#Misfits4Ukraine

Friends, it is hard these days to not turn on the TV or go online and be faced with sad, devastating images of the atrocities going on in Ukraine so in all of this bleakness we wanted to share with you some shimmers of light.

First off we want to be very clear in saying that we misfits stand with our friends in Ukraine and continue to send them love, prayers, compassion and support in any way that we can. Our hearts continue to break over the utter chaos and devastation that our friends (both two and four legged) are suffering in Ukraine.

Since this disruption for our friends in Ukraine we have gotten requests for carrier tags from not only Ukraine but also neighboring countries – all with the intent of giving them out so animals have a chance of being identified if they have a special ability but also leaving owners the ability to put their name and number on it in the event they are separated.

We continue to receive brief messages of families that are grateful for these carrier tags in a war torn area and several that were reunited with their handipet thanks to our carrier tags.

We even received an email from one pet parent that did not stray away from talking about cerebellar hypoplasia despite bombs going off in the distance. Friends we are in this together! We continue to show our support for Ukraine and we hope that you will also!

Keep fighting the good fight 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 🙂

Understanding the “FVRCP” vaccine & “modified live-virus” vaccines!

What is the “FVRCP” vaccine?

The FVRCP vaccination is an important part of your cat’s routine.

It prevents three potentially deadly airborne viruses:

  1. rhinotracheitis
  2. calicivirus
  3. panleukopenia 
  1. Rhinotracheitis is triggered by the common feline herpes virus. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and drooling. Your cat’s eyes may become crusted with mucous, and he or she may sleep much more and eat much less than normal. If left untreated this disease causes dehydration, starvation, and eventually, death.
  2. Calicivirus has similar symptoms, affecting the respiratory system and also causing ulcers in the mouth. It can result in pneumonia if left untreated—kittens and senior cats are especially vulnerable.
  3. Panleukopenia is also known as distemper and is easily spread from one cat to another. Distemper is so common that nearly all cats—regardless of breed or living conditions—will be exposed to it in their lifetime. It’s especially common in kittens who have not yet been vaccinated against it, and symptoms include fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. This disease progresses rapidly and requires immediate medical attention. Without intervention, a cat can die within 12 hours of contracting the disease.

These three viruses can be contracted by cats at any age.

Kittens should receive their first FVRCP vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks of age, followed by three booster shots once a month. Adult cats should receive a booster once every year or two, according to your veterinarian’s recommendation.

Adult cats with unknown vaccination records should receive a FVRCP vaccination, plus a booster in 3-4 weeks from the time they initially received the first FVRCP vaccine.

Because FVRCP is a live vaccine, it should not be given to pregnant cats. If a live-vaccine is administered to a pregnant cat then the unborn kittens may develop cerebellar hypoplasia.
 

What is a “modified- live” vaccine?

Modified live vaccines (MLV) contain a small quantity. of virus or bacteria that has been altered so that it no longer. is capable of causing clinical disease but is still capable of. infection and multiplying in the animal.

What is the difference between the various types of vaccines?

There are three major types of vaccine:

1.  Modified live vaccines. These vaccines contain live organisms that are weakened or genetically modified so that they will not produce disease but will multiply in the cat’s body. Live vaccines induce a stronger, longer lasting immunity than inactivated vaccines. It is not advisable to use modified live vaccines in pregnant queens or cats whose immune system is not working properly (e.g., cats infected by feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), or other diseases).

2.  Killed (inactivated) vaccines. These vaccines are prepared using actual organisms or genetically modified organisms that have been killed by various treatments. On their own, they do not give as high a level of protection as the live, replicating type of vaccine, so killed vaccines may have an adjuvant (an added ingredient) to make the immune response stronger.

3.  Subunit vaccines. These are more commonly called recombinant-DNA vaccines. These are vaccines in which the infectious organism has been broken apart and only certain parts are included in the vaccine.

How do vaccines work exactly?

