Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tallulah is off to foster-to-maybe-adopt

Tally is off to Gretchen and Brian's home for a foster-to-adopt trial, to see if she gets along with Zoey, adopted by Gretchen 10 years ago when she was a volunteer here when we were still "Wildrun." As a woman with a banking career, she ultimately was moved to a branch further away from us and could not volunteer to and from work any longer, however she has been a great friend every since.

Tally was a little alarmed, but had her tail up and was exploring at her new abode. She discovered the huge cat tree fairly quickly.

Zoey, who is also a little tiny cat, was not amused by the new resident:

Here's a far more flattering photo of Zoey when there is not a new interloper in her household

We'll see how it goes! Zoey is the most important piece in this puzzle. Gretchen and Brian want her to be happy. If she's not, Tally will come back. However it always helps to see how our cats do in a new environment, and Tally did great. She was a fine traveler in the crate, takes her pills (we sent her to her new home with a Capstar pill for the next day, having given her one before she left here, to be sure she didn't bring along any fleas), and apparently found the litter box without a problem. Even if she comes back, this helps us give more information to a possible future adopter.

Go Tally! Come on know you want a friend.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Happy Belated International Black Cat Day!

This is where I should write a thoughtful post about how black cats are overlooked in shelters, and how wonderful it is to have a couch panther of your very own. We have six black cats here, with "Timmick the one-eyed" at the top of the list, followed by Blynken, Nod, Coraline, Ethan, and Jessie Fuzzbucket. All of these lovely cats deserve better marketing than I've been giving them, so you'll likely be seeing a flurry of posts coming up to get them homes. However the posting won't necessarily just be for the sake of the cats.

Lately I've been in a rut, and I realized part of that is because I haven't been blogging. Oh, I blog in my head, but that doesn't get it on the page. Non-monetized blogging (a blog that doesn't attempt to make money via advertising or endorsements) is sort of like having a pen-pal in a far-off country whom you may never get to meet. Even though you just pop a letter in the mail, and maybe get a letter back a few weeks later, you always feel like the person is there in your life. When you give up on your pen-pal, as many of us inevitably do, you are giving up a friend.

I realized that because I was not blogging, I was feeling more and more alone. I'd given up my friend. It doesn't even matter if there are comments. Just making the commitment to share is an act of friendship--whether or not there are actual friends visiting daily to read. When I click on some of the blogs I used to read, and they haven't been updated for years, I feel like a friend has left me behind and I wistfully wonder they are up to. Then I realized I'd done the same thing here to a lot of people who adopted cats from the Owl House, but who tend not to use Facebook. Facebook has its limits as well.

So I'm resurrecting both this blog, and my Feral By Nature blog. I'll keep the cat posts here as usual, and go back to posting things about the house and daily life on Feral By Nature. We'll see how that goes, since I started Feral By Nature basically to keep my mom updated on my life, and she is no longer here to see it. Nonetheless, I get lots of smiles when I look back over my posts and see what I was doing years ago.

So here's to black cats. They are the steadfast cats of rescue--you can always be counted on to have one around. And though they may all look somewhat they same, they are all quite different. And while individuals are sometimes overlooked because there are so many of them, each one is very special to the people in their lives who see them for who they are. Sort of like yet another little cat blog.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Deci checks in (big time!)

We love getting updates on cats we have adopted out. Taylor wrote in about Deci--now Sadie--who was rescued by Debra in Waverly. Most of our cats have a shy streak, and we always cross our fingers hoping their new guardians will realize the first days or weeks of hiding are no reflection on's just the cat getting used to a huge life change. The email that I just received from Taylor (posted with permission) really made my week, and it's also a wonderful illustration of what it is like to adopt a shy cat. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


We adopted Sadie (formerly Deci) from you in February of 2016. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again, send you a couple of pictures and give a bit of an update.

