Saturday, July 23, 2016

Kittens, kittens, and more kittens!

13 to be exact!

A team member at work got a great new job, and that means I have a bit more travel than expected, so I apologize for the delay in posting. We have 13 kittens in-house, and already five are neutered, thanks to the SPCA of Tompkins County for an affordable option, and also Tracy, who fostered the Lockwood kittens and did the drop-off and pick-up at the SPCA for three males because I had to travel and really didn't want to pass up the offer of 3 $50 spots! The Lockwood kittens got some great exposure to kids who are used to fostering shy kittens. The orange kitten above is one of those.

First, all 13 went off to Cornerstone for FeLV/FIV tests (and did I forget to bring microchips along? I did!) and all tested negative.

Thank you to everyone who is helping with the cost of testing, vaccination, and spay/neuter!

I ordered more vaccine and had a bit of a scare when I paid extra for Saturday delivery and it didn't show up as scheduled. It did arrive Monday and I made the UPS guy wait while I opened it to be sure the vaccine was still cold. was, or I would have had to pay another $200 to get a new batch here while submitting a damage claim with UPS.

I'm posting the invoices so folks who donated to help this batch of purrballs can see that their gift is being spent on kittens, and not on a vacation in Costa Rica (as if)!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

5 kittens out, 5 kittens in

Five of the Manx litter went to the SPCA of Tompkins County, where they will be sterilized and put up for adoption. They will get homes far faster than they would here. I kept the smallest one (number six) because he is about the same size as the fluffy gray "found in the middle of the road" kitten I have in the house, so once FeLV/FIV tested they could be housed together (with fingers crossed that they don't give one another a URI).

Sunday I got a text from Jaime, Daphne's (previously "Goggles") mom, and their gathering of July 4 celebrants had found an abandoned kitten. We always agree to help out our adopters, so the little kitten, Victoria, is now here with us. And boy is she a cutie:

She's about a size of the smallest kitten in the batch of four I have, so again, once tested and after a second round of vaccines for them, and a few days after hers, they can go together. I hate to mix kitten litters together, but single kittens can sometimes grow up bitey. And also, what must it be like for a single kitten to watch four kittens romping around on the floor and you can't join in?

Jaime then went on our Amazon wish list and bought us the rest of the water bottles we need, and some cat food. Thank you, Jaime!

Then I got an email today from a gentleman who took in a abandoned female cat who had kittens under his porch. He assumed it would be easy to find them homes, and realized "not-so-much." When he called a shelter, they told him they might be able to help and they would call him back. They didn't. He called again five days later and they said "Sorry, can't help."

So we'll assist in getting mom cat fixed (whom I believe he will keep) and take the kittens and find them homes.

RED ALERT! CHANGE IN STORY. I just got a Facebook message from Jaime:

Susan, you won't believe this (actually, you will), but my Dad (who lives next door to my aunt) found two more kittens in the shrubs. They caught one and are trying to lure the other out from under the deck. Same litter.

I guess Victoria won't need to be matched up with another litter. The rest of her own will be joining her. So, five kittens out, seven in!

Gotta love a Kitten Summer. Whew. I guess I'm going to have to put up a GoFundMe appeal again this year, because FeLV/FIV tests for twelve kittens, plus future spay/neuter, is going to cost a lot. Spay/neuter is a bit easier to manage, because the kittens can go out on foster-to-adopt, and then come back to be sterilized. But they all need to be FeLV/FIV tested right away. That's something that can't wait.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The art of "thank-you"

What do kittens do, besides look cuuuuuute? They eat! And eat. And eat. So I posted our Amazon wish list link on Facebook today, because these little buggers (there are 11, with one more arriving tomorrow) eat five cans a day, and then the adults stare pleadingly, so they get a share as well. That's ten cans of cat food a day, in addition to their dry chow. That's a lot of cat food!

Pepper and Timea's rescuer Jo has been a regular cat food savior, not just for the two cats who came here from her, but the others as well. Megan, who is steadfastly looking for her lost Luca (post to come), nonetheless took time to send the Owl House cats two boxes of wet food two weeks ago. My UPS guy has a sense of humor, hauling these heavy boxes up to the door regularly. Luckily I caught him before he dragged up six boxes of cat litter from Jo earlier this year, since they needed to go to the Owl House HQ barn instead of the house. He always has a smile when he arrives. I think he knows how much these small but heavy boxes mean to the cat who are peeking out at his truck through the windows.

