Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I came home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So now I know.

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

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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Where have we been?

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February is Spay/Neuter Month. Meet Clark Kent!

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

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

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

Nothing is simple.

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

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

Friday, January 8, 2016

Treats sneaked from Facebook

It's time for a round-up of Owl House kitties I've seen on Facebook or have been sent via email. It's been a long while since I've done this so I may have missed quite a few!

Stephanie's Jasper from back in November:

April's Rocket from this Christmas!

Mary Beth's Whitten, also checking out the Christmas tree:

Phillip and Jelli, lifted from Christy's Facebook page:

Schubert and Tuck, forwarded to us by Nancy from an email she received from Ann and Steve:

Bo and Davis, nipped from Meg's Facebook page

Ziggy and Tiger Tom, from georg's Facebook timeline:

And Daphne (recently Goggles) in her new home!

Sorry if I missed anyone! Facebook doesn't show everything Friends post so I may have missed some. Send us photos of your Wildrun or Owl House cats and we'll love to post them--and see our cat friends again.

Hey, we are getting new additions after sharing this on Facebook. Here is Rosemary, shared by Marita:

And when Marita posted Rosemary, I recalled Amanda's kitten Buffy, who was Rosemary's kitten, along with Bo and Davis above:

With Facebook it's like I get to keep them all, without having to feed them and clean their cat boxes!

One more added! Here's Nueve, now "Footnote" sent to us by Eric and Katharyn:

Monday, December 28, 2015

In just before the storm...

We've lost our supernaturally long fall, and outside the rain is turning to sleet and ice. Last night on Facebook, on the swap and save page, someone posted looking for a home for this cat:

Someone else posted that a cat like that from their street was missing. "Does he have an eye that doesn't open all the way?" The finder said "yes." The two arranged to connect. I offered to take the cat if it turned out he wasn't the missing one, given that an ice storm was on the way. However it turned out the person checking on the cat didn't own him, she had been feeding him on their village street, and the location where he was found was miles and miles away from the village. It appears the cat had been dumped out in the country. I supposed it's possible he jumped into the back of a truck and hitched a ride, but he had been hanging out in an area of the village where there are too many stray cats...so many that even the most ardent cat lovers are at their wits end.

So because he needed somewhere warm and safe to go, and also needs medical attention, he came here. He's friendly, and is a grand Russian Blue type cat, but he clearly has an eye infection, and it doesn't seem to be a simple one. Both eyes are watering, and one is sunk back quite a way into his head. I'll need to get him to the vet fast, to make sure he is FeLV/FIV negative, since he's upstairs in the cat facility.

He's quite content in his cage. He's probably quite happy to have a warm bed to lie in. And he's lucky his stars aligned...he was found by someone who worried about him out in the cold did something for him, his post was noticed by someone who recognized him from his original territory so he didn't get dismissed as a wandering barn cat, and myself. The person who brought him here even left a donation that will cover the basic office visit at the vet. Let's hope his luck keeps going strong!

The girl with the family who brought him had named him "Happy." I may have to find a variation on that name to help find him a home if we can't locate an owner, but for now I'll keep him "Happy" and I'll hope the power of that name means a a quick trip to the veterinarian for eyes meds, testing, and vaccinatios is all he needs to get fixed up (he is already neutered). I'll be calling Stray Haven tomorrow to see if anyone has reported him as lost.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ethan, formerly feral kitten from Van Etten

If I stick to my 2016 resolutions for survival, you should be seeing a lot more blog posts from me. Things have been so jerkily hectic for the last year, I've let far too much go by the wayside. One very vital and way-to-neglected tasks is getting photos of the cats, and promoting them online. No photos, no promotion, equals no adoptions.

If cats aren't moving out the door faster than they are coming in, then someone (me!) isn't doing her job.

Ethan is a shy guy with a really affectionate nature. He comes up in the bed in the morning for serious cuddles, curling up in the crook of my arm, licking my fingers, and staring at me in adoration. The rest of the day he likes romping with the other cats, and he'll play keep-away if not approached with a smile and a kind voice. He is neutered and glows with that beauty of the healthy black cat. He would be fine alone, or with other cats, however if he is with other cats there should be at least one who would be glad to romp and play.

