Sunday, November 30, 2014

Former-Feral Siggy needs some angels and a home

Wednesday's mail held this message (heavily edited to remove locations):

"I have a cat that I had the (shelter) fix in the feral cat program. He seems to have a broken or dislocated leg. The (shelter) said they would likely put him to sleep. He is eating and purring and limping around. Doesn't seem to be in agonizing pain but I think cats can hide pain. The cat lives under a porch. The vet suggested I call you. He is fixed with shots too. And will let you touch him, pet him, hold him some. He has lived his entire life outside. (He is only about 6 months old) long hair and orange. Beautiful kitty. I would love to see him re-homed to a country home away from a main road. Any help or advice is very much appreciated."

Like the shelter, I expected to find a shy cat who perhaps loved his caretaker but was wary of others. Since we specifically deal with shy cats here, I said that we could at least get him a radiograph, and if the break could be healed with cage rest, we would see if he was an adoption candidate over the 6 weeks we would have him. If not, he could come back to his feral colony. I did tell the caretaker that if the leg needed to be pinned or amputated, that would likely be outside of our financial means for a cat that might languish here un-adopted for years and could not go back to an outdoor life. When I arrived, however, there he sat, quietly grooming himself on a bench in an indoor vestibule when I arrived, and began to purr when I petted him. Maybe if I'd yelled and waved my arms he might have run off. Wouldn't any sane cat? His caretaker had done an incredible job socializing this first litter of feral kittens, born last spring. The mom cat had a second litter before she could be spayed, which the caretaker gathered up and the shelter was able to take into foster because they were so tiny. Mom cat has now been spayed and there are no remaining unaltered cats on site.

This is Siggy (not "Soggy," as I mis-typed when posting the video), chilling on the treatment table at the veterinarian's office. OMG, don't you just want to kiss him? He is so cute it is painful, and he never bit down or used a single claw while playing.

Since my nearest veterinarian was between where I picked up the cat, and our place, I stopped in to make an appointment. They were able to fit us in that morning. The radiograph showed a break right at the end of the bone near the joint---a break that would be unlikely to heal with cage rest and would be difficult to pin. So I had him FeLV/FIV tested (negative!) and brought him back here, and we will look for options for amputation. The first step will be to check with the shelter who neutered him to see if they have an option through their shelter medicine program, since it's clear he doesn't have a feral hair on his hide any longer. I sent a video, so they could see how sweet he was, and offered to keep him post-surgery.

If their veterinarians cannot perform an amputation via the shelter's programs, I'll check with my own veterinarians. They usually refer to the teaching university for more complicated surgeries, but sometimes they are able to fit them in. They amputated little Lefty's leg back in 2006. Complicated surgeries can take a couple of hours, so smaller city clinics understandably refer to the larger 24-hour clinics (if they have one nearby) who have a larger staff. When my veterinarian has gone way over-the-top for me, they have had to perform the surgery when they are closed, often on a Sunday! At holiday time, that would be a huge stretch for them, I'm sure. Unfortunately the teaching university is far too expensive for me to pay the public fee for a single cat. So my next step would be to reach out to the local rural veterinarian here, who amputated Cricket's leg---17 years ago! Needless to say, we haven't had too many amputations in our rescue history. We've had as many blind cats (two) as cats needing amputation.

Siggy is a true joy. I have him in a two-level cage so the healthy leg continues to get exercise and he seems to be navigating it ok, and he's on pain meds at the direction of the veterinarian (although we both almost forgot the address it because Siggy was acting so sweet and never showed discomfort!).

I got a short tour of the remaining cats at his colony, where they are living in insulated shelters under a very-sheltered porch and are extremely well cared for. One of the remaining cats is a twin to Siggy, and while shy with me was very friendly with his caretaker and looks like he could be a prospect for future adoption.

We'll keep you posted! If it turns out he needs a non-shelter surgery, I'll probably try crowd-funding. The caretaker has offered $50, and Janet--who must have seen him on Facebook--has already donated $100 via the PayPal link (THANK YOU, Janet!) His initial veterinarian's bill was only about $170, which is really good for a walk-in emergency radiograph and FeLV/FIV test. Gotta love my vets!

How could anyone resist that face?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Painting the inside

Also in anticipation of appraisal, and to reduce the dark dreariness of winter, I have been painting the inside of the house. I've been looking at this dark brick wall for years, wondering how I could tie in with the rest of the room. It didn't occur to me that I might paint it until I ran across something online and had an "Aha! But do I dare?" moment. I finally dared.

Old room with green walls, cream fake wainscoting, and brick wall:

New room with light gray walls, cream fake wainscoting, and natural brick wall. This just didn't look right to me.

So I painted the wainscoting white, painted the walls a darker gray, and diluted the white paint to "whitewash" the brick:

I still have trim and molding to cut and install (and the brick near the floor to paint) but I think I like it. I have no choice, since you can't "unpaint" brick. The room is far less oppressive now, and it really shows off the fireplace. The brick looks older to me, as well, and more textured. It's funny what just paint will do.

