Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tiny needles...

Ivan's new U-100 needles are teeny tiny short things. I worry that I'm not even getting it into his skin, so now I need to part his fur to inject him. So I need some tools to help me see: funky reading glasses and my hat with a clip-on Petco Foundation light.

Ivan was fast asleep and didn't even notice me looming over him. Nellie, however, gave me a good long hiss when I came over.

I don't blame her. I must have been a sight. And no, I won't post a "selfie!" In fact, I won't even look in the mirror.

Captain TinyCat discovers snow!

TinyCat is still here, waiting for a home. When the temperature spiked up to over 60 last week, I let the cats out on the catio to play. Now they don't understand why they can't still go out (perhaps because I don't need 8F cold air blowing in an open window). However TinyCat was insistent so I let him out to discover the snow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Not yet feeling like the holiday? Try this!

A Cat's Guide to Christmas

The continuing saga of Ivan and diabetes

Some cat owners dedicate themselves to creating a web page about the ailment their pet suffered through. I'm sure there are human family members who do this for the illness their child, spouse, or parent is dealing with. Some of these sites are not much more than personal journals, but a few are amazingly well-researched. They are written to help others in the same situation, because the author recalls their own frustration and despair at just not knowing what to do, and searching vainly for information.

Ivan has not been doing well recently on ProZinc insulin. The dosage has been going up and up, and after a brief (a week or so) return to good levels after each increase, his blood glucose levels would rise again. So my veterinarian recently prescribed a switch to Lantus. After a brief bout of sticker shock ($224 Rite-Aid, $221 Walmart) I found that the Cornell University pharmacy had it for around $175. So over $200 poorer (I needed U-100 syringes instead of the U-40s I'd been using with ProZinc so that upped the cost) I settled in to wait until Ivan's last ProZinc day was up to start the change to Lantus.

I knew the first day wasn't going to be very informative for me. However when his glucose levels briefly started downward after four hours, but then began climbing again after eight hours, I allowed myself a bit of despair and decided to distract myself by hunting around on the web to find out how other people had gotten through the first few days of a switch of insulin types. And believe it or not, I found a page specifically dedicated to Lantus (glargine)and switching to it.

Tilly's Diabetes Homepage (In German and English)

Here is the protocol published by the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

I would never change my veterinarian's protocol based on a web page, and happily, from reading this page, I won't be tempted (for all I know, she used that very journal article to set up Ivan's protocol). However it was somewhat reassuring to find a well-written and researched overview by a cat caretaker who had been through this all, and had done more than write a blog blurb---like I'm doing now.

This morning Ivan received his second Lantus injection, and I was relieved to see before I fed him breakfast and gave him the Lantus, his blood glucose level had actually fallen somewhat the last four hours. His breakfast shot will "overlap" with the effects of his dinner shot from last night, so I'm hoping we'll begin to see some improvement today and throughout the weekend, so I have some decent news when I report in to my veterinarian on Monday.

In the meantime Ivan is restless and wandering, which is how he usually is when his glucose level is too high. He finds different places to lay (like the uncomfortable antique rocking chair in the photo above), instead of his usual favorite spots. Perhaps he hopes he'll feel better in different places. Nonetheless he is amiable and affectionate, greeting the other cats and myself with head-butts, and giving me the silent meow when he feels he's not getting enough to eat (sorry, buddy!). I have enough old cats to know when they are no longer happy, and Ivan refused to become unhappy. So he's my little feline money pit, and seems content to remain in that role. Just like a cat.

Do you know of other excellent web pages that a pet guardian maintains on a specific health issues they experienced with their pet? Please feel free to post it in comments!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas time is here again...

...and the cats are getting gifts. Mary (Jack and The Leewit's home) sent a whole box of toys. Pitter and Patter try them out. Pitter is into it. Patter is not quite sure.

There was a little something for me in there, too!

It's always nice when Christmas rolls around. All the shabby toys and beds go in the trash, replaced by new ones from adopters and myself (because hey, I'm out there shopping, and look at those deals on cat beds!). More photos to come!

Merry Christmas and wonderful holidays everyone! Thanks for thinking of us!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

While on Facebook, everyone is talking about how "cats are the same everywhere" -- meaning curious and playful, what I got a kick out of was watching the men when they were looking at the photos at the truck and at the campfire. They acted EXACTLY like the women I hang out with when we see something fascinating, which is not to say "the men were acting like women" but more like "enjoyment of fascinating things is totally human." It's great to see examples of human acting normally enthusiastic, rather than over-the-top cinematic excitement (think Myth Busters excitement when they blow things up) or squealing cute ("typical" female TV/movie excitement).

Monday, December 2, 2013


This isn't about cats, but it's amazing to see the extent to which the crab migration is protected.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Visiting the Owl House

You know, I know we are way out here in the middle of nowhere, but the cats love visitors. Katlyn comes by every few months to play with the cats. Judy, who adopted Thai, brings her. Luckily she often comes by when I have kittens, which is great because they always need some kid-time here in this quiet adults-only house.

So if you are ever bored, or need something for a quiet cat-loving kid to do, drop us a line and come on over! Give us a day's notice or so, because since we are so far from town, sometimes we have errands planned and that takes us away for a good portion of the day.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

When human toys become cat toys

I have some friends who have a huge sectional couch in front of a big wood stove. Along with that huge couch they also have some incredible huge stuffed animals, one of which is a dragon. I really wanted to find a dragon like that, about a year ago, but unfortunately could not find one. I envisioned a similar scenario---friends over for drinks, reaching over and pulling down the dragon from the back of the couch to examine, cuddle, or play with, as they do at my friends' house. Lacking a dragon, I instead purchased a great big bear (which was surprisingly affordable). It was still a huge splurge for something that served no practical purpose.

But actually it was cheaper than a very good cat bed (around $40), and instead of a conversation piece for wine-drinking visitors, it has turned into...a cat bed. Because, of course, I'm more likely to have snoozing cats than wine-drinking visitors.

Fixing the upstairs for a cat caretaker/housemate

The time has come to bring another person into the fold. I have been fixing the upstairs, which was formerly set up for cat fostering, as a bedroom/office/living room and semi-kitchen, and it's actually more space than I have downstairs. So I have been ripping out carpet, painting, and finding affordable but nice furniture on Craigslist. Which of course the cats would like to claim.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to share the house with another person, but it really is necessary for the safety of the house, and the well-being of the cats. So you will soon be treated to the transformation of a portion of The Owl House from a cat place to a people place.

Two cats, or one cat/dog friendly dog, are also welcome. Who knows--maybe I can find someone who will blog!

To my previous cat-boarders, I still have a room downstairs where cats can be boarded, so no fears.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Well, yes, I'm a couple of days late...

...but it's still cute. I am spider phobic and I got the creepy crawlies even just watching an amusing cartoon.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Brothers, Bo and Davis

Bo and Davis need a home. I never call them by name, because I always call them together. I call them "Brother." "Hey, Brothers, where are you?" Perhaps they are Brother One and Brother Two (like "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" of Dr. Seuss fame). I have let them join the downstairs clan and they are perfect gentleman. They do not scream for wet food. They politely wait their turn at the morning wet-food feast. They are very quiet, although sometimes Davis, the longhair brother, will sing for attention. They are both gorgeous, and have the most expressive faces. And they love one another, so they must go together. They are shy, so I fear that they would take an even longer time to acclimatize to a new home along. Longhair Davis would probably be OK. But Bo would be lost without his brother or another similarly sweet cat.

However, they are falling in love with me (they could easily fall in love with someone else). They want to sit on my lap; to sleep in the bed. They are very sweet and unobtrusive. But there is only room for two cats in the bed, and those two must be Cricket and Ivan, my seniors, who would be highly offended to discover their places taken by young newcomers.

Here is Davis, showing off his gorgeous self:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kittens go to the vet!