My partner and I are dog people, in fact, I had never owned a cat before Sadie. We had wanted a dog but didn’t really have the space indoors or outdoors for one. I suggested a cat and he rolled his eyes and said, “I like dogs”. Well I set my mind on a cat and began to look at local shelters to adopt from. I must have looked at hundreds of cats, they were cute but I wasn’t enamored with any of them. I’d send my boyfriend pictures and he’d say things like, “I don’t want a male cat”, “That one looks mean”, “Too fluffy” and “I don’t know if you really want to get a cat”. While telling a friend of my search, she suggested that I look at your website—she told me about the wonderful work you do, much of it out of your own pocket. I loaded your page, read about what you do and when I clicked on the adoption page, there she was. My Sadie. Her name was Deci as she was the tenth rescue that a woman you work with had taken in. She was adorable so I sent a picture to my partner and surprisingly his response was, “Oh that one is cute”. Before the day was out I had emailed you to come and meet her.

The night we came over, you were more than welcoming. We came in and visited with you and your cats. You took us on a tour of the barn and finally it was time to meet Deci. You advised us that she was very, very shy and that she might not come out. You got a feather toy and lured her out from under a couch for our first real look at her. That was it, she was ours. She didn’t even come near us that first night but something about her made our hearts melt. We spent the ride home raving about her and stopped at the store to buy supplies for my very first cat.

A while later, you made that special delivery. You had advised us to provide her one room to stay in for a few days and acclimate—we slept on the couch that first week so she could have our bedroom. She ran under the bed and stayed there. We laid on the floor for hours hoping she’d come from under the bed, talking to her, offering treats and toys—nothing. The only way we knew she had come from under that bed was that she had used her litter box and had eaten her food. Four or five days into the adoption, she came out and sat with me. The next day she played with toys while we were at work. Then, after about a week she came out into the living room. Ever since then, she has been our darling.

She is the most loving, wonderful cat. Cats, to me, have always been independent and stand off-ish. Not Miss Sadie. She is with us all the time and often welcomes visitors by sitting next to them on the couch. She sleeps in the bed with us, usually curling up to sleep on my back. Every morning, she wakes her mama up for breakfast by licking my nose. She makes lots of noises to tell us she is happy or playful or sleepy. She has tons of toys that she takes out of her basket every night to play. My partner comes home at lunch to spend time with her and she waits patiently by the door for him. She comes running from wherever she has been sleeping when she hears my car in the driveway after work. It’s wonderful.

I cannot thank you enough for this blessing. We, and everyone she meets, adore her. She constantly makes us laugh. She makes the worst days better by just being her silly self. She shows us such love. We go anywhere and before I know it, we’re talking about her, “Oh she was so cute this morning while I got ready for work” or “she was so sweet at lunch”. We spoil her rotten and I love it! To think that she was a stray (I believe she was left in a box), it makes me so happy to know she now lives the life of a queen and she deserves every minute of it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!


Here is Deci's Petfinder profile. Honestly this will keep me smiling into August.

I have so many other messages from adopters to post, and stories of new cats and kittens as well. I just got out of a workshop on social media at the ASPCA Cornell Maddies Shelter Medicine conference, so I don't have an excuse not to be geared up and going!

Thank you again, Taylor, for giving Sadie such a wonderful home (and a ton of toys as well). And, by the way, you are an incredible writer!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Possum farewell

It took a long while for me to be able to post this, since so many people were following the Possum kittens, and giving them up was very difficult. They continued to decline and it seemed it was going to be a long while before we got answers. They were no longer interested in playing, and had begun hissing at one another when they cuddled up--seeming to indicate they were in pain if the one kitten laid on top of the other. My veterinarian agreed it was time for them to be released from this adventure. Whatever they had was clearly quickly progressing, and no matter what answer we might receive from genetic testing, it was very unlikely it would be reversable. The advancing incontinence could have been pressure on the spinal cord from their misformed bones, which likely meant they were experiencing other neurological issues as well that would not have overt signs (neuropathy, etc.) They were the cutest, most fun little dudes, and they were still happy right up to the end, which is why the decision was so difficult. Waiting until they were entirely unhappy with the lives they had, was not an option for me.

