Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Abandoner

Friday night or Saturday morning you dumped a beautiful black tuxedo cat out of your car and drove away. Your cat is now scared and lost in the woods. Let me show you:

Dear Readers: Google just ate my post and I don't have the time or energy to re-write it now. Apparently if I go to Youtube as one user, and come back to Blogger (in a different window, as a different user), because Google has its messy little fingers in both of those, it decides it knows better who I am. It doesn't, and can't save the post.

I am now using different browsers if I need to use a different Google service. This rots. Uber-sites are destroying efficiency. Facebook, Google, all of them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On Desi and Ayla

Last week a friend-supporter-adopter contacted me about cats and kittens that had suddenly shown up under her porch. She suspects abandonment. I also suspect another victim of the "just don't feed them and they'll go away" very "helpful" advise that anti-cat people dole out. Cat under your porch? Fix the hole and don't feed her. Problem solved! Except now someone else has the heartache and expense of fixing the new problem created nearby.

So I gave her a trap (or two? I need to do a better job of keeping track of my equipment). Friday she came over with the buff kitten. Well, she thought she had just the buff kitten. When I pulled back the cover, she had TWO felines. The buff kitten, and a grayish female who seemed friendly. The trap had had covers on it when it was set, so she had put a second cover over it to protect the occupant, and hadn't see Cat Number Two.

I held to my rules and said the friendly cat had to go to a local shelter, because she could be a lost pet, but I would keep the kitten, whom I named Archimedes. Since we've already had an Archie, he'll probably be Desi for short.

She came over with the second kitten last evening. That kitten was howling his head off under the cover--and had way too much lung power to be a wee thing. When I pulled back the cover, we had another adult cat.  She was just so young and emaciated she looked like a kitten.

This is where it gets sad.

She had taken the other cat to the shelter, and a staff member came out and told her the cat was "evil" because she was scared and fractious.

Evil. Seriously? You know what? It's time for YOU to go. It's bad enough when we, as shelter workers, get frustrated, tired, and burned out, and don't treat our charges with the respect and care they deserve. Good people who burnout know they are burning out, and in their minds they are angry at the "system" and angry with themselves. When they lash out a the animal, they know it is misdirected anger. But when you begin blaming the animal, someone has gone over the edge.

Part of the job of working in a shelter is dealing with animals who need help to become adoptable, or respectfully caring for animals who may indeed never be adoptable. No fault, however, lies with the animal.

So could I send this woman back to the shelter with this very friendly lost cat? No, I could not. So little rail-thin Alya is here.

I am a big supporter of shelters. I really despise the "haters" attitude some people in the no-kill movement throw at shelters. But they are right when they say that people who hurt the mission of the shelter need to be let go (or need to be helped if helping is possible--immediately). If someone who worked under me said an animal in their care was evil, I'd be ordering lunch for two in my office and having a sit-down about what is going on in that person's job and that person's life. If they were an otherwise good worker, I would look for an educational opportunity for them--something upbeat rather than tedious, and I would be looking closely to see immediate improvement. I would be taking a good hard look around me at the conditions my staff are working under. Were staff negative because the policies of the shelter were poor (good humans being destroyed under bad conditions?). Or was the shelter becoming poorer because of poor staff?

At any rate, with Ayla, it was more important to thank my friend for saving this cat, than cause her more stress by having to walk into the shelter with another cat--especially a loud one. She has been there for me in the past, so we need to be there for her.  So Ayla is here, and we'll do a big poster/craigslist/shelter notification to see if she has an owner who is looking for her.

My friend came with a friend of her own when she delivered Ayla last night. It was cold and miserable downstairs (where new cats should go), so I brought Ayla upstairs and put all the "liberty" cats back in their rooms and runs so they could not go nose-to-nose with her before she is FeLV/FIV tested.

Desi was able to go immediately in for an FeLV/FIV test when I took Tommy in for his dental recheck, and I didn't get a call back, so that means he is negative. So I'll start working with him hard, to tame him up. He meows, so that's a good sign.

Suggestions for helping staff who are burned out (or letting them go) are welcome in the comments. However, please no "shelter bashing." Burn out is a problem in all shelters, whether or not they label themselves as no-kill.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I wish I'd taken a photo of Kiddo

I kept waiting to post on Kiddo until I took a photo...and I forgot to. Kiddo is a big-cheeked orange tom with a sweet personality who was brought to our attention by a supporter. His owner just needed a little help getting him to the vet, and then keeping him on cage rest while he had his meds to clear up the infection in his paw. Keeping him here was a joy. I love big tom cats. They have such small squeaky meows and they love being petted. He did not much like his Clavamox, but he was walking better--although still with a limp--when he went home today. He now knows how to use a cat box and the supporter got a box and litter for her his owner so he can go out to use it on the enclosed porch, and be an indoor kitty for awhile. Maybe for good?

