Today, we have a real life story of a rescuer of Special Needs cats! Meet Dusty Rainboldt, a writer who is well-known in the cat-loving community. She is also the Vice President of AdoptAShelter.com, and she’s here today to share her experiences of fostering and living with special needs pets.
Crepes: Tell us about the special needs cats in your life.
DR: Since 1986, I have fostered and re-homed over a thousand bottle babies. On our third date, my husband and I rescued an orphan kitten. Over the years we ended up keeping kitties with health issues: a hydrocephalic kitten, an FIV positive kitten, and three three-legged kitties (one also had a neurological condition in addition to his missing leg), herpes kitties, a blind cat, feral adults. We’ve also cared for our personal cats with special needs: kidney disease, fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, and conditions associated with age.
We’ve also fostered cruelty and trauma cases that took many months to recover. One kitty was a victim of domestic violence. He suffered brain trauma and eventually lost his eye. Zeki, another stray, survived a knife attack. Her rehab required twice daily hydro therapy sessions. Right now we have a kitty named Taco who suffered from serious intentional burns. Like Zeki, we had to do hydrotherapy and keep the wound protected.
Taco looking great after lots of care and love.
C: What are your cats’ needs like?
DR: Right now, we have three-legged cats, a visually challenged kitty with herpes, and some bottle babies. Our animal ophthalmologist says BK has some vision. Normally, they say if you have blind pet, don’t move the furniture. He at least has enough vision that furniture isn’t a problem. He needs no special care, except we give him lysine and eyedrops. The FIV positive kitty needs no special care as the disease isn’t active. The three-leggers need nothing special. They can outrun me anytime. The plus is, they don’t jump on the table or the counters.
C: Indeed. I feel their frustration about the counters. Why did you decide to adopt special needs?
DR: Nobody else wanted to adopt them. People who only want “normal” or beautiful pets are really losing out. Leggo (our tripod with the neurological issues) wobbles when he goes from one place to another. He never takes a direct route. Still, it’s inspiring to watch him and our other special guys. When they wake up after losing a leg, they don’t feel sorry for themselves. They don’t whine. They don’t have to worry about other kitties teasing them. When you watch them get up for the first time you can see them think, “That’s different.” They just figure out the best way to get around and get on with their lives.
Having special pets teaches children compassion and acceptance for humans with disabilities. I think everyone should have a special pet.
C: I agree. Do you find caring for their needs to be a lot of extra work?
DR: It depends on the “need”. The pancreatitis is a lot of work. Frequent feedings. You have to provide pain relief and fluids. Kidney cats need fluids and need to be encouraged to eat. For the most part, most special need don’t need anything special.
C: Would you do it again?
C: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DR: When you adopt or foster a special needs kitty you are saving a life. They’re usually the last ones adopted/rescued and the first ones euthanized. If you market them right, people will want to adopt them. I don’t regret a moment. I just wish I could clone myself so I could save more.
That’s it! Another inspiring look into someone living with special needs pets. A big thank you to Dusty for speaking with me today.
More about Dusty Rainbolt:
Dusty is the Vice President of AdoptAShelter.com, a shop to donate website dedicated to helping pet charities. She’s also active in the Cat Writers Association, is a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and is the author of Cat Wrangling Made Easy, Kittens for Dummies, And Ghost Cats: Human Encounters with Feline Spirits, among other things. You can find out more at www.dustycatwriter.com