Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas. Kindness to cats and their keeper

Is Christmas over already? Nonsense. Christmas extends from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve. It takes that long for me to get my Christmas cards all in the mail.

In the week before Christmas, we had trekkers who came to the door bearing gifts for the cats. When Mary arrived, I had been pulling a marathon email stint and was still in what passes as jammies for me. The cats were thrilled at the bagsful of toys. A few days later, Lisa showed up with toys as well, and dropped off donated towels and some low-cal food as well. You'd think some of our cats were pudgy or something... (Yes, they are).

Cricket, getting up there in years, preferred the empty boxes (which is just as well, since she's not homeless and technically the toys weren't hers--but the pet cats have to give their seal of approval).

I tossed all the old toys in the cat facility, and we moved onto Bright, Shiny and New. Away boredom!

On Christmas morning it was Fancy Feast for everyone, from the boarding cats, to house cats, to rescue cats. I had gotten the facility cats some soft "fur" throws that look like they may survive the wash and not hold accumulated cat hair. We'll see. At least they will be cuddly and warm for awhile.

On Christmas Eve, Christy and Gordan invited me for dinner. Because there was chicken on the table, Jelli and Phillip (who forget they slept with me when they were kittens, and normally play shy when I visit) were absolutely charming.

Remember when Jelli was Cheeto? I find it funny that his name went from silly Cheeto, to distinguished Justin, but morphed to a silly sweet name once again.

Christy and Gorden sent home yet another bag of toys (the red sparkly ball with Arthur is one of theirs), so the cats are very distracted and very happy.

The cats received other gifts as well, but they deserve posts of their own, so I'll just pause to relay some profound feline gratitude, and wish you all a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Feral relocation/soft-release cage

Is this not the coolest thing? Finding a cage that is easy to transport and set up to relocate or return feral cats has been a huge issues for feral cat managers. The one thing I would like to see would be smaller wire, so common barn predators like mink and weasels could not get in:

From Ultra Lite Products, here:

I have two of their larger cages in by cat facility, which have stood up very well. Maybe around spring I'll invest in one of these. They are a huge improvement over a standard wire dog crate.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thomas, now Tommy, returns.

Tommy's caretaker, the father of a close friend of mine, has passed away unexpected. Tommy was adopted back in 2007 and was his caretaker's constant companion. Cary, his daughter, gladly would have taken him, but she has already adopted Simon and Hope from us, and has other cats and dogs of her own.

Tommy got the run of our great room while he got used to being in a new place. He is now running around the house, and has an appointment at the vet's next Thursday, along with Jewel and Arthur. He has always had weepy eyes and a snuffle in his sinuses. This has gotten a bit worse with age, so we'll have the vet check that out.

Tommy is looking for a new home with someone who wants a playful, affectionate older cat, and who doesn't mind wiping his eyes with special eye wipes to keep his white little face white.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy him here.

Here is Tommy and his Dad, who had only one request when he was in the hospital, and that was to see his Tommy

Faith heads off to foster-to-adopt

Tonight I delivered Faith to her new home for the next two weeks, and maybe for the rest of her life. I hope she's a match, because she would be a lucky cat to score a lovely quiet home with a caregiver who is home most of the time, and dedicated family who come visit.

Keep your paws crossed for her! She did great on arrival. She's clearly nervous, but she didn't disappear under the couch.

When you bring these cats to a real home, you realize how stunted their lives are in a shelter, where everything is chilly and impersonal.

You go, girl! It's "Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays" with I'm glad she's getting out of here and gets to experience warmth and love. She has been here since March 2009, and before that she was on the streets of Ithaca since at least August 2008.

Here are some links to earlier posts involving Faith.

We find Hope, Faith's kitten"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Finding homes on Craigslist

Some people are rabidly against posting on Craigslist. I figure if I get bad responses, I can just say "No." I've received some very nice adoptions by way of Craigslist and eBay (the classifieds, not the auction). People from more distant cities (Syracuse, etc.) often find my posts when they expand their search to check other nearby Craigslist postings. I find that I get a better quality of response if I post a photo that is cut and pasted from my Petfinder listing. People realize they we are not just someone with kittens from the backyard, and scammers also tend to stay away.