The supporter paid the vet bill as a gift to her friend, and Kiddo's owner made a $40 donation to our cats that can help feed and care for the Lisle barn cats while they are recovering from surgery.

Kiddo is a lucky cat.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A new colony in Lisle

The initial visit to the next colony I'm handling.

I had a long post written here but I've deleted it. I'm tired, and suddenly it all just seems like so much hot air.

Bounder discovers snow

It took until mid-January, but winter finally sifted in with maybe two inches of snow. The teenagers -- I guess I'd ought not call them kittens any longer -- insisted on going out to the cat enclosure even though it meant freezing air would come pouring into the house. They didn't last long, however. Bounder was particularly cute.

Removing cats -- who is really doing it? George the airport cat

Photo from (Video at that link).

Remember George, the cat who was lost at Edmonton International Airport, reported dead, and then found in a residential area outside of the airport?

Guess who rescued him, thereby saving Edmonton International Airport hours countless more hundreds to thousands of search hours? A woman who put food out for a stray cat.

"On Sunday, George appeared outside Hope Gulseth’s condo in Leduc. She left out food for the wary cat, as well as a small nest of blankets. Two days later, he’d plucked up enough courage to come inside, happily joining the family’s two other cats.

Meanwhile, a Kijiji post by her husband about this new cat — clearly someone’s pet — was found by one the search volunteers."

Had Hope not cared enough to put out food for the stray she saw hanging around, and instead ignored him (to die, I assume, is what people who offer this suggestion are hoping for), the airport would be thousands of dollars poorer, looking for a cat who was no longer even on the airport grounds.

Removing cats -- who is really doing it? Joplin, MO

Photo from Facebook, Animals Lost & Found from the Joplin, Mo Tornado

This blogpost title (Removing cats -- who is really doing it?) will be an alert for situations I come across where volunteer "cat feeders" are taking it upon themselves to get cats off the streets and back into their homes--something I don't see anti-cat people supporting with either time or funds.

This is Stubby. He is surviving in the tornado zone in Joplin MO thanks to some human help.

In Joplin, volunteers are feeding cats at points throughout the damaged areas, advertising cats as they see them, and matching them up with lost reports. They've had a number of successes, and of course advertising these cats also means they are more likely to be adopted.

Otherwise, surviving cats would become part of a future feral population.

This is just one more way "crazy cat people" prove to be calm and professional rational volunteers who see a problem and put serious work into solving it.

Got a dog? Check out what you are feeding her/him

In my search for a decent cat food that I can afford (or at least to avoid outright killing my cats over time), I came across this great page that reviews dog food.

How does your dog food rate? Mine got a single star. Shudders. Don't worry Molly, we'll upgrade.

They have a list of best dog foods. Luckily, two of those are actually available in large grocery stores like Wegmans: Newman's Own, and Harmony Farms. Sadly, none of them will be found in most smaller stores, so the small-town dogs of American are stuck eating crap.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do you have kittens in your colony? Unfixed cats?

Then you had best bust your ass getting them fixed now. And that means me, too.

Periodically I see articles about managed colonies that are being discontinued and removed by the land or business manager.

In the articles I read, kittens or remaining unfixed cats are always mentioned.

When we do TNR, our justification for doing so is that there will be no kittens, nor unfixed cats, and nuisances will therefore be mitigated.

One of the biggest concerns of businesses is the risk of clients/customers picking up or complaining about kittens that the customer perceives to be in need.

If we say we can fix this through TNR, we have a responsibility to do so.

I know this is hard. I know I myself have colonies out there that, while successful compared to the initial numbers on-site, have had reports of new cats that I have not yet caught.

If someone were to say, "Hey, this has gone on long enough, we are going to take matters into our own hands," some of the blame there rests with me.

In addition, I see photos in articles of feeding stations that are right out in the open, drawing the attention of the public. I would suggest not doing this. In some concrete jungles, it can't be avoided (and posting signs on the feeding stations is a good idea to explain what is going on). But if there are private locations, around back, against the low-traffic side of the dumpster fence, etc. then put the feeding stations there.

In addition, I would suggest not making them look like cute little houses. Again, it just draws curious people over to check them out.

