Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cat updates -- Tommy

Tommy has been living in the lap of luxury, having taken over the great room. However he would far prefer to be living in someone's lap and sleeping in someone's bed.

His mouth has healed from his dental, but recently I noticed sore spots on his gums, so I'm switching him entirely over to wet food and I will take him back to the veterinarian for another check-up. I was hoping he was ready to go out the door, but apparently not.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Here we go again. Sheldon Silver can overrule the chair of the Codes Committee on A05449

NOTE: You can email this post to a friend by clicking on the envelope icon at the very bottom!

Here we go again. It's not over yet. Sheldon Silver has the power to overrule the chairperson of the Codes Committee who halted progress on NY Assembly Bill A05449.

Here is the actual bill again. Do a "find" (control+F) for "psychological" and "redemption period" to find the pertinent passages.

You can use the email link below (and edit your input if you wish) or you can email or write a direct letter. Letters and faxes are great--they are physical. However please also email in some manner to get the message out ASAP. Please distribute this to CAT OWNERS not just rescuers. Cat owners deserve to know that this bill would permit a shelter to kill scared/aggressive or even just terrified/huddled cats on intake. Many cats that appear feral on intake turn out to be pet-friendly in a few days. And many so-called feral cats are owned spay/neutered porch or barn cats. How would your cat act on intake if she were lost for weeks, then trapped, transported, and placed on the floor of a loud shelter to be evaluated?

You can go to Nathan Winograd's auto-mailer, here. You can edit your input and I suggest you do.

Here is the link to Sheldon Silver's own page. I think this probably is a better route if you wish to be seen as an individual voter and not part of the animal welfare machine.

Please also consider printing out your comments and sending as a postal mailed letter.

My concerns:

a) permitting animals to be killed before the 5-day holding period is up, for "psychological trauma." The very act of being lost, captured, and housed in a shelter is emotionally overwhelming to many house cats. Many "feral-acting" cats are lost pets, or are outdoor cats or barn cats that have been spay/neutered at considerable cost to landowners.

b) the section requiring a description or photo of the pet to be available to the public specifically omits these pets by requiring this only "when practical" and "at least during the redemption period." There is no redemption period for a pet killed on intake. Will it be considered "practical" for there to be photos and descriptions of killed pets for the public to view? I'll bet not.

c) this will erode the trust the public as in shelters. Right now they can count on their pet having five days at the shelter for the pet owner to find their pet. However now they will never know if perhaps their scared or headstrong cat was killed before the owner got to the shelter two days later. People who spay/neuter feral cats will now hound their shelter as soon as a cat disappears, instead of calmly and rationally checking the shelter's new cats, out of fear that their missing cats came in and were killed. This section will destroy the partnership between shelters and the community.

In my own personal opinion, one of the back-door purposes of this "psychological trauma" statement, is simply to reduce the work on shelters, to reduce the support for shelter TNR programs (why alter a cat you can kill instead?), and to enable intially hard-to-handle cats to be killed on the front end, so they do not have to be killed later when space becomes limited. If a shelter kills for space after a pet is put up for adoption, they are not seen as "no kill."

I don't think shelter staff would have thought to ask for this "permission." But absolutely there are shelters that would use it if they felt overwhelmed.

We need to be doing MORE for our shelters, and this is not MORE. This destroys the public trust in our shelters. Even a shelter that chooses to keep every pet for 5 days would be regarded with suspicion because the option is there.

I look forward to a "no kill" future, but if shelters are not at that point (and most of them are not), we should not be passing shifty legislation to help make "no kill" supposedly come true...while killing more pets. This permission to kill cats up front will catch a lot of cats that would be adoptable if held for five days. By using this excuse to kill cats, a shelter can look like they are doing a better job of live-release, when in fact they aren't.

Please email and/or write Sheldon Silver immediately.

Thank you again!

