Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Farewell mom...

For those not on Facebook, yes, I've been gone a long while. And my sisters and I, well, we've grown up a bit over that time, too. My mom, who has been thumbing her nose at kidney and heart disease for years by managing her diet and refusing to let it slow her down or keep her away from her friends, and whom I sure hoped that one day (years from now) she would pass without warning from a heart attack in her home which she loved---had become quickly and steadily weaker. Her church community worried about her, and my sisters, stepsister and I began looking after her, so she could stay home but not be alone. The primary responsibility fell to my sister who lives in the same city as my mom. Because my job is somewhat portable, I took on a "two days there, one day home" schedule, with an extra day home on weekends, in order to take care of the animals.

Unfortunately the reason for my mom's weakness became clear after she fell one morning from what turned out to be a heart attack. One medical helicopter ride and and an MRI later, she learned she had a brain tumor as well. She said she wanted to come home--she refused to go to a nursing home. With the help of Hospice in our county, two of her friends who were also home nursing aides, my sisters and myself, and an additional wonderful aide we hired, mom came home for less than two short weeks.

Mom's sister, Clara, and my cousin Bob were able to come up from Georgia to see her at home, and her friends from church and her Bible study group Heart to Heart also visited and sang to her.

She passed away on February 17, in the morning, with my sister Kathy by her side. I had just left nine hours earlier for my "one day home."

Louise Katherine Wilcox, 81, passed away peacefully at home in the care of her family on February 17, 2017 after an extended illness. Born on July 22, 1935 to Otto and Bertha Schlecht, she grew up with her sister Clara on the "Hillcrest" Jephson Estate in Cazenovia NY where her father was the estate caretaker. Louise was a graduate of Cazenovia High School Class of 1953. She faithfully reunited with her class whenever gatherings were held. She also attended Simmons College in Boston MA.

Louise raised her three daughters, Linda, Kathryn, and Susan in Greene and Earlville NY. She married Paul Wilcox of Norwich NY in 1975 and joined his three children, Robin, Kim, and Kevin to the family of her heart.

Louise was employed by the Norwich Pennysaver and then as a secretary in the Office of Corporate, Foundation and Government Relations at Colgate University for 28 years, retiring in 2000.

Louise had a great love for gardening, sewing, needlework, antiques, and the songbirds who graced her flower-filled yard. She was a teacher's assistant and Girl Scout leader in Earlville. In Norwich she became an active member of the community of the Christ Lutheran Church. She coordinated dinners, served as the congregational coordinator for Thrivant Financial and sang alto in the choir. She received comfort at her home while she was in hospice care from the community of Christ Lutheran Church, her local bible study group Heart to Heart, and other close friends.

Louise is survived her daughters Linda Greene, Kathryn Greene, Susan Greene; stepdaughters Kim (John) Natoli and Robin (Ron) McCarthy; sister Clara Waln; grandson Joshua (Anna) Greene; step-grandchildren Cory (Christie) Barton, Eliza (Kagen) Weeks, Emily (Edward) Ellison, Ryan (Kobie) Natoli, Trevor Natoli, Kelsey Natoli, Maria (James) Tarver, Danielle (Robert) Schmitz, Eric McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy; nephews David Waln and Robert Waln; cousins and numerous great-grandchildren.
Louise was predeceased by her husband and great love Paul Wilcox, her first husband William Greene, her parents Otto and Bertha Schlecht, and stepson Kevin Wilcox.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a charitable contribution may send donations to the Christ Lutheran Church (94 North Broad Street, Norwich NY 13815) or Hospice and Palliative Care of Chenango County (21 Hayes Street, Norwich NY 13815).

My mom was an extremely strong woman and she only got stronger as she grew older. She became my friend, rather than just my mother. We certainly exasperated one another now and then, of course. She expressed her concern about how much money I spent on the cat rescue while I was younger. But after I had worked for Petfinder for about five years, she seemed to accept my additional cat rescue hobby as--dare I say--perhaps even respectable. None of her daughters took a traditional route. Kathy, the historian. Linda, the professional musician (Buffalo Philharmonic). Me, the animal welfare advocate. Mom was a cat lover herself (and has asked to be interred with her beloved cat Charlie). She loved music and history. I guess it wasn't so surprising how we turned out. Or maybe she ultimately reflected some of what we had grown into.

