Ode to Bifford

(c) 04/07/2015

Tiny bundle of fur,

do not allow your quirks to define who you are, for you are far from normal to us-

you are perfect.

The world may look at you differently; they may be confused by your demeanor,believing you are disposable.

They are afraid tiny bundle of fur, fearing the unknown, that of which they do not understand they wish to eliminate.

Sweet handsome ball of fur, know that when I look at you I see so much more,

I see undying companionship and affection,

I peer past your “disability” and deep within the glimmer in your eyes- that you are strong, you are relentless, you are normal by every sense of the definition.

To me, tiny bundle of fur,

you are simply remarkable, you teach lessons of humility, compassion, love, patience and education of an open mind.

For when I look at you tiny bundle of fur,

I do not see someone struggling, one who is in pain,

I do not see something that is a threat to others,

I see so much more,

I see that it is not you sweet bundle of fur that is struggling, it is the world around you.

They refuse to learn about you, they push away the abilities to meet and love you,

for it is not you tiny bundle of fur-

it is everyone else with the “handicap” as their ignorance is their greatest decline,

for the moment I opened my heart and love to you only then did I realize how remarkable you were to me,

for I did not save your life- you saved mine in ways I cannot verbalize.

About “Maggie Mae”

Maggie Mae– December 2006

 Maggie Mae– July 2007

Maggie Mae with “Cheeto” (foster kitten)– August 2016


Maggie Mae was the product of an Amish puppy mill — full of disease, death and over breeding in cramped, filthy and inhumane conditions in Lancaster, PA and then ultimately sold to PetLand (Harbor Pets) in Boardman, Ohio in October 2006. She was pulled from her mother far too young and was alone, terrified in a dark, metal cage with no blankets, no toys and no human interaction as she was “DEFECTIVE” because she had an inguinal hernia so she was unable to be sold in the pet store so she was being sent back to the amish to ultimately either be over-bred or put down. The store was placing her in a black trash bag in which her “momma” noticed the heinous act they were performing and promptly asked a store employee why they would do such a thing, the employee callously replied, “If they go in a bag back to the breeder and do not make it then that saves them money in not having to put them down. They are the rejects, they are no good.” Her mother was not having any of this and immediately expressed interest in taking the small ball of fur home.

Sadly, puppy mill dogs have a reputation of their own — hereditary issues, ongoing medical problems and deformities due to inbreeding. Maggie Mae was scheduled for her spay July 2007 to which the veterinarian fixed the hernia as well in which after that she was a happy, healthy and vivacious young pug!

Maggie Mae continued from that fateful day to live a happy, spoiled life though the health problems would rear its ugly head–waxing and waning. Today, Maggie Mae celebrated her 12th birthday! She has a few teeth left (having over 20 removed due to her “pug mouth” and periodontal disease) and is now deaf and suffers on rare occasion petit mal seizures stemmed from being informally diagnosed with a tumor in the brain but without the proper (and expensive) diagnostic work it is simply the veterinarian’s professional opinion.

Though Maggie has slowed down, she cannot hear her momma anymore and sleeps more than she once did she was given a chance at life that was originally attempted to be taken away from her due to a medical condition that is easily repaired. Sadly, puppy mill pets are often subjected to these types of injustices every day — unsanitary, inhumane conditions with improper nutrition and often absent veterinary care they are viewed as inanimate objects instead of what they truly are– living, breathing beings with unconditional love and devotion to those who open up their hearts and homes to them.

Puppy mill pets, and pets with hereditary and genetic complications are categorized as “special needs” pets because they are often misunderstood and misinterpreted and badly need someone to be their voice.

About “Bart”

September 2017 — In foster home


August 2017 — First Rescued


Bart– February 2018 


Bart was abandoned at a local veterinary clinic after a good samaritan rescued him and his sibling (the calico pictured above) who both had horribly brutal upper respiratory infections (eyes caked shut, severe nasal discharge, congestion) — Bart’s sister slowly improved but Bart did not. Bart came to the clinic with a broken back leg (the veterinarian suspected something had tried to catch Bart as prey), a hernia and his left eye had ruptured most likely due to having feline herpesvirus.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an infectious disease caused by the feline herpesvirus type-1. Typical symptoms of FVR involve the nose, throat and eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, inflammation of the tissues that line the eyelids and surround the eyes, discharge from the eyes and nose. The herpesvirus can also cause keratitis, or swelling/infection of the cornea that leads to corneal ulcers. Rare cases include the rupture of the cornea, which unfortunately happened due to the herpesvirus in Bart’s situation.

