Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kitty furniture hack

It's all the rage to take old furniture and turn it into something re-purposed as cheaply as possible.

I've been looking for something attractive for the cats to sleep on in front of the woodstove. Something on legs, and cushy, so it would be easy to vacuum around, and light enough to pull back to bring in wood. I've looked online for benches, but the price they ask for something that is still pretty small and likely hard as a rock was far too high. I gave up looking long ago.

I was in Waverly this past weekend and stopped by the Crooked River Co-op to wander through their unheated section where the "new" old stuff is kept, and there was my bench. Cheap as heck, far bigger than anything online, and the cushion was ugly but SOFT. I carried it to the car with one hand.


I brought it home and picked up one of those plush throws that are on sale now due to Christmas. I painted it black with chalk paint (not chalkBOARD paint) that I already had on hand, and recovered it with half of the throw (I'll save the other half for the future re-covering I'm sure it will need in 6 months to a year). Rose was up here within about five minutes of completion. The whole project, including painting, only took about 2 hours. The paint requires no priming or sanding, and dries very quickly (especially near a woodstove).


Hopefully the cats will share, so at least two can be up there at a time to bask.

Siggy's surgery, thanks to SPCA of TC and Cornell Shelter Medicine program

Siggy is lacking a leg, and seems not to miss it, after the SPCA of Tompkins County reached out to the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University and arranged for his amputation. I was going to be traveling for work, however I dropped him off the morning of his surgery. It had snowed all of the day and night before. I trudged out at 1 a.m. to clean off and de-ice the car, and clear the driveway, to be sure I could get out the next morning at 7 a.m.


He was totally laid back during the 45 minute trip.

Nancy picked him up afterward and is fostering him until he recovers. We still aren't sure if he's going into the SPCA of TC adoption program or staying with us, but either way feel free to email me if you are interested in giving him a home. He's great with other cats, and we will test him with dogs soon, as Nancy has cat-friendly big dogs who can take a sniff at him.

Thank-you to Tiger Tom's mom for a donation toward his initial bill for the emergency visit for a radiograph and combo testing at our veterinarian! And additional thanks to Nancy for picking him up and caring for him as he recovers!

(photo by Nancy)

My winter travel is over. The last ten days have included trips to Los Angeles and Tampa for work, where no, it was not particularly warm, and yes, I was quite jet-lagged when it was all over, and while I definitely enjoy getting out of my little box in Spencer NY and meeting great new people, I'm glad to be home for awhile!


No snow, but there was still plenty of Christmas cheer at the marina in LA:


And while I spent the majority of my Tampa trip in a hotel or conference room, we did arrange for dinner near the water and sprinted over to the beach just to say we had been there:



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Former-Feral Siggy needs some angels and a home

Wednesday's mail held this message (heavily edited to remove locations):

"I have a cat that I had the (shelter) fix in the feral cat program. He seems to have a broken or dislocated leg. The (shelter) said they would likely put him to sleep. He is eating and purring and limping around. Doesn't seem to be in agonizing pain but I think cats can hide pain. The cat lives under a porch. The vet suggested I call you. He is fixed with shots too. And will let you touch him, pet him, hold him some. He has lived his entire life outside. (He is only about 6 months old) long hair and orange. Beautiful kitty. I would love to see him re-homed to a country home away from a main road. Any help or advice is very much appreciated."

Like the shelter, I expected to find a shy cat who perhaps loved his caretaker but was wary of others. Since we specifically deal with shy cats here, I said that we could at least get him a radiograph, and if the break could be healed with cage rest, we would see if he was an adoption candidate over the 6 weeks we would have him. If not, he could come back to his feral colony. I did tell the caretaker that if the leg needed to be pinned or amputated, that would likely be outside of our financial means for a cat that might languish here un-adopted for years and could not go back to an outdoor life. When I arrived, however, there he sat, quietly grooming himself on a bench in an indoor vestibule when I arrived, and began to purr when I petted him. Maybe if I'd yelled and waved my arms he might have run off. Wouldn't any sane cat? His caretaker had done an incredible job socializing this first litter of feral kittens, born last spring. The mom cat had a second litter before she could be spayed, which the caretaker gathered up and the shelter was able to take into foster because they were so tiny. Mom cat has now been spayed and there are no remaining unaltered cats on site.

This is Siggy (not "Soggy," as I mis-typed when posting the video), chilling on the treatment table at the veterinarian's office. OMG, don't you just want to kiss him? He is so cute it is painful, and he never bit down or used a single claw while playing.



