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Mid-60s & Overwhelmed by Cats

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

As much as it would be nothing short of miraculous to find safe, loving, lifetime homes for some of the cats in my house, mostly my SOS is SMS--Save My Sanity by finally saying out loud what I've kept secret from so many people for so long now, and I'm exhausted.  4 1/2 years ago a pregnant feral gave birth to 4 kittens on my doorstep at a rented townhouse.  All doors open onto the parking lot, so I brought the kittens inside as soon as they were old enough to be weaned and got them spayed/neutered the moment the vet said they were old enough.  I tried for the rest of the year to trap the very feral momma (I'd trapped cats at feral colonies in the past w/ success), but she was somehow able to get the food w/o tripping the door.  The following summer she had a litter of 6.  This time she got close enough to me that I once her kittens were old enough to be weaned, I was able to scruff her and drop her into a carrier to take to the vet to get spayed.  But the damage was done...I now had 10 kittens + a feral momma living IN my apartment. At the same time, a kitten at a feral colony I was helping to care for at the time leaped into my car and came home w/ me.  So make that 12 new cats.
 

 

Problem is, I already had 14 cats at home...all rescues...all but 3 that had showed up at my door...3 others had been born to another momma who showed up at my door the year before (who was not feral).  So when I saw those little faces of the new 6 kittens as I drove up to my apartment one evening, I was devastated...almost suicidal.  The total at my house was now 26 cats.  And just turning 60 myself, and looking ahead, I was terrified.  Since then 4 have died--one from FIV, 3 of old age ailments (all 3 17+ years of age).  So currently my number is 22, w/ only one who is quite geriatric (19 years), and 5 remaining who are 12-14 years.  So in my 70s I will still have 16 cats at least, unless any of the younger ones get terminally ill.  They are all indoor cats and never go out.  My feral momma is spayed but still quite feral, and 1 of her boys in the second litter bonded to her before I could socialize him and before I could get him neutered.  He is still in tact and very feral.  Only 2 or 3 people know the truth about my situation, though people on facebook know I am overwhelmed by cats at my house (they just don't know how many).

 

In my rural agricultural town, our small local no-kill shelter is run by just lovely, caring people.  They have 150 cats; they participate in a multi-state adoption chain for the dogs, but there's nothing like that for cats.  So they can't help me.  Same w/ all the shelters where I live.  Cats around here are so numerous that it is very difficult to find them homes.

 

I lay awake nights in absolute terror about what will happen to them if anything happens to me.  I'm exhausted all the time.  They are so expensive to maintain (today I took my 19 y-o to the vet b/c she had a really bad tooth abscess...she's already on medication for chronic digestive issues).  They've destroyed my rental apartment.  I'm afraid to contact the landlord whenever there's a plumbing issue or something b/c I am sure to get evicted.  So I am stressed and tense pretty much non-stop.  And I feel schizophrenic b/c I'm so ashamed that I let this happen that I can't tell anyone.  But it affects my entire life, my sense of self, my hope (or lack thereof) for the future, my economic well being, my health, my work, my fear of the future--for both these cats and myself.  I feel so completely alone.  I wrote to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for help after that Ebony's second litter; tho' they promised help, they ended up being no help at all, which only added to my sense of being utterly alone, which only adds to my sense of almost terror for the future.

 

I quite accidentally came upon this site tonight.  I didn't even know it existed.  My "SOS" is for myself.  Because I just need SOMEone to know who I really am and what my life really is like...someone who will not judge me...someone who might even understand a little.  So thank you for listening.  And if any of you have any insights or wisdom to share, I will appreciate it!!

post #2 of 22
Hi there katsunami ;
Well it may not make you feel any better but your situation is almost identical to my own. I took over my mother's stray cat rescue after she passed away a few years ago. I had a lot to learn - especially that cats are born to reproduce ! I did not know about inbreeding. So I am up to about 25 now . Mostly indoor and some go out. I have a house and a yard so I manage. I have met one or two people in apartments like you also. I think we all deserve to win the lotto $. I do hope we find homes for at least some of these kitty cats but it is very difficult. I will not let them be euthanized. They are happy devils and a lot of work sometimes. And expen$ive !
Can you afford to have a housekeeping service how and then ? Can a friend or family member help sometimes? That may give you a little rest.