Vaccines work by stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize and fight a particular microorganism such as a virus, bacteria, or other infectious organism. Once vaccinated, the animal’s immune system is then primed, or prepared to react to a future infection with that microorganism. In other words, the vaccine mimics a true infection so that the immune system can better protect the body in the future. Depending on the disease, the vaccine will help the body prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection and promote rapid recovery.

Which particular brand of the FVRCP vaccine is considered “modified-live”?

FELOCELL 3 by Zoetis is a “modified-live” virus vaccine
  1. FELOCELL (Zoetis)
    1. FELOCELL 3 is a non-adjuvanted* modified-live virus (MLV) vaccine.
    2. Contains attenuated strains of feline rhinotracheitis virus, calicivirus, and panleukopenia virus (Johnson Snow Leopard strain), propagated on established cell lines.
    3. Safety of FELOCELL 3 was demonstrated in field trials involving 2,288 cats. No serious post-vaccination reactions attributable to the vaccine were reported.
    4. Packaged in freeze-dried form with inert gas in place of vacuum.
    5. Customer-friendly packaging includes peel-off labels for faster and more accurate record-keeping, a color-coded organizing system, and an easy-open safety band.
    6. FELOCELL 3 is supported by our Companion Animal Immunization Support Guarantee (ISG).

* Non-Adjuvanted : An adjuvant is a substance that is added to a vaccine to enhance the body’s immune response to the vaccine. Studies have shown that adjuvants have been associated with injection site reaction, injection site granuloma, and chronic inflammation in cats. (purevax.com)

The AAFP vaccination guidelines recommend that low-risk adult cats be vaccinated every three years for the core vaccines, and then as determined by your veterinarian for any non-core vaccines. Some vaccine manufacturers have developed approved three-year vaccines for many of the core vaccines. It is important to note that feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine is recommended by some AAFP members as a core vaccine, while other experts classify it as a non-core vaccine. Your veterinarian is the ultimate authority on how your cat should be vaccinated. Please always consult your cat’s veterinarian about the vaccine schedule/process, types of vaccines, side effects & more!

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!

“Four-On-The-Floor” Rule!

One of the “rules” that I heard upon adopting Bifford was “four-on-the-floor” and all I could think is “what the he!! does that even mean!?” But it makes sense when handling a cerebellar hypoplasia animal and one of the various ways you can ensure their safety!

Cat’s usually have no issues with landing on their feet when they jump down onto the floor but CH pet parents know that this is usually not the case with cerebellar hypoplasia animals.

The rule of thumb “four-on-the-floor” is an effective and friendly reminder to new pet parents, friends & family members to place a CH pet gently onto the ground while properly ensuring all four of their paws are planted firmly on the ground before letting go of them.

Note: This does NOT promise that they will not fall/stumble over but will help ensure they do not fall/stagger from a distance!

Most pet parents (or humans in general!) know that generally cats can jump from a distance onto the ground and land successfully on their feet without issue. This is NOT the case with cerebellar hypoplasia animals and if someone was to let a CH pet jump from a distance this could result in injury to your special baby (or injury to you attempting to catch a falling pet, get caught by a claw etc.!)

“Four-on-the-floor” is a safe, effective and cute way to remember that CH pets need a little assistance when being placed on the floor!

So remember to “PLANT THOSE PAWS” on the ground!

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

Happy birthday Bart 🐾💕

Bart had a rough start to his little life. Surrendered to a local Veterinary Clinic caked in boogers and eye discharge he was terrified… he had a leg that had been previously broken (but was healing), a hernia and his left eye had ruptured due to the festering infection and chronic upper respiratory infection he was suffering while a stray kitten.

I agreed to foster him but as time went on I realized that this antisocial, terrified little baby kitten most likely would live his life hiding under the bed in my spare bedroom and that was perfectly OK! At least I knew he was safe and would get unlimited snackies and a safe haven all to himself.

I saw a glimmer of hope for Bart when I had to catch him to take him for one of his many veterinary visits (that usually involved stealth like precision and ninja like reflexes to capture him– I have no shame in admitting that a little blind kitten with a healing broken leg is far faster than I am!) he began to nuzzle my face all purrs and kisses!

