“Dedicated to providing gentle, compassionate care for companion animals”

 
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Inara is an almost 5 year old long-hair Calico mix.  Amber had wanted a cat after graduating college and having a stable home for one.  When she saw Inara on a local Twin Cities humane society page, she knew right away that she was going to be her cat.  Upon meeting Inara, Amber saw that she was very sociable and playful with a loving personality.  Inara likes to knock everything over on tables, greet EVERYBODY that walks in the front door, and curl up in her favorite spot on the couch.

One of our favorite stories about Inara is when we were cleaning out our bathroom closet, we left the closet unattended for a short period of time, came back and put things away, closing the door.  A few hours later, we heard meowing but couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  We searched for ten minutes to find the source, only to find that it had come from the closet, where Inara had snuck into when we were not watching (she knows she is not supposed to be in the bathroom!)

River is a 6 year old tabby.  She was adopted at the same time as Inara from the same humane society.  When Amber was working on paperwork for Inara, Tim had mentioned that there was a "one cat adoption fee, get a second cat free" and how that was a "financially responsible way" to go about getting two cats.  Amber looked around the cats, and was drawn to the quietest and one of the smallest cats at the shelter.  Amber took her to a visiting room, and found out that she was also one of the sweetest.  River is a mommy's girl through and through - whenever she hears Amber's voice she comes running.  She is very shy and quiet still, but Inara and River quickly formed a very strong friendship.  River loves to cuddle with Amber and watch the birds out of the windows during the warm months.  Our favorite story about River was when Amber was doing laundry downstairs, and when she was finished came upstairs and couldn't find River.  She looked everywhere for River but could not find her.  She went downstairs to see if she had snuck down there, and when Amber got down there she heard meowing coming from the basement ceiling!  River had accessed the drop ceiling through a storage room, and there was no other way to access her.  Amber was afraid and called Tim, and as Tim ran home from work early to save River, River came out on her own, and looked at Amber as if nothing had happened and everything was alright.  Thankfully she was unharmed, but it made for a fun story (and a new policy to always leave that door shut).

Dax is a 7 year old Siamese-Snowshoe mix.  He was adopted from a local Twin Cities rescue group where he had been in a foster home for the last six months.  Tim was feeling left out as the cats gravitated towards Amber, and Tim wanted a cat of his own.  Tim found Dax through the shelter's website, and his "grumpy cat persona" immediately drew him in.  When Tim met him at the shelter, Dax was drawn to him too.  He was not happy about the kitty carrier, and went straight to Tim for help!  Dax was the final "missing piece" of our family puzzle.  Dax is the rambunctious one, who is always looking for a playmate in his two sisters, whether they want one or not.  Dax also loves catnip and can be content with a fresh toy for hours.  There is never a dull moment with Dax, and some of our favorite moments with him have been finding him in unusually high places where we can't figure out how he got up there on his own!  From the cabinet above the fridge to the tallest furniture or shelves, no obstacle is too high for Dax!

While the cats do not much enjoy being put in a crate or the car ride to AWC, the staff and in particular Dr. Ambrose always make them feel safe and at ease.  Dax loves going in the blanket-sack and Inara loves all the additional attention, while River is along for the ride. Thank you AWC for being so kind and caring towards all three of them - we know they are in good hands with you!

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Some of you may remember Zander, the cat that was a stray brought to us with a total urinary blockage. Dr. Elliott stayed late into the night to get Zander unblocked and on the road to recovery. He stayed with us for almost a month, running the clinic and supervising the doctors. He stole all of our hearts and we are so happy to see him happily in his new home, 1 year later with wonderful owners who make sure to keep us updated on this wonderful boy.

We are so blessed that the Animal Wellness Center decided to operate on Zander and take him in to recuperate. We had just lost our sweet girl Marina after having her for nearly 18 years and were broken hearted. Just a couple of weeks later we saw the post about Zander and how he needed a home that would be able to make sure he had the appropriate medical care and feed him prescription cat food. When we saw him and realized it was the same food that Pumpkin had to get, we knew he was meant for us. We met him and brought him home and it was a battle from the first day, but we knew we would not give up on them getting along. Now the two of them tag team mom and dad waking us up to feed them, sometimes share a chair together and actually miss each other after time apart.

