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Whisker Fatigue in Cats: What it is and how you can help

While “whisker fatigue” might sound like something you get from kissing a man who hasn’t shaved in awhile, it’s actually a condition that can affect you cats, causing them a good deal of stress. So what is whisker fatigue? Keep reading to learn more about the condition as well as find out how cool your kitty’s whiskers really are.

WHY DO CATS HAVE WHISKERS?

“Cat whiskers are extraordinary sensing hairs that give them almost extrasensory powers,” says Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut. Despite their evolution, whiskers (which scientists call tactile hairs or vibrissae), have remained as features on most mammals in some basic form.

For cats, whiskers are much more than facial adornments that add to their cuteness, Marrinan says. They act as high-powered antennae that pull signals into their brain and nervous system. The ultra-sensitive sensory organs at the base of the whiskers, called proprioceptors, tell your cat a lot about her world. They provide your cat with information regarding her own orientation in space and the what and where of her environment. In these ways, he says, whiskers help your cat move around furniture in a dark room, hunt fast-moving prey (by sensing changes in air currents) and help to determine if she can squeeze into that incredibly tight spot between the bookcase and the wall.

WHAT IS WHISKER FATIGUE?

While cats can voluntarily “turn on” the sensory focus of their whiskers exactly where they want, Marrinan says, whisker receptors mostly respond to a cat’s autonomic system — the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves that respond to the internal and external environment without conscious control (pupils constricting in response to bright light, for example).

You can think of whisker fatigue as an information overload that stresses out your cat. Because whisker hairs are so sensitive, every time your cat comes into contact with an object or detects movement, even a small change in air current or a slight brush against her face, messages are transmitted from those sensory organs at the base of her whiskers to her brain, Marrinan says. That barrage of “messages” could stress out your cat, eventually causing what some people call whisker fatigue.

However, Marrinan suggests that “fatigue” may not be the best description of the condition, since what your cat is feeling is probably more like distaste or aversion than soreness or actual fatigue. In fact, whisker stress is another term some people use for the condition.

Not all feline vets think whisker fatigue is a real condition or cause for concern. Dr. Cathy Lund of City Kitty, a feline-only veterinary practice in Providence, R.I, questions the validity of whisker fatigue. While a cat’s whiskers do serve as very sensitive tactile sensors, she does not believe contact between whiskers and objects causes stress in cats. That said, stress, for whatever reason, is a real issue of concern for cat owners and vets, Lund says.

WHAT CAUSES WHISKER FATIGUE?

While your cat relies on her fetching facial antennae to navigate the world, she can’t tune out unnecessary messages the way we filter out background noise, Marrinan says. She inadvertently finds stimulation in the most common and ever-present situations, like at her food or water bowl. If her whiskers touch the sides of the bowl every time she dips her head to sip or eat, this can cause whisker fatigue, the theory suggests.

Your cat’s behavior at her food and water bowl will tip you off that she is stressed, Marrinan says. Some signs to watch for include pacing in front of the bowls, being reluctant to eat but appearing to be hungry, pawing at food and knocking it to the floor before eating or acting aggressive toward other animals around food. Of course these behaviors can also be related to potentially serious health conditions like dental disease, oral tumors, gastrointestinal diseases, behavioral problems and more, so if you have any concerns about your cat’s well-being, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Marrinan says many vets, regardless of their opinions on whisker fatigue, agree that cats often find eating out of a bowl unappealing in general and providing a flat surface for meals is preferable.

Whisker fatigue is not a disease (and is not caused by or related to any type of illness) and appears to manifest primarily with the repeated daily contact with food and water bowls, Marrinan says. However, a cat who is stressed is not happy, and if she avoids eating and drinking, she might become malnourished and/or dehydrated.

HOW CAN WHISKER FATIGUE BE PREVENTED?

Luckily, preventing or stopping stress related to whisker fatigue at feeding time is as easy as replacing your cat’s food and water bowls. At meal time, provide a flat surface or a wide-enough bowl for food so that her whiskers don’t touch the sides of the bowl, Marrinan says. In a pinch, a paper plate can serve as a suitable food dish, he adds.

Most cats prefer a lip-less, large flowing water source, for drinking, he says. Ideally, cat parents should provide an automatic, fresh water source, which cats prefer “to an icky, stale bowl of water that might as well be from an old tire.”

