Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Whew...!  Kitten season is almost over.  But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to do at Blistered Whiskers.  With school starting back up and the seasons changing - along with outside responsibilities that go with it - we've lost many of our volunteers.  Congrats to those who've helped so much during the summer, and Bravo for all the good you've done.  With those outside changes taking many away from us, there's only seven steady volunteers left.  That's quite a load on the shoulders of very few.  We'd certainly love to have new volunteers.  If you'd like to volunteer, or know of anyone who'd like a chance to make a difference, please contact us.  It's such a wonderful opportunity for the kitties to get to know you, and for to see them go from tiny little babies to youngsters then get adopted out is one of the most amazing experiences.  Trust me, it touches your soul. 

When a kitty is relocated, sometimes it takes a while for him/her to get comfortable in their surroundings.  My previous post was about sensitive kitties at Petsmart, and how they can really struggle with the strange environment.  Hopefully the transition from the shelter to your home will be smooth, but if it takes a little while, please be patient.  Some people will adopt a kitty, take it home, and if it doesn't immediately respond they'll bring the kitty back.  Of course we're willing to take the kitty back, but the purpose was to get the kitty a home.  If you've ever relocated to a new city, for example, you have an idea of how hard it can be.  You don't know the lay of the land, where the essential places are (like the grocery store), and most times you barely know a handful of people in your new town.  It can quite a daunting transition.  But, with time, you managed to find your way.  Same concept goes for your new adopted kitty.  There are strange smells, sights, sounds, people, and possibly other pets.  The kitties senses might be on overload because all of this is so strange to him/her.  In time the kitty will adapt, but some take longer than others.  My cat, Zara, was an only cat for the first 6 of her 8 years.  I've been her entire world, and we didn't get many people visitors, either.  So in her world it was just her and me.  Now that I'm engaged and living with my fiance' (along with her cat, Leo, and her son) it's been quite a change for Zara.  She went from an only with me as her entire world, to a new place, shared by people she didn't know... AND... another cat.  Trust me, it took a few months for her to get comfortable with all of this.  She's grown into her environment and now runs the household - again.  This can happen for your new kitty as well.  Patience is a virtue, and an important key for a successful adoption.

Much love to you and we'll see you soon...

Paul Zimmerman

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sensitive Kitties Need Love Too

As many of you know, we do most of our adoptions out of Petsmart.  We take both adults and kittens and many of them have no problem there.  They are comfortable in their surroundings, and because of this, they get adopted out.

But there are sensitive cats and kittens, just as there are sensitive people.  These guys and girls do great in familiar surroundings, the surroundings they grew up in such as Blistered Whiskers, but when we get them to Petsmart, they become frightened or anxious.  There's a lot of commotion almost constantly.  Even when Petsmart is closed, people are running around doing their stocking of shelves, which causes clatter.  There are forklifts, which cause unusual beeps and other sounds.  And there are children who come in and see the kitties and tap - or sometimes pound - on the windows.  All of these things can be quite overwhelming for a kitty that is sensitive.  Ever have a dog that gets really scared around firecrackers or thunder?  Same concept.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with the animal except that its sensitive to its environment.  For most, its just too busy.  I think most of us can identify with that at some time or another.  Ever been to Toys - R - Us around Christmas time?  eeek!!!

There a re plenty of kitties who love a chance to see you at Blistered Whiskers.  You can certainly go by there and interact with all of them.  In fact, i think i can be a better way of interacting with a kitty because you are seeing them when they are comfortable, in an environment that they are used to, and that way you can get a pretty good idea of how the kitty is going to be once he/she gets used to its new environment with you.  You can always call and make an appointment, or you can just stop by between 9am and 7pm.  Give it a try.  You just might go home with a new friend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Older, wiser, and better?

As you know kitten season is well underway.  Things are definitely busy here at Blistered Whiskers, but we're doing our very best for all of the new additions.

But I've had something in the back of my mind for a little while.  How to write a blog for the older cats still there.  Ya see... we've all been thru some tough times, and come out of it better people.  There are times when we thought the world didn't give us a care, that our better days are behind us... only to come to the conclusion that are better days are, indeed, ahead of us.

So i think of the older cats at Blistered Whiskers.  All of them have their better days ahead of them, and all would love to have a forever home.  Could this be your home?