This will be Ethan's own page. I'll add more photos and video of him and will shortly remove the paragraphs at the top. Then I can add it as a URL on his social media profiles.

Friday, December 25, 2015


It has become very popular to post stories on the internet about people who "cruelly" surrender pets to a shelter. Stories about pets surrendered as seniors, after a break-up and neither party wants the pet, or pets who are surrendered as soon as their kid goes to college...

I remember once when I surrendered a kitten to our local SPCA that had been abandoned at the college where I was staying over Christmas break. Most everyone had left, and someone left this kitten behind. I tried to bring him in out of the cold in with my own cat, but my cat was beating the kitten up. I took him to the SPCA and while I was saying goodbye with tears in my eyes, the shelter staff just looked at me and shook their heads. They didn't thank me for helping the kitten. They did not smile or thank me when I put all the money I had in the donation can. I realized in shock and guilt that they thought the kitten was mine, and that I had lied that someone else had abandoned it, because I was crying as I left him. It was an awful experience, even though I was doing what I had always been told was "right" to do with an abandoned kitten if you could not keep it. Take the cat to a shelter.

I really have issues with surrender-shaming--a practice that is becoming more common, because it can reach a larger audience with just a single Facebook post. We tell people if they don't want or can't keep a pet that they should bring the pet to a shelter, then we give them hell when they do.

When I worked for a shelter, yes, it made me sick to my stomach when a car pulled in and someone started walking toward the door with a crate with a cat in it, or walking a dog on a leash. But you know why it made me sick to my stomach? Not because the person was irresponsibly surrendering the pet (although sometimes they were). It was because we would often have to kill that pet, and the person bringing the pet to us was hoping we would find the pet a home. Even after I was volunteering for that shelter's spay/neuter clinic years later when they were "no-kill" I still could not suppress the nausea I felt when I saw a person coming to the door with a crate. I knew the pet in that crate was safe, yet that mere two years I had spent in the 80s knowing every pregnant cat would be killed, every sneezing kitten would be killed, was embedded in my soul.

We would be angry at the people who brought them in, but most of our anger came from our inability to provide the services we felt we should be providing...providing the safety for that pet that we promised them when we said "Don't abandon them...don't neglect them...bring them here instead."

We now have more options than we had in the 80s, although we still have a long way to go. And we still tell people: Don't abandon pets. Don't tie them outside. Don't ignore them. If you can't keep your pet, bring it to a shelter to find it a better home.

Yet more and more often it seems like these surrender-shaming stories come out, supposedly the same day the pet was surrendered, shaming the person who abandoned the animal, in order to find the pet a home. "Poor Rainbow was thoughtlessly dumped at the shelter today by her uncaring owners. Please help find her a home!"

What does this teach the next person who is desperate and is thinking about surrendering a pet, or is thinking about bringing in a stray they can't keep?

"If you take an animal to a shelter, you will be treated like a criminal, even if you are doing something good." "If you take your pet to the shelter because you don't know what else to do, it will be on Facebook by noon that you are a heinous person, along with a photo of the pet you took in."

Is this what we want? What result do we expect? That people will magically decide to keep these pets? Or will pets instead be more likely to be left tied out in a shabby doghouse, or abandoned somewhere, or totally ignored---because what we are really teaching the public is that "a person who surrenders a pet, or brings in a stray is-- by virtue of the fact that they brought the pet in--a bad person."

I understand the impulse. I recall my anger when I found Goggles on my porch. And guess what. Wasn't my first impression wrong?

Are we surrender-shaming to help a pet and teach the public? Or are we surrender-shaming to make ourselves feel like embattled heroes?

Is it about the pet? Or is it about ourselves?

Stop surrender shaming. The people we are shaming are the people we WANT to bring pets in, rather than have them neglect the pet with inattention. Or they are innocent people who have a good reason to need to ask our help by bringing us an animal they found or legitimately cannot keep.