But when it came down to it, mom was an artist, and her paintbrush was gardening and beautiful things. We all thought that mom would have been an great interior designer, but she always said it wouldn't make her happy if she did it for someone else. We have all inherited some of the small and beautiful things she created, discovered, or had kept her whole life.

She spent her entire young life on the Jephson Estate in Cazenovia, where my grandfather was the caretaker. Surely--even living in the carriage house--that affinity for beautiful things, beautiful lawns, and beautiful gardens had to have influenced her. You can see her childhood home here.

When mom said she wanted to come home, My sisters and I said "Of course you will" but honestly I think we were all terrified. Caring for a person, cleaning her, turning her, feeding her, medicating her, worrying about her and trying not to seem to worried, but also trying not to seem too carefree...I'm not sure I thought I could do such a thing. But I guess it's like anything else. When faced with the need, you do it.

So now I am home. There are the legal issues to deal with, and an extra house to care for. My sisters and I normally only visited one another when we visited mom. Now we'll need to create new and stronger bonds. I'm guessing if mom had had her wish---if she HAD just passed unknowingly from a massive heart attack---it's possible my sisters and I wouldn't have this bond. It's possible we wouldn't have seen our aunt and cousin, that we wouldn't have been interacting so closely with my stepsisters Robin and Kim. We might have all drifted aimlessly apart.

It seems less likely we will wander away from one another, now.

Thanks, mom. Even your dying gave an incredible gift.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The mystery of the Possum kittens

Our unthrifty kittens are still unthrifty. An adopter, whose aunt is a veterinarian, sent some ideas, and we will be checking them out with our veterinarian. I have a family member who also needs support, so I won't be able to get them in right away.

Here is Tank with one of the kittens that came in after he was admitted. The black kitten is 4.5 months old. Tank is six months old.

In addition to having scruffy fur, drinking tons of water, variable stool consistancy, periodically gagging (not throwing up), and failure to grow, they seem to have a lousy immune system, which isn't surprising. They catch EVERYTHING but luckily got their entire vaccination series and seem to slowly get over the URI's they have come down with. Currently Tank is walking around with a winky eye.

They are active little monsters. While they don't play as much as the black ferals, Nod and Blyken, they still motor around pretty rapidly. Tink, the smallest one, follows me everywhere. Tank, the larger kitten, got his paw stepped on accidentally by hanging too closely to my feet, so he has learned to keep his distance. Luckly, even though they are skinny, they are solid muscle. It's like having two animinated poorly taxidermied kittens running around.

Here they were as normal little babes. The other three kittens in the litter did just fine, but at about 8 weeks, Tink and Tank just stopped growing.

Luckily, they seem to fall into the "so homely they are cute" category. Two visitors have expressed interest in adopting them, but I do want to try to find out what is wrong with them first, if at all possible. Something like a liver shunt might be fixed (although it probably would drive me into the poor house). No worries at this point, however. My vet is curious about these guys as well, and she really has been helping out with donated services and tests.

Hang in there little Possums!

They do need better names than Tink and Tank, however.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Goji came to us from Waverly. Because he was neutered when he was found, we asked Stray Haven to keep him a short time and post him as "found" on their Facebook page to see if an owner might be missing him. Goji is a couple of years old. While he tolerates the cats here, he does sometimes give them a smack--he probably would be happiest as your one-and-only.

Note on below: Fleurie is adopted!!

In order to get swift Fleurie to sit still long enough for me to get a photo of her pretty self, I had to bribe her with some catnip. She proceeded to bath in it as well as load herself up with static electricity, which appear to have also reached her sparkling eyes! Fleurie is about 8 months old, spayed, and FeLV/FIV negative. She's a sweet, very friendly girl who is ready to go to a new home.

