Squeaker the cat

“There’s a special place in heaven for you.”

By isak, July 26, 2019

When someone hears of the large number of cats and dogs I have or have had, they often respond, “There’s a special place in heaven for you.” And quietly in my brain a thought bubble pops up and says, “I hope so because this work here on earth has certainly been hell at times!”

I have worked in rescue probably my whole life, that’s DECADES. I have always had an overly soft spot for animals in my heart. When I was about 10, I brought home a black and white Chihuahua. I no longer remember where I met him or how our paths crossed. I named him Pal — because at the time, I was really into horses so Pal was short for Palomino. I don’t remember how long I had Pal. I don’t think it was very long. I came home from school one day and he was gone. My mom said he had been hit by a car in front of our house. I have to assume that is correct because it seems that if the truth was that she rehomed him, that truth would have been a softer, less brutal explanation to give a young child.

Carlita behind the window blindsTalking about spaying and neutering with friends one day, I was asked how many I had “fixed” (not that they were broken, just needed a slight alteration to suit the circumstances). My almost immediate response was “about 40.” But as I thought more about it, I realized that response was based on my most current situation. You see, in a single 6 month period, I had rescued 3 mother dogs and their combined litters of 26 puppies and added them to my existing family of 7 dogs and 5 cats. So in rethinking the question later that evening, I concluded that I have spayed/ neutered about 100 cats and dogs on my own dime. That does not include the ones I found homes for where they were spayed/ neutered by the new families or by the rescue group that placed them.

So why rescue them when you already have so many? The answer can be found in the old joke: “Why does a dog lick his balls? Because he can.” Why do I rescue these animals? Because I can. That is not to say I have the financial wherewithal — by no means do I have that position any longer — but because I can bring them in from a life they were thrown into and one that is potentially dangerous to them through no fault of their own. It’s at least something. A starting point to a new life.

Sister Girl's pups!

I am pulling back these days. I am not as active as I was for several reasons. The work of rescue is financial, physical and emotional. I am a lot older now. So I now lack the financial means and my physical self is slowing down. Emotionally? Well, as I stand out in the garden, I can no longer remember who is buried where. I just know that someone is buried there and there and there and there. Sometimes I come across a photo of one of my rescues who has passed and it makes my heart hurt all over again for their loss. You see, these little souls become companions and their passing is like the loss of close family or a close friend. They came and they went, but I go on. Without them. There is an unequivocal loneliness in reaching that station.

Sassi with one of her MANY tennis balls.

There are still fragments of old tennis balls in the yard that I refuse to throw away. Two sisters — Sassi and Gigi — were adamant tennis ball dogs, rarely seen without a dirty fluorescent green tennis ball in their mouths. And don’t dare walk past a tennis ball without throwing it else they will just keep dropping it in front of your feet as you walk (…er trip). I even have a couple places where I have stuffed a mostly intact tennis ball into the fencing. It keeps them here with me.

At some point, my own chapter in life will end, so I am retiring from rescue work because who will take care of my “friends”? My youngest cats are 2 1/2 years old. They should have a lot of life still in them. Quite possibly more than me.

So will I go to heaven at the end of my journey here on earth? At this juncture in my life I’m not sure that it matters what happens then. A bit more “heaven on earth” right now would be nice. I’m sure that’s a thought I share with many rescuers. Just saying…


  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m terrified I will outlive my rescues. I’m all they know, all they have ever had that wasn’t fear and pain. I could never die peacefully if I left them behind because my last thoughts would be worrying about them.

    • isak says:

      I certainly understand that. One thing you can do is make some preparations. For example, create a biography on each rescue you have. Include a photo of them, their name, birthdate, and a little info about their likes & dislikes, and maybe who their pals and best friends are. You might include medical history as well. In doing this, someone stepping in to help would have some idea about each of them.

      Here’s a book that I purchased: The Pet Plan and Pet Trust Guide

      There are a lot of articles on the internet that can help you get started. Here’s a couple:
      How to Make Sure Your Pet Is Cared for When You Die
      How to Set Up a Pet Trust

      I certainly want to outlive my bunch, but it’s good to prepare.

  2. A says:

    Currently working on the males so I won’t have that problem, trust me I’ve thought of every option and scenario I could have lol I will say though one of my cats is a rare snowshoe breed and all of his kittens have come out his color and beautiful so it really pains me to get him fixed. Any alternatives there might be? Because of snowshoes being so rare, his twin sister is absolutely beautiful too but I would rather them not mate … again and her delivery was beyond hectic with umbilical cords wrapped around 5 kittens, trying to make sure they weren’t cutting off circulation to legs and arms. I felt so bad because we didn’t see one of the kittens had a piece of umbilical wrapped around it’s foot thankfully he only lost his toes and still had the palm pad and walked perfectly fine, we named him gimpy. unfortunately he was one of my fading kittens, he lost a lot of weight from not eating and couldn’t regulate his own temperature. This is the one I stayed with for two days straight nursing back to health and he was doing better but the first night he moved off of his heating pad to try and cuddle and love on my boyfriend and I, well at one point he mustve gotten cold again laying with us and the next day he started declining again this time nothing I did helped but he ended up dying with a smile, looking straight up at me while craddled in my arms on the second night. That one was a heart breaker especially because I just happened to look down and check on him and he was just beautifully gone after nursing him for two days straight. Rip gimpy