Tortellini, Beans, and Bounder just HAVE to get homes soon. They are far too active for my senior cats, but I don't want to put them in the cat facility. I'm just lucky that I have the boarding rooms to keep them in at night so my personal cats get a break from the playful activity that goes on, and on, and on. The kittens also want to cuddle up on my lap, bless them, which puts Ivan and Cricket's noses out of joint.

So keep your fingers crossed that these three beautiful young cats get their own homes for Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas profile photos

It's time to get these three new homes!




Tortellini - "Get it off!"



TigerTom photo

...snitched from georg's Facebook page.

A new blog to add, and Feral wallpaper

I ran a search for "feral cat blogs" this morning and found The Feral Cat Rescue Project.

There is a calendar feral photo available to set as wallpaper on your computer. I like having a calendar in easy view, so I added it to my computer.

Right-click on the photo to save it.
The go to Control Panel on your computer
Click on Display
Click on Desktop
Click on Browse to find and choose the photo file.
Click Apply, then OK

There you go!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jewel comes home

One day this summer, Christy sent me a photo of a cat who showed up in her garden. The cat looked like Jewel, who had spent two months here raising her kittens, and graces the banner of my previous blog. We compared markings and were fairly certain it was her. However Jewel disappeared, even though Christy left food out for her. Jewel was about a mile from the barn where she had originally been returned after being spayed.

Friday, the phone rang. It was Christy, and Jewel had made another appearance. I called Jewel's owners and, sure enough, they said they had not seen her in months. This time Christy scooped her up and put her in the workroom, and I drove over.

I'd felt badly about putting Jewel back out in the barn to begin with. She was far too friendly to be a barn cat, but I'd had no room at the time. Since Jewel hadn't "stuck" and was apparently going from house to house out there in the Styx, and since her owners said they would take her back but would like to see her find a home, Jewel came to stay with me again.

But first Christy offered tea, and I accepted. If I'm going to get stuck with another cat, I'm going to take all the human contact I can get. I told Christy I had to take a photo as evidence so my family knows I actually do periodically commune with humans.

Jewel was as good as gold in the crate in the car.

She has settled in quite easily here. I'll get her to the vet this week for a combo test and rabies booster.

Here's the link to Jewel with her kittens last summer.

And here she is today in the downstairs of the cat facility:

Big cat, little cat

Bear is not a cuddler, but Tortellini has decided he should be. Bear is twenty pounds. Leenie is 5.5, and she's six months old, so she's no wee kitten. She's going to be a little girl like her mom, and like most little girls, she believes the world can't possibly resist her charm. She sleeps on my wrists when I work on my laptop. It's a good thing she is tiny, with a habit like that!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Four days coming up, plus vacation days tucked in periodically until the end of the year. My poor rescue and my poor cats have been sadly neglected. So have I. The first thing I did when I got off at 2pm was take a 20 minute shower. Now I'm heading into town to check on the Fast Food Ferals and pick up wine for dinner. Then it's back here to take photos of the cats for Black Friday.

With five black cats looking for homes, it seemed like a good marketing crossover.

Laundry is already underway. Ivan and Nell have already hijacked that task, knocking over the pile ready to go to the cat facility and pre-warming one of the beds.

I have also decided I don't like the current blog layout. The banner is too large and the colors are too garish. So you'll be seeing some changes there.

I hope you all are gearing up for a few days of relaxation if you can.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I believe we need to stop claiming that territoriality will keep new cats away

Repeatedly, I see pro-TNR articles that state: "if you fix feral cats, they'll keep new cats away."

When fixing feral cats doesn't keep new cats away, this is cited by anti-TNR folk as proof that TNR does not work, and that cat advocates don't know what they are talking about. "See, look, new cats!"

