Saturday, July 11, 2015

Trip to NYC

I don't often find myself in New York City, and a work gathering gave me the opportunity to visit Manhattan. I have visited tons of US cities, and I do have to admit, NYC is different.

First, there are people. Many, many people at all hours of the day or night. The sidewalks are busy at all times (although they were not as full as is hyped on television) The streets are a sea of yellow cabs. For a scant five minutes I was alone by myself, when my colleagues decided to go out for a few more hours, and I decided to head back to the hotel.

In Philadelphia, hailing a cab takes a minute or two. In NYC, I headed to an intersection, stuck out my hand, and in ten seconds a cab had swerved to connect with me. I had two insane cab experiences, where I simply could not look out the window at how close the cab cut it when zipping between vehicles. I had one ride that was sane enough that I could enjoy the view.

I experienced Uber for the first time. Nice cars, nice drivers, and no floundering around at the end of the drive paying the driver. The app tells you when they will arrive (usually a scant few minutes), and with an account (colleague accounts, not mine) payment is already arranged. The Uber rides were all sane rides.

My ex would have enjoyed the firehouse across from a restaurant where we ate. They had numerous calls while we were there, and watching them BACK the truck in on the narrow street into an even more narrow firehouse was a joy. Amazing.

In case you ever wondered, NYC dog walkers are in fact exactly like what you see on television, minus a few dogs (in this case):

So that, in a nutshell, was my visit to Manhattan.

As always, I was still happy to get home to my stringlight lit porch, kittens, home brewed coffee and a pot of homemade chili.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fluffy was sick, but is better again

Fluffy gave me a big scare a week or so ago. He was very lethargic, lost some weight, was making a choking noise (but not frequently enough to indicate an actual obstruction), and was hanging out away from me and all of the other cats. Because he's a senior, I figured it was better to be safe rather than sorry, and hauled him off to the veterinarian after only a day and a half of signs of illness. Dr. Christine Armao felt it was an allergic upper respiratory infection, their first of the season. Fluffy got some fluids and a steroid shot and within 12 hours was feeling much better. They sent me home with an antibiotic "just in case" since the weekend was arriving, but he did not seem to need it.

Long live the king!

Valentina decide to come up limping badly in the cat facility. I figured I'd give her 24 hours. The next day...uh oh...she was holding the front paw up. The leg was not swollen or misshapen, but who knows what's up with out a radiograph? I caged her up for 48 hours and then let her out for an experimental walk. Limp would mean "off to the vet." No limp would mean "cage rest for a number of weeks." Fate gave us "No Limp." So I let her out to eat wet food with the other cats, and put her back in her cage when I'm done cleaning. Luckily, she walks right back in on her own when I put her dry food inside, so she must not be too upset by the confinement.

Thinking of doing cat rescue? Remember, things like this happen almost monthly. It's not just worming, vaccinations and spay/neuter, and you can't just "wait and see" all the time.

Another lucky side effect of Valentina being caged...she's far more affectionate than her previously very shy self.

It's ALWAYS the prettiest ones who end up with something that puts a "hold" on their adoption. Hopefully, in Valentina's case, this will make her more adoptable, if she becomes more affectionate.

Kittens ready to go next weekend

So many kittens, some friendly, some shy. With at least four who are very friendly, it's time to get them up on Petfinder and have an adoption gathering next weekend.

Blue is female a super cute. While she was a longhair as a small kitten, she is a fuzzy shorthair now, which means she'll probably be fuzzier in he winter, and grow a fuzzy tail. Her coat should be easy to take care of.

Rambler is an extremely friendly, glossy black cat. He's going to be someone's close friend and confidant, and he'll have some handsome black panther looks.

Coraline is hiding, peeved that I cleaned her ears!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

New kitten "Deci" ("Number 10")

Deci is the 10th kitten Debra has rescued in Waverly. I'm not sure where she's going to go with naming now that she is up to ten! Little Deci is now here at The Owl House getting her dirty ears attended to, and being vaccinated and wormed. She tested negative for FeLV/FIV at Stray Haven (thank you, Stray Haven!).

She is ridiculously cute, and obviously has good taste in play zones...choosing the family heirloom.

Pickles has turned out to be quite the kitten babysitter. It appears Deci's tough stance is all bluff, as you'll see when she falls off the chair.

Deci is currently on stray hold and will be available for adoption after a week or so!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tara the cat wins the Hero Dog Award

Remember Tara, the cat who saved the young son in her family from a wandering dog who attacked? She has won the Hero Dog Award from the SPCA LA. Follow the link to see a great photo of her with her award, and a story via NPR!