Some cat parents believe another solution is to trim their cats’ whiskers, but this is a no-no. “Trimming whiskers mutes their expression, dims their perceptions, and in general, discombobulates cats and annoys them,” Marrinan says. “I do not recommend trimming cat whiskers.”

Source: PetMD.com 

meow co - harvey victim andrew pasek

Harvey Victim Loses Life Trying To Care For Cat

HOUSTON, TEXAS – A young man was sadly killed earlier this week when he was electrocuted while treading through the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey so he could care for his sister’s cat and provide fresh food.

Andrew Pasek was just traversing through the flood waters with a supply of food in Bear Creek Village last Tuesday August 29th 2017, when he “got too close to an electrical wire that was still running hot,” his sister Alyssa explained to KPRC Houston.

“It was just a terrible mistake, accident that shouldn’t have happened,” Alyssa Pasek stated. “They were going to wade in the water, they were only in about knee-deep water and walking through the neighbors’ yards because the water was more shallow.”

Andrew, who was simply going to check on his sister’s flooded home and leave food for her cat, warned his friend to stay away just as he was electrocuted.

“He told Sean [his friend], ‘I’m dying. Go away. Don’t help me…’” his mother, Jodell Pasek, stated to KPRC Houston.

The grieving mother, who had lost a son in 1993, noted that she wants others to be aware of the dangers lurking in floodwaters.

“He cannot die in vain. I mean we really want to get this out to the public to be aware, to know about the dangers of the water and electricity,” Jodell stated.

“I’m pulling my strength from the fact I’ve been through it once and I can get through it,” she went on to say.

Andrew Pasek tragically lost his life at the age of 25 while showing compassion and care for one of our felines friends during a time of need.

Source: nypost.com

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600 Cats Saved From Euthanasia

600 Cats Saved From Euthanasia, Within One Year


I didn’t know Kitty  was going to be our 600th Rescue in Under a Year  when I went to pull from the the Kern County Animal Shelter – and, I didn’t find out until one of our data managers brought it up during processing.

For us, this news was something worth taking a few seconds to reflect on. Our staff has been rescuing at-risk felines almost nonstop throughout the year from local shelters.

If you haven’t already noticed, our strategies as an organization have shifted a bit from when we first opened our doors in Bakersfield, CA back in September 2016. We initially set up shop to be a Cat Cafe. We were planning on serving coffee, and snacks while visitors could enjoy the company of a furry friend. That plan changed when we truly experienced what was going on with the feline population in Kern County, CA.

We restructured the tiny building on Stockdale Hwy – ditched the couches, added more desks and working spaces. Revamped our Medical Unit and invested nearly all our resources in Neonate Kitten Care. Addressing the need of the community was one thing, but having the means to do so was another.

Over the past year, we spent time researching other agencies, talking with managers from shelters, and successful animal welfare organizations. We designed new plans for transportation, satellite center expansion, and new intake methods. We adopted a lot of our new tactics from the Million Cat Challenge:  Alternatives to Intake, Managed Admissions, Removing Adoption Barriers, and Trap Neuter Return Education.

It was this shift in our strategies that got us where we are today. We went from having Three (3) adoptions a month to Ten (10), then Twenty-Five (25), to currently averaging Sixty-Five (65) adoptions a month.

We just reached Five Hundred (500) adoptions the other day – we’ll reveal who the kitty and loving family are shortly.

It’s these new mission driven strategies and tactics that led us to being able to rescue Kitty, the Seven year old Diluted Torbie who was abandoned and left waiting for a foreverhome at the Kern County Shelter.

We immediately fell in love with Kitty  during our intake assessment, and knew we had to rescue her when I picked her up and she nuzzled her head into my neck.

Kitty  was rescued from one of the highest kill count counties in the country and was transported to our Santa Maria, CA Satellite Adoption Center. We couldn’t have made it this far it if it wasn’t for supporters such as yourself, our dedicated volunteers & staff, and collation partners like Kern County Animal Services – all working together to make our county and state “No-Kill.”

Here’s to the next 600 rescues. Save the Kitties.

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If you’d like to support our mission and help save more abandoned cats & kittens, please click the button above to make a donation. Thank you!

Melanie Juarez

My Wife Almost Died Last Month – This is what I learned

I remember seeing the heartbreak in her eyes. It was an hour or so before the morning shift volunteers were scheduled to come in, and one of our neonate kittens had crashed.