I would have preferred to bring them home to the Memory Garden, however after all we had gone through, it seemed important to get answers, so after euthanasia, they went to Cornell to the veterinarian who had been willing to do the initial genetic testing (and follow up exam and treatment, had they not declined so rapidly) for necropsy and further testing. It probably will be months before we have an answer if one is available.

Thank you to everyone who has followed and asked about them. Once we get an answer, I will post the results in a blog post title with links to all of their posts and videos, so if someone else should experience the same issue with kittens in their care, hopefully it will come up in search engines. In the meantime, I, and everyone who visited them, were blessed to enjoy their silly presence while they were here.

I made a little place in the Memory Garden for them anyway, with some plants I had moved from my mom's garden, and a little statue I had purchased a long while ago while antiquing with my sister Linda. It seemed fitting for them.

I think I should end their long strange adventure with a smile, so I'm including my very favorite photo of them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cat Years - San Francisco Chronicle

While going through my mom's things, my sisters and I found the following article she had saved.

It originally appears in the San Francisco Chronicle, apparently. While it is online with a date of 1996, other blogs give it an earlier date of 1961. Since my mom had to tolerate a lot from her passel of teenage girls, and one teen boy, not to mention grandchildren, I had to smile when I read this.

The Cat Years
From: Adair Lara (San Francisco Chronicle)

I just realized that while children are dogs—loyal and affectionate—teenagers are cats. It’s so easy to be a dog owner. You feed it, train it, boss it around. It puts its head on your knee and gazes at you as if you were a Rembrandt painting. It bounds indoors with enthusiasm when you call it.

Then, around age 13, your adorable little puppy turns into a big old cat. When you tell it to come inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who died and made you emperor. Instead of dogging your footsteps, it disappears. You won’t see it again until it gets hungry—then it pauses on its sprint through the kitchen long enough to turn its nose up at whatever you’re serving. When you reach out to ruffle its head, in that old affectionate gesture, it twists away from you, then gives you a blank stare, as if trying to remember where it has seen you before.

You, not realizing that the dog is now a cat, think something must be desperately wrong with it. It seems so antisocial, so distant, sort of depressed. It won’t go on family outings.

Since you’re the one who raised it, taught it to fetch and stay and sit on command, you assume that you did something wrong. Flooded with guilt and fear, you redouble your efforts to make your pet behave.

Only now you’re dealing with a cat, so everything that worked before now produces the opposite of the desired results. Call it, and it runs away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the counter. The more you go toward it, wringing your hands, the more it moves away.

Instead of continuing to act like a dog owner, you can learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a dish of food near the door, and let it come to you. But remember that a cat needs your help and your affection too. Sit still, and it will come, seeking that warm, comforting lap it has nor entirely forgotten. Be there to open the door for it.

One day, you grown-up child will walk into the kitchen, give you a big kiss and say, “You’ve been on your feet all day. Let me get those dishes for you.” Then you’ll realize your cat is a dog again.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This video is making the rounds on Facebook at the moment:

Our grumpy Fluffy was tamed by kittens. The very first cage-trapped feral spay/neutered at a "feral" spay/neuter clinic (mostly barn cats and holdable cats came in to that first clinic in 2001), Fluffy was stripped bald by the veterinary students who didn't realize he was supposed to be headed back outdoors at my barn. Fluffy stayed inside for his fur to grow, but he so loved the kittens who were loose in the room where he was caged, I let him out.

Since then he has been a pillow for quite a few fearful cats. Here are Fluffy and Pickles:

Fluffy is a bit too old and creaky to allow cats to lie on top of him now. At eighteen, pushing nineteen, he's deaf and bony but still quite, quite fluffy.

