Monday, December 24, 2012

And a Merry Christmas to you all

In case you somehow have managed to miss this. May you have a holiday filled with music...and cats.

Bullet is still here

Bullet has been around lately. I almost didn't recognize him as he no longer looks like a teenager. He stopped by for some catnip in the front garden and he has been eating the cat food in the barn. There is also a new black and white cat, and a black cat, who have been recently dumped here, so I'll be setting traps. If I catch Bullet, I'll take him in for booster shots. I'm glad to have it verified that he's still around. From a distance, one tux cat can look very much like another.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas

Watch this and you'll wonder why anyone could ever ask you "Why do you like cats so much?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day off coming up and Gracie adopted

It turns out I have a bit more vacation left so I put in for a vacation day tomorrow. I am absolutely exhausted, mostly my own fault, for not getting to bed early enough. I did manage to drag myself out to the store to pick up baking supplies. The last time I baked for Christmas was 2010. How do I know this? Because everything I pulled out of the baking cabinet had "11/10" written on it in black marker, and expired dates stamped on them.

My grocery bill was higher than it might have been because I have an aversion to that candied fruit that normally goes into the kind of things I bake. I replace most of it with dried fruit: apricots, raisins, cranberries, dates, and the like. I considered starting tonight but I realized I would be making yet another late bedtime out of it, should I start pulling out bowls and pans. So I'll get up tomorrow morning and make a mess of the place.

Perhaps I shall even blog my fruitcake. ;) Yes, there is edible fruitcake in the world. Real fruitcake is so good that I don't understand why the store-bought stuff even sells for anything other than a joke.

Here's some good news: Gracie was adopted!

I took her out to Endicott Saturday. She'll be sharing her house with three bouncy dogs (very sweet ones) and another cat, so I hope she fits in soon. Right now she has the quiet of the bedroom to get used to the sounds outside.

I'm far too sleepy to post anything creative, so we'll let Gracie's cute little face speak for me.

Walter Lamb's comments on the Outdoor Cat conference

You can find them here. Thanks to Barb of the Feral Cats in the News blog.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


It's not just for dogs anymore.

Vox Felina's wrap up of the Outdoor Cat conference... here at this link. After reading his notes, some different things present themselves to me that hope to blog on down the road.

Holiday pet scams

Interesting article here.

Feral cats: is it "crazy" to care for them...or "crazy" to ignore them?

I deleted a diatribe from the comments by a gentleman who calls himself "Woodsman." I delete his comments because they are rude, not because of the questions they contain.

He sent a link to this article here, about an apartment complex whose expansion/renovation has been put on hold due to the presence of two-score of cats. It's an interesting article, and I have some sympathy for the landowner as I do for most landowners who have bought the "just leave them alone and they'll go away" line.

However, I've run into 70-year old rural homeowners who have bigger things to worry about who nonetheless realize there's an issue to be dealt with when they have ten cats running around. They pick up the phone and call for help. Someone who lets the numbers rack up to a hundred has pushed the envelope a bit. I've handled situations with 80-150 cats. The people involved aren't stupid by any means. It was just really low on their too-do list compared to other things that were taking up their time and money.


A) It appears from the article that the landowner has in fact received thousands of dollars in free cat control services. The population allegedly was over 100, and is now 20-35. Had the landowner taken responsibility and put the personal effort into trapping the cats originally (for the cost of traps, time, and gas), or hired a trapper (at probably $60-100 a cat), the cats would have been gone before any cat advocate moved into the picture. Had this landowner taken responsibility for the problem, the cats could have been removed. However, the problem appears to have been ignored until it reached the swarming level. Now that there is profit in the picture or at least needful maintenance (instead of just a nuisance: the status quo plus cats), and now that the problem is now more affordable/manageable (60-80 fewer cats than before) the landowner wants the cats gone.

B) The people who have actually taken on the task of managing the cats have invested thousands of dollars--dare I suggest over ten thousand dollars if you take into consideration the cost of caring for the adoptable cats until they found homes--of their own money, to reduce this nuisance and humane issue. The landowner has had the benefit of 60-80 fewer cats. That's a lot of cats, and a lot of money.

C) The decision is being made in the court system--a system upon which legal decisions in this country are commonly made.

The deleted comment on this blog said in part "This is precisely why everyone is learning to destroy all cats on their properties as quickly and quietly as possible. Telling nobody beforehand about the cats even being there."

The fact is, landowners don't take this upon themselves which is why there is a problem to begin with. It takes money and work--money and work the landowner did not care to invest when the problem started. If a landowner notes a cat or two upon his property and traps and takes them off to a shelter, chances are pretty good no one would notice. However, landowners ignore the problem until there are scads of cats---which is why TNR got its start to begin with.

The solution many anti-cat people offer for cat control-- "Just don't feed the cats" -- actually causes the problem of growing cat numbers. They don't trap them. They don't kill them. They just want them to magically go away.

Then there's the "just shoot 'em" suggestion. While the commenter likes to boast about how many cats he kills, the fact is that most landowners want someone else to do the dirty deed, or they are in an area where they can't discharge firearms. So it's useless to suggest that anyone with a cat problem should just pull out a .22. The majority of so-called nuisance cats are in residential areas. There wouldn't be a nuisance wildlife control industry if people HAD .22's, let alone knew how to shoot them, or lived in an area where they could shoot them. In NYS a landowner can shoot a common wild critter that is causing damage, yet most don't. They open their wallets to have someone else do it with traps, catchpoles, or exclusion devices.

