Monday, October 31, 2005

And that's why her name is "Ditz"

...because ten seconds ago she had been asleep on the back of the couch on top of those blankets rather than under them. Posted by Picasa

We have "purr mode."


Scarecrow has ear mites. Ear mites, while nasty dreadful things, sure make ear-scritching feel really really good. It only took about five minutes of sitting, scritching, and petting with this little guy to make him purr. He took his intraocular/intranasal vaccine like a trooper. As soon as I leave the room and come back, he forgets that he was (just a moment earlier) rolling around purring in his bed, and I'll find him scrunched behind his cat box. But he'll get over that in short order.

He'll stay in quarentine until I'm sure he's not going to break with something nasty, and to give the vaccine some time to kick in so he's less likely to catch an upper respiratory from the facility cats (Healthy cats that have been sick in the past can shed the virus even though they don't look ill, and can infect newcomers).

Then fix him, fatten him up, give him a bath, and get him into a home.Posted by Picasa

A little Halloween Scarecrow

I received an email a few weeks ago right before I headed out to travel, from a family feeding a feral kitten in their garage. They are a few lots down from a fairly large mobile home park and had had a litter of kittens and a mom in the garage earlier this year (whom they found homes for). So whether this was a kitten from that litter, or a lost kitten who found his way here, who is to know? Posted by Picasa

As single feral kittens go, he's been a lucky little guy, with food, water, and a garage with lots of protection. But they were worried about winter coming on, and the fact that the older he got, the less likely a candidate he would be for a loving home. So Sunday I headed on over with a trap, a slit pillowcase to cover it, and some food. He was having none of it, since he still had dry food in the garage. All day I expected my phone to ring to tell me he had been captured. Nothing. Toward evening I came back, took the back door off the trap so nothing could be accidentally captured overnight, and put the food toward the open end so he could have something to eat.

Apparently right after I left he came out, pulled the paper plate out of the trap, and had his dinner.

This morning I went back with a real bowl, heaped it with dry kibble, put some tuna on the top of it, and placed that behind the pan. While cats that scrounge have no problem with a paper plate, bowl-fed cats often need... a bowl. I left a large sign on top of the trap with my phone number in case a meter reader or someone uninitiated should wander by. (Yes, I leave traps unattended; we'll talk about that someday).

Later in the day, I had to run into town to mail a package and stopped by to check the trap. The door was down and the little scarecrow was caught. The bowl had done the job. I left a note for the homeowners, loaded him up, and that's one more little guy off the street.

He's in a cage in quarentine now, and he's quite the little hisser. But he loves to be scratched around the head and chin, so I think he'll be a pushover. I'll go out later tonight to vaccinate and worm him while he's still a bit petrified and stiff, and verify he is, in fact, a male.

He could use a better name than "Scarecrow" even if he is a skinny twiggy little thing.

Happy Halloween!

Yes, I did indeed turn my Christmas lights on in the cat facility windows. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Remember?

I'm afraid I was bad today. I passed this in K-mart today and hit the brakes. Somewhere in a box in the barn are my Narnia books that I purchased book by book in the seventh and eighth grade. I thumbed through this, and instantly I was back in my childhood daydreams. No child who loves animals and other worlds missed reading these books.

Yes, I did buy it. I could have gone out into the barn and dug through boxes and boxes in the Headbanger Room, but instead I purchased this. And now I will get nothing done in the evenings.

The Movie won't be as good as the book, but if it comes as close as The Lord of the Rings, it will be worth it.

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Taking out the trash.

Today was garbage day.

By virtue of the fact that my cats and I generate the most trash in our family, via cat litter, garbage hauling is usually my responsibility.

Not to mention that I own a truck. So there you go.

Garbage day, when we lived in Tompkins County, meant a drive into Ithaca and a wait on asphalt to get weighed in and pick up your ticket. Then you got back in line to dump your trash on the tipping room floor. You waited for someone to wave you in and take your ticket. Every few years you renewed your permit and got another sticker for your driver's side window.

