Sunday, August 31, 2014

Another colony gone. That's a good thing!

Note: this post was edited on 9/1/14 to add more of the backstory of this colony - SG.

Unfortunately, I dropped off the radar of a lot of my former colonies when I ditched my second phone number. I'd been planning to check in with several of them, but Carol from Lockwood found me first, by calling my work phone and leaving a message that she no longer needed the two shelters we had brought her years ago, and did I want them back?

When I arrived, the two last cats of the extended colony greeted me. One, a shy calico, trotted around behind the house. This lovely dilute torti was perfectly happy to greet me and get a scratch under the chin. Both of these formerly feral cat now eat inside the house, and come in for the night. The feral colony of six original cats (2002), plus cats that were later abandoned in the area, is no more. Over all those years, only one litter of kittens was born, to one of two new female cats who were abandoned on the road in 2009. This dilute torti was one of those female cats. The kittens were Burp, Fart, and Hiccup! Carol kidded me (or half-kidded me!) that this was one of "my foster cats" that I had promised to take in for adoption. I kidded back that this was HER abandoned cat to begin with. While I wish I could take in every cat that might one day tame up, as this sweetheart certainly did, I'd be hoarder if I did so. This girl was a lucky one, and now sleeps safe and warm at night.



Carol and I had a good visit, and we loaded up the shelters. I'll clean out the bedding, and they'll be available for the next colony.

Some people will say: "Twelve years to get rid of 15 or so cats? I could have just killed them in one day." Right. Except you wouldn't. The local shelter receives no funding for cat control and accepts cats as they have space--funded all on the donations of cat lovers. No one gives them money to "kill cats" and the towns and county don't even give them money to help them. This woman had basically been held hostage by kittens every summer. People dumped cats, cats had kittens, and as a caring person, she fed them and found them homes, to have it all repeated every year, to the point where she could not travel to see her family. For twelve years, she has been kitten free, except for one summer. However because she had a relationship with a feral cat rescue...wow--they were instantly gone! She is now regularly able to visit her children. Where are the volunteer cat killers who run around helping people "get rid of their cats" and can do it publicly and will come back when needed...all for free? I guarantee if you hang out your shingle advertising help "killing cats" someone in a uniform will be knocking on your door in short order.

Sure, Carol had to feed these few cats every day, and take them to the veterinarian when they were sick. She was doing that anyway...with far more cats. And these cats give back to her in company and comfort, with no fears that they will pop out more kittens. TNR is not "responsibility free" but it does reduce the work, heartache, and the number of hunting cats outdoors.



These shelters were donated to me--they were not ones we built--and for my life I can't remember who gave them to us. Do they look familiar to anyone?

Checking in on Beemer's colony

During our veggie swap, Beemer showed up for a photo opportunity:


This colony has the Cadillac of cat shelters, but they don't often use it, because there are so many other great places to hide, including a workshop.


He comes in the house now and lets Valarie pet him. He was a bit wary today, with me poking around. But no semi-tame cat turns down treats!


There are only two cats at this colony now. A new pet-able (but not grab-able) cat has shown up, and they are trying to catch him.

Feed your local cat lady

The bounty of summer is ready to share, and I'm blessed to have neighbors who share with me. Earlier this summer Debra and Christy made a gift of fruits and veggies:


Yesterday, Valarie and I worked a trade. I got the more plentiful end of the deal: cucumbers and a pepper for pickles, zucchini for bread, and an additional grocery bag of brown rice and wheat pasta. She got Swiss chard from my garden. Swiss chard, kale, cherry tomatoes, and a zucchini that is just starting to bear are all I have this year. I have a start on the bread. I probably grate and freeze what extra zucchini I end up with, for bread later this year


Do you share your garden veggies with others, and (or) end up with gifts from them as well?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Laptop disaster...averted

Cute little Seven...who could resist that face?



I was working with my work computer on my right, and my Owl House computer on the left, and went to wave Seven away from the keyboard...knocking over a glass of lemon water, right across the Owl House laptop.

