When he was just a 12-week-old kitten, Rosani’s brother tested positive for rabies, exposing Rosani and several well-meaning people who had taken them in from outdoors. We know, that’s quite a lead-in for a newsletter story – it gets better! Although rabies is very uncommon in outdoor cats in our area, it is always present at low levels in warm-blooded mammals who circulate outdoors. This is why vaccinating cats and dogs against rabies is essential, and why all municipalities in NJ require dogs to be licensed.
Rosani was definitely exposed to rabies, but she wasn’t sick. Usually the disease manifests within 10 days, but it can lie dormant for up to four months. This meant that LHS only had two legal options: keep Rosani in strict quarantine, without contact with other pets or people, for four months – or, euthanize her. The unfortunate reality of animal sheltering is that, in most other facilities, this would have been the end of Rosani’s story. Most shelters lack the space, the knowledge, and, most importantly, the willingness to exercise the extreme caution needed to appropriately take on a four-month rabies watch.
But LHS is different. We did not want to euthanize a healthy, 12-week-old kitten. We were willing to accept the responsibility that came with monitoring Rosani’s health, knowing that, despite all our efforts and care, at any moment within the quarantine window she could still get sick. Our staff rallied to design a humane enclosure and activities to keep Rosani comfortable and engaged during her quarantine period. Rosani learned Cat Pawsitive training techniques that did not require direct touch, and how to be petted using a rubber wand and soft sticks. Staff talked to her and played music hoping that as each day passed, Rosani was one day closer to being free of the disease and able to safely leave her confinement and join a loving home.
Well, that day finally came! Rosani made it through quarantine, healthy and ready to find a patient adopter willing to help her transition from life in a cage, to life in a home. Rosani found that match with Chetara, who saw the photos of Rosani LHS staff had shared on social media and was moved by her story. Chetara says:
“She fits in like she’s always been here. She’s very adventurous, always curious, but yet she’s shy at times. She reminds me of a Sour Patch candy: First they’re sour, then they’re sweet! I am pleased and happy to say that she has finally found her home with us and has become an important part of our family.”
Rosani’s story is thankfully uncommon, but it’s a radical example of the level of commitment LHS staff have for every animal who comes through our door. Each animal is seen for who they are. Each animal is given a chance to thrive. Thank you for believing in LHS, for supporting this work, and for actively helping to find positive outcomes for animals in difficult situations, like Rosani.