Remember? Isn't that our mission?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter is time for napping

I came in from taking care of the cat facility and this is what I found in the house:

The only one up (excepting Pepper and Timea upstairs) was Coraline. She promptly curled her tiny body up in my lap as soon as I sat down at the computer.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Timea and Pepper are pretty darned friendly

I've started sleeping upstairs to see if they have any interest at all in cuddling up. Last night I slept in the back bedroom and they slept on the bed in the middle guest room. So I'll try the middle guest room to see if they are willing to share "their" bed with me.

If they do, I may post them for adoption, although I expect it will be many months before the perfect home appears. It would need to be local, have no other cats (Pepper is a bit of a bully with the other cats here although he might settle down once there are fewer kittens who run around begging to be chased), and be a perfectly secure house. We've had people with somewhat cluttered homes and open basements be perfectly good homes with friendly cats, but these two have already shown that they aren't a fit for a home with too many places they can hide. They need a nice quiet place with a cat lover who will take security seriously, and keep them shut up in a single room until they are quite comfortable, as you can see they are here.

I also need to get them more used to having treats thrown their way. When I toss treats to the general cat mob, Pepper runs away, as if he thinks the treats are being thrown AT him rather than FOR him. I think we can work at this with them together upstairs, where they are most at ease. I'd like to get them used to treats, so they can mingle at treat time with my pet cats. It's always good to have "tasty treats" associated with "being around other cats."

New barn cat, Buster

Those of you who don't follow us on Facebook may not know that yet another cat showed up on or doorstep. Literally.

Our cat dramas always play out like novel. First, a neighbor knocked on our door about a cat that she saw at their house, daily, about a quarter of a mile away. A gray cat with white face and toes.

Two days later I let Bear out before I ran into Ithaca, and went I came home just after dark, he was nowhere to be found. When I headed down to the barn he came trotting out to meet me, looking over his shoulder. His fur was ruffled, and when I got him into the house, I realized he was covered in feces. His own. Bear quite literally had had the shit scared out of him in a cat fight.

It must have been rather humbling for him. In his younger and slimmer days, Bear was a terrorist in his own right. But he has been sleeping his plump life away in the house, and I'm sure he's not a match for a big young tom cat. I set him up in the bathroom to clean up.

At the time I wasn't sure if he had tangled with a raccoon or a cat. I had found a dead raccoon on my lawn with porcupine quills in his snout earlier in the week, so I figured there was a rabies issue in my neighborhood (Warning: dead raccoon photo below)

I didn't want Molly-the-dog or any of the other cats to be licking on Bear for a few hours in case he had tangled with a raccoon, so I had to shut him away. In looking him over, I noticed gray fur caught in his claws. Feeling a bit like "Cat Fight CSI" I wondered about the neighbor's "gray cat at large" report.

The next day was bright and sunny. Gremlin was on the catio, but was huddled next the the cat door, staring at something intently. I went outside to look around, gazing out across the lawn. Suddenly I realized the object of interest was only 10 feet away. A gray cat was staring at me from behind the tree. I went inside and got some food. He ran away, but soon came back.

I set a trap the next day and had him within a few hours. Soon he was in a cage in the barn, hiding in a feral cat den.

I hoped he would turn out to be friendly, but as we waited for his neuter appointment it became clear that while he was used to people, he wasn't having any of this petting stuff. So two days after he was fixed, FeLV/FIV tested, microchipped, eartipped and vaccinated, I let him loose right where I captured him, figuring I would starting putting food down in the bottom of the barn daily for him. There are already cat shelters down there "just in case." At the vet I named him "Bully", since he had beaten up Bear, but it seemed like a mean name to give a cat, so I renamed him "Buster."

Two night ago I heard cat fight noises outside and I went down to the barn in the darkness. Buster was there, staring at something behind the lawn tractor. Buster headed off into the barn when he saw me, but something ran around behind me into the grass. When I shined the flashlight after it, another gray cat stared back at me. Damn! Another cat to catch! At least I knew Buster had "stuck" and hadn't headed for the hills after being released.