I wish you all the best ! You certainly deserve it.
post #3 of 22

Hi @katsunami I'm sorry to hear that you're living under such stressful circumstances. 

 

I also have a colony of 22 semi-feral cats. They've all been spayed and neutered so the numbers won't increase. I'm lucky enough to own my own home and have a large outdoor enclosure for them, but all the same it's a huge commitment in terms of time and money.

 

It is very difficult to re-home older cats. It was hard enough with the kittens. I think it's wonderful that you've been able to care for this many for as long as you have.

 

Am I right in thinking there is only one intact male? If that is the case at least you don't have to worry about more kittens. Are you thinking of re-homing any of them or just looking for some support and suggestions on how to carry on?

 

Maybe if you could open up to a few more people about how overwhelmed you feel they'd be able to help? Maybe some people who live close by who would help with cleaning? A church or a charity who would help with fund raising?

 

12 to 19 is actually a pretty good age for a cat. I think you should feel very proud of yourself for keeping your older cats safe and healthy for that long. 

post #4 of 22
I also have 22 cats; that must be the magic number for today tongue.gif. Are any of the younger cats friendly and well-behaved? If so, see if you can get them adopted out. Post ads in various places---vet's offices are good. You may get lucky and be able to find someone who is looking for a nice adult cat. It is very difficult to find such homes but might be worth a try.

It's also helpful to set a limit on what vet work you'll do, especially for older cats. Is it worthwhile to provide expensive treatment for an elderly cat who isn't going to live much longer anyway, or to provide time-consuming long-term treatment for a chronically ill cat? Etc. It's upsetting to not be able to provide for every medical situation but limits do need to be set when you have so many others to care for. There's nothing wrong with deciding you can't go all out on vet care, the only wrong action would be to allow the cats to suffer, and I'm sure you don't do that.

And, if Best Friends said they'd help, keep on them until you do get help. Sometimes it's the squeakiest wheel that gets the grease!

Whatever specific tips you need, just ask! I'm sure one of us here will have some kind of idea smile.gif.
post #5 of 22

:alright:  Welcome to TCS! I completely understand your dilemma! I, too, have way too many cats and also live in a rural area that offers few resources for cats. You might try contacting AlleyCat Allies and try to connect with other cat rescuers.

 

I am glad that you decided to join TCS - you can privately message other members here if ever you need to reach out in confidentiality. And remember to thank yourself for being someone who was part of the solution, not part of the problem. The problem was the community's problem but, as human nature usually does, the community relies on the good deeds of a few noble individuals - this happens not only with community cats, but with the isolated disabled and elderly citizens as well.

 

Hang in there & again, welcome to TCS, where the other members are compassionate and willing :)

post #6 of 22

Now this is a cat house:clap:all 130 of them!

 

post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for your response.  It's so nice that so many people responded so quickly. 

 

About my 22.  Yes, all are fixed but the one feral male.  I was working on getting his litter fixed a few at a time (4 spays and 2 neuters).  I'd been working on socializing him to me, but he was a real momma's boy and went feral w/ his momma before I could grab him and get him to the vet.  So since Ebony's last litter 3 1/2 years ago, there've been no new kittens or cats at my house.  The intact feral's name is Obama (I named Ebony's 2 litters after famous orators, and Obama represents the 21st century!), so I get a kick out of telling people that Obama really really needs to be neutered (most of the time I have been able to keep my sense of humor!)!!

 

My townhouse is around 850 sq ft, so while there's an upstairs and downstairs, we're in tight quarters.  So of course they're all stressed...and there's a LOT of fighting...and they carry my constant stress...I have to admit to being impatient and loud at times.  Most of them are affectionate,,,several aloof...one is much closer to being feral than being domesticated (too bad too b/c hes a pure black long-hair--he's stunning, but utterly unaffectionate).  Prob'ly a half-dozen of them would eventually adjust to a new home...but I just don't think I'm a good judge of whether the others would.  3 or 4 of them (including Obama, which I attribute to his being un-neutered) pee everywhere.  I've tried everything I've read online to do, and so far NOTHING works.  Which only adds to my own stress.