If the commenter attended cat control conferences, like the recent Outdoor Cat conference, he might learn that in fact cat management programs are multi-tiered. Cats in some areas may in fact have to be removed, while others can remain (sterilized). Just like nuisance wildlife control, one has to look in one's toolbox and choose the tool that is best suited for the situation, given the resources available.

There certainly are people who "shoot, shovel, and shut up" but they do so with the awareness that they are breaking the law, and they keep their heads down. There is a reason "Woodsman" won't use his own name, and that's because there would be a knock or two on his door if he did.

We aren't going to manage a few million cats via a the one or two people per community who are willing to slink around shooting cats.

So to landowners who don't like cats, please do go ahead catch that friendly stray as soon as she shows up and take her to a shelter if your only other option is to ignore the cat. (Please check with the shelter in advance to be sure they accept cats) Maybe she will find her way back to her owner or into a new home. But if the landowner ignores that stray because "it's not his problem" and lets that cat and those that follow her breed into a hundred shy and feral cats, he should not be surprised if someone else notices them, puts out some food, and starts shelling out their own bucks to try to solve the problem in a humane way that doesn't involve dumping 100 cats on the local underfunded shelter.

Please keep comments civil and to the topic of cat management, thanks!

Update: I note on Facebook that Stray Cat Alliance is trying to find placement of at least some of their cats, so they are not sitting on their hands counting on the courts to support them. They are trying to get the cats to a safer place without the need for them to go to a shelter.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Should shelters who are unable to find placement for cats take them in at all?

Earlier I shared Dr. Hurley's suggestion that if shelters are not succeeding at what they hope to accomplish (humanely sheltering cats even if they were to be killed, and finding a good number of cats homes), in the absence of a local or state mandate to accept cats perhaps they should not be taking them in. An article of a shelter that divested themselves in this manner can be found here.

The shelter will take lost/stray cats and injured/sick cats, but not otherwise healthy, and likely unadoptable, street/feral cats.

However, I know myself how difficult it has been on me when there is no option for cats other than myself. My local shelter is frequently full, and the shelter in the nearby county does not accept feral cats.

When there is non-injured but suffering cat and it needs help, what are we to do? Who defines whether or not a cat with no visible injury is suffering. If people are harassing her, if her source of food has been taken away, if the place she is sheltering is about to be bulldozed, who is going to take on that responsibility?

We have been raised to believe that it is the obligation of the local shelter to accept these animals, and for them to accept the cumulative damage of killing them if need be.

The fact is, if this is not the case, a responsible and humane society needs to provide an option.

In the face of a lack of services, many individual citizens and private cat-services groups have chosen to offer spay/neuter. Grants have been born of Maddie's Fund, the ASPCA, Petsmart Charities, and PETCO Foundation, specifically to help groups fill this need. Individuals beggar themselves to help other people with cat "problems." I sat next to two women from a cat rescue in Kansas who were there on their own dime, to learn more.

Are there enough of these people to fill the need, especially if some shelters step out of the picture? I would say that at this point there is not.

To this end, some shelters who no longer want to accept the cumulative damage of killing cats for free have turned to a spay/neuter program called Feral Freedom.

Here is a .pdf of a PowerPoint presentation on the subject.

And from this article:

City Animal Care and Control workers still will pick up feral cats when they receive complaints or spot roamers in neighborhoods. But instead of taking the cats to a shelter, where they run the risk of catching or spreading diseases, they end up at First Coast No More Homeless Pets. Jacksonville Humane Society also helps with transportation.

Once they reach the No More Homeless Pets facility, the cats are spayed or neutered, their ears clipped for identification purposes and a microchip is inserted under their skin so they can be tracked. Once the animals recover from surgery, they are returned back to where they were found.

People living near where feral cats are returned are left literature that explains Feral Freedom and how homeowners can keep unwanted feral cats away from their property.

The idea is that once sterilized, the cats will stop exhibiting the behavior that is most bothersome: fighting, mating, roaming and spraying. And the city says there are many residents that welcome the tamer animals: One University of Florida professor estimates that 12 percent of households feed feral cats.

The feral cats will no longer be able to mate and rapidly grow their ranks. The city hopes that the population will decrease as they die naturally.

Initially I objected totally to this program. (I have real concerns about the young cats in the video, newly released, who follow along at the feet of the person who brought them back. Aren't those kittens adoptable? Wouldn't a foster program suit them better?). However, in cities where shelter killing is high, who is to say that it is that shelter's "obligation" to kill those cats, if that is not their mission, and the offered funding (if any) does not cover the cost? So while I too would like to have some magic place where I can take any cat in need, I know that I myself get angry and resentful at people who contact me with a statement that I "have to" help them. Sometimes my anger is dependent on how overworked I am, how broke I am, and whether I have space. On a day when I have some cash, have gotten plenty of sleep, and have empty cages, I might actually feel positively about the request.