The kitten had been fighting a severe case of Coccidia. We managed to catch the parasitic infection within the litter early on – unfortunately, the litter was already going upstream against underdevelopment and possible FELV infection.

Their Immune system was practically nonexistent, and every bacterial infection seemed to know it.

After staying up through the night shift with the neonate, my wife Melanie was getting ready to switch shifts with me – she’d been up all night caring for the little one.

During our morning briefing where we share what happened and what needs to be taken care of for the day shift, the kitten went from stable to critical and was gone before we knew it.

She tried everything she could to save that kitten: CPR, IVs, etc. But the baby was gone.

I felt the pang in my heart as did she. No matter how many times we’ve faced this scenario, it never gets easier. It always seems to break our hearts just a little bit more each time. And, I think it has more to do with the fact that we often care for these kittens since they’re a day old, or come in half dead and we manage to stabilize them – watch them grow up.

I stepped away to give her some space, I knew she was devastated, but she doesn’t like to show it. The reality is, that even though situations like this break our hearts, she still has an organization and shelter to run. The shelter doesn’t stop, rescue pulls from county and city don’t stop, adoptions, Veterinary visits, paperwork, foster coordination, transport, donor management, marketing, community outreach, projects… none of it stops.

We have to constantly stay on top of everything and manage our time wisely. There’s no room to sit and sulk. The reality is, personal moments like that take away precious time and attention to the rest of the abandoned cats & kittens in our care. We have to always keep moving forward.

This all changed when I heard a crash from the other room. Normally, things falling or being knocked over are common in our shelter – I mean, it’s run by cats. But, this time it wasn’t followed by the usual “it was me” or “I’m okay.” It was uncomfortably silent besides the humming of the air purifiers.

“Is everything oh-kaa…” I lost my words as soon as I had seen Melanie laying on the floor in the Neonate Nursery. She doesn’t remember if she lost consciousness or not, but she was clearly disoriented. I helped her up. I was trying really hard not to panic.

After a few seconds, she started to come to. I started fumbling for my phone to call for an ambulance, but she urged me to give her a moment to collect herself. She finally decided it would be best if she would just go home and get some rest so she called her mom to come get her.

Ten Minutes later I was helping her into the car to go home. I kissed her goodbye and they drove off. A few moments later the volunteers started to show up for the morning shift and I had to get my head back in the game.

I had a difficult time focussing on the shift, so much was going on and all I could think about was my wife. Seeing her on the floor. My heart dropping. I was still obviously worried. That’s when I got the heart sinking text “She passed out again. We’re taking her to the Emergency Room.” I felt like my world had stopped.

“Oh Shit!” slipped out my mouth and the volunteers in the medical unit all stopped to stare at me. I was instantly panicking, and I knew they could see it. I told one of the Senior Volunteers that I had to go and she was in charge. And, I was out the door.

Now I wish I could tell you that I met her just as she was being taken into the Emergency Room with a doctor and nurses by her side, but the truth was that we just sat in an over crowded waiting room for hours. There was obviously some people that looked much much worse than my pale lethargic wife, so we sat patiently.

She eventually urged me to head back, finish whatever I had left, and she’ll keep me updated. Now, let’s fast forward to the next day, you know, after she was seen by the ER doctor who never looked up from her chart, said she was ‘okay,’ ‘drink more water,’ and prescribed some Tylenol for the pain. I’d like to pick up where I got another text while working at the shelter from her mother saying that they’re heading back to the ER. She passed out again.

This time it was different. She was far worse than she was the day before. Her skin looked like it was nearly transparent. And she was having a hard time concentrating let alone being able to finish sentences.

After getting her own bed in the ER, having numerous test run, the Doctor decided that she was to be admitted into the hospital. And, just like that, they were wheeling my wife away toward the Intensive Care Unit. The RN said it, but I already knew it… she was really bad, and this is much more serious than any of us had thought it would be.

Seven days. She was in the ICU for seven days. She had to be on fluids nonstop. On a controlled diet. She went through Thirteen rounds of various antibiotics. She couldn’t even get out of bed to use the bathroom on her own.

During this time, I’d spend the night and sleep on the chairs in her hospital room. Wake up to go manage the shelter, and come back to stay by her side. Each day was hard, both physically and mentally. I was running the shelter by myself. And of all the times for it to happen, volunteers just stopped coming in to help. I wasn’t entirely sure as to why, but all I knew was that I was by myself and had to figure out a way to make it all work.

