It was very dramatic and noisy, and I listened to her vomit four times before I really awoke enough to understand what I was hearing.

So I went downstairs to clean it up, and discovered one of her frothy little puddles had three wriggling roundworms in it.  It’s grotesque, but vomiting up roundworms (and, often, eating them again) is a not-uncommon activity for kittens with a flourishing colony of worms inhabiting their innards.

It’s also not terribly unusual that Babette has turned up with worms: her initial infestation might have left eggs that survived de-worming, or she might have picked it up again from a variety of environmental sources.  The main task now is to deworm her, and the other cats who share litterboxes with her, since shared litterboxes is one possible mode of transmission.

Amazingly, Babette has grown and gained weight, even with a thriving collection of worms inside her.  She is a cat with fortitude!

P.S. The bit that’s especially disgusting? I heard Babette vomit four times, but I only found three deposits.  I hate to think of where and when I’ll encounter the fourth.

P.P.S.  Babette is up for adoption!  If she’s tempted you in that way, please don’t hold the worms against her. I’ll be dealing with the worst of it, anyway. And she is very cute. 

Stay tuned for next week’s update from Worm Central.

Interested in adopting Babette?  Contact Operation Paw:  adopt@operationpaw.com
<![CDATA[Etiquette According to Babette]]>Thu, 11 Sep 2014 01:50:27 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/etiquette-according-to-babette
1) Everyone gets their own bowl of kibble. But if you take too long to eat it, it becomes mine.
2) If a friend licks his butt in public, I can too.

3) If tail gets flipped in my face, it's only fair that I get to bite it.
4) Stalking someone at the litterbox is not done, unless it's me. I stalk as I please.

5) I don't share blankets.

6) First on the bed gets to claim it for the night.
7) If I'm on the bed, you can't push me off.

8) I said, you can't push me off.
9) It doesn't matter if I bit Nico's tail first, the bed is mine.
10) Only black cats get to sleep in antique china bowls.
<![CDATA[Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Babette Bones!]]>Wed, 03 Sep 2014 01:32:38 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/dem-bones-dem-bones-dem-babette-bones
Babette recently returned from her visit to Dr. S., who inspected the state of her bones. 

I started off that morning by trying to trim Babette’s claws.  She needed them trimmed anyway, but since she was going to the vet’s, I wanted to make an especial effort. I managed four before she became too impatient to stand for it, and since I don’t want her to view claws-clipping as the start of the Apocalypse, I trimmed one more claw and then let her run off.
Babette is such a great car traveler! Since traffic was clear and easy, and the trip not exactly short, I let her wander around the inside of the car.  She inspected the back seat and the passenger foot well, chirped a couple times, then sat on the console and looked around curiously. As we waited through a few red lights, I took advantage of her distraction to trim her other claws. Then she returned to her carrier and curled up in it for the rest of the trip. 
At the vet’s office there was a bit of a wait, since other pets had arrived before her: a yellow tom cat bundled up in a blue blanket so that he looked like Mother Theresa, who had a urinary tract problem; a puppy Lab-pit mix whose scratching suggested allergies; a German Shepherd with a spinal cord issue; a Mexican hairless mix wearing a jaunty vest, who shivered as his owner talked to the puppy’s owner.  Finally, it was Babette’s turn!

An assistant ushered us into an examination room, and I let Babette onto the examination table so that she could stretch her legs.  She was trembling, but curious, and stretched her neck out to examine the countertops, the floor, and the window—probably planning a daring escape.  I cuddled her for a moment, then tucked her back inside her carrier in case she could feel safer there just as the assistant returned to take Babette in for her x-ray.  The assistant picked up Babette’s crate and carted her off.  “She’s kind of feisty,” I called after the assistant.
A couple minutes later the assistant, now suited up in a heavy apron to shield from the x-ray machine’s radiation, returned and fetched a muzzle. “She is a noisy one!”