Nom-ing kittens eat me out of house and home each summer. Nancy (adopter of Gizmo and past Owl House foster home) was already planning to come out to visit when I posted the wish list on Facebook, so she stopped by Walmart to pick up kitten and cat food. We played with kittens and cats in the HQ, and sat by the memory garden for a while and talked. It's nice to speak to someone human now and then...especially about something other than cats!

Saying "thank-you" is a grace and a skill. I guess some people are born with it. I was not. I recall once when I was a teenager, someone gave me something and I felt overwhelmed by the gift. I didn't know how to say thank you on such a large scale. I don't remember the gift, but I do remember my mother's words: "Susan, you just need to learn to be gracious about accepting gifts."

And every time I delay in sending a thank-you, and realize, "No! I forgot to email, or blog, or send a note!" I can hear my mother's reminder "Susan, you need to learn to be gracious about gifts." It's such a gentle statement, but nonetheless, firm.

Upon writing this post, I popped into my rescue email and found the following message from Jo:

I saw your "kitten S.O.S." and you should be receiving from Walmart (July 9 arrival):

2 14-lb. bags of Purina Kitten Chow Nurture
1 32-can pack Friskies Savory Shreds
2 packs @ 300-count 9-Inch Paper Plates

Seriously, I am doing a happy dance over 740 paper plates (between Jo and Nancy). And Kitten Chow! I expect kittens toss half of the dry kitten chow they are given out of the cage in their joy de vivre and every time I see the morning mess I tell those kittens "Don't you know you are tossing dimes out of your cage every time you do that?" And then I look at their little round faces and say "Oh my, you are so freaking cuuuuuuute!"

So thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU! Everyone who has donated, who has adopted, or who has just stopped by to comfort and comb the cats, or entertain the kittens, I can't thank you enough. I need to post more about the people you have helped...the people who find these cats and kittens and bring them here. I tend to post only about the actual animals, but no cat ever called, texted, or emailed for help. Only people do. I have left them out of the story, and I need to start adding them. You have helped them too, in a huge way.

Thank you.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel - September 30, 1928 – July 2, 2016

(Bo and Davis, nabbed from Facebook today, obviously well and happy in their adoption home)

My college friend, Robin, posted this on Facebook today:

Remembering Elie Wiesel, who passed away today. We cannot rely on him to remember for us anymore. It is now up to all of us to remember, and try to do better together.

It was fitting this news came to me from a friend. He had this to say about friendship:

And what is a friend? More than a father, more than a brother: a traveling companion, with him, you can conquer the impossible, even if you must lose it later. Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing. It is a friend that you communicate the awakening of a desire, the birth of a vision or a terror, the anguish of seeing the sun disappear or of finding that order and justice are no more. That's what you can talk about with a friend. Is the soul immortal, and if so why are we afraid to die? If God exists, how can we lay claim to freedom, since He is its beginning and its end? What is death, when you come down to it? The closing of a parenthesis, and nothing more? And what about life? In the mouth of a philosopher, these questions may have a false ring, but asked during adolescence or friendship, they have the power to change being: a look burns and ordinary gestures tend to transcend themselves. What is a friend? Someone who for the first time makes you aware of your loneliness and his, and helps you to escape so you in turn can help him. Thanks to him who you can hold your tongue without shame and talk freely without risk. That's it.

I wonder, in all this media frenzy about US elections, Brexit, guns, and mass killing, whether he will get the remembrance he deserves--and whether we can remember (and keep in mind) anything he had to say. I know I was on my way to forgetting, until now.

Jack and the Leewit check in from paradise...

Last month Mary sent me a photo of Jack and Leewit in their Purrfect Fence paradise. All I could think of was the Lion King on the great rock. You can see the fence in the trees in the back. It must be wonderful for them to have such a safe and large space to enjoy the sun and air:

(Click to expand the photo)

And then there are the indoor cuddle moments:

The weather is gorgeous this weekend. I'm sure everyone there is making the most of this beautiful day!