The vet clinic he was dropped off at vowed to care for him financially/medically in whatever he would need provided that I fostered him and his sister (Taloola) to which I agreed. Little did I know that Bart would become apart of our little family, our “land of misfit toys” with the rest of the “handipets” here!

The fateful day came for Bart to get neutered so I brought him to the clinic he was dropped off at (that had vowed to provide any medical care he needed) as they ran the pre-surgical bloodwork and found his white blood cell count (which indicates if there is infection present or not) was three times the normal limit! I discussed with the veterinarian that came as no shock to me since his left eye had long ruptured (which the veterinarian knew this) and needed to be removed immediately. The vet skirted around the topic of removing his ruptured eyeball until finally hesitating slightly only to mumble,

“It is just not “financially responsible” for us to remove his eye and eat that cost…”

They said that in addition to NOT removing his ruptured eyeball they would not be neutering Bart (or repairing his hernia) since he had an infection (of course all I could think in my brain was DUH his EYEBALL IS GONE! Of course he has an infection!!) The veterinarian then continued the conversation with those fateful words that I would NEVER EVER forget…

“He is only a stray. It is not like he is anyone’s pet.”

There is was. Out in the atmosphere for everyone to hear. HE.WAS.ONLY.A.STRAY. As if that negated the fact that he was not worthy of quality medical care and patience! It took everything in me to keep silent, bite my tongue and take Bart back to my house and plan my next move but one thing was absolutely certain Bart was no longer going to be a stray, he was no longer going to be alone or have no one to advocate for him — because he was going to be my baby.

After some grumbling on my part and persistence (e.g., a thorn in someone’s side) they agreed to remove his non-functioning left eye, repair his hernia and neuter him to which everything seemed to go off without issue — Bart came home to me and began his road to recovery as well as learning to scoot around the house missing an eye (and clouded vision in the right eye) but I noticed as time went on something was off? He was still just as congested and “crusty boogie” covered as he was when he first initially came to my house! Despite the menagerie of antibiotics, pills, vet visits he was still just as stuffed up as if nothing had changed.

By this time I was working at an amazing veterinary clinic with amazing doctors so I wasted no time bringing the “handicats” in to meet everyone (aka flirt with the girls) and after we accomplished a few diagnostics for Bart (radiographs, bloodwork, culture swabs etc.,) it was decided that the doctor would perform an exploratory procedure and reopen that left eye to see what was causing him so much drainage and discharge.

Once the doctor finished Bart’s exploratory procedure she came to show me what was causing Bart all of his boogey issues for almost a YEAR — a 4×4 piece of pus covered gauze as well as sutures that should have been absorbable and they were not. After she removed the foreign items from Bart’s eye socket he began to recover… again. But this time I noticed that he was much happier, the day after his surgery he joined me in bed and began to rub his face on mine all while purring and nuzzling me. It was almost as if he was grateful for helping him, for not giving up on him and for being his advocate…his voice and more importantly his “mama”.

It disappointed me to think that there were still veterinary professionals, clinics, rescues out in the world that were so quick to “write-off” a stray animal simply because they were a stray, because they required a little bit of empathy and understanding, because they were simply a “black cat”. Bart was just as worthy as any other animal of receiving proper medical care and love!

Each and every day I was thankful I answered the phone that day- the day that I got the call informing me this scared, sick little kitten needed me. Today, Bart is a happy, healthy, ornery, affectionate little boy with a toybox packed to the brim with a plethora of toys, and I am thankful for him each and every day as he teaches me about dedication, strength, resiliency in the face of adversity and of course– affection. If you would have told me that fateful August day when I brought Bart home that years later I would have a sweet, cuddly little boy I would have laughed! I would never have believed the positive transformation he has completed but I could not be more proud of him.

Happy Belated Birthday, Bart. I love you so much little boy, thank you for being part of the driving force behind this campaign. To be a voice for those who do not have a voice and even more so for those animals that are a little “special”. Thank you.