Here is the original rescue video via security cameras (warning: alarming bite video)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kittens and more kittens...

I've been way behind in blogging...apologies to donors and regular readers! I have more to post, but I thought I would at least get the most recent litter posted. This batch of hissy cuties was caught all in one day. The kittens were caught using a droptrap, while mom-cat glared at me, and then mom-cat was caught a few hours later in a traditional cage trap. Mom will get spayed and go back to the very kind woman who has been feeding her for a few years, and I'm working on the kittens to tame them and get them homes.

Here are mom and Lemur before they were captured:

I made the mistake of stopping at a garage sale in Spencer yesterday and---just guess--they had an abandoned calico with kittens under their mobile home. They will call me once the kittens get old enough to peek out.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

June 7 (Sunday!) work party. Eat, drink, paint, weed, pet kittens!

Need an excuse to get out next weekend? Come on by the Owl House for an hour or all afternoon to eat, drink, paint, weed the Memory Garden, make prayer flags in memory or in honor of a special person or pet, or make a memory stake (bring some flowers if you wish) for your pet, to stay in the memory garden (stakes provided).

In spring, the Memory Garden always gets a bit outside of my control when I travel for work. And every few years the cat facility needs to be painted, to cover up any "buggies" that might have lodged in the wood paneling. I bleach the facility three times before it is painted, but the new paint livens it up (especially that low ceiling!) and covers up anything that might have been missed.

Come on by! Please do RSVP as alcohol will be on-site, so this is not a party that is open to the public. If you have a friend you wish to bring along, no problem...just let us know at or leave a comment here. You can RSVP right up to that day.

Gifts are NOT expected (hard-working hands are enough for painting, weeding, and playing with kittens), but for those of you who insist on bringing things, we always need paper towels, large or small paper plates, and turkey baby food. Used towels (not new!) are also always appreciated. New towels get snagged easily by cats. Towels only survive cats if they have been washed a hundred times.

We also really need a new sprayer (for bleaching walls every few weeks) and a (POST NOTE! WE HAVE AN ARMOIRE THANK YOU!) small used or new armoire for our new coffee-maker and water dispenser for visitors. Used is fine. It just need to have doors, be tall enough for people to make coffee, but not be over 74" tall.

But seriously, just your presence and friendship makes it all worth it, and gives us the jolt of goodness in our hearts that keeps us going all summer long!

Camden comes inside

Here's Camden, who was rescued from the streets of Waverly by Debra and Rose, where he has been existing for over a half-year. He is FeLV/FIV tested, vaccinated, neutered, and will soon be posted for adoption once he is microchipped and we get a good photo of him.

His rescue was made possible via the GoFundMe gifts made here! Thank you!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Spring cleaning...getting Porch cats up-to-date

It's spring and TNR work is rolling along. Debra is tackling "clean-up" in a colony in Waverly that has had some new arrivals. Cats on-site who were sterilized in previous years also need their rabies boosters. It's usually not necessary to target cats who just need boosters. Usually they are captured accidentally while the new cats are targeted. Those residents can then take a quick trip to the veterinarian and hopefully the experience will make them wary enough to stay out of the traps for the next few months or years, until another booster is due three more years down the line.

Debra has mentioned this Waverly spot to me for years and I finally got to visit. And wow, these cats have it good. They have outdoor shelters, and also have a cat/dog door into the house for those who are brave enough to venture in. The home also has a big waggy Rottweiler who loves cats, and seemed to like me as well.

I'm sure upon arrival people would think "what the heck is that interesting structure? Turns out it's a cat shelter made out of the windows the resident replaced in her home:

The cats also have shelters under the porch. Do these look familiar at all? Debra took them over when they were no longer needed at the extinct Lockwood colony:

Under porch far away

Debra set traps and caught two cats:

Camden, a medium-furred black cat who has been around some years. It turned out he was already neutered, so he was FeLV/FIV tested, vaccinated, and Debra had him groomed. She is going to keep him inside and I'll go scan him. Since he turned out friendly, we'll see about finding him a new home if we can't find his previous home after all this time.

Butters, a cat who had been caught in previous years and is taming up. He got an FeLV/FIV test (in case he was an option for rehoming or keeping inside 100%) and updated vaccinations. Here's Butters inside after being returned after his vet visit:

Cost for care, $128 at ACS.

It's important to make sure all new cats get sterilized as soon as possible, and whenever possible, that resident cats get updated vaccinations, since cats who just "show up" in our lives, deserve just as much quality care and those we choose for ourselves.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

One quarter of the way there...thank you!