Anyone else have a grumpy feral who was tamed by kittens?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The dilemma of Tink and Tank

Tink and Tank keep heaping health issues on. Just to screw with my head, they keep adding issues that are individually non-lethal, like a sort of "add a straw to the camel" game. They were in to my veterinarian last week for blood and urine samples, and for Tink to have his eyes checked, as he now has a corneal ulcer, in addition to small irritations on his face. They also had both lost some weight. They are both on an antibiotic, and Tink is on two eye medications. One was quite pricey, but since my veterinarian has been doing a ton of work for me for basically free, I have no complaints there.

Tank has now followed Tink into bowel incontinence.

Through all of this they remain alert and personality-driven silly little cats. My veterinarian said to feed them whatever they like (previously I had been feeding them just super-premium dry food so they were on a single food) so they have re-learned the joys of running for the sound of a cat food can pop-top. The weather is nice so they explore the porch. But even with the weather so warm, they quickly run back to their heater and huddle up as close as they can (I had to put a grate in front of the heater to keep them from getting too close). They still love to snuggle with me even though now they are forced to remain on a fuzzy towel.

But they hate that they are now confined a big two-level Ferret Nation cage at night and when I'm not home, instead of being allowed to roam at large. And slowly they seem to be losing their willingness to explore now that they are subjected to regular regimine of medications, baths, face wiping, butt wiping, and caging. Right now the door to the porch is open. They just looked up, and then snuggled back down in front of their heater, uninterested. Once the sun hits the big dog pillow, they might be willing to shift there. But for just breeze and open air, they are not willing.

I am quite aware of the impact their appearance has on people unfamiliar with their issues when they come to my home and see these two dudes coming running up. Honestly, if you walked into my house and saw these kittens you'd wonder what abuses I'd been subjecting them to. Half-furless, skinny little faces that look like they've been starved (but fat little bodies). Unthrifty fur that looks like it could be resolved with just a bath (nope!). Crust on their eyes an hour after they have been wiped. Poopy butts an hour after having a bath. Poor little bugs!

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a person who hangs onto cats who are suffering. I don't want to live beyond when I am happy with my life. Especially now that I have cared for a person who has died, I know there comes a time when you wish God would just turn off the switch and call you home, while you are still able to ask for it. I used have a wildlife control business and had to kill scores of rabies-infected suffering raccoons. As life-or-death decisions go, rabies is a fairly simple one. Rabies is 100% fatal for wildlife, so you never have to feel "I could have done more."

While I admire many of the changes that the so-called "No Kill" movement has brought to animal sheltering and rescue, I have issues with the extremes some people have taken it to--keeping animals alive just so we can say we did everything we could...even when the animal will ultimately be killed anyway, is miserable in his continued existance, or is confined for the rest of his or her life. I've watched countless on-line dramas of kittens "saved from the awful shelter who was going to kill him" due to serious health issues, have watched the fundraisers and veterinary efforts...only to see that kitten ultimately die or be put down.

Absolutely there are many successes as well. But it is a difficult decision. When is it about the animal, and when is it about us?

I've never had kittens like this, nor been in a position where the answers to questions still pending may not come until Tink and Tank are too far gone to save. Honestly, I feel they already are. I feel that perhaps there are issues they have that perhaps could have been prevented if they had been diagnosed two months ago. But now that they already exist, can they be reversed? I'm almost certain that when test results come back, the answer will be "These young cats cannot survive much longer."

But what if they say "Oh look, just an inability to produce an enzyme!" (for the digestive issues--obviously more is going on than that)--and I have already had them put down for something that perhaps could have been mediated?

Because I travel for work, this issue does not just involve me. It involves different people who have fostered these kittens and are scheduled to foster them in the future. It involves a lot of issues that I don't share on a public blog (I whine enough as it is).