Well, let's look at some good reasons for adopting a cat instead of a kitten.  1) adoption fees are less for a cat versus a kitten.  2) a cat's personality is established.  if you're looking for a cat to be at your side and talk to you, we have plenty of those.  If you're looking for a more mellow cat, a gentle cat, that is independent and loves you from afar, we have those too.  We have just about every type of personality you can think of.  You can come to the adult pen, get to know each and every cat there, and find a cat that best suits what you are looking for in a pet.  3) taking care of an animal gives people a sense of purpose.  It can certainly lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, and put a smile on your face knowing that your cat is waiting for you when you get home, waiting to love you.  No matter how bad my day is, my cat is always waiting for me, and her entire world is complete and happy just because i am around.  That's a pretty good feeling.  4) perhaps you're looking for a companion for another cat.  Usually another cat who is already familiar and comfortable with other cats is a great addition to your family.  Kittens are spastic and frenetic and can sometimes stress out another cat.  Adopting a full grown cat to pair with an existing cat in your home most times is a wiser choice.

And, most importantly, although the cats may no longer be kittens, their best days are still ahead of them.  Remember what i said about feeling like the world doesn't care?  Well, you can care and you can make a difference to a cat that is already happy, healthy, and just waiting for their chance to find a good loving home.

Could this be your home?

All my best to you and your new furry friend,
Paul Zimmerman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Goodbye to Knut the Polar Bear from Berlin

Sometime in 2007, I came across an article in the Internet about Knut and I fell in love with the little bear and his story immediately.

Knut and a brother were born in 2006 to a former circus performer from East Germany but for an unknown reason, she rejected both her cubs and abandoned them somewhere in the enclosure. The cubs were very lucky because their mother left them in a place where the Zookeepers were able to get to them and remove them still alive.

The first cub died after a few days but the second cub, later named Knut, lived to make history, he was the first polar bear cub to be born and survive in the Berlin Zoo for some 30 years.

Getting Knut to survive was no easy task, he spent a lot of time first in an incubator and then being actually cared for around the clock, in fact, one of the Zoo kepers was almost as famous as Knut for his total and complete dedication to the little cub, his name was Thomas Dörflein. During Knut's first years he fed him, bathe him, played with him, even slept next to his crate at night.

There was a big controversy about this, several animal rights groups said it wasn't natural for a Polar Bear to be raised by a person and that it would only hurt him in the end.

But it was too late already for any other decision to be made, Knut had survived being rejected by his mom, he was growing up and he was already a big P.R. hit for the Zoo and he was already loved and adored by millions of people, so he kept growing under the care of Thomas. Both of them were part of the daily shows at the Zoo, they played together, hugged and were the fascination of the adoring and growing public... Zoo attendance increased significantly, everybody wanted to meet the cute little cub. I saw several videos of these shows and they were just adorable, no other way to describe it.

Before he was 1 year old, he was already too big, not for a polar bear, but too big for humans, so he had to say goodbye to his 'dad', Thomas, and the Zoo started trying to get him to meet other bears. I remember reading that this was very difficult for him, that he kept waiting for Thomas to show up at a certain time or place in the enclosure, that he would exhibit anxious behavior and definitely not very successful at making friends with the other bears, there were reports even that he was bullied by the other bears and this was blamed in the fact that he was raised by people, so he didn't know about relating with others of his kind.

His early childhood seemed so happy, it was sad to hear about his problems adjusting to 'bear' life as he grew up, but I never thought it could be too bad, even without Thomas and sharing his place with other bears, I was convinced he was happy enough and I wanted so much to see him someday.

And that someday arrived! We were lucky enough to make a trip to Germany in 2009 and when we were making plans the items in the itinerary that were a few 'must-do' in our list while in Berlin: visit what was left of the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag and Knut, everything else was negotiable, that's how much I wanted to see him.

It's hard to describe the day we went to the Berlin Zoo. I was the most stereotypical tourist ever! I was so excited about finally meeting Knut in person that I wanted to buy every souvenir available, I kept hurrying everybody up because of course Knut's enclosure was at the other end of the Zoo. It was great to finally see him, but at the same time I couldn't ignore the pacing. He was just pacing from one side to the other, back and forth, back and forth, everybody in our little group commented about that, didn't look quite right... but well, maybe it was close to his meal time and he was anxious or something like that. I came up with several theories to make me feel better, but regardless, it was still a bit sad seeing him pace like that, I hoped that he wasn't spending most of his time like that.