So, your homework and mine:

1. Do I have cats that are still unfixed, or newcomers I have not addressed?
2. Do my shelters and feeding stations need upgrading?
3. Are there colonies under my wider umbrella with caretakers I have not spoken with for awhile? Do I need to check in with those caretakers to know how those colonies are doing?

If the answer to any of those is "yes," then hop to it, lest we find neighbors or land managers less than tolerant of our project. And it is a good way for "haters" to find an opening to attack. We all know, of course, if we had never shown up on the scene, there would still be teeming masses of cats, instead of 5-10. But for the sake of the cats, the case needs to be air-tight.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Espie checking in

Donna shared a video of Espie on Facebook, with her new toy sent to her as a gift from Save Grayson County Cats, who Donna also supports:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Perhaps this should have gone on the personal blog...

...but then again, maybe not.

Cat toys to benefit spay/neuter

I have finally bagged up and labeled the cat toys that my mother and sister made. I've been giving these toys to adopters and supporters for years. I like the simple design, the great colors, and the size. What's the point of ears and eyes that just get bitten off? This year they really went to town and made me a huge bag. The toys will be available as a gift to anyone who donates to the medical fund. Of course, special friends and adopted kitties will still find them coming their way as singles.

More to come. I just wanted to get these photos loaded!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do you need some intelligent reading?

Discover magazine has some great blogs if you are getting weary of the tripe and clutter that pops up nowadays on Yahoo and AOL. Do I care that Tiger's wife bulldozed her house? I do. It's a waste. Yet there are bigger things I should be wasting brain cells on...things that will amaze and delight me, and expand my understanding of the world. I'll never understand what's going on in the minds of the pseudo-celebrities we create (whether they want to be celebrities or not.

I'd rather learn how a lizard jumps. Thanks.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Well, here we are, 2012. Feel any different?

The clock on my computer is wrong. I actually missed the countdown because there was a commercial on the streaming video of Times Square. Interestingly enough, the world did not end because I missed it. Instead, I found a recorded clip of the countdown in London, which was a lot prettier, and had no video of people kissing. Call me unromantic. I'd rather see fireworks over the Thames than people smooching at this point of my life.

Gretchen came over earlier bearing wine and cookies, and I had homemade soup on the stove and some decent bread. I built a fire in the great room, and we cuddled kittens (above) for a few hours. When she headed home around 8pm, I enjoyed a nap by the roaring fire. I went to sleep with Tommy on my chest and woke up with little Tortellini.

Today it was sunny and warm--nearly 50 on January 1st. I took Molly for a hike up on the hill. With all the weeds down and no snow, I was able to go places I've never gone before. I think I'll go up with a can of spray paint tomorrow to mark where I want to do trails next year. I'd like to open up the hill so friends with dogs can come walk them when they like, and not get lost or venture onto neighbors' property.

I'd like to have posted some photos but I accidentally gave my camera a fling across the kitchen floor and it didn't survive this particular impact. Luckily I have $115 credit at so a new camera is on the way. Until then I'll post photos others take. I have plenty of "got my present!" pictures to add.

I love my place. It would break my heart to lose it. Sometimes I forget how beautiful it is, huddled up here in the house behind a computer. I need to make some changes in my life this year. They are not so much resolutions--just a frame of mind.

I do have a few goals. I don't expect to accomplish them this year, but I do want to get a start on them.

Do you have any plans for 2012?

Two rabies infections at the end of 2011. Be careful with bats!

There is no need to freak out about bats. They are wonderful little creatures whose insect-eating habits also are a great help to homeowners who want to enjoy their land and yards. However if you should ever come in physical contact with a bat, or if you aren't certain if you've been in contact with one (for example, you wake up with one flying around your bedroom) you MUST capture the bat and have it tested for rabies.

Two people have recently contracted rabies. The disease is almost always fatal.

I keep an empty coffee can in my house. A plastic container also works, if the lid doesn't have a very deep lip. You wait until the bat is resting on a surface, put the can over the bat, and gently slide the lid underneath. The bat will make small chattering noises, and you may see the feet or a wing tip stick out as you ease the cover under the can. There's no need to worry. Just be gentle and calm and you'll shortly have the bat confined.

If the bat is acting normally and you are absolutely sure no people or pets have come in contact with it, you can release the bat outside. If the bat is acting lethargic (just hanging, not flying at all, or is having problems flying), has come in contact with a person or pet, or has been in the room with a sleeping person or a child, the bat should be tested. Call your health department immediately. Check their web site in advance. Chances are good they will have instructions there. Tioga County NY has a hotline number. Tompkins County has a good fact sheet.