Byron below was adopted with Fleurie!

Sweet Byron II seems to be keeping his cute kitten face as he grows up, which I love, because it's irresistable along with his sad sweet meow and compels you to do whatever he asks. He would be a great companion for another cat, or to be adopted with Bryce, his larger, more outgoing, brother.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Unthrifty kittens go on holiday to a foster home

My two little unthrifty kittens from the lumber yard litter went off to the veterinarian, Dr. Shakespeare at Cornerstone, where the only thing she could find was a possible bacterial infection in the puniest little guy.

But boy, did they luck out, because my veterinarian's daughter Cheyenne, who has volunteered here in the past, was home for the holidays and wanted some kittens to fuss on and love over. So the unthrifty pair went off to my veterinarian's home to get some serious loving for a time, and also the expert attention of my vet. And, bless her, because the kittens were coming into her care, she didn't charge for anything other than the FeLV/FIV tests each kitten had. She covered the blood work and meds.

I kept them for a week until Cheyenne arrived in town, and by then they were both doing quite a bit better. Less whining, and a better looking stool. But they still didn't look like happy healthy kittens. They've been in their foster home for a few days now, and I'm getting some happy-looking photos sent my way via Facebook!

Every kitten deserves a woodstove at Christmas-time!

Because the unthrifty kittens are in their foster home, the two black feral kittens can now come out and romp in my woodstove room. They are pretty easy to catch, and one is quite the purr-ball, but they aren't too enthused with me because I have to treat their eyes three times a day. I'm trying to balance this with toy-time and treats, but one--Blynken--still hisses when I reach for him. The other, Nod, thinks I'm OK.

What a bummer to have two sets of kittens at Christmas-time who aren't able to be adopted out! But at least they are both getting lots of attention, and hopefully will soon be well.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Returning torti-mom to her home

The torti-mom of the black feral kittens is all healed up from her spay at the SPCA of Tompkins County and went back to her home today. Her caregiver and the across-the-road neighbors were very concerned that she have shelter in addition to what was there. I don't have any new shelters put together (although I do have wood enough for one cut up, but not assembled) so I took along the one I have out for Buster--who doesn't use it now that he comes inside at night, and also because he has the heated little house on the porch. I'll put together a new one to bring them when I have a chance to get it assembled. So much to do, so little time!

Torti-mom did not go blasting out of the feral cat den when I opened it, so I left it for her to come out at her own pace. I dislike watching the "let-er-run" method of releasing newly spayed female cats, although the mystery gray-and-white eartipped cat, caught here, that I took for a rabies booster, did go zooming off. I was just as glad to see she was going to come out on her own, hopefully after realizing that she's back in her home territory.

If you get tired of boring conversation, the torti is shown again at the 50 second marker.

So at this location there were two adult cats -- the feral torti-mom, who is now spayed and eartipped, the unexpected gray-and-white cat who was already neutered and eartipped who got his rabies booster (so it is likely there is another person caring for cats in this rural section of the highway), and four kittens, two who were adopted by the landowner and a neighbor as indoor pets, and two who are with me, who have been neutered will also be adopted into indoor homes.

From six to two, and the two remaining are sterile, fed, and sheltered. Sounds like decent math to me!

Gifts from the hands and heart

One or twice a year, for a number of years, a beautiful package shows up at my door or at the PO Box. These arrived last week, a year to the day when they arrived last year:

They are all different colors and sizes, and they are a joy to unpack. Lately the ones sent have been round, and they wash really well--because they have no corners, they don't get stretched out on the wash, and for some reason they seem to snag less often on cat claws. They fit in cat beds just beautifully. If you have washed a cat bed, you know the inside never looks quite as nice as it does when purchased, although the outside may look just fine. One of these cuddled into the bed makes it looks new again, and the cats love them.

Fluffy (18 years old) says "yes, indeed."