Happy Independence Day Weekend

and boy, do I have a lot to get done! I expect everyone else using this weekend to catch up on work, both indoor and out, as the beginning of July is usually when things have begun to get a tiny bit out of control in the yard and garden. While the drought has kept the lawn and fields lower than normal, mowing is replaced by watering.

But first up, a Buster photo. He was helping me stake lilies this morning in the front garden.

My phone rang, and my friend Gina wanted to come over and borrow a trap. There's nothing that moves your house cleaning along like an early morning visitor. What if she needed to use the bathroom? Argh! There's a kitten and a cat box in the bathroom!

Luckily Gina wanted to play with kittens in the Owl House HQ, so here is your weekend dose of kitten!

The gray kittens preferred to find amusement on their own:

Gina also helped me move one of the extra-large cages from outside by the hose (where it had been getting a scrub down) back into the barn HQ so I could move another litter of four out of a small cage into a big two level cage. They grow so fast!

If you need a kitten-fix of your own, I'll be here all weekend including Monday should you want to come and play! I do need to run out for some errands, so email first at

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Nueve (Now Footnote) checking in!

I nabbed this photo of Footnote (who was "Nueve" here at The Owl House, rescued by Debra), from Facebook. She's all grown up!

Kitten shot!

Monday, June 13, 2016


We have a new kitty here. Basil was supposed to be a quick visitor. From a feral colony in Waverly, he was supposed to just get a neuter, shots, worming, and flea/earmite treatment, and head home.

Unfortunately he had a half-healing injury so off to the veterinarian he went:

He seems to enjoy being petted, although he doesn't look for it. When I put his wet food in front of him in the cage, he immediately eats it. Most feral cats will wait until the threat (me) is gone--or at least has moved across the room--before eating. Because he has to stay here until that wound is entirely healed, I went ahead and had him FeLV/FIV tested (negative!) in case he tames up while he is visiting. While it's likely he doesn't have an owner given that he's at least two years old and unneutered, we'll report him as found to Stray Haven, and perhaps he'll find a new home where he doesn't have to worry about fight wounds in the future.

Robin gets a home!

After almost a year and a half, sweet Robin has come out of his shell and has found a home. All three of the kittens from under a mobile home nearby grew up very shy. Gremlin (the tiger) will probably remain here in my house as a pet, as he has high matting fur and is quite shy (but loves other cats so give Oliver someone to play with). Valentine, the white cat, also has coat issues, but I'm working on her because, since she is so beautiful, she is highly adoptable if only she would permit more combing.

Robin has always been the most brave of the three, and doesn't it figure he loves combing? And doesn't really need it? With his rakish tilted ear, his new guardian fell in love with his photo on-line and waited months while I was traveling and she was moving to a new apartment, to adopt him.

I dropped him off yesterday and I'm sure they thought I was a crazy person. As with most old apartments, there were corners in a closet where the sheetrock did not meet with a large gap behind, where a determined cat could rip and tear. I taped those over "just in case." Robin isn't a rip-and-tear-type cat, but then he's never been in a rip-and-tear situation before. They also have a knee-wall door that has no latch, so we pushed a heavy object in front of it and they promised to arrange for a latch, since Robin could enter the house walls there. They were surprisingly tolerant of my paranoia. It's just went cats are far away, it's hard for me to help when problems occur. And they have occurred in the past.

Surprisingly, while Robin was quite scared, he was still very interested in treats. Normally a shy cat just wants to be left alone when relocated to a strange place, but he still loved his crunchies. Late last night (his first night in his new home) I got a text with Robin playing with a feather toy!

While his "safe room" had the tiny wall gaps I mentioned, the rest the apartment is secure, small, and quite cute. I think he's going to be a happy cat!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Clark Kent, Tuxie and "Waverly On the Hill"

A couple of months ago, Debra caught a cat that was doing OK on the street, but deserved something better. A big black feral tom, he had a twisted back leg that he sometimes used, and sometimes held up. He was holding his own, but clearly needed help. She caught him and brought him to The Owl House, and he was neutered at the SPCA of TC. The veterinarian there said he had an old break in his hind leg that was fused.

