Specially-Abled Animal Awareness Day– Fleur

Meet Fleur! I am a gorgeous 8 year old dilute calico who was a stray in Virginia and lost my eyes to severe infection (similar to Bart!) as well as have no teeth (which only adds to my adorable, unique ability so “slurp” up wet food!) and I live with my mom (Maddie), and my three siblings — “Bun” (7 year old rabbit), “Nala” (2 year old dog) & Rihanna (12 year old human!). I found my forever home when my mom was looking for another addition to the family and found me via Facebook from a shelter around 90 minutes away from me — but the trip was worth it for both me and my mom & siblings!

My typical day begins around 5:30am when mom and Nala take me for a five mile walk! I love to go in my sling where I can smell the fresh air and feel the sun warm my face! Upon arriving back home we have a yummy breakfast and on the days mom has to work I keep the house in order and make sure my siblings are behaving! During the day I like to occupy my time by scratching on my scratch mat, making biscuits in my fluffy bed and jumping on (and lounging!) on the couch! Of course on the days mom does not work we spend the day together just quality time her and I (and my siblings!) and last weekend I got to go enjoy some pampering at the “salon”! I LOVE baths & grooming (who does not loved to get pampered!).

One of the many important points I try to make to other pet parents is that having “special needs” does NOT make me a “special needs cat”! Sure, I need my food wet and easily accessible but that is about it! I enjoy going outside but only under the close & direct supervision of my mom (which we would strongly suggest this for *ANY* animal!) but I do not require any special requirements or accommodations.

My mom has always loved specially-abled animals! Mom (Maddie) interned at an equine rescue and see’s the absolute beauty in *ALL* creatures! Mom has learned to let me figure things out (and sometimes this means even having an “oops” moment from time to time) but she does not feel sorry for me and treats me like one of the kids (with love, compassion & patience!). Every so often I may need a little assistance from my mom but that is rare! I can successfully find my litter box without issue and can easily find my way out of a corner without help! My mom said that I special & unique not because I am specially-abled but simply because I am ME!

My mom tells us always that A pet with different abilities is no different than a fully abled pet. You must make “reasonable” accommodations for them: i.e. dietary and environmental changes. My dog has the best temperament so I feel safe keeping them together! Since Fleur has no teeth, I make sure her food is suitable for her needs. Never treat an animal differently!!!!!! Giving them the most spoiled and exciting life is so important!

Specially-Abled Animals Day — Maxwell

Maxwell was surrendered to our house of misfit toys when the backyard breeder realized he was not going to “regain feeling” in his back legs (disclaimer: he never used his back legs). Maxwell was born with a condition called “Swimmers Syndrome” which is an uncommon developmental deformity of newborn puppies and kittens whereby the limbs– primarily the hind limbs are splayed laterally resulting in an inability to stand or walk). He is not in any discomfort or pain and the condition will not get worse (though with rigorous physical therapy, love, patience and we are doing acupuncture as an extra measure) and honestly it does not slow Maxwell down at all! He is an affectionate, ornery, playful little boy who craves attention from his friends and family and loves to get into stuff.

Maxwell was surrendered because he was considered “broken” and unable to sell but honestly in this situation their loss was our gain! We obtained such a sweet, full of zest little boy who is teaching us so much as well as helping us with our sorrow over losing Maggie Mae. Maxwell blessed our lives at the most perfect time — right when I vowed that I would never have another pug after Maggie Mae, Maxwell came into my clinic needing someone to love and understand him (as well as be patient and work with him) but I equally needed Maxwell in my life — to love & understand me.

Specially-Abled animals grace our lives for a plethora of reasons and sometimes those reasons are not so blatantly clear but it is not our job to understand it is just our jobs to give these babies every opportunity to thrive and to succeed as well as to be loved & protected.

Continue to check back for Maxwell updates and progress on his physical therapy and acupuncture!

Specially-Abled Animals Awareness — “Hips”

Specially-Abled animals grace the world in different breeds, colors and abilities ranging from neurological to physical but that does not stunt their ability to love and overcome any endeavors stemming from their special-abilities and one of the biggest adversities that specially-abled animals face are the stigma and myths that encapsulate them.

