Thursday, February 20, 2014

Odie's Backstory: Difficulties of Adopting Stray Animals

There is a deeper backstory to the day I found Odie, more than what I described in Odie the Stray Kitten. Some information was just not relevant to the children's story but it could be significant for someone taking in a stray animal.

I first heard Odie in the barn that morning, behind the pile of hay. But it sounded more like a scream than a cry. It sounded like he was in pain and I thought for sure he was diseased, infested, or dying of something. He was screaming so loudly that it spooked the horses. My first thought was "I can't keep a cat that scares my horses."

He came out from behind the hay pile and was in fact very friendly. But he still continued to scream. He let me pet him, my other cat Bandit was curious and friendly with him. Just like in the book, I brought Odie some food and left the cat carrier open on the ground. He walked right in without any pushing.

I had to call off work. And I never took personal days. I didn't make up an excuse, I told my boss exactly why I wouldn't be in that day. He allowed it, and if he hadn't, too bad. I was taking this poor kitten to the vet either way. I called around to local animal hospitals and found one with an opening that morning. I loaded Odie up and off we went in the big blue truck.

He truly did purr the whole time he was at the vet's office. He purred so much that the vet had trouble hearing his heart. The vet guessed him to be about 16 weeks old. He was tested for feline leukemia (among other diseases) and I was told that if he was positive, he had to be an indoor cat because he could easily transfer the disease to other outdoor cats. That would have been a problem because my husband is very allergic to cats and we absolutely cannot have any furry indoor animals.

Odie turned out to be FeLV negative, and his diagnosis was "just cold and hungry." I knew I had to keep him. We stopped at a pet store on the way home so that I could pick up a few things for him: dry kitten food, wet food to help him gain some weight, a few extra bowls and a small litter box.

For this kitten I did several things that day that I typically do not do: I took a personal day from work and I spent a lot of money. But it had to be done and I don't regret it. Odie has grown up into a loyal, sweet, energetic barn cat and is always getting into trouble. He is now the main character of my first published indie children's book Odie the Stray Kitten and all of the future Odie Series books.

Each stray animal's story is different and adopting some strays can be more difficult than others. The ASPCA provides good information on how to go about adopting these animals into your family.

ASPCA: Stray and Feral Cats

This is the more complete version of Odie's story. As I have said before, the animals write the stories, I just edit them for children.

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