Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pierre gets his new home

About a year ago, I had to go to a conference for work. The day before, I picked up a stand off the local "swap and save" Facebook page, and while I was picking it up, an emaciated shabby cat limped up on the porch, crawled up on the old couch, picked the only spot of sunlight, and curled up. I couldn't leave him there, because I knew he'd be dead in the winter cold by the time I returned from my travels. So I came back with a cat crate, put him in, took him home, set him up in a cage, reported him as "found" to animal control, contacted my long-suffering cat caretakers to warn them of the new arrival, and boarded a plane to Texas.

It turned out he had mange. He tolerated lime-sulfur dips, ivermectin injections, and isolation down on the first floor of the cat facility.

Today he got his home.

He's a city cat now. I took him off to Syracuse this morning, and I forgot to take photos before I left but by the time I got home his new guardians had already texted me pictures.

We have a "no adoption fee if you buy a good solid piece of cat furniture for your new cat" policy. I think you can see now, from the photo above, why we do that (although Pierre's new mom gave a donation as well which will help with three feral spay/neuters on March 1). A cat with furniture all of his own is a happy cat indeed.

I think he's going to have a wonderful life. I'm going to miss my silly Scruffy/Pierre, but I'm so glad to see him happy and out of his big cage here at the Owl House.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pepper and Timea

Last week two big boxes arrived with four huge bags of Purina Cat Chow from Pepper and Timea's rescuer in NJ.

She's been keeping them well fed, not to mention the help it provides for our other cats.

So here they are saying "Thank you!"

These two lovely tigers are ready for a secure and loving home. As you can see they are exceedingly friendly now that they have gotten used to me. It took about three weeks for them to be relaxed, and another month or so for them to turn into the ultra-loving cats you see here, so they will need someone with a guest room to introduce them slowly. But then what gorgeous cats you would have! Timea's beautiful swirls, and Sgt. Pepper's handsome stripes.


January has been good to the Owl House cats! Many have found new homes! Deci has found a place where her quirky nature gets to shine (photo is from here at the Owl House):

Here new mom says:

We have decided to rename her as Sadie and she seems to respond the same to it. She is such a wonderful addition to our family. She now has free run of the house, has adjusted to having her litter box in the bathroom and is eating well. She thinks Rob is about the best toy she has met and I swear they can spend endless hours playing with all of her toys. She likes to cuddle and snuggle with me, but I am apparently doing something wrong because she has no interest in playing with me -- I have come to peace with it as at the same time she will not snuggle Rob (he is strictly a toy) J She loves her cat tree and I have found her perched in high places all over the house. What a ball of fun she is! Thank you again for bringing us together.

Pierre has also found a home. He's off to foster-to-adopt this week. He was totally unconcerned at the veterinarian's office for his pre-adoption check-up:

Happy will be moving into a foster home after his eye-surgery on Monday, with a couple that has lots of animal experience and will be able to see how he does in a house, and will be more likely to get his eye meds on schedule than here:

Solo also found a home. More to come on how her adoption went, in a separate post. Here she is arriving and meeting her new housebud "Ziggy."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The drama of the electrical outage or "On being clueless for 16 years"

This is one of those blog posts I never got out of my head onto the page in December.

When I travel, the night before is a flurry of cleaning and cat-care arrangements. This usually means I'm up until 2am. Sometimes I don't sleep at all, and just sleep on the plane. However over time I've gotten more and more organized, and this time I was pretty proud of the fact that I was going to be done (even to the point of vacuuming every corner of the cat facility before I left) by 10:00 pm. Boarding passes were printed. Instructions were already posted. The dog was already with Debra in Waverly. I finally had it down.

Then I plugged in the vacuum cleaner, turned it on, and all the lights went out.


This same thing had happened twice before--once the day before my winter open house-- and I've always had to call an electrician. Someone would come for $80, poke around, not be able to find anything, but all the wiggling would magically cause the power to come back on. The electrician would shrug, and off he would go.

I ran downstairs to my beautiful shiny circuit box in the barn and flipped all the breakers. Nothing. Only one outlet downstairs, and one upstairs, worked. Everything else was totally dead. I ran into the house and flipped the barn breaker. Nothing. Not a thing. I wiggled things and swore. Nope. No power.

