Why aren’t you wearing gloves?

It’s a question I have to answer several times a day, so it will be easier to just post this page link.

Carole Stairs About Age 5 circa 1966I think it started when I was a toddler on the front porch of our home when my mother, who noticed me delighting in picking up pillbugs warned, “Don’t put those in your mouth?”  She laughs to this day at the way I looked at her like she was crazy for even suggesting that I would put one in my mouth.

Same goes for dealing with the cats.  I’m not going to put my hands in my mouth after handling a cat during a medical procedure either.  Neither is anyone else we would allow this close to the cats.  We do have a screening process here and are fortunate enough to only accept the best and brightest into our volunteer and intern programs.

As for the cat’s well being; we don’t don gloves and masks until there is a reason to do so.  Our cats live outside, on the ground.  They do eat bugs, lizards, snakes and anything else they can hunt.  Their immune systems aren’t going to be stressed by having us touch them without sterile gloves.  If you have ever seen them having fun with enrichment, you know they roll in the dirt, like this:

When a cat is sedated for medical purposes we do everything we can to assess the cat’s health because it could be years before they are sedated again.  Sedation is always risky in exotic cats so we don’t do it unless it is absolutely necessary.  We try to deal with most medical issues via operant conditioning and preventative care.  If the cat does have to be sedated it is the perfect time to comb our fingers over every part of their body, feeling for the slightest bump, scratch or irregularity.  Even our elderly cats carry such magnificent coats that it can be very hard to see if there is trouble brewing beneath the surface.  Thanks to sensitive fingers on well trained hands we have found cancers and been able to remove them when they were the size of a pea rather than after they spread into the vital organs.

Before we start doing dental extractions, root canals, or any surgery, everyone involved, even the camera person, will be wearing masks, hair covers and gloves.

When new cats arrive they are quarantined for 30 days and only a select set of keepers are assigned to them.  They have their own cleaning tools so that there is no cross contamination to the other cats or keepers during this time that they are being de-flead, de-wormed, vaccinated and observed.  Most of our cats have been with us for many, many years and we’ve never had outbreaks of transmissible diseases here.

So, thanks for caring and asking about the gloves.  I hope this explains better than I could in a brief comment why we do what we do.

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