Hey (wow!) we are over one-quarter of the way to our $2000 goal on our GoFundMe campaign Thank you! I've made a neuter appointment for Gremlin at Cornerstone. Debra has made two appointments for Monday and has traps set for cats in Waverly. Scruffy has more lime-sulfer dip for his ringworm (video to come) and the VanEtten kittens, who tested positive for coccidiosis, have KMR for extra liquid to hold off dehydration from diarrhea, and Albon (Rx). Receipts below, and receipts for spay/neuter will be posted as they occur.

Christine, who donated to the campaign, named a little female kitten "Coraline," which is a beautiful name, and one we have not had before:

"Apollo Torty" named this little girl "Blue":

And I named this little kitten "Rambler" for Valarie's donation:

Thank you to everyone who has donated, and please share with others, so we can reach our spring goal and not have lots of requests for help hanging on until summer, which would mean...more kittens! If you are on Facebook you can go to this link and share. If you have adopted a cat from us, please mention that to your Friends when you post! Thank you!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Our first fundraiser

Up until now we have always relied on our limited personal funds and the self-initiated goodwill of adopters and readers to help spay/neuter cats. Yesterday Debra arrange for a PO Box for our new future 501c3. Next step: state incorporation (drafted), then the EIN, bank account, and 501c3.

However, the cats and kittens aren't waiting. So for the first time I've created a GoFundMe page to try and help EVERY person who has called us so far. Usually someone gets pushed off because we just don't have the funds. So here we go!

Assuming that we will need $3000 for our work up until the end of June (Spring 2015) and that we will be contributing $1000 of personal funds for veterinary care, I've asked for $2000. It has been up a hour and we have $150. Meeting this first goal would be a huge shot of confidence for us--not to mention a lifesaver for 20 or more cats--as we move toward launching a spay/neuter fund for outdoor cats in Spencer, Van Etten, and Waverly. If you have the resources...even $5, please consider donating. If you do not, please continue visiting for updates. We can see the stats on readers here, and even just those stats give us a sense of not being alone! Thank you!

Kitten update --- the bland diet

The kittens are cute, but their litter box is not. They've been treated for roundworms and coccidia, and while the smell is reduced, they still have very loose stools. So until I can get a stool sample off to the veterinarian, I'm going to feed them chicken. I hate purchasing factory-farmed chicken, but hopefully this will be the only purchase I'll need to make to get them back on track. Once its thoroughly cooked it will be chopped up into kitten-sized mouthfuls. They are also on KMR to be sure they get all the extra nutrition they need.

Here are the little purr-monsters

Wish them well and happy stomachs soon!

Why people give up senior cats

I ran across an excellent post here about a person who took in a senior cat who was surrendered to a shelter. As someone who has posted similar heartfelt almost-a-rant posts in the past (most notably on Craigslist right after I've had to stop on snowy roads for abandoned kittens), I felt almost as if I could have written it.

However, one thing I do try to remember about owner surrenders is that "moving to a place that doesn't allow cats" is one of the most common reasons given for surrendering a pet. And in discussions with women's advocates and with women who have surrendered pets to shelters in the past, I've learned that "moved" sometimes means:

"My husband/boyfriend/partner threatened to dump her out in the country if I didn't 'get rid' of her"

"My husband/boyfriend/partner kicks and hits her, and I'd rather give her this slim chance at a home then have her be killed or injured"

"She has been peeing on things/acting sick/has bad teeth and I called the vet and learned it would cost of $1000 for them even to look at her, due to tests, etc. I'm at risk of losing my home/have kids who are going without, and I don't know what to do."

These are things that people are often afraid or embarrassed to say. So they lie. This does not forgive the act, but I have talked with so many people who have told me their "when I was young and had this cat" stories (years later, when they are brave enough to say) that I know the "reason for surrender" at a shelter sometimes does not tell the whole story. And the whole story can be heartbreaking.

We can argue that victims of domestic abuse need to get out of the relationship, or that "if you can't afford a pet you should not get one," but we know this is easier said than done.

Yes, there are people who view pets as disposable. I once adopted a kitten to a young woman who called me six months later because she was "moving to a nicer apartment and could not keep her." As I think back, I realize when I picked the cat up, her mother was there "helping her move." It only occurs to me now that perhaps that young woman was moving back with her parents for one reason or another (dropped out of college? pregnant? broke?) and mom had said "No cat if you come home." Certainly I've lived on ramen noodles and hid my car in the driveways of other people to prevent it from being repossessed when I was a newly graduated college student. I also had the luxury of having a veterinarian I used to work for who would look at my three cats for free, and a food pantry from the shelter where I worked where I could get cat food. Things might have been different under worse circumstances.