What about these shelters that are always overfull, always underfunded, and always tired? Do they "have to" kill these cats when past experience has shown they have failed at releasing a significant number of them alive to new homes?

An interesting aspect of Feral Freedom is their three strikes rule. If a cat is trapped three times, animal control has the option of not sending it back into the Feral Freedom program. The rationale for this is that if the cat has been three times trapped, there is an underlying issue that might indicate that cat is either a danger to itself, or a repeated public nuisance at his current location. This does not mean the cat must be killed (he could go into a Barn Buddies program, etc.) but the cat will be evaluated more seriously if it ends up in a trap three times, and putting the cat down might be the final decision, based on that evaluation.

Also vital to the program is micro-chipping. Many feral cat advocates hesitate to microchip cats because it may reveal the location of their colony, or make them legally responsible for any damage. This program takes the stance that cats must be tracked. We need the knowledge. Is this program succeeding or failing? Do the cats move around? How long do they really live? How many highway killed cats are unaltered versus altered?

Some cities are not willing to divest entirely of the outdoor cat issue, even if they cannot house the cats. If every person who sees a feral cat at least has the option of getting it fixed, that is better than ignoring the cat, which is often what happens if people know the cat will be killed in the shelter.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in cities using the program. I would suggest we need more than shelter intake numbers to determine if the program is successful. Even fewer complaints may not be a true indication of success. If people know the shelter will only fix and return cats, they may not bother to call the shelter at all if they don't want that option.

Previously people who didn't mind a cat being killed received service. Those who were worried the cat would be killed did not. Now the coin has flipped, and those who will accept spay/neuter over death have an option, while those who only want death do not. Not because one person is right and the other is wrong, but because death, so far, has failed to improve the situation.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Outdoor Cat conference. Breaking new ground, forging new relationships

Conference: The Outdoor Cat, Science and Policy from a Global Perspective. December 3-4, 2012.

While I was in Texas, my supervisor sent me an email: Would I like to go to this conference? Quite frankly, I was tired. The Texas conference was to be my last travel for the year, and I was counting on a period of rest for December and January, before I boarded yet another plane in February--back to Texas once again. When I opened the conference schedule, I saw old friends Robert Schmidt (Utah State) and John Hadidian (HSUS)from my wildlife control days. What were they doing on a cat conference schedule? BIOLOGISTS at a cat conference? It was like opening a Christmas present that contained your most dreamed-of gift, that you did not-at-all expect to receive, because it was too expensive for your family to afford. Also speaking was Kate Hurley, whom I knew from Adoption Options. There were a number of conservation professionals on the schedule as well.

I had to go. It was as if my boss had said "Here, I found this conference just for you. Merry Christmas."

Old colleagues, my favorite subject, new ideas, and sunny California. You couldn't ask for better.

Well, three out of four ain't bad. I disembarked to a cold, rainy southern California while temperatures in the New York I had left spiked to the high 60's. My usual weather curse had struck again. Oh well. On to the conference...

Kate Hurley, DVM, is my new rock star. It was she who pulled out stats that illuminated the fact that in some cities where the number of street cats brought in to shelters is high, and adoption rates are therefore low, the adoption rate by average citizens who have found a cat and were wait-listed is higher than the shelter's adoption rate. In other words, in some areas, a cat is more likely to be re-homed or returned to her owner if she remains on the street or is taken in by an average citizen, than if she was taken to the shelter---the place where we are all told we should take a stray cat to best save her life.

When people/cats on the wait list were called back, a significant number had already found a new home for the cat, found the owner, or had chosen to keep the cat, while they were on the wait list. This percentage was higher than the adoption rate at some shelters.

(I am requesting presentations, and hope to have data in hand down the line).

This led Dr. Hurley to ask the question, in communities where there is no legal mandate requiring shelters to take in cats (most have a legal mandate to take in dogs), should shelters be stepping into the role of a cat shelter if for the most part what they are doing is warehousing and killing them? Is this the role of a cat shelter?

It was a new way of looking at data. I had seen the data before, but I had never compared high-volume shelter adoption rates to the success rates of the public itself.

This is not to say that every cat should be left on the street. We don't necessarily want to create a larger generation of cat hoarders. It does however raise a serious question: Are cat "shelters" actual shelters? What real impact do they have that justifies this level of killing? What other options might there be? If we don't recognize our failures, we won't look for other options. Kate challenged us to keep our minds open to other options.

Most shelters succeed very well at balancing human safety and dog control welfare. You don't, in general, find packs of dogs roaming the streets. Return-to-owner numbers and adoption numbers for dogs are significantly high, and are increasing. Those shelters that are not succeeding have tools to improve. They have other shelters they can look at as templates.

Can large municipal shelters expect similar success with cat control, or are we just throwing millions of dollars down a black hole of failure? Is killing hundreds of thousands of cats that have no real chance of adoption improving the situation? No. Are we at least maintaining the status quo? Is killing cat responsible for fewer numbers of cats killed nationwide each year, or is instead that due to spay/neuter and creative adoption? Does mass killing have any real impact other than destroying the reputation of shelters, increasing staff turnover, and turning remaining staff--originally conscientious, sensitive people--into robots who are increasingly insensitive to the suffering of their charges?