Here is a video from last year with the foster cats in house check them out before they went out to the cats in the foster facility:

I took a pile into the cat facility, but before I could get them all tucked into cages and beds, Byron decided to check them out:

My heartfelt holiday thanks to the Handmade House in NJ and all the people who might knit/crochet for them, and also to George who, along with Jazz, adopted Tiger Tom and Ziggy, and brought The Owl House into the fold of shelters the Handmade House assists every year.

TigerTom and Ziggy are below, snoozing on Georg's Facebook page:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Kittens in the house

The inn is full. We've had more overall cat numbers in the past than I do now, but unfortunately we have a lot of cats and young ones who must be kept separate from others for reasons of health and happiness, so let's hope no one dumps another cat at the door. There would be no place to put him!

It's time for new photos. The four remaining "kittens" are now young adults and need to be marketed as such for the holidays. We have some lovely adults. We have Timmick the One-eyed Terror, and Spot the Declawed Cat who Bites. We have one feral female recovering from spay who will be leaving for her home territory soon. All of these I need to get photos of to share here with you, dear blog readers.

We do have four small kittens, however they aren't adoptable yet. Tank and Tink are two of the Lumberyard kittens who have failed to thrive, and it's time for a full vet workup on them. They eat, but don't romp and play like other kittens. They are needy, skinny, and whiney. They start to fill out, then get thin again. Their littermates were big robust boys, and have been adopted, but of course kittens from the same litter can have different fathers.

The littlest one, Tink, can't meow clearly. They tend to want to suck on one another, so I'm going to start putting one in a cage with a heater and another bed on the outside, so they can be close together but not suck.

The other two small kittens are feral. Imagine that! I FINALLY got some feral kittens after a summer full of friendly ones! They were neutered today, and are warming up nicely with a little help from canned food.

Branden and Nikki, our caretakers when I travel, had a cat show up at their door. She went off to be spayed today but...she already was! So she was vaccinated and treated for ear mites, and then came back here. I've posted her on the lost pet Facebook pages. If we don't find the owner, Branden and Nikki think they would like to keep her, so she is fostering with them, thank goodness!

Spot is a declawed cat who was found in Owego, and I need to head out to where he was found and put up posters. He was a sweetheart in the cage, and I was sure (and still hope I am) that someone had to be looking for him.

I felt badly for him in the downstairs of the barn, but because he could be someone's pet, I didn't want to put him upstairs with the other cats, so I brought him into the house in my guest room. Then I discovered Spot's vice--not an uncommon one for a declawed cat, and easily one that could have gotten him tossed out the door. He bites. As in, rolls around purring by your head and then sinks his teeth into your scalp, bites. This is the reason we don't permit declawing. Declawed cats often compensate for the lack of claws by using their remaining "weapon"--a less tolerated one--their teeth.

He is very treat motivated so I'm going to try some clicker training on him. But here was another cat I expected that, if his owner couldn't be found, he could be adopted right away. Now he needs a special home. He does love playing with another cat I have in the facility, a beautiful Russian blue type. So I may bring that cat into the house as well, and see if they would get along in the two guest rooms upstairs. Pepper and Timea would have the other half of the upstairs. The Russian Blue will get a home quickly (no vices so far!) but in the short term, Spot would have a friend. He tends to bite more when he is bored and finally a human comes to play with him, so perhaps with another cat to wear him out, he would be less likely to use his teeth. The Blue is a big former tom cat, but very playful himself, and about the same age.

Hopefully we'll have a sunny day soon, so I can get improved photos of the clan!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Things we can lend: urine collection box for diabetic cats or urinary issues

I've been going through things we own, disinfecting them, and bagging them up so they stay clean. I'm pitching things that have accumulated that I probably will never use. It's incredible how much "stuff" I have, given how sparse I keep my house. I have quite a bit of vacation racked up, so I may take a day each week and dedicate each day to a particular project.

This urinary collection box, however, I will keep, and if anyone should need to borrow it if you need a number of urine samples from your cat, keep us in mind.

The link for it online is here.

