Goodbye, JellyBean

cat JellyBean lying down

Saying Goodbye To Our Older Cat

JellyBean sleeps a lot. She eats sparingly and although she can use the bathroom, it’s with great effort. Her little legs are wobbly, like a new fawn’s, but JellyBean is eighteen, and she will not be with us much longer.

My husband and I make sure every day that she has adequate opportunity for food and water. We’ve set out special dishes in strategic places to both assist and entice her. We took an old LL Bean box and made a “handicapped stall” to enable her potty needs, while putting less stress on her weak legs.

On the couch, she head-butts my arm and stares up at me with cloudy eyes. She still wants to be the Queen of Attention. She still wants to be in charge.

When will it be the right time to adopt a pet again?

At one point we were thinking about adopting a new kitten. We agreed that another black cat was the way to go since so many black animals need good homes. We’ve loved our eighteen years with the once perky, but bossy, black JellyBean, and although we could never replace her, we’re thinking about life with pets in the future.

As I watch my beautiful, shiny girl fade away, I long for new life and energy to fill this house. It’s too quiet. I want scampering, climbing and playful mews in the night. I want sandpaper licks and wide, hopeful eyes.

cat JellyBean's face

Are we ready yet?

I am confident that a baby animal, (probably a kitten), is out there for us. I’m just not sure where or when he or she will cross our path. When they happen along, my family and I will be willing and quick to welcome the precious life into our circle of people and existing pets.

JellyBean has been more than an eighteen year commitment. She has been an eighteen year blessing, and in a perfect world we would never have to tell her goodbye; only open our hearts to another new love.  But the Circle of Life will continue to remind us that as one pet door closes, another one will eventually open, and we will know…

We’ll just know.

Joy Jones  Editor’s note:  this blog post was penned in July of this year.  Sadly, JellyBean has passed over the Rainbow Bridge.  However in August, the author felt it was the right time to adopt a pet again–so please allow me to introduce you to…Apple!

Apple the cat in a chair
apple3

apple2

 

Paige Adams Strickland, our Adoptions Editor, is the author of, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. She is a Spanish teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio and is married with two daughters and a son-in-law. She has owned both cats and dogs but currently has four cats. You can contact Paige at adoptions@yourpetspace.info. Her book blog is www.akintothetruth.squarespace.com, and she welcomes visits and comments there. Her book is available on iPad, Kindle and as a print version here.

Paige Strickland

The Cause For Adopting A Pet

new kitten cat eyeAdopting A Pet When You Are Also Adopted

There’s a reason why I am your Pet Space’s “Adoptions Editor”.  Not only have I adopted animals of my own over the years and grew up with fellow adopted pets, I am adopted myself!

Being an adoptee has given me a unique bond with my pets and the adopted pets of my friends and other family members.  Every fur-creature in my life came to me through random chance and or because I went to a place and selected ones with whom I /my family felt a special connection.

Adopting a pet, like adopting a child, implies great responsibility and sensitivity on the part of the new (pet) parent.  Your home, even inviting and loving, is a completely foreign setting for the new addition.  Your recently-adopted furry family member may be feeling overwhelmed with newness, uncertainty and change in routine. They may experience pangs of loss for former companions if they came from other human owners or lived with litter mates and or their feline/canine mother.  Feeling insecure may be the reason for some inappropriate pet behaviors until the period of adjustment passes.

Even an animal coming to your fabulous home from a less than desirable setting might exhibit unwanted behaviors because of the change in their lives.  The old setting, good or bad, was their “normal”.  It’s the only thing they understood, but with consistency, persistence and lots of love, improvement will happen.

new kitten two catsAdopting A Pet When You Have Other Pets Already

Many people adopt a new pet and already have other pets in their home.  Be sure to still spend time with your first pet(s), reassuring them that they are still a part of your life.  You can possibly use an old towel or blanket and pass it between the first pet’s living space to the newer pet and vice-versa.  Allow for supervised together time and time apart so that all animals can socialize but regroup in their personal spaces.

new kitten white catResources For When You Adopt A New Pet

Years ago, I subscribed to Cat Fancy Magazine and read many articles by feline behaviorist, Carole Wilbourn.

