>> Pets brighten our lives in a way that few other things can. Their unconditional love and unique personalities are just some of the many qualities that make them so endearing and magnetic. Drawing us in with their compassion and character, there is much that we can learn from our furry friends. However, not every animal ends up in a loving home and nurturing environment. Sometimes they need help.
Lindee Ohlman and Joan Beadle are the people that they need. Roughly a year ago is when it all began, when Lindee discovered “The Kitten Lady” on Facebook. Serving as a great resource and pillar of inspiration, Lindee answered her call to action of helping our feline friends. Having recognized this deep devotion to saving kittens, she decided to become that needed change and life line. Feeling especially connected to neonatal kittens, this is where Lindee focuses her energy and attention. Being the most vulnerable population in shelters, these kittens have become orphans either because something happened to their mother, or due to human interference. Lindee notes that sometimes the mother may be out hunting, momentarily leaving the litter, and someone passing by may assume that they have been abandoned. “Once a human touches them, a lot of the time the mom won’t take them back.”
This passion project manifested into her starting the organization Pets For Refugees. Through this nonprofit Lindee shares that “we unite refugees with shelter animals and we subsidize the care for them to have the pets. We pay for the vetting, food, and supplies.” In order to carry this out, she had to secure a rescue registry, which allowed her to launch a new platform to help even more cats in the city. This is when This Old Cat House entered the scene. Looking back at this whirlwind of a year, Lindee never thought that she would be doing what she is today. Having an aunt as a nurse, she was exposed to the demands of the job and the skill sets and vigor that it requires. Not one for needles or interest in this line of work, she was surprised to find herself taking up this role as both mother and nurse for these neonatal kittens. Now, she is well acquainted with needles and has learned a lot along the way. Continuing to educate herself and study medical signs, there have been situations where she has had to use butterfly needles, syringes, and provide subcutaneous fluids. Whether it’s having to tube feed a kitten because it physically cannot eat on its own, or having to stimulate it to go to the bathroom (a natural process that the mother cat would initially have to do) Lindee states that “when there is a life at stake you do what you have to do.”
Receiving these neonatal kittens from city shelters or from her friend Carol, who does “Trap, Neuter, and Release” within the city, each kitten and situation is different. Especially during the early stages, medical care and attentiveness is vital. This requires many veterinary visits and appointments. This is how Lindee first met Joan, when she had to take a kitten named
Polar Bear to the clinic where she worked. Both possessing an astonishing passion for helping cats, the two hit it off and have been helping one another and their feline friends ever since. Upon starting in late July of last year, Lindee helped approximately forty animals. This year, a total of about fifty have come through her home, including puppies that she was fostering for another organization. Welcoming all these animals into her own home, Lindee shares that she usually has one litter at a time in order to prevent the exchange of diseases and other illnesses. When the kittens are that young, they are not supposed to be exposed to one another, largely because they cannot receive their first vaccination until they are at least six weeks old. “It’s intense. It’s around the clock care and you're usually exhausted, so there are only so many that you can take on.” In addition, Joan notes that “the neonates need to be fed every two hours.” It's a demanding and ambitious schedule that requires a level of selflessness that is both commendable and noteworthy.
Beadle helps to foster the kittens once they have reached the age range of 4-6 weeks. She shares that she enjoys this time frame, as they are beginning to play, interact, and form their own personalities. They also note that “the bottle babies crave human attention and their personalities are different.” Due to being completely weaned, they have a stronger initial connection with humans and more openly seek their company. One may think that with all these little ones that they would not have pets of their own, but with hearts as big as theirs, the love and care continues. Lindee has two dogs and five cats, while Joan has three dogs and seven cats. Lindee laughed as she shared “there was a time where I had bottle baby kittens in my basement bathroom, in both of my guest bedrooms, and my attic...if there is room, I find it!” However, it doesn’t just stop with meeting their physical needs, for there is also the promotional aspect. After the period of intensive care, and once they are at least eight weeks old, there is the adoption process. Wielding her hobby of photography, Lindee has taught herself many skills and techniques for tackling the finicky endeavor of animal photography. She describes it as, “my way of art expression because I get to use my photography skills to try and get them promoted...I love showing their different faces while they are growing.” Everyone plays their part and uses their talents throughout every step of the journey. Lindee takes their photos, her husband writes their personalized biographies, and Joan uses her craftsmanship and creative brainstorming to build them new toys such as kitten climbing trees and towers.
Carrying out work such as this on a daily basis is not for the faint of heart. The territory brings heartache, sleepless nights, and a lot more behind the scenes work that many are unaware of or overlook. However, for Lindee and Joan its all worth it. Lindee affirms that “I think my heart could break a million times and I would still do it.” These fearless ladies help to give these little ones a second chance at life and continue to make a profound difference. For more information, or if you are interested in adopting, check out their social media platforms on Facebook and Instagram at This Old Cathouse, or visit their website.