#*%$##!!!!

I flipped it over immediately to let it drain, but by morning it was still ill. The laptop would turn on, but I could not type. Also, a very handsome male voice was now speaking every function aloud. I didn't even know it had that option.

I swore. I cried. I yelled very very loudly. And then I hunkered down with my work computer and went searching for A) YouTube videos on how to change the keyboard, and B) a cheap keyboard.


I found them both. I ordered the cheapest knockoff keyboard I could find ($28), charged it to Discover, and had it express mailed. It arrived today, and with much additional swearing and a long hard search for my set of tiny screwdrivers, the keyboard was changed and...it works! It's a pretty crappy keyboard. I have to smack down hard on the keys for all of them to work. But, it works!

Had the entire laptop been killed, I don't know what I would have done.

Whew.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cat Concerto

I can't recall if I posted this in the past for my musical family or not. I heard from my sister Linda today, and for all my family and their love of music and cats. This is for you. Music can be heard in even the idle playfulness of cats (Lots of flute, just for you!)



The original video was just the cat playing the piano. A composer was inspired by the video and created the concerto.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Presents in the mail from Handmade House in NJ

I believe my mailperson is training to be a ninja. I took Molly for a short walk, came home, took her inside, stopped in the bathroom, came out, and found these waiting for me on the coffee table on the porch:


Cat blankets from the stealth knitters! Just in time, as the last batch are almost gone, except for a couple of hardy ones that for some reason didn't get cat-kneaded into non-existence. The cats, especially those who end up spending time in a cage, love these. And adopters love them as well. When we send one home with them and let them know that people actually knit them for the cat or kitten they adopted, they get a real understanding that animal rescue is a community affair.

With five adoptables in the house, certainly we first had to check them out with the cats who were sunning on the porch. Seven and Patter gave them a once over. Seven apparently believes they make better toys than beds.



In the cat facility, Fluffy gives the blankets a snuggle test. Apparently he approves:



The cats are so happy when they get new things that smell and feel differently from the same-old same-old boring towels that smell like my usual laundry. I'll add more photos tomorrow when they get added to their runs!

Thank you! Thank you! It's so wonderful to know you are thinking of us!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Time makes a mess. Cleaning up.

Pre-post note: Do you need to build shelters? Here are some great plans and here is a video on building them. These aren't the shelters I built, but I might try them next time around.

It's always so nice when you first start seriously managing a feral cat colony. Nice new shelters. Nice clean straw. Nice new bowls.

Then time takes over. Sowbugs and spiders move in. They need a repainting. Then gradually paint just doesn't cut it. Corners start to rot.

They need to go, to be replaced by something new.

This summer it was time to replace the feeding stations for the Fast Food Ferals. This would be the third round of new boxes for that location. I brought them down about a month ago, but wasn't able to drag the old ones out alone. This weekend when I went in to replenish the food, I cleaned out the back of my car and brought along a sledge hammer to pummel the old shelters into pieces that would be small enough for Nancy and I to carry. I sprayed the pieces with insect killer (sorry Mother Nature, but I really don't want huge spiders making a home in my car. I miss my old truck!) and met Nancy at Chili's to give the insects a chance to pass on. Then we went back to load my car.




Bye, bye old shelters!

Thank you to Nancy for helping me out, for letting me pick your brains about having a housemate, and for just in general letting me purge my soul. There is nothing better than a friend.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Getting the word out!

Marketing is not the easiest job in the world, especially when you are marketing a "product" that people already have a lot of.

Like cats.

Once upon a time, when the internet was young, the few rescues who were online with Petfinder (like myself) could post their cats and find homes quickly with just internet exposure. Now the majority of rescue groups are online, and ---thankfully!--- there are more rescue groups every day. 501c3 groups with a volunteer base can also do on-site adoptions, or even live-in adoptions at stores like Petco and Petsmart. Facebook is a great way to reach people as well. Now there is Instagram. Pinterest! Yikes! So much to do! So much "competition!" It's the very best type of competition--who is going to say No to more cat rescue groups?--but nonetheless, our cats need homes so they need to shine.