Bart came to our home and was absolutely terrified. He bordered on the “feral” in which he spent the first month at our home cowering under our bed refusing to come out and hated being handled and held by anyone. It was assumed that Bart would be a “cellar dweller” but at least he had a roof over his head and food in his tiny belly.

By December, 2017 Bart had his left eye (what was left of it) removed, his hernia repaired as well as neutered. Upon waking up from surgery he purred for the very first time– a milestone that made his new parents gush with pride (and possibly a few happy tears!). By spring of 2017 Bart realized he needed to make up for lost time while he was sick as a baby and became an ornery, rambunctious kitten!

Bart still has vision issues (he suffered a corneal ulcer on his right eye as well, luckily it did not rupture and he has some limited vision in it) as well as a habitual “booger nose” and suffers from the occasional flare-ups caused by the herpesvirus but today is a happy, functioning, handsome man!

Bart would have sadly been overlooked in a shelter setting (or even more devastating– euthanized) because of his “special needs” coupled with the fact that he is a black cat to which statistically sit in shelters longer than any other type of cat. By giving this handsome fella a chance the world was able to see what a spunky, resilient kitten he is! Despite almost becoming someone’s snack while in the wild he has made a complete turn around and rules the house! Bart is a typical cat who cuddles, plays and gets into mischief!


Do you have a cat that suffers from herpesvirus? How do you accommodate your home for your special baby?

About “Bifford”




Bifford was born in Chicago, Illinois after his mother was rescued off the streets by a compassionate and patient animal shelter volunteer. Being one of four kittens he was categorized by animal shelter volunteers as “the worst” out of the litter in regards to his cerebellar hypoplasia. When Bifford was a mere 10 days old his mother rejected him thus withholding care and nutrition he so desperately needed when a devoted foster mother assumed responsibility for his around the clock care. When Bifford was transported to Youngstown, Ohio by a local cat shelter a note was enclosed with him:

“Born October 09, 2011, mother rejected at 10 days old. Tipsy [my brother] and I are the largest of the four kittens in our litter and most affected with CH. He will use a litter box 99% o f the time, will cry beside the litter box if he cannot get in or is having trouble. Sometimes falls/flips right out of the litter box and also sometimes lays on side to go [to the bathroom] and I will help hold him up until he finishes. Sometimes will take a nose dive in litter and will need cleaned off/bathed. Sometimes he will accidentally step in his own mess because he is unable to bury his potty. Will eat some from plate but will eat best when fed canned food by hand while holding him up under his belly with my other hand. Will cry for a bedtime bottle around 9-10 PM and gets canned food 3x/day.” 


                          Bifford was initially adopted in Fall 2012 but was returned after his family moved and could no longer take him with them. Upon being returned back to the shelter he was then adopted in Spring 2013 by a family who vowed to care for him but unfortunately bungled his care. When being returned (again) to the shelter in May 2014, Bifford’s former family admitted that they were unable to effectively care for Bifford and felt that he was “suffering” and wanted him to “die with dignity” to which they would contain him in an empty hot tub with the cover on it in order to “contain the mess”. Bifford was terrified and underweight but otherwise unscathed, though shelter life was no life for him. Living in such close proximity to other cats in a cage free shelter proved the theory of “survival of the fittest” in which Bifford was not as fast as the other cats and was often the subject of many bullies.

                      I agreed to foster Bifford on Mother’s Day, 2014 in which the situation was only to be “temporary” in order to spring him from the shelter and hopefully nurture him physically and emotionally. The first few nights were proving to be exhausting ones for both Bifford and myself — roaming the house and crying all hours of the night I can only speculate he was terrified being in a strange, new environment (again) and even more terrified that he was going to fall in love with a new family and ultimately get returned back to the shelter. Couple this with the fact that at that time I had no idea how to properly care for a “CH” cat (nor did I know much about them) I feared that I would not be able to arise to the labor of love that was Bifford.

Years have passed since those first few days and I still joke with Bifford that he is a “foster” though I can say without reservation that he is a “foster fail” because he took over my heart in so many ways. Come October 09, 2018 Bifford will be turning 10 years old to which he has a happy, healthy and spoiled lifestyle (what cat do you know that has their own bedroom and TV?!) and ultimately planted the seed of special needs animals advocacy and education due to all of the misconceptions and ill-information circulating about special needs animals.

Please enjoy the website, Bifford’s photos and overall shenanigans and information 🙂