These were the themes of the conference, in my experience:

DATA, where data had not been available before in cat-centered conference

NEW QUESTIONS, that had not been raised to the cat and conservation community on a conference level.

ILLUMINATION OF PARTNERSHIPS between conservationists and cat welfare people, when we traditionally are treated to polarization of issues between so-called "bird lovers" and so-called "cat people." The media, and hard-line advocates on both sides, tell us we can't possibly work together. One speaker mentioned he had been contacted by the media for comment, and was told by the reporter that his comments likely wouldn't be used because he was too moderate (i.e., not crazy-sounding enough to bring in those on-line clicks and links due to preferred sensationalism). This conference was about working together to benefit both wildlife and cat populations and to bring about that shared goal of reducing outdoor cat numbers.

The audience appeared to be composed primarily of animal welfare advocates, which disappointed me. There was a respectfully large contingent of males, which was heartening (more than I have seen at any conference dedicated to cats only), and a good representation of animal control people--which might account for the male presence. When I saw the men, I hoped that this meant the conference had brought out biologists and concerned skeptics from the conservation field who were looking for answers, or at least looking to understand this complicated issue of how to manage outdoor cats. I didn't necessarily hope for converts. I did hope for answer-seekers. Yet from my questioning, it appeared this had not happened. Certain people had in fact been invited outright, but they elected not to come.

Perhaps at some point, those who view themselves as conservationists first and foremost, will come to experience the willingness to at least listen to new ideas, as animal control professionals (often criticized as a field that kills animals) clearly were willing.

Therefore, my first question to anyone "high-up" in the anti-cat audience out there will be: WHERE WERE YOU? Did you stay away just because HSUS was a sponsor? Did you not look at the speaker list and see the quality and diversity there? Were you not at least interested in seeing what the "opposition" was saying if you did in fact view this conference as "opposition?" You ought not have. There were welfare advocates enough in the audience who were uncomfortable when programs were outlined, in Hawaii and New Zealand, that included an aspect of acknowledged killing (while also including non-lethal components). There were hard--but fascinating--control ideas to be heard on both "sides"---if one must take sides.

I raise a similar question for certain cat advocates. Alley Cat Allies was not on the speaker list, nonetheless they sent four people. Good for them! I hope that I just missed representatives from certain other animal advocacy groups (after all, it's not like we have our affiliation branded on our foreheads) however there was one advocate in particular I expected ought to be there who was conspicuously missing. Let's hope he sent a representative in his place.

To the speakers, you have my hearty bravo. It took guts to stand up there and say hard words about the state of outdoor cat issues today. It takes guts to voice that new idea that seems to be yours alone, and share it with a large audience of people who might find that idea shockingly new. It takes guts to say "I used to believe X, but then I listened to other people and now I believe X+Y. Maybe tomorrow I will have learned even more and will amend that to Z." I hope by the rapt faces of your audience, you found it worthwhile. There were filled chairs for every speaker. Those who walked out for a break returned. Only a handful of people left before the end and most likely due to commitments. The last presentation (among two days of presentations) was as full as the first.

I'll have more to say on this, but I worry if I don't get this down, life in general will steal the moment from me.


For some reason I get a ton of hits when I neglect my blog....

I logged into Blogger after weeks of inactivity, only to discover a huge spike in traffic today. I'm not sure why. If anyone notes a new link to The Owl House somewhere online before I have time to sift through my stats, please let me know.

I have been traveling for work, and my blog has been neglected. I've also been obsessing about refinancing the farm, and it looks like this may finally come to be. So while I write a post I thought I'd leave this LOL as a signal that I am still alive. Be back soon!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Camouflaged Owls

Since we live in the land of owls (you must come out some night to hear them all) I thought I would share this!

Oskar the blind kitten and the hairdryer

OK, over 200,000 of you have seen this, but I didn't until tonight. Let's add another 100 to the viral sensation (you know it's viral when there's a commercial):

Sir Morgan checks in

I was off in Houston at the Texas Animal Control Conference this week. I gave two presentations, one on marketing your adoptable pets online, and one on social media. And I came home to this cute photo of sweet Sir Morgan:

I am pooped. I came weaving into the house last night, greeted the cats, took care of the cats in the cat facility, came inside to answer email, and only managed a few before I finally realized resistance was futile, turned on the electric blanket, shut Rose in the great room so she would not pick on Nellie, and went to bed.

I'm looking forward to this weekend to sleep in and catch up.

In the meantime, I'll just look at Sir Morgan and wish I could pet that silly belly. I'm so glad he's got a great home.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pheona is now Rosemary

...and has a home of her very own! I delivered her on Tuesday, and she's a very lucky girl.

I've sent some cats off to foster. Tinker has a urinary tract infection I have not been able to clear up here, so hopefully her foster home will be able to get her meds into her three times a day. Morgaine is with her, since they are buddies here and I don't want them to forget one another. I hope they will be OK. They are both very nice cats, but quite shy with strangers

It's getting downright quiet in the cat facility. If Rose didn't squall like a banshee I'd move her from the house to the barn facility. But if I put her out there, someone would hear her yelling and call the SPCA for sure!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Here is yesterday's blog post on Petfinder of organizations who need help. Links to previous posts appear at the beginning of yesterday's post.