The people at Tompkins County Solid Waste are wonderful folk. Still it was a long trip to a land of concrete (Route 13 Ithaca). They made it as easy as they could given the huge number of vehicles coming in, but it wasn't on my list of top ten fun errands, I'm afraid. The best part were the people. Posted by Picasa

Now that we live in Tioga County, however, it's a lot more fun. Of course, they probably handle less trash. I actually like the bi-monthly trash run. First of all, the drive is gorgeous, over the hills and only twenty minutes away. The weigh station is quaint and fun. Trucks going in and trucks going out must alternate on the single scale. The traffic light keeps you all sorted out. There are no permits. The employees inside check out your license plate through the window while you sit on the scale waiting for your red light to change to green again.

There isn't a person on the tipping floor to back you in, so there is a bit of an honor system once you are there. People are good about going in order, although they aren't always good about letting the front-end loader clear the floor when it's needed. I tend to sit back and let them do their job. Other folks back right on it, front-end loader or no front-end loader, and the operator just sort of sighs and backs off to wait for another opportunity to swoop in and get trash out of the way.

Usually, after I've off-loaded my quarter-ton of cat litter and paid my fee ($14 today; $22 last time), I stop for an ice cream at the little gas station just past my turn. It's one more opportunity to see a few friendly people. Then I head on home over the hills again. But it's a bit cold for ice cream now and today I just came on home and took some photographs instead.Posted by Picasa

Autumn. There's not much of it left, I'm afraid. Posted by Picasa

Cat trapping from coast to coast

Today you should go visit a person who catches about 600% more cats than I do. And takes some beautiful photographs to boot. I'm linking to her tale today of kittens she just rescued from an interstate, but click on the name of her blog, Strayer, (when you are at her blog) to read the rest. Isn't this kitten gorgeous? And someone's method of disposal was to dump her and her sibs along a highway. This isn't a rarity. It happens countless times a day across the U.S. and most die unnoticed. Posted by Picasa

Oh..fair warning. She does some parasite-blogging over there that might be fairly alarming to the uninitiated.

Friday, October 28, 2005

It's that time of year again.

Halloween? No. Christmas. Posted by Picasa

In 2002 it suddenly struck me that I should have an Open House. (Please. If anyone you know entertains such an idea, tie them down until the urge passes. The WORK involved!!). I decided that it wouldn't be an Open House to introduce strangers to our program. Instead it would be a gathering to thank everyone who had helped us over the years.

In 2002, we had a beautiful snow the day before. The kerosene heater kept things quite toasty (the first floor of my barn is not heated although the second floor where the cats are, is ) and around fifty people showed up. We had food, wine tasting, and a potluck. I'm not sure what the cats thought of all the fuss. The last friends went home around midnight. It was a wonderful day and I spent an hour afterward in a warm glow, sitting alone on the carpeted floor of the cat room, thanking them for their graciousness that day with 50 visitors.

(Note: I started listing attendees, but when I discovered some of the accomplishments of our visitors when I was linking their websites, it seemed a lot like name-dropping! Because I can't link everyone, and many people don't have links, I stopped, and I think I will write individual posts on some of their work in the future).

The second year, the electricity went out in my facility less than 24 hours before the event. I freaked. It was another snowy weekend. Mark and I scrambled unsuccessfully for extra kerosene heaters while I frantically begged for electricians.I finally called Kirk's in Candor NY (no webpage to link?) and he came out within an hour and discovered I simply had a bad breaker in the house. It was that weekend that I learned that kerosene heaters (legal in the country) were illegal in the city and could not be rented in Ithaca for any price, and that big-time electricians don't care to troop out to Spencer on a Saturday to rescue a small feline Open House.

I think I like living in the country. The people here are wonderful.

Last year, I changed jobs on December 7th. It quickly became clear that there would be no 2004 Open House. The cat facility seemed drab and sad. There was no reason to clean up and toss out the last year's worth of accumulated "stuff" on the first floor. I did plug in the holiday lights in the first floor window (which, on a whim, I may plug in any time of the year). But the cats partied alone last year.

