Posted in adoption, animal advocacy, anxiety, C-PTSD, cats, depression, disability, eviction, homeless, life, PTSD, storage, urgent

2/20/18: Love Letter to my Cat

Dear Portia: We have been through a lot since I adopted you on 10/30/2010. I saw your picture on C.A.T.’s website (Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, OR) a few days before, visited you at your Petsmart location on 10/29, and knew. I knew you needed me and I needed you. JoJo, although she would be loathe to admit it, needed you as well.

After JoJo died of Congestive Heart Failure a year ago, the two of us have been through even more. Our eviction, bouncing from one friend’s apartment to another’s house and then three different rooms in that house since. You have helped me battle panic attacks, depression, suicidal ideation, the loss of your feline sister, and so much more. Which is why you are my ESA (Emotional Support Animal) and friend.

I wish I could have taken a picture of how we were cuddled up a few minutes ago. I had paid down on my side, with my head at the foot of the bed. You were contemplating jumping up for a moment, but once you did, you plopped down right in front of my face. That’s your style. I put my hand up to rest under your chin, between your front paws… as I gently leaned my own face against your fur. And your jet engine purr began.

You love touch. You are a people cat, even though you’re a little hesitant with some. I rarely hear you purr unless you’re loafing on my chest or touching me somehow. When I first adopted you, you couldn’t get lap time because JoJo insisted on HER laptime, so the bedroom became your place for human time. At first, you curled up near me and reached one paw out to place on my shoulder or face. You gradually got to how you are now with curling up on my chest (granted, the current bed is narrow, so not much room).

You have your ornery times. You have sensitive skin, so being groomed is not a preferred activity, yet your mats buried under that silky soft floofage say it’s much needed. Areas that most cats LOVE having petted are off limits for you (base of the tail mostly, which elicits a claws-extended swat from you). And sometimes your butt fur doesn’t get as clean as either of us would like…

But I love you anyway… stinky butt and all.

You are a goofy, sweet 14 pound lovebug of a cat. I know your needs and you know mine in your own way. Your purr is therapeutic and burying my face in your fur when I need comforting is an extra bonus. We’ve been through a lot of stress. But with you there for me, I believe we will make it through.

Everyone who sees pictures of you is taken aback by your beauty. Your soft dilute tortie fur and the eyes that make everyone gasp. Eyes that can be green, green-gold, blue, blue-gold, or some other combination. Of all the cats I’ve known or lived with in my life, I have never seen a cat with eyes like yours. And everyone who sees your pictures says the same thing. I likely will never see another cat again with eyes like yours.

You are 12 now. I know you can’t live forever. I cherish the time I have with you. You ground me when I need it. And I give you wet food when I can afford it. I am so glad you let me adopt you.

Love,

Your Human, Amanda (who still needs help with storage)

 

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Posted in adoption, cats, eviction, grief, homeless, life

2/6/18: JoJo, one year later

She was my soul cat for 14 years. I adopted her February 2003 at the age of 11 months. Well, she chose me. I didn’t want a kitten, but she wanted me. She decided I’d be her human.

And I was for 14 years.

She became obviously ill only that night. The previous two days werr dismissed as her usual “hairball days.” 11:30pm February 2nd, 2017, I kmew it was worse. I called Dove Lewis and was told to bring her in ASAP.

By 12:30am February 3rd, the decision had to be made. Fluid building up, making it difficult for her to breathe. The vet said she wouldn’t have survived the night. I chose to end her pain then. My tears soaked her fur as the vet administered the meds that would end her suffering.

This was a massive blow for me emotionally. I had just gone to court a week before and was getting evicted.

I realized weeks later that this was how it was meant to be. If you go back to March 2017 or so, you’ll find a post called “It Was My Time” … I still believe that was JoJo letting me know that her reason for being with me was complete, and it was time for her to move on. That one phrase kept repeating in my mind until I finally wrote it down.

It’s been a year. I still miss her. Portia has taken up the mantle of being my ESA. But JoJo will always live on.

~A

Posted in adoption, anxiety, C-PTSD, crowdfunding, depression, disability, dogs, friends, grad school, health, insomnia, life, medical, PTSD, sexual assault, society, storage, urgent

1/5/18: Ch-ch-ch-changes

I gotta start somewhere, right? Other than the crowdfunding plea for storage… which is up around $700 for two months and late fees… but on to what I want to write about.

Two months ago, I had my final session with my therapist of almost 3 years. She helped me get through a bunch of shit. But she was moving on to another office somewhere and my latest reauth there was due (county clinic, annual reauthorization to see if you still need help). I’ve asked my doc and such for names of PTSD/C-PTSD therapists, but haven’t gotten very far.

