Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oliver filters on a single cylinder--missing a kidney!

So we've been going full-throttle on adoptions lately. I'm not sure what's up. Is it the increased presence on Facebook? Replacing the adoption fee with the option of purchasing cat furniture for your new cat adopted from us? Referrals? Coyote, Nueve, Octave, Bo & Davis have recently been adopted (or are in the process of foster-to-adopt), Adison and Seneca were TNR'd, and the "coming in" numbers for once equal the "going out" numbers.

Of course there has to be an anomaly. Nothing can go completely smoothly. This month's anomaly is named Oliver.

Oliver was on hold with a couple who weren't certain if they wanted Oliver or Octave. They went home and thought on it and decided on Oliver if all went well with his neuter. And wouldn't it figure, with a home all set for him, something unusual would happen? The veterinarian noted that one kidney was enlarged, and the other could not be felt at all. His kidney function right now seems OK (blood test) but curiosity got the best of them and they took a radiograph to confirm (no charge to us, bless them). Sure enough, he was missing a kidney on the left. Now, an ultrasound would show more, but wouldn't change the situation. That made Oliver a wild card. He could be fine and live a grand old life. However he needs to have a kidney-thoughtful diet, and a regular check of his kidney function throughout his life. He also needs to go to a home where the adopter could accept that his life could possibly be shorter than normal, so he probably shouldn't be someone's one-and-only. Luckily he loves other cats and dogs, so there is no problem with him going to a home with other pets. The couple that had been uncertain who to adopt then decided Octave would be a better option for them, and I agree. This would be their first, and only, cat. To take on a cat who will be big step up as a financial obligation and just might quickly fall ill is tough for someone choosing their very first "own pet."

So Oliver will be hanging out here in the house until the right home comes along. He is no problem at all. He is quite friendly and affectionate, but is happy going off in the other room to snooze by himself. He does have a dangerous (smile) attraction to the twitching tails of Rose and Bear. Bear tolerates being treated like a cat toy. Rose is not so pleased, but that only makes her twitch her tail more violently, which draws even greater attention from Oliver. But after a hiss, he lays low. He is a wise little boy.

FeLV or FIV would have been a worse issue than firing on a single kidney cylinder. But gosh, just when everything was going so great, it's a bummer to have a great Unknown rear its head.

Friday night "toss and organize"

I have too much crap.

Let me rephrase. I have plenty of crap that serves a purpose, but I can never find the crap I need, when I need it. For example, I bought hardware for this buffet Valarie and Craig gave me. Can I find it now that I need it? I canNOT!

Nellie is having a joyous time exploring. You can be sure I am being a good girl and not swearing. Otherwise Nellie would be off hiding, as she is the most shy cat in the house. No, I am quietly simmering at my disorganization.

I have finally gotten fed up with it and have been picking away at my worst offenses. Number one on the list: cat records. You would think after almost 30 years of this I would have it all down, but the night before an adoption will still find me digging through the most recent pile of veterinary receipts searching for a rabies certificate. Ridiculous!

Things I have! Old worn out cat laser toys. I get them when they are on sale for a dollar. Will I really ever buy batteries that cost more than a new toy? Probably not. Out they go, after divesting them of their hazardous-waste battery innards.

So as I am pawing through drawers I'm finally: &$&%@#!!! Don't paw through them! Stop and deal with them! The buffet can wait. It's going to have to, isn't it, since I can't find the hardware.

What I can find:

More Post-It pads than anyone person should have. I work in a paperless office. Off they go to the "give away" box
VHS tapes on trapping feral cats. I gave away the VHS player to a neighbor who helped carry in the free bureau. All these are now available on YouTube. Out they go!
Two three-hole punches. Two? OK, one goes upstairs to that desk, and one will stay down here.
A DYMO label maker Mark gave me that has been out of label tape for six years. I check Amazon. Yes, the tape is still for sale. I put two in my Amazon cart and continue on.
Oh look. ANOTHER three-hole punch! A cheap one. Garbage.
Many flat mailing boxes and envelopes. I organize them in one spot.
A ziplock baggie of Ivan's combed out fur that I one day plan to send out to be made into this cute remembrance. I miss Ivan. Keep.
A Netflix DVD from back before the Kindle. Slumdog Millionaire. I've never watched it. I hold it out because now I have a DVD player and a donated secondhand flat-screen TV (thanks Cary!)
A twisty digital camera stand I've never used. I guess I'll put it with the defunct digital cameras because it won't work on the iPhone. Anyone need one?