This year, I'm in gear before Halloween, determined to avoid the last minute scrambling of years before. Our Open House will be December 10th. It's a party that requires an invitation, so please drop me a line if you'd like to come by. We do welcome newcomers, but we like to give people the low-down on visiting a facility full of shy, wild cats, so that both you and they have an enjoyable holiday. You can reach me at

Pet ID pays off

Trip to France, anyone?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Gabby and Pinkie

Gabriel and Raphael are trying to decide what sort of cats they will be. Actually, Gabby looks like he has quite a lot to say in this photo, when in fact he is just yawning. I will follow with their kitten picture:  Posted by Picasa

Here they are on the day they were captured on Washington Street in Ithaca.

Their little sister was adopted long ago, which is surprising given she was the shyest of all. The two boys are good natured in that they have no tendency to claw, and will even purr and snuggle when they are gathered up. But they need more work with toys and baby food to bring them around. I am partial to Raphael, the cream point. I call him Pinkie, and there is a book called Raphael where an angel falls to earth and into slavery, and is nicknamed Pinkie by another slave who befriends him. Pinky seems like a bit of a fallen angel, and deserves a beautiful name like Raphael to offset the embarassment of me calling him Pinkie all the time.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Roman cats

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This is perhaps my favorite photograph. I found it here while clicking around the web looking for information on Roman cats. Around ten years ago, a card with this photo was sent to me from Rome by a couple who had adopted a cat from me. They had to move to France for a year, and the cat came back with us to stay until their return. On their travels, they sent their little cat a card at our home. I so loved the photo I had it framed and it has always found a place on my desk, moving from job to job.

There has been a lot of chat since yesterday about this article concerning pets in Rome

The new Rome by-law requires owners to regularly exercise their dogs, and bans them from docking their pets’ tails for aesthetic reasons.

It also provides legal recognition for cat lovers who provide food for the colonies of strays which live everywhere from the city’s ancient Roman ruins to modern office car parks.

It doesn't take much for an article to send me tripping across the internet for more information. For a first hand view of Roman cats, you should visit Torre Argentina feral cat sanctuary and I Gatti della Piramide.

And if you can read Italian, here is book for you.

I find it interesting that Babelfish cannot translate "gattare." I assume we baffle even Alta Vista.

Roman cats even have American friends at Friends of Roman Cats.

Let it snow

Yes, that is a snowball. It's 1:00 am, and it's snowing. I guess that answers my question as to whether we are over 1500 feet in elevation.

Snow changes things. It means I need to get these shelters to people I promised them to ages ago. And that feral kitten I've been corresponding with a Cornell employee about can't wait until this weekend now.

Nothing like a good snowfall to give you a boot in the rear.Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's winter.

Winter storm watch? No way!

Yes. "Way." It's cold, and the heat lamps and one heater aren't cutting it. I brought up a second heater today, and resolved to call the propane company about installing the propane heater.

Winter Storm Watch in effect from 8 am EDT Tuesday through late Tuesday night for elevations above 1500 feet...

Rain at lower elevations with mixed rain and snow above 1500 feet. About an inch snow accumulation. Lows in the upper 30s. Northeast winds around 10 mph.

Rain in the valleys...with heavy wet snow above 1500 feet. Significant snow accumulation possible. Highs 35 to 40. North winds 10 to 20 mph.

It is hard to blog with a cat on your lap(top). Posted by Picasa

Let there be light.

Last week, bulbs started popping out, directly in proportion to the diminishing amount of daylight hours we are receiving. Mark was headed into town on Sunday so I handed him $40 and asked if he could pick up a heat lamp bulb and replacement bulbs for my track lighting. The cats love to bask under the two heat lamps in the cat room, and when the weather is only mildly chilly, the heat lamps are more than sufficient to heat the room. So Mark came home with a box of bulbs, and I headed out and up to the facility to do some relamping. As soon as I started replacing bulbs in the Cage Room.....POP! The room went black.

&$#$&@!!!! I'd tripped the breaker and this meant stumbling down into what we call the "Head Banger Room" (very low ceilings) downstairs to the electrical box to flip the breaker.

But then the lights went back on before I had a chance to move. Hmmmmmmm....

When I came out after the changing the bulbs, I could hear fire sirens, so went into the house to turn the scanner on. A transformer had blown (and then back-ups had kicked in to restore power) just as I happened to be changing my first light bulb.