Melanie Juarez

I had to psych myself out each day. Tell myself “one kennel at a time.” And that’s all I could do. My days at the shelter were starting at 7am and I wouldn’t be able to leave till around 8pm. I’d start catching up on admin work when I got to Mel’s side.

Somedays volunteers would come by to help, but it was in all honesty “too much” for them. A lot of them couldn’t handle all the work that came with the day to day operations – some left. Some never came back. I tried my best to come off as optimistic and motivate the volunteers, but pep talks can only go so far.

Seeing others leave the organization started to look tempting. There was a day where I sat on the floor of the nursery and just broke down, pouring my eyes out and sobbing as I hugged my knees tight. This went on for almost an hour – I didn’t want to get up. I had given up. I quit. As I looked up, all I could see were little paws against the glass enclosures trying to get my attention. They were hungry and crying, and I felt like I had failed them, the organization, and my wife.

When I’m anxious, I start counting. I’ll randomly run numbers, figures, statistics, all kinds of numerical crap through my head. It’s my way of calming down – I use it to find stability, as well as a balance to center myself. Eventually the numerics bled into my surroundings, and I started counting the kittens in the nursery. The numbers started connecting to stories, stories of the kittens and how they each had come to be there in the first place.

All the calls, messages, photos from members of the community… from staff at the county shelter. “Please, can you help take in this kitten?” “I have no where else to go…” And then I began to remember all the calls for the ones that we couldn’t take in – the ones that ended up being put to sleep. They died because we couldn’t help them. Now, I know we can’t save every single kitten (yet), but the ones that were right there in front of me were the ones that we were able to save.

I realized that if I didn’t get up, push through it, other kittens wouldn’t get this opportunity. They’d die because I quit. And I need to hold on, not just for them, but for my wife.

GERD, Kidney & Bladder Infections, over a dozen ulcers and kidney stones, hypertension, anemia… this is just a short list of what the doctor’s found with my wife. They said that the majority of it was caused from the high stress that comes along with not only working in a shelter, but managing it as well as a nonprofit organization. The thing my wife had built from scratch and loves was killing her – literally.

Melanie was working Sixteen hours shifts for almost a year straight. Her and I had honestly taken a total of six days off during that time. We even worked on our honeymoon. Everyone gave us crap for it, but somethings don’t get the luxury of being put on hold or to the side.. especially when you’re going up against the fact that if you don’t do your job, animals will die.

I remember the doctor, family and friends, asking if it was worth it… and each time without a hesitation she’d always say “yes!” She knew this struggle wasn’t going to last forever, that it would one day get better (and easier) – we’d just have to hang on and get through it. She’d tell them that as long as I was by her side, supporting her, that we’d be able to do it. As long as we’re together, we can do anything. And that includes tackling the Highest Euthanasia rate in the country and saving as many abandoned cats & kittens as we can.

So as I sat on the floor in the nursery, I just kept counting the numbers, and hearing my wife’s brave words replay in my head. I got back up, and kept moving forward…

We’re coming up on our one year anniversary since opening our No-Kill Cat Shelter in Bakersfield, CA. Within this time, we’ve successfully rescued and found loving homes for 500 abandoned Cats & Kittens. 500 that would’ve been put to sleep for being disabled, underage, senior, special needs, etc. But, we didn’t do it alone, we had volunteers give thousands of hours, donors fund operations, agency partners working along our side, but most importantly, an amazing leader (my wife). Save the Kitties.

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Flying Out of Bakersfield: Saving Kitties via Air

Thursday May 25th marks one of the largest milestones within SOXrescue – it’s the day that we took our transports to the air.

We had our first successful flight out of Bakersfield Municipal Airport to our Santa Maria Satellite with pilot Al Dilger.

“I’m just happy to be able to help save more kitties from being euthanized and find a home,” said Dilger.

After weeks of planning and coordinating, we were able to get all the pieces in order: Transfer from County; Intake processing; Receiving at Satellite’s Airport; and the Flight Plan.

Taking our transports to the skies has opened up many more opportunities for SOXrescue, some being the expansion of our reach throughout California: Fresno, Santa Clarita, and Antelope Valley are currently in development for new satellite centers and more are in planning.