But mostly it involves Tink and Tank, and at what point "enjoyment of life" tips into "just existing for the sake of an answer." We know that cats enjoy grooming, being clean, eating, playing, and enjoying the company of others. Basically all Tink and Tank have at this point is their comfort in one another and with me. And food. They love food.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Facebook stalking: Daphne

Daphne (formerly Goggles, abandoned on our road and found by neighbors) just discovered her family got a rice cooker. What is that thing?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Facebook stalking: Ziggy and Tiger Tom

Ziggy and TigerTom's family adopts hard-to-place pets, and just adopted a senior dog. Clearly Ziggy cares not. Ziggy was a former-feral who was hit by a car and we had his leg amputated with the help of the SPCA of TC and the Maddies Shelter Med program at Cornell:

TigerTom is getting up there in years but he sure looks content! They adopted TigerTom because he had been at the Owl House longer than any other cat (5 years):

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Saturday, April 8, 2017

FIV and Fern and Grayson

Fern has been adopted! She came here almost five years ago after being dumped on Hagadorn Hill Road with her tiny kittens. Craig and Valarie found them and brought them down the hill to us.

She was too freaked out to feed her kittens, so I ended up bottlefeeding them. Unfortunately, they failed to thrive. They seemed to do pretty well for a week or two, and then went downhill. They are the only bottle babies I've ever lost.

Fern doesn't much understand the meaning of the word "walk" and sort of dashes from point A to point B, which made it difficult for potential adopters to interact with her. She also isn't a fan of being picked up. I found her unbearably cute, as she would turn somersaults asking to be petted in her run, but she was a tough sell when there were more traditional cats and kittens available for adopters. From a distance she looks like an average tiger cat. You have to get close to her to see just how unbearably cute she actually is. She also make a wonderful range of tiny sweet noises. Even though she's pudgy she's a small cat...only 6.5 pounds.

Ferns "run-mate" was Grayson. Grayson was also here quite a long time...almost three years. He tested negative for FeLV/FIV on arrival, but then when he was chosen for adoption, he tested positive for FIV in his pre-adoption check-up, so the adopter took another cat who had been his equal choice.

Because Fern had already been housed with him for so long, I left them together. After Grayson was adopted by Janine in Sayre, I figured I'd re-test her in 3-4 months to be able to advertise her as FIV free again. By then, Grayson's adopter was thinking she wanted a second cat. Who did she choose? Fern!

So off Fern went to her pre-adoption vet visit. And after three years living in a 4x8 run with Grayson (with liberty half the day of course)--cuddling, wrestling, having kitty spats, sharing bowls--Fern was still negative for FIV.

So back with Grayson she has gone, to live with Janine! I was worried that after a few months apart they might not get along, but it appears I need not have worried:

The only long-termer we have left is pudgy little Heidi. The rest of our cats have been here just over a year or less. My goal this spring is to get Heidi adopted. She's another little cutey that just needs the right person to come find her. So I'll get some updated photos and video of her soon.

(Oops! I forgot Pitter and Patter. They have been here longer than a year. Sorry kits, didn't mean to forget you!)

Bath night for Possums

The Possums needed their dirty butts bathed again tonight. Their fur seems less greasy that before, and it appears the fur on their backs maybe slowly growing back...however that may just be wishful thinking on my part. The incontinence is a real problem. Tink really wants to cuddle, and that's difficult when he's oozing poop. I guess it's off to the vet again.

A nice gift for your local shelter

Don't get one for me, I already have the poster, which I picked up at a conference.

"Hold old is that kitten?" booklets available here from Alley Cat Allies.

No cats, just music.

My apologies if you get the rainbow-pooping unicorn as an ad. :)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Goji and Sully get adopted!

Due to family responsibilities, I wasn't available for adoption visits most of January, February and into March, but some intrepid would-be adopters hung in there, and three adult cats, Goji, Sully, and Fern, were adopted. Fern will get her own post for special reasons.