Where to Buy Books By Carole Wilbourn

. Wilbourn is a successful pet therapist who promotes methods for introducing new pets to existing pets in a household.  Her style of acquainting animals became known at “The Wilbourn Method”‘ and is now known as “The Wilbourn Way”, because the scope has increased to greater forms of cat therapy, including Reiki.Every time my family has acquired a new kitten, I have incorporated many of Wilbourn’s teachings when introducing pets.  We buy extra toys, spread the old scents and new animal scents among cats with fabric items like old socks and towels.  We may hold one pet and refer to it as the other pet’s “baby”, “buddy”, “love” or something like that.  We time out the animals so that they can ease into their new lives together with a few breaks.  Depending on the personality and ages of your pets, this process can take a few days to a few weeks.Above all, as you transition a new pet into your lives, whether with an existing pet or not, remember that the animal(s) might regress until their worries subside.  In many ways they are like small children. They form attachments and have a limited understanding and fewer life experiences to draw from. Introducing a new dog or cat takes time and patience on everyone’s part, but will enrich everyone’s life with beauty, companionship and hopefully years of joyful memories.
Paige StricklandPaige Adams Strickland, our Adoptions Editor, is the recently published author of, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. She is a Spanish teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio and is married with two daughters and a son-in-law.  She has owned both cats and dogs but currently has four cats.  Her book blog is www.akintothetruth.squarespace.com, and she welcomes visits and comments there. Her book is available on iPad, Kindle and as a print version at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/akin-to-the-truth/id711164304?ls=1    
or: Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity at Amazon.

Reptile Facts: My Turtle Tale

Turtle PicsWHAT KIDS DON’T KNOW ABOUT REPTILE FACTS

One September, when I was in third grade, I found a turtle in my back yard, with whom I fell in love instantly. I’d found a huge treasure.  Technically, I didn’t even know enough to tell if my turtle was a he or a she, but I decided this amazing and beautiful being was too perfect to be a boy, so I named my turtle, “Teresa”. Her top shell was perfectly arched and form-fitted to my eight-year-old hand. Her head and forearms had yellow-orange spots in precise formation. Teresa’s underbelly shell was smooth and flat. She looked festive and flawless.  I decided “finders-keepers”, and my parents were OK with the idea. They assumed my fascination would fade in a week or so.

Turtle picsWhat Do WILD Turtles Eat?

When asked, “What do wild turtles eat?“, a neighbor told me that box turtles would eat garden food like fresh tomatoes, lettuce and beans. They also feed on flies, worms, butterflies, and mine enjoyed raw hamburger.  My mom found a decent-sized box from the grocery to keep Teresa in. She filled the bottom with grass and leaves and gave me a tin-foil potpie dish for her water.

I loved Teresa. I would dash home from school, sit with her on the back porch and tell her about my day. I’d let her out of the cardboard produce box to roam a bit in the cut grass, and I drew turtle pics of her to hang in my room. Teresa, the Common Box Turtle, was absolutely one of the most fabulous creatures I had ever seen.

Unlike my dog, however, Teresa was a wild animal, and as October drew near, I knew she couldn’t live with me forever. She needed to prepare for winter and be in nature. One late afternoon in October my mother and I let Teresa the Turtle go free in our back yard. My heart broke as I sat on the back step and watched her scoot off toward the trees behind our house. I cried but I knew it was best for her.

Turtle in grassToday, turtles are still sacred animals for me.  They are persistent, steadfast survivors. They are deliberate and focused. Turtles remind me to slow down in a hurried society. They inspire me to never give up on my goals, but tell me that it is also okay to “hibernate” and take a break till the next season if necessary.

