Monday, June 30, 2014

Jack and The Leewit check in!

Apparently Leewit loves lawn care (however as an indoor cat, except for some excursions in an enclosed area, she can only dream):

Jack has dreams too, of travel to far-off places:

Jack and The Leewit are the namesakes of the J. Leewit Fund, which is our spay/neuter fund. Their family has been a huge supporter of The Owl House and have funded medical care for countless cats over the years. It's the inspiration of people like their "mom" Mary, and a handful of other steadfast friends of The Owl House, that a fellow rescuer in Waverly, Debra, and I finally sat down just over a week ago to discuss the inevitable charity status I've stalled over.

After all, who can resist those faces? It's time to get moving.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Memory Garden

I've mentioned in the past that we have a Memory Garden here. It is a small cemetery where feral cat folks can have a cat laid to rest if they don't have a place of their own. Last week a cat from one of our first feral colonies fell very ill, and he now has his place here in the Garden. His story will come later. But I wanted to post some photos of the place to share with his caretakers. The wood chair with no seat with the orange pot sunk into the ground (for a future plant) is his resting spot. He was lucky in that he had two houses that looked after him.

It's always a challenge to keep the Garden looking nice as weeds always threaten to overrun it. This year I have (mostly) kept on top of it and hope to continue to push back the jungle so that by the end of the summer it has been expanded. The ground here is pretty soft--it's probably the only place on the property that is. It is a very peaceful spot, very close to the house.

I've recently begun looking for old discarded chairs for the garden, to keep statuary and flowers above the ground where they won't get lost in the foliage. I think also non-catish visitor will ask about them, and then I can explain what the Memory Garden is.

Kibble for humans

Just a non-cat-related tip for oatmeal-eaters like myself. When friend/adopter Gretchen was visiting a while back, she mentioned using maple syrup in her morning oatmeal. I had been eating the packaged stuff, knowing it wasn't all that good for me. After some trial and error, and way too much impatience to deal with cooking non-quick oats, I came up with the following "recipe" which has served me well:

Non-mushy, way-fast oatmeal

1/3 to 1/2 cup quick oats
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
Maple syrup to taste (I use about two teaspoons).

Boil water in a kettle on the stove. Add to bowl with oats/flax/syrup. You will want more water than you would think you would. Stir
Pop in microwave for 15 seconds (no more). Stir and eat.

The flax seed keeps the oatmeal from turning into mush, in addition to being good for you.

Options: brown sugar instead of maple syrup (or no sweetener if you are into that), sliced almonds, etc.

I used to add a tiny bit of salt, but quite frankly I forgot it once, couldn't tell the difference, and never bothered adding it again.

Good stuff! You'll need to experiment with the water. Feel free to add your own oatmeal tips in the comments!

The Big Book of Cats - The paper in my life

I am going through paper.

My categories are three:

Paper to discard
Paper with valuable info I need to transfer electronically (adopter email addresses, etc.)
More paper to bring into my life (501c3 tax-exempt application!)

I forced myself into the position of dealing with my piles of paper by selling my upstairs lateral file cabinet (as I continue to make the upstairs suitable to rent) and replacing it with a few wicker file boxes downstairs. Everything I need must ultimately fit there, or in my fire safe.

One thing I found in my purge was my Big Book of Cats. I blew the dust off and brought it out to look at while I wrote thank-you notes to donors.

The Big Book contains the handwritten records for the cats and kittens we adopted out from 2001 (The Kitten Summer from Hell) to 2003. Yes, that's a pretty big book for just two years. (Cue "Memories" music here).

All of those cats are seniors now. Some have passed on. However I hope to get all of the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses (many of which have no doubt changed) into a database. My aims are two: to reconnect where possible, and to track the work we've done over the years.

As I go through the book, I'll post some stories here. Maybe I'll have photos.

We are accepting food donations again

Last year we had a huge food donation via Dr. Karen Dashfield at Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary, which we also shared with other cat caregivers. It has, sadly, run out. Therefore we are accepting food donations once again. Food, electricity, and veterinary bills are our largest expenses. It has been nice to have one of those out of the equation for almost a year,'s BAAAAACK! Kitties must eat!

We will take anything brought to us, as we can always use it to feed street cats, however all cats, whether still on the street, benefit from higher-quality food. If you are in a regular grocery store, Purina One is the best option there, especially in big bags.