Since my nearest veterinarian was between where I picked up the cat, and our place, I stopped in to make an appointment. They were able to fit us in that morning. The radiograph showed a break right at the end of the bone near the joint---a break that would be unlikely to heal with cage rest and would be difficult to pin. So I had him FeLV/FIV tested (negative!) and brought him back here, and we will look for options for amputation. The first step will be to check with the shelter who neutered him to see if they have an option through their shelter medicine program, since it's clear he doesn't have a feral hair on his hide any longer. I sent a video, so they could see how sweet he was, and offered to keep him post-surgery.

If their veterinarians cannot perform an amputation via the shelter's programs, I'll check with my own veterinarians. They usually refer to the teaching university for more complicated surgeries, but sometimes they are able to fit them in. They amputated little Lefty's leg back in 2006. Complicated surgeries can take a couple of hours, so smaller city clinics understandably refer to the larger 24-hour clinics (if they have one nearby) who have a larger staff. When my veterinarian has gone way over-the-top for me, they have had to perform the surgery when they are closed, often on a Sunday! At holiday time, that would be a huge stretch for them, I'm sure. Unfortunately the teaching university is far too expensive for me to pay the public fee for a single cat. So my next step would be to reach out to the local rural veterinarian here, who amputated Cricket's leg---17 years ago! Needless to say, we haven't had too many amputations in our rescue history. We've had as many blind cats (two) as cats needing amputation.

Siggy is a true joy. I have him in a two-level cage so the healthy leg continues to get exercise and he seems to be navigating it ok, and he's on pain meds at the direction of the veterinarian (although we both almost forgot the address it because Siggy was acting so sweet and never showed discomfort!).

I got a short tour of the remaining cats at his colony, where they are living in insulated shelters under a very-sheltered porch and are extremely well cared for. One of the remaining cats is a twin to Siggy, and while shy with me was very friendly with his caretaker and looks like he could be a prospect for future adoption.

We'll keep you posted! If it turns out he needs a non-shelter surgery, I'll probably try crowd-funding. The caretaker has offered $50, and Janet--who must have seen him on Facebook--has already donated $100 via the PayPal link (THANK YOU, Janet!) His initial veterinarian's bill was only about $170, which is really good for a walk-in emergency radiograph and FeLV/FIV test. Gotta love my vets!

How could anyone resist that face?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Painting the inside

Also in anticipation of appraisal, and to reduce the dark dreariness of winter, I have been painting the inside of the house. I've been looking at this dark brick wall for years, wondering how I could tie in with the rest of the room. It didn't occur to me that I might paint it until I ran across something online and had an "Aha! But do I dare?" moment. I finally dared.

Old room with green walls, cream fake wainscoting, and brick wall:


New room with light gray walls, cream fake wainscoting, and natural brick wall. This just didn't look right to me.


So I painted the wainscoting white, painted the walls a darker gray, and diluted the white paint to "whitewash" the brick:


I still have trim and molding to cut and install (and the brick near the floor to paint) but I think I like it. I have no choice, since you can't "unpaint" brick. The room is far less oppressive now, and it really shows off the fireplace. The brick looks older to me, as well, and more textured. It's funny what just paint will do.

The new roof

The roof on The Owl House was seriously due to be replaced at least five years ago. A roof on a big old house isn't cheap. I think only cat karma has kept it from leaking (except lately on the porches), and shingles would blow off in every windstorm. I had planned to refinance and roll the cost of the roof into that, but between paying off the co-owner of the house and other debt, it was bringing the full cost of the refinance almost up to the cost of the original mortgage. So I crunched some numbers and decided it would cost less to remove something from my retirement to pay for the roof and part of what I owe the co-owner, get the roof on, increase the appraisal, and refinance what was left. Then increase my retirement contributions to the maximum with what I've saved monthly.

I had four estimates on the roof. I took the second-highest, and I'm very happy. No drama, fast work, and excellent quality materials. And a small business owner. The roof is 2/3 done, and we are on "pause" due to the storm today. He'll shovel off the roof and be back when it dries.

The shingles arrived via a mighty machine that lofted everything right onto the roof.



I went a bit lighter on the color. I have a pretty roof! They are removing just as much roof as they can shingle in a day, so the roof stays protected from snow and wind. I'm pretty impressed that just two men can work this fast. Luckily there was only one thickness of shingles to remove.

Ripping off the old:



This is how bad the original part of the house had gotten:


Pretty new gray shingles!


Still more left to go:


I still have more painting to go, but I didn't see the point of getting on the tall ladder until I could paint the trim.

What a load off my mind this has been.