And they are FeLV/FIV negative. Whew! When I catch kittens myself and can see the general health of the colony around them, or I know the colony is fairly isolated (and therefore less likely to carry these cat-to-cat diseases) I'm usually less worried about a test outcome. But when they are dumped, you don't know where they came from and the test is a total toss-up.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Adding steps for old cats

Cricket and Ivan are getting up there in years, but neither one is content to remain on the floor. Ivan insist he will sleep with me. Cricket insists she will go wherever she went when she was a kitten, despite the fact that she's missing a leg and her remaining back leg is full of arthritis.

Both have hit the floor unexpectedly multiple times.

A long while ago I added steps to the bow window where their cat food was (once) kept safely from the dog. Of course, the dog can climb the steps as easily as the cats, so there's no real benefit to having the food elevated, but habit is habit, so there you go.

Plastic steps cost money, however, and really aren't that attractive. Cricket is good at latching her front claws into anything and hauling herself up. But when Ivan leaps and misses, he just plain...misses...and topples back over to the hard floor.

So I've learned to improvise. I have two antique suitcases--one confirmed to have been made by my grandfather and used when he and my grandmother came over from Germany, and a larger trunk that is enough alike as to be it's twin, which I found in an antique store in Geneva where they once lived. The antique guy would say only that he got it "at a recent estate sale" and refused to say where or when. So the low suitcase and the taller chest now make an attractive step-up to the chaise and the window seat. They also hold my wrapping paper and small gifts I find over the course of the year and save for Christmas.

Ivan has slept by my chest every single day and only rarely chooses another spot. The bed is far too high for him to make a successful leap from the floor, so I paid something like five bucks for a pink ottoman, recovered it in some tapestry fabric I found at a sale for a buck (many many yards of it...of cats), and set it beside the bed. Problem solved, and no unsightly cat steps. However steps or an additional step-up may be needed down the road if he gets even more feeble.

I constantly keep my eyes out at garage sales and on Craigslist for small, attractive items I might use for a combination step-up and side stand. Small ottomans (which are often antique/vintage) are often as pricey as brand-new cat steps, but sometimes people just want them gone, and don't realize what they are selling for $5 someone else might sell for $30-50. However, most of the ottomans on Craigslist are the great big huge ones that are the same height as the couch or chair they originally accompanied, and aren't suitable as a step-up.

I have found that ramps, unless they are not very steep at all, don't work so well for feeble cats. I'm going to have to replace the ramp up to the window that goes to the catio with handmade steps. Ivan and Cricket both insist on using the ramp and find it very difficult to hitch themselves up. I added small wood strips to give them something to get additional purchase on, and to keep them from sliding down headfirst when they leave the catio, but it's still pretty difficult for them to haul their way up the incline.

Has anyone here come up with inventive ways to get their oldsters where they wish to go?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kittens are doing great so far!

The kittens are doing great. They are eating well and all of the plumbing works. They are still quite shy, but when they are hungry they come to the front of the cage and beg for breakfast, so I don't think it will be long before they are fully socialized.

I need to get these little guys (actually, one "guy" and one "girl") spoken for as soon as they are FeLV/FIV tested. I can't afford to be stuck with them past their "cute and fuzzy" stage since I plan on renting the upstairs soon. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying their furry cuteness, and I feel somewhat better that at least these two survived, even if their little brother met his end via a car. I still am astonished at their survival.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

We are feeling better, thank you!

I am shocked and amazed. I really thought these little guys were goners, and their steady improvement was a wonder to watch. This morning I took the top off the bin (it was of course propped open a little way for air circulation)and they were both there staring at me. While I fed one kitten, the other surprised me by popping right out of the box and running behind the washing machine. He ultimately came out on his own, crying for breakfast. We are taking it very slow, but things are looking up!

Abandoned kittens

Sunday I came across a small orange kitten that had been hit by a car and killed on Owl Creek Road. He was obviously abandoned, and I wondered where his siblings had been dumped. For some reason people who dump kittens tend to dribble them out along the countryside instead of putting them all in one place (although I have encountered full litters before). I called and called alongside the road, in case he was not alone, but I didn't find any others. That night it poured, and I hoped no other kittens were out there in the dreadful weather.

Tonight I heard Molly growling at the door and I went to look out, wondering if the bear was abroad. I ended up screaming (yes I did!) at the dark shape right at my screen door. Thankfully, the shape was human..a neighbor up the hill who came seeking advice for some kittens another person had brought to her door, having found them in the road. She had gone to the Dollar General and the young clerk there had told her about me. I told her to bring the kittens on over, so she went home and got them. They were in dire shape. They likely had spent at least three days without food, being soaked and scared. I told their rescuer that I did not expect them to live the night, but so far they are doing better. They were cold so we heated them up with SnuggleSafes and a hairdryer. Some warm subcutaneous fluids, and some warm towels in a Rubbermaid container... I even had Pedialyte, once they were warm and hydrated. After about four hours they got very restless so I mixed up some very diluted KMR and they each had a half ounce. They are still very twitchy but are far more aware than they were. I still have reservations about their chance of survival, but I had to try.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Malware adventure averted

So a wonderfully dedicated Google expert/volunteer was able to point out one link that I had missed in my template to the site hosting malware, and the blog is now back and links are safe to click on. I suppose I should be thankful that Google/Chrome puts up those warnings, otherwise I might never have known. I wish their web master tools were a bit clearer about what to do if the malware isn't actually on your site, but luckily there was a lady (I think) in white hat to save me.

The internet is an amazing place.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats

The very worst thing that could ever happen while I was away on work travel finally happened: one of my cats died.

When I saw Donna's name pop up on my ringing phone, I was sure a cat had passed or was in serious difficulties. Donna has always handled past problems and near disasters with a message via Facebook or an email. Usually she has resolved them before I've gotten back to her. If she rings the phone, its going to be because something over-the-top had occurred.

Sweet Gawaine, perhaps one of the most adoptable cats in the cat facility (although a bit shy at first with strangers) had died without warning while she was playing with him with the laser toy. He's not manic about the toy--he was just patting at the dot with his paws, when suddenly he fell back on his haunches, turned and bit at his hind leg (blood clot?), yelled, and died. His buddy Arthur was out with him and apparently was very upset by Gawaine's cry. Donna immediately checked Gawaine,realized he wasn't breathing at all, and called me.

Best guess, given the way he passed, Gawaine suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy According to the article "Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy tends to affect cats 1 to 5 years of age." Gawaine was just over two, and all of the other cats that have belonged to adopters or friends who have passed in a similar way have been around the same age. Also, I had a veterinarian who specializes in cats right with me in Chicago, and he said that sounded classic.

I've only had one other adopted cat suffer from the problem (to my knowledge). Luckily he survived his cardiac event and was doing well with medication, the last time the adopter checked in.

Gawaine was such a sweet boy. He really used to be quite shy, but since he has been hanging with Arthur (who doesn't get along with any other cats) he has really come out of his shell. He has been "second choice" a few times with adopters, but never got his chance for a home of his own.

I'm lucky that Donna was there when he passed. We both mentioned how awful it would have been to just arrive at the cat facility and find him dead. Also, had he been adopted, it would have been devastating to his new guardian.

Sleep peacefully, Gawaine.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

We don't just shut down subways....

...we shut down expressways, too.

Happy Birthday to EVERYONE!

One of my veterinarians recently got an interactive client pet portal. One of the fun features is that it sends a birthday email to the customer when it is their pet's birthday.

I have taken a LOT of cats and kittens to that veterinarian over the decades. Some of them I took in over a decade ago. Needless to say I get a LOT of birthday notices.

Yesterday was Paddles' (now Gizmo) birthday. I forwarded her birthday notice off to Nancy, who adopted her 10 years ago. I'm going to try to get all my way-back adoptions on a spreadsheet so I can do some more of that.

Some of the notices are sad, because some of the cats have passed. It has, after all, been as much as 15 years for some of those records. But others make me laugh. I thought about stopping by to purge my files of adopted cats. Then I'll no longer receive these notices. But when Paddles' email came through today, I realized there was more gladness than sadness. I'll have to do it at some point. But not yet.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hey YOU! Did you adopt an Owl House cat since late 2010?

