First of all, how did you find out about Lily & Dash?
I first found out about Lily (formerly Momma Littlenose) and her daughter Dash in April of 2013 when watching The Critter Room’s kitten cam on Livestream. Specifically, I saw a link for “Kittens Need Forever Home—Momma Littlenose” that someone had posted in the comment section of the Critter Room’s Facebook page. My heart melted the instant I saw the profile photo of Momma Littlenose (now Lily); it melted even further when I read her history and the story of her rescue. After watching her lovingly care for her 3 daughters on the Ustream that her foster parents had set up, by the hour, I fell deeper and deeper in love with Littlenose and her girls, specifically with the ever-so-active and mischievous Dash.
I didn’t know how or when, but I KNEW that somehow, some way, this Staten Island feral beauty and her daughter Dash were going to live the rest of their lives with me, in Boulder, Colorado. I was determined to make this dream happen. Thanks to URRKN—Underground Railroad Rescue Kitten Network—the dream became reality when Lily and Dash began their 10 day cross country journey—from Staten Island, NY to Boulder, Colorado on October 5, 2013 and were delivered into my arms on October 12, 2013.
Did they meow at all when you got them home?
No, not really…they were both pretty quiet. However, Dash now talks all the time and has something to say to and about most everything—the various toys, the water bowls and fountains, the wall, the floor, the litter box, etc. Lily is fairly quiet but will meow and talk to me when she wants some cuddles or whenever I talk with her. J
How did the others react to them?
Even though all my cats are laid back and pretty chill, I didn’t want to take any chances and introduced the new arrivals slowly. When I brought their travel crates in to the house, I immediately took them into my office, where they spent 4-5 days by themselves, acclimating to their new home, the new doting human, a new environment, and all the unfamiliar scents. After 5 days, I expanded their territory to include a bedroom and part of a hallway; they were separated from the other cats and rest of the house by either closed doors or stacked baby gates. The cats were able to see and sniff each other through the baby gates. Within 10 days, Dash and all my cats were, jumping over 6 ½ feet high baby gates at will. While I contend that my cats were more interested in the new cat food than with the new cats, they did sniff each other, lounge and nap on the chairs and bed with the new arrivals. Happily, unless you count Dash’s meager hiss or two, there were no hisses, growls, biting, yowling, or fighting—none! They have all gotten along wonderfully from early on and continue to do so.
Everyone in the house medium to long coated?
Six of my seven cats are medium to long-coated; Lucy is the only shorthaired one. I owned Afghan Hounds for many years…I obviously must not be bothered by having a clothes brush as a steady companion!
Are they all rescues?
HA…you may be sorry you asked because there is a story, of sorts, behind every rescue. Yes, all 7 of my cats are rescues. The first question/answer addresses Lily and Dash’s rescue/adoption circumstances. Follows are brief accounts of the rescues/adoptions of my other 5 cats.
I first heard about Wilson when his litter was just 2 weeks of age and was in regular contact with both the shelter and foster Mom from when he was 4 weeks of age. His gorgeous and heavily pregnant momma was placed in a loving foster home after her family surrendered her to a local shelter because they were moving and “couldn’t take her with them.” I rescued him when he was an 8 week-old kitten—literally within minutes of him being brought to the shelter for adoption. The only time he actually spent at the shelter was the time it took to finalize the paperwork…he was in my presence and climbing all over me the entire time.
Calliope was found as an unsprayed cat scavenging for food in someone’s backyard when she was about 6 years old. After eluding capture for nearly 3 weeks, she finally succumbed to the temptation of some canned food and was captured. She was taken to a high-kill shelter in one of the midwestern states; within days of that, a rescue organization in Colorado learned of her and managed to have her safely transported to a no-kill shelter in Colorado. She spent 6 months there—alone in a cage—before being transferred to Every Creature Counts, a non-profit, no-kill cageless dog and cat sanctuary in Colorado. She was housed there for another 6 months. One day while at Petsmart, I saw her, our eyes met, and it was instant love—she melted/melts my heart in much the same manner as Lily (Momma Littlenose) does.
Aruba, better known as Ruby, or The Island Kitty was rescued from the beaches of Aruba at the tender age of 6 weeks. Born a homeless beach kitty, she survived by hanging out at the local restaurants using her charm on the cooks, wait staff, patrons, and all who saw her. It really wasn’t that difficult to get the needed documents to bring her into the United States. She was taken to the vet, wormed, vaccinated, and given a health certificate. She even has an Aruban passport! We flew home 2 1/2 weeks later and—thanks to her charming the flight attendants—got bumped up to first class.