Clark is actually fairly friendly. He likes being scritched on his forehead and under his chin, and he meows for his wet food. But he will hiss and smack when only mildly startled, and he won't allow himself to be picked up.

In the old days, an injured non-social cat like Clark would have been put down without a thought, and in those old days, rightly so, since outdoor cats in many circumstances didn't get the care they do now. Clarke came back here for cage rest, to get weight on, get fleas and mites off, and see if his leg needed any more healing time. He was in a big two-level cage so he could stretch and move around.

Clark was supposed to go back to his original site, but Debra was concerned that there was too much cat competition at that particular location for a gimpy cat. So she decided to relocate Clark to a relative's house in the country, which had a couple of cats already that seemed to get along very well. There was a big garage to get out of the weather, and the cats were fed and watched over daily. So Clark and the two-level cage went off to the hills of Waverly, so he could be soft-released.

A soft-release (in wildlife rehab terms) means holding an animal in a cage right in their new habitat for a number of weeks, and then quietly leaving the door open so they can leave on their own terms, and even come back to the cage to eat and drink if they wish. Relocation of cats is never the best first-resort, since only about 60% of them "stick" at their new home. Luckily Clark was one of the 60%, probably because he had so much human contact at his original location.

Debra bought him a comfy bed, and he enjoys cuddling up in it on one of the garage shelves when he isn't exploring his new deck and lawn.

However there were a couple of cats at that location that weren't yet sterilized as well! So Debra set some traps and brought little Tuxie to the Owl House. She was spayed at the SPCA of Tompkins County and stayed with me for a couple of weeks before returning home entirely healed.

There is still one male left to get sterilized, but oddly enough, even though he is still a tom, he is getting along with Clark.

I can't thank to SPCA of TC enough for the spay/neuter spots. While they have to do their own residents, and other shelters with a great need than the Owl House, first, they do try to fit us in whenever possible. It's a haul to get over there and back twice a day, but with gas prices as cheap as they are, it would be absurd to complain. If I take three cats to the SPCA, I save almost $150 to $200 dollars even when the SPCA charges me their full price. When they have discounted spots, or if I am helping a person on state assistance, it can even be free or just a buck. I don't know for certain until I pick the cat up, so I come with money in hand, but it's nice to get a free "fix" and be able to stop by the store on the way home for more canned and dry food with the money saved, or be able to call up another person and say "catch that cat, we've got money!"

Now the summer has hit and there will be more kittens and pregnant moms, there will be fewer female spots available. But wow, what a huge help over the winter!

Another seriously belated "thanks!" A cozy cat house for Buster

Sharyn in New Hampshire notice my posts about Buster, the feral who showed up this winter, and my concerns about keeping him warm. She had a heated kitty house, which she shipped off to us.

The house cats were intrigued:

By this time, Buster had broken into the basement. When I first discovered he was sneaking in a gap near the oil-intake pipe, I was quite proud of my initiative in immediately repairing it:

That didn't last long. Buster was not to be denied:

So the little heated house went into the basement (which was convenient because there are outlets down there, and it could stay dry) and Buster had a cozy and protected winter. Other than the day a fox decided to check things out:

I guess I scared the fox enough (and she scared me!) that she didn't come back after that one visit. Now the bowls are up on a table.

If I can't get Buster convinced to move indoors, this microchip activated cat door will be next (and pricey) step. I'll need the more expensive one (the "dual scan") because apparently the cheaper one can be pulled open by little raccoon fingers. I have just been lucky so far that a short-legged little skunk hasn't tumbled down into the basement rather than a long-legged fox who can leap back out.

Thank you, Sharyn, for the house!!! It's a wonderful little thing and it kept me from having nightmares that he was shivering down there all winter. With the gap in the window where he went in and out, it wasn't exactly warm down there.

Buster wants "in"...but on his own terms

This was a cute moment this morning. I had moved the garbage can I keep kindling in around while trimming near the house and Buster-the-feral discovered he could request breakfast in person now. My bed is right next to the bow window, and I woke to an unfamiliar meow.