And yes, that little box of bulbs cost $41.

 Posted by Picasa

One really nice thing about having a cat facility all your own is that you can hang all of the cat art that probably wouldn't be acceptable in your home. I purchased this from a few years ago. I did hang it in our den for....oh...maybe a month. Then I brought it out to the cat facility with my other cat art. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

Regularly scheduled maintenance

It would be nice if you could fix things up, and have them stay looking nice for a year or so. That just isn't true with a cat facility with cat rooms. Things constantly need to be repaired or replaced, from cat toys to flooring. I've been noticing that the cat posts have needed a refurbishment for the past few weeks. Today I realized they had clawed one post right down to the warp and woof on the carpet backing, so at 9:30 pm last night I headed out with the screwgun, carpet knife, and extra carpet to fix things up. Tiger Tom thought the extra attention was quite cool, and of course needed to be in the middle of things.

We can always use remnents of brand-new carpeting to re-cover scratching posts. We prefer thick, non-loop non-Berber carpet. It does need to be new (or nearly new, as when you move into a new house and remove the new carpeting the previous owners had just put down) and pieces must be at least 4' long and 18" wide. We will gladly pick these up within a 40 mile radius of Spencer NY.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

I think I'm glad I switched blogs

We received a lovely email today from the woman who rescued Piglet and Pooh's mom:

I was browsing the internet this morning and came upon the wildrun blog...and saw the updated photo of Piglet. I just wanted to thank you again for all of your help last year. It looks like Piglet (and I am sure his brother as well) has grown into a beautiful, healthy cat. I am so grateful that he has gotten this life, which you have provided him, instead of the one that I feared for him and his siblings (being born in my backyard with who-knows-what waiting
to happen to them). If there is ever anything that I can do for your organization (ie, help with building shelters, picking up supplies, anything!), please let me know.
 Posted by Picasa

I had an anonymous blog for over a year where I posted on feral cat issues. I loved it dearly, but because it was anonymous, I could not reach out to my local friends who have been so important to Wildrun. This blog will deal primarily with day-to-day interactions here, as well as links to happenings in my immediate region.

It was hard to delete my old blog, but getting this email after Wildrun has been blogging for only a short while makes it all worth it!

Thanks, Amy!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dog bed? Who said "dog bed?"

I took this shot before I walked out the door this afternoon. Mark cleaned out the chimney and has been firing up the woodstove now that there is a chill in the air. Last night he threw one of Sadie's dog beds down in front of the fire. Do you see a dog in this picture? I don't see a dog in this picture. Poor Sadie. With eight cats in the house, she doesn't stand a chance. Posted by Picasa

A tired drive becomes three hours of beauty

I had to drive to Albany for work today and am now writing from my hotel room. I was in the truck and turning toward the highway when it suddenly occurred to me that I was being asked to travel on what appeared to be peak weekend on a gorgeous autumn day. For three hours. It was an incredibly beautiful drive and I pulled over for photos when I could. It amazes me how much beauty is just feet off a major highway in New York. Click on the photo for a larger image.  Posted by Picasa

I'll never leave NY. I would miss this all too much.

Kittens grow up and grow friendly.

I am behind updating my Pet List, and Pooh and Piglet have grown up since their kitten shots! This is Piglet now, still with that wild look in his eye. Both he and Pooh are very friendly and love one another dearly. They can be adopted apart, but would love a dual home. A couple of people have inquired and I will send them this link so they can see what a handsome kid Piglet has grown into. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 20, 2005


My hope was that readers would get the message to come together to help the cats that are on campus and need help now.

What was edited and published:

"I no longer rescue pets at the college, but have nevertheless received calls about loose cats on campus. If you love animals, help those that need homes. Staff and students can contact me at As an alumna, I would be happy to continue to shelter these animals, but they would benefit from organized, on-campus help."

What I actually wrote:

"I no longer work at IC, but have already received calls of loose cats on campus. If you love animals, help those already homeless. Staff and students, contact me at and let’s get together as a community to help IC campus pets, as other colleges do. As an alumnus, I would be happy to continue to shelter them, but they need organized on-campus help."