Lucy the Black Cat and her three orphaned littermates were rescued from a field in South Park, Colorado by a friend’s niece when they were but 3 days old. All 4 kittens had upper respiratory infections and the Parvovirus; after 4 weeks of 24/7 care, Lucy ended up being the only survivor. When Lucy was 9 months old, the niece had to relocate for professional reasons and was going to give the kitten to her mother. While an animal lover, her mother doesn’t believe in keeping cats indoors, even though she lives in rural South Park—and over the years has lost several cats mountain lions, foxes, and other wildlife. So, to save Lucy’s life yet again, I offered to take her in—temporarily—until the niece was settled in her new job. That was almost 3 years ago. Methinks she is now permanently mine. J
I found Maxwell as an intact male stray in my front yard when he was about 5 months old. Since he was so well nourished, extremely friendly, loved being petted, and purring his little heart out, I assumed he belonged to a neighbor and had escaped from his home. I brought him inside and put him in a bathroom with food, water, and a litter box as I walked around three blocks and knocked on all the doors to see if anyone had lost a kitten. When no one claimed him, I reported a found kitten at the Humane Society and posted his photograph on their website. I also made 150 FOUND KITTEN flyers and posted them around the neighborhood, by the park, and at the local market, wine store, and eating establishments. No one responded to any of the various postings. After 7 days, I phoned the Humane Society again, asking what happens if no one claims him; their policy is that if no one claims an animal after 7 days, the animal is put up for adoption. After filing paperwork and taking him to my vet for a wellness check, he was now mine, scheduled for neutering, and easily integrated into my household.
Lily’s foster parents originally referred to her as Littlenose because of her facial markings. They had a litter of four young feral kittens in their back yard, and needed a way to refer to them, so they selected names that described the their physical appearances— Littlenose had a narrow white stripe on her nose; Big Nose had a broad white stripe on her nose; Whitey had a lot of white; and Fatso, you guessed it, was BIG. After Littlenose had her babies she became Momma Littlenose.
I changed her name to Lily because I think the name is beautiful…as is Lily. It also sounded similar enough to Littlenose—at least the L sound does—that I thought that it might be easier for her to learn her new name, although mostly, I selected the name because I love it. As an added bonus, the lily is one of my favorite flowers and is a symbol of innocence, purity, and beauty—perfect for Lily.
Dash was the name given to her by her foster parents. I continue to call her Dash but most of the time it is now accompanied by Pumpkin. Yes, she is my sweet little Pumpkin Dash.
Wilson was named after the ball in the film Castaway. My original reasoning was that cats are typically about as responsive to humans as that ball in the film. Happy to report that while he may have his “cat moments,” Wilson is a very interactive, responsive, and loving cat.
Calliope’s epic journey, bringing her to my heart and home, reminded me of Homer’s favorite muse Calliope, the poetic muse—said to be the inspiration for Homer’s Odyssey and the Iliad. Thus, her name…Calliope.
Maxwell…I just liked the name.
Ruby is short for Aruba, from where she was rescued.
The person who found her as a 3-day old orphaned kitten gave Lucy her name.
How do they all get along?
All the cats get a long great. While they haven’t curled up in the yin/yang positions yet, they eat together, are side-by-side when they get treats, and sleep near one another—haven’t yet heard a single hiss or growl. Everyone plays with everyone else on a daily basis…Ruby probably less so than any of the other cats. While Lily certainly plays with and chases the other cats, Dash, Maxwell, and Lucy interact with one another the most. Calliope will initiate chase games with Dash, which are always cute and fun to watch.
How is the battle against ringworm going?
Treating the ringworm fungus that was introduced into the household with Lily and Dash—who both had a recent history of ring worm, tested negative under the unreliable Wood’s Lamp test, and never had a fungal culture done—has been a long and grueling process—for sure. Per the vet, we won’t know how it is going or when it is gone until we get 2 consecutive negative fungal cultures done at one- month intervals. Even then, we have to keep an eye on them for months as the fungal spores can live in the environment for up to 18 months.
That said, I am heartened with the new hair growth I see on all the lesion sites. New fuzz is new fuzz and cause to celebrate!
Does anyone have any new fuzz that you would like to share?
All the cats had lesions but Wilson and Ruby seemingly had it the worst; of all the cats, they had the most and the largest bald patches/lesions. They are all still scratching at themselves a bit—hopefully that is due to the dry skin brought on by having had lime sulfur dips every 5 days since the first week of December and not active fungal spores. But ALL THE LESIONS have NEW FUZZ…and as I said up above…new fuzz is new fuzz and cause to celebrate.
Can you explain what exactly is ringworm and what the treatment is?
Ringworm is the common name for the skin infection caused by a group of fungi; a worm does not cause it at all. The fungi feed upon the dead cells of skin and hair causing in people a classic round, red lesion with a ring of scale around the edges and normal recovering skin in the center. Because the ring of irritated, itchy skin looked like a worm, the infection was erroneously named. The fungi responsible are called dermatophytes, meaning plants that live on the skin, thus the more correct term for ringworm is dermatophytosis. The characteristic ring appearance is primarily a human phenomenon. In animals, ringworm frequently looks like a dry, grey, scaly patch but can also mimic any other skin lesion and have any appearance.