 

Tonight, I went to feed them, and went to grab a couple of bowls in one of the feeding spots, and the food in it was wet (it had kibble in it).  As it turns out, 1 or more of the cats likes to pee back there, even with food bowls right there.  There was a puddle of pee under the bowl as well.  The floor was covered by that plastic floor runner, but some of the pee still got onto the carpet.  I've tried aluminum foil w/ mentholatum on it and that orange spray, I've tried turning the plastic runner spike side up.  Nothing deters them.  So I spent my New Years midnight cleaning up cat pee...literally.  What a way to bring in the new year, huh?! 

 

And as it so happens, up in my "geriatric ward,"--my bedroom where 5 of my remaining 6 senior cats reside behind a closed door (had to close the other cats out--they peed everywhere in my room, including on my big dresser mirror, and again, nothing I did helped--my 19 year-old tested positive for the Corona virus.  So it could be that her fellow seniors have contracted the virus as well....and it could be my other cats are also unadoptable b/c they may have been exposed to the virus.

 

And I really don't trust people around her to adopt my cats out to anyone....every rescue I've found, except for one...who I gave to someone else who promised to keep them well-penned up or completely indoors until the cat adjusted to their home, ended up running away pretty quickly.  And I live in an area of dog fighting. So I really don't feel comfortable finding homes for them.  That's one of the reasons I reached out to Best Friends....I thought they could home my two ferals (apparently they cannot), and take maybe just the youngest litter and find homes for them, since they have the resources to vet homes well.  But no, the staff person w/ whom I spoke said at first that of course they'd help.  But then when she got into it, the reality was that no, they were not going to help me w/ my overwhelming situation--instead she sent me copies of letters and ads and stuff to use to "run the marathon" of finding them all homes (I'd written to them that I was absolutely desperate, and her response to me was that I'd have to run a marathon and it would take a really long time and a lot of time, effort, driving around the state, money, etc.).  I felt more desperate and alone after I spoke w/ her than before...I declined her "help" and immediately distanced myself from the support I'd given to them over the years. 

 

I'd really love to somehow connect w/ someone who could help me find really good, loving, permanent, indoor homes w/ someone who was really committed to their well being.  But at this point, that's just silly talk....I see no relief.  And really, the cats that I think cause the greatest problems are in the younger litter.  If I could get those 6 out of the house, then I think at least the damage to my apartment would stop (except for Sarah...Sarah pees where she shouldn't at times). 

 

The cats that are 5 and older, as long as I'm healthy, I'm content w/ keeping.  What keeps me up at night though is what happens to them if something happens to me.  I'd rather insist that they all be euthanized than risk they end up in dire conditions for the rest of their lives.  And getting evicted is a constant worry as well.

 

But it's a new year...a new start...who knows what 2017 will bring (as long as it's not more cats!!)?!

post #8 of 22
I hope katsunami meets someone with a big house who likes cats and needs a roommate ! `😁~
post #9 of 22

I'll pray for you to find them good homes. your heart is huge to love and care for so many. There are kind people out there, you just have to find them Get on your local radio shows, they are free and I have had good luck on them for cats. I would bet most of your cats would be fine in a new home, especially one with less stress from so many roommates. Get a Will made up that states your wishes, you'd be surprised how much all your 'stuff' might be worth if sold. leave it all to cat care,  be specific. Above all, don't give up. Keep trying to contact cat organizations, you are doing a wonderful job of weeding out the bad ones. the internet is a wonderful tool to find others who may help. There is the perfect help out there, you just have to find it. I hope someone on this site can provide you with names, it will come. In the meantime, keep loving all those little ones in your care, they don't know how lucky they are!

post #10 of 22

You have a beautiful heart. I can tell by reading your posts how dear the cats are to you. I'll send you a pm regarding ways to cut costs on kitty food, etc. I feed quite a few myself, with my 8 indoor and some outdoors. 

post #11 of 22
I financially support Best Friends & I am surprised they haven't helped you. Don't write to them - telephone them & INSIST on speaking to someone in charge. You can also email that person what you have sent to us.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Primula View Post

I financially support Best Friends & I am surprised they haven't helped you. Don't write to them - telephone them & INSIST on speaking to someone in charge. You can also email that person what you have sent to us.