While researching, I came across some amazing videos of organizations who are on the ground in NYC, that are well worth watching all the way to the end.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW):

Humane Society of the United States:

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is also on the ground, however embedding is disabled on their YouTube videos.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Buffy checks in...

Buffy and her new housemate Izzy are getting along great. Buffy still has a slightly loose stool (sigh) so I'm having another fecal check run on the other two kittens, including a check for giardia. Although in my experience, giardia = diarrhea, not a loose stool. We'll see what the vet says!

I would call this "exercise"

Yes, this would be my idea of working out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Busy with Hurricane Sandy info...but warm, safe, dry

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy so many stories of people and animals in need arise, as well as people helping other people.

I was IMing with a colleague today, who is still in NJ without power. He is doing his job via battery, having to stop to go recharge it.

The Petfinder blog has an ongoing list of shelters and adoption groups who are checking in to let us know if they are safe, or need help.

Facebook has been a huge help--in some cases the only way information can be passed quickly to the pubic. That and Twitter.

This video just came across Facebook, and it's a happy story in that they are also dry and fed...but without power.

Check it out:

Here are the Petfinder posts...part of what I've been doing with my warm, safe, well-fed time. If you have the ability, please consider helping one of the shelters listed here, or any others you hear of who need help




Monday by Sara.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lucky us...not so lucky for NYC

Our part of the storm passed us by with just a short period of high winds. It is now calm and rainy. Poor NYC/NJ though. What a mess.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stay safe. Bracing for the wind....

(photo courtesy of Andy's Friends Cat Rescue, from Facebook).

Sandy has blown into Tioga County. The wind is high but not raging. They tell us that the worst will come between 9pm (soon!) and 1 am, so I'm trying to print off as much as I can for my job, before I get nailed by the pretty-much-inevitable power outage.

The images coming from Manhattan are frightening. The subways are flooded. A facade has collapsed in Chelsea, leaving apartments wide open to the weather and the street. A crane dangles from a skyscraper. Frightening. And this was all before landfall. Sandy is now on shore.

Here I've taken some steps for safety. The bathtub and every available vessel is full of water. The big barn door is propped on both sides, hopefully to keep it from being blown off. The food in the small freezer has been moved to help pack the chest freezer and hopefully keep it cold if the power goes out. My neighbors have offered their freezer (run by generator) if the power stays out too long. Old food has been tossed. I hauled 30 gallons of kerosene from the VanEtten gas station for my fuel tank. The VanEtten station is out of gas. Spencer still had some when I checked in with them.

I've put food out in the barn and opened the chicken coop (it has no chickens, just hay) in case any lost or displaced critters need a place to go. I picked up everything I could from the barn floor in case the stream jumps the bank and comes flowing down the road again.

Depending on how the streams look, I'll bring the big mower up to the house tomorrow. They say we won't get as much rain as we did during Irene---but far more wind. I bought extra cat food and litter, and have my travel water bowls out. The cat seem oblivious, luckily, although I'm sure they will be getting nervous in the cat facility once the wind really begins to roar.

My only real fear is the big tree by the house. If it should ever go down, no matter where it goes, it will likely wipe something out. The house, the barn, or my car. So once the wind escalates, I'm moving into the furthest section of the house, just in case. I've never experienced 70mph winds before, and I don't know if the tree has, either.

I think, given the continued storms we have been having, it's time for me to take that tree down.

Back to work email. I'm trying to clear out as much as I can, because if I lose power (and I'm sure that's inevitable at some point) my ability to work on the computer will last only a half hour before the battery backup runs out on the router upstairs.

Stay safe, everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

'Tis the season to dress cats up

Mine would give me the stink eye, but if your cat doesn't mind being dressed up for Halloween, feel free to send a photo along to me at info at americancat dot net and we'll get her or him posted!

Here's Henry as Superman:

One more!

Are you on Facebook? Can we be friends?

I am here on Facebook: If I can't verify you online I may not friend you so don't be offended. ;) Please mention if you put in a friend request, that you read the blog. Thanks! Susan

Greene Colony checks in with a beautiful video

I received a query from a third party about a person who needs help in Greene, NY. Since I like to check in anyway with people I've met in the past, I sent an email off to the guardians of a colony near Greene, whose story has been on the blog in the past here and here.

They sent back helpful information and this absolutely lovely video about their own feral cat experience, here

They obtained affordable spay/neuter via All Animals Matter .I note this organization has a bottle/can drive shed at my mother's veterinarian's office in Norwich, so I hope all my Norwich family and peeps will take their bottles there and help this effort.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pheona's new home bailed out....

It's always too good to be true. The people who said before this small family was trapped, that they would take the mother, have now decided not to. I'm sure they have a good reason, and it's better for them to not take her, than return her later, IMO. So perfect Pheona needs a home.

She is petite, sweet, has extra toes, likes other cats, and is incredibly playful. She raised her family under a building in Waverly, so you know she's smart and giving. Please spread the word to anyone who is looking for a second cat. I set her down in the middle of all the facility cats and she didn't even have a hiss to share.

She is the perfect cat. And I don't say that about too many cats.

Is Bullet back?