    • isak says:

      The two females that I found out were pregnant when I took them to be spayed were the only cats in my household that were not fixed. So some un-neutered male cat or cats were coming into my yard (they are indoor/outdoor cats) to impregnate them without me ever seeing them. Keep a very close eye on your females. They can go into heat even though they are still nursing and can become pregnant without you even realizing. Maybe consider fixing the females first. We have a couple great low-cost facilities near me. Maybe you have something like that near you to help.

      So sorry for your loss. It is certainly hard. I lost one with that fading kitten syndrome. Later in another litter, one started to fade and I immediately took to force feeding her. I was so close to giving up as after a couple weeks, I was not seeing much improvement. But she suddenly turned the corner. She started eating and putting weight on and getting stronger. It’s been a couple years now and she is still doing very well.

  3. A says:

    I relate to this so much but I’m young I’m only 25. I can’t remember a time in my life that I did not have a pet, dog, cat, rabbit, etc. And to be exact with you I can’t remember a time I didn’t have more than one animal so as I left the nest at 18 I would let a dog or two come stay with me wherever I was living but it’s not the same as sharing a home with your own pet but I lived in places where pets weren’t allowed or there was a deposit and fees etc and I was only 18 trying to make it on my own. Well, one day my boyfriend and I pass a petsmart adoption and of course we have to go look. Thankfully my boyfriend shares the same love and weakness for animals as I do. I can’t help but to want to save them all but I know I can’t but I come across this big brown eyed rhodesian Ridge back and I fall in love, I have to have her. Well, I was able to have her but when I tell you she was the perfect first, “on your own dog” I don’t say that without terrible flashbacks of encounters with feces and urine lol but she made all the other dogs I ever had look like a piece of cake. Now to fast foward to a more recent status of my animals, back then I was not fond of cats, I had one when I was younger that loved me but was so mean so from that I hated cats so I only had 5 dogs and lived in crappy apartment’s, hiding a few animals from the management a lot of times because if they weren’t allowed I would literally be homeless with them I didn’t care that was my family. I did lose 2 of my dogs to another dog attacking them both were my oldest dogs had for over 12 years, one of the hardest times in my life but I grew a new obsession …. to cats. I one day happened to notice people driving over something in the road where it passed through the middle of their cars, not getting hit and to my surprise I see its a kitten so I immediately jump out the car grab the kitten and jump back in the car. Poor thing was so scared but there I go falling in love again like I always do and a month later a screaming kitten in the bushes at Wendy’s crying for food was saved by me. Well not knowing much about cats they mated and had a litter and before I could get them fixed they mated and had a litter of two snowshoe kittens very rare breed and then of course plan other litter well after that covid appears and 4 of my girl cats get pregnant because there were not vets spaying or neutering well of course I raised them all like my own so it was hard to give any away. At this moment I have over 20 something cats and when I tell you I can’t get rid of them really can’t they are all different and special in some sort of way and have the best personalities I literally live coming home to them. I also would not give any away due to the abuse kitten receive I had to know they went to a good owner and that the owner was like me about taking care of them. That’s hard to find obviously but I currently have 3 dogs and 24 cats and I sound crazy I know but it’s my responsibility to make sure they are safe and have a chance to live a good life cause ultimately it’s my fault they were born I was unaware of the fast breeding of cats but that was my mistake not theirs so I took them all in rather than throw them on the streets and that’s only fair. But yes now I love cat’s, never would have thought 4 years ago I would have a cat at all and now I’m obsessed. But I’ve lost a lot of kitten to still birth’s, to my mother stepping on one, to fading syndrome problems. I’ve nursed one for two days straight to it finally passing after we both fought so hard for life. A whole litter dying after 8 weeks and getting attached, accidental things killing a baby kitten etc. I have broken my own heart too many times but they all circle a tree in my yard and prior to that it was dead and crappy and now the tree is absolutely beautiful. God just decided that’s where they were meant to be on this earth, maybe not they way I wanted them but what was necessary for the earth. But i do see how the grief of loss could keep me from keeping more or taking in more not to say I wouldn’t but it does make you hesitant on taking them in.

    • isak says:

      I was a dog person all my life until I found a newborn kitten out on the sidewalk one cold February morning when I was taking the trash out. I have no idea where he came from, but after that I developed a real love and appreciation for cats. Sounds like your story, right?

      Hopefully you can get your cats fixed — do all one sex first — because it can easily get out of control. I took a mother and her daughter in to be fixed a few years ago and was surprised to learn that both were pregnant. I had no idea, but now everyone is fixed.

What do you think?

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