If you have, a huge number of you haven't registered that wonderful microchip your cat has! If your cat gets lost, they'll call me, which is better than nothing, but far better that you get notified if your lost cat is found!

It's only $10.99 to register. It's a deal! What are you waiting for! When you register your chip, The Owl House/Wildrun gets credit for another one. You chip TWO cats for one small fee.

If your cat's name is on the list below, you DID register your chip. Thank you! If your cat is not on this list, please check his/her records to see if I chipped your cat. There will be a black bar code sticker with a number. It will be on the cat's medical record and also on the inside of the folder the records came in. You will need that when you call HomeAgain.

Call 1-866-802-5650 or go to Don't go to the main HomeAgain page or you won't get your special Petfinder Chip FurKeeps adoption rate on $10.99. Be sure to give them my Shelter ID of NY538. I'm still under Wildrun with them. You only have to pay $10.99 to register the chip for life. They do offer additional services for an additional fee if you wish to sign up for them. But it's only one-time fee to get your info on that chip!

I just purchased a microchip scanner for $199 at their reduced summer rate, so in a few days I'll be able to scan lost pets for chip myself instead of hauling them to someone else. If you can't find your records, I can come by and scan your cat and give you the chip number. Click my profile link at the right to email me. Happy Days!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Catamazing toy

I picked up a toy that intrigued me while I was at a conference last spring for $14, and only just now put it together. It's called "Catamazing" from I was skeptical that it would be heavy enough to stay put while the cats played with it, but it seems to be doing a good job!

I only had it on the floor for five minutes before Rose came over and without even a stare or a sniff, showed me that she was smarter than the average toy. I'll use this as my cat toy box and we'll see how long it lasts. She sure has been having a good time!

I hate that if I post one video it progresses to others on my channel. Does anyone know how to make that stop? I'm thinking of switching to Vimeo if I can't figure this out.

(I have not been asked to blog on this toy and I purchased it on my own initiative).

Subway service disrupted to rescue kittens

Not long ago, this never would have happened

Slowly, slowly, U.S. society in general is accepting that if it is in our power to save a life, we should do so, even if it's not a human life. That doesn't necessarily mean society gives a cat's life equal weight as a human life. It does mean, that a feline life may be worth more than getting people to work, or home, on time.

Not so long ago, no one ever would have suggested stopping subway service for a couple of street kittens.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ivan has a new ailment

My veterinarian is hitting the books and checking with other veterinarians. She is leaning toward narcolepsy, except this only hits Ivan when he's already asleep. He doesn't have any episodes when he's walking around or just watching the world.

Please forgive me for yelling at him and shaking him so. I did it so the veterinarian could see what he does and does not respond to. Normally I just leave him be. Lately I've discovered a sharp whistle often wakes him up.

He went in for an exam yesterday and more blood tests. It was time for that to happen anyway. He has been shaking his ears and I wanted to have them checked. The vet says they are clean as a whistle, so something else is going on. Other than that, he's a content 16 year old cat. She says other than his oddities, he's in great shape. He's happy at home, has a good appetite, smacks the other cats when he's had enough of them, cuddles up with them when he wants to, and treats me like a goddess.

You don't need to watch the whole thing, but do advance it to the end, to watch him wake up and walk away like nothing happened.

Brain tumor? Who knows. As long as he's comfortable, I want him with me.

Almost had more kittens...

I got an email from a business in Ithaca. They had found three bottle babies. I couldn't tell if they were saying that the SPCA wouldn't take them, or if the SPCA would take them, but just couldn't pick them up. The response to the question came the next day, and by then one of their staff had already purchased KMR and was bottle feeding the babies, and they'd decided to hang onto them.

I had the "kitten crib" ready to go when they arrived, but when they didn't, Captain Tiny Cat decided to see if he fit back into the crib he once occupied as a bottle baby himself. He did!

Big apology to commenters

A bunch comments ended up in my moderation inbox. They have been published! Yikes, I've been away too long!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mr. TinyCat

Formerly Squeak!

Bubbles has found her home, but Mr. TinyCat is still here. He really is a tiny cat, although certain he has plenty of kitten in him. If I did not have Ivan, I would keep him. He is playful but thoughtful, likes to sleep curled up against my chest (just like Ivan, which is why TinyCat must move on to a new home soon!) and is just loads of fun to have around.

Here's a video of him with the turbo toy.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

On pet store "pity buys"

I've done it. Have you done it?

Here is a story (click here) on a pet store pity buy.

There is only one solution to the pity buy, and that's never to go into a pet store at all. I used to go in to "check them out" and "be educated."

About (good God) at least 20 years ago, I stopped into a pet store one morning in Cortland (since defunct, thank goodness). I happened to be driving through. I was primarily checking out fish--I was big into fish tanks then. In the back was an old wire dog crate with a very scrawny lonely black kitten. Well, he was supposed to be black, but he was so malnourished his fur was rusty brown. He was absolutely emaciated. He had grade-level dry cat food (not kitten chow) and newspaper to lay on, and he was reaching desperately out the bars toward me.

You guessed it. I bought him. Fifteen bucks. No shots. The owner proudly mentioned he had been wormed. I'm ashamed to say that at the time I was not brave enough, after I handed over my cash and the kitten was safely mine, to give him more than a glare. I took him straight to the veterinarian on the corner, certain he would be FeLV positive since he looked so ill. When they learned where I gotten the kitten (I was not a client) they fit me in immediately. He was negative--surprise! I then went to the Cortland County SPCA and sat in their parking lot until they opened. I knew there could be no charges--the kitten had food and water, and that's all the law required. The pet store guy could easily have said he "rescued" the kitten (however the kitten should have been made healthy before being put up for sale). But I wanted them to see the kitten first hand. They were very nice. They said they'd had a lot of complaints, but nothing that would enable them to charge the place. I let them know they had one more.

I named him Moghi (for Moghadishu, where people were starving--probably not my most politically correct naming), and he was the fastest kitten I'd ever adopted out. One my way home with the kitten on my shoulder, I cut through Ithaca College and passed a security officer, who stopped when I stuck my hand out. She had previously mentioned she wanted a black kitten. She petted the rail-thin kitten through the window and promised it was "a go." So Moghi had a new home once he was healthy.

He got horribly constipated the new few days. I was sure I'd lose him. It's possible that in another person's care--who didn't realize what the problem was and what to do--he might have died. But he made it, and Moghi got his forever home.

A lot of pet-store purchases are pity buys. No caring person can easily turn their back on a pet in need, and that's what you are going to find in a pet-selling pet store.

So there's only one option.

Don't go in.

Have you done a pity buy (or pity adoption?) when you didn't intend to?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I'm going bats

...somewhat literally.

Yesterday I started my morning clean-up in the cat facility. Gawaine and Arthur had had liberty the night before. They were flopped on the vinyl floor watching me. Corky, the teenager, begged for attention from the cat room pass-through window, so I let him out. He began following me around hoping for attention. As usual, I started in the main room and moved into the runs, putting the cats back as I went. When I got to Gawaine's run...

Damn it! There was a dead bat on the floor.

If you have a cat facility in a barn, bats are a fact of life. However I had spent quite a bit of time last summer caulking and covering cracks, and had hoped I had the bat thing licked. But bats can get through tiny cracks, and apparently this one had. It was not in condition to be tested, so that meant only one thing.

Off to the veterinarian for rabies boosters!

While I had not seen Corky anywhere near the bat, since he follows on my heels like a little shadow, I didn't dare risk it, so he came along. Both Arthur and Gawaine had been boosted within the last two years. Corky had just been vaccinated a little over a month ago, but only for the first time. When a cat could go into someone else's home, you don't try to stretch the law to save money and time, although it was a total pain to give up my holiday afternoon off to go to the vet.

Story of my life. Sigh.