Native American Turtle Creation Legends

Many Native American creation stories are based on turtles and their capabilities to form the earth in such a way as to sustain human life. No wonder I appreciate turtles so much! Whether they are gliding around reefs in the oceans or crawling across a field toward a cluster of shady trees, turtles and tortoises work to keep nature in balance and share peace and beauty with all other living things.

The Iroquois Legend Of Creation

Lakota Turtle Legend

Paige StricklandPaige Adams Strickland, our Adoptions Editor, is the recently published author of, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. She is a Spanish teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio and is married with two daughters and a son-in-law.  She has owned both cats and dogs but currently has four cats.  Her book blog is www.akintothetruth.squarespace.com, and she welcomes visits and comments there. Her book is available on iPad, Kindle and as a print version at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/akin-to-the-truth/id711164304?ls=1    

or: Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identityat Amazon.

How Cheetah Cheated Fate

Cheetah the cat
Calicoes are spirited and inquisitive creatures. When they want something, they want it now. It takes a lot to stop a headstrong Calico from getting her way, and as someone who has owned two, I speak from experience. Currently I have a luscious, plump, orange, brown, black and white, proud purring machine named Cheetah, who sometimes is too curious for her own good. It’s gotten her into trouble enough to use a few of those nine lives.
Cheetah is very social, playful and interested in everything.  She’s unstoppable.  To this day, we keep baby latches on kitchen cabinets and covers over plug outlets because she wants to open doors and lick random objects.
One Saturday, (Caturday?) morning in December, I noticed her by the water dish being less active than usual.  In fact, she was a downright sloth.  When she sipped the water, she immediately yacked it back up!
My first thought was she might have an upset stomach.  Not a big deal.  I let it go.  As the day progressed, my husband and kids noticed the same things: Cheetah was not too energetic and not wanting to eat.
On Sunday morning I took her to the local emergency vet.  I explained her symptoms and how un-Cheetah-like her behavior was.  The vet, who of course didn’t really know our cat, felt around her body, commented on what an impressive size the cat was and decided to do an x-ray. Cheetah had not consumed food or substantial water to our knowledge for at least a day.  She hadn’t pooped either.
The x-ray was unclear but showed something in her belly that should not be there.  With the Cheetah-Who-Likes-to-Eat-a, you can never tell.   They injected fluid into her body to tide her over and told us to get her to our regular vet early the next morning.  I called in late to work and did just that on Monday.  Cheetah was only 18 months old at the time.
We were willing to do whatever it took to save her life.  In the meantime, at home, we discovered chewed and hacked-out bits of something dark-colored on the kitchen floor.  Downstairs, by the door to the holiday decorations closet, (which was opened and shouldn’t have been), I found nibbled bits of plastic Easter basket grass.
I knew I had an adventurous kitty but had no idea just how into everything she could potentially be until that moment.
The vet’s office called.  They had to do exploratory surgery to remove the unidentifiable blockage.  Of course, I gave them the OK.  After surgery, in her fat kitty colon they discovered a metallic piece to a pony tail stretch band and green plastic stuff.
Long story short, the doc removed the foreign objects from Cheetah’s gut, repaired her intestine, hydrated her and saved her life.  48 hours and $1500.00 dollars later and two days before Christmas, we had our big baby girl back.
What we learned after that was to keep the house more baby-proofed than we’d done even for our human children.  We had a furry toddler who could climb everywhere, fearlessly seeking out new territories.  Like a little kid, she was inclined to explore everything with her mouth.  She opened doors and drawers all over the house.  As careful as we were, we couldn’t control everything, and hoped she would one day out grow her urges to climb and maneuver into everything.
After the surgery one night I heard scurrying and scampering on the bare floor in the hallway. Cheetah had dislodged a push-pin from a bulletin board and was now swatting it across the wood flooring!
She is 11 now, very affectionate and settled down.  Do I trust her completely?  No way! Is she still playful and curious?  As much as ever. We are extremely thankful to the vets and techs who helped us with our large and loving Sweet-a Cheetah, and boy have we ever learned to be watchful and aware!
Paige 300

