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A Cat Tale – The Ugly Duckling

posted September 20th, 2014 by
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Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen

They came to me in a box—four kittens, filthy, cold, and lifeless. There was one of every color: black, Tabby, tuxedo, and a dirty white one. It was the day after my birthday, and not exactly the present for which I had wished.

Step one: clean them. This case was worse than usual. Instead of dipping them in a solution of Dawn detergent and giving a complete bath as I would normally do, I wiped them gingerly, as they still had umbilical cords and birth sacs attached. The woman had found them on her porch, obviously born the night before.

Mama cat was nowhere in sight throughout the day, so it was clear they had been abandoned. We later determined by their size and slow development they were probably premature.

Step two: raise their body temperatures. My husband pressed them to his body while I prepared baby formula. I try to keep powdered KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) on hand because it is easy to store and can be reconstituted in small quantities. Then we put the kittens on a heating pad.

Step three: feed. These babies were so small that syringe feeding was necessary. This is usually the best method with small kittens because they are too weak to suck on a bottle with a nipple. The kitten must be held upright, never on its back, and a syringe can force some milk into its mouth. If you are lucky, they will respond by licking. These did not.

The watch began. For 48 hours, I got little sleep (cat naps) as I tried repeatedly to feed them. We must realize that mama cat is normally always available so that kittens can nurse at will as they wake up and then quickly fall back asleep. Sadly, the first two kittens did not respond and died within a few hours.

Step four: feed and monitor care-fully. As the kittens respond to feeding, they must also be stimulated to defecate and urinate. Mama cat does this with her tongue; we use a soft tissue or wet cloth. At the age of one week, the dirty white one was responding well, while his tuxedo sister was struggling.

However, he was the ugliest kitten I had ever seen! He was the color of a dirty sweat sock with no distinctive markings—like a dapple gray horse, only he was a “dapple tan” kitten…  or maybe a dirty little mouse.

Two weeks later: eyes began to open. The ugly kitten’s eyes did open, but his sister’s eyes did not. In spite of additional expert care and supplemental nutrition from a veterinarian, the female kitten died. Unfortunately, this is the disappointing reality of neonatal care, but it hurts nonetheless, and we cry with each loss.

But how we relish success!

Although I was still losing sleep, and feeding him every three hours, the ugly duckling was thriving. He was a survivor! And he now had a name. My husband began to call him “Dirty Dingus,” after a movie character from many years ago named Dirty Dingus Magee played by Frank Sinatra. Dingus slept happily.

By the age of three weeks, Dingus was “out of the woods,” but at this time we had a previously plan-ned vacation, and he still needed special care. Fortunately, my fellow rescuer Gail graciously helped. She was fostering orphan squirrels, so a kitten would  just add to her menagerie.

And of course, Gail spoiled Dingus, giving him a new Teddy Pug to cuddle with. She sent me pictures through-out the week, as he began to develop color. At first, the ears and  tail were darker. Was he a Siamese?  By the age of one month, Dingus was a most unusual taupe color, and stripes began to appear. Was he a Tabby?

As the weeks passed, he became more beautiful. He developed not only stripes, but also swirls on his sides like a Bulls-Eye Tabby. He retained the blue eyes of a Siamese, and in some light appears gray, while in other light is definitely taupe. True to the children’s story, Dingus is an ugly duckling no more, but a beautiful swan.

And now at 4 months old, a cover boy for TulsaPets! 

Humane Society reduces adoption fee for kittens through Oct. 1

posted September 26th, 2012 by
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The stormy weather makes it the perfect time to curl up on your couch with a good book and a purring kitten in your lap.

Don’t have a purring kitten of your own? Then maybe it is time to get one.

Now through Oct. 1, the Humane Society of Tulsa is offering kittens for the same adoption fee as cats, $50.

The group currently has 12 kittens in its facility who are patiently waiting for their forever homes. You can view them online at tulsapets.com or even better, stop by the facility at 6232 E. 60th St.

Get more information on the Humane Society of Tulsa Facebook page.

And remember, no lap is complete without a purring kitten.

Watch for Red Flags in Ads

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Ruth Steinberger

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned. Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight. With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned.
Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight.
With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.
Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs.
The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact.
Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.
High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell.
They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there.
Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.
It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).
Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments.
Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.
Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.
The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.
Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it.
“Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs. The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact. Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.

High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell. They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there. Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.

It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).

Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments. Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.

Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.

The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.

Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it. “Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned.
Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight.
With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.
Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs.
The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact.
Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.
High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell.
They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there.
Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.
It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).
Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments.
Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.
Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.
The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.
Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it.
“Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

So me tips:
• Visit the breeder to see the facility.
• Do not buy from a pet shop.
• Do not buy online or mail order.
• Ask the breeder for a veterinarian reference. Does the animal have immunization records?