Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Only Thing "Predictable" is Its UNpredictability

"It's like rolling the dice in Vegas and just hoping you get lucky."

The above words were spoken a short while ago to Carrie, one of our organization's leading volunteers and foster people.

I was talking about animal rescue itself and the fact that the only thing "predictable" about it is its UNpredictability.

Carrie was feeling particularly down and depressed today.

She seemed to blame herself for choosing two cats to rescue from the shelter more than a month ago only to see both cats succumb to severe Upper Respiratory Infections (and Anorexia) requiring hospitalization at the vet.

The other day I received a call from the receptionist at my vet's office that one of the cats (Enya, the declawed kitty) was now sufficiently recovered to go home.

But, when Carrie went to pick Enya up yesterday, she was told by our vet that the cat had a relapse and was now showing signs of renal failure.

Blood tests will have to be done with results by tomorrow, but the prognosis does not look good.

Meanwhile, the second cat, Theo who arrived at the shelter in much worse shape than Enya (very emaciated stray) appears to be slowly recovering and gaining weight.

"We rescued these cats and now at least one of them may die!" Carrie lamented. "I feel terrible about this!"

"Well, come on, Carrie, it's NOT your fault!" I replied. "Surely you don't think that, do you?"

"I don't know," Carrie responded, her voice dropping. "I feel I should have known something. Enya seemed so healthy in the shelter. I never thought something like this could happen!"

"Well, unfortunately things like this DO happen, Carrie! -- especially with cats who get dumped in shelters from homes after so many years and seem to just 'shut down.' Perhaps its the stress of being abandoned and winding up in a scary and strange place. Perhaps its the crowding in the shelter or even the sudden loading up on vaccines. The cats immune systems are not normal under high stress conditions. Some cats get through it all with relatively little damage or trauma. But, other cats -- particularly declaws and some purebreds -- just seem to shut down. Even with the best of veterinary care, it's not always possible to bring them back."

Since Theo and Enya's hospitalization Carrie rescued and is fostering another cat, "Tinkerbelle," a black long-haired kitty whose time ran out at Animal Control. Although Tinkerbelle had been at the same shelter the other two cats came from for almost two weeks, she came out with no symptoms of "Upper Respiratory Infection" and has remained totally healthy.

It is a total mystery of why some animals come out of the shelters thriving and healthy and others, seriously ill. In most cases, dogs and cats typically come out with minor symptoms of URI infections, but usually recover uneventfully within a week or two and treatment with medications.

The crazy irony is, that had the first two cats not gotten sick requiring them to be hospitalized, Carrie would not have had the room in her home to take in the third, healthy and very loving cat, Tinkerbelle.

Tinkerbelle would have been euthanized at the shelter for simple failure to get adopted.

One cat's horrible misfortune can turn out to be another cat's ticket out of a date with death.

Or, "The only thing predictable about animal rescue is it's Unpredictability!"

It is indeed, like a roll of Vegas dice. -- PCA


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