This satellite expansion will be able to nearly double our current adoption rates (currently: 9 adoptions for every 5 days).

Doubling the adoption rates also means doubling our impact in lowering the euthanasia rate in Kern County. To put this into perspective, 70-75% of our intake is from municipal shelters; 15% is surrendered; and 10% is abandoned at our center.

 

Save the Kitties

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Kitten Shower Recap

The 2017 Kitten Shower was a hit! Around One hundred members from the community visited our kitten nursery as well made supply donations to help us make it through the season.

Our nursery was able to raise over $1,250 in funds and an estimated $2,000 of in-kind donations.

In addition to all the wonderful support that was given by the community, we were also able to find homes for Five little furr balls. FYI – even though the shower is over, we still have a few kittens available through our foster-to-adopt program. *Adoptions still come with a “Kitty Swag Bag” from Purina full of toys, litter, food, and more.

The event wouldn’t have been complete without our nursery staff taking in a few kittens that some people thought would be okay to leave behind (without permission). Fortunately our neonate staff was ready and trained for this and were able to rush a litter to the emergency veterinarian, run intake for a few who immediately went into foster care, and take a few critical care ones into the nursery.

All of the behind the scenes work went on while our amazing Development and Event staff keep the party rolling – they’re also the masterminds behind all the amazing events we have.

For those of you that came down that day and those who wanted to and still supported our kitties some way some how, Thank You! You’re all amazing and beautiful people, not just for supporting our organization, but for standing along side us as we work late nights, long hours, and infinite amount of days so that we can Save the Kitties.

 

 

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Volunteer Spotlight: Zully Macy

 

Volunteering in any form is one of the most unique traits an individual can have – especially  when working within animal welfare. Our volunteers maintain our shelter, life saving programs, and projects 24/7, and they all have one thing in common: they do it all for the kitties. For this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Week, we’d like to recognize a few of our volunteers that have gone above & beyond with their service as well as their care and compassion for the kitties.

Meet Zully Macy, from Bakersfield, CA who tells us what she loves most about her experience as a volunteer at the SOXrescue Cat Shelter. Zully has been volunteering with the organization since November of 2016 with her Two daughters: Zully & Christine. Since their first day working with SOXrescue, Zully has volunteered more than 100 hours with the kitties, and a combined total of almost 300 as a family. They contribute to the kitties in various ways: Neonate Kitten Techs, Facility Care & Maintenance, Foster Guardian, Administrative Assistance as well as Event Support. With her combined hours and additional training, Zully is currently a Senior Volunteer & Neonate Kitten Tech.

What made you want to volunteer with SOXrescue and return so many times throughout the year?

I love cats! I’ve been wanting to help for quite some time, and I’ve wanted to get my daughters involved so they can learn about supporting the community and caring for animals. There’s not many organizations that do what SOX does and we wanted to be apart of it.

 

When you volunteered with SOXrescue, what was your job?

Have fun with the kitties, keep them safe and healthy as well as keep the facility clean and tidy. I eventually would like to step into more administrative projects.

Which volunteer project or task would you say is your favorite?

Playing with the kitties, that’d definitely be my favorite. And, petting them of course.

 

Why is volunteering important to you?

It gets me out of my daily routine, and it gives me the chance to give back to the community. And, I get to meet new people.

 

Which volunteer moments were your favorites?

Working with the neonates – feeding the babies. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little scary but I love it and I look forward to learning more within the nursery.

Was there a favorite kitty you met or worked with while volunteering?

Yes – Lucy. And then it was Locky, he was one of my favorites.

 

What’s the most rewarding part of volunteering with the kitties for you?

I like to think that I’m making a difference, even if it’s just coming in for a bit and helping out at the shelter.

 

What’s the most difficult part?

It’s has to be watching the kitties not pulling through or experiencing the kitties that come in who are abused, hurt… I’ve been there when some of the really bad cases came in and it was tough to see – I wish I could save all the kitties.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your volunteer experience with SOXrescue?

I just feel very luck to be given the opportunity to help out the kitties and that I’m looking forward to what’s next within the organization because I know there’s going to be more, and I want to do more.

If you’d like to volunteer with SOXrescue and join our mission to Save the Kitties, visit soxrescue.org/volunteer.html and fill out & submit our Volunteer Application. We look forward to working alongside you.

Save the Kitties