Cats do in fact have territories, and in many cases they do protect them. However, unlike wild populations, cats do not necessarily move from Point A to Point B by themselves.

Most commonly, they are abandoned.

If you take a tame pregnant cats, or a batch of kittens, and dump them at a city park where there are altered ferals, those cats aren't going to move very far. They have been transported violently from the territory they knew to a territory they don't. They will latch onto the nearest source of food and shelter they can find, which is the food and shelter put out for them by caretakers. If kittens or a tame cat are dumped at a house or barn, they aren't going to set off across the fields looking for some mystical "better" place just because the resident cats beat up on them. They are going to try to stay out of the way, snatch some food when they can, suffer from wounds, catch illnesses, and become a problem.

Animal control professionals and cat rescuers are often called out for kittens dumped in some remote location. Those kittens will often sit just off the side of the road for days. Their little brains don't process that "wow, we are in trouble, we need to go look for help." Instead their genes are telling them "Sit here and wait for mom. Maybe yell really loud." Unless someone hears those yells, they die. They don't know there is a farmhouse a quarter mile down the road where someone might help them. They sit where they are put.

Male cats have it built in their behavior to move when things get overcrowded. But even friendly male cats are more likely to stay where there is a big house ("I know what a house is!") and humans coming and going, and food on a back porch.

Some cats will in fact keep other cats away. But what does that mean? Now there is a unaltered cats running around outside the colony, perhaps destined to start a new colony.

I strongly believe we need to promote the Caretaker as the reason TNR will work. When cats are fed daily, and traps are set to give cats rabies boosters, or catch injured cats, new cats will also be captured. Friendly cats and kittens can be removed, maintaining the status quo. New ferals can be altered before they spike numbers by adding new kittens to the mix.

Where there is no caretaker watching for new cats, any form of cat control will fail. Lack of a caretaker is why removal so often fails. No one wants to be the local cat killer who notes the arrival of two orange kittens under the cars in the state park parking lot, spends three hard days catching them, and then hauls them off to the local overcrowded shelter where they are killed. Average people might grit their teeth and do it the first time or two, but after awhile they get tired of putting out so much work (and paying a surrender fee), only to be known as that heartless person who kills all the cats everyone else cares about. The "cat killer" may in fact be the only one putting any effort at all into the cats...and yet they are being demonized.

This is why there are so few dedicated private "cat killers" in the world, and removal projects fail. A landlord gets tired of cats at his apartment complex, sets traps for a week or so, hauls them off to the shelter, but doesn't bother to enforce an "indoor altered cats only" requirement or monitor for new cats. So he waits until there are another 30 cats running around before trapping again. Sooner or later, the shelter says "Sorry, we are going no-kill" and he as no place to take those cats legally. So he either ignores them, employs "shoot, shovel, and shut up" (which is illegal and therefore can't be promoted as a public policy) or turns to TNR.

So let's move "territoriality" back to the minor role it deserves. I believe we set ourselves up for failure when we pull that out as a major benefit of TNR. It is a benefit only when you have territorial cats, in an area that experiences little or no abandonment. If you have that lucky mix, you are fortunate indeed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gifts...the third!

My niece Eliza and her little girl Zianna sent the cats a whole box-load of presents. The kittens will get first dibs and then I'll take it out to the cats in the facility, box and all, because you KNOW the box is the most fun of all.

Thank you! It really lifted my spirits to see your names on the box. I miss you all!

Gifts...the second

My sister Kathy and mother Louise have lately pulled out their sewing machines on behalf of the cats. This week my mom sent little ruffle collars to "holiday up" their profiles.

She sent them with ties, however the kittens were fascinated by the bows. I discovered that the ruffles slipped right over a standard collar.

Here is Noodles, renamed Bounder, enjoying the late autumn weather in his collar:

On violence toward cats by professionals

I am mulling over the issue of biologists who actively lobby against trap/neuter/return, and how to draw attention to the difference between those who are honestly concerned about natural bird populations, and those who have ego and power issues. I decided to relate a situation where a non-biologist reacted violently against kittens in his care simply because he didn't agree with an aspect of TNR.