I don't believe I posted about Bullet. He arrived right before travel got heavy for work. One day there was a tuxedo cat staring at me from under my compost tumbler. He was so curious I was sure he would be friendly when I caught him, but after I captured him in my barn, it became clear he was feral.

I had him neutered and figured I'd clean the dormant chicken coup, which has a chicken wire roof, fill it with straw bales, chairs, beds, a big litter pan, and lots of hiding places, and let him get used to the place while I was gone. Then after a few weeks, I would open the door and have him as a barn cat. I bought new large waterers and feeders so Donna and Tim could check on him without having to replenish food.

Well, it was a wash, because even though I'd checked the coop from top to bottom, he got out within half a day and was gone. He climbed right up the wood walls and pushed through a corner of the wire ceiling.

Donna put out food for him while I was gone, but no one touched it. I kept putting food out, but it became clear that it was raccoons who were getting fed. After about three weeks I stopped putting out food, but watched for tracks.

He was neutered, ear tipped, and microchipped, so I hoped that if someone else trapped him and he ended up at the shelter, they would call me. A few of my neighbors have indoor-outdoor cats and put food out, so I hoped he'd found another yard to hang out in.

Yesterday and today I saw a black and white cat. At first I thought "Dumped cat!" but then I remembered Bullet. Perhaps he's come back?

I dug out his photo (above) and have memorized his markings, so if I see the new cats again, and can get an idea whether it could be the same cat. It would be nice if it were, as I've been feeling badly about him. I've put out bowls of food, and I'll set traps again to see what I catch.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Buffy" gets a home

Pheona and her kittens were rescued in Waverly. The people who noticed the petite dilute calico and her small family fed them, and with the help of Debra, a local animal rescuer, they were captured and brought here to The Owl House. Pheona is now spayed and will be going to live with the people who rescued her.

Her kittens are also altered, and are looking for homes of their own. This past weekend, the kitten who is now named "Buffy" found hers, and has already cuddled in with her new sister/aunt

Here's a shot, taken by Christy, of the boarding room in my house where the kittens are living while they meet their new guardians:

Three more kittens to go! Two of Buffy's brother, and little Gracie.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I don't even want to look up to see how long Arthur has been here. Years. He was abandoned here one winter.

He is such a beautiful cat. Everyone loves him. He loves everyone. Well, except other cats. Arthur needs to be an only cat. And yet, there are many people who want to have only one cat. So where is his home?

Arthur is very large, and not in a tubby way. He is beautiful, sleek, affectionate. He has simple eating needs, because he has a sensitive stomach, so he should eat all-meat dry cat food, like Evolve. He can free-feed, because he does not over-eat.

He is playful, and loves the laser toy. I'm sure he'll be in bed with you. He is affectionate without being annoying. Sweet without being cloying.

If you are in central NYS or northern PA, won't you share Arthur's post?

He would really love to have a home.

Arthur can be found on Petfinder, here (click) along with contact information.

Back in the cage you go, Arthur. One more time.

(Photography - Christy Stout. Thank you, Christy, for bringing the blog to life).

It's National Feral Cat Day

Wild Cats from Rachel Horesovsky on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Foothills Animal Shelter, Golden CO

Wouldn't it be nice to have cat facilities like this? This is The Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden, CO. They were only a short and beautiful 25 minutes drive from Black Hawk, so I drove over after the Colorado Animal Welfare Conference concluded.

The photo above is of their Kong iPet room. You can go to the Foothills Animal Shelter page here to play with the cats with toys you can move via your keyboard. I think the current cats have gotten a bit habituated to the internet toys because they are ignoring me this morning, but they surely loved to play while I was there in person!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back from Colorado

I was in Colorado for the Colorado Animal Welfare Conference Conference. The previous times I've been sent to Colorado, I've been parked in Denver, where I had access to excellent food, but not much scenery. This time I was out in Black Hawk. What a beautiful drive between Black Hawk and Golden, CO.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

How much work goes into a rescue

This video is about two rescued dogs, not cats, but it shows how much time and patience has to go into rescuing friendly, but scared, animals. It's a great, heartwarming video--perfect for a Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Join the Tuxedo Party!

Here's 15 minutes of fame that I hope spay/neuter advocates take advantage of. Tuxedo Stan is running for mayor of Halifax Canada on the slogan "Because neglect isn't working."

So go...If you are on Facebook say thanks on their FB page. Share a successful TNR story. Share a link to a resource. Forward the story onto your local online paper.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What happens when people shoot at feral cats?

So far, three very bad things. They shoot their grandchildren instead.

They shoot their neighbor instead.

They shoot a pet cat instead (and this cat was confined to a trap!)

This is why "just shoot them" can't be recommended as a public policy.

So let's just file that "shoot 'em up" advice away for good, as dangerous and irresponsible, along with cruel and illegal.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Need a document converter that doesn't require downloading?

Here you go! I'm creating .pdfs of my cat posters that I can email to friends to post on their driver's side back seat window to help get my long-termers out of here. All I had to do was upload my .jpg of the poster and then save the .pdf it returned to me in my browser. They also have an email version. I have not tried that.