Once when I was young I was was spending the summer somewhere with my cat Rastus. While I was sitting on the porch, I heard a person who was also living in the house yell at my cat and throw him physically down a set of stairs. I was rocked to the core. I was able to take my cat away immediately, but only because he could go back to Norwich to the animal hospital where he had previously been the hospital cat. What would I have done if I didn't have that option?

Lucy and Heidi came from a home where the resident was "moving." When I got there, I learned the resident had taken in three feral kittens that were running around the trailer park, then discovered how much it would cost to get three cats sterilized (over $1000 with vaccinations and two visits, which some veterinarian's require). He had the male shut in a crate and the two females loose, to try to prevent pregnancy. It's hard to say to a stranger "I simply don't have the money." And as for "he shouldn't get a pet if he can't afford one" ---what would have happened to those three kittens if he had just left them to starve? To my knowledge, the resident is still at that same location. When I spoke to him last, he was looking for a roommate to help with expenses, or a cheaper place to live. The real reason for surrendering the cats was to prevent them from getting pregnant when he discovered he couldn't manage it himself.

We tell people "if you can't keep your cat, don't abandon her--take her to a shelter." Then when they do, we have a tendency to condemn them as thoughtless.

Just a thought.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

And here we go...

The flood begins. Last year I was able to keep my head down a bit, but this year we have lots of kittens "on deck" (calls from people who have "kittens around" who finally call to say "can you take them?") These four (stinky! Coccidia?) kittens were coaxed into a rabbit cage by the homeowner. Mom cat, dad, and two teenagers from last year need to be spay/neutered. The kittens will also need FeLV/FIV tests, and wow...something needs to be done about that stink! Roundworm meds didn't touch it, so we are treating for coccidia. If they don't start smelling better and having a better stool soon, I'll take a stool sample into the veterinarian to see if something else--perhaps giardia--is going on.

Here they are safe and warm:

We also received an email from a person who has an abandoned cat who has given birth in a barn nearby. A local dog boarding kennel has a cat who needs some adoption exposure (they did all the vetting themselves and have posted her as "found" far and wide).

The last night, I was driving home from a rare dinner out at a friend's house outside Van Etten, and guess what...eyeshine! A black and white tuxedo kitten was sitting by the guard rail. He wouldn't let me catch him, but he kept coming out when I stepped away, so I left some wet and dry food, and I'm just packing up this morning with a trap to see if I can get him.

Gremlin, who is one of the shy Candor kittens, still needs to be neutered. He likes to hang out by me when I work and looooves great big male cats, so would be a great companion for someone who has a "home alone" cat who needs a friend.

Scruffy, the emaciated cat I picked up right before a work trip to Austin, is doing great. He also has to be neutered. His fur is slowly growing back. He needs a better name. He's quite the talker.

And then there is Fluffy. He is deaf, due to wax plugs down in his ears that he has likely had most of his life. He can't hear when the other house cats hiss at him, and that is causing some issues with his move into the house. In order to "tell" him to back down, I have to raise my voice, with makes the hissing/scared cat think I'm yelling at her, stressing that cat even more. If I just walk up to Fluff to get between them, he doesn't hear me coming, and gets startled when I step in and runs off in alarm. So those plugs need to go via anesthesia and some careful work by the veterinarian. Normally they would be left alone at this point, but his semi-deafness is really causing some problems. Fluffy is a "personal cat" now, so he no longer rates a discount. However, he sure is happy being in the house. He owns the place!

Needless to say, there's about $1500 of vet bills waiting to happen in the place. Not a great place to be on May 2! So it's time to get a move on.

This afternoon, I'm off to Debra's in Waverly where we plan to do some more work on incorporation. Spring is officially here!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fluffy and Pickles

Tonight when I noted that Pickles was downstairs, I quietly shut the door to the upstairs. For a moment she was alarmed but, as I'd hoped, she found downstairs places to hide. Then she snuggled in with Fluffy while I worked only five feet away.

When I opened the upstairs door again, she remained downstairs for quite awhile and even let me walk back and forth in front of her chair without bolting.

I'll count "victory" the first night she jumps up to sleep on the bed with Fluff, when I'm in it. She did discover the catio, and thinks outdoors is pretty amazing.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On killing "feral" cats. Will they call it the "Kristen Lindsey" story?