“Yeah, I’ve been trying to encourage her to be noisy.”  The assistant looked a bit startled at this, so I explained, “Now, she’s noisy first and only after sometimes tries to swat or snap. She used not to give a warning first,” I explained, as the assistant left with the tiniest muzzle. This has been one of the challenges of socializing Babette: because her lack of mobility from rickets left her proactive about self-defense (swat first, ask questions later), I’ve been encouraging her to vocalize when she’s overstimulated or unhappy about something, and tried treading a line between respecting and not letting her think she could bully humans by getting noisy.
A couple minutes later, she returned Babette. “Here she is. She’s a real little jaguar!”  Still inside her carrier, Babette sounded like a tiny car revving up to start a race.  I opened her crate and petted her, and she quieted down and walked over to the end of the exam table facing the windows.  Escape probably had a higher priority than ever, I decided, and after she squalled when I petted her, I returned her to her carrier.

A few minutes later, Dr. S. came in and popped up an x-ray onto the screen.  “She’s looking good.  Her bone density’s good.  There’s some permanent curve to her bones, but nothing problematic.”
“How about in the long term?” I asked. “Will there be consequences, like arthritis or osteoporosis?”

“It’s a possibility, but not likely.”

Here are a couple interesting pictures: one is Babette’s x-ray, and, for comparison, one is x-ray of a cat without rickets.  Both show the pelvis and hind legs.  If you look at Babette’s femurs—the long bones between her pelvis and knee—you can see that they’re both a bit curved compared to the straight femurs of the other cat.  On the lower right of Babette’s x-ray, you can also see that one tarsus (the heavy bone between knee and foot) is bowed.  
Babette's X-Ray--notice the curved leg bone (lower right corner)
X-Ray of a normal cat's leg and pelvic bones
So there you have it!  This is the legacy of Babette’s experience with rickets.  She’s some curvy bones, but she’ll have no problems with them. Her mobility’s no longer compromised. She’s a healthy, cheerful, playful, and energetic young cat, who can run and jump and tussle with the best. 

It’s such a relief to know that the scary state she was in when Operation Paw rescued her isn’t standing in the way of her living a healthy, active life.  And I can send her off to that next stage in her life with a light heart. 

If you’re looking to adopt a sprightly, enthusiastic cat, one to keep yourself or another cat company, let me recommend Babette! She would be perfect for a person or family who would like to be greeted daily by a tiny, solemn face with perky whiskers, silky black fur, and eyes the color of antique gold.  She would make a great companion to anyone who’d like a cat to play tossing and chasing games, and she can also keep herself amused with loose feathers and paper bags.  While I wouldn’t recommend her to a family with young kids because her early life experiences haven’t left her tolerant of inexperienced handling, Nico can testify that she would make a young boy cat the best fur friend ever, and I can add that she has stellar midnight-bed-snuggling skills.

If you're interested in adopting Babette, contact Operation PAW:  adopt@operationpaw.com
<![CDATA[Babette and the Perfect Pet]]>Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:42:56 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/babette-and-the-perfect-pet
On a podcast I enjoy, Welcome to Night Vale, the radio host Cecil unexpectedly becomes the caretaker of a cat, Khoshekh.  Cecil has never considered himself a cat person, and Khoshek is not the ideal pet; for example, he’s stuck floating four feet off the ground in the men’s room at the radio station.  But as Cecil comes to love Khoshekh, he observes, “No pet is perfect. It becomes perfect when you learn to accept it for what it is.”
Babette is in many ways not the perfect pet.  Since her sickly kittenhood left her overwhelmed by too much touching, petting her happens briefly and within limits she sets for her own comfort.  She’s not easy-going, and she’s not likely to respond well to people unwilling to take the time to learn the ways she communicates both her pleasure and displeasure. 
Her affection is earned, and demonstrated in small brushes of her muzzle, or in falling trustfully against one’s side with a thump to sleep the night.  And she loves to play, and will eagerly bring a person her favorite toy of the moment once they demonstrate willingness to play with her.  For someone interested in adopting a cat whose affection is demonstrated in the details, for someone willing to take the time, Babette could indeed be the perfect pet..