In speaking with Amber (Hip’s mom) she informs us that Hips was born with a hind-end congenital defect where she she lacks hip sockets (hence her name), knees are displaced, her leg bones are abnormal, her ankles are fused, and she lacks certain ligaments/joints in the hind-end (she was born with this particular defect). Due to this congenital defect Hips typically drags herself around but when she wants to walk she walks on her tip-toes where her legs bow out and she can walk for about 5ft or even longer if she’s running. 

Despite her shortcomings Hips doesn’t let her disability stop her or slow her down! She can climb, climb over certain obstacles and she can get in/out of a box and if she wants on the cat tower she figures out the easiest and most convenient way to achieve that! Whenever she wants on the bed she uses towels and blankets to assist her in her efforts. She has a special litterbox made but she will choose a normal box 98% of the time and uses without any complications. Hips also likes challenges and pushes herself daily and does not let her special-ability slow her down or hinder her ability to play, love, snuggle and just be herself!

Hips suffers early arthritis in her hips and megacolon due to the defect unfortunately and is on medications to help alleviate any arthritis she is feeling but that does not seem to slow her down at all! One of the many things we have learned after adopting Hips is how she communicates with us and lets us know if she is in any pain (stemming from her arthritis). To help further alleviate any discomfort she feels we participate in laser therapy several times a week as well as hydrotherapy every so often as needed.

You can watch Hip’s adventures you can find her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hipsspecialneedskitten) or on Instagram (@HIPSSPECIALNEEDS_ANDHERSQUAD)

With all these challenges and road blocks Hips never stops being the happy, sassy, opinionated little girl! She continues to work to show the world that despite Hip’s “shortcomings” she is a happy, healthy, sweet girl that is working to bust the stigma of specially-abled animals! Check out Hip’s and support a fellow specially-abled pet!

May 03, 2021 – Specially-Abled Awareness Day

If you would have approached me when I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school and trekking to college and informed me that in the year 2021 I would have a husband, a house, a career and have a small “herd” of specially-abled animals I probably would have scoffed and laughed at those insane statements (mainly the part where I got married!) but I would have never imagined the twists and turns that life would have gifted me but most of all I never would have imagined being “mom” to a rag-tag band of adorable “misfit toys” but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I was unprepared for each of my specially-abled babies here but by serendipitous luck they all crashed into my world in their own amazing and unique way where initially I was afraid, worried that I would not be able to properly care for these “special” pets (as the word “special” was burned into my brain and regularly emphasized on) but the strangest thing happened … as time went on I focused *less* on their “special needs” and more on the fact that they had stolen my heart and I had fallen head over heels in love with each and every one of them. When I looked at them I did not see any special needs, I did not see anything “different” about them all I could see was their strength, their tenacity and optimism, I saw their love for me and for as much as I worried over them and my ability to care for them or understand them they loved me no matter what I did (mistakes or no mistakes!) and then I realized something extremely important…

All they needed was love and compassion with a dash of empathy and a willingness to learn. Their label of being “special needs” was not a reflection of their love, their personalities and the grasp they would have on my heart and soul.

I suppose though that none of this would actually come to a shock to those who know me know that nothing in my life is considered “normal” or standard” by any means and that is alright — what is that old saying? “Variety is the spice of life” and I have a variety of specially-abled pets that are all strong, resilient and fill my life and my heart with so much love!

If given the option ALWAYS take a chance on a specially-abled pet!

Lola the Rescued Cat — Interview

A very special THANK YOU to Lola the Rescued Cat for interviewing Bifford on 05/03/2021 (Specially-Abled Pet Day)! Please be sure to “LIKE” Lola on Facebook and check her website out http://www.lolatherescuedcat.com

Hello, and Happy Monday! Did you know that today is Specially Abled Pets Day? This special day is celebrated every year on May 3 to educate the public about pets with disabilities. I am so excited to take this opportunity to introduce you all to one of our new friends, a pawesome guy with Cerebellar Hypoplasia, Bifford Langer! 
Bifford is a spokescat for specially-abled cats and dedicates his blog to educating people about Cerebellar Hypoplasia and taking care of pets with special needs. He agreed to sit down with me for an interview so our readers can learn more about him and his cause. So let’s get into it. 