Food for indoor cats, urinary diet, and sensitive stomach diets, are all appreciated. Please do not purchase dental diet or hairball formula diet that may have very large pieces, as some of our cats are running a bit low on teeth and can't chew them, although they are fine with normal-to-small sized dry food.

A few cats come our way with food allergies, so grain-free or "no wheat/corn/soy" is also helpful for when we isolate cats who are having digestive issues, to see if an allergy is part of the problem.

Canned food is always welcome, and any name-brand type is acceptable, as we have particular cats who prefer different types. We have one senior cat, Storm, who prefers only wet food.

With the increase in wet-food feeding, we can always use paper plates, both large and small.

We have more than enough pet beds at this time, as well as cat furniture.

We can always use towels, so they we can rotate some of our shabbier ones out.

Tea and rhubarb cobbler are available for anyone who wants to visit! We can also pick up in Owego and Ithaca. Our online wishlist is here.

Have a glorious weekend. For once, it's not raining (at least at the moment.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oh Ithaca...

This is so sad for all involved. A life. Injured. Homes lost. A cornerstone of the city." Many are the days Lori and I sat outside doing off-site adoptions. Little Kubota was adopted and lived in the grayish building just to the left. And yet, you stand there and you know, someday, at the base of a massive hill, tragedy will someday strike again. You just know it.

Buffalo kitties won't you come out tonight...

If you adopt a cat from The Owl House, if you find yourself in a kitten-bind or a cat-bind, chances are good we'll help you out. You've got some good karma going for you.

This little tiger and a little black sibling are coming our way, via a friend of Nancy. Nancy adopted Gizmo from us and has often fostered. I probably can find half a dozen posts that are about her in this blog and the old one. Two kittens in Buffalo need help, and the shelters aren't able to take them. My sister played with the Buffalo Philharmonic this past year, so we might say that symphony gave me the soft spot that is allowing me to take these two in.

So Nancy will be picking these little kits up this weekend to foster, and then they'll be coming here.

Fingers crossed that they are OK. They look a wee bit dehydrated to me, but Nancy is passing on advice until they get to her.

Their mom was found dead and they were all alone. Thank goodness they were rescued.

(Just in case you are too young to get the musical reference in the post title...)

Sleepy kittens

Monday, June 9, 2014

Spending money to make things look pretty -- NOT!


Some of us have a love affair with the stuff. And it costs M-O-N-E-Y

I have a personal joke that you can tell how much disposable income I have by how wide the mulch path is to my front door. If there are tufts of grass sticking through, I'm broke. If it's wide and inviting, I've got cash. I don't have a sidewalk, and the line to my front door is actually a grassy driveway. You used to have to trailblaze to the front door and with a house on a hill, that could be a real ankle-twister. But my then-husband Mark decided the front steps should go (which used to be between the two blazing porch lights in the photo below), and side steps should be built instead to keep people from breaking their necks. He had a good eye. Still there was no sidewalk, so we went with mulch. Later, I added solar LED lights, in case someone needed to find the door in the middle of the night. Quite frankly, the place is lit up like a runway at night.

All the better for me to shoot interlopers by (just kidding...maybe).

Well, this spring I've been paying off NYSEG (electric and gas) from the winter, and mulch is not on the list of things I'm going to invest in. Needless to say, when I saw this I went into a happy dance:

I'd been watching that pile dumped by the utility company for a long while, wondering if it was OK to take any. Apparently we are all law-abiding folks here, because no one touched it until the sign went up weeks after the pile kept growing and growing. And then the entire town pulled out their trailers and pickup trucks and started shoveling. I was the only person I noted with a car, and it was a friendly time at the ole mulch pile. The Kitty Kia is always up to the task and people always smile when a woman backs her car over obstacles to do what any truck can do. I love my town and I love my car (when it runs).

There were two huge utility trucks still filled with chips, ready to be dumped, and plenty left in the original pile before the rain started pouring down, so I'm hoping I'll have an unlimited supply for the memorial garden and to lay in a backup pile for other projects. In the meantime, things are looking nicer around here, just for the cost of sweat and gas. Mulch normally goes for 6.00 a bag locally, or 3 for $10 at the big box places, so this free pile could save me a lot of cat food, or a spay or two. Because, as you know, for cat folks all expenses are measured in food or spays.