"I feel it's a responsibility"

The bad news and good news on Assembly Bill A5449A

UPDATE: Please go here to this new post for information on reaching out to Sheldon Silver. The bill passed, but was stopped by the chair of the Codes Committee. Sheldon Silver has the authority to over-rule the chair, however.

The bad news: A5449A passed and was moved onto the Codes Committee.

The good news: The Chairperson of the Codes Committee, Joseph Lentol, stopped it cold. He also set up a Facebook page announcing this.

A note regarding NYS Assembly Bill A5449A
by Joseph Lentol on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 5:09pm ·

On Wednesday, February 15th, the NYS Assembly Committee on Agriculture reported this bill to the NYS Assembly Codes Committee. I am the Chairperson of the Codes Committee. I have received many calls and messages from individuals opposed to this legislation.

I am not a sponsor of this bill and have not had any part in its drafting. Those who have voiced their opposition against this bill have raised legitimate questions and I, too, am concerned. Therefore, I do not intend to report this legislation at this time. I believe a great deal more study and work must be done on this issue before legislation can be moved to the floor.

If you are on Facebook, please be sure to stop by at tell him thank-you, as over 500 others have.

This is not over, of course. But at least there is breathing room. And maybe now the many cat advocacy groups can work together to stay updated and involved in this issue.

To those of you who took the time to email your dismay with this legislation, I send a huge "Thank you." It is of extreme concern that this bill made it as far as it did, even after people pointed out that this would destroy the 5-day safety net for lost cats and s/n ferals, as well as frightened dogs. It also ruins the trust the public has in their shelters---even shelters that chose to continue to honor the 5-day holding period.

I know I have focused only on the "psychological trauma" wording, but there are larger problems with this legislation.

That said, something needs to be done to assist shelters. The public insists shelters become "no-kill" which means more and more shelters are turning away stray or owner surrendered cats when they are full. My mother reports her local shelter is now turning away cats. The Tompkins County SPCA has done a great job of adopting themselves into space again for their county and recently put out a call to their county for kittens-in-need. In my county, I still receive calls for help from people who state they have been turned away by our local shelter.

More on this difficult issue later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

EMAIL NOW! If NYS Assembly bill A05449 passes, your lost cat could be killed on arrival at your local shelter

UPDATE: Please go here to this new post for information on reaching out to Sheldon Silver. The bill passed, but was stopped by the chair of the Codes Committee. Sheldon Silver has the authority to over-rule the chair, however.

photo borrowed from the Facebook page of Tenth Life for NYC Cats.


NYS Assembly Bill A05449 will destroy the currently mandated 5-day holding period for stray pets at animal shelters, by permitting them to be killed on intake for exhibiting "psychological trauma."

(The bill is at that link above. Search for "psychological" and "at least during" to find pertinent passages)

While shelters will be required to make descriptions of found pets available to the public, the bill adds "AT LEAST DURING THE REDEMPTION PERIOD."

There is no REDEMPTION PERIOD for a cat that was killed at intake.

Feral cats and scared pet cats will disappear into a big black hole. You may be putting up posters for months for a lost shy cat that could have been killed on Day One of being taken to a shelter by an angry neighbor, or well-meaning good Samaritan who assumed that would be the best way to get the stray cat they trapped back to her owner.

Just a few groups who oppose this bill:
Best Friends Animal Society
Neighborhood Cats Note: that article contains email addresses to contact NOW.
Nathan Winograd

Those who know me very well will do a double take and say "Wait, is Susan really linking an article by Nathan Winograd?"

I am indeed. Nathan has included these links where you can immediately email legislators. You need to email all four. Text is already included and you can edit your response (delete what you don't want included, and personalize). Be sure to copy your first email, so you can just paste into the remaining three:

Alert #1 of 4:
Alert #2 of 4:
Alert #3 of 4:
Alert #4 of 4:

At the very least, please post your opinion to Assemblywoman Amy Paulin's Facebook page here.

But emails are needed. Even if you just go to the above links and send the provided text verbatim if you are short on time, your opposition will be counted.