The new roof

The roof on The Owl House was seriously due to be replaced at least five years ago. A roof on a big old house isn't cheap. I think only cat karma has kept it from leaking (except lately on the porches), and shingles would blow off in every windstorm. I had planned to refinance and roll the cost of the roof into that, but between paying off the co-owner of the house and other debt, it was bringing the full cost of the refinance almost up to the cost of the original mortgage. So I crunched some numbers and decided it would cost less to remove something from my retirement to pay for the roof and part of what I owe the co-owner, get the roof on, increase the appraisal, and refinance what was left. Then increase my retirement contributions to the maximum with what I've saved monthly.

I had four estimates on the roof. I took the second-highest, and I'm very happy. No drama, fast work, and excellent quality materials. And a small business owner. The roof is 2/3 done, and we are on "pause" due to the storm today. He'll shovel off the roof and be back when it dries.

The shingles arrived via a mighty machine that lofted everything right onto the roof.

I went a bit lighter on the color. I have a pretty roof! They are removing just as much roof as they can shingle in a day, so the roof stays protected from snow and wind. I'm pretty impressed that just two men can work this fast. Luckily there was only one thickness of shingles to remove.

Ripping off the old:

This is how bad the original part of the house had gotten:

Pretty new gray shingles!

Still more left to go:

I still have more painting to go, but I didn't see the point of getting on the tall ladder until I could paint the trim.

What a load off my mind this has been.

My roofer is also a mason, so this summer he'll come by and re-point my chimneys as well.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kittens in the kitchen

Well, not IN the kitchen, but pretty close. Right in the traffic lane, so these guys get lots of attention and treats.

The little shorthair gray guy is pretty much tame. The white girl is coming along, especially if I have baby food on a spoon. The little coonie is still full hisses!

"New" cage for the Candor kittens

The three little spitters from Candor are doing well. They are not upstairs, because I did not want them to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Given that they are pretty old, they need some serious immersion in human life to tame up. I don't have a big cage in the house, so I went cruising on Craiglist.

I struck some good luck: someone had two cages of the sort I like best ($200 plus with shipping and usually $225 in the walk-in stores) for sale for $125. When I emailed offering $100, I learned that it was another rescue, so I had no problem giving the $125. However when I asked what they had housed, I was told "raccoons." That took them off the market for me. I have a strict "wildlife only" and "cats only" rule for cages and carriers here. Raccoons can carry a nasty roundworm called baylisascaris, and the eggs can be destroyed only by heat...even bleach won't do it. Because I own one of these cages already, I know how many nooks and crannies they have, so I gave my apologies and backed out of consideration.

Back on Craigslist I went, and found a new post for exactly the same cage for $100. I hoped it had housed ferrets who, while stinky, tend to be fairly clean little beasts, but it was not to be. Rats. Now, I really like rats. They are cute and intelligent fellows. Their urine, however, if not cleaned up right away, creates scale that is very hard to remove. Not impossible, but veeeeery hard. I know this intimately from my past work in lab animal science.

So I am scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing.

It would be nice to be able to buy these things new, but $125 saved is a chunk of cash. I'm looking forward to getting these kittens out of their small cage into this large two level one.

But I still have another whole level to go. Sigh.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

One of the major perks of my job is travel. While I often am stuck in a hotel, sometimes I do venture out. On my most recent trip to St. Louis, we were actual loaded on a bus for a tour (part of a team-building exercise). We stopped at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and I must share some photos here. This artwork is not painted. Everything is created with tiny tiny tiles.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New kittens

It has been a busy time full of distractions and I haven't gotten much up here. I put things up on Facebook but then forget that many of my family, friends, and adopters are not on Facebook and I need to also post them here. Blogger is a much better place to put things, because I can find them again. Finding old posts on Facebook is an exercise in futility (unless some can post a easy way to search for them) although it is a better place to keep photos.

This past week someone tagged me on Facebook when they saw a post about feral kittens near me who needed a place to go. When I contacted the original poster, thinking I would have to set traps to catch the little guys, it turned out the couple who found them had already captured them. They were loose in a small bedroom in their mobile home, so we had to spend some time propping up furniture and catching them. I only suffered two small scratches. Two of them (the long-furred ones) are quite wild:

The little grey guy was tamed up enough to go to the veterinarian yesterday where he tested negative for FeLV/FIV. I think the white one would be far calmer if the little tiger coonie kitten (who is quite scared) wasn't always hissing, so I will need to separate them soon.

I am trying something new, which is to only feed them when I am there. I am not leaving dry food for them in the cage 24/7 as I normally do. I want every interaction with me to be associated with food. Of course they have water all the time. They are a bit old for taming, but they can't go back where they were (their mom was hit by a car). So I'm going to be quite interactive with them.

The great room, where they are currently stationed, needs to be painted, so I may take on that project now, so the kittens see me moving around. I've also opened the door to let my cats and Molly check them out (although after an initial visit, all of my animals are, like, "meh, boring.") I can't get stuck with more unadoptable shy cats. If I could tame up the two long-hairs, they would both get homes right away, as I have people looking for long-hair kittens. The white one is drop-dead gorgeous, and everyone wants a "Maine Coon type" kitten.

The gray shorthair is taming up fast enough that he should be adoptable while still small.

Keep your fingers crossed!