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Monday, July 31, 2006

Save the Princess!

One night a few months ago, Rick and I came home and saw this little kitten a couple of doors down. I thought, "Oh how cute. I wonder if it's friendly." and reached out and said, "Here kitty kitty?" The kitten ran the other way, but across the street, came this little black and white kitty. Suprised I turned and said, "Oh. Hello. Who are you?" The kitty rubbed up against me and fell over purring. Right, okay, friendly cat. But clearly hungry cat. So we gave her a little dry food and some water. She sucked down both with the enthusiasm of a starving man in the desert. She looked lost and dirty and a little beat up. So we laid a towel in a box for her to sleep the night, but she was gone the next morning.

But she was back a couple days later. Again we fed and watered her and got lots of affectionate head butts and purrs for our trouble. She clearly had some problem going on with a tooth and was a bit drooly, so we gave her some moist food, and she was wildly appreciative. Then she disappeared again, this time for a week. But a week later she was back, looking tired and dehydrated again. Okay, we thought, time to find out if we can get her some vet services for cheap. I called around but couldn't find much help. So I figured we'd wait until after monthly bills and make sure we could afford a trip to the vet for her and see how bad it was and try to find her a home and such. Meanwhile, she decided our back deck was the cool place to hang out and we came home to find her there most days. We took to referring to her as "The Princess" because she was kind of a prissy, prancey girl who loved to stretch up to her tippy toes for a scritch, even if she was all scruffy.

But then Rick couldn't afford rent for the month. And then I got word of the probable layoffs and then ultimately of the definite layoffs, and suddenly spending money on a stray cat seemed less than ideal. Then her drooliness increased to a swollen, infected chin and I knew she needed help sooner than I could provide it. So I called around again trying to find someone to help us. It looked like turning her over to the Santa Clara Humane Society or San Jose Animal Care would elicit similar responses - testing for Feline Leukemia and FIV, treatment if negative, and putting her up for adoption. Okay, good plan. So we took her in to San Jose Animal Care. They gave us a cage number to follow up on her. We called the next day and heard some slightly different information that made us nervous about her future. They said to call back again tomorrow for health results. So we called back the next day and they said, "Oh, we don't test for those things. If they animal seems healthy and passes the behavior test, we put them up for adoption. Otherwise, we euthanize." Oh crap. So I had just managed to consign this cat to death row, because while she'd pass the behavior test with flying colors, she was definitely not completely healthy. Again, I called around to a bunch of rescue organizations and begged for help.

Pixel managed to somehow lose his collar and tag, so I went to get him a new one at Pet Food Express and talked to a woman from Town Cats. She said, "Oh jeez, San Jose Animal Care is horrible. They kill 80% of their cats. Thousands every year." My heart sank. We had to save the princess. In my helpfulness, I had signed her death warrant instead of finding her help.

We took Pixel in for his annual exam and got a feline leukemia test just to be sure (since he's mister friendly and can't help interacting with the kitties outside by sticking his arm under the door or pressing his nose against the gate). He's fine, and his vet (Dr. Derenzi) at Adobe Pet Hospital pointed us toward a woman from the Stanford Cat Network. Meanwhile, Rick was working with Kelly, the vet tech at San Jose Animal Care, making sure they didn't do anything bad to her. Kelly showed her off to the volunteers from the rescue groups on their weekly tour to see if anyone would take her in. I emailed the woman from Town Cats asking for help. Finally, Kelly said to contact Lisa from Unconditional Love, because if we could be her foster home, Unconditional Love would pay for her vet bill. I called Lisa and she managed to get the princess out of kitty jail two days later. Whew. Then she took the princess to see Dr. Derenzi at Adobe, and she came back with lots of new information. The princess is about 2 years old, she's been spayed. She's clearly been living on the street for a while. She doesn't have feline leukemia or FIV. She has a couple of bad teeth. She's getting surgery for that on August 14th. Meanwhile, she's on antibiotics to help heal her up before the surgery.

So last night, we went by Lisa's house and picked up the princess. Lisa was amazingly cool, and she sent us home with food and dishes and a pet bed and antibiotics for the princess. They named her "Savannah" and posted her on Pet Finders. She also has a radio show where she'll advertise her. And they have weekend adoption fairs where she can be shown too. I'm sure she'll find a home in no time, and in the meantime, she's staying with us. So far we have her locked in the guest bedroom, but hopefully she and Pixel will get along and she'll get run of the house in a few days.

But oy with the extra stress! Because, really, my life isn't stressful enough right now. But at least this one thing worked out just about as well as I'd hoped, with a lot of bumpy road to get there. And if you know of anyone who would like a small, wildly affectionate little tuxedo kitty who will appreciate the good life like only a former stray can, give a holler. Meanwhile, I breathe a big sigh of relief because we saved the princess.

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