PLEASE help NYS cats. If this passes, it could be used as a template for other states.

The vote is today. Please comment now!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's time to take a look at accountability.

Here are two interesting articles:

Is the no-kill movement contributing to hoarding?

For a long while "no-kill" has gotten a free ride. I know some of my readers are advocates of a certain no-kill messiah, but I still have cats at my facility that have been here since the arrival of that messiah. According the no-kill mantra, that's my "fault."

So forgive me if I have a bit of an attitude. I would love to spend more time doing adoptions, but last night more cat tracks showed up at my door. We can all do BETTER, and I absolutely agree with that. But at some point, brain cells start breaking down.

Let me give an example that perhaps a lot of us can relate to.

Did you have a goldfish when you were a kid, or in college? You had that cute cheap little fish, and a bowl. Care is pretty simple. All you have to do is keep a gallon of water off to the side (to age-out the chlorine if needed), and every week, put the fish in an alternate container, clean out the bowl, add new water, and put back the fish.

For the first few weeks, you do this. One week you get busy, and the water gets murky. You are horrified and don't want your friends to see how you are neglecting the fish. You clean the bowl. But now you know the fish isn't going to die immediately with murky water. You get busy again. The weekly new-water changes stop. One day you notice the water is green. Oh my God! You clean the bowl again, feeling very guilty. But the fish survived the green water, too. So you are less concerned the next time you let the water get green.

One day, you notice a fish floating in the bowl. The low-oxygen conditions have finally killed the fish. We flush him down the toilet, feeling bad. We turn the bowl into a terrarium, which also ends up dying of neglect. The bowl gets pushed off into a corner until it gets broken or thrown away.

You have experienced the mental progression of an overwhelmed hoarder. If you, or someone you know, has killed a goldfish in this manner, you know a little tiny bit about what it's like to directly kill an animal due to purposeful neglect.


Excuses like "I've been so busy," "My parents were ill," "The kids were supposed to take care of the fish," "the pet store should have told me goldfish actually need a aerated fish tank and can live for decades" or "we really did care about our fish" don't cut it. You killed the fish, period.

All we are talking here is changing the water once a week for a simple little fish. And we wonder how people who step forward to care for countless abandoned animals can "not see that animals are dying." Oh, they can physically see it. But emotionally they don't want to see it, because it feels like they aren't capable of fixing it."

That is one reason I believe some shelter directors resort to euthanizing--not just for immediate space but to have "extra cages." I think they get a rush of relief seeing, for just a little while, a shelter that doesn't appear to be out-of-control.

ABSOLUTELY it would be better to adopt those animals out in creative ways. ABSOLUTELY it may be time for that director to move on and make space for someone who is fresh and ready to take a new step forward. But is that shelter director "evil."

Were you evil when you killed your fish?

So, how do we stop everyone from killing more fish, and more rescued pets, via this helpless neglect?

Debra's Igloo colony

Debra and I got together for breakfast yesterday (I'll leave the village off this post to prevent more abandoned cats!). Debra has already had to deal with feral cats in the neighborhood where her parents previously lived. Suddenly a group of cats showed up under the deck of the house where she currently lives with her Dad. Elsa (the blind cat) and Archimedes (the feral kitten) are here at The Owl House. She had a feral female spay/neutered and has set up an igloo house for her.

There are still additional friendly cats that have also appeared, like this very handsome gray boy. He also needs to be neutered, but I have no room here, so I guess Debra will be checking to see if he actually as a local owner, and we'll try get a lead on a new home for him while he's still living outdoors. He'll get an FeLV/FIV test before adoption. Maybe he just belongs to someone down the street and they would appreciate a free neuter-and-shots.

It was a joy hanging out with Debra and seeing what it's like to live in a small community with good people. I love my neighbors, but let's face it, we all live out here because we value the quiet. So even though we help one another, we aren't bumping into one another daily at the downtown diner.