A couple of days ago, Knut died, at an extremely young age. He was just 4 years old when Polar Bears in captivity live in average of 30 years. They still don't know the official cause of death, but there were some preliminary reports about some anomalies in his brain that could have contributed to his death.

I still have a conflict about Zoos and the good/bad impact they have on animals and Knut is a big part of this internal discussion going on in my head, but regardless of my evolving thoughts on the matter, on the ethics around keeping animals in captivity and regardless also on how Knut's unusual upbringing may have affected him during his short live, I want to think that he was happy most of his life and that he made a difference bringing the plight of the polar bears and other endangered species to the forefront. Like me, I'm sure a lot of people around the world are sad about his passing but will remember him fondly.

Tschüß liebe Knut, 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I heart 'Animal People'

I used to believe that when a good cause came along, all the people that supported such cause would work together without any major conflicts, they would just work together and advance this good cause, make a difference.

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

There are many animal-related causes out there, every one just as just as good as the next, but surprisingly, working together just doesn't come that easy, unfortunately, power, politics, money and personal interests or feelings can get in the way of doing our absolute best for the animals.

The first time I realized that we, animal lovers, didn't have a single voice was when I read an article about a group in California that was lobbying to cut the City funding for a successful TNR program in the Community and instead using that money for trapping and killing community/feral cats and to my surprise, the group lobbying for this change was a group under the animal protection umbrella... This group had a very worthy cause in their hands, protecting birds.

This is when I realized that we aren't all 'animal people' or 'animal lovers'... There are some people out there that will discriminate when it comes to what animals they love and what animals, in their opinion, deserve to live and which ones deserve to be killed.

True animal lovers will not discriminate in such a way, animal lovers will care and be compassionate and kind to all animals, regardless of species or breeds.

I'm not saying in any way that birds are not worthy of our care, compassion and protection, but surely a plan can be devised by animal lovers in which certain balance and compromise can be achieved. Imagine how much more could be done for animals if animal groups don't waste a single dollar or minute fighting each other and they just sit down and work together!

I often hear or read about how bad feral cats are and how many birds they kill... but in reality, cats would never kill a fraction of the birds that we, humans, are killing. The number of birds killed by habitat lost, hunting and as we recently learned, actual sanctioned killing of birds by our Government agencies is appaling! And make no mistake, this is 'killing' not euthanasia like they are trying to label it. Even if the cats of the world were to organize themselves to eat only birds, they would never be able to kill a fraction of the birds that we humans kill, and we don't even kill them in order to survive.

So, instead of killing cats, we should re-double our efforts to keep cats with their families so they don't end up abandoned and homeless, we should re-double efforts around TNR programs in the communities to reduce the number of feral cats that are being forced to fend for themselves, and above all, we should re-double efforts to educate ourselves and make sure we are making a difference in the life of animals by being 'animal people'.

I myself have 7 cats, I love cats, but that doesn't mean I want or support the suffering or killing of other animals, that doesn't mean I will spend any time, effort or money advocating anything like that or supporting organizations that are not true 'animal lovers'. To the contrary, I am very happy and grateful to know that there are a lot of 'animal people' out there, making a difference with dogs, cats, birds, wild animals, farm animals, critters, you name it! In our modern world, all animals are in dire need of our kindness and support.

And one of these groups making a difference every day is Blistered Whiskers. BW is a small group, but they are a small group of 'animal lovers' that are comitted to saving as many kitties as possible with TNR, rescue and adoption. I am a proud supporter of Blistered whiskers.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

here a kitten, there a kitten, everywhere a kitten kitten

Its coming up on kitten season...

Its the busy, Busy, BUSY time of year.  So many people let their adult cats out to prowl, don't have them fixed, and the next thing you know its kitten season.  Then again, sometimes people just abandon their cats to fend for themselves, and the next thing you know its kitten season.

Did i mention that its kitten season?