If you think Babette should be part of your family, contact us:  adopt@operationpaw.com
<![CDATA[The Catalogue of Babette]]>Tue, 19 Aug 2014 20:50:51 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/the-catalogue-of-babette
One of my favorite cat owners of the past is Christopher Smart, all because of part of a poem he wrote between 1759 and 1763.  Smart had been confined to a hospital in London because of insanity.  During this time, he lived a solitary life, companioned by only his cat, Jeoffrey. He also spent some of his time writing the long poem Jubilate Agno.  Of the poem’s 1200+ lines, seventy-four describe his cat, and they’re lovely and moving for all the ways Smart finds to appreciate Jeoffrey.  
A few of my favorite lines from this section read:

“For I will consider my Cat Jeoffrey….

For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.

For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.

For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.

For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion...

For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.”

Smart catalogues many other ways in which he admires Jeoffrey, and I’ve been thinking about that in respect to Babette as her time as my foster-cat draws to a close. I can’t write poetry, but I can make a list, and so here’s a list of some of what I like most about Babette:

She has a meow so quiet it sounds like a gasp.

She loves to run, but she also loves to stop, usually by crashing into something.

Her eyes look like antique gold, and her black fur shows stripes in the sunlight.

She has scraggly white hairs on her chest and at all four armpits.

She sits by my feet when I make breakfast in the morning.

If I pass by a chair she’s hidden under, she’ll lunge out to tap my ankle, then hide again.

She likes to watch t.v., especially if it shows birds.

Her growl sounds like the world’s tiniest airplane revving up to take off.

If I offer her my finger, she’ll stretch out her neck and rub her chin against it.

When she is pleased with life, she flags her tail high.

Her tail is flagged high a lot.
If you think you’d enjoy making your own list for Babette, please consider adopting her!

<![CDATA[Babette the Runner]]>Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:04:01 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/babette-the-runner
Babette is now beginning her eight month of life, and I’ve been surprised by her developments in the past few weeks.  I’d figured that after her spaying I would get to enjoy her calming down a bit, growing a tad more docile as she left the high-energy portion of kittenhood behind. 

I was wrong.

Babette dedicates a huge amount of time each day to running: upstairs to downstairs, chasing Nico, being chased by Nico, pouncing on toys and batting them around to chase some more, and running full-tilt the length of the house from kitchen to living room.  
Watching her run has been both funny and startling to watch ever since I began fostering her. First, it was because her rickets left her with an unsteady gait and weakened muscles, so she often toppled over.  Now, it’s because Babette likes to stop abruptly.  The thing is that, although Babette seems to be settling into a small-sized cat—her growth probably stunted by rickets—she’s built a bit like a tank. She has a tiny little turret-head and a stocky, solid torso (and a round belly that is *so hard* not to poke when she shows it off).  So when she stops, she does so with gusto and the sudden arrest of enthusiastic momentum.  She also likes assistance helping herself stop—for example, the assistance of furniture or Nico, whichever she decides is more interesting for halting her barreling dash.  One favorite method of slowing herself down involves crashing into the vertical blinds and rolling into the glass doors.
Perhaps I’m reading on the couch, my back to the living room patio doors, and Babette high-tails it past me.  Before I can even look up, there’s a clatter of blinds and a thump against glass.  Then more clattering and thumping as she rolls herself over and leaps up the glass doors to try catching the lizard on the other side.  And clattering again as she brushes through the blinds and dashes off again.
Or perhaps I’m in the kitchen, and she thumps rapidly down the stairs and runs into the room. If the patio doors are open, she might streak past me to dart outside (it’s a walled-and-screened patio; a bit like a cat aviary, these days).  If the patio doors are closed and the blinds drawn, there’s more clattering. Or there’s the ticky-tack of claws grappling with the rug in front of the patio doors, which usually results in its being flipped over into an impromptu obstacle course for playing hide-and-seek with a mouse toy.
I wish I had the patience and dedication necessary to train cats, because I think Babette would be great for agility courses. Either that, or she would destroy them as she thumped into one obstacle after another.
<![CDATA[Marching Toward Adoption!]]>Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:08:33 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/marching-toward-adoption
It has been four months since I was first asked to foster Babette, and I’m both sad and excited that she is getting ready to enter the next stage of her life, and find her forever home!
Her first four months must have been pretty miserable for her.  By the time Operation Paw took her in, she was so sick with rickets she couldn’t stand, abandoned in box soaked with urine she couldn’t move away from, hungry, scared, and friendless.
These days, she’s turned into a plump, rambunctious girl.  She likes having the line of her throat gently scratched, and will collapse onto her belly if I get the angle just right.  When she’s had enough petting, she pushes my hand away with firm paws and chitters a little complaint.  Sometimes the tiny growls she makes when she’s tired of my attempts to pet her are so funny that I have to give her a couple extra strokes anyway. 
Babette and her BFF and foster brother Nico
She runs up to greet me when I get home, nudges her muzzle against my finger with an affectionate push, and cuddles up against my side or my feet in bed at night.  She runs and tumbles and plays all over the house with Nico and her favorite toys.  This week, I tossed a paper grocery bag down for her, and she pushed it all over the living room, darting in and out of it and pouncing atop it.  She is such a special cat, full of life, and full with her own quirky personality.  
My recommendations would be that Babette goes to a person or family who have either owned cats before, or are very easy-going--and don't have young children.  Babette won't be tolerant of their mishandling her.  She needs people who are willing to back off when she signals that she's had enough, but aren't so new to cats that her back-off signals scare them. 