Then the very next day, the neighbors who adopted Bandit, a previous "barn cat" I had trapped, called. Bandit was limping and sleeping a lot. What do you bet he tangled with Buster or this other new cat? I'm taking over a crate for them to get Bandit used to, since he ought to have an updated rabies vaccination anyway.

There's never a dull moment when you own a big red barn that seems to yell out "dump your unwanted cats here!" I wish people realized when they drop their cats on a farm, they are costing a responsible landowner (if they choose not to ignore the cat) hundreds of dollars. Luckily I get a discount and Buster was only $120 for all the work I had done on him. But for a normal landowner, the same level of care likely would have cost up to $300.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Don't know if you all have seen this yet.

Timea is a suck-up

...although I don't think she knows it. She's using the entertainment-center-turned-cat-tree and of course any use of that particular piece of work makes me very very happy.

These two really like being "up"!

Blast them claws! Stopping furniture scratching

Cats are sneaky things. Life goes on well for quite awhile. No pissing. No scratching. Then one day you hear it in the other room...the sound of claws. At first you disregard it. It's probably the cat scratching post or one of the cardboard scratches. But no, this doesn't sound quite like that. This sounds like...NO! NOT THE GOOD CHAIR YOU LITTLE MONSTER!

Or the big monster, in this case. Bear.

Bear normally goes outdoors and does his scratching, but since his big tussle with the dumped tom cat (Whom I've tentatively named "Bully" simply because I had to have a name when I called the vet for his neuter appointment), Bear has been less interested in spending lots of time outside. It's also getting colder, so he doesn't venture far off the porch down to his favorite dead tree, where he likes to scratch.

Suddenly, he's after the furniture.

First Law of Scratching. Never hesitate. She who hesitates has no nice furniture.

I had to dig out the StickyPaws from the cat junk drawer.

And off I went, taping up the two places Bear had shown an interest in. One was this antique chair that I specifically love because of the old velvet upholstery. While I certainly could have it reupholstered, that would destroy half the charm of it.

For many years, I owned only wood futon furniture, to avoid the issue entirely. But gradually I got fed up with the severity of the look. After going through lots of cheap Craigslist furniture, I discovered the secret to having an upholstered couch.

Curved arms. Cats like to reach up, and if they can't, they find the spot less attractive. I also keep cardboard scratchers on the floor nearby. They get a bit messy and are relatively expensive, but I use the old ones as fire-starters in the woodstove, and hide any unsightly ones when visitors are scheduled to arrive. Drop-in folks just have to deal with the fact that this is a house where living with cats (in a manner that reduces damage and smells) is the priority.

If all else fails, Bear will get some SoftPaws slapped on him. Luckily he's laid back enough that it probably won't be too hard to put them on.

Maybe I'll put holiday SoftPaws on him. ;)

(Note: I received no request to recommend StickyPaws or SoftPaws nor any reimbursement for doing so).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Big boxes of toys for the cats from Mary and Joe!

My UPS guy is a ninja, I swear. I didn't even hear him deliver two big boxes from Mary (Jack and The Leewit's home) on the porch. Mary had just sent a very generous (our largest) donation to our spay/neuter fund, which was a huge help as we had four female kittens on deck, and two still more to go, for spay/neuter, plus a small balance still on account at the veterinarian.

The cats benefit from monetary donations, of course, however apparently Mary felt they deserved a more one-on-one experience of her love!

The house cats (both the four personal cats and those up-for-adoption) always get to test out new gifts when they arrive. However I try to make sure the cat facility adoptables get most of the new stuff, since they deserve interesting and new things in their all-vinyl-floor life. I let the house cats check out the beds, but most of the toys and all of the scratchers were saved for the cat facility cats, so they did not get pre-licked presents!

Nellie and Fluffy check out the Cat Ball.

Oliver gives it a try, too. "What do you mean we don't get to keep it in here?"

Gremlin tries the fuzzy bed first.

Gremlin likes the kitty Canoe so much, I think I'll let him keep it in the house. After all, he is up for adoption, and Mary sent three of them!