This morning at 2:00 am I walked out into the new snow, and there, once again, were brand-new cat tracks. This after just spending days catching the abandoned tux cat.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reflections in the shower...

My day includes breakfast out with a human (thanks, Debra!) so it started out with a shower. I say "started out" in the cat-woman terminology of "starting out" because obviously cat care-taking chores are so ingrained that this has already occurred before any assessment of the day takes place. Especially if they are any sniffly-sneezy possibly infective issues. Best to see to those cats first, then take a shower to face the world.

At any rate, in the shower I had a face-off with the big bottle of Aveeno body wash I had specifically asked my sister Linda for, for Christmas. I cannot afford it on my own (something like $7 a bottle) but $7 is a reasonable cost for a Christmas gift. I'd far rather have a good quality body wash than a cat calendar.

I started thinking about the types of things people give as presents. I thought about the things people give a cat-woman when they want "you to have something for yourself, not those damned cats!" Usually it's some reasonable luxury. A gift certificate for a massage. "Body Shop" type body washes, a nice sweater that will immediately be destroyed by a cat, etc.

And I wondered what every broke cat-woman would really like--that they never spend their money on until they absolutely have to.


Black crew socks.

Yes, if you have a cat-woman in your life, I can bet they have the most frightening sock drawer in the world. (NOTE: I ALREADY STOCKED UP ON THESE. DO NOT BUY ME SOCKS!) But if you have a cat-woman in your life where ever you are, go to the men's section and pick up a great big bag, or two for that matter, of cotton blend black crew socks. Lots of them, so we don't have to look for socks that match, and can throw out all the other socks we own (WHICH I JUST DID--DON'T BUY ME SOCKS!).

Don't get us a Walmart card to buy socks. We'll just buy cat food.

We won't even touch the topic of the underwear drawer.

Socks. And Aveeno.

Cat women, please weigh in on the things you really need that you never get around to buying for yourself, that you secretly would be thrilled to have someone give you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I SCOFF at your poor attempt at pawprinting me, you human fool!

I saw an idea for paw-printing pets as a memorial (via Petfinder and Pinterest), and I thought it would be a neat idea to paw-print my rescued cats to create a matted print for the new adopter. It would say something like "My rescue name is Bounder! I was rescued as (short sentence about pet's history) I was sponsored by (name of person who sponsored pet). Thank you for giving me a forever home!" The print would go home with the new adopter, and I would use it as one of the pet's on-line adoption photos.

So I decided to make a quick try at paw-printing Bounder.

Clearly I need to try again with something more inky than an ink pad!

Have you paw-printed your cat? What did you use?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Freed from the Garbage Demon

I have been a prisoner to garbage ever since the flood.

I was ready for a dump run when the Barton Transfer Station was wiped out. I fact, I even drove around checking with flooded-out folks to pick up their trash before driving to Barton. I don't know what I was thinking...of course the transfer station was right in the flood zone. I arrived to a locked gate and a scene of total destruction.

The transfer station will not be re-opening. Locations were set up for flood debris, and you could also pile flood debris alongside the road. They finally set up a dumpster for bagged/tagged trash for residents.

But what was I to do with my zillions of small bags of cat litter? To pay by the bag would be costly, and it's not like you can load up a grocery store garbage bag with more than one cat box worth of litter. I already had a full car load at the time of the flood, with more being generated every day. My first call for a dumpster was also costly -- $115 a month, which is about twice what I paid when transporting it myself. A less-expensive company wasn't sure I was in their operating district.

But they checked, and hallelujah, I now have a dumpster and trash pick up for only around $65 a month. I'm not thrilled about having a dumpster in my yard, but then I'm also not thrilled about having a mountain of bagged cat litter in my locked chicken coop (no fear, there are no chickens in the coop).

The garbage situation has been haunting me. I imagined the headlines: "Investigators say there was a mountain of garbage in the cat lady's barn." You can double-bag cat litter and stack it as neatly as you want, and lock it up in a vermin-proof area, and it's still a mountain of garbage.