Gawaine is a howler in the car. You would think he was dying. Arthur acted like it was all a walk in the park orchestrated just for him. Corky acted like a normal cat...a few meows, a little nervous, but otherwise OK. Joan from Cornerstone fit me in within two hours (!!!) despite it being the last four hours on the day before a holiday. The place was quiet chaos. Everyone was clearly extremely busy, yet no one appeared rattled. I wanted to lean against them hoping that skill would rub off on me. The three cats got their vaccinations one at a time, between periodic breaks in the busy-ness.

I forgot my cell phone, so I could not take a photo of the cutest dog in the world, whom I met on my way out. "Murphy" looked like a petite lab mix---maybe more like a flat-coated retriever with a buzz cut---but only knee high. I can't begin to describe how perfectly proportioned this delicate little dog is. Wait...she said she adopted him off Petfinder. Let me see if he's still online....

Here he is. His photos don't do him justice. I swear, had I seen this dog when he was available for adoption, he would have been mine. The veterinary staff agreed that he was the perfect example of the perfect mutt. He has the tiniest bit of blue merle in his coat as well, and had the sweetest disposition. Friendly, a bit shy, and not at all wiggly (at the vet's office, at least). As I sat there remarking on him, his guardian mentioned he was adopted. I asked where. She said he saw him on Petfinder. I said "Oh, that's great, I work for Petfinder!" (Working 10-12 hours a day becomes absolutely worth it every time someone tells me they adopted a pet by visiting Petfinder). She then said she adopted him from Every Dog's Dream, and as a further coincidence, I had not only seen their adoption center in the Johnson City PETCO store for the first time last week. I had also been emailing with them for work reasons just a few day's earlier. It was a bit funny to have contact with a rescue group an hour away that I had never heard of before, three times in a couple of weeks. But there you go. That's the rescue world.

Every visit to the vet with a cat I've had a long while is an adventure in that, while the veterinarian has computerized records that can find a cat in a second, my paper folder is two inches thick. It would be even thicker if we didn't periodically go through to pull out the adopted cats. Since they were so busy I flipped through and finally found Gawaine, who had last been in in 2011. Every page was a blast from the past, seeing the records of kittens and cats who were long gone to their new homes.

I was also able to see that my last bat adventure was two years ago, so I guess they aren't as big a problem as I recall.

At any rate, it will be time for a caulking and ceiling-painting party soon, to keep those bats at bay!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I need to put some home made Coyote Rollers on my catio

...halfway up, because fat cat Bear insists on climbing up there. This is the second time he has stranded himself, requiring me to haul out the big ladder to fetch him down. At least he's smart enough not to jump the 9 feet back to the ground.

(These are Coyote Rollers)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Commuting with cat food

Over the years, between trucks and cars, I've hauled a lot of cat food. I never really noticed how it smelled when I had my pickup, but I did notice when we sometimes stowed some in my then-husband's car because we were taking it for outings that particular day, and I needed to stop by to feed cats.

After a few hours of the sun beating down, even a rolled-closed bag of food, or food in a bin or bucket, could make the car smell like a mix of a granary and old bacon. God FORBID you have a empty or partial can of cat food back there. Whoa, what a stink.

I also used to store food on-site in garbage cans (often hanging), and it was easier to fill those from an open bag.

When my pick-up finally died, I couldn't afford another truck. Also, as the colonies I cared for grew smaller over time, I realized I was actually overfeeding my cats. I'd put out well over two quarts of food for something like five cats. I'm sure most of it was scarfed up by raccoons and squirrels. I began cutting back..and cutting back. By dark, there was always food left. My cats clearly weren't starving.

I began bagging up my dry food in "single-serve" ziplock bags and carrying as many full ziplocks as I could in one of those reuseable grocery bags. Feeding became much easier. When I am feeding cats, I just grab one bag, open the feeding station, dump the food in the bowl, bang the lid, call the cats, and go.

When I'm leaving food for others to feed the cats, I leave 5-7 ziplocks full of food, which makes life a lot easier on volunteer feeders, too. I just grab the grocery bag full of individual packets, trek out to the feeding area, where I have a hanging water cooler to store the bags of food in (pictures in a future post), fill that up with 5-7 packets, and my feeders are set for a week. They put the empty ziplocks back in the water cooler (which has a twist top and keeps water and raccoons out) and I fetch the bags when I refill the cooler next weekend.

I can usually get 4-8 uses out of each ziplock bag, so each one lasts one to two months.

The food is also easy to move (just grab the grocery bag handles and haul it out of the way) and it doesn't spill like those cat-food bags with the rolled or clipped top, or tip over, like the bins.

Best of all, my car doesn't smell like a granary any longer.

For wet food (which I use sparingly) I now carry those Meow Mix orange tubs with the peel-off top. Almost all of the food slides right out, unlike canned food where a considerable amount remains stuck to the can. I tuck the empty tub in an empty ziplock bag and yay! No stink.

If you are feeding a hundred cats a day, this method is probably more work than it's worth. But if you are feeding just a handful of cats at several sites, this works great and saves time.

Do you have any tips for hauling food that helps keep your car under control (keeping in mind once a tom cat pees on upholstery, there's no use even trying to keep things smelling nice any longer)?

Special events--Such a pain, but so much fun

Setting up a booth for a special event is no easy feat. It has gotten more streamlined over the years, but I still need to take a serious hard look at the stuff I haul to set up a booth, and come up with lighter-weight options that are all in one place.

It may not sound like me (or if you know me well enough, maybe it does)I had a yelling--literally yelling--fit, yesterday, trying to find things for my regular booth that should have been right at hand. Didn't I just have a booth where I brought Thomas earlier this spring? Where was my stuff? I still have not found my small handbag of halters and leashes and I spent a good half-hour opening and slamming drawers, trying to find a halter that would fit skinny little Corky. And then a leash. I have half a hundred leashes. Could I find a single one? No, they were all in the magic missing handbag!

I had even set up a great little folder with a check list of things to do for a public booth, along with ready-made signs. Could I find it? No! Because when it comes to personal projects, I'm fitting in an hour here and an hour there, and need about three solid days to get everything organized from end-to-end.

It's times like this, when I have the least possible immediate enthusiasm for doing something, that I really need to do that thing. A big part of me is saying "The heck with it! I could be having coffee on my porch now! I could be doing cat laundry! Why I am doing this? No one cares!" (my little girl temper tantrum--or maybe my crotchety old lady temper tantrum--let's not blame the kids!).

In fact, what I need is a good dose of humanity. It means I've been in the woods too long.

I am not a kid person, in that I never wanted to be a mother. I knew that A) I was too selfish to give up a lot of my independence and B) I'm super protective/paranoid and would have had to learn a lot about "letting go" to allow a kid grow up with a healthy sense of adventure. This doesn't mean I don't like kids. I do indeed.

Kids don't see that "she's not a mom-type" thing. They just see this lady who likes cats, and they swarm my booths to pet the kitty. And I must say, what I see in kids in the last five years has been AMAZING.

Most of my donations (in number, not in overall size of course) came from kids. A child of about 12 actually put a dollar in my donation box and declined to take any of the small giveaways I have available (beads, Alley Cat Allies "I Love Feral Cat" buttons, emergency dog leashes). A dollar is a lot for a kid to give. She wasn't the only one. Kids didn't just put a penny in to "make a donation and get a gift." They gave handfuls of coins.

They also were extra gentle when it came to handling Corky. There was only one little boy who poked him with the hard end of the feather toy instead of gently playing, and his dad didn't ignore him or yell at him, he just took the toy from his hand, turned it around and said "No that's not how you do it. Use the soft side and play with him." And the boy did.

Kids did not whine when I was giving him breaks and wouldn't take him out of the cage. They gently put their hands up against the cage and allowed him to come to them and rub against their fingers. Other than being squirmy when he was held (on halter and leash--I did finally find a halter that fit and a knotted older leash in a drawer) Corky was a perfect "Adopt A Cat" ambassador.