No buffet hardware.

A number of weeks ago I got totally fed up with the fact that A) my cat records were scattered all over the house and B) I did not have a comprehensive email list and the holidays were looming. I wandered into Staples to find something attractive to keep current records front and center rather than shoved in a file cabinet. I found two boxes, but darn...they were ripped. Disappointed, I started to put them both back, then figured the rip on one of them was at the back, so I would take it anyway. At the checkout I showed the rip to the clerk and he said he'd give it to me for two bucks. I said "well, for that I wish I'd picked up the second one, which is in even worse shape." He immediately ran back got it, plunked in down and said "how's a penny? Otherwise we just have to throw it out." So for $2.01 I got two nice boxes that normally would have been $18.00. I never would have thought to dicker at Staples!

That's the kind of deal I like.

I've been lusting after a PassionPlanner but can't justify the cost for something I'm not sure I will use, so I used their free download to print off ten weeks to try and keep track of what I'm up to. Rose immediately sat on it.

I also went searching for a calendar after the New Year when they are dirt cheap. I get a lot of calendars from national animal welfare organizations, but they are usually small with not-so-much space to write. When I go looking for a calendar, so I look for cats and kittens? Wildlife. No. I look for....LARGE PRINT! Yes, I am over 50. My friend (and adopter!) Gretchen got me a beautiful leather wallet, which I loaded with postage, a few cards, and a tiny pretty writing pad, to take with me when I am traveling so I won't put off thank-you notes just because I am on the road.

Hey, I found the hardware! Where was it? In the catch-all baskets by the front door. Why were they there? I have no idea. I guess I'll go organize them next!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Send two young marimbists to Belgium--give them a dream.

Put this on and go about your day. Let it play in the background.

And then if you believe in helping to grant dreams, give a donation to send them to the Universal Marimba Competition in Brussels, Belgium

Check out their GoFundMe page here

We have quite a few donors and adopters in the music community. It is in the interest of all cats to promote music across the globe.

Yes, I honestly believe this!

Oliver in the house

This is our newest kitten Oliver. He already as a hold on him. Isn't he the sweetest?

He is not shy so much as very independent. He purrs up a storm when you pick him up, but he's happy go off in the other room and snooze all alone. I'm bribing him with treats, and he's starting to suck up to me a bit more. Such a cutie!

Coyote goes out to foster-to-adopt!

More than five years Coyote has been here! Sunday she went to a new home for a trial run. Did I take photos when I delivered her? No, I forgot, as usual! Here she is at the Spencer Fall Festival a few months ago.

She did really well..she was affectionate with all of us when I dropped her off, but you could see she was blown away. Furniture? Carpets? People 24/7? I hope she relaxes and enjoys quickly, because it is a stellar home with Faith's family. She will be so loved if they are a match!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seven and Siggy check in via Facebook!

Seven checks in from Connecticut! It looks like he's staying warm and well-fed!

Check out the tail!

Siggy checks in from Endicott. He has clearly settled in just fine (after an adventure in the basement where he decided to snooze for some hours, scaring his new guardians half to death).

Sunday, January 4, 2015

As seen on Facebook!

Owl House cats check in via Facebook!


Jelli (left)

Phillip (right):

Whitten Wu:



It's so nice to see our past cats show up every day or so!

Whiskers in Winter party next Sunday!

Each year, pretty much at the spur of the moment, I decide to throw a party. The SECOND reason is that I love you all and want to see you. The FIRST reason is that if I throw a party, I throw out things I don't need, I finish projects, and I focus on the cat rescue instead of other things that demand my attention. And then I get to enjoy it all with you!

So, next Sunday, January 11, we will be open from noon to evening's end (whenever the last person decides to leave), with comfort food, drink, friends, and of course, cats. Both the house and the cat facility will be open. If you think you will be coming, please RSVP to susan at owlhousecats dot com (spelled out to reduce spam). We already have about 12 people on the "attending" list. Guest are welcome...just let us know who they are. I hope to see some of you next Sunday!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pitter and Patter pose with presents

Linda (Christy's sister) gave this gorgeous cat bed, which Pitter has claimed as her own.

And brother Patter shows off one of the knitted beds that georg brought from The Handmade House, which fits perfectly over the top platform of the cat tower!

They are certainly sleeping in style! Thank you!

Happy 2015 and thank-you donors!

I'd like to think Bear is saying "Happy New Year!" to you all, but more likely he is thinking "What are you doing, lady?" At least he's a good sport!