My roofer is also a mason, so this summer he'll come by and re-point my chimneys as well.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kittens in the kitchen

Well, not IN the kitchen, but pretty close. Right in the traffic lane, so these guys get lots of attention and treats.




The little shorthair gray guy is pretty much tame. The white girl is coming along, especially if I have baby food on a spoon. The little coonie is still full hisses!

"New" cage for the Candor kittens

The three little spitters from Candor are doing well. They are not upstairs, because I did not want them to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Given that they are pretty old, they need some serious immersion in human life to tame up. I don't have a big cage in the house, so I went cruising on Craiglist.

I struck some good luck: someone had two cages of the sort I like best ($200 plus with shipping and usually $225 in the walk-in stores) for sale for $125. When I emailed offering $100, I learned that it was another rescue, so I had no problem giving the $125. However when I asked what they had housed, I was told "raccoons." That took them off the market for me. I have a strict "wildlife only" and "cats only" rule for cages and carriers here. Raccoons can carry a nasty roundworm called baylisascaris, and the eggs can be destroyed only by heat...even bleach won't do it. Because I own one of these cages already, I know how many nooks and crannies they have, so I gave my apologies and backed out of consideration.

Back on Craigslist I went, and found a new post for exactly the same cage for $100. I hoped it had housed ferrets who, while stinky, tend to be fairly clean little beasts, but it was not to be. Rats. Now, I really like rats. They are cute and intelligent fellows. Their urine, however, if not cleaned up right away, creates scale that is very hard to remove. Not impossible, but veeeeery hard. I know this intimately from my past work in lab animal science.

So I am scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing.


It would be nice to be able to buy these things new, but $125 saved is a chunk of cash. I'm looking forward to getting these kittens out of their small cage into this large two level one.

But I still have another whole level to go. Sigh.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

One of the major perks of my job is travel. While I often am stuck in a hotel, sometimes I do venture out. On my most recent trip to St. Louis, we were actual loaded on a bus for a tour (part of a team-building exercise). We stopped at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and I must share some photos here. This artwork is not painted. Everything is created with tiny tiny tiles.























Sunday, November 16, 2014

New kittens

It has been a busy time full of distractions and I haven't gotten much up here. I put things up on Facebook but then forget that many of my family, friends, and adopters are not on Facebook and I need to also post them here. Blogger is a much better place to put things, because I can find them again. Finding old posts on Facebook is an exercise in futility (unless some can post a easy way to search for them) although it is a better place to keep photos.

This past week someone tagged me on Facebook when they saw a post about feral kittens near me who needed a place to go. When I contacted the original poster, thinking I would have to set traps to catch the little guys, it turned out the couple who found them had already captured them. They were loose in a small bedroom in their mobile home, so we had to spend some time propping up furniture and catching them. I only suffered two small scratches. Two of them (the long-furred ones) are quite wild:


The little grey guy was tamed up enough to go to the veterinarian yesterday where he tested negative for FeLV/FIV. I think the white one would be far calmer if the little tiger coonie kitten (who is quite scared) wasn't always hissing, so I will need to separate them soon.

I am trying something new, which is to only feed them when I am there. I am not leaving dry food for them in the cage 24/7 as I normally do. I want every interaction with me to be associated with food. Of course they have water all the time. They are a bit old for taming, but they can't go back where they were (their mom was hit by a car). So I'm going to be quite interactive with them.

The great room, where they are currently stationed, needs to be painted, so I may take on that project now, so the kittens see me moving around. I've also opened the door to let my cats and Molly check them out (although after an initial visit, all of my animals are, like, "meh, boring.") I can't get stuck with more unadoptable shy cats. If I could tame up the two long-hairs, they would both get homes right away, as I have people looking for long-hair kittens. The white one is drop-dead gorgeous, and everyone wants a "Maine Coon type" kitten.

The gray shorthair is taming up fast enough that he should be adoptable while still small.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Kittens in the house - Octave and Nueve

These aren't great photos or video, but I'm getting them up here so these kittens can be seen for adoption!


Octave, cute little male tiger. Afraid of nothing! Well, except vacuum cleaners.


Nueve, dilute calico female. Shy, but quickly coming out of her shell.

These two are not littermates, but they have become friends.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall Festival!

This week was a blur! Has it already been six days since the Harvest Festival at Baker Florist? We did in fact make it. Debra zoomed over from Waverly to help put up the booth. I was keeping my fingers crossed that the tent I picked up at a garage sale last year (which I had not yet even taken out of its wheeled bag) was as nice as the seller said it would be. I didn't even know what color it might be! It lacked stakes, but it went up like a dream and was in perfect condition. It was much nicer than one I might have been able to get at a big-box store (which are temperamental to get up and down, are flimsy and turn into twisted metal in a rain storm). So from now on we can look as professional as the rest of the vendors at these events!


