Meet “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?

HandiPet Alliance

          We’ve all heard the stories – – the tales from handipet parents sympathizing to one another in a Facebook group, the group chat including foster families and volunteers or even veterinary staff … 

 

 

             We have *all* heard the saying, “they can be ‘pet friendly’ BUT are they ‘handipet friendly’?”

 

 

         In the new year we decided to tweak some of our regular resolutions of education and awareness to bring something that is making the amazing handipet tri-pawd (get it?! tri-pawd!? Please forgive my “dad joke”!) the ultimate trifecta: unity!

 

 

 

          So we are launching the “HandiPet Alliance” – just a group of like-minded “allies” that can be anyONE that supports handipet awareness and compassion can apply! 

What Happens When Applying?

 

You will receive an e-mail confirming your submission & get our “alliance” logo to proudly display on your website/social media — wherever! 

 

If you are a veterinarian/organization you will be added to our “misfit map” and directory  (this is does not apply if you are NOT an organization) to alert others that you are misfit friendly! 

This “logo” will let the world know that you stand united with handipet advocacy and education and help network and unite pet parents worldwide! 

 

Let’s normalize the misfits!

Meow as Fluff – Bart!

A very special THANK YOU to our friends over at Meow as Fluff for showing off another beloved favorite in our adorable house of misfits — Bart! You can check our pal Caitlin and the rest of the Meow as Fluff family by going here.

When Suzi Langer’s friend, who was working at a veterinary hospital near her home in Youngstown, Ohio, told her about Taloola and Bart, a pair of sick kittens who had recently arrived at the clinic, she and her husband Michael volunteered to foster them. “A good Samaritan found these two kittens alone with severe upper respiratory infections — a female calico and a domestic short-haired black male, about 12 weeks old,” remembers Suzi. Sadly, Bart’s upper respiratory infection was so severe and had gone untreated for so long, his left eye had ruptured and his right eye had suffered severe corneal scarring, leaving him only able to see light and shapes.

The black kitten also had a broken back leg, most likely due to being attacked by another animal before he was rescued, and he had a hernia that required treatment. While a lot of people might have been reluctant to foster a cat with so many different medical issues, Suzi and Michael had three special needs pets at the time — including a Rat Terrier with epilepsy, a deaf Pug with bladder cancer, and a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia — so they welcomed Bart and his sister Taloola into their home in July 2017. “Bart was — at best — leery of people,” says Suzi, so after he was neutered and had his hernia repaired and his ruptured eye removed, she and her husband gave the skittish black cat plenty of time and space to adjust to his new environment. “For the first few months Bart was a ghost in our home — his presence lingered but you never saw him.”

Over time, Bart eventually started to trust his foster parents, but in November 2017, Suzi learned the veterinary clinic would no longer be providing him with free medical care, claiming he was a financial risk. “I knew what that meant,” says Suzi. “He was a not nice, not really cute, extremely shy black cat with vision issues. In their eyes he was the least desirable cat to anyone and thus not worthy of proper medical attention.”

Suzi knew Bart needed an advocate who would make sure he received the care and treatment he deserved, so she and her husband adopted him! Shortly after adopting Bart, Suzi, who works at a vet’s office, had her employer remove a piece of gauze that had been accidentally left behind by the previous vet when he had his left eye removed. “They reopened his eye to remove the offending material and flush it out,” explains Suzi, “and ever since then Bart has not had any issues with sneezing or constant discharge.”

Nearly four years later, Bart is in good health, and while he’s unable to see very well, he’s an extremely active cat! In fact, this handsome one-eyed cat loves racing around his home, but because of his vision issues, Suzi and Michael try not to change the layout of their house. “Every so often when Bart is rushing about he will run into things,” says Suzi, “and we make it a courteous point to not rearrange the furniture.”

While Bart is much healthier today than he was when he first arrived at Suzi and Michael’s home, the biggest change has been in his personality. Initially, Bart, who had a difficult life on the streets before he was rescued, was easily frightened and incredibly shy, but over the past few years, he has blossomed in his forever home. “We gave Bart his space and slowly but surely he began to trust us,” says Suzi, “and now he is the most cuddly, sweet, affectionate and ornery little boy — and we wouldn’t have it any other way!”

By sharing Bart’s story, Suzi hopes other people will consider fostering and adopting cats who are often overlooked for a variety of factors, including age, appearance, temperament, and health issues. Even though they might take a little more time and energy, Suzi believes special cats like Bart are definitely worth the extra effort! “If we would have given up on Bart early on we would have never been introduced to his bubbly amazing personality that came later on with his confidence after finally feeling better,” explains Suzi.

When Suzi and her husband offered to foster Bart more than four years ago, they only planned to care for him until he was healthy enough to find a forever home. However, after just a matter of months, they knew Bart was meant to spend his life with them, and now Suzi and Michael can’t imagine their family without this special boy. “Bart has evened our home out in such a beautiful and poetic way,” says Suzi. “He is affectionate, adventurous, clown-like and never passes up the opportunity to ‘give up the belly,’ which is his way of showing his love and affection to us!”

Meet “Bifford”

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 🙂

Meet Nilla Bean!

Nilla Beam is apart of Bifford’s Elite Team (which was put together by a group of nominated members of the specially-abled community to help further band together and raise awareness & understanding to specially-abled animals everywhere!). Our wonderful friends over at Meow as Fluff wrote this beautiful piece of Nilla Bean that we just HAD to share! Enjoy!

Be sure to “LIKE” Nilla Bean on Facebook & Instagram!

Meet Zif!

Meet Ziffel!

As a baby kitten he was hit by a car and suffered a broken pelvis and was dropped off at a local Veterinary Clinic to be euthanized 😢 until he fell in love with Linda (his mom)!

Ziff had suffered nerve damage in his one paw which caused him to chew at it! So for 13 years Linda religiously wrapped his paw to keep Zif from gnawing at it!

Zif had a normal, happy life all because Linda gave him the patience and empathy that he needed to thrive.

Special needs pets (and parents!) come in all special qualities but all require the same thing: love and patience!

Want to ask Linda a question about Zif and how she cared for him? Feel free to comment below or email us at PresidentBifford@gmail.com

#BiffordsBros

Bifford’s Cabinet Member– Coraline!

Miss. Coraline on the move while hanging with her mom outside!

Meet Coraline! Coraline is a 4 year old domestic long hair from Industry, PA born to a feral mom underneath a porch. Coraline is categorized as a “moderate” cerebellar hypoplasia and living her very best life! Once looking at life outside with her feral mom she was immediately scooped up by Nicole (her forever mom!) and has been the light of her families life and constant source of joy and inspiration ever since! Nicole & Coraline have been (and continue to be) major advocates for cerebellar hypoplasia pets and special needs babies in general and is our Pennsylvania representative on the “Bifford for President” campaign! We LOVE Coraline & Nicole and are thankful to have them as friends and advocates! Want to ask Coraline & Nicole a question? E-Mail us at PresidentBifford@gmail.com

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 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!