Both Goji and Sully were off the northern part of Tompkins County. Goji has gone to the Mill apartments right near where I used to live in Etna, and he was immediately chilling on the couch--although when I left he was hiding behind it, which is usual for a new arrival.

His new mom reports:

Goji is doing fabulous! He's so well behaved and is really nice to come home to. He's more like a dog than a cat, complete with drool and all haha He's been adjusting very well though, I think by day 2 he felt right at home...He's the best!

Oops, yes, I'd forgotten Goji drools a bit when he's really happy being petted. Since I get so little long-term sit-down time with the cats, that had totally slipped my mind. I'm glad she seems to be OK with it!

Sully is now on the outskirts of Cayuga Heights. This is an adopter photo of him in his new home:

He is still settling in and has get to meet his new housemates...two standard poodles who can see him through the glass door. Sully is pretty bombproof, so I'm hoping they get along well!

Have great lives, Sully and Goji!

The Possum Kitten Page

Update 4/10/2017. All of the lab reports for these kittens are not listed here and they are still with the veterinarian.

This post gathers together all of the info on the Possum kittens (so-called because of their skinny possum-like faces). Suggestions from professionals--or non-professionals who have experienced a strikingly similar case in a personal pet--can be emailed to . If you just have a guess or a comment(stab-in-the-dark) please include those in the comments below. Messages from professionals will be forwarded to my veterinarian.

The photos and videos below are in chronological order from when the kittens came to me, to present-day.

Tink (has more white, 3.5 lbs) and Tank (larger kitten with more orange, 3.7 lbs) are almost 8 months old.

Thin possum-like faces
Their limbs are in proportion to their body size
They have thin fur (just the undercoat) that started to look shabby at around 6-7 weeks of age
Alopecia along the back and rear sides (photo below)
They sometimes have eruptions of very small scabs on their back toward the tail. Antiseptic wipes seem to clear this up.
Thin fur on paws--digits are clearly visible (photo below)
Toenails split easily.
Eat and drink generously. They drank almost constantly up until about two weeks ago. Their intake seems normal now.
There is sometimes a grinding noise in their jaw/teeth when they chew
They sometimes gag on their food
Messy eaters. Dry food is often stuck to their chins and they get this food in their water when they drink and it falls off.
Dirty paws inside the leg from cleaning their faces.
They trot but seldom run. They play when encouraged, but don't often initiate play or play on their own.
They spend a great deal of their cage-free time hugging the electric heater
Thickened joints on Tank (photo below)
Cloudiness to eyes (veterinarian states cataracts), and eyes if unattended have periodic dark-brown crust. I do not yet have a good photo of their eyes.
Broken-off whiskers. I thought this was originally barbering (kittens chewing one another's whiskers off) but I have seen no sign of this behavior.
Soft barely formed stool. They have had diarrhea in the past, but after treating with fenbendazole this returned to their normal soft stool. (photo below)
They each have 4-6 bowel movements a day.
Recently (since 4/1/2017) Tink has become slightly incontinent. Very small amount of soft stool (not diarrhea) extrude from his rectum. He did not have this problem previously.

Tests run: CBC/Chem, fecals, Giardia, Toxoplasmosis, T4 free T4,T3 and TSH.

The kittens were vaccinated for FVRCP with Heska Ultranasal and have been vaccinated for rabies.
They have been neutered
They are receiving B12 injections
They are fed a dry low-grain super-premium diet

August 31, 2016, Tink and Tank arrived with a litter of kittens who were found scattered about as neonates in a lumber yard in Vestal, a few feet apart. While it's possible they came for different litters, is is not probable, as they were all in the same area at the same time, and were the same size. A calico cat meowing around the area later that day was subsequently captured, spay/neutered, and returned to the lumber store, were she is slowing taming up and has become their store cat.

Here is their mother on February 25, 2017. She is now the store cat at a lumber yard in the Southern Tier:

October 5, 2016. Tink and Tank as nice normal-appearing kittens, with their littermates who quickly outstripped them in size. The littermates were transferred to another organization, so I don't have access to their adopters, however they were all of normal growth, round and robust when they left here. Tink and Tank are the orange kittens.