How sweet!

This was not so sweet. In fact, this ripped screen in the front room nearly gave me a heart attack as I frantically counted cats. Luckily they had all gathered for breakfast so it only took a moment to discover everyone was accounted for:

I can only guess that one of the cats was inside sitting on the cat window seat I have there, and Buster leaped up from the ground and the screen disintegrated under his claws as he fell back to the ground. My indoor cats apparently respect screens enough that they did not think to test this new gap.

I've been meaning to replace the nylon screens with aluminum one by one, but it was low on the financial priority list. Upstairs I have a second aluminum screen in each of the three windows that are open for double protection. I guess I'll need to pick up a few for the downstairs windows as well. Right now, they are closed, because I worry Buster will have a "go" at the other window as well.

I'd like to curse the material but, let's face it. These windows and the screen are probably 25 to 30 years old. With the sun beating on them in the summer evenings, it's no wonder they are weak.

So, disaster averted by merest luck!

I'd love to have Buster come inside nights, but he won't come near the door, and I can't leave it open. I may try shutting the other cats up in the great room when I feed them breakfast and start coaxing Buster closer and closer to the open front door with his morning wet food.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Handling a new colony

Note: This is a post that has been sitting in draft for about a month! I have finally had time to complete it.

A few months ago I received a small personal-size envelope at my PO Box asking for help. A woman had had cats dropped off two summers ago and last year kittens had been born. She currently had 13 outdoor cats in various stages of approachability. These were not "community cats"...these were now her own cats, whom she had names, sheltered, and cared for. The cats needed to be spay/neutered. She was willing to help, but she couldn't shoulder the entire cost.

At the time I got her letter, I was over my head with cats who needed veterinary care. Rose (in her foster-to-adopt home) still needed follow-up blood work and her dental to remove an old root. Noah, a senior cat still her in our facility, badly needed a dental (and of course, blood work). Two cats had been adopted (Pierre and Dixie) and needed pre-adoption vet visits. Eve needed to be spayed. I couldn't see how I was going to squeeze 13 more spays and neuters into the rescue budget before more kittens were born in this woman's yard. The note sat on my counter for a couple of weeks before I finally picked up the phone and called her.

It took a supreme act of courage on my part, because once I speak to someone on the phone, I'm a goner. I do most of my initial correspondence by email. Sometimes I have to say "no" (or you'd find me featured on a hoarding TV show, or in bankruptcy court) and it's easier to offer people alternatives or a timeline via email.

As luck (and good will from Pam at the SPCA of TC) would have it, the SPCA of Tompkins County had spay/neuter spaces, and a grant that brought the cost down waaaaay low. They were able to give me spots in twos and threes. Without their help there is no way this location could have been handled so quickly.

The owner was willing to do the trapping for those cats who were too shy to be pushed into a cat crate, and even transport them here and pick them up. So off to work we went.

The first three caught were females (yay)! They were neat little ladies in their cages which was a big plus. There's nothing worse than dealing with trashed cages every morning when the cages are full of scared cats.

The second three were males and they were almost as neat as the ladies of their colony. The owner caught two more females trying to get the males, so those two stayed here at the Owl House in big cages, waiting for the next girl-spots to open up the following week. "Do not" I told the landowner "release ANY cats once you have caught them." Released cats can sometimes be difficult to catch again right away.

In addition to doing a lot of work, the owner also brought supplies for the cats and a donation as well. She is also going to send a donation to the SPCA of TC. I find that people often want to contribute to help solve a problem they find themselves in...they just can't afford it all in one swat. And 13 cats is a heck of a swat!

All this has meant a lot of driving:

Cats to and from the SPCA in the morning and again in the evening: 120 miles/day times five clinics (600 miles!)
Pierre to Syracuse to his new home: 128 miles
Dixie to PA to her new home: 110 miles
Rose to and from Sayre PA, four times x 60 for her dental visits: 240 miles
Not to mention the vet trips for Dixie, Rose, Solo, and Noah.

It's a good thing the Kitty Kia gets good mileage and the SPCA intakes clinic cats at 7:00 am and releases them after 6:00 pm so I could work around my job!