I don't do too many adoptions in Spencer itself. As a village, there are more than enough kittens to be had just by walking out your door or talking to your neighbor. This isn't people being irresponsible and "not adopting" -- these are good-hearted people adopting the poor cat they find outside their door. But everyone I spoke with was enthusiastic about my budding "let's do a volunteer-run cat enumeration and apply for spay/neuter grants because national groups want real numbers about cats and TNR" idea and a few gave me their contact information and said they'd be willing to help go door-to-door if the time came.

I saw some residents I knew, and met some new ones. I came home with $26 in donations, which is probably a record for a Spencer event. People around here just don't have dollars to give away without advanced thought (especially when they probably had come with just X number of dollars budgeted to spend at the Picnic on food and fun for their kids).

All in all, I came home a lot more relaxed than when I had left. It was good to talk with neighbors, and it's always fun to watch the kids.

And that's why I do public events. Not-so-much to get donations. Not-so-much to advertise my cats for adoption. But pretty much to stay sane.

Thank-you Nancy, for the loan of the pop-up tent, and to Valarie, for the help setting up and tearing down!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Baby food fixes EVERYTHING when you are a feral kitten

Thank-you post

A few people have sent the cats (and therefore me) some gifts to keep us all going. After Tulip found a home, her foster home (whose family originally rescued her) came over with a Walmart card (with a tulip on it!). Christy and Linda (adopter/fosterer and her sister) came for a visit and left a generous donation, and Janet, a blog reader, made me a bit weepy eyed one evening this week when I found a PayPal donation and got this message:

"Your blogs have given me invaluable information about feral cats...just paying you back!"

And of course the generous adopter of The Leewit and Jack faithfully sends a donation every quarter, which spays and neuters many of our cats each year through The Jack and Leewit Fund.

There are also those who continually step forward in all manner of interesting ways. Tomorrow we will be at the Party at the Pond in Spencer, and Nancy (adopter of Gizmo, and a fosterer for many groups including The Owl House) lent her pop-up awning, as mine bit the dust a few years ago.

Even just reading here makes a huge different. When you live out in the middle of nowhere, seeing those spikes in readership on the blog make it seem a little less quiet.

So enjoy your weekend, and thank you for all you do for animals, where ever you are, and whomever you are helping!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Finally a kitten photo

I have been remiss. Kittens, and no photos? Horrors!

Here are Bubbles and Squeak, kittens from the feral mom who gave birth to them in the trap at the spay/neuter clinic.

Thank you, work-partiers!

Six intrepid souls made it out with very short notice. Judy and Dave spent a number of hours bushwacking the Memory Garden and the trees hanging over it. Plants and memorials steadily emerged. They even managed to clear off to the sides where wildness was encroaching.

Local cat caretakers, if you don't have a place to lay a cat to rest, you are welcome to make a place for them here.

Nancy, with her dog Jack, took on the side of the barn, where the stain had worn off. It was too hot to work on the front where the sun was beating down.

When Gretchen arrived later in the afternoon, we shoveled four wheel barrow loads of mulch from my shrinking pile (I usually buy a truckload every couple of years) and mulched the garden.

It was too nice to work inside and paint the ceiling of the cat room, so I may have a weekend dinner to get that done sometime in July. It's the kind of task that would go fast with a few people, especially if I get the edges done before hand.

Then, just before Gretchen left, Tulip's new guardians arrived to fill out paperwork. There little daughter played with kittens, and then they headed off to Tulip's foster home to pick her up.

All in all a very good day! Thank you so much for coming out with only around 72-48 hours notice -- depending on whether you learned about it by Facebook or email.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Do you belt in your cat?

I was taking Tulip off to the veterinarian to get a microchip and I idly thought "I should belt her in," which I did. I even remembered to belt her in on the way home. For years I used to wrap the seat belt around the crate (as it if were a human) until one day I saw someone run the strap right through the crate handle. Well...duh! So much better.

And wouldn't you believe, a barn cat streaked in front of me on Halsey Valley Road on the way home. I hit the brakes, but not as hard as I could, because I didn't want to send Tulip flying, and I knew I was going to hit that cat. Then I realized "Hey, she's strapped in!" and I mashed the brake. Tulip, who has some padding on her, barely swayed, the crate stayed put, and the barn cat made it safely to the other side.

So if you don't strap in your kitty crates, please consider doing so.

And yes, yesterday Tulip went off to her new family!

Mooselings meet a cat

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sunday work party

Work Party, Sunday June 9

noon to 5 pm
Stop by for just an hour or two (or all afternoon)
(Read everything because there are gifts at the bottom!)

Need a kitten fix? WE HAVE KITTENS!


Painting very-low ceiling in cat facility (no ladders)
Staining low sections of outside of cat facility barn
Putting a second coat of paint inside the house in the two rooms available for cats
Weeding out Memorial Garden (there are some briars..bring clippers and gloves!)
There will also be supplies out to make a new prayer flag line for the Memory Garden. You can make a flag for in memory of, or in honor of, a person or animals who was close to you. We will hang it that day.

I'll have the fire pit going if it's not raining.
There will be food and drink and I'll have music going everywhere.
It's not going to be too fancy due to low funds, but you'll be able to relax!
If it rains, I will not be asking anyone to work outside. There is plenty of inside stuff to do.

If you think you might stop by, please email me to RSVP at info at americancat dot net
Or leave a comment here.

I don't need tons of folks. Even just four people for an hour or two will make a huge dent. My heavy travel schedule put some very basic projects behind, and the cat facility is reaching the age where it will need some bigger projects (replacing screen doors to the runs, etc.) this year, so I need to get the basic ones done.

There will be a free t-shirt for each worker. If you arrive wearing nice clothes and decide to paint, there will be something for you to change into.

There will be a drawing for a brand-new Tru-Catch cat trap donated by the wonderful PETCO Foundation!

I will be making a separate post, but thank you to three of you who have given very generous donations to get us through the temporary thin times, due to vet bills. I got a PayPal gift last night that very nearly made me cry.

In other news:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Feral-Cat-Care The "nursing feral mom" set up

Every now and then I end up with a feral mom cat with kittens. This mom cat decided to give birth to her kittens in the trap while waiting for surgery at the SPCA of Tompkins County:

I put two dog crates back to back, after folding the back panel of each one down inside. I fasten them together with wire ties. I put folded towels on the bottom (with one under the nest tub, and one on each end), a rubbermaid bin or small laundry basket in the middle, with towels draped within and over the sides so the growing kittens can climb in and out while mom glowers.

I put food on one end in bowls attached to the wire (I like Quick Lock crocks) and a cat box on the other. Both ends have doors, so the food and cat box can be addressed without reaching over mom. There is plenty of room for mom and kittens to move around.

I cover the whole thing with a sheet. I then put the kittens in the tub, and release mom into the cage.

It's important to check the kittens to make sure they aren't ill, one hasn't died, or mom hasn't killed one. In this case, mom did in fact attempt to kill one of the kittens who seemed rather premature (he had to be put down). The other kittens did great while I was traveling, but when one didn't open her eyes at the appropriate time, I snitched them out, and sure enough they had an upper respiratory and her eyes were crusted shut with pus (yick) beneath. Usually a mom cat licks their faces rather vigorously and the crust is washed off and the eyes get cleaned out, but apparently this mom did a good job with kitten butts, but not so great a job with their eyes. So I bottle fed them for two weeks and sent them of to a great foster home to be cuddled and fed by a family with kids and teens, with lots of love and noise.

They came back a few days ago, full of piss and vinegar, and with the beginning of a new upper respiratory, which went away almost immediately with Clavamox.

They are almost perfectly litter trained. Yes!

I'll get some pictures of them when they finally sit still.

Ivan's not his old self, but doing OK

...and I'm $2000 poorer. Woot!