It was evening when I took presents out to the cat facility and their basking lamp was on, so the video is quite red. Here they are checking out the wonderful catnip toys, the Cat Ball, and one of the scratchers!

The cat meowing in the background is poor neglected Pierre, who could see all the fun from his run, but I did not let him out as he is quite the camera hog. Here is sweet Heidi cuddling up with the scratcher:

Thank you, Mary and Joe! You have definitely made it "Christmas" over here for all of our cats, and myself!

Gifts for grumpy kitties (and grumpy cat ladies as well)

I'm belated on sharing some of the gifts our cats have received over the past month!

One of the best parts of cat-sitting now and then is that I get to see some of our past adoptees. It's not something I can do regularly since I travel so much myself and have my own house-sitters, but it's a fun break. When I visited Peetie, Paatie, Phillip, and Jellie this past month, Christy and Gordon left a present on the table for us!

In addition to a very generous payment for the visit, there were several kitty things to make me smile and decorate my house at harvest time, and this very special gift for the cats. A six-pack of Comfort Zone!

Using cat pheromones to keep our cats relaxed (i.e. not spraying on things!) sometimes seems like throwing good money out the window given how expensive it is...until we run out and stop using it, and suddenly notice things like throw pillows--which I use to keep cats off chairs that are especially tempting pee-objects--have a faint whiff of pee, or cats growling and smacking at one another. While I don't mind my house smelling like a damp old 1860's farmhouse in the summer, I do mind smelling cat smells when you walk in the door. People judge a cat rescue by how it smells. Heck, people judge cat owners by how their house smells. Fluffy and Oliver tend to be the only culprits, but one cats who pees creates other cats who pee. I also like to use it in the cat facility when I can, because it seems to me it would be even more boring and stressful than the house. It just isn't as obvious when there is stress because there are far fewer "pee-worthy" objects there. The cats in the facility seldom (dare I say never?) pee outside of the boxes.

I do my best to introduce cats carefully and keep them separated by who is happiest together, and nothing makes me feel more like I have failed than listing to cats smack and growl over tiny things. We haven't had a cat fight since Ivan and Thomas were both here---they would get along 90% of the time, then one day I'd come home to tufts of cat fur on the floor. I would like to keep the place fight-free. This means cats need to be as happy as possible. ComfortZone (Feliway) definitely helps with that.

Thank you, Christy and Gordon! We all appreciate less stress at the holidays.

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's Tuna Time!

I haven't had a chance to post photos of the new cats, Pepper and Timea. Timea zips out from under the bed too quickly for me to get a good photo of her, but Pepper loooves his tuna too much...he just can't resist, and jumps up on the bed, and even allows me to pick him up. I hear them romping around upstairs over my head when I work, clearly having a good time now that they have two rooms to play in instead of one. Looks are deceiving in this photo. Sgt. Pepper is a very big boy! He might weigh as much as Bear, but there's not an ounce of fat on him. He's just a big muscular cat. Timea looks small next to him, but she's not a little cat either.

His rescuer sent them each a new fuzzy bed and of course the every-needed paper plates that make life so much easier. One of the kittens checked them out when they arrived.

Unfortunately I think it will be a little while before they'll stay in the beds long enough for me to get a photo of them when I come in the room!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Farewell, Pickles

Farewell to Pickles. She lost a lot of weight while I was gone in October. Blood tests showed end-stage kidney disease. She perked up with potassium supplements and fluids, but after two days of fluids, she refused to allow me to catch her. When she slept with Fluffy, I could sneak up on her to get a hold of her, but sleeping with Fluffy was her one true joy in life, and then she no longer dared because she knew I would stalk her there. When I traveled, how would anyone get a hold of her when I am the only one who can touch her? She would have had to have been caged and handled by strangers.

So I left her alone for two days to enjoy her friend, and then we said goodbye at the veterinarian's. She was sixteen years old, and now I'm very glad I brought her and Fluffy in from the cat facility to enjoy the house, the porch, and the catio for a year or so.

It's just as well she went before Fluffy (who is two years older). She would have been lost without him.

Cornerstone sent a beautiful card. The messages they leave inside always make me cry.