By now you've probably heard of Kristen Lindsey, the woman who apparently shot a wandering cat with a bow and arrow, then bragged about it on Facebook. Warning: graphic photo at that link, and below the fold, here. But you likely have already seen it.

She is also a veterinarian. I say "woman" first rather than veterinarian because...isn't it one seems to be remarking on the fact that it isn't just the stereotyped male cat-hater who "offs" outdoor cats because they have a strong, negative, personal reaction against wandering cats.

It can also be women, and professionals. It's not just folks we like to stereotype, like these hunters who also posted their "kill" on social media.

Dr Lindsey's photo shows her holding a dead cat up in the air with an arrow through his head---proudly---and then she reportedly scoffed at those who suggested she would lose her job.

She lost her job. There is now a petition to have her lose her license.

I can be fairly certain Dr. Lindsey is not the first animal professional to apparently take it into her own hands to quietly make cats disappear. Dr. Lindsey, however, was not quiet about it, if she posted her photo on her Facebook page herself. Probably she knows lots of people who agree with her that "these damned feral cats would be better off dead." I'm sure she's found out now that not enough of them are going to stand up to drown out the masses who disagree.

If this report is accurate, Dr. Lindsey made four mistakes:

#1 Killing a cat in violation of the law
#2 Violating her oath as a veterinarian
#3 Talking about it

#4 and most importantly, she was mistaken in her belief that she could tell a feral cat from an cared-for (owned) cat from a bow-shot length away.

This is a mistake that hundreds of people make, probably daily, in cat management, whether one is ending cat lives, or seeking to save them. It is not just a mistake that one bragging woman made on Facebook.

Cats can't talk. That "feral" cat could be a lost pet someone has been frantically looking for weeks. It could be the next-door pet, out for a stroll (which is not illegal in most places). It could be an un-pettable outdoor cat that someone spent every last dime they had to get sterilized, so she would not add to the population of uncared-for outdoor cats (ferals). Simply blowing something away because it passes into your sights and you have some misled notion of your rightness is not the way society works. The other day a man hit a toddler that ran into the road and stopped in horror. Another man shot at him, and killed not only the driver, but his own nephew. Then the shooter committed suicide. While some may say comparing shooting a cat with a bow is nothing compared to the death of four people, the trigger-finger is the same. Snap judgement, then killing. Something that can't be taken back.

If it turns out this dead cat is indeed Tiger, the 'gator-riding farm cat of YouTube fame, that will be what hangs Dr. Lindsey professionally. She apparently killed a pet. Some professionals might cut her some slack if she actually killed a "feral" cat in poor condition (although an arrow and Facebook bragging rights show appalling lack of professional judgement and caring, and is still a violation of the professional oath). But there isn't much wiggle room that anyone can give you when you gleefully kill your neighbor's beloved farm cat and pet.

I know I have a few cat-destroyers who read this blog. Now and then they leave comments and I delete them, because they leave the same comments all over the internet. They are trolls, that's all. But for the rest of her life, even if she keeps her professional license, when someone Google-images Ms. Lindsey's name when she applies for a job, or submits an abstract to present a conference, this is what will come up first:

If you are the type of person who thinks your personal judgement is above the law, or above professional oaths, think about that. There are plenty of Dr. Lindsey's customers who are coming to her defense, saying that she is great veterinarian. Yet in the court of public opinion, the court of professional colleagues, and the court of law, this may or may not be enough.

Be sure, if you make any illegal decision (even "good" ones--for example, snitching a neighbor's pet to re-home because you don't believe they are caring properly for it) be sure you are in fact making that decision out of actual good will and caring...not out of your own personal certainty of your rightness.

Realize that if this story is correct, Dr. Lindsey is no lone "monster." While I've written this, any number of cats have had their lives snuffed out by people who "know better," or even kind but desperate people who have called around to shelters and rescues for help, found none, and therefore resorted to a burlap bag and a pond for a litter of kittens. Scared tame pets have been euthanized at shelters for being feral. Lost pet cats have been TNR'd and put quietly back out on the streets, without a single "found" poster going up. Mistake #4 is made by thousands of people every year.

This issue is bigger than Dr. Lindsey. Her story just happened to be shouted out loud on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Missing Pet Partnership. THE best lost pet resources

My niece just Facebooked me about a friend whose home burned. Her cats escaped, but are lost. I sent her a link to The Missing Pet Partnership. If you can remember the name, you can always find it with a quick on-line search. I send it to anyone I see who posts that they have lost a pet. You can't find a better resource anywhere. And if you have found one, please post it in the comments to I can share that one too! Take a look under Recovery Tips and scroll down for information on Lost Cat Behavior.