And I’ve gotten decidedly more twitchy over the past two months.

I’m handling it, but barely. The anxiety is one thing I can deal with, but the brain fog and seemingly frozen-in-place feeling haven’t budged. To the point where I fucked up my final term of grad school… again.

It feels like … well … I can see myself moving forward, getting school DONE, doing all the functioning things I need to do to dig myself out of my current situation. But I can’t actually DO those things. I can’t MOVE. I’m stuck. I can see it, but can’t seem to do it. I do have moments here and there where I’m able to focus and clear the fog for an hour or so and do things that need to be done.

Like earlier today. I called the customer service line for the mental health division for my health insurance (Basically medicaid). I chatted with the guy (Joe, who was freaking awesome and supportive), and he emailed me two clinics. I’m now waitlisted for one, and the other I went through the ‘phone interview’ to give them basic info to see if I’ll find a good fit in their clinic. They’re all doctoral students.

I also called customer service to change my banking info for my Target REDcard debit card. Their hold music was saccharine and the agent was exasperating… but I got through it.

I “adulted.”

Mind you, this shit isn’t easy when you’re uncomfortable just being on the phone and you’d rather be doing other things.

As to the title I’m using… I’m moving to another room in the house… but also thinking of other … bigger things. I’m thinking of school, of work, of trying to work WITH my PTSD as I do with my ADD. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 21 and was on Ritalin for a year and a half. It wasn’t doing anything noticeable, so I weaned myself off and dealt with life unmedicated. I’ve learned how to with with it. It’s how I’ve managed to do NaNoWriMo since 2005, winning each year.

But PTSD? I have no clue.


I know he’ll never see this, but Joe at OHP congratulated me on handling the situation on December 29th on the MAX really well. Thank you, Joe. All I’ve really been able to see of myself from that incident was the dissociating, the anger, and trying to not kill the bastard. But you pointed out that I handled it really well and showed great restraint. Thank you.


I’m also looking at getting a PTSD Service Dog. I have one person who says Dobies aren’t ideal, but the loyalty and bond with one is kinda the reason why I want one as my dog. They’re protective by nature and if trained to not attack, but silently guard and protect, that’s what I want. Also in the training, they’d be able to sense anxiety increases and help calm me down. There are others who are all, “hell yeah, a Dobie would be perfect.” As this would be for PTSD and not other types of service work, I think they’d be ideal. And there are dog-related sites that say the same. Other sites say no. I think it depends on the training and temperament of the individual dog.


I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish school. Hopefully soon. But I know one thing: I need to make some massive changes… and soon.

~A

Posted in adoption, anxiety, cats, chronic pain, depression, peace, Personal, PTSD, storage

7/10: Purr

The love of a cat. Purring on my chest. Napping. Happy. The vibration of a purr can heal many things. Anxiety and so mich more. No matter if they weigh 4 pounds or 14, the love of a cat resonates through her purr. My therapy in the midst of pain, stress, times of hesitation and healing the scars of my own history. The purr of my cat against my heart… the world melts away and only peace remains. 

~A

Posted in adoption, animal advocacy, cats, cosplay, creativity, empath life, homeless, life, Personal, poverty line, storage

6/30: Feline Bonds 

JoJo and I had this incredible bond the 14 years she loved with me. Since she passed away in February, Portia has stepped up in her own quirky way. She’s still a total dork, but curls up (read: SPRAWLS) on my chest when I’m in bed. 

She isn’t exactly a small or lightweight cat, weighing in around the 14lb mark. I’ve determined she’s likely at least half Maine Coon. Her size and varied coat lengths are a good indicator. She purrs when she eats, shows some signs of stress when I’m stressed. Not as obvious as JoJo was, but I see indicators. 

I’ve been working on a last minute leather cincher to wear this weekend at GearCon. Drafting the pattern, tweaking things, punching holes for rivets and small grommets. It isn’t done, but I’m hauling my whole crazy mess to con with me. I’m assisting mostly in the staff lounge… I tend to be the one to “babysit” the space, as I’m content to just be stationary. 

I’ve been running around all week and am also concerned I don’t have the full $280 for storage. I’ll have a bit over half when pay from two tasks from earlier this week post to my account. I think I can pay partial while I don’t owe previous months. 

So, Portia got what I think was a small hairball. This is a rare thing for her. She usually just mats. But she has been grooming more this week. She needs a companion, but the cat of the house is still uneasy about her (I think they’ll be fine with monitored rounds), and I’m in no shape, financially or home-wise, to adopt another right now.