I could have paid someone to haul it away, but I worry when working via online classifieds that the trash could end up tipped off a roadside in a state forest somewhere. I want my trash to disappear via professional means.

So that's one less stress in my life, and for not much more than I already paid. I no longer will have to return to my pre-flood ritual of giving up my Saturday mornings for a trash run, and I no longer have to load up my Kia Soul with trash bags.

I'll bet the dumpster business is booming. Either that or there are a lot of other barns in Tioga County with garbage mountains.

Barn cat colony

So far four barn cats are fixed, and I have one waiting here to be done next week. I'll pick up two more this weekend.

Lucas has lice. From what I read, cat lice is specific to cats, they tend not to wander from the cat, and they die within a short while of not being able to get on a cat. So no real worries there, thank goodness. Much better than ringworm! The clinic veterinarian treated him with ivermectin, but my reading indicates cat lice don't suck blood, so are not well controlled with ivermectin. Frontline Plus is apparently the option of choice but of course they don't have boxes of expensive Frontline sitting around to dole out at high volume clinics. Cats should be treated on day one, and then again in two weeks. I assume since Lucas has lice, all other cats from the barn are likely to have lice as well, so I'll be cleaning with extra diligence and will bag up towels etc. for a week before washing.

Patti has been adopted! She was a recent arrival on the farm and totally friendly. (She was not exposed to the other cats, so lice are not a concern with her). The farm owner overheard a gentleman mention he was alone and was considering a cat. Apparently she stepped right into that conversation, and Patti was due to be picked up the night I brought her back (after she stayed her for a week to recover from surgery). I made sure she had medical records to pass on, but otherwise stayed out of the adoption.

You can see my feral cat recovery set-up here. Every cat gets a feral den to hide in or sit on top of. I use wire cages because the cats are less panicked in wire cages than solid dog crates (where the only visible route of escape is out the front door and right over the top of YOU). I use towels instead of newspaper because it is quieter and soaks up spills. I used one folded towel at the back under the den, and one folded towel at the front. I can then remove the front towel without disturbing the cat, shake it out in the trash, and put it back. If the cat knocks bowls over, I use Quik-Lock crocks instead. The den is at the back, and food and litter are at the front where they can be easily removed.

Cages are always up on tables. The cats feel less threatened, are warmer, and clean-up or taming is easier on the caretaker. Scared cats should never be in below-waist-high cages.

Weenie really ought to be in a home rather than a barn. She is also a sweetie. But the purpose at this point is to get all these cats fixed before there are more kittens. Once they are altered and vaccinated, the farmer can certainly work on getting the friendly ones homes, just like Patti.

I'll make a copy of the Frontline Plus box so she can start treating the friendly cats.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Caught the tux kitty

I found cat tracks in the new snow on Sunday, and on Monday, Bear (my cat) took off at dead run toward the barn. I fetched him back, all fluffed up in the wood shop, so it seemed clear the tux cat had taken refuge there. Poor Bear was banished to the house. I've been down with something flu-like, and frankly was not functioning well.

But yesterday was unseasonably warm so I dragged a trap down to the barn and loaded it up with tuna. There are some things that get worse if you wait, and I knew if I didn't catch this cat asap I was going to regret it. Around midnight I went to close the trap because I could not deal with catching a raccoon overnight instead, and there was the tux.

He was scared and sweet, with a soft "neutered cat" coat. Sure enough, there was nothing under his tail. It was too dark to check to see if s/he may be a female. He doesn't have a girl look about him -- although he looks a bit girly in his photo.

I am now completely out of space, and the local shelter is not taking cats. Which is probably why this cat is here. Luckily two cats who are recovering from being altered for the Lisle colony are males, so they can go back as soon as I can drag myself out to the farm. And no, I'm afraid no one else can take them over for me. They have lice, and you don't want that in your car.

A post about lice will be forthcoming once I feel perkier.