If I can remember how, I'll make a category for equipment we can lend.

Valentina learns to love

This will be the first time I've embedded a Facebook video. I'm not sure if a person can see if they aren't logged into Facebook or not.

Emily (her new cat-mom) says:

I sing Simon and Garfunkel and she just melts! She's beautiful inside and out (and goofier than I ever expected)
Valentina has finally accepted love... and I can't get her to stop purring and following me around! Thank you so much for bringing this joyful wondercat into my life

Beautiful Valentina was the queen of the cat room. While she would let me pet and comb her, she would only tolerate a few pets from other visitors before she would wack them. Clearly Emily has the magic touch, and Valentina is blossoming. I'm sure she is much happier in her new home than stuck in the boring cat room!

Have a wonderful life, Valentina!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Finally got something with a keyboard larger than a pea

I was foolish to think I could actually blog using the iPad Mini I got for free with my upgrade earlier this year to an iPhone 6. It's just too darned small. So I was able to pick up an Acer Switch One 10 tablet with a keyboard for $120 on sale. It seems to have issues finding my router, but I can connect via my cell hotspot well enough until I work that out. I drooled a bit over the full sized laptops, but honestly, I just need something to type and print documents, and to blog. I don't even need to do much internet searching. I don't need a machine with any serious guts. The battery on this little warhorse lasts 10 hours, so I can use it in-flight when I travel. Yes, it took six hours to download Office 365, but hey, at least I have it.

I have three days "off" (although part of that will be spent catching up on paying-work planning) and one of my goals is to get cat photos updated and get thank-you letters out. I've just put a pot of lentil soup on to simmer so further cooking won't be required and I've opened an MS Word doc to make my list of things to get done. It seems if I don't have a list--things don't happen.

Since the electric heat is on the great room, I had to move large furniture away from the heat runs, so my desk is now in front of the bow window where the cat food bowls reside (to keep them out of the reach of Molly-the-dog). In order to eat, the cats all must parade past me. Jessie, who is quite shy, graced me with her presence so that I could get her photo--a minor miracle in itself.

I finally got two FERAL kittens in--the first of the summer. Every previous kitten has been ridiculously friendly, with perhaps the exception of shy Supercat. Honestly, I enjoy the feral kits more. I feel like a warehouse when I get friendly kittens who would get homes far faster at a shelter with daily public hours.

Photos of the wild guys coming soon!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mystery gift, and lots of plates! Lots! Did I say "lots?"

Jo sent a donation of paper plates and tuna fish (Pepper and Timea loooove their tuna snack!) and an error was made on the order. When Jo sorted it out, the store sent the accidental shipment free, along with the original. We ended up with 2000 paper plates! They will get used, so thank you, Jo!

However she says she is the not the person who sent the wonderful cage cover that arrived on the same day. This cover was on our Amazon Wish List, and is especially helpful now, as it can be used to help keep kittens or cats from sniffing noses too much with other cats, comforting shy cats until they are more relaxed, and keeping sneeze droplets from flying if we should get an upper respiratory in a kitten and we can't move the kitten into isolation for some reason.

There was no note in the box indicating who it came from. If you sent this to us...thank you!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Even ferals play!

Turn off the volume for this, unless you want to hear my old microwave creaking away and beeping, and a kitten whining for breakfast!

Indoor cats will take a cat toy to the rungs of a chair and make it "difficult" to "catch" their prey.

Buster uses the pallets I have to stack wood on, and a leaf!

Victor gets a home

Four kittens are out the door, as Victor found a great new home (as long as his new sister-cat decides she likes him as a new housemate) and three of the lumber-yard kittens went to the SPCA of Tompkins County to be neutered, and they said they would keep them for adoption at the Annex in the Mall since they were friendly and ready to go.

As usual I forgot to take a photo of Victor in his new digs, so I have to post an older one. Hopefully they'll send something along soon--maybe of him playing with his new feline friend? We'll see!

I now have just two Lumber Yard kittens left (they will be neutered in about 8 days), and just five of the spring kittens, including Timmick.