An area veterinarian was contracted by a shelter, to provide pre-adoption, pediatric, and feral spay/neuter. He is an excellent surgeon, quite an egotist, and he was very proud of his ability to crank out up to 35-39 spay/neuters a day.

However, at the time, he did not agree with ear-tipping to mark a feral cat as altered. Many people react negatively when first introduced to the idea of cutting 1/4 inch off the tip of a cat's ear. That's no surprise, since a cat's ears are one of the things that we humans find most beautiful about a cat. The movement of ears is one of the ways cats communicate with us.

Ear-tipping marks a free-roaming cat as neutered. It tells neighbors that someone else in the area cares about the local cats, saves female cats from a second or even third surgery if they are re-caught, and is a vital aspect of live cat population management.

This particular vet, at the time, didn't like the idea of being told he "had" to eartip cats. And as a professional who felt "he was right," he reacted in a violent manner. When I walked in to pick up three tamed kittens, one of whom had already been adopted, I heard him say from the surgery (which was on he other side of french doors) "If they want ear tips, I'll give them ear tips!" At the time, I didn't get what he was being to adamant about.

When I peered into the crate with my three kittens, I was shocked to see they had been tipped, and quite bloodily. As tamed kittens, they did not need tips, and tipping was not marked on their crates--just spay/neuter.

Tips can look bad immediately afterward but heal quite nicely, so even though I was angry than my kittens had been unnecessarily tipped, I figured it was an understandable mistake in a high-volume clinic. I said nothing as I left with my kittens.

Then I got home and took the kittens out of the crates, I discovered that, instead of just making a flat surgical slice off the tip with a scalpel, he had folded the kittens' ears in half and cut the top third off with sissors!

I was physically shocked. Not only had my kittens been mangled, with their ears damaged beyond repair, this had been done by a veterinarian who was supposed to be the ultimate protector of cats. Don't they take a vow to "first, do no harm?"

Yet I was to have a worse awakening. When I called my own vet (not my current vet), expecting them to understand that the appearance of these kittens was going to hinder them getting homes, they refused to re-tip the ears to make them flat and less mangled-looking. I was given no explanation. Nothing like "we feel you should report this veterinarian to the Board" or "he should face up to his act." Just "No, we won't see these kittens." I realized they probably were offended that I had taken my kittens to an economy veterinarian instead of them and they felt I was getting what I had paid for and deserved. At the time, I felt that my kittens' welfare was being held hostage by angry selfish business people. When I hung up the phone, I was at a total loss.

There really is no way to explain how deeply this affected me. I had to explain to sweet Houdini's adopter why he had this hideous bite out of his ear. I am not a person who breaks down in tears at the drop of hat, but I literally became speechless while trying to explain. I am always preaching to my adopters that their veterinarian is the one person they should trust, and here I was in a situation having to explain that their bouncy, sweet kitten was going to wear this badge of violence for the rest of his life. I'm amazed they agreed to take him, and I respect them so much for it. Houdini had great huge bat ears, there was a tag of flesh sticking straight up on each side of the ear with a big dip in the middle.

I have since told this story to adopters who use this vet. I will not adopt a cat to anyone who uses him. I have been contacted about other acts of violence by him since that time. I don't put his name online, but I do share it freely in person when needed to prevent someone I care about from using his services.

If a veterinarian takes his anger out on animals he is supposed to respect, just because "non professionals" are telling him he must do a specific technique if he wishes to have their contract, I am not surprised if some wildlife management professionals--who have no such mission to protect domestic animals--react violently when told by "non wildlife professionals" that there is another way to manage cats besides killing them.

In my experience, biologists who approach science objectively will consider TNR to be a tool that can work in certain situations. Biologists have utilized sterilization before, in species from insects to deer. The primary objection by objective biologists is that cost, both in dollars and time, makes sterilization of larger animals impractical. They don't object that "sterilization doesn't work." Obviously, in a perfect scenario, sterilization works. Few situations are perfect, however. You can talk to these biologists at the same table without getting into a food fight, because their concerns are valid.