These cats also have a beautiful spot up on the hill. For privacy reasons I won't post the actual little house there.

The three final cats were not interested in going into the traps, but that's when we pull out the big gun: a drop trap.

The landowner caught all three hard-to-catch cats in the drop trap the first morning she used it. This is "Gimpy" the very last cat captured. Her owner thought she would actually be the easiest to catch, as she has a deformed from leg that causes her to limp. However it appears her disability has caused her to develop great survival skills, because she was the final holdout.

Basically I just did training, a lot of cage cleaning and swapping cats in and out of cages and traps, a lot of driving, and provided the equipment. The females stayed here for 7 days after surgery, as I prefer that females be entirely healed before release. The owner did the rest of the work. Is it any wonder I took advantage of this situation to train this highly competent woman to take care of the Owl House foster cats when I'm traveling? She had her first "go" at this last week, with my regular caretakers doing Friday and Monday, and she did the weekend. Everything went great.

Which just goes to show, good deeds sometimes work out just as well to the giver as it does for the one who asked for help. She has 13 fixed cats, and I got some wonderful interaction and help from the SPCA of Tompkins County, another caretaker for my cats when I travel, and maybe even someone to sit on the porch and gab with this summer, now and then.

There you go.

Buster bonds with the indoor cats

Buster has been more of a presence around the house now that the weather is warmer. I'm hoping he will allow me to let him in the house at some point, but he still runs off if I come out when he is on the porch. He had no curiosity about being petted when I had him caged at the time of his neuter when he showed up here.

However he has come a long way with the other cats since the day he beat the tar out of my one indoor-outdoor cat Bear. Apparently his tom-cat hormones have finally subsided. Now he and Bear tolerate one another in the yard, and Buster enjoys hanging near the catio with the other cats.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Walk in the woods

I live on 58 acres that I haven't even looked at in 3 years. Basically I've been ignoring it out of emotional baggage.

I got an inquiry from someone who would like to possibly hike, hunt, and camp on the land with their family, so I figure it was time to toss the baggage out the window and get up there on the hill. I was glad of the excuse to force myself to tackle land responsibilities I've been putting off, like clearing and marking trails and putting up new posted signs. These are things that are easy to ignore.

This time of year things are drab, but that's the best time to clear trails and prune, because bushes and grass are not yet overgrown. First task I wrote down: get someone to mow the fields and brushhog before the grass gets high this year, and get rid of all that honeysuckle.

I have an occasional friend who asks if they can walk the land. They can never find the path to the cabin. Apparently "go into the forest and turn left" isn't helpful. So I took flagging tape along on this trip to mark the Cabin Trail. I'll need to get different colored flagging for the Bear Trail and the Cathedral Trail.

Way on top of the hill is my cabin. Looks cute, huh?

Pity a tree fell on it and the roof is leaking. Sadness...

I'll need to paper the roof and run the kerosene heater in there for a long, long while. The white carpet is leftover from the Overbearing Hunter days, when a gentleman who had permission to hunt for meat (no trophy hunting) basically tried to take over my land, the cabin, and even my barn where he started parking his ATV instead of taking it home. I finally tossed him off the property in a yelling rage. I got awfully tired of waking up in the morning to discover him standing on the porch so he could ask me to warm up his coffee in the microwave. What kind of hunter doesn't own a thermos? What kind of hunter carpets a cabin with a white rug? Argh! Well, now it's a beautiful shade of green and I'll have to drag it down the hill to the dumpster.

The woods are full of dead wood, and I worry about fire. I used to have fits over the bonfires Mark and his friends would have. Now I realize those "stand around the big fire drinking beer" bonding experiences had kept all the small dead wood out of the forest, because the guys used to drag it all out to burn in the yard or field (with lots of water standing by "just in case"). So I have come to believe that men who love bonfires and beer are actually a product of farm forest evolution.

Nonetheless, I'll be breaking up the small wood to take down to the house for kindling, rather than burning it on the hill, as I'm too much of a wimp to start a bonfire so far from a fire engine.

With the Cabin Trail marked, Molly and I hit the Bear Trail on the way down. The bears follow the small gorge and end up in my back yard, therefore the name.