Ignoring the "old way" of marketing pets is also a mistake. There are lots of great people who are not on Facebook, but love cats. There are people who walk by their local post-office or grocery store bulletin boards, just curious as to what might be there. To that end, I'm enlisting our small army of supporters within an hour of Spencer NY to put up these little cards to try and get more people to visit this blog, volunteer, or donate:


Thank you Nancy, Christy, Debra, and Beth for offering to take some already after I posted this on The Owl House Facebook page (if you haven't already, please "Like" it!). I will get yours in the mail ASAP. You will need to find a couple of tacks to put them up, as tacks are not particularly mail-able.

If you know of a bulletin board (At work? Your grocery store? Your veterinarian's office?) that you pass frequently, and would be willing to tack one of these up, let me know! It is important that it be a place that you visit now and then, so when they are empty you can take it down and either ask for more cards, or toss it away.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Paying it forward

My mother lives in Norwich, and like every city and village, they have issues with feral cats. A nearby neighbor is apparently the go-to cat trapper, who helps people out. She helped my mother get a mom-cat and kittens to the Chenango County SPCA when my mom discovered them living under the hostas in her garden. I'm sure they were just like a huge umbrella that kept the small family dry! I had just been at that garden the week before and hadn't noticed them. Last word was mom-cat and kittens were doing fine after being moved from my mom's manicured "wilds."


Mom wanted to do something for the trapper, and I happened to have a new trap, so mom paid to donate the trap, and I donated a feral cat den. While traps are great to have (and vital, of course!) my biggest concern is always that scared cats be handled humanely, so I felt the trap/den combo was the best gift option (versus two traps).


My friend Debra and I are looking forward to getting the Great American Cat Project going so that we can do precisely this: provide people with spay/neuter funding, equipment, and training, so they can "help themselves" and "help others."

Thanks, Mom, for paying it forward to the trapper who helped you out!

New cards and...need your help!

I am on an adoption blitz. All adoptable cats MUST be adopted out by National Feral Cat Day October 16! Unfortunately, there is no way I can afford to heat the cat facility this winter, with predictions that it may be worse than last winter. I am still paying off heating bills for the winter of 2013-14, and September is almost here. If the adoptables get placed, including the few in the house, then the senior cats--Fluffy, Storm, and Pickles--could come into my home, and the cat room, cat runs, and extra room in the cat facility would be empty.

The insulated larger cat room would then be available (and affordable to heat, since it's just one room) as needed, for feral recovery and occasional adoptable strays this winter.

I don't have many cats! I just have little time for marketing! And they are mostly adult cats and teens, not kittens, except for Seven.

I must now make time!


To that end, Vistaprint, the "god/dess of cheap marketing promotional items" was my resource for new cards for The Owl House. The new cards carry all of our web site addresses and email.

Could you help me? Are you within an hour of The Owl House? I can mail you a packet of cards and a holder that you can "pin" to a local resource (work or post office bulletin board, your veterinarian's office, etc.) to help get these cats, and future cats, homes! Please comment below, or email (click my profile photo) and I'll get them out to you, along with a small thank-you gift!

This assistance will cost you nothing, and will make all the difference to us here! Fewer cats to care for daily also means more people who can be helped with cats on their own property, which is what our mission truly is.

The Owl House actually has only 11 adoptable cats! At times we have had as many as 40. We can do this!

Thanks!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Here is Seven!


Seven is about ten weeks old, neutered male, microchipped, and FeLV/FIV negative. His veterinary costs were $210, but his adoption fee is only $50, payable by check to our veterinarian to pay for future kitten medical care! He also comes with a certificate for a free veterinarian's visit.