It was quite warm...almost 80. Because I live only 3 miles away, I swapped the cats out in two-hour intervals. Corky, Coyote, and Lucy made the trip. It was a first for Coyote and Lucy. Corky is an old hand at it.



Beautiful Coyote waits for a home.


Shy little Lucy wasn't sure what to make of all the motorcycles driving by enjoying the beautiful weather

While there were no adoptions, we did get some donations, people picked up adoption flyers to post for us, and we had two great offers to help as we go forward. It was a gorgeous day, the company was good, and it's always fun to hang out with kids, as I often don't get that chance. Lots of people took our free ID tags that we give out, and each of those has our card in the baggie they come in, so I do hope we get some more blog readers (and a few more pets get tags so they can be immediately returned if they get lost!)

This time, upon breaking down, I packed everything in a big plastic tub instead of using LL Bean bags like I have previously, so everything will stay safe and clean until the next outing!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Second bed...claimed by cats


It's 2 a.m. I spent the evening working on booth info, and drank waaaay too much coffee. So I'll post the new bed. I had picked up a Jenny Lind bed at a garage sale last year. I may horrify some folks by showing that I painted it gray. But there was no way I would ever sand down all those curves to be able to refinish it as natural wood. Besides, I'm no where near the only one.


Pitter has a very self-satisfied look on her face.


The mattress I bought for cheap off Craigslist is decent quality but very firm. I looked on Amazon for a topper, but they were ridiculously expensive for what they are. In reading the comments, one man said "You might as well just fold a comforter in half and put a regular mattress pad over it for the same softness!"

Hmmmm... I dragged out every extra blanket I own that is not in use, and put them under the mattress protector. And now it is PERFECT! Thank you, unknown Amazon commentor!

Now I have sleep-worthy beds in both downstairs living rooms. No more dragging of furniture, and I can sleep wherever the temperature happens to be the most comfortable at that particular time of year.

Kitten-catching advice via phone

It went something like this. My sister calls and says: "Hi Susan, it's Linda. Dave and Ruth have stray cats and kittens everywhere! Here's Dave!"

OK, it wasn't quite like that. There were probably six or seven additional sentences, but it's after midnight a day later, so my memory is a blur. I had a rapid conversation with Dave about how to catch the kittens (discovered in a cellar) and reintroduce them to the mom (who Dave had found, with a youngster who was probably from a previous litter, a few days earlier).

He did good. Mom has been reunited with all three kittens (Number Three played hard to get for a long while). Linda asked me via text "If they are around eight inches long can you guess how old they are?" My reply was something like "LOL! No!" So she texted me a photo:


I love the tape measure touch!

I told her I guessed 5-6 weeks but couldn't be sure based on the photo. Then Dave and Ruth were off to go buy kitten chow and canned food.

I'm not sure if this family unit is coming my way or not. But a least they have their mom. Kitten-care is so much easier with a mom in the picture!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

We will be at the Baker Florist Fall Festival tomorrow (Sunday!)

Everything happens at the last minute around here. If you need an excuse to get out this weekend, come visit us at the Baker Florist Fall Festival tomorrow, Sunday, from 10-4. I stopped by to buy some tiny pumpkins for my fence when I saw the balloons flying, and they had a space available.


I have zero time for this, but I MUST get these kitties adopted before snow flies!

If you are local, stop by! There are apples, pumpkins, baked goods, beautiful crafts and FREE COFFEE! It's just what you need to kick off your fall. COME TO THE FOUR CORNERS IN SPENCER NY. YOU CAN'T MISS IT!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Remember Me Thursday is today, September 25!

What can you do? When you hear a friend mention they are looking for a pet, please steer them toward a shelter or rescue.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kitty-Kitty and Nueve, and Octave

Sooo sleepy. But I must post this cuteness. Here are Kitty-Kitty and her single kitten Nueve, in Waverly with Debra:




And here is little Octave, another singleton!


And now to bed... (12:51 am)

Winter is coming


I hate the fact that somehow summer passed me by. Here we are, counting down to winter again. Gah!

Last winter was hideous. Just hideous. This year I've decided to give up on the "dragging of furniture from one room to another" to deal with the switch from summer warmth to winter ice and then back again once spring comes. It's not like I have tons of company here that I need to be set up like a parlor with fancy furniture. Out goes one of the couches and in comes another twin bed, so each downstairs room has one.