PeTAs Lethal Gift Basket

Are you giving money to PeTA? When Shelby County announced they were overfull and might have to kill shelter pets, PeTA sent them a GIFT BASKET thanking them for making "the right decision" -- and it would appear they didn't mean "good for you for reaching out to the community to prevent having to kill the pets." PeTA meant "good for you for killing pets." This is the video Shelby County advocates created in response, comparing the Shelby County shelter's intake and adoption success to PeTA's (PeTA killed all but 6% of the pets in their shelter in 2011). There's a photo of PeTA's lethal thank you gift, as well. You might want to "pause" to read the stats they post, because the video moves on a little too quickly to read it all.

Shelby County No Kill Mission vs. PETA from No Kill Advocacy Center on Vimeo.

Here's Nathan Winograd's blog post on the issue.

Kitten-fix link-love

You haven't been seeing many kittens here, but you can see a bunch here at Love and Hisses.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Street Cat Named Bob

I always feel more relaxed after disconnecting my brain from work (and life in general) by reading a book. I've done less and less reading over the years, simply due to a perceived lack of time.

When Friday ebbed away, launching a three-day weekend, I resolved to head out to the local diner for a cheap dinner with a book on my Kindle. I posted on Facebook for suggestions (thanks everyone!). I now have a list of books to read in the future. When I logged into, there was this auto-generated suggestion for me, based on things I'd looked at in the past, online:

Photo from the online ChinaDaily

A Street Cat Named Bob was a great little book (and in large type via Kindle!). For anyone who has read Jackson Galaxy's bio, "Cat Daddy," the story will sound similar. However, in "A Street Cat Named Bob" the tale has been boiled down to simpler elements. The first thing I did upon finishing the book was to jump online and go look for the YouTube videos it mentioned.

Here is a UK media article about James and Bob. And here are a couple YouTube videos of the pair. A post-book video

And a pre-book video

While James did know that travelers had taken photos and videos of the two of them on the street, he only learned Bob was a bit of an internet sensation until passersby mentioned that they had learned of him via YouTube.

When you see the difference between James' hungry and drug-ravaged face in his pre-book video, and his relaxed and filled-out body at the book signing, it's clear how having Bob, a few dollars in his pocket, a little food, and the taming of two huge devils in his life (separation from his family, and drug recovery), have improved his health. Let's hope he continues to "keep it simple" and doesn't let the larger media monsters (the suggested movie) destroy his life, and his story.

Kudos and blessings to the literary agent and publisher of the British version of "Marley and Me," who stopped and talked to him, and helped to continue to change his life, by encouraging him to write his small book. Certainly The Big Issue, which gave him an legit street job deserves a shout out.

I think the word "inspiring" is overused, sadly. Let me just say that I felt, in all the online hype about cats, both bashing by the negative/cat haters, and the gushing by the promoters of the "overcute" online kitty videos and photos, it was heart-mending to read a story that so clearly illustrated what probably many hundreds of thousands of people have experienced but can't articulate: that indescribable contentment we experience when a cat shows, by the little things he does, that he loves us back.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Finn (Thai) checks in!

Judy, who adopted Finn (formerly Thai) came by with her granddaughter Kate a few weeks ago. It looks like they may be regular visitors, which will make the facility cats very happy! Judy sent us a photo of Finn, and you can tell he's very happy.

Shout out to Christy---here's your boy!


Because I have so many senior cats who need homes, I've been keeping my head low on the kitten front. There is, however, nothing you can do about the abandoned ones. A few weeks ago, one of my neighbors knocked on the door (or rather, Molly sounded the alarm when she walked up the path), because the French exchange students she was hosting had gone for a walk, and a kitten had attached herself to them, in the area of my farm.

The neighbor is allergic, so the kitten was not brought into her house, although they were feeding her. I stopped by later that day, and the sweet little thing was hiding under a car.

No problem finding this cutie a home, right?


Gracie has diarrhea. I figured "no big deal" but a standard worming did not clear it up. While I was traveling, she stayed with Ellen, a vet tech, who ran a fecal on her (negative), put her on a bland diet (no change), tried the kitty Pepto route (no change) and sent me home with FortiFlora. I have her on a chicken and rice diet with FortiFlora, and while there is some small improvement, it's still not a good stool. So if I don't get her straightened out soon, I won't have a kitten for adoption. I'll have a teenager.

Simple things are never simple, it seems.

She is a cutie, though, and Ellen fostered her twice to keep her own shy foster kitten company and help him come out of his shell. It's nice when I can shove animals off on other people, and it's actually not a burden, but a help.

I think I'll have her stool checked for giardia. I'm not sure that was done.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Take Your Cat To The Vet Week

Aug. 18-25, 2012, is Take Your Cat to the Vet Week. Jane at Petfinder ran a a blog post about it awhile ago, and it's our work signature message for the month, so it was kind of hard for me to ignore!

Curious, I went leafing through Ivan's medical records and was shocked to see it has been over five full years since his 2007 urinary tract disaster. Actually--horrified. My two veterinarians had performed that surgery on a Sunday when they were closed, for a huge discount (less than $600 for surgery and at least 6 visits) because I could not afford the university hospital. I hadn't even gone back for a "it's been a year, let's check everything out" visit? I felt like a very ungrateful client and a bad cat mom.