October 10, 2016:

Tink and Tank both fell behind their brothers (the entire litter was male) at around 6-8 weeks. While their brothers were over 3lbs at 10 weeks and went off the be neutered, Tink and Tank were still just under 2 lbs.

November 29th, 2016:

Approximately November 29th, 2016. Tank, looking unthrifty, but still with some roundness to his face at that time:

Both kittens seem to have faint voices, but Tink is most "voiceless"

Here is another "meow-less" video with Tink on his back (the veterinarian would like various views of them):

March 29, 2017, Tank. You can see his greasy fur in the front, lack of fur in the rear, low-fur toes (no cute soft round paws), short broken-off whiskers (although not clearly seen) and thickened joint areas (front knees and elbows) as well as his thin "old man" face.

If they are not given regular baths their fur becomes greasy, however even after a bath, they do not have neat fluffy fur.

March 28, 2017. Here are Tank and Tink after being left without a bath for a week. Note the alopecia in the rear and sides, and the greasy fur in front.

March 28, 2017. A close-up of Tank's back. My veterinarian states this is alopecia not overgrooming. The hairs are not broken off:

March 28, 2017. Tank's toes. No soft fuzzy paws here. The crust on the far inside paw is from Tank cleaning his face. These kittens are also very messy eaters. They don't seem to lick their lips. Dry food is often stuck to their chins. (Note: These kittens were left without a bath so my veterinarian could see what their coat etc. looked like. They were given a bath after their vet appointment).

They hug the heaters whenever they can, and after baths, I put them in little sweaters until they are totally dry:

March 31, 2017 walking around:

April 6, 2017. Body is fairly in proportion (legs are not stubby). Tink seen here with 19-year-old Fluffy

A visitor mentioned they looked larger online than in person, so here is Tank with a soda can to compare:

The soft somewhat formed stool which is their norm:


Thyroid (3 images)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Farewell mom...

For those not on Facebook, yes, I've been gone a long while. And my sisters and I, well, we've grown up a bit over that time, too. My mom, who has been thumbing her nose at kidney and heart disease for years by managing her diet and refusing to let it slow her down or keep her away from her friends, and whom I sure hoped that one day (years from now) she would pass without warning from a heart attack in her home which she loved---had become quickly and steadily weaker. Her church community worried about her, and my sisters, stepsister and I began looking after her, so she could stay home but not be alone. The primary responsibility fell to my sister who lives in the same city as my mom. Because my job is somewhat portable, I took on a "two days there, one day home" schedule, with an extra day home on weekends, in order to take care of the animals.

Unfortunately the reason for my mom's weakness became clear after she fell one morning from what turned out to be a heart attack. One medical helicopter ride and and an MRI later, she learned she had a brain tumor as well. She said she wanted to come home--she refused to go to a nursing home. With the help of Hospice in our county, two of her friends who were also home nursing aides, my sisters and myself, and an additional wonderful aide we hired, mom came home for less than two short weeks.

Mom's sister, Clara, and my cousin Bob were able to come up from Georgia to see her at home, and her friends from church and her Bible study group Heart to Heart also visited and sang to her.

She passed away on February 17, in the morning, with my sister Kathy by her side. I had just left nine hours earlier for my "one day home."

Louise Katherine Wilcox, 81, passed away peacefully at home in the care of her family on February 17, 2017 after an extended illness. Born on July 22, 1935 to Otto and Bertha Schlecht, she grew up with her sister Clara on the "Hillcrest" Jephson Estate in Cazenovia NY where her father was the estate caretaker. Louise was a graduate of Cazenovia High School Class of 1953. She faithfully reunited with her class whenever gatherings were held. She also attended Simmons College in Boston MA.

