The story of Rainbows for Rescue

At Woods For Cats we are very lucky to meet (personally and virtually) many cat lovers, cat parents, people who work for cats just like us, vet clinics, kitten/cat foster carers, other cat business owners, and cat rescue organisations small and large. All of these people work in one way or the other to improve the lives of little felines. There are many people involved in making this world a better place for kittens and cats and for us who have become cat parents or are planning to.

We get inspired by many of these people who care compassionately for animals. We would like to share our very special story behind ‘Rainbows for Rescue’. As a business focusing on cat furniture and accessories, along with the focus on the business goals, which is helping you with catifying your home, we want to go further.

We created ‘Rainbows for Rescue’ to help rising awareness for cat euthanasia. Cats and dogs are being euthanized at very high rates all over the world. In many cases this is absolutely unnecessary and many of these animals are healthy and adoptable. We would like to see the end of unnecessary pet euthanasia in Australia and around the world. Some projects we came across with are coming up with innovative models to increase pet adoption rates using social media, user-friendly adoption venues like cat cafes, etc. There are many individuals and small rescue groups dedicating their time and their own financial resources to help these animals,  these dedicated people try their best to get them out of euthanasia lists and find them loving homes.

We feel responsible for what world we create for animals who share this planet with us. “Rainbow for Rescue” was created with all this in mind. Jessica’s story is one of many who represent the hard work of people lovingly caring for homeless, surrendered and disadvantaged animals.

For us to understand what a rescue work is about, we want to tell you a story – Jessica’s and Renley’s story. 

When you purchase ‘Rainbow for Rescue’, you’re directly supporting Jessica’s work. This is Jessica’s story. Her story is a story of many special needs kittens and cats.

My name is Jessica Ruf. I have been fostering kittens for over 6 years. I specialize in caring for neonatal and special needs kittens. I am currently studying the bachelor of veterinary nursing in hope to further my education in the care for these kittens. My passion in life is to raise awareness for special needs kittens and to stop euthanasia in neonatal and disabled kittens.

Kitten rescue is hard, that’s the truth. It’s a 24/7 job. Physically and mentally it is draining. Feeling overwhelmed at times is inevitable. Your heart breaks many and many times over. These heart aches make you stronger, compassionate and more determined. Your heart grows bigger and bigger each time. There is both a negative side and positive side. This doesn’t mean you should feel discouraged to foster; it takes an extremely resilient person to foster special needs kittens. What makes me keep going and what I like to say to you is this: “Rescuing one cat won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one cat”.

November 11th, 2019. Renley was surrendered to a veterinary clinic to be euthanized as a 4-week-old paralysed kitten.

My friend had contacted me asking if I could foster this special kitten.

Once I took Renley home I saw he was covered in fleas, underweight, covered in faeces, and completely paralysed from the waist down. Renley’s paralysis was unknown. Renley had spinal radiographs and an ultrasound of his spine performed. Luckily there were no fractures.This was an indication his paralysis was likely caused by a neurological condition. Renley was suspected to have contracted an infection in utero.

Despite everything Renley was going through he wasn’t in any pain. Nothing was going to stop him from what other kittens wanted to do – to live and play.

With the help of Dr. Avinder at Lower Plenty Vet Clinic in Victoria, Australia, Renley started having daily acupuncture treatments along with weekly vitamin B injections to improve his brain function, as well as physical therapy at home. Renley was having a bath every two days, which provided movement and exercise of his hind legs. In addition to hydrotherapy, he received a massage twice a day to promote circulation and healing. We practiced a passive range of motion exercises (i.e., bicycle kicks) twice daily to help him to build muscles. I helped to stimulate Renley’s feet twice a day to improve his proprioception – awareness of the position and movement of his body. This helps the body to re-map the pathway from brain to toes. Multiple times a day, I would also assist Renley with walking by guiding his legs and supporting his abdomen, which builds strength and encourages movement.

After a few months he was able to walk, Renley has been a very determined kitten from day one and he continues to amaze me each day.

Sadly at 4 months old Renley became extremely unwell spending a week on IV fluids. A PCR panel for FIV/FeLV was performed and returned positive for FeLV – Feline leukemia virus. This may mean Renley’s life span will not be long. There is an 85% chance that FeLv adult cats won’t live longer than three year. Kittens diagnosed with FeLV may not live as long.

Renley’s mobility continued to improve and now he has 70% mobility in all limbs. To this day Renley receives acupuncture once every 2 weeks. This helps stimulate the blood flow and inflammation in the damaged nerves. Renley has had periods of appearing lethargic, inappetence along with coughing behaviour. He was taken to the clinic again for persistent coughing. Chest radiographs revealed a slight inflammation in his lungs.

Renley had a recent episode of drooling followed by head bobbing motions along with turning to the left side. This lasted for 5 minutes before he returned back to his normal self. Renley, at the age of 6 months, had his first seizure. Renley was then seen by a neurologist at CARE in Collingwood Victoria. Through the specialist findings it was evident that Renley has misshapen vertebral bodies of T2 and T3 which suggests his previous history of paralysis.

The specialist suggested the possible causes for Renley’s intermittent episodes of systemic illness include: Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and lymphoma (although the fine needle aspirates from his enlarged lymph node were not consistent with lymphoma). After receiving his blood results back from the neuro specialist Renley’s coronavirus titres have returned as very high with a level over 2560. Cats with clinical FIP are reported to have a high titre (1:640 or higher) and the higher the titre the greater specificity and sensitivity of this test is for a diagnosis of FIP. Renley’s history, clinical signs, along with these blood test results are concerning FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). Unfortunately, there is no approved treatment protocol for FIP with the majority of cats developing progressive signs and is almost always fatal.

Although Renley has two fatal diseases with no cure I am determined to share his story and spread awareness for special needs kittens and the importance of giving each kitten the chance they deserve. Special needs kittens don’t need to be euthanized.

Being a foster carer is deeply rewarding. I feel grateful for the ability to give life, love and warmth. Renley means so much to me, as do all my foster kittens, but Renley has been able to show me the meaning of courage, determination, and happiness. I will value and cherish this for the rest of my life. I always say if Renley could talk his message would be:

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible”. 

Thank you for reading.

With love Jessica & Livia 

3 thoughts on “The story of Rainbows for Rescue

  1. Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.

  2. Pauline Mathers says:

    So lovely to read Renley’s entire story from Jess. He is a sweetheart… and so is Jess & all of you guys at woodsforcats

    1. LiviaL says:

      Thank you, Pauline! <3

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