Yet there are always people who seems to define themselves by "being right." These folks exist on both sides of the animal welfare fringe. They can be animal advocates, veterinarians, or biologists.

Sadly, the animals are ones who suffer for this egotism.

Here is Sylvester's ear, ten years later. Despite being gorgeous, he was passed over by adopters until my sister Linda took him in and gave him a wonderful home. When her friends ask what happened to his ear, she also is put in the position of having to explain that a veterinarian did it, while at the same time defending ear-tipping as a marking method. Wizard, another half-an-ear, was adopted by -- wait for it!-- a biologist. He was years old before he was adopted.

Acts like this are violence, pure and simple. People who promote blasting away at cats, and boast about the numbers they have killed, are violent people. A veterinarian who rebelliously chops off ears of cats in a manner contrary to standard surgical technique is a violent person. If a person feels vindication when they perpetuate an act of destruction, rather than at least minor regret that violence was necessary, he or she is a violent person. They are not a person forced to use violence due to the nature of their mission, as they may profess.

Professional people of this sort may do a great deal of good. Their moments of violence may be a very small aspect of their overall actions. When viewed through a utilitarian filter, their violence may seems to be acceptable compared to the good they do.

That does not, however, make egotist violence acceptable. Professionals who tout their acceptance of egotist violence in public forums like blog comments and academic meetings are especially suspect.

Resource (PDF, large file): Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression.

Gifts...the first

When I came home from Kentucky, there was a gift from Donna and Tim, who care for the cats in my absence. It is a cat tray, and it made me laugh out loud. It now has a place of honor in the great room, which is my shrine to things that please me. Some day I'll have to do an online tour of that room.

They found it at the Finger Lakes ReUse Center, which is a blast to poke around in.

Tackling the web site

Since 2003 I've had a web site called The American Cat Project. I started building it with the help of my then-neighbor Alden. It is all in html, and updating it hurts my brain, but it is certainly not outside of my ability.

The site is wordy and out-of-date. I get quite a bit of positive feedback on it, primarily because it is a "both sides of the issue" site and you don't find many of those. It's a pretty poor communications tool, though.

It was thrown together with the idea that I would get the content in there, and then whittle it down. However, I switched jobs, and there it sits. Alden has moved away.

I managed to update the landing page last night, and while I was in there I noticed they now have a page builder in the system, which I could use to replace my html based pages. Their templates don't really inspire me, but the site would be much easier to manage if I didn't have to work with html

I have been spurred to update it and include data from our colonies, because I continue to note that anti-feral wildlife organizations like The Wildlife Society and the American Bird Conservancy state there are no confirmed colonies that have been managed to zero via TNR. I would like to get the basic pages cleaned up, throw out some of the outdated pages, and add a page with data from each colony we've cleaned up. This is a good time, since I need to touch base with caretakers before winter anyway, to find out how many cats they have, and whether they need help with shelters.

I am continually impressed with the The Neighborhood Cats pages. I need to remember to check in there at least once a month to see what they have added.

Feral cat news 10/29-10/30

Feral cats fed rat poison.
Rash of animal-poisonings.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

High-end cat products

If you have money to spare, you might be charmed by these (especially the PeiPod!):

Easter-egg like kitty pod
Cardboard kitty pod playhouse scratchers Mary donated two of these two us a few years ago and they lasted a really long time!
Giant Croc bed
Hepper Pods

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mariah heads home

Mariah and Smidge were adopted last week. The visit was supposed to be just for Mariah, but the adopter brought her mom, and Smidge lobbied pretty hard, and ended up going home with mom. They stopped first at mom's house (after a stop at Petsmart for supplies), but Mariah appeared to want to stay with Smidge, so now mom has two kittens.

I hope it works out. Two kittens can be a handful!