Lola: Hi, Bifford! Thanks so much for letting me interview you for “Specially Abled Pets Day.” Before we get into the first question, I’d like to say you’re looking very handsome today. 

Bifford: Hello, Lola! Thank you so much for granting me this interview with you, especially for Specially-Abled Pets Day! It is so sweet of you. I wanted to look absolutely dashing for this prestigious interview with the beautiful and infamous Lola!

Lola: Awww, thank you, Bifford. Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?

 Bifford: I was born in Chicago in October 2011 to a foster mother who specialized in rescuing pregnant cats from the harsh streets. I was one of four brothers, and we all had Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH). I was considered “moderate” and my brother Munchie was considered “severe.” We were transported to a cat rescue in Youngstown, Ohio where I endured several failed homes until I found my forever one with my mom and dad in May 2014! Since that fateful day, it has been tuna wishes and high living for this “presidential” candidate! 

Lola: What do you think people need to know about CH? 

Bifford: This is a particularly important question, Lola, which I get asked a lot. The thing people need to know most about CH cats is that we are not in any pain. CH is not contagious, does not get worse (or better, either),  and we are very resilient and able to adapt to our abilities. Whenever I meet new voters, they often first look at me with a pang of sympathy as if I am suffering. But once they get to know me and see my flirtatious demeanor and zest for life they quickly see that those preconceived notions are just one of the many stigmas we are working to bust. 

Lola: That’s such important information for people to know! So, tell me, how did you find your forever family? 

Bifford: I actually had a rough journey finding to my forever family as I was returned to the shelter three different times. The very last time before I came to my forever mama, the “family” locked me in an empty hot tub because they wanted me to “die with dignity.” I was finally surrendered after a domestic abuse situation happened in their home. My current forever mama got a call saying that I was not doing well at the shelter. I was terrified, getting beat up all the time, and getting more depressed each day I was there. I was waiting for that door to open and someone to save me and love me. My mama told the shelter she would take me home “for the weekend” to give me a break, but that “weekend” was years ago. Mama learned “on the fly” about my special ability so she often tells people that they do not need to know much initially about CH. They just have to open their heart and home with a dash of patience, love & compassion. I promise they will not regret it! 

Lola: Oh, Bifford, that is horrible! I’m so glad you were saved from that situation. Do you consider yourself a special needs cat? Do you need anything special at home to keep you safe and healthy? 

Bifford: My mama says that all her babies are special in their own way, and I am no different. But the one thing she did that really helped me be more independent and stronger was to not “bubble wrap” me, as she coined the term. She let me play and chase my brothers, climb on the couch or in bed with her at night, stumble a bit and even sometimes crash (of course she was always there if I needed her.) When I first came to my mom and dad I could not get into bed at night, I would cry all hours of the night to the point I made my mama cry with frustration. But as time went on, she just kept loving me and being patient. And soon I was able to realize just how independent I truly am! Now I can play and lay in bed with mama, dad, and siblings, and I can climb onto the couch with my brother Bart all on my own. 

Lola: You’re so lucky to have such wonderful parents. Tell me more about your siblings. What, if anything, makes you different from them? 

Bifford: My mama calls my siblings and me the “house of adorable misfit toys”. The lineup consists of Bart, who is missing an eye (and his other eye is very ulcerated due to an untreated upper respiratory infection when he was a stray kitten); Roscoe, an epileptic rat terrier currently kicking cancer of the spleen’s butt; Bessie, who was found in the wall of an abandoned home in Youngstown, Ohio that was being demolished; and Lucy, a semi-feral calico that someone placed in a shopping bag and stuffed into mama’s mailbox in the middle of August. Most recently mama brought home Maxwell, a baby pug born with a severe curve of his spine as well as swimmers syndrome (where he struggles to use his back legs.) A backyard breeder came into mama’s clinic, upset that Maxwell was “costing her money” and was a “financial loss” for her. Luckily, she surrendered him to my mama. 