Louise raised her three daughters, Linda, Kathryn, and Susan in Greene and Earlville NY. She married Paul Wilcox of Norwich NY in 1975 and joined his three children, Robin, Kim, and Kevin to the family of her heart.

Louise was employed by the Norwich Pennysaver and then as a secretary in the Office of Corporate, Foundation and Government Relations at Colgate University for 28 years, retiring in 2000.

Louise had a great love for gardening, sewing, needlework, antiques, and the songbirds who graced her flower-filled yard. She was a teacher's assistant and Girl Scout leader in Earlville. In Norwich she became an active member of the community of the Christ Lutheran Church. She coordinated dinners, served as the congregational coordinator for Thrivant Financial and sang alto in the choir. She received comfort at her home while she was in hospice care from the community of Christ Lutheran Church, her local bible study group Heart to Heart, and other close friends.

Louise is survived her daughters Linda Greene, Kathryn Greene, Susan Greene; stepdaughters Kim (John) Natoli and Robin (Ron) McCarthy; sister Clara Waln; grandson Joshua (Anna) Greene; step-grandchildren Cory (Christie) Barton, Eliza (Kagen) Weeks, Emily (Edward) Ellison, Ryan (Kobie) Natoli, Trevor Natoli, Kelsey Natoli, Maria (James) Tarver, Danielle (Robert) Schmitz, Eric McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy; nephews David Waln and Robert Waln; cousins and numerous great-grandchildren.
Louise was predeceased by her husband and great love Paul Wilcox, her first husband William Greene, her parents Otto and Bertha Schlecht, and stepson Kevin Wilcox.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a charitable contribution may send donations to the Christ Lutheran Church (94 North Broad Street, Norwich NY 13815) or Hospice and Palliative Care of Chenango County (21 Hayes Street, Norwich NY 13815).

My mom was an extremely strong woman and she only got stronger as she grew older. She became my friend, rather than just my mother. We certainly exasperated one another now and then, of course. She expressed her concern about how much money I spent on the cat rescue while I was younger. But after I had worked for Petfinder for about five years, she seemed to accept my additional cat rescue hobby as--dare I say--perhaps even respectable. None of her daughters took a traditional route. Kathy, the historian. Linda, the professional musician (Buffalo Philharmonic). Me, the animal welfare advocate. Mom was a cat lover herself (and has asked to be interred with her beloved cat Charlie). She loved music and history. I guess it wasn't so surprising how we turned out. Or maybe she ultimately reflected some of what we had grown into.

But when it came down to it, mom was an artist, and her paintbrush was gardening and beautiful things. We all thought that mom would have been an great interior designer, but she always said it wouldn't make her happy if she did it for someone else. We have all inherited some of the small and beautiful things she created, discovered, or had kept her whole life.

She spent her entire young life on the Jephson Estate in Cazenovia, where my grandfather was the caretaker. Surely--even living in the carriage house--that affinity for beautiful things, beautiful lawns, and beautiful gardens had to have influenced her. You can see her childhood home here.

When mom said she wanted to come home, My sisters and I said "Of course you will" but honestly I think we were all terrified. Caring for a person, cleaning her, turning her, feeding her, medicating her, worrying about her and trying not to seem to worried, but also trying not to seem too carefree...I'm not sure I thought I could do such a thing. But I guess it's like anything else. When faced with the need, you do it.

So now I am home. There are the legal issues to deal with, and an extra house to care for. My sisters and I normally only visited one another when we visited mom. Now we'll need to create new and stronger bonds. I'm guessing if mom had had her wish---if she HAD just passed unknowingly from a massive heart attack---it's possible my sisters and I wouldn't have this bond. It's possible we wouldn't have seen our aunt and cousin, that we wouldn't have been interacting so closely with my stepsisters Robin and Kim. We might have all drifted aimlessly apart.

It seems less likely we will wander away from one another, now.

Thanks, mom. Even your dying gave an incredible gift.