She would probably do very well if placed with a second young cat as a playmate, and my guess is that she'd mesh better with a young male than a female.  Dogs I can't predict; I just don't have experience there.  My guess is that she'd figure out how to get along with a calm dog, like a retriever or lab, but that's just a guess.
If Babette is the kitty for you, contact us!  

<![CDATA[Babette and Coming Home]]>Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:46:07 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/babette-and-coming-home
One of the things that I generally like about cats is that, particularly when there’s more than one to provide each other company, they can be left alone for a couple of days, with maybe a visit from a friend to check in on them and empty litter boxes.  But my cat Grendel has kidney failure, which means she requires medical 
treatments that need regular management. As a result, I’ve had to arrange for a house sitter to provide her care, whom I’ll call S.  Having S’s help has made a big difference to the cats. Even though they have each other for company, it’s been clear before that they still miss me when I’m gone. Sometimes they demonstrate this by ripping open a box of mac-and-cheese in my absence, scattering the pasta, and tracking the cheese dust everywhere.  Sometimes they just stick to me like glue when I get back.  With S., however, they’re not desperate for human attention when I return; they’re just eager to have mine.
Nico & Babette keeping each-other company in their Foster Mom's absence
I recently had to leave town for a few days, and so S came over to house sit.  Babette is a particular favorite of S’s, so got to enjoy some extra attention and cuddling.  The interesting part, for me, was returning.  Every cat I’ve had treats me differently after I’ve returned. Currently, Grendel displays barnacle-like attachment. She follows my every step and meows and purrs and begs for attention.  Shez cold-shoulders me for several hours, until she decides I’ve been appropriately ostracized for having left her alone, and then howls and moans reproachfully when she decides to interact again.  Nico just trotted up to greet me at the door, then promptly flopped over in my walkway and showed off his belly in a long stretch.  
Babette with her coveted purple feather toy
Babette bided her time.  She let me pet her, and she hung around that evening to keep an eye on my doings.  The next day, however, she was relentless. Any time she found me sitting down, she would bring me her currently-favorite toy (the feathered end of a wand toy, long since separated from the wand) and drop it on me. Then she would stare at me until I picked it up and threw it for her.  If I remained where I was, she would return and drop it on my feet, my legs, by my waist, and stare and stare until I threw it again.  Every moment was punctuated by her demands that I play with her. So this is Babette’s way of responding to my return: packing days of lost play into a few hours.
<![CDATA[Babette and the Unwanted Liquids]]>Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:42:29 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/babette-and-the-unwanted-liquids
Babette now--stronger, healthier, and in possession of a perfectly normal appetite!
In the first couple of weeks after I began fostering Babette, the state of her digestive system was of much interest.  At the time, what we knew was that she had rickets. But the type of rickets was still unknown: either 
it could have been situational, in which case just giving her good food would help her improve, or it could have been genetic, in which case she might have continued to decline. 