Clearly I need to invest in a chainsaw. High winds have brought down a ton of trees.

People have tossed tires from the road above into the gorge:

But the stream is still as beautiful as always and will be prettier still once I haul out the debris and trash:

Our walk down the Bear Trail concluded in my back yard. It goes straight from forest to yard:

And we both arrived home happily tired, and discovered a present for the cats on the porch from Jo (rescuer of Pepper and Timea):

Four cases of wet cat food! Bless her, because I was six cans away from being totally out of canned food.

People always say "Wow, I'd love to own that much land" or "Gosh, I'd love to have a cat rescue." But it's a lot of work. You can take the best care of everything, and wham, a windstorm comes along and suddenly there are six trees to clean up. You can take the best care of your cats and then, wham again, you get a litter of kittens that look fine, and suddenly break with ringworm right AFTER you took them out of quarantine.

One thing I try to remind myself is to take a deep breath and enjoy. To remember why you wanted to be in the country. Why you wanted to rescue cats. Remember those things are still there.

Whatever it is you do. Whatever it is you love.

A simple catio post to get used to blogging again

After a whirlwind cat-colony project, two work trips, and lots of back-and-forth from veterinarians and spay/neuter clinics, I finally blew the dust off my personal computer, pulled it out of the "cold room" (it's too warm for the woodstove, but too chilly to have the whole house open) and set it up next to my work computer to let the world know we are still alive out here in Spencer NY.

A catio post came across my Facebook news feed today (Thank you to the personal Facebook page of Peter Wolf of Vox Felina). You can see some great catios here.

Here's some 2011 video of kittens on our catio:

My catio has been a lifesaver for me. Back in my wildlife control days, I won a huge bird rehabilitation cage at the New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Council conference. I strapped it (un-assembled) onto the roof of my truck cap, and hauled it home. I then dragged it along (still un-assembled) when we moved from West Danby to here in Spencer. Finally, I hauled it out and with much cursing, made a catio out of it. Sooner or later it will need to be replaced, since it's just stained pine, but in the meantime the cats can go outside through a window in my pantry, winter or summer.

I recently saw a post, which I cannot find, of how one might make a small window catio out of small wire dog crate. I may do that upstairs.

What I would recommend in a catio if it is going to be open day and night:

Hardware cloth. Wildlife can squeeze through 1X2 wire, and a weasel can even get through 1x1 wire. Hardware cloth will also deter (but not completely ban) larger insects like moths.

A cat door instead of leaving a window or patio door wide open to the catio. This will keep mosquitos and moths from coming into your house at night and also keeps your house a bit warmer (or cooler) when weather is extreme. They come in patio door sizes as well.

A LOCKABLE human-sized door for outside access, if you don't have door access from the inside of your house. Padlock your latch. This is just common sense. You never know when a raccoon might fiddle with it, or a neighborhood kid might think it's "funny" to open the door. There is also simple human error. Even an unlocked padlock run through the holes in the latch will prevent accidents. Then be sure to lock it when you are not at home.

A roof, whenever possible. I know lots of catios show sides that are angled in to keep cats inside, but that doesn't keep other animals out, nor keep birds out of cat food and water bowls. If you have a very large catio, you might want to use a Purrfect Fence type enclosure, or protect both sides with coyote rollers, but I wouldn't suggest allowing your cats unsupervised night-time access.

Inspect your catio regularly, especially if it is made of wood and wire or mesh. Wood warps. Staples rust or pop out. Mesh gets torn. Even wire gets weak spots. Recently I discovered my outdoor cat Buster was climbing up the outside of the catio and sleeping on the roof like a hammock. The roof material was thick but soft plastic mesh. It occurred to me a raccoon could rip through that mesh like butter, so I added a layer of chicken wire until I can build a real wood-and-shingle roof.

A Google Image search of "catio" can waste your whole morning with dreaming, but if you are considering a catio, I highly recommend looking online to see what everyone else has done!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bo and Davis stolen from Facebook

Remember Bo and Davis?

It's always nice to be Facebook friends with adopters because I get to see their continued happy lives in their new homes!

Thanks for posting photos, Meg!