We will see what happens…

~Amanda 

Posted in adoption, anxiety, cats, depression, empath life, family, Personal, PTSD, storage

6/4: Crash Day with Portia

Originally today was going to be spent at my storage unit selling off the bed frame to a friend and then organizing and trying to reclaim some space in the back half of the unit. My mattress is resting on edge on my beloved coffee table (that I’ve had since I was about 18 and needs refinishing one day). All of that blocks my views of the rest of the space behind it. On Thursday last week, I managed to get to where I was sitting on my taller chest of drawers (I tend to call them dressers, even though that’s inaccurate, but yanno, it’s easier) and noticed that the space behind the mattress is not being utilized to its full ability (think vertical). So my goal is twofold: find a way to store the garment bags of costumes so they don’t “avalanche” while being stored flat, and then clear a better path to that area and organize it better.

One goal, when I have the funds (which I’m looking at costing more than I originally thought at around $60-$80, depending on the diameter of the chosen pipe) to make a steel pipe garment rack. I’ve had purchased racks from Target and IKEA and they cannot withstand the weight of the costumes. Eventually, I’ll get some plywood and make a platform on casters and put the steel pipe rack on wheels, but that part can wait. I need three 6′ pre-threaded pipes, four 12″ pieces, two elbow joints and two T joints. Yes, I know my way around a hardware store… maybe a little too well.

Honestly, if I could work retail again, I’d love to work at Ace Hardware. The people there understand thinking outside the box and have always helped me suss out how to work around problems with creative things (the guys at Pearl Ace still remember my dragon puppet head from 2009).

So, today was going to be spent at storage, but after Thursday afternoon in there, then two days of moving books and stuff around at the yard sale here, I was tired. When my friend who is buying the bed frame said he wasn’t feeling well today, I decided I’ll just stay home. Tomorrow, I tackle storage. So, about today…


The rest of this is part of a status I wrote earlier about Portia… the parts in Italics are the original post.

20170604_145938
First Position. She normally sprawls on my chest if I’m in bed, but not today. 

Although the bond with Portia isn’t as strong as mine was with JoJo, she is still bonded. Note in this picture that while it isn’t obvious, she’s napping on my left hip/pelvis. The side that has been problematic for a couple weeks now. Earlier she was roughly in the same spot, purring and grooming herself.

I adopted Portia October 30th, 2010, a few weeks after I had to put Jack to sleep due to Acute Renal Failure. His quality of life was extremely poor, so it was best to let him go. I tried making JoJo an only cat, but that didn’t last long. She became “Super Cling Kitty” within a week. I found Portia through Petfinder at Cat Adoption Team.

20170604_154810
Second position. Still in the same place on my left hip and leg, but this time taking my hand as hostage.

I know some people who think “she’s JUST a cat,” but I know better. Having been a petsitter, volunteer at shelters and rescues, and a lifelong cat person, I know behavior and a lot of health stuff. As an Empath, I connect with cats and dogs. Cats can, if you let them, be amazing therapy animals. Both girls were there for me last November as I dealt with the 2 year anniversary of my dad’s death as well as his 90th birthday and on top of that, a massive trigger of my C-PTSD. Portia and JoJo got me through it. Three months later, we lost JoJo, oddly to an illness similar to what my dad died from. Portia has picked up where her big sis left off, being there for me in her own quirky way.

She’s adjusting to being an only cat better than JoJo did. Granted, we’ve also been in this transition and technically homeless since early March. I think she wants a buddy, as she tries to get along with the resident cat, although that girl isn’t too keen on Portia. Hence my reference to baby gates on occasion. I have to keep them up to keep her contained.

It’s been 4 months as of yesterday that we lost JoJo. My father died of heart failure and then JoJo with Congestive Heart Failure. Two of my closest companions gone from similar issues.

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Third Position. Belleh Floof! A fair amount of the time, she actually likes belly scritches. Jack was the same way. 

Portia has picked up on things. She makes me laugh, does things like in these images today to help comfort me and be a bit of therapy. She’s feisty but sweet. Hates being groomed, but loves attention and treats. She gets underfoot a LOT and loves wet food. She’s a total dork of a cat, but she keeps me grounded and sane. For me, if not for the cats in my life and music to help push the emotional pain out, I don’t think I’d survive my life right now.

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This is from a few days ago. She was partially on my lap and licking my nose and chin.

Cats are amazing creatures in so many ways. Far too many people see them as aloof, cold animals, but those of us who have shared our lives with them? We know better. There is power in those paws. The whiskers. Those knowing eyes. The power of absolute love.