Unfortunately I got a little close to the Welcome mat at the cat facility door with my lawn tractor and bit a section off. Oops.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Missing Pet Partnership, and Cheeto the "bait kitty"

In my personal opinion, The Missing Pet Partnership is paws down the best resource on finding lost cats. ( I found the web site first--I'm sure it was recommended to me by someone else--but since then, I've also had the privilege of seeing Kat (yes, her name is Kat) present at different conferences. If you do only one thing with this blog post, bookmark The Missing Pet Partnership page to have it at hand to send to friends when needed. It's easy to just post the URL in a comment on Facebook (or private message it) when you see a post that someone has lost a pet. Even strangers have been appreciative of me when I've sent it to them, because it is so helpful, and so well written.

What I did not think about was how search dogs would be taught to find cats...and the cat that might be involved in that training. You'll like this clip about Kat...and Cheeto.

Hmmm... go to (cut/paste) to proceed. Apparently the video isn't showing as embedded on this blog any longer.

Fixed for the moment! Let's hope it works for you!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Nothing to do with cats

But everything to do with "How could I not know this?" Seriously, if you already knew this, please let me know, because I cannot believe how often I have cursed when the Saran Wrap popped out of the box when I've been trying to use it.

Donations...can't thank you enough

My mom once said to me, very long ago when I apologized for something (I may have been 17 years old), that "You need to learn to be gracious about a compliment." Someone may have said I looked nice that day, or that I was smart for getting good grades, or that I had drawn something well---some sort of teenage thing. I probably begged off saying "Oh, but, it's nothing really." And afterward Mom said that line:

"You need to learn to be gracious about a compliment."

Some people have a brain-full of quotes from their parents. I'm not so good at that. However that line is one thing that stuck with me, because I have a very hard time saying a simple "Thank you" when people say "You've done a decent thing."

Sometimes they aren't just saying "you've done good." They are sending money. This is the ultimate thanks. For me to not say "thank-you" back, just because I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of it all, is just plain wrong.

Yet I seem to have a really hard time with it. I don't know why.

I have two adopters, in particular, who are extremely generous. Have I asked either one of them if it's OK to thank them by name? I have not. However in some ways, they keep this little rescue alive. Now and then a card arrives in the mail with a check that ranges from $150-400. Seriously, do you know what it's like when someone sends you that kind of donation? Your brain goes "OMG, paythevetpayNYSEGbuycatfoodAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" If there weren't so many ticks out here, I would roll in the grass like a happy mutt!

(More on ticks, later)

I also intermittently receive donations via PayPal. I don't push PayPal very much, maybe twice a year, because I am not a 501(c)(3) organization (more to come on that as well!). Yet now and then a donation rolls through, and I have to say, whether it is small or large, I stare at the computer screen in astonishment. I think about that person and the fact that they clicked that link to help the cats here...and it just makes me sit and think how good people are.

And you know, even people who don't have money to spare are generous and over-the-top good. There are other cat rescuers who, even when they just post information on their own blogs, I am so appreciative of. The fact that they share makes me feel like I'm--well--not alone in my craziness. They have great ideas I can use, or that I can enthuse over!

I also know all sorts of folks who don't have an extra dime to their name, but they are there working at community events, because time is gold, and time may be the only gold they have. Maybe it is the fire department. Maybe it is their community park. Maybe it is Meal On Wheels. I feel like those people are kindred spirits. They could not give a whit about cats, and I am still amazed and impressed by them.

There are also all sorts of people that I purchase things off of, who are charging far less than they should, or even just charging me "cost"--just because they are friends and neighbors.

The world is full of people who are just. plain. good. folks.

So why am I reminded of this? Because a little while ago I received a PayPal donation of $150 from Janet, in memory of Cricket and Ivan.

My eyes tear up just thinking of Cricket and Ivan. I miss them a lot. Like all of us, even when we lose a human participant in our lives, I didn't realize how special they were until they were gone. I guess what really amazes me about them is that I totally missed that Cricket was that bonded to Ivan. I wonder how much I miss about the people in my life, when I don't even see until after the fact that the lives of two cats revolve around one another, even if they aren't joined at the furry hip.