Pumpkin was also a rescue kitty. Nathan and I were recently married and visiting my parents in northern Wisconsin when their neighbor called. The neighbor went on to say that this little cat had followed their dog home from out in the woods. They are allergic to cats (so are we) so we said we would come get him. He was only about 4-5 weeks old and super dirty. He slept the entire night between my ear and shoulder, purring. He grew up with his "cousin", my sister's English toy spaniel, on 2 occasions getting concussions from "rough-housing". Neither one of us would have ever thought we were cat people, but these two boys are full of personality and love. Thank you for taking such great care of them.

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Tiger Lily came from a hoarding situation where she was one of 30 cats and kittens in a single home.

I first saw Tiger Lily at the Petsmart in Maple Grove in the late fall of 2013. Tiger Lily was in the left corner of the shelf cages. She was so pretty! She somehow planted herself in my heart and I started to think about, my gut was telling me that she was the cat for me. I went back, a few weeks later to see if she was still there, but she was gone, most likely adopted by someone. I was so disappointed. A month later before Christmas, I went back to consider finding a different cat to adopt, however I was very surprised to see Tiger Lily was back at the adoption center! I was so happy to see her, I told the lady from the adoption center “I want to adopt Tiger Lily – don’t let her go!” She seemed surprised that Tiger Lily was finally finding a good home and posted a “pending” sign to hold her for me. Tiger Lily finally came home on January 5, 2014! She was hiding and shy for less than 2 weeks, then she finally became a happy girl, living in her forever home!

Tiger Lily loves to climb on her cat tree and watch out the window to see the birds going by or the cars on Hwy 494. She loves to play tag with her sister Tabitha and also loves to play with her toys, especially the feathers on a stick. She enjoys staying at the AWC Resort with her sister when I am out of town.

Tiger Lily and I have coffee together every morning. She used to watch me like she wanted to join me in my morning coffee, so I got a mug and filled it with water and put it down on the table for her. She started drinking it out of the mug! If I forget to bring her the water in the coffee cup in the morning, she looks very serious! We have our “coffee” together every morning.

Tiger Lily does seem a little afraid when she goes to see her doctor, but the receptionists cover her carrier with a blanket that has a calming pheromone on it and her doctor is so good to her and care about keeping her trust. Tiger also sees Abby for grooming, she loves feeling clean and it helps reduce her shedding. I am so grateful to Abby for communicating to me in American Sign Language to let me know how she did for her bath.

Tabitha’s former owner dumped her at the door of a staff member who works at Gregory’s Hope at the Humane Society in New Richmond, WI when she was a tiny kitten. Tabitha survived the cool night outside and the staff found her the next morning, all the staff members nursed her back to health.

I was visiting my best friend in New Richmond, WI and we went to the humane society to look at the cats and kittens. We saw Tabitha, 3 months old and very active and playful, and we picked her because we thought she would be a good playmate for Tiger Lily. I adopted her in October of 2015 and brought her home to Tiger Lily for her birthday. They connected at once and have been best friends ever since.

Tabitha is very playful and loves her toys, especially the feathers on a stick. She loves playing with Tiger Lily and is very affectionate towards me, even licking my face like a dog! She also loves relaxing in her carrier in the car on long trips.

Tabitha gets very excited to go see Dr. Moyer, when I open her carrier and tell her it’s time to go see Dr. Moyer, she goes right in. She loves to play with the feather toy in the room while we wait for Dr. Moyer. When Tabitha was having issues breathing, Dr. Moyer found a cyst in her throat that was causing her issues. Dr. Moyer removed it and now Tabitha is breathing normally. I am so grateful to Dr. Moyer for communicating with me in American Sign Language to help me understand Tiger Lily and Tabitha’s health issues and how to properly care for them.



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Theo is an indoor cat. I’ve never let him outside because it is too dangerous. He spends hours on his hammock in the window of our living room. We even put a bird feeder outside so he can watch the birds and squirrels. One evening a couple of weeks ago I heard him screaming and yowling. It sounded like he was being killed. When I got to the living room, I could see him standing on his window perch, back arched and hair on end. He was staring through the window at another cat and still screaming. I ran to pick him up to get him out of there and get him to calm down. As soon as I picked him up he bit me twice really hard. His eyes looked like he was looking right through me. Theo dug his back claws into my arm and launched off running down the hall. I was just trying to help, why did he attack me?

