Living with Special Needs Pets: An Interview with Dusty Rainbolt

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, and she’s here today to share her experiences of fostering and living with special needs pets.

Welcome, Dusty!

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 some care and love.

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?
DR: Unequivocally yes.
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, 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


Sin Kitty: The Movie

You Guys!

I wanted to show you our newest film starring MOI in a gender-bending role that really tests my acting skills. MomFOD told me I have big shoes to fill now that Rocky, our lead actor, has left us. I take my job seriously and prepared thoroughly for this role where I play Hash, a kitty who doesn’t want to have her dame’s attentions on  anyone but himself. The idea was based on Rocky and how much he loved MomFOD and peed on all her boyfriends’ stuff over the years.

Me in the title role of Sin Kitty.

Me in the title role of Sin Kitty.

Also, remember those fosters we have in our bathroom? Well, they’re still there but we’re trying to get them out. We’ve included them in this thinly-veiled adoption video in the hopes that someone will see their little mugs and inquire.

Let me know what you think!



Crepes. SIN KITTY.

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Bachelor of the Week: John Woo!

Ok, guys. You know I don’t shy away from challenges, and today we have one that I’m going to need your help to solve! Meet John Woo. Pretty, isn’t he? He also talks. And he snuggles. And he LOVES people and dogs. So what’s the problem here?

John Woo, ready to WOO YOU!

John Woo, ready to WOO YOU!

You know how pregnant women worry about cleaning litter boxes because of toxoplasmosis?  Well, John Woo has been exposed to it and it’s in his system. (Incidentally, they REALLY don’t need to get rid of their cats because they’re pregnant if the cat does not have toxoplasmosis, which most don’t.) Alas, it’s not clear if he’ll ever be free of it, so he needs to go to a home that has 1) no preggie ladies, 2) no immuno-compromised people, 3) no young children. He also cannot be in a place where he mixes with other animals UNLESS they also have toxoplasmosis or would not come into contact with his deuces.

Unfortunately, because of his condition, John Woo is unable to mingle with the other cats at Save-A-Pet Illinois, which is where he’s living, so we’re hoping to find him a temporary or permanent foster, if not a permanent family. He’s currently in temporary foster, and before that he was in a cage and would really REALLY like to stay out of it so he can party like it’s 2099, John Woo style, know what I’m saying?

If you decide to take on John Woo’s care, you’d need to watch out for his stool, because that’s where he sheds the toxoplasmosis. I mean, I doubt even if he didn’t have the parasite that you’d be having any weird stool parties where you hide it in people’s pockets or something, but you also would need to take extra precaution by not touching it and thoroughly washing your hands after scooping. Or maybe you could just teach him to use the toilet and flush if you’re industrious.

John Woo requires a daily antibiotic to keep the toxo in check and a pill every 12 hours for his seizures, which I didn’t mention before but don’t have anything to do with his poop and therefore are less fodder for jokes. If you think you can help John Woo out, even for a few months, please contact Save-A-Pet Illinois. He could really use someone asap. For more info on John Woo, click here.  And please share his story and see if we can get John Woo out of the cage and into his own home/party. WOO!

Woo WOO!

Woo WOO!

"I pooped. Watch out." -John Woo.

“I pooped. Watch out.” -John Woo.

Imagine yourself lying beside John Woo. Great, right?

This dog is a photo bomber, but John Woo doesn’t mind, cuz he’s that kind of guy.

Love, Crepes.



Bachelorette of the Week: Cecille

Here’s a riddle for you:

What weighs five pounds, is entirely white, and has two different colored eyes? Give up? It’s Cecille!

"Touch me - if you dare..." - Cecille.

“Touch me – if you dare…” – Cecille.

Now, one might think that such a stage presence would necessitate an attitude to match, something saucy and snuggly with a little bit of whiskey-spiked marshmallow topping. Sounds fancy, right? And it could be true, except Cecille’s special need is her severe shyness, so it’s going to take just the right person to coax her out of her beautifully decorated shell.

In addition to being painfully shy, Cecille is also deaf and visually impaired, which has likely made her life a little scary and more difficult than it ought to have been, especially in light of her having been abandoned in a Manhattan apartment with multiple other cats.

After being taken in by Tabby’s Place, Cecille has spent the last three years learning to trust people. She’s taken a few steps and has been rubbing her head on the hands of some of the staff members, but she’s still a little ways away from being the snuggler that everyone suspects she is. (For a beautifully written account of one of Cecille’s most loveable moments, have a look at this post by Angela from Tabby’s Place. ) Cecille loves toys, though, and if you have some, I’m certain she would let you watch her play with them.

So, what does this little mystery want? A bond, a person to trust, someone patient, caring, thoughtful, and kind-hearted, who won’t mind her moods when she wants to be left alone but who’s willing to be open and there for when Cecille needs a loving touch. Cecille will likely do best in a home without dogs or small children, but she may be ok with other cats.

Do you have a place in your home for this little mystery lady? If so, please give Tabby’s Place a call. And if you don’t have space in your home for this tiny wonder, perhaps you could make Cecille’s life a little more comfortable by sponsoring her for a few dollars per month. She may not show it on the outside, but this tough little lady will definitely appreciate it.

Cecille's panther-like stare can hypnotize anyone.

Cecille’s panther-like stare can hypnotize anyone.

Cecille perfectly demonstrates demure yet sassy.

Cecille perfectly demonstrates demure yet sassy.

David Bowie couldn't hold a candle to these eyes.

David Bowie couldn’t hold a candle to these eyes.



Photos provided by Tabby’s Place.