We were in a very warm spell (70s, no less, in December), so heat wasn't a concern at the moment. I grabbed some Christmas lights (I stock up at Christmas so I have them for my porch all year long) and strung them from the working downstairs outlet up the stairs, so someone could see to get up there. I considered stringing them through out the upstairs, but cats love to crunch Christmas lights, and the cats could get near the ceiling most everywhere throughout the facility. So I left a headlamp hung on the door for my cat caretakers, and put an alarm on my phone to remind me to call them in the morning, since I would be in a different time zone.

Needless to say, there was no sleeping before my flight as I scrambled around making sure all was as well as possible. I have great cat caretakers, who are also country folk, and I knew that as long as they came in daylight---and the weather stayed warm---they would work out just fine. And indeed when I called them the next day from St. Louis, they weren't flustered at all, and said if they did have to come after darkness, they would bring their own headlamps, as well.

I called my electrician. He had been out before, so he knew where everything in the barn was. He said he'd take care of the problem the next day.

While at my meeting, one of our IT guys talked about the electrical use at his place. He suggested that to prevent circuits getting blown, I have an electrician put an old-style fuse in as protection. If there were a surge, the fuse (which is cheap) would blow before the breaker (which is expensive) would. Given that my budget is pretty tight and putting in another fuse box probably wasn't an option, I listened with interest and filed it away as "one of those things I'll do when I'm magically rich" ideas.

The first and second day of my trip I kept an eye on the weather via my iPhone. But the second afternoon, the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse and the beautiful warm weather was returning to normally winter cold. I texted the cat cold was it, really?

38 degrees F outside. 50 degrees inside. The cat facility would stay at a just-barely-legal warmth for a bit, but soon those outside temperatures would catch up with the indoor ones, and it was right on the line. Worse, the electrician said he could not find anything wrong in the barn. It had to be an issue in the house, and he wouldn't go into the house to mess around until I was there.

So I told my supervisor I had to leave the meeting, and changed my flight.

Now some people might say "Hey, cats have fur, what's the big deal for one day?" The big deal is that it's one thing to perhaps let your pet cat snuggle up in your cold house in the warm blankets on the warm bed for one day, but it's another to to have 12 cold cats -- one in a cage, and all of them in a facility with vinyl floors and bare walls, staring out windows of a place that calls itself a "rescue." If someone were to call out of concern for them, and the temp was below freezing, quite frankly that's outside of the law. What if their water were frozen? Can you imagine the SPCA report? "The water in cages was frozen, and the room was at 28 degrees. The owner had been gone for three days, and there was no one in attendance."

Now, I do have back-up heat for dire emergencies, however it utilizes a flame. And no way could I leave anything with a flame running without someone being there. When I've had to use back-up heat in winter storms, I camp out there. Sometimes my caretakers actually stay at my place, but this was right before Christmas so they were just visiting twice a day. The next alternative was to call my pet sitter (a business--different from my cat caretakers) to have her sit there at $25 a hour and babysit. My bank account couldn't manage that for 36 more hours.

So I came home.

Enter my neighbor, who I learned, when I arrived home, was an electrician! How did I not know this? He was up to the challenge of figuring out what the heck was wrong at a rate I could afford. We flipped and poked, tested wires and moved breakers. He determined that only half of the required power was coming into the barn from the house. But everything in the house box (also fairly new) seemed fine. He moved a bunch of breakers around in the barn so they were on the working side, and hallelujah we had power.

But what was wrong? He said he would call another electrician friend for advice, but he wanted to take a look at how the electric entered the house from the pole, and left the house for the barn. So back we went to the house. Perhaps there was a splice on the roof that had let go?

Finally he gave up, closed up the boxes, and said he'd be back. But right before he walked out, he traced the huge wire bundle from where it entered the house cellar and then said "What the heck is THAT?"

He pointed at an old disconnected electrical box. There were a couple of them in the basement. When old houses are upgraded, new boxes get put in, but often the old boxes just hang there.

Except this one -- no where near the new box-- wasn't disconnected.

He opened it up and started laughing. There were two old traditional fuses, and one had a loose clamp and was blown. Apparently when the new electrical box was put in, the electrician left the old fuse box as a pass-through. The wire came into the house, went to the fuse box, and then the wire went from the old fuse box to the new electrical box.

In other words, my house was set up just as my IT friend had suggested it should be.