Someone is one their way to look at the couch/chaise now. Nope--Update, it's sold! That was fast!


To take care of the cat fur before the chaise went to its new home, I used this handy Pledge Fabric Sweeper on the left in this photo:


They are pricey: over $20! But they can be emptied and they live forever as long as you don't sit on yours, so they are worth the money. I seem to recall I had a huge coupon for mine and purchased it back when they were first introduced. It's several years old and still going strong.

While moving furniture around, I discovered the cats had been at my thrift-store velvet chair! Ack! I had picked up what I thought was double-sided sticky tape strips at a conference, but they turned out to be Fresh Kitty plastic corner protectors (on the right in the photo above). They are barely visible, and I'll let you know if they work, since they also are an investment.



With the money from selling the chaise, I'll purchase another twin mattress (very carefully) on Craigslist. It won't be a good one, but whatever bed I'm not using will just be a pseudo-couch anyway.

I already picked up a second bed frame for $25 when Debra took me to visit Crooked River Co-op in Waverly, where we hope to one day have a booth (or booths) to raise money for rescue work.

The bed is a little chewed up around the edges because the actual head and foot boards are just press-board, but the room is so dim I can't even tell, now that it's set up. If I find I'm sleeping in one room more than the other, all I have to move is the good mattress from one bed to another, rather than swapping the couch and the bed back and forth.


While Debra was showing me all the wonderful antique and thrift stores in downtown Waverly, I checked off two things from my list of things I watch for.

I've been watching for this nut-grinder for over 30 years! It's just like the one my Mom has (or had--does she still have it?). Hers is a different green, but it is the niftiest little thing. When we were too little to actually bake, Mom would let us grind the nuts with this, since it was virtually impossible to hurt ourselves with it. I've been chopping nuts by hand all these years because everything else I've found has been too expensive or too ungainly. And this was only a buck! I hope seeing it makes my Mom and my sisters smile.


Now that cold weather is coming, I also drink more tea. My current teapot holds too much for just myself flying solo. If I make a half-pot it gets cold too fast. If I make a full pot I use two teabags, which is a waste. So I've been looking for a cheap but cute smaller pot. I certainly wasn't looking for cat-shaped one, but when Debra took me across the street to the The Red Door, there it was!


Rattling around thrift stores was merely secondary to the real purpose of visiting Waverly. First and foremost, to pick up my little Molly dog after I returned from work travel. Second (and cutest--sorry Molly!) to visit the new kittens and a rescued mom cat. More to come!







Sunday, September 21, 2014

Adoption Maze at Stoughton Farm

Stoughton Farm in Newark Valley has an adoption themed maze this year!


They also have openings for shelters to table and show their adoptable pets. Shall we go?

This is so great of them to make their maze with this theme! What better way to get this message to kids?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Next up: Corky!

Seven is out the door into a great home! We have ten more cats to go, and we have five, yes five kittens still on the streets that will be arriving soon.

Now it's Corky's turn. Corky has been here over a year. He was found shivering under a shed in a nearby village. Like Seven, Corky was rescued by Debra. The veterinarian who neutered him found two of his baby teeth buried in his gumline, and she felt his jaw had been broken in the past, and the teeth were absorbed in the wound. The teeth were removed, and Corky has a sweet little sneer due to the past jaw injury.

He is very friendly, comical, cute-and-handsome-at-the-same-time kitty. He is just over a year old He likes big brave friendly kitties. He picks on shy or snitty female kitties. He would be best with a great big laid-back adult male cat, or in a home by himself. He is (of course) a neutered male, FeLV/FIV negative, vaccinated, robust and healthy.


When two boxes of toys arrived (I combined them into one), he was the first cat to dive right in. The other cats allowed him to distribute the toys so there was no effort required on their part to access their new playthings (Thank you, Melissa, for the toys for the cats, and the wonderful coffee for me!)



New things are always a bright spot of the day in the cat facility, where everyday life can get to be rather ho-hum for the long-term resident kitties. Gifts for the cats are always appreciated, as they quickly live and die, either by being dissected by cats, tossed in a water bowl, or buried in a cat box just for fun. Corky will show you just how much they are appreciated:



To receive an application to adopt Corky, send us an email here! We adopt to indoor-only homes, within two hours of our area for friendly cats, and only in the immediate area for shy cats, although we have been known to make exceptions.



Corky's adoption fee is $50 (checks payable to our veterinarian for future care of rescued cats) but will be waived if you show proof of having purchased a large cat-scratching tree.