~Amanda

Posted in adoption, animal advocacy, anxiety, bugaboos, cats, crowdfunding, dragon, emergency, family, homeless, life, music, Personal, silliness, storage, urgent

5/14: This time I’ll remember a title (#crowdfunding)

SHHAAAAARREE MEEEE! Pwease?

So I must have been more tired than I thought when I wrote up last night’s blog post. I didn’t realize until this morning when I checked the stats that I’d forgotten to put anything beyond the date (sometimes I put that after I write). Whoops.

The usual stuff: need help saving storage and all my stuff, etc… yes I’m quickly running out of time here. Thursday is the auction and I need to prove I’ll have funds by the time they close the office at 6pm PST Wednesday. Yeah… only a few more days. 

On to other things… there’s the big elelephant in the room. Mother’s Day. My mom passed away from end stage Alzheimer’s (total organ failure, etc) in 2013. But with her disease, this day hasn’t felt like anything special for a lot longer. Before that, it was ‘meh’ as we constantly fought. The two strongest willed people in the family… yeah, fireworks happened… a lot. I never got that mother-adult daughter relationship. It was stolen from me by a disease that hits the caretakers the hardest. She went to her death never seeing me as a strong adult who can do awesome things. She forever saw the four year old teaching herself to play the melody of the Star Spangled Banner on the piano without knowing how to read music, and yet, once learned, my mother actively discouraged me playing it.

I also have a friend or two who don’t think women like me with pets instead of human children should celebrate it as a ‘mom.’ Even being hostile about it and saying they’ll unfriend anyone who wishes a Happy Mother’s Day to women who only have pets.

[Oh shit… Dragon wants a word…]

Look here, hun, just because I chose to not fertilize my damn eggs and put more dragons out there to devour stupid humans does NOT mean I’m not a mom. I pick up more cat shit from one cat alone in her entire life than you do changing diapers. Don’t even start with me. I step on toys, clean up errant cat poop, take her to the vet, feed her the best damn food I can get for her and her specific needs and issues, make sure she’s healthy and happy and clean and know what that furball gives me in return?

Unconditional LOVE. Laughter at her antics. Purr therapy when I’m stressed out. 

I don’t need to bring more like me into this overcrowded world. It’s fucked up enough without more from my gene pool. So, you go do you, be a parent to human children all you damn well please. Just know that I’m over here saving animals and I don’t have to buy them clothes every six months and worry about how I’m gonna pay for their college. I may adopt a human child one day… when I’m damn well ready to do so.

You do you, and leave us pet lovers alone. 

[shoves Dragon off the chair]

“GO BACK TO YOUR CAVE, DRAGON!”

Sorry about that. She can be a handful at times. Anyway….

Sooo… I’m taking things one nerve-wracking day at a time. Job hunting, etc. Never easy, but that’s life.

Nightly poem to be uploaded later….

~Amanda/Dragon

Posted in adoption, animal advocacy, cats, community, crowdfunding, dogs, emergency, homeless, life, Personal, storage, urgent

5/3: Feline Advocacy (and #crowdfunding, duh)

My whole life, I’ve had or lived with cats. My parents (more than likely primarily my mother for reasons I noticed later in life) didn’t really do the “indoor cat” thing. If we adopted kittens, they were indoors until spayed/neutered and gradually given monitored outside time until they were. We lost a lot of cats this way. There were some, such as Blackie, Prissy (Blackie’s litter sister) and Skunky. Smokey, who was Skunky’s bestest friend in the world, lived a bit longer than average outdoor cats (typically 5-7 years). The cats I just mentioned all lived to somewhere between 10 and 20 years (Skunky the longest. I wrote about it a few days back).

After I moved out of CA in late 2001, I was cat-less for about a year and then decided on adopting early 2003. Enter JoJo, who just passed away (Congestive Heart Failure) at almost 15 years old, 14 years to the month of her adoption in February 2003. Six weeks later, I adopted Jack at 7 months old. He passed away at 8 years in 2010 from Acute Renal Failure. I adopted Portia at the end of October, a few weeks after Jack died, at roughly 4 years old. All three have been indoor cats. I’ve learned a lot having them. After adopting JoJo and Jack, I joined The Cat Site (referred to as TCS from here on out). The forums and people there helped me navigate going from having outdoor cats to having indoor-only cats.

In the last couple of years I’ve also discovered LAPS (Langley Animal Protection Services) up in Canada, and a rescue group that is distantly connected to them, TinyKittens. They help feral colonies in the area with feeding and TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release).

Between TCS, LAPS, and TK, as well as my own volunteering with Multnomah County Animal Shelter here in Portland and Pixie Project, I have become an advocate for cats. I also highly recommend supporting The Pongo Fund. They do awesome work as a pet food bank for the PDX area.