Theo wasn’t attacking you; in fact, he didn’t even realize it was you who picked him up. However, at the time you were scratched and bleeding and I am sure it felt pretty personal. You were reaching for bandages and feeling crushed that the kitty you were trying to comfort turned on you. Having been on the receiving end of this situation myself, I truly feel for you. What happened?

The term feline behavior specialists use for this is Redirected or Displaced Aggression. When a cat is confronted with a perceived threat in close proximity to itself, in this case the cat outside the window, it experiences an overwhelming sense of fear. Pupils dilate, the pulse races, breathing speeds up, and the muscles become supercharged with blood all to prepare the body for a fight or flight response. In this highly aroused state a cat doesn’t have the mental space to decide who is friend and who is foe. They will instinctively attack anything that is close to them. Enter you, rushing to his rescue, but for all he knew you were the monster trying to kill him.

This is deeply imbedded, instinctual behavior and you will not be able to change it. These cats are in an “auto-pilot survival” mode. The best thing you can do is to try to minimize the opportunities for this to happen again. If there are free roaming cats around your home, try motion-activated sprinklers or lights to discourage their visits. If you do see the same scenario in the future, do not put yourself in harm’s way. Do not try to touch him. Close the curtains and go out to shoo the other kitty away from the house. Chances are that cat will see you coming and take off before you ever see them. Back indoors, try to get your cat to move out of the room and close the door. He will likely run to his favorite safe spot and hunker down for several hours. He needs time and space for the adrenaline and the other stress hormones to wear off. Cats may go from zero to sixty in a fraction of a second but they need considerably longer to come back to a resting state.

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Help! My new cat is not getting along with the other cats in the house! I have heard this plea from owners and have dealt with this issue in my own household.

It is not uncommon to see some degree of aggression between cats in the same household, especially when one cat is new to the group. When we address any form of inter-cat aggression, It is important to remember that cats are not social creatures and do not live in large packs in the wild the way dogs do. They are often very solitary and hunt on their own. Thus, having more than one cat in a household is automatically not compatible with their natural behavior. However, there are many cats that form social groups within their home territory and co-exist peacefully.

When there is a new cat to the household, there can be many different underlying causes of the aggression. The most common factors are fear and the sudden increased competition for resources (food, resting places, owner attention). Cats also strongly rely on scent as a means of social communication. When cats rub (allo-rubbing) or groom each other (allo-grooming), they are actually swapping scents and forming a unique group scent. When a new cat comes into the house, this cat does not smell like the group and thus the existing cat may show extreme aggression towards this cat as it represents a threat to the group resources.

With treatment, the ultimate aim is to produce a fully functioning social group in which there is minimal aggression. Treatment consists of a combination of modifying the environment to meet the needs of the cats and to successfully introduce the new cat to the household with a very gradual process. To help reduce any perceived competition of resources, the number of litter boxes should be increased. Each cat should also have its own water and food dish located in a separate part of the house. It is also important to make sure there are plenty of places for each cat to escape, as a cat’s primary means of controlling interaction with other cats is to maintain distance. Don’t forget about vertical areas as well (such as cat towers).

When introducing new cats, there are several steps that should be taken slowly to maximize the potential for success. To begin, the new cat should be kept separately in a room with its own litter box, food/water dishes and toys. Step 1 consists of taking a cloth and rubbing one cloth on each cat (especially the face). This is to collect the scent from each cat. Then each cat should be presented with another cat’s cloth when going to greet, feed or play with either cat. There may be an initial aggressive response, however, over time the cat should ultimately ignore the odor or react positively. Once this occurs, you can move on to Step 2.

Step 2 consists of taking the cloths with each cats scent (freshly rubbed against each cat) and putting the cloths in a bag so that the odors mix. Then introduce this combined odor to each cat. Once there is a positive response, then rub this mixed odor on your legs and other objects that the cats typically rub against. Once the cats are accepting this new combined odor, then you can move to Step 3.

For step 3, the new cat should be allowed to explore the house while the other cats are excluded or shut in an inaccessible room. Once the cat is acting confident in the house, then the cats need to begin to see each other but without any risk of an aggressive attack (Step 4). You can use a baby gate or some other form of barrier between the cats. They should be given food on either side of the gate and the food should gradually move closer to the screen. Once they are showing no aggressive or fearful behavior, they can be allowed to meet face to face.

 

 

 

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