Actually that is a bit of an exaggeration because Ivan is a lucky cat in that he is insured with PetFirst. I have never submitted a claim, so we'll see how that goes. I don't think I could have invested in the treatment without the insurance or a more sizable savings account. I still had to pay off the emergency vet in full (my own veterinarian let me carry a balance, bless them). It's a good thing we got that wonderful PETCO food donation. I may be cleaning out the dry goods in the corners of my cupboards and finding 101 ways to eat rhubarb (the only thing currently in my garden) but the cats are eating Science Diet.

He's still not his old self, but he is definitely feeling better. At first he was quite sad-acting:

But then he began enjoying the porch, and even began walking around with his mousie in his mouth, hunt-howling. Finally he began sleeping with me again, and purring, which was a huge relief to me.

He had serious potassium deficiency which is why he was wobbling like a drunk. He's now on a pill and a half a day. He's still unsteady and when he falls, he falls hard. I keep waiting for him to break a shoulder. He refused to stay down off of things he once used to climb on. Last night he fell off the bed when he rolled over...WHOMP! He can't twist and catch himself any longer. But he picked himself and walked off like nothing had happened. It scares the hell out of me, but apparently it's just a fact of life for him. I'm not sure all his brain cells are functioning the way they used to. At least he seems content, and not miserable.

I had to travel for work and I was scared to death about leaving him. I wanted to leave him with a veterinarian, but the cost was far too high. $34 dollars a day, plus $5 for each thing they did to him (insulin shots, pilling, etc.). He stayed instead at the Cat's Pajamas, and they took great care of him. They charged me $15 a day but I paid them $25 because I was so incredibly demanding about all the things I insisted they do for him, and because of all the things that COULD happen in a worst case scenario. But he looked, acted, and weighed the same when I picked him up. Whew. Now I'm done traveling for a few months. I'm still not convinced he's long for this world, but you know, he could surprise me. With my luck, he'll be the cat I finally get past age 17, when all the rest of my pet cats have passed on. Watch him creak around the house at age 22!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ivan is really really really sick

My Ivan cat is very ill. He was originally diagnosed with diabetes, but it looks like there may be other issues. Potassium deficiency, etc. Here he is wobbling about.

That was yesterday. This morning he was doing much better! Still unsteady, but not leaning against things. But then he started vomiting, right after receiving his insulin. So...we would assume his insulin would be too high, right? Because he had no food in his gut to off-set it since he'd barfed it up? He started having a reaction, so corn syrup was prescribed. But he didn't get better and my wonderful vet was able to fit him in for fluids and a glucose check. Turns out he was not too LOW (too much insulin not enough food) but too HIGH (too much glucose).

So now I own a glucose meter and in addition to hating me for force-feeding him, and giving him insulin, Ivan now hates me for pricking his ears every couple hours for blood. But at least I'll know now if he is "too high" or "too low."

Ivan had a stay at an emergency clinic, Colonial Veterinary Hospital, Saturday-Sunday, and they were great. Of course, no one can be as good as my own veterinarian, Cornerstone, who fit me in last week, and today. Ivan had two wonderful techs and a vet hovering over him today, and last night Dr. Shakespeare brought potassium supplements home with her so I could pick them up there after hours because I couldn't make it to Ithaca during the clinic hours.

I don't know what is going to happen with Ivan. I keep hoping he'll perk up and I'll get the miracle of another few years with him. It's been so long since I got the call that he and his littermates had been dumped in Danby State Forest and all had been caught but him. He bit my finger trying to eat tuna off of it so was placed on 10-day quarantine, and I fell in love. I asked my then-husband if I might keep him, and he said "no." I ignored him, so you can see why I'm single now.

I've had three "special" cats. Tommy was my childhood cat. He was killed by a dog at age 12. Those were the days when everyone let their cats out. Rastus I adopted from the Chenango County SPCA for three bucks, and smuggled him into my high school in my sweatshirt. He passed away at age 17 of cancer. And Ivan, well, Ivan came into my life just after Rastus left it. He is now nearly 16.

And here we are.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Too beautiful to still be here.

I have two "kittens" who I haven't been promoting because the longhaired cat has a loose stool. However multiple fecals have ruled out any parasites. I've kept his buddy with him to have someone to play with, and now they are so closely bonded they really ought to go together.

They are the sweetest things but, of course, shy with stranger. But now in the age of video hopefully someone will see how playful and affectionate they are online, and know that once they get over their initial shyness they'll be the cute hellions they really are.

And yes, that monster paw is real, and not a photographic distortion.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Way too much "on the road"

Travel is always fun, but home time becomes even more vital when trips are just one, two, or three weeks apart. I'm almost done with planes for the spring...just one more trip flying above the clouds. The last trip to the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, I took the car, and Molly came along.

She loves hotel rooms. I can take her on my next trip as well, but the hotel fee is a pricey $75 to bring her along, and that comes out of my pocket because it's not technically work related. I'll see how my taxes come out and what the IRS will be taking out of my hide.

In the further adventures of feral cat trapping, I caught three cats a week ago--two females and a male. I planned to return any males I caught on my way to Virginia, and have my house-sitters care for the females as they recovered from their spay surgeries. But one cat decided to pop out kittens in the trap at the SPCA of Tompkins County. She gave birth to five. Two were very small..too small..and they did not make it. The other three are doing really well, but I was worried the entire time I was gone that a kitten would pass over and the caretakers I hire when I travel would have to deal with it. A big thanks goes to Lori, a friend and vet tech, who was "on deck" in case something awful happened. Luckily by the time I got back the kittens had doubled in size and mom seems fairly relaxed.

I'll post a better photo of the kittens and the "nursing feral mom set-up" tomorrow, but here's the picture on Day One:

More to come these next few days, while I take advantage of home time.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

More feral cat spay/neuter

I've been catching cats in Ithaca, trying to clean up the Fast Food Ferals and one business across the highway where a man asked for help. The SPCA of Tompkins County is spay/neutering them for free, which is a huge huge help. It's been awhile since I've had the mental energy to trap (which is a bit odd since this is my busiest travel season for work as well). Maybe the B12 supplements are finally kicking in!

So far two cats have been friendly-acting and were not returned (two less cats outdoors!). There is no reason for a friendly or "wanna-be-friendly" cat to go back on the streets, even with food or shelter. "Gray and White" (her street name) became "Janice" at the SPCA of TC, and she found a home there last week! The man I'm helping on Rt 13 said the SPCA even called him to let him know she had found a home, and that the adopters had told them Janice would be "treated like a queen." What a change from life living under a shed.

Here's a not-so-great photo of Janice rolling around in her crate on the way to the SPCA of TC's adoption center after she stayed with me to recover from her spay:

I am once again way behind on posts. I have some photos of adopted cats who have checked in that I have not yet posted!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back from traveling...for now

I'm back from a short marathon of travel to the Texas Unites for Animals and Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey conferences. I had a quick day in between to frantically clean, and now I'm hideously behind on a myriad of duties, but I'll catch up! While I was at AWFNJ, a keynote speaker was Patrick McDonnell of the Mutts comic strip and he is a great friend to animal sheltering and rescue. I picked up two books, one of which I had signed for Debra, who keeps Molly while I travel, and one of which I'm keeping for a future giveaway or auction item (after I read it, of course!)

It was pretty cold, so a conference on the Jersey Shore wasn't all it could have been. On the up side, no one was tempted to walk on the beach instead of going to the excellent workshops. I did go out briefly with friends when word spread that there was a lot of sea glass on the beach. And they were right...I found a few pieces.

More later. There are cats to trap and email to answer!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I love my job...