I encourage spaying and neutering. If you insist on having your kids watch “the miracle of birth” via pets, I recommend you start watching TK whenever they get a pregnant feral momma. They livestream the births, nothing blurred out. For one thing, pregnancy of cats and dogs can have a whole host of problems just like with human births/pregnancy.

Also, the longer a female cat goes unspayed, the higher the risk of mammary gland (breast) cancer or uterine cancer. Intact males can also get cancer of their reproductive organs as well. It’s best for cats and dogs to be spayed and neutered as young as possible. And yes, they can be fixed before 6 months. You have to find a vet who will do early spay/neuter. They MUST weigh 2 pounds minimum, for being able to handle anesthesia. When I was at Multco, we adopted out kittens at 12 weeks, already fixed.

I am an advocate for cats mostly, although many of the same rules apply to dogs. I love dogs, just haven’t had one since high school. And Portia hates/is scared of dogs (hates small dogs, scared of big dogs). My cats have gotten me through so much in my life. I could never imagine life without at least one.

That brings me to my current situation. I only have Portia right now and she’s a social, albeit initially shy, cat. She wants to be where I am, or at least the action. I’m sitting on my bed right now (still semi-homeless of course, but it’s a fold-down bed) and she’s a foot away from my leg and this computer. Sleeping. She has been showing signs of wanting a friend again. The resident cat is still hesitant about her, so she’s sequestered in our room/space. I’m in the “spa” room in the house. Non-functioning hot tub and then the sauna room. The glass on the sauna room is slightly reflective, so she sees this “other cat” which is just her reflection. The last few days, she’s even climbed onto my stuff between my pillows and the door and put her nose to the glass, looking for this mystery “other cat.” JoJo tolerated her. But JJ was a bit of a bully/brat. I did find them sleeping touching sometimes… rare, but it did happen. She wants another cat. But right now, being between homes (and jobs… ugh), I can’t take that on. I’d love nothing more than to give her a new buddy to hang with, but not in a temporary living situation. So, it has to wait for now.

I am that person who would go to the ends of the earth to help cats and help other humans understand cats. Whether it’s behavior, food, etc… if I don’t know it, I research it. With TK, I’m learning even more about ferals. They do amazing work there.

Well, I did a lot of rambling in this post. But I provided links and hopefully conveyed my love and passion for helping cats and other pets.

Portia and I still need help getting our stuff in storage paid up. She has some cat tents in there and more toys. And getting back to having a full size bed so there’s plenty of room for both of us and a future friend for Portia. But saving our stuff is super critical right now. Any help is greatly appreciated. Keep spreading the word.

Thank you

~Amanda and Portia

Posted in adoption, cats, dragon

Adopting Fuzzy Love

This. I hadn’t seen JoJo the first two times i was in the cat room in Syracuse. She was shy and had been bullied by the bigger cats. 5 months in that room. But she saw something in me… at least that’s what I would like to believe. That she’d seen me the previous two times and knew I was her human. Now, 13 years later, she is my baby girl. She may be grouchy and still not be too keen on other humans, but we are a pair. Her brother, Jack, was my comic relief. When he died in 2010, I wasn’t sure if I should get another cat, after how she bullied him (bullying is a learned behavior in more than just humans). 

After a week of coming home to Super Cling JoJo, I knew I had to. I found Portia on Petfinder. She was at one of Cat Adoption Team’s (C.A.T.) Petsmart locations. I took the train out to see her, then got a friend  (Sue R.) To drive me put there on 10/30/10 to see her again while an adoption counselor was there. I had my massive pet stroller (need a new one). I took her home that afternoon. She’s also a bit shy, but more sociable than her big sister. She had been at the county shelter for a few weeks, then C.A.T. pulled her. She was there a few months. Being 4 or 5 years old, she wasn’t the kitten too many want. 
JoJo was 11 months when I adopted her. Jack was 7 months. I wanted someone close to JoJo’s age, but that little bugger made himself known and i was drawn to him. Then Portia was roughly 4.5 years when I adopted her. 

One day, when I feel I’m totally settled and content to stay in one place, I’ll open a rescue. Adult cats only. The ones overlooked by adopters. They need love too. After volunteering at the county shelter and a local rescue, i knew the patterns. Those older cats… the tripod cats, the ones with special needs  (like both of my girls and their diet)… they deserve love as much, if not more, than those cute little kittens. Don’t get me wrong, kittens are awesome. But too many people cast them aside or ignore them at shelters. 

You never know how much love an older rescue can give until you give them a chance.

~P