There are times when i've seen well over 150 cats and kittens at Blistered Whiskers.  They always find themselves chock full of kittens about this time of year.  These little kittens are fighting for their lives before they find their way to Blistered Whiskers.  For some, it takes quite a bit of TLC to get them adopted out.  Can you help us with some TLC?  Here's how you can help:

We always need litter, kitten food, formula, bedding, and paper towels (lots of them).  Any donations of these items are greatly appreciated.  You can drop them off at the door if its more convenient for you.

We did our charity walk and golf tournament and raised over $2000 for the shelter.  That's an outstanding start to kitten season, but money goes fast.  Every kitty needs it's first shots and a visit to the vet for a clean bill of health before it can be adopted out.  We do everything we can to keep our bills as low as possible, but it can add up.  If you have the means, any monetary donation would certainly help.  We are all volunteers, so all of the money that gets raised and/or donated goes straight to Blistered Whiskers.  Not many places can say that. 

We always need reliable volunteers.  Feeding, socializing and cleaning the kitties is the order of every day at Blistered Whiskers.  If you can't volunteer monetarily, how about volunteering your time?  It is a no-kill shelter, so every kitty that comes in will have every chance to find a good loving home.  Again, not many places can say that.  We need reliable volunteers to be able to come in and help out.  Trust me, there's always something to do - especially during kitten season.  And there are few things more rewarding than bonding with a kitten from the moment they are born, being a surrogate parent, making sure they get everything they need, and then getting them to a wonderful home where they can be happy.  Sometimes its tough work, but you get back so much more.  But is is so important to be reliable.  The kitties have needs and if someone doesn't show up, then their needs may not get met.  Please remember, they're babies and can't make it without you.

We also need foster homes.  These volunteers will take home a litter of kittens - usually but other arrangements can be made - and you do the parenting from home.  Blistered Whiskers will set you up with everything you need.  Our foster homes are the unsung heroes, because they still do the work needed, but since its from home, it saves us more space to be able to get more kittens in.  It really is a win-win situation.

We're gonna make kitten season the best its ever been.  But we can surely use any help you'd like to give.  If you have any other questions about how you can help, please feel free to contact us. 

Thank you,
Paul Zimmerman

Thursday, February 3, 2011

FIV doesn't have to be the boogie man anymore

The decade of the 80s is well remembered, among other things, for the AIDS scare. When the epidemy started, we didn't have a name for it and had no clue what was causing it, until around 1987 when the deadly retrovirus was identified and given the name HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

Around the same time, the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, was also identified and for years, FIV built a mean reputation mostly for the fear and impression that the HIV virus was leaving on every mind, worldwide. FIV & HIV seemed too closely related, they had to be equally lethal.

Decades later, and with a lot more research into the topic, it seems we were all wrong! FIV is not what it was thought to be, and little by little the perception has been changing as studies, experience and true stories of cats with FIV leaving long happy lives are available to the public.

Francis Battista, Co-Founder of the Best Friends Animal Society, explains in a recent article than "...rather than being transmitted by casual contact such as sharing food and water bowls and even mutual grooming, FIV is only transmitted in utero from an infected mother to her kittens or by a serum-to-blood route, as in a deep bite wound. And not only was FIV not an easily transmitted disease, for the most part cats who had FIV lived long and uneventful lives when given normal attentive care that included early intervention for common maladies such as the sniffles."

So, it is fair to say that a positive FIV test is no longer a death sentence, not even a good estimator of the quality of life or life expectancy of the cat. This means that we can finally remove the stigma of being FIV+ and give these kitties the same opportunities to LIVE and to find their forever home by sharing the spotlight at adoption events, websites and other media with their FIV- friends.  Many rescues are already changing their policies and it's my hope that PETCO will do so soon as well.

At this moment, PETCO does not allow rescue groups to bring FIV+ cats into their stores for adoption events. The old myth of FIV is robbing countless cats of the chance to be discovered by that perfect family, to find a forever home.

As with other illnesses, human or animal, studies and research are helping remove the stigma from FIV+ cats, now it's our turn to make sure we are informed, that we look for facts rather than myths and then act on this new information.

For more details on FIV, please check this list of FIV Facts published by Best Friends.

Then, you can contact PETCO and respectfully ask them to remove this old policy and get with the times! You can contact Karen Meader, PETCO National Adoption Program Manager at and you can also sign the online petition available here