...when we find stuff like this. And no, Petfinder didn't make it. Other people believe in adoption, and they create this stuff. Incredible and wonderful. I know it's a bit surprising at the start, but hang in there for the end.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Michigan certifies animal rescues

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 4, 2013

Michigan First to Certify Animal Rescues to Save More Lives

Foster-based animal rescue groups are implementing best practices and abiding by a code of ethics

CONTACT: Deborah Schutt, Chair, Michigan Pet Fund Alliance 877-FUR-PALS (387-7857)

Detroit – The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance opened enrollment for the Michigan Rescue Certification Program (MRCP) on Monday, March 1, 2013. Foster-based animal rescue groups that are not yet certified for 2013 are asked to submit an online application between March 1 and April 30. The application link, program description and documents are available online at

MRCP is the state’s first voluntary certification program for rescues and is open to all companion-animal rescue groups, including dogs, cats and small companion mammals. The program was developed by a task force of representatives from local rescue groups, animal shelter and adoption centers and animal advocacy organizations, including Paws for Life Rescue, N.B.S. Animal Rescue, PapAdopters & Placement Service, Humane Society of Huron Valley and Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan. Input and feedback was gathered from a large number of rescue organizations, shelters and advocates across Michigan.

“Each year, more than 100,000 homeless cats and dogs in Michigan are killed in shelters. The majority of these companion animals are healthy or treatable and could be rehomed if organizations worked together,” said Deborah Schutt, chairperson of Michigan Pet Fund Alliance.
The initial program launch was held at the 2012 Michigan No-Kill Conference in Lansing, where Michigan rescue groups and shelters learned and shared animal care standards related to healthy environments, nutrition, exercise, socialization, daily health checks, transport, behavioral rehabilitation and medical protocols.

Eleven rescue organizations have been certified so far.

“The intent of the program is to share best practices, improve shelter capacity and ensure that the rescue organization is reputable," said Courtney Protz-Sanders, executive director and founder of Paws for Life Rescue.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development is responsible for the oversight of 188 licensed animal shelters, which does not include the 200+ animal rescue organizations currently operating in the state.

“New rescue organizations like mine, with a passion for finding caring homes for the animals in our foster homes, are often left to recreate the wheel or learn the ropes through trial-and-error experience,” said Jaime Wolfe, co-founder of N.B.S. Animal Rescue, which through this program is now a 5-star certified rescue.

“This program helps implement safe and proven medical protocols that rescues may not be familiar with, such as pediatric spay/neuter. If we don’t want to be a part of the problem, we must be vigilant in guaranteeing that all pets are sterilized,” said Mary C. Rupley, DVM, senior consultant.

Certified rescues are asked to operate according to a code of ethics. These ethics dictate transparency, honesty, respect and operations that further the goal of highlighting reputable rescue groups.

“We are striving to develop more relationships between the rescue community and the shelter community, so that all healthy and treatable animals can be saved,” said Ellen Stuban, co-founder of PapAdopters & Placement Service. “Some rescues groups have signed waivers stating they will migrate away from relationships with breeders, stop attending auctions and no longer transport animals into Michigan, and instead will focus on pulling animals from local shelters in our state,” said Pam Sordyl, founder of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan.
Rescue organizations apply for certification annually and when it is granted, they are provided documentation that can be displayed on websites, in printed materials and at adoption events.
“The simple task of promptly returning phone calls and answering e-mails are all components of a well-run organization,” said Kelly Schwartz, director of facilities and volunteer programs at Humane Society of Huron Valley.

As the program becomes more established, it will provide added benefits to certified rescue organizations, such as grants, educational opportunities, specialized behavior training for volunteers, fundraising opportunities and cost reductions through joint purchases and ventures.
It is the intent of the Michigan Rescue Certification Program to:

• Leverage best practices and collaborations to eliminate the 90,000+ deaths of homeless healthy and treatable cats and dogs in Michigan

• Provide a code of ethics and best practices for rescue organizations

• Assure the public, including adoption event hosts, businesses, donors, adopters and potential volunteers, that certified rescue organizations operate according to the standards set by the Best Practices Handbook and the Michigan Certified Rescue Organization Code of Ethics

• Assure donors and animal welfare funders of professional capacity

• Improve collaborations and partnerships by assuring shelters and other rescues that certified rescue organizations operate to standards that are reputable and have been vetted for partnerships

The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance a 501 (c)3 charitable organization, works to end the killing of healthy and treatable homeless cats and dogs in Michigan by collaborating with animal shelters and rescue organizations to achieve No Kill through training, technical assistance, education and advocacy.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hard times for Wildrun/Owl House cats

It's been a tough week for Wildrun/Owl House adopters. Two families have reported in via Facebook that their cats, adopted from us, are ill or have passed on. Sweet Pooh is suffering from congestive heart failure. He was born in a trap while his mother was waiting to be spayed at a feral cat spay/neuter clinic. And Lori's cat Ophelia passed over today with the help of a veterinarian due to complications from diabetes. They were both refugees from the Kitten Summers from Hell (let's not even go there now) and they were very lucky. In both cases, other kittens in their litters did not make it. In both cases, even though their lives were short (8-9 years) they have wonderful, loving homes.

On the home front, Storm, sister to my sister's cat Sylvester, is very ill. She is rapidly losing weight (cancer, kidney failure?), still is drinking and eating, but sits up periodically after eating or drinking for a little while, and seems uncomfortable in a crouch (cancer?). She is flat-footing a bit (diabetes?) in her hind legs while still having plenty of strength to leap. However, this has all occurred within three days after bringing new cats into the facility (upper respiratory?) and she has a rapidly drying crust in the corner of her eyes. So I've got her on antibiotics and we are waiting for lab results as blood was taken right before the local veterinary clinic closed on Friday. The fact this she is both eating and drinking both heartens and worries me.

Daily love and mental stimulation is vital for a cat. My sister's cat Sylvester is glossy, shiny, and sweet. Stormy, his sister, has always been a bit dull looking even though her fur and body type is exactly like his. She is beautiful, but you can't help but see the difference between a cat in a loving home (Sylvester), and a cat in a "sanctuary" (Storm). When my ex-husband and I were pre-honeymooning in California, we stopped at a cat rescue, and mentally I swore that I would never have a place that was full of such sad and dull-furred looking cats, no matter how safe and well-fed they were. Yet now I have four that look just like that. Luckily, there are only four. Others, like Tiger Tom, have escaped that fate. Look at him now.

Storm has always has some serious attitude except during thunderstorms, when she wants to be comforted and held. Today, I picked her up and held her (no thunderstorm) and she purred and purred. I'm not sure that is a good sign.

The barn is drab and dusty, no matter how clean I keep it. You can put down vinyl floors, paint the walls pretty colors, and give them soft clean beds, but it still isn't a home. It may have windows, but it's no place for a cat to be for so many years. We have people who visit here, but not every day. They see me when I clean twice a day, and I cuddle and comb them, but that is literally for mere minutes. In the house with my pet cats, Ivan and the others sleep next to me for hours, get toys thrown, wander about the house, etc. That is one reason I dream of the straw-bale building by the gorge, with an outside enclosed area. It would be more pleasant for the cats, and more pleasant for people to visit...making it, again, more pleasant for the cats.

It occurs to me...

That my mother and sisters may not have seen this, and that Linda would likely be very impressed by the video editing to match the music (smile). And who can resist a kitten?

Thinking of building a straw-bale cat facility

My electric bills are scary. I just worked out a budget payment with NYSEG. To NYSEG's credit, even though they like to include the not-yet-due amount in the alarming "YOU ARE BEHIND" mailings, they have catch-up program for people like me, and they did discretely ask questions to see if I qualified for state assistance (I do not. Understandably, there is no program for people who make a relatively good salary but insist on living in huge houses and rescuing lots of cats)

I finally went back to my original firewood business to purchase wood, even though it means hauling the wood up the hill to my house from the driveway, because he has a dump truck. However, he arrived with more-than-a-cord for my $200, and it's dry, small, burnable wood, not the huge rotted stuff that the previous guy was supplying (before he decided to drop trees in the road and take a neighbor's tree--but we won't go any farther on that).

At any rate, we stood in the driveway talking about fuel costs. He suggested propane for the current cat facility, and I lamented that I one day wanted to build a more economical space. He pointed out the back of my driveway. I mentioned there was already a slab there and his eyes got wide and said that cut a lot of money off a project. "Even just a garage, insulated, would be better."