Mariah thought the soft-sided crate she went home in was pretty neat. The book is the photo album from the "kitten shower" her intended home had thrown for the kitten they adopted this spring (Mariah had been intended as his playmate).

Both women were great to visit with, and I'll be following up to make sure things are going OK.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Twizzler, now Raja, checks in

I must post Twizzler, now Raja, before I fall asleep and forget to do so. You should see the Himalayan who is her buddy in her new home. Talk about a gorgeous fuzzball...

When wildlife professionals and birders are rabid about cats

I absolutely understand why someone who loves or respects bird life would be considered about outdoor cats.

What I don't understand is how biologists, who otherwise conduct research on animal population management, dismiss trap/neuter/return out-of-hand...without having conducted any research on it themselves. Most actual research involving spay/neuter of feral cats has been conducted by small animal veterinarians with a clinic background. You would think population management biologists would jump all over this fairly low-cost, "easy-to-conduct locally" research option.

With the increased press due to National Feral Cat Day, it noted otherwise highly intelligent people--usually who have a research background -- release venom about shooting cats with high-powered rifles, etc. These same people would admonish citizens who blasted away at other animals in violation of the law. In most areas, it is illegal to kill a cat that could be someone's property, or any cat at all.

(Note: I do not consider these "shoot, shovel, and shut up" comments to be typical of professional biologists, but the fact that the posters consider themselves professionals is somewhat alarming).

Some wildlife professionals will also suggest, as a solution to cat overpopulation, taking the cat to a shelter. There seems to be little understanding that in many areas, there are no open-admission shelters, and that in many municipalities, no public funding is provided at all for cat control. In my area, shelters that accept cats are doing so out of their own pockets and with donor dollars---donors who expect those dollars to go primarily toward saving the lives of pets.

I am as of yet unfamiliar with any research conducted by a government or university biologist (versus a layperson or veterinarian) involving the sterilization of a particular population of cats actually conducted by that biologist.

In all of the colonies I have been involved with, populations have steadily dropped to near zero, as long as there is a committed caretaker. Situations where kittens have shown up again have been due to a lapse in caretaker commitment. In other words, as long as all or a majority of cats are altered, and a caretaker reports quickly on the appearance of new cats, TNR works on a site-by-site basis.

There also seems to be confusion between an actual colony TNR program, and just offering spay/neuter to the public, including feral cats. If a shelter has spay/neuter options and makes them available to people who have feral cats, this is not a "TNR project." This is a public spay/neuter project.

TNR involves addressing a specific population of cats. If you look at a specific population, fix all or as many cats as you can at that site, remove kittens and friendly cats, and feed and provide shelter for the cats, you can track the success or failure at that site.

But if you provide spay/neuter for a large geographic area and some of those cats "happen to be feral" and your reports of, or intake of, feral cats does not drop, this is not due to the failure of TNR.

Let me offer an example. If a person has a problem with raccoons, and they call a nuisance wildlife control company, and that company excludes or removes six raccoons from the property and repairs the damage and removes attractants, that landowners problem has absolutely been solved---but there has been no real impact on the overall population of raccoons in that county. That wildlife control company could run around doing a bang-up job resolving raccoon problems, reducing disease risk, and making landowners very happy, and never risk wiping out the overall raccoon population.

To have an impact on an overall geographic population, there would need to be a concerted large-scale effort to remove or sterilize animals. Deer hunting seasons would be an example of this. Hunting actually has an impact on populations because thousands of hunters take to the woods during breeding season.

TNR is successful at resolving site-by-site problems. It also is successful at lowering individual shelter intake, if that shelter replaces acceptance of feral cats for euthanasia with spay/neuter of feral cats to be returned to the landowner.

However it will take a number of very large-scale spay/neuter programs in an area, over time, to impact the entire overall population of cats.

So it is understandable that TNR is a "success" --- it permanently resolves a local feral cat problem at a trailer park, college campus, or person's back porch --- at the same time the county, overall, is still seeing a lot of cats.