(Spoiler alert: it was situational!)  

Basically, we would get a sense as to her health by how she ate and eliminated.  
In the first couple of days after I brought Babette home, she didn’t have much of an appetite.  This was concerning.  Was she not eating because she was ill, or was it because she didn’t like the food? And was she not eliminating because her illness left her with too little solid waste to eliminate, or was she constipated, or was something else amiss?  When she ate, how much, exactly, was she eating?
So we started trying her out with different foods, eventually switching to a high-protein formula. The first night, I dabbed a bit on her muzzle to catch her interest, and she lapped some up after that.  The next morning, I gave her more, and she lapped that up, too.  Then she used the litter box! I have never been so relieved to see a cat defecate before. I left her alone to tell Operation Paw that she’d eaten, feeling pleased with the situation.
Little did I know how briefly my happiness would last.  After sending an email, I came back to check on her and found that there was formula all over her cage. She must have tripped on the bowl and splashed it around, I thought—Babette still found walking a very rickety experience at the time.  So I left the cage open for her to wander about if she wanted, and went to fetch some cleaning products.
When I returned, Babette was playing hide-and-seek under the bed.  I crossed to the cage to clean it—and stepped in a puddle of warmish, frothy liquid. 

In my bare feet.  

I shrieked and jumped back—and stepped into another puddle.  Babette kept playing happily while I hopped out of the room on one foot to go wash myself.

Operation Paw and I eventually determined that this was a continuation of Babette’s upset stomach: the formula was too rich for her. So we tried something else, which Babette ate voraciously.  
Babette hanging out with her BFF (Best Fur Friend) and foster brother Nico. She can hold her own with him now!
Since then, we haven’t had to look back: her weight began to increase steadily, and she eats whatever food she’s offered (or whatever catches her interest; I’m pretty sure I saw her chow down on a moth last week).
<![CDATA[Babette's Games]]>Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:48:50 GMThttp://operationpaw.com/foster-blog/babettes-games
Babette is now about seven months old, so her growth has largely plateaued as she moves closer to the world of adult catness.  Right now, she’s a trim, small cat, one who possesses boundless energy. Most of her mornings she spends running at top speed from one end of the house to the other.  She likes lurking around doorways or stairs to catch the other cats (or me) unawares with the quick tap of a paw.  
Babette also continues to explore and push at the boundaries of her status in the household relative to the other cats.  While she is great buddies with Nico and they like to chase and play and snuggle together, neither of the older cats, ten-year-olds Grendel and Shez, are interested in interacting with her.  A few days ago, she stood to one side as Grendel walked onto the screened patio.  Just as Grendel’s front half had passed through the narrow doors, Babette smacked her hind end. Sadly for Grendel, but fortunately for Babette, the patio doors were cracked too narrowly for Grendel to turn around and retaliate.  
Shez, too, has come under Babette’s increased scrutiny.  When they happen to be on a bed at the same time, Babette bellies low, stalks Shez (who is usually dozing), then springs on her. She usually gets in a swat or two before Shez howls herself awake and tries to swat back—but by then, Babette has run away to work off her excess energy by tumbling with Nico.
In other news, Babette has spent the past few days practicing her tail-chasing skills, a new game for her.  She diversifies that activity by running around with toys in her mouth, running around without toys in her mouth, tussling with Nico, and trying to surprise Grendel and Shez yet again.  
Sidenote:  This is obviously exhausting work!