That's something to think about, and so I did. I noodled around looking at pre-fab small barns, but I had already done that route at my old house, and I know unless you sink a lot of money into them, they really aren't cozy.

Then I accidentally came across a straw-bale construction page and saw this:

No, I don't want that fancy cottage. But I loved the idea of something small, attractive, and with a built in bench on the window side (just more bales!). It would likely be affordable, and I might even be able to schedule a barn-raising to get this done. I would need the framing, windows (easy enough to score off craiglist), the roof trusses (or someone skilled enough to build them), good quality very-dry straw bales (straw isn't cheap, but it's cheaper than wood and insulation), wire, and stucco. I could have it set up to be heated with propane, and could run electric underground right from the house. I could also build little straw bale elevated cat shelters on the back for the farm cats (big enough to set traps in!).

What a nice little dream. It would likely even increase the value of this place, if built correctly. This year I think I'll concentrate on clearing off and saving the concrete pad, and moving the brush back. It's right on the gorge, so would be a very pretty spot with the brush gone.

Spencer Community Showcase tomorrow (Sunday!)

We've been attending this event for Spencer-area businesses and programs for years. Billee was one of our first ambassador cats before she was adopted. It so hard to realize she has passed on. I always take one of our older cats with me, and this year it will be Tommy.

I will have a bunch of stuff available--some of which was donated to us to raise funds, like my mother-and-sister-made catnip toys, as well as those Jiffy Tags I mentioned on the blog earlier. I think I even have some catnip in antique bottles left. I plan to grow another major crop of catnip this year, so I need to clear the shelves!

There are always some really nice crafts at this fair. My purse (which I need to replace, so I will be shopping, too!) came from this fair about 5 years ago, along with a little barn wood house that lights up from Flywest Prims. I've donated a cat bed pack to the fair to raffle off, and I will also have one to raffle off from my table. So there will be lots of "stuff!" Last year--when I didn't have a table--they even had an organic farmer with organic meat.

Have you been putting off having your cholesterol checked? They are doing that, too. If someone comes by to watch my booth for a second, I plan to run over because mine hasn't been checked in over 8 years.

So come on by! It only takes a little while to pass through. You could do lunch at Reese's or DaVinci's, or try some of the food they are having at the fair itself.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

When species are hated

I don't really have a decent amount of time to think about this post. However when I put something off to "post later" I often forget to post anything at all, or I lose track of the link.

This article about the hatred of the wolf by some conservationists drew a surprising parallel in my mind to the hatred of cats by a small but very vocal group of conservationists.

I'm not talking about the valid discussion about whether cats should be outdoors or not. Obviously, in a best possible world, all cats would be safe and loved in vibrant and perfect indoor homes, with supervised-only access to the outdoors. We aren't in a perfect world and we never will be.

But this essayist attempts to tackle the issue of the desire among some "conservationists" to irrationally advocate the destruction of an entire species. While I absolutely do not think the parallels are exact, I do find the similarity compelling. I honestly feel that even if TNR was proven to work--with published results---in every situation in which is was utilized, and we could verify without question that the number of outdoor cats was decreasing, there would still be angry, vocal people who would despise cats in the name of conservation.

I was on the phone today with a representative of a national advocacy group, and we talked for a moment about valid "outdoor cat" concerns versus the simple hatred of cats. It's a tough thing to address publicly, because anyone who might suggest that "You know, the issue here is that you just dislike cats" sounds like the speaker is dismissing the seriousness of the issue, as well as the seriousness of those who are legitimately concerned about the impact of outdoor cats on other animals.

Yet clearly, reading this wolf article, there are species besides cats that are NOT non-native, that are NOT "pets gone wild" and that DO belong in the wild...and nonetheless they are in some cases hated and viewed as a threat, and even, dare I say, viewed as trash. These are my words...not the author's.

I think perhaps that by examining the persecution of "legitimately wild" species, we might be able to understand, a little bit better, those certain over-the-top and irrational efforts we have recently run into where the persecution of cats is also promoted in a manner that seems beyond logical. At some point we need to understand why some anti-cat public statements sound less like conservation, and more like hatred and hysteria. It may in fact be...because they are.

Too much spam

I'm sorry, but anonymous posters will no longer be able to comment. It seems like all I do is moderate spam. I left it open to anonymous comments hoping more people would feel comfortable adding input, but it seems like the comments have remained about the same (with the exception of the spammers!) I apologize to anyone for whom the restriction is a nuisance.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Catching up on feral cats

I've been lax about posting about the actual cat-catching I've been up to. A tiger cat began appearing on Molly's bed both day and night a few weeks ago. I was sure he would turn out to be tame (what feral cat camps out on a cushy dog bed 10 feet from a front door when there is a big barn to hide in?) but he doesn't have a tame whisker on him. He has been neutered, vaccinated and tested at my vet and I'll release him here in my barn once I'm sure the weather won't drop to zero.

Hopefully he and Bullet will work out any differences with hisses rather than bloodshed.

I've noticed a few strange cats down at the Fast Food Ferals feeding station, and I also got a call about cats being fed at a business across the highway, so Sunday I headed down, met with the feeder (a man), caught two cats at his location, and two at mine. The Tompkins County SPCA was able to fit in all four. I know there are a few more FFFerals, and at least three more at the new business location, and probably a few we haven't seen, so that will keep me busy for a few weeks. The one nice thing about catching cats in Tompkins is that (at least in winter) there are free/affordable spay/neuter options that are fairly easy to get into. There are options in Tioga as well, but the gap between the cost for spay/neuter clinic surgery and surgery at my private vet is so little, I take them to my private vet to leave the limited spaces at the s/n clinic for residents.

If I'm lucky, the three I'm keeping will all be males, so they can be returned ASAP. One of the male is handleable, so I'm having him FeLV/FIV tested. If he's negative, I may keep him to find him a home. Four caught, two off the street. That would be nice.

This is one World Spay Day (formerly Spay Day USA) when I'll actually get a bunch of cats fixed!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Definitely a think-about animinated short

So simple on one level. But then you do the "dog is god spelled backwards" thing, and, well, there you go.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tomahawk's improvements to feral cat handling equipment

I am a cat-trap junkie. I cannot even recall the days when I used to wrangle cats with gloves and substandard equipment, always in danger of being scratched, bitten, or having a cat escape. I never have to even touch a fractious or scared cat any longer, now that there are cage traps with back doors, feral cat dens, and the comb-like isolators.

However, there is always room for improvement, and Tomahawk has come up with some good ones. I love meeting up with them at conferences, because they always have something new for cats! (Apologies in advance for my somewhat-fuzzy photos).

Maybe some of you, like myself, have invested in kitten-sized traps, only to discover that those little teenage moms can squish right in there. Tomahawk has developed a kitten screen to let those tiny kittens in, but keep out the bigger adults. It's affordable at $20.

You'll find a video here.

And for those of you, like myself, who resort to duct-tape to keep those round doors on the feral cat dens closed, or who have discovered the cat has shut himself out of the den and now you are stuck with a peeved cat in a cage sitting on top of the closed den, Tomahawk has also come up with a spring that will not only hold the door closed, but hold it open.

And that wonderful toy we all have dreamed of owning....the remote control trap trigger:

It's $130.00, which makes it something most of us would need to save up for, but it is still far cheaper than previous versions that have been available. You'll find a video here.

(Dear family, I'll take any of these as a Christmas present next year).

Here is the page where most of Tomahawk's TNR equipment lives.

Here are their dens.

I was surprised to learn that the dens must be made one-by-one---the molds are handled by a single person. They aren't churned out by some huge machine, which is why the price is higher than you might assume, at $69.50. However, as a person who owns six of them, I can attest to the fact that both the cats, and myself, are safer and happier using them.

Unfortunately I was flying home, so I couldn't do my usual conference bargaining and come home with cool stuff for a reduced price. I usually wait until the conference is nearing a close to make an offer, so that others have a chance to get it first. I did ask about the isolator/divider, but someone else already had dibs on it. Ah well!