I discovered why when I packed Ivan up for his vet visit today at Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital. I forgot he gets desperately car sick. I think he found the veterinarian's poking and palpating and blood-drawing easier to bear than the drive up and back.

He's safely home and happily sleeping in the sun in the catio. His long-expired rabies vaccination has been updated (1-year Purevax, because after all of this I'd hate to lose him to a vaccinate-site sarcoma), and a vial of his blood is being shipped off for testing, just because he's getting to be an old boy. He had a small nodule on his thyroid, and the blood panel will help see if that could be a problem down the road. Heart: great! Teeth: gorgeous! Weight: very good! His urethrostomy looks great as well, and he seems to have good control over urine flow. My veterinarian was pretty much beaming about how well he was doing. She certainly saved his life, and it can also be a touchy surgery.

So there is one less thing for me to worry about. I've been watching my grand old man become a senior cat, feeling guilty that he was not getting the care he deserved. Now I can look at him and him.

Cat rescuers, blogging

Elsa on her first day in her new home outside of Cortland. She has since made friends with the house bunnies, and the resident cat has decided to tolerate her, so she will be staying!

I recently attended the No Kill Conference in Washington D.C. and had the privilege of hearing bloggers Peter Wolf from Vox Felina and John Sibley from In Dog We Trust speak. I've already been reading "Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world". As a speaker in social networking myself, I already know that pretty much everything I do as a blogger is wrong. Hilarious!

I began blogging twelve years ago with my Cat Out Loud blog (which I forever regret deleting, thinking somehow my "new job" would have concerns about my maverick ways). My flame burned out long ago, and I'd like to revive it. I blog in my head all day long. Clearly that's not a productive way to communicate.

My current job involves long hours on the computer. I cannot emphasize "long," enough. I often roll out of bed, start the coffee, take care of the cats, pour the coffee and crawl onto my chaise lounge with my phone beside me, around 5-7 am (depending on when I made it to bed the night before), and may not get back to my own life until 8pm. Eating dinner, caring for the cats, and then returning to the computer to blog...well, it makes blogging a chore, rather than the a joy.

I'm sure any number of readers have that same experience. Technological access is both a blessing and a curse.

However, I'm very happy when I am blogging regularly. It's like yard work, or exercise. You swear you can't fit it in, and it can't be leisurely or enjoyable because you have to fit in so much work in way too short a time. But when you look around, you are happy with what you see.

I plan on posting at least three times a week from here on out. If you have been clicking forlornly each day, only to find the same old post, you can follow me by email by submitting your address via the "follow by email" box I've added at the top of the right-side column.

If you use G-mail, Twitter, Yahoo mail, AIM, Netlog, or Open ID, you can click the "Google Friends" button at the right, and you'll be notified when there is a new post.

No more apologies! You all have been great friends and supporters. Thanks for hanging in there.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quick sprint to Jekyll Island

Last week I made a quick sprint to the Southeastern Animal Control Conference on Jekyll Island, which at the moment counts as my favorite place to decompress. I've visited there three times: once when I was wandering up the coast from Florida, wasting time (who gets to do that, anymore?) between my grandmother's funeral (and transport of her belongings back to my family in NY) and the No More Homeless Pets Conference in Virginia Beach. It didn't make sense to drive all the way up to NY and then back down to VA, so my truck full of antiques and my camping gear puttered from one place to another. My Uncle Ron suggested Jekyll Island, as we talked at the gathering of my grandmother's friends and family.

Horse back riding on the beach is now priced out of my range, but I managed to fit it in that first year (when it was $35). I camped and wandered. The last two trips have been for work--just happy chance that SACA likes to hold their conference on that island in high hot summer when no one else cares to go.

I don't mind baking in the sun one week a year. I always find two hours to rent a bike to ride on the hard beach. This year I ended up pushing the bike, because I misjudged the tide. It had just let out and the sand was too soft to ride on. But it was beautiful nonetheless.

I met this cat two years ago and lamented that I hadn't saved him a treat from the restaurant. This time I wrapped up a few shrimp and fed him bits. He's getting old. I hope he's here again next year.

When you see a cat, you feel compelled to rescue it.

I've been feeding my fuel tank with kerosene to keep the hot water heater running this summer, rather than paying continued high fuel oil bills. On a trip to Van Etten to buy kerosene, I found this skinny, nearly furless cat sitting by the dumpsters of the gas station. I bought her a can of food.

I noted there is a shed nearby, with a white cat sitting by the gaps that go beneath it.

I don't want to get involved in Van Etten when I can't even afford to get involved with my own village (Spencer), but it's hard to look at this poor furless thing when I might easily be able to get her fixed and treated for whatever ails her, if someone nearby is feeding them.

No one at the gas station knew of a local feeder. Checking with the liquor store was a mistake. They told me of two other cats who hang out at their own dumpsters across the road. The church nearby didn't have a name on the notice board. I guess I'll have to go back on one of my days off to see what's up.

On a more positive note, this gentleman was out walking his dog AND his cat. I did stop and ask him if that was his cat taking a stroll with them. The cat looked far too well fed to be another stray, but I felt compelled to ask. He confirmed his cat takes an evening stroll with them when he walks his dog, and called the cat their bodyguard.