Bootsy was Shelter Me Inc’s very first rescue in the Summer of 2007. Nobody knows how old she was when she was rescued. She could have been 10 or older, which is not very old for a cat. We don’t know much about her early years except that she lived outdoors mostly. She was pregnant when Sara Carlisle rescued her, one of many pregnant cats that Sara, Shelter Me’s founding (and current) president saved that summer. She was a great cat. Bootsy died last week and this seems like the right time to share a couple neat stories about her.
The first part of Bootsy’s story is written by Sara Carlisle. It is a great, classic cat rescue story, full of hurdles, one after the other…At the end, there is a short ode to Boosty written by Barbara Smith, who adopted her that first summer.
Saving Bootsy by Sara Calisle
This past summer, I was dropping my cousin off at the local auto shop and saw a worn out and dirty looking black and white cat. I got out of my car and the cat came up to me and rubbed against my outstretched hand. I asked the owner about her, found out her name was Bootsy, that she had a bed and food inside the auto shop, but was in essence a stray. The owner also informed me that she was having three or four litters every year, and when I asked why he didn’t spay her he said it was too much money. I braced myself for a full fledged debate on why he should let me spay Bootsy- the rampant overpopulation, the dangers of uterine cancer – and found myself surprised when he quickly agreed to let me take Bootsy to get spayed.
Three days later, I brought Bootsy to the vet. (In the waiting room I discovered that Bootsy HATES dogs. A cute little terrier came up and tried to sniff Bootsy’s cage, and she almost knocked her carrier over trying to get to the dog.) When I brought her in to see the vet, he told me that she was pregnant. I asked if he was sure, and the vet told me that he could feel four kittens.
In the world of shelters and rescue operations the normal thing to do would be to abort the kittens. With anywhere from 4-6 million healthy cats and kittens being euthanized each year because there are not enough homes for them; it is almost selfish to bring more into existence. But my vet was not comfortable doing this; the kittens were too far along. So, I left the clinic, brought Bootsy back to the auto shop, and tried to figure out who I could cajole into fostering her.
The next day, I somehow managed to convince my friend, Lucy and her mother Barbara, to foster Bootsy (and her not yet born kittens). Triumphantly, I called up the owner of the auto shop and informed him that I was going pick up Bootsy. As a side note, he mentioned that Bootsy had a huge bump on her side. I rushed over to see how bad it was and discovered an abscess the size of a fist violently protruding from her shoulder. I brought her to the vet and was informed that if she had gone much longer with this wound, she would have died. Boosty had to undergo a tricky surgery and I kept her at the vet for 10 days since she had to have a tube inserted into her to drain the wound.
Unfortunately, when an unvaccinated animal gets any kind of wound, it is labeled a wound of unknown origin. The string of logic then goes that this wound could have been inflicted by the bite of another animal and thus, the attacking animal could have transmitted rabies to Bootsy. Because of this, Massachusetts state protocol demands that any unvaccinated animal with a wound of unknown origin go into quarantine for 6 months. The first thing on the list of what the state thinks you should do in this situation is to euthanize the animal. Seeing as how this was not an option in my mindset, I managed to convince Lucy and Barbara to keep Bootsy for the quarantine.
This past August 5th (2007), Bootsy gave birth to three black and white kittens and one orange and white kitten that we named Banana. She is one of the best mothers I have ever seen. She would come out of her birthing box to eat, accept a few pats and then go back and nurse her young.
The black and white kittens are Huckleberry (also known as Mr. Moustache), Blackberry (Bootsy the sequel), and Blueberry. The odd kitten out is Banana (or Creamsicle depending on whom you ask) and is a kittenwar.com champion for her pretty looks.
Click here to see a short video on Shelter Me Inc’s site showing Bootsy and her one-day-old kittens in their “birthing box“
Ode to Bootsy by Barbara Smith
Bootsie died last week. Of all the cats I’ve lived with, Bootsie was the only one who let me pick her up and hold her like a baby. I would stare into her eyes, touch her plump pink nose, then kiss it. Back on the floor, she would lick down her disarranged fur, walk to her food bowl and meow for something to eat. Food was never far from Bootsie’s mind. (Is it far from any cat’s mind?) But she had a hard life before we took her in; her story is here on Shelter Me. She was notable as the organization’s first adoptee, a tame stray who was found hanging out at a auto repair shop in West Acton. Massively pregnant, she came to my house then brought forth four enchantingly beautiful kittens.
I loved Bootsie because she was Bootsie, but I also loved her because she was such a good Mother. She was calm, always. She was never rattled, or became irrationally angry at her children when she was tired. She wasn’t nervous or uncertain about her job. She just did it. She flopped over when her kittens wanted to nurse and was especially attentive to the one who was sleepy and small. When they needed to be weaned, she simply battled them away. When they grew old enough to be adopted, she watched them go, then retired to her nap. Job well done, my Bootsie. Rest in peace.