She's not the first posting I've seen of Best Friends not helping. There was an older man here who'd asked for help for his small kitty colony and they wouldn't help him either. I suppose that they only help the locals or the animals they have already in their care. I thought they were a bit more willing to help also but perhaps they get flooded by calls from all over for help.

post #13 of 22

Do you mind giving your location? Proximity is fine.

 

As others have said, you have a kind and generous heart for sure, but we all have limits too, and the minute you go over that number you know it!

I have no tolerance for peeing in the house either, so that for me would def be dealt with first. This is now established and due to the number living together in small space.

 

There's too many for you, clearly. We need to find a way to reduce the number, the problem children first! 

 

I have a cat rescue group so I have some connections but not really other than California.

I know that money can buy you some freedom from this too.

Non-profit rescues struggle often, so making an arrangement to help you lower the number in exchange for a decent donation might be key here.

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by nansiludie View Post

She's not the first posting I've seen of Best Friends not helping. There was an older man here who'd asked for help for his small kitty colony and they wouldn't help him either. I suppose that they only help the locals or the animals they have already in their care. I thought they were a bit more willing to help also but perhaps they get flooded by calls from all over for help.

They are definitely not confined to their Utah location. They do tons of stuff, e.g., in Los Angeles.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

ME TOO!!  Isn't that what really can get ya down sometimes w/ all these cats...the feeling like you are in it totally by yourself?!  Wouldn't it be great if we could start our own gated community, where only we and all our cats could live there, and we'd be each others cat sitters and caretakers, and none of us would have to worry if anything happened to us b/c we'd know our furballs would all be save and well-cared for, and both we and our cats could feel like we live in a sanctuary??!!  I'm in my 60s, and that would be my PERFECT senior living center!!

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

I didn't really mean to disparage them.  They do a lot of good for animals, and they do a lot of education about the plight of animals.  I didn't want them to solve my problem for me.  But I was really hoping they could help relieve some of the burden so that I could do right by all the cats...and that maybe they could help me ease my ongoing panic about what will happen to them if anything happens to me. 

 

I think what was most distressful was the woman they connected me w/ who actually caused me greater despair than I had when I wrote to them.  At first I rec'd an email from her that of course they'd help me w/ my overwhelming problem!  And then she called, and then it was no and no and no, and it was going to be a marathon and not a sprint, and I was going to have to drive all over my state checking out possible shelters and spot checking possible homes for my cats, and so on, and I didn't have the time or money for that since I work full time.  I contacted them b/c they have access to such greater resources, and in the end all I rec'd from them is some copies of letters to write and adoptions contracts as email attachments.  I felt more alone than ever.  I should've let them know what happened with this woman, but by then I barely had the energy to get up in the mornings and maintain the bare minimum of my life, I was so utterly drained by all these cats (and at that point, I had several playful, energetic 1 year olds!!).  So I just unsubscribed from all their newsletters and unfollowed them on Facebook.  I told the woman in an email thanks but no thanks and didn't explain to her my true despair.

 

Since I contacted her, 3 of my cats have passed (I had 25 at the time I contacted Best Friends), and my 19 y-o probably won't make it to summer (increasingly rapid decline in health).  Their absence doesn't even make a dent.  But at least I know this current situation won't last forever (it will just last a very long time!).

 

I know even big shelters w/ lots of resources and multiple sites can't help everyone.  I waited until I just couldn't bear my situation alone anymore before I finally reached out to them for life support.  I'm not sure why I wasn't one of those people they were willing to help.  But hey, I'm still here--sometimes barely--and that's something!!  Gotta hang on to that!!

post #17 of 22

@katsunami If you could let us know what state and city you live in we might be able to suggest some other shelters and rescues you could contact. You don't have to post it on the thread if you don't want to. You could send me a PM if you'd like it to remain private.

 

:catguy:

post #18 of 22

Just in case you haven't noticed since coming here, you are most definitely not alone. This is not an uncommon situation, but completely understandable how you can believe that you are alone.

 

I am also on the Board of Directors for the Humane Society in town (the cat advocate! :bigwink: ) and something we as well as knowledge of many other no-kill shelters have, is assurance through a will/trust created that an amt or percentage of your estate will go to them for a guarantee that in the event that something were to happen to you, they will care for your cats for life. 