Timmick needs a post of his own. He's a little terrorist. I've had to house him in the cat room with the bigger cats because he bullies the younger cats. He's going to need a very special home with lots of space and either no other cats, and some big dude or lady cat who will give him a good smack when needed!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Street Cat Named Bob

The movie is scheduled for limited release in the US. If you are lucky enough to be near a theatre, please go! If you can't go, I highly recommend the book.


Short documentary:

Monday, October 31, 2016

Buster-the-feral comes inside for National Cat Day

Note: I'm not sure why this posted twice! Must be the blog-powers felt Buster needed more exposure!

Look who decided that National Cat Day was a great day to come inside?

He has come inside the door and has poked around a bit before, but he has never really relaxed. This was the first time he cuddled up to sleep. After three hours he asked to go back outside again, where his heated house keeps him cozy. I've also found him back down in the basement when the wind is high. I guess I won't be fixing that cellar window for awhile yet.

I'd shut him in and just make him deal with behind an indoor cat, except I currently have kittens in the woodstove room, which means my pet cats have only the kitchen, dining area, and the great room to hang out in. Adding another cat to that mix would probably result in spats and spraying, and I can't risk that.

Soon the kittens will be gone to new homes, and he can spend more time indoors. I'm hoping that once the snow flies, he'll be contents to spend most of his time in here.

New Torti kitten

About a month ago, the couple who watches over The Owl House while I travel lost their cat. They were traveling after their wedding, and little Prune, a torti, slipped out the window of their parent's house where she was staying.

Since then we've been on the lookout for found torti cats, and a little torti showed up on Facebook, found in Lockwood. The young woman who found her had called the shelter, but they couldn't take her, so after trying to find the owner on her own, she posted the kitten on Facebook to find her a new home. When I went to pick her up, she was too young to be Prune. But because she still needed help, she came on home with me.

The very next day a woman was visiting to see if she might be interested in Wildflower, and fell in love with this little girl who had been here less than a day. So "Fleury" as she was named by her pending guardian, is now in the house awaiting her spay.

While she's less than six months old (she still has her kitten canines, which normally fall out at 5.5 months) she had a bit a potbelly which made me wonder if she might be pregnant. Sure enough, she miscarried about five days ago. She seems to be fine--no fever, lots of activity, a great appetite, but I'll be glad when she gets to the veterinarian for her spay.

I'm sure she'll be glad to get into a home where she'll get all the cuddles she needs, and no chance of future kittens!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Lumber yard kittens grow up

These five little boys are all scheduled for neuter on November 8, election day. Then hopefully out the door they go to new homes!

After her spay and recovery, their mom was welcomed back by the home supply store and lumber yard that rescued this small family earlier this fall. She's currently in their office (with doors that open to the warehouse and outside) getting re-acquainted with her old digs.

They have grown so much since their arrival on August 31!

Bird's just gotta have fun!

Short and worth the watch!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I heard from the squirrel of judgement

I can't find a source for this. It was shared on Facebook via the Writing about Writing page (via Connie of Tails from the Foster Kittens) and when I tried to find it again on Facebook to see if I could track down who made it, a zillion election related posts had pushed it into the whirlpool of my timeline.

Yes, it has been 20 days since my last blog post. In that time a couple of other kittens have been spoken for, and the little kittens have grown up some more. The one little kitten who had been spoken for lost his potential home due to the usual: another more immediate kitten became available from somewhere else. But that's okay. He's still little, pudgy and cute. They are scheduled to be neutered in two weeks.

The new cat tree was offered to us by Tracy, who has fostered for us, for really cheap (just $30) because her cats wouldn't use it. Small kittens love things like this, whereas big cats find them too shaky or small to hang out on. So this tree will stay with this litter for them to destroy as the grow up.

Instead of scrolling mindlessly through Facebook for 20 minutes in the evening, I need to sit down and post on this blog for those people who aren't Facebook users but who give so much to help these cats!