Janet's donation brought to mind the donations from Mary, and the donations from Christy and Gordon, and all other folks who have sent dollars to The Owl House (and Wildrun) over the years, not expecting to get a tax write-off--just wanting to help the cats and myself. It makes me think of my neighbors who slow down in their cars to say "Hi," or who even just go by on their daily walk and talk to the cats who stare out at them from the barn windows. Of people who come by just to visit me and the cats. It also reminds me of the spark I get anytime anyone posts a "Like" on Facebook, or even a comment here on Blogger (although I know what a pain it is to comment on Blogger--seriously, I do, so don't feel bad if you can't figure it out! I run into the same thing with blogs I follow!)

If you even just read this blog I want to say "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you". I can see your visits, because I have Google Analytics on my sites. You don't even need to give a dollar to give me a huge spiritual boost. Just reading this blog means so much to me. The fact that you are reading this NOW means you care--not just for me, but for your own neighbors, and your family, and all those people in your life who have a space in your heart.

For those of you who have given dollars, I want to let you know that they do all go for the cats. It's food, it's veterinary visits, it's electric bills for heat and cooling in the cat facility. That's it. It must be an incredible leap of faith, to throw dollars out there on the internet and expect that they get used for what you are seeing on-line. I want to let you know that it does.

It does.

It does.

It does.

Please hug your cats today. Because they love you, and you love them. And that means all of the world to me, and to anyone who rescues cats. If there were a way to channel that caring to all of us, we could all just live off it. Honestly.

Please think of the people who have helped you, too, or who give you joy in your life. Maybe you could give them a call or send them a Facebook message today.

And thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Off-site events

Spring brings invitations to off-site "adoption" events. Most recently this was Purina Days at the Ithaca Tractor Supply. I considered taking Grayson, who actually used to live around their store on the Rt 13 corridor (the "Fast Food Ferals") but I was concerned he would be too shy, and he still gives men the hairy eyeball sometimes. So Corky was off to his second event, because he loves kids and loves to be petted.

Packing up is always the hardest part especially for the first event of the year. ("Where the #$@!!! did I put that!!!!") After the first event I usually pack everything up neatly for the next one. This time around, I had a donated cage with some rust spots that I wanted to paint a metallic brown (it came out nice!) but out of three cans of brown spray paint I had, two decided not to spray after the first ten seconds. Swear words! Many swear words! Luckily the third can was enough to do the entire cage.

I actually was able to find my leashes and halters that are used only for these events to keep the cats from getting loose when someone wants to hold them. The only one that fit Corky was pink but luckily everyone still seemed to "get" that he was a male cat.

Everything fit into two big Kong bags. I also brought a trap, and a set-up for coffee. Happily, Gary at Tractor Supply was providing two tables, so I didn't have to haul mine along.

Corky meowed in the car, and then squalled the entire way into the store. He also announced his presence periodically while in his cage if I wandered too far away. Luckily he was a relaxed ambassador until the last half-hour or so when he showed that he was ready to go home by not being as eager to meet people at the front of the cage. Four hours is enough to ask of any cat.

We were near the pet food aisle, but Tractor Supply seems to be a big place for people to buy bird food. People came and went with cartloads of the stuff. Also interesting: none of them seemed to be anti-cat, as some bird groups would like to have us believe. I stopped a few people in transit ("Looks like the birds eat well at your place!") so I wasn't just speaking to bird people who happened to stop and say "hi"--which would have indicated a bias toward cat lovers. There were a few people who out-and-out avoided me, but hey, I do that as well when I don't have time or want to make time to engage with people as well.

We got three new people on our email list, $15 in donations, and a mom and two kids who would like to come visit the cats (whoo-hoo! The cats always need kid-time!) and would also like to foster once they get moved. Two people thought they had friends who might be interested in Corky and took cards.

Four hours is good. I started at 10 and broke down at 2. Even though it does eat up most of the day, I still get things done in the morning, and I got some mowing done in the evening. There is no "doing errands" in town when you have animals in the car and the temperature is over 70, so the Fast Food Ferals got fed, but not much else. Since it was "Purina Days" after all, I picked up a big bag of Purina Cat Chow with the donation money, for the Fast Food Ferals.

The Ithaca Festival was the same day, so I'm sure traffic was quite a bit slower than it otherwise would have been. It's always great to get "people time" though, and get out of my little 58 acre box in the country.