Wildlife biologists point to this as the "failure" of TNR and a reason to ban or discourage it. These same biologists would never suggest banning private nuisance wildlife control just because the activities of wildlife control trappers does not impact overall nuisance species populations. That idea would be idiotic.

(By the way, raccoons are also a main predator of songbird nests).

A wildlife biologist might respond to this criticism by saying that they encourage nuisance wildlife control operators to kill nuisance raccoons rather than relocate them (Relocation can spread disease, disrupt the new population, and stress or kill the relocated raccoon). They would say they are suggesting the same things for cats: Put them down.

However nuisance wildlife control operators usually have legal options to kill raccoons themselves. Citizens usually cannot kill cats of unknown origin themselves because they could be someone's property. And municipalities may not fund shelters adequately or at all.

In addition, nuisance wildlife control businesses are paid to resolve wildlife conflicts. Because the public perceives cat control as a municipal responsibility (even when the municipality won't fund cat control) they are reluctant to pay for it. And it is illegal, in most cases, for a private citizen or business to offer killing of cats as a service. Some cats could be lost or free-roaming pets.

Locally, I've received calls from people with stray cats who have been turned away by shelters in both Tompkins and Tioga counties because those shelters are simply out of room. The Tioga shelter receives no funding at all for cats from their county and towns.

A local shelter may also be a private, no-kill humane society. If it is against the humane societies mission to accept cats to be killed just because society doesn't want to deal with them, there is no reason for that private humane society (or private rescue for that matter) to deplete their resources attempting to resolve a massive problem that the municipality does not feel is important enough to fund.

There are additional inconsistencies in the attitudes of biologists or birding professionals' attitudes to toward cats that I'll address in future posts.

Recent news posts about feral cats

Feral Cats Live the High Life
Animal Control And SAAFhouse Aim To Slow Feral Cat Crisis
County considers feral cat program
Body found by feral cat trappers (Um, yikes!)
And of course, lots of National Feral Cat Day coverage!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good morning from The Owl House

photo by Valarie Kranz

And happy National Feral Cat Day. In honor of this special day, launched in 2001 by Alley Cat Allies, I am saying goodbye to Wildrun, and hello to The Owl House.

Wildrun was a wildlife control and cat chasing venture started by a 28 year-old young woman with a truck, a boyfriend, a catchpole, who got a real sense of joy being out in the small wild lands that edged our suburban world. I caught things. Woodchucks, raccoons, skunks, now and then a beaver and...cats. My life was running around, catching things.

The Owl House is a house on a quiet road in something close to the middle of nowhere, surrounded by older neighbors of German and Finnish origin, and younger neighbors who just wanted to walk out their door and see the sky, hear the creeks, and appreciate other folks who loved such things. And instead of me having to go get the cats, the cats more often come to me.

Right now, as I type, one young black cat is curled up on my left. Another is on my lap, keeping my hands warm as I work. Their tux brother is having a wash on the carpet. Yesterday, Mariah and Smidge (pictured) went to their new homes.

Here we are.

At one time I had a grand plan. It was called The American Cat Project, and you can still find it living on the web, full of broken links and old information. You'll see it slowly get cleaned up over the next few months. It will become smaller, tighter, and will address issues. It will no longer be a grand plan, but it says something most sites don't say. Sometimes things live, and sometimes things die. Life is not black and white.

I also have a new home page for The Owl House at at It's very small now, because last year I got the basic plan to see how I liked the system. This year I will expand to unlimited pages, and I plan to provide information on how local people can handle their own cat issues when we cannot help.

I have some long range plans, but until the economy shakes itself out, I'll just keep those on pen and paper rather than the internet.

I hope the point of the change will become clearer over the next few months, for the major launch in January of 2012.

I know some of you are somewhat attached to Wildrun, having been on board for years and years. I have to say, I'm having a hard time giving it up. Sometimes things have to pass on for other things to live.

Have a wonderful, glorious fall day, on this National Feral Cat Day!