Seven is absolutely unflappable. He is a bit wary upon meeting new people, but he warms up within a few minutes. He has the purr of a small lion and loves to sleep curled up next to you at night. He walks respectfully away from cats who hiss at him, and loves to chase those who will play with him! He has been good around Molly, my small dog. He is a Maine Coon type, with medium length fur, and huge tufts of fur inside his ears. He will be a gorgeous cat when grown. Heck, he's gorgeous now! He will be available to mature, indoor homes only, and may not be declawed.

If you are interested in adopting Seven, please click on my profile picture at the upper right and then on "Email." You can also click on My Web Page and contact us from there. I'm available weekends and most evenings.

Video to come!



Debra named him Seven. I guess it would be "7" actually. Here's why!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Looking for a housemate

The Owl House is looking for a housemate. The entire upstairs of the house would be yours. The downstairs kitchen, bathroom and laundry are shared, however there will be a small refrigerator and toaster oven upstairs for your use as well.

You would be a tenant, a friend, and a cat-facility caretaker when I travel for work. You would need to have an interest in the profession of animal welfare, although you don't need to have plans to go into that profession. I'm not looking for a person "who likes cats" and will feel like they are living with that "nice cat lady." I'm looking for a person who likes cats and understands that the issue of homeless pets is a serious one that is, in fact, a public service industry to the tune of many millions of dollars per year in the United States.

While the "rent" is $450 a month, you will pay far less. Each month I travel you would get $100 off for taking care of the cat facility, and I travel most months. If I travel more than 5 days in a month, you get an additional $25 off per day I am gone. If you spend time in the cat facility at least three times a week (petting, combing, etc. not cleaning) you receive an additional $50 a month. This makes the usual rent $300 a month. There would also be options for additional discounts, down to $250 a month. Internet, laundry facilities, trash, heat, etc. are included, unless you decide you need an additional space heater (I permit one included with the rent, but not two), or use an air conditioner. There would be a charge for any month you utilize these extras. I have a snow blower so I will keep the drive clear, however you would be expected to do some basic shoveling if you leave early in the morning, are the only one home, etc.

The area upstairs is partially furnished.

First there is your basic shared kitchen downstairs,


The upstairs landing is where the new cabinet (yet to be assembled) and upstairs cooking things (toaster oven, small fridge, water cooler, etc.) will be. The cat furniture will be leaving.



Then there is the largest room upstairs, set up as a living room, which right now sort of looks like somebody's great aunt's parlor. Subfloor is going down here, and it will be carpeted a neutral color. This room will ultimately be re-painted, but I'd figure I'd wait until I had someone lined up so it could be painted to their preference.


The other side of the room:


Then there is the "middle room" which I would suggest be used as a bedroom, as it is the quietest room, with thicker floors with new beige carpet tile, and no grates that open to the downstairs--therefore more privacy. There is a closet in this room.



Finally there is the "back bedroom" which I would suggest be used as an office, with windows that look down over the side yard. This room also has a closet, and very thick new dark blue carpet with a pad. The wonderfully tacky yellow chair does not need to remain up here, lol!




Here are the stairs:


If you are interested, please click on my profile photo and email me via the link on the left in my profile. Or leave a comment below and let me know how to reach you. Thanks!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pitter and Patter Adoption Post

Here are Pitter (female) and Patter (male)!

They are spay/neutered, FeLV/FIV negative, vaccinated, treated for fleas and internal parasites. They are shy of strangers and will take some time to settle in to a new home, however they are extremely loving and very fun with their "people" as you will see from the videos below! Patter is more outgoing than Pitter, but Pitter is big on cuddles and headbutts.

A quiet home is preferred, and it would be wonderful if they could go together, because as you can see, they are quite bonded. If they were adopted together, the adoption fee would be only $50--the usual fee for one cat.

As always, we waive the adoption fee entirely if the adopter purchasing a new cat tree with a tall scratcher and sleeping places, for your home (available at Petsmart, Petco or a similar store).