Lastly, and it is important to me to include her as she was very important in my life, we recently lost Maggie Mae on 1/25/21 after she lost her battle with transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder and ultimately suffered a blood clot. Maggie was a product of Petland/Harbor Pets with inguinal hernia that coined her “defective”. They were placing her in a garbage bag when she was a puppy! My mama didn’t think twice about taking her home that day in 2006.
All of my siblings play an extremely important and beneficial role in the “campaign” and to bring awareness and understanding to specially-abled animals of all walks of life!

Lola: Your mama has a very special heart, that’s for sure. Can you tell me what a typical day is like for you? I hear you sometimes go to work with your mama! 

Bifford: Sometimes I do like to go to work with my mama! Mainly because when I go I get to flirt with all the girls and my favorite doctors (who continue to spoil me rotten when I am there.) But a typical day for me consists of living the high life. Each night I cuddle with my mama and daddy in bed (of course at the head of the bed with them all tucked in snug as a pug.) In the morning, mama gets me up and we have our little routine –  I snuggle with her while she brushes my hair and makes me “presentable” as she says, while I coo and purr. Then she gets me breakfast. Occasionally, I get jealous when my siblings want to cuddle mama because that is our quality time! After that I curl up on the couch with Bart and watch the news with my daddy and spend the day “yelling” at the birds, playing with my toys, and cuddling on the couch with the rest of my siblings! 

Lola: It sounds like the purrfect way to spend a day. Tell us about your website and your advocacy for specially-abled animals. What inspired you to start it? 

Bifford: It is sort of a frustrating story how my campaign started. After mama officially adopted me, she wanted to take me to get my vaccines updated so we went to a wellness clinic because we did not have a veterinarian at that time. I was bobbling around exploring the exam room and being my usual adorable self when a staff member popped her head into the room and quietly asked if we were there for euthanasia. My mama was shocked! She simply stated that we were there for my vaccines. The staff member looked confused, and with a pang of sympathy offered to cover the euthanasia as a courtesy because she said I was clearly “suffering.” My mama was absolutely floored! To say that she went “mama bear” would be an understatement (but I never loved my mama more than at that moment when she defended me) and we promptly left.
This sparked something in her. She found that there is an alarming number of veterinary professionals, rescues, and catteries that are not well versed in cerebellar hypoplasia in cats. This can, unfortunately, trigger misdiagnosis or even worse, euthanasia for cats like me. Mama felt it was very imperative for our campaign to happen! 

Lola: Your Elite Team looks very impressive. I’m sure our readers would love to know about that. 

Bifford: Thank you! My “Team of Elite” is important because we wanted to bring together other popular and important members of the specially-abled cat community as a group to bring awareness and understanding to specially-abled animals all over the world!  (They earned this honor by the nomination of their peers and then picked at random.)  Our amazing team consists of: 

Lola: That sounds like a very impressive team! What do you think people should know about adopting a pet with “different abilities?” 

Bifford: The main thing I would like people to know is to not be afraid, overwhelmed, or turned off about adopting a specially-abled pet. We think that most families hear that these pets have “something wrong” with them, thus requiring more care, more financial restraints, etc. That is simply not true. I do not need any more veterinary care than my siblings (though it does help that mama has a “rainy day fund” for our medical care as well as has a care credit card in the event of major emergencies. We feel that any pet parent should make these preparations.) My mama jumped and took a chance on me without ever knowing anything about CH cats and she tells everyone that I am the “perfect gentleman”.  I cannot jump onto the tables or counters and I cannot scratch where I am not supposed to. But I can go on adventures with my mom and dad because I cannot dash away from them (not that I would, though. I enjoy living the good life.) I have been to Hell, Michigan, had my picture taken at the 45th parallel, and I’ve seen Santa and the Easter Bunny several times. 

Lola: Is there anything else you would like people to know?

 Bifford: To not be afraid! Just because someone is different does not mean we are not worthy of love, compassion, and understanding!  

Lola: Bifford, thank you for meowing with me today about this important topic. You were the purrfect guest! I’m sure people will look at CH kitties in a different light now. 

Bifford: Thank you again, Lola, for this amazing interview, You are a true beacon in the cat community and it was such an honor to speak with you on something near and dear to my heart – my “campaign”! 

I hope you all enjoyed meeting Bifford! His message about specially-abled pets is very important. You can follow Bifford on Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget to tell him Lola sent you!