This can be modified in several ways too, depending on what your preferences are. You may prefer they are adopted out to loving homes, or cared for at the shelter for life, personally I would choose adopted out, etc. Things like that.

I'd suggest an amt PER cat since you have no idea when or how many you will have when that time comes.

 

It doesn't mean you have to have much, most of us don't, but I highly suggest doing this, for peace of mind which is the biggest need, and for them.

One of the saddest things seen in shelters is family bringing in cats of their deceased loved one, senior cats who do not adapt well to shelter life, are terrified and rarely chosen, they become depressed and act up or their health starts declining, and who can blame them?! Not what they understand at all.

Or worse, simply left behind.

Senior house cats left on their own, clueless how to survive.

 

One of the best things you can do now for them, just contact an SPCA or Humane Society.

post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by katsunami View Post
 

I didn't really mean to disparage them.  They do a lot of good for animals, and they do a lot of education about the plight of animals.  I didn't want them to solve my problem for me.  But I was really hoping they could help relieve some of the burden so that I could do right by all the cats...and that maybe they could help me ease my ongoing panic about what will happen to them if anything happens to me. 

 

I think what was most distressful was the woman they connected me w/ who actually caused me greater despair than I had when I wrote to them.  At first I rec'd an email from her that of course they'd help me w/ my overwhelming problem!  And then she called, and then it was no and no and no, and it was going to be a marathon and not a sprint, and I was going to have to drive all over my state checking out possible shelters and spot checking possible homes for my cats, and so on, and I didn't have the time or money for that since I work full time.  I contacted them b/c they have access to such greater resources, and in the end all I rec'd from them is some copies of letters to write and adoptions contracts as email attachments.  I felt more alone than ever.  I should've let them know what happened with this woman, but by then I barely had the energy to get up in the mornings and maintain the bare minimum of my life, I was so utterly drained by all these cats (and at that point, I had several playful, energetic 1 year olds!!).  So I just unsubscribed from all their newsletters and unfollowed them on Facebook.  I told the woman in an email thanks but no thanks and didn't explain to her my true despair.

 

Since I contacted her, 3 of my cats have passed (I had 25 at the time I contacted Best Friends), and my 19 y-o probably won't make it to summer (increasingly rapid decline in health).  Their absence doesn't even make a dent.  But at least I know this current situation won't last forever (it will just last a very long time!).

 

I know even big shelters w/ lots of resources and multiple sites can't help everyone.  I waited until I just couldn't bear my situation alone anymore before I finally reached out to them for life support.  I'm not sure why I wasn't one of those people they were willing to help.  But hey, I'm still here--sometimes barely--and that's something!!  Gotta hang on to that!!


How are you doing?

post #20 of 22
Wow! It was like reading my own story.
Except the ending...
After years of rescue and inadvertently collecting unwanted dump off kitty's, someone in my neighborhood began killing my cats. I went from 18 to 12 in less than two months. The last straw was on a rainy day a cat was thrown over my fence with bullet holes through his back. This after two days before having found one of my cats dead of a gun shot.
All the Animal Services could say was, if I wanted to pursue the matter I WOULD HAVE TO FIND OUT WHO WAS DOING IT AND GET SOME EVIDENCE!
Really?!?!
I packed up the 9 "in/out" cats and put them into sanctuary. Packed my belongings and moved as far away from that place as I could get...
The saddest party of my story is just 16days so, my most loving Buddy (5yr old rescue from birth, bottlebaby) went out to play and was attacked and killed by either a cayote or a dog. I heard him screaming but I couldn't get to him... I listened to him die. It was the WORST THING G I'VE EVER EVER EXPERIENCED in my life
Im still reeling and I find myself waking up choked by tears calling his name. I can't believe he is gone.
But that's not why I'm writing you.
I understand your angst.
I wish I could help you. I know how hard it is to live and love the life of a KATMAMA.
Feel free to PM me any time.. I am lonely and love to chat
post #21 of 22

:hi:  How are things going? Any word from any cat rescue groups? Sending prayers and vibes that you get good news and encouragement very soon :vibes::vibes:

post #22 of 22
did you get all ten of those kittens fixed? i had six of my own to pay for. i understand your predicament and i hope they can go to another home. such a burden to take on when you have your others to tend to.
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