Pitter and Patter arrived on our doorstep last fall, nearly dead. I was skeptical they could be saved, but when someone else has gone to the effort of rescuing two kittens off the side of the road and asks you for help to take them one step farther, you don't say "sorry, it's too late." Luckily, warmth and rehydration brought these two back from the edge. Here is a video of Pitter and Patter a few hours after receiving fluids and being warmed up:



Pitter (female, spayed)



Patter (male, neutered)




What a sweet way to wake up in the morning:







Patter and the blankets donated by The Homemade House in NJ:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Feral happiness!



Thanks for sharing this on Facebook, Fiona!

If I can touch them, they come off the street (rocks?) But I know this isn't an option everywhere.

Kibble dance!

So much "happy" you won't know what to do with it!

Schubert and Tuck check in!

Anne sends:

Schubert and Tuck were 7 on Sunday. They are doing great — such good boys! They have come a long way since you dropped them off on that cold Christmas morning 6 1/2 years ago. I thought you might like to see them. Hope you’re doing well!

I was very attached to these two, and was so glad when they got a great home. And yes, I actually did a Christmas morning delivery of these two handsome fellows:



Baby pictures! Here is Tuck. And here is Schubert!

Thanks, Anne, for giving them the most wonderful home! They sure grew up to be gorgeous cats. (Please: tell me how you keep them from getting tubby!. I need that secret!)


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Kitty boarding

Now and then being a cat lady becomes valuable to those who know you. This kitty needed a place to stay for four days. The couple who looks after the Owl House cats while I travel for work wanted to do some travel of their own. They were in fact keeping this kitty for a friend, so he came to stay with me for the week.


What a sweetie. Neat as a pin. No litter out of the box; no bits of crunchy dry food on the floor. No knocking things over. I wish my own cats had such manners!

However, I will use this post to get on one soapbox, and I hope I don't peeve my caretakers. When they texted me about bringing the cat, I texted back "Do you have a crate to bring him in?" I have a zillion crates here and can lend them out. They texted back a "yes," and it didn't occur to me to add "Because if you hand-carry that cat here, I will kill you."

Well, their own little kitten, and the kittens from the litter she came from, were headed off to be spay/neutered at the Tompkins County SPCA that same week. So they had lent their crates to the person who was getting those kittens and the mom fixed.

Needless to say, when they arrived, they were hand-carrying the cat. I did not flip out, because I didn't want to scare the cat, but I very nearly did.

The saddest, most devastating stories I have heard of beloved cats lost and killed, have been when a friend/pet-sitter takes their friend's cat to a third party to watch. The cat gets lost---someone opens a door, the cat is being carried and bolts--the cat is far from home, and is never found. The cat of a couple I knew was being watched by a woman. The woman's mother died, and the woman took my friends' cat to another person's house. The cat walked up to the door, and a visitor, thinking the cat was allowed out, just opened the door and let her go. Weeks, and countless heartbreaking hours of searching later, the SPCA reported they had found the cat, starved and skinny, dead alongside a country road.

I cannot emphasize ENOUGH that a cat, if not happily leash trained (and I mean happily) should always be in a crate while traveling. And a good crate. I never go to rabies clinics any longer, because someone was always losing a cat, and I was always searching for it and ending up sick to my stomach for weeks when the cat was never found.

When this cute guy went home, I sent him with a crate. He's a small little guy, and people are always giving me small crates that their cats outgrew, so I didn't need it back.

But please, for the sake your cat, or your friend's cat, always transport the cat in a crate, no matter how much he or she seems to hate it.

I will now commend my cat caretakers for adopting a kitten from someone who was getting the entire family fixed, and for getting their kitten fixed as well. They could not adopt from me, because I don't allow my adopted cats to go outdoors because most of the cats in my care are quite shy.

And I quite enjoyed having this black kitty as a visitor!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

New short-and-more-affordable charity status!

About half a week ago, my friend Debra stopped by with a kitten that had been abandoned at a colony she had had sterilized years ago. Debra and I became friends many years ago when she was looking for some assistance with sterilizing that first feral cat colony in Waverly, NY. Since then she's become a major cat advocate herself, as well as dealing--as many of us do--with human care issues as well. We may love cats, but family and friends are vital to us as well.