I can't thank you enough for the donations we received. We've adopted out FIVE CATS this past week and all five need pre-adoption check-ups, which even at a discount is a flurry of vet fees all at once. And I've ordered more vaccines and over-the-counter medications, and of course, as always, cat litter and food. This is just one car-load. Gone are the good old days of the truck, when I could fit 30 or more bags of litter in one load!

Hopefully all these adoptions are a sign of good things to come!! We are currently OPEN on Sundays from 11-2 (2pm arrivals may stay until the wish to leave). People still need to inquire via email and let me send them an application.

Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Great adoption weekend

With drop-offs and legitimate cats-in-need, the ratio of feline to human here has gotten alarmingly high. While I have definitely had a greater number of cats in the past, it normally was in the summer, not winter. While I normally don't do "Coffee and Kittens" this time of year, I felt it was time to pull my head out of the sand and get to moving some cats into homes. found some homes!

Siggy will be going to Johnson City to live with Tiger Tom's family! Tiger Tom is our one and only viral cat (in an internet sense of the word).

Nueve will be going to Ithaca to live with two poets. One is a beloved professor of mine from college. They adopted two kittens from us many years ago.

And joy of joys, Bo and Davis were chosen, and will be adopted together to a home here in Spencer!

They all need healthy pet checks at the veterinarian, which unfortunately slows things down. Tomorrow Brody (a young cat from Waverly) and Robin (one of the feral kittens) are off to get neutered, so Nueve is piggy-backing on their visit for a second FeLV/FIV test and then she can go home.

I have no certification of rabies on Siggy and his caretaker is camping for Winter Break so unfortunately he will need to be re-vaccinated. Bo and Davis need a good solid exam, follow-up FeLV/FIV and rabies, since they are 2.5 years old.

The best part of all of this is that Fluffy can come into the house after sixteen years as the cat facility mascot! He should also have a veterinarian's visit. I'll probably start him out in the Great Room. I want to introduce Bear and Fluffy gently, since there will then be two "big old men" in the house. Bear did fine with Ivan, so I hope Fluffy will be accepted without a problem.

Now we need to get Pitter and Patter a home. I'm going to start shutting them in a room upstairs at night so they get used to it, and can be made more accessible when people visit. They made themselves scarce during this event.

I also managed to get video of some of the cat facility cats and hopefully can get that posted for people who wish to see it. So much to little time!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Abandoned cats

Someone has been making cryptic posts on Craigslist telling people to check out our web site. They don't say anything else. The same person (or is it two people? One anti-TNR and one pro-TNR?) has been posting all sorts of short statements against Trap/Neuter/Return, letting your cat outdoors, giving kittens away etc. I've emailed nicely in response to the anti-TNR posts and received no reply.

Unfortunately, due to this--or the fact that shelters in our area are all turning away cats (more on that later)--at least four cats have been dumped in my area: two young black cats with white on Halsey Valley, who cried at me and then took off at a dead run when I tried to help them, and an adult cat and a kitten dumped here in front of my barn who I only know exist due to their tracks:

You can see how the kitten was probably handed out of a car door and landed in the snow.

Right by the barn door. Unthinking people somehow assume the cats they abandon will just run and take shelter in the barn where they dumped them. They usually don't. They run in confusion, or they huddle down in the nearest wad of high grass.

This kitten ambled about in confusion for a bit:

And then began to trot away:

This is what the kitten was heading into:

And this is where I finally could no longer find tracks, looking back toward my barn:

I've put food in the barn, but I don't have much hope that a kitten that small (the tracks were tiny) is somehow going to turn around and retrace her steps. I'm hoping someone saw her and picked her up, although I did not see any human tracks where a car would have stopped and person had gotten out, when I lost the kitten tracks.

Somewhere some person is relieved they no longer have to worry about the cats they didn't want. Instead, now I am sitting inside in the warm, thinking of cold abandoned kittens every night as the temperature drops. I'm scanning the fields for the first two kittens, and driving the back way at night looking for eye-shine for the second one.

The adult cat may have found my barn. Or perhaps the tracks I see now belong to Bandit, the next-door cat. I'm setting some traps and we'll see who we catch.

I'm sorry to share a downer posts, but I plan to post a link on Craiglist so people can see what actually happens when cats and kittens are abandoned at farms.

This is why I never criticize people who post kittens and other pets on Craigslist. At least they aren't dumping them in the snow, as so many other people do.

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.