Paige Adams Strickland is the author of, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. She is a Spanish teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio and is married with two daughters and a son-in-law.  She has owned both cats and dogs but currently has four cats.  Her book blog is www.akintothetruth.squarespace.com, and she welcomes visits and comments there. Her book is available on iPad, Kindle and as a print version at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/akin-to-the-truth/id711164304?ls=1     or:

http://www.amazon.com/Akin-Truth-Memoir-Adoption-Identity/dp/0989948811/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380459942&sr=1-1&keywords=akin+to+the+truth

Saturday Guest Blog: OUR LAST AUGUST WITH AUGGIE

Auggie the cat

There’s an old saying my grandma used to live by: Each day is a blessing.  This idea is true for humans as well as animals.  Currently I have four beautiful felines in my life plus a couple of “grand-kitties”, one “grand-dog” and other assorted family and neighbor pet buddies. Animals make me complete, and I can’t imagine a life without my furfriends. I am blessed to be connected to such loving beings.

Last summer, we lost a dear companion.

Auggie, named for the month of August when we found her as a stray kitten 15 ½ years ago, is no longer with us. She was a wonderful, willowy Maine Coon with stripes, swirls and tufts between her toes.

Auggie was a fairly low-maintenance and unassuming kitty. Even at the end of life, she made it easy because we never had to make a difficult decision about what to do for her. She passed to the Rainbow Bridge quickly and easily.

The evening before, we knew something was odd. She gave us signs that it was going to happen.  Auggie was mild-mannered and a distant kind of cat. She liked being in the room with people, but she wasn’t a cuddler. She was aloof anyway, but we sensed something else.

She dozed in unusual spots around the house, had no interest in eating or drinking, was lethargic and generally was oblivious, even when the drooling, dramatic and zealous grand-puppy came for a visit. There wasn’t much we could do on a Sunday night but be mindful of her behavior.

Just as she moved around in real-life, she passed swiftly and gracefully the next morning with my daughter and me close by. We even had my out-of-town daughter on iChat, so she could see and say her farewell too.

Later that week, when Auggie’s kitty ashes had been processed and returned to us, we planned a pet memorial service. Our other four surviving cats joined my husband and our kids in the living room.  (Anyone who owns cats knows you cannot MAKE one sit for a eulogy, but ours did.  They seemed to know and sat beside the discreet paper sack, which held a small wooden box containing Auggie’s cremains.) My husband read a brief bio of Auggie, and I read a poem I’d written about her. Then we went to our back yard into a private, tree-filled area, read Psalm 23 and gently spread her ashes into a hole I’d dug earlier that morning.  We also passed the small shovel and deposited dirt into the hole to give our Auggie a true “Mewish” funeral.

When the loss of a beloved pet happens, it has a profound effect on the humans and the other animals.  For us, planning a simple but meaningful service was necessary. It gave respect to Auggie’s not-too-dramatic yet influential life. It gave us a feeling of closure and accomplishment. Our remaining animals even had a chance to be present with all of us and process the loss in their own way.  After the memorial was over, we held our four remaining earthly kitties and assured them of our love and continued devotion.

Believe me, they understood.

 Paige Strickland

Paige Adams Strickland is the recently published author of, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity. She is a Spanish teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio and is married with two daughters and a son-in-law.  She has owned both cats and dogs but currently has four cats.  Her book blog is www.akintothetruth.squarespace.com, and she welcomes visits and comments there. Her book is available on iPad, Kindle and as a print version at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/akin-to-the-truth/id711164304?ls=1     or:

http://www.amazon.com/Akin-Truth-Memoir-Adoption-Identity/dp/0989948811/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380459942&sr=1-1&keywords=akin+to+the+truth