My previous outages had probably been due to this fuse getting zapped by a surge and not properly touching its clamp. The miracle of power restoration was probably due to it just getting jolted around during testing and hitting the clamp properly again. This time, I completely blew the fuse.

My neighbor got on the phone and called the local supply to find out if they carried the old fuses in stock. They did, so off he went and came back with four (two for back-ups). He replaced both fuses, tightened the clamp, and check the box closely. And I was back in business.

I've lived in this house for 16 years. Now, it's possible my ex was aware of the fuse box. I don't ever recall it being discussed, nor him looking at it the few times we overloaded a circuit, or when we did some rewiring upstairs. I've had three electricians in here over the years for various things, and none of them have noticed it. And of course my neighbor and I spent a good chunk of time mucking around, and we didn't notice it until he was walking out the door.

So now I know.

Another funny note. While working in the dim light, my neighbor grumbled about how he wished when people put in a box, they would hang a light nearby so an electrician could see what he was doing. When we were closing up the ancient old box with its now-shiny new fuses, I smiled and pointed at the bare bulb that was shining just two feet away from it, blazing away. (my basement is lit by a series of bulbs in a line from one end to the other).

"Look, Frank. There's even a light!"

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Where have we been?

Sorry to have dropped off the face of the planet for an entire month.

It doesn't mean kitty work has stopped, it just usually means so much else is happening that when 10:00 pm rolls around I'm either still working, or have flopped down on the bed-also-a-couch, look across at the cat rescue laptop and think "not tonight, it's just not gonna happen." Winter also brings with it the added country chore of keeping myself and the cats warm. That means hauling wood, emptying ash, buying wood-brick fuel (which is a compressed sawdust brick that some people burn all the time, but I use to keep not-so-dry wood going if it gets snowed on), periodically taking a trip onto the roof to clean the chimney, replacing older oil-filled heaters with newer ones if they start making those ominous buzzing noises (for the cats), and wrangling payment for the far-higher electric bills.

Luckily for me (unhappily for the planet) there has been ZERO snow to shovel this year. The "big storm" missing me totally. Usually I have to deal with something like this. This year we have had only a scant three, yes, that is 3.0, inches of snow. I'd mow last fall's leaves in my yard except I worry I'll end up with yellow tire marks next spring. This weather is scary -- it's absolutely wrong. But at least it's one less winter chore. That may end next week, with the prediction for our first local storm with accumulation. I haven't even pulled my snow shovels from the lower barn to bring them to the porch this year. I guess I'd better do that, and lay in some gas for the snow blower.

I've written a lot of blog posts in my head. Unfortunately it's hard for you to read them there. I hope to get the five or so that are sitting as "drafts" in Blogger completed and scheduled.

Now that the days are thankfully getting longer, I'm beginning to perk up. Like many people I keep thinking "Just get through February. Just get through February."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February is Spay/Neuter Month. Meet Clark Kent!

February is celebrated as Spay/Neuter month by national groups, so we kicked off February (with help from the SPCA of Tompkins County) with Clark Kent, a big (and pungent, whooo!) tom cat with a pronounced limp from Waverly.

He has been watched over by Debra, and she caught just him before she had to leave town to help family, and there was no help available locally for a long while, so he came on over to The Owl House and the SPCA of Tompkins County was able to fit him into an open space just two days later. That doesn't happen often but when it does, it's a huge gift!

His limp turned out to be a combination of the fortunate and unfortunate. It is not a new break, which for a feral could end up being part of a decision toward euthanasia (if you keep a cat in a cage for six weeks after surgery, if surgery is possible, the cat may not be a candidate for return to the streets and if truly feral, not adoptable). It is an old break. However his knee is fused and he cannot bend it at all. So the limp is permanent. He'll need a shelter and a sharp eye watching over him. He was covered in cat-fight bites and scratches, and had a fresh wound on his foot and is missing a nail, so apparently his injury didn't keep him from standing up for himself. For those things we will keep him caged up until after the forecast snowstorm next week. We'll need to look into a shelter for him (or shelters for all the cats at that location).

Nothing is simple.

He's a grand big boy. He will let me scritch his forehead, but he doesn't permit any other handling. He gets downright nasty then. We'll see how it goes when the hormones wear off a bit now that he has been neutered. He's out of the regular wire crate pictured here and is now in a two-tier cage with a hidey box.

The SPCA of TC was able to fit in four more surgeries in February and March for us.