Classic symptoms of ringworm in cats include skin lesions that typically appear on the head, ears and forelimbs. Ringworm can cause flaky bald patches that sometimes look red in the center. In mild cases, there may be localized areas of redness or simply dandruff, while more severe infections can spread over a cat’s entire body. It’s also possible for a pet to carry ringworm spores and not show any symptoms whatsoever.
A cat can contract ringworm directly through contact with an infected animal-or indirectly through contact with bedding, dishes and other materials that have been contaminated with the skin cells or hairs of infected animals. Ringworm spores are notoriously hardy and can survive in the environment for more than a year!
Any cat can develop ringworm, but kittens less than a year old and geriatric cats are most prone to infection, while longhaired cats and those who are immunocompromised are also more susceptible. Ringworm can quickly spread in shelters or other crowded environments; warm and humid conditions tend to promote ringworm infections.
There are a few recommended treatment approaches, all of which are challenging, lengthy, expensive, and difficult. Most of the successful options involve a multipronged approach including, endless environmental cleaning (laundry, vacuuming, disinfecting with bleach, apple cider vinegar, or other antifungal solutions), applying topical antifungal ointments, oral medications, dips in a lime sulfur solution (or other antifungal dip/shampoos) every 5 days until 2 consecutive fungal spore cultures—done at one month intervals—test negative. I won’t go into the specifics, as it would take far too long to explain. There are several invaluable resources available online; more information may be found by visiting any one of them. Here is the one my vet gave to me, veterinary partners.com. http://www.veterinarypartner.
I read you also pet sitting on the side, how did you get started?
There was a time when I owned 7 Afghan Hounds…7!!!…I know!!! Whenever I had to go out of town—be it for work or pleasure—finding someone to care for the pups was challenging and always more than a bit stressful. One day, a couple of friends told me of a graduate student that they both knew and had used for house and pet sitting. She would stay in your house and care for your pets while you were away. While she was delighted to care for the animals in exchange for a room away from roommates and/or campus, I was grateful for the peace of mind and compensated her for her service.
Having had people come into my home to care for my beloved furry family members in the comfort of their home was wonderful. It offered me so much peace of mind that, I decided to pay it forward and help other pet owners facing the same situation—extended or short-term travel. Several years ago, while in graduate school, I started doing house/pet sitting for a couple of friends; through word of mouth, news of my service spread and several people began contacting me for house/pet sitting…even planning ahead and making reservations months in advance. About 10-12 years ago, I decided to formalize this side gig and started a small business, my services include mail pick-up, stopping by for watering/feeding/playing with people’s dogs and cats, administering oral and injectable medications…sometimes an overnight is needed. I am fortunate to be able to do most of my professional work from home and fit the side work into my flexible home office hours. I have what I call regular clients and could probably have a lucrative little company if I wanted to hire a couple people and do this full time.
What has been you favorite pet sitting experience?
I have developed some great friendships, made a bit of extra money, and had fun—face it, tending to animals can be just plain old fun. Not to sound overly cheesy but for me, knowing that I am helping someone by taking care of their pets is very rewarding and is just an overall terrific feeling.
As for a specific favorite pet-sitting experience it would have to be when I was tending to a small sheep ranch and a few of the ewes started lambing. Heh…who would have guessed that my nursing background coupled with both the experience of having spent so much time on my grandfather small farm while growing up and my innate love for animals would come in so handy?
Is there anything you would like to add about yourself or the furry family?
On a serious note, when making the decision to add a pet to your family, please adopt, don’t shop…spay and neuter your pets. Also, if adopting/rescuing an animal that has a recent known history of ringworm, don’t rely on a Wood’s Lamp for the definitive diagnosis—get a fungal culture done. Yes, it takes time and costs a bit more money but trust me, that cost is small compared to the physical, mental, emotional, and financial costs of treating ringworm—especially if it is introduced into a multi-cat household.
On a less serious note: My Mom has always said while she’d like to think that my first word was MAMA but she really believes that it was MEOW. True story!
This article is dedicated to the loving memory of the following pets that have known love & comfort.
Miss Holly,Robbie & Pandora, Leo, Liza Blue, Phoebe, Micah, Bear & Sabrina.
Fly free little ones, know that you will always be loved.
Author’s Note: Many thanks to Lily & Dash’s mom for letting me interview them. Pictures were used with permission. Please visit them on their facebook page – Momma Little Nose (Lily) & Dash.
This article is a part of the Happy Tails theme, for more interviews please click the badge below.