Neither one of us has free dollars to just toss at cat rescue. It's a regimented thing. "XX dollars" are available this month that hasn't been spent on food, gas, mortgage, etc...so "XX cat(s)" can be rescued. Sometimes, however, cats and kittens show up when the checking account is empty or all the bucks within have been "assigned" to gas, electric, and other bills. But the cats are living creatures. You can't just let them starve. But you can't become a hoarder, either. And you can't ignore your family because a cat needs to be spayed. You lie in bed at night amazed that you have humans on one hand that you care about, cats on the other--as well as people who care about those cats. Imagine what it's like when someone calls you desperate for help. It's no longer just a cat issues. It's a community issues. Just as if you were sharing food. You are sharing help with cats. You are taking an emotional burden off of people who are often trying to handle other issues as well. Family. Health. Finances.

So on my porch, over a bottle of wine (provided by Debra--thank you!), we discussed the inevitable 501(c)(3) charity status.

It really is absurd that I haven't obtained it before now. I have grant-givers whomping me over the head in my travels ("What? You don't have your 501?") One reason I have not "pushed the button" is that, when I was a business--people I helped took responsibility. "Hi. I have wildlife control business and I've heard you have a problem with cats. I'll donate my time and get them fixed, if you would be willing to have your staff feed them, and let me bring you shelters...." And you'd be amazed how many businesses see you as a partner...someone donating something vital. They would step forward with real help. Land. Supplies. Staff who would feed the cats.

But when you become a charity? Sometimes, things change. "Isn't this your JOB? Don't you CARE about these cats? How can you turn me AWAY?" When you are a charity rather than a business, somehow, to some people, their problem becomes your problem. In some cases (not all) they want you to take the burden off their shoulders, instead of being partners, half way. For that reason, I shied away from 501(c)(3) status for a long while. Yes...decades.

I used to work for an SPCA, so I know how different it can be, between being just a "person" donating your time, or a "business" donating your services, versus a "charity" whom everyone believes is shirking their duty if they don't take in each and every cat that needs help. In reality, there is no difference. Dollars are dollars. Minutes are minutes. But to the public, there is a big difference. "Don't you care about these cats? How can you not help me/them?" Hey, I do it myself. I know how peeved I've been at shelters who won't take in every cat, so that people end up calling me...just a person. I have to remind myself that these shelters don't receive any municipal aid for cats. Just as I don't. We are the same. It's just that my rescue is just a person. Their rescue is a group. Does that make much difference? Not when it comes to space, dollars, time, and sanity.

So for Debra and I, the day comes: Is cat rescue just a thing you do as a hobby? Or something more?

So we talked about our lives, and also about getting the 501, and the grants that are available, when justified.

We made the decision: Go for it.

A mere day later, I was thumbing through my Time magazine, and found this

The IRS has FINALLY put their expedited 501c3 process in place. Instead of a 23 page form---it's a three page form. Instead of $800 in application fees, it is $400.

How is that for timing?

Work/Life balance

I spent quite a bit of time playing "catch-up" at my paying job today, as well as doing work around the house and yard. With all the rain we've had this summer, there are mushrooms, literally, growing on my cement basement floor, so I spent some time down there brooming down spider webs, sweeping the damp floor, and cleaning out crap. I dragged the screen door I normally use in the house (when kittens need to be confined to the den) down into the basement so that I could have it open to the outside without allowing critters (and Bear, my one indoor/outdoor cat) access. Three-quarters of the way through the day I looked at my poor neglected dog, threw her no-pull halter on her, said "Car Molly!" and took her with me into the village for a walk around Nichols Pond. So here is downtown Spencer. Seriously, this pond is directly across from our grocery and pizza parlor:



Molly was wet, muddy, happy and tired when we returned home.

Anyone want to live upstairs in my house? You, too, could live in the middle of nowhere, and make a difference however you chose to do so. ;)