My "call to arms--we should work together" was reduced to "call me." For what? No reason is given.

I now know why journalists write like they are swinging a bat. If they are subtle, the meaning will be edited out. If you wield a bludgeon, no one can misunderstand.

As Get Fuzzy would say: "My bad." I should have known better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Campus Cats

Today my phone rang. I didn't make it downstairs in time from my office, and an Ithacan rep left a message that my letter to the editor would be printed in The Ithacan tomorrow, Thursday.

A few weeks ago there was an Ithacan article about pets on campus (I would link it, but I can't find archives on The Ithacan page). The tone from interviews was that many students feel it's acceptable to have pets on campus. The next week the paper's editorial advised students to leave pets home. Thank you, Ithacan!

It is absolutely understandable for students to want pets, but there are so many pet hazards in student life. The first thing I did when I moved out age eighteen was adopt a kitten at the local SPCA. At the time I had a live-in job at a vet clinic. However when I went to college, Rastus entered the college shuffle. He got loose from two apartments when roommates left windows open, was evicted from a sublet where I had been originally told "pets aren't allowed but no one cares." I ended up keeping shades pulled and hiding him under the sink when anyone knocked on the door. He did a stint on campus, and was shoved in the bathroom for fire drills, with no consideration for what would happen if there were a real fire or Public Safety had to do apartment checks and he ran out the door.

The campus used to crawl with feral (wild) cats. They were everywhere when I was a student, 1982-1986, the offspring of lost student pets. When I worked for the SPCA after graduation, we received calls on them. And when I started to work for IC, they literally fell in my lap. It took about six years of really hard work, a lot of wonderful cooperation from Physical Plant and Public Safety, quite a bit of money, and probably gallons of KMR, but soon Ithaca College had zero cats, with new cats only showing up every now and then as they were lost or abandoned. They could be easily rescued, and the cost of rescue was low because there were now few of them.

Cats that might have been euthanized in early years when there were tons of cats, could get hundreds of dollars of vet care when there were only a few. Cricket, with a broken leg, had a $450 amputation and Ditz, the same year, was treated for a $500 fever and respiratory infection. Since thousands weren't being spent on kittens, more could be spent on the few cats that were rescued by students.

Leo (above, available for adoption!) is from a litter that was born in 2001 when a tiger cat near Physical Plant wasn't noticed until she had her kits. Whoopsie. This is how feral colonies get started. The kits were pretty large and wild before they were caught, which is why Leo has taken so long to turn into the big laid-back guy he is today.The younger kittens are when captured, the easier they are to tame.

With no cats on campus, it's easy to notice when new cats need rescue. There's a black-and-white cat now near the Towers.

But I'm no longer there to trudge through the snow looking for cat tracks. Someone---or several someones---needs to take over.

When I saw the article in The Ithacan I envisioned a campus crawling with cats again in five years if no one watched out for new cats. I would love to help, if others are interested. I'll happily shelter the feral cats the Tompkins County SPCA ("no-kill") cannot take, but someone needs to notice when they are there, and help feed them until they can be captured.

So I hope others are interested. I love I.C. and am very proud of what the College accomplished with these cats. I.C. should be proud of it too. But we need to make sure each new cat gets rescued immediately, or soon there will be kittens.

Kittens mean feral cats.

And feral cats mean a problem all over again, where there doesn't need to be one

Universities all over the U.S. are managing their feral cat population proactively. There is UTexas, and UNT, and Auburn as well as Stanford and Clemson, and even where they are removed from campuses they are not euthanized..

(A note on that last link. Feral cats are not a risk to humans if neutered and rabies vaccinated. Pettable cats are a risk to humans, which is why friendly cats and all kittens need to be removed, and any existing feral cats or local pets should be fixed. And unmanaged cat populations are a risk, because people try to "save" sick kittens are are bitten. But a fixed feral cat that zooms off anytime a human comes near is less risky than raccoons in a dumpster).

I.C. is in the enviable position of having only one or two cats on campus now. It would be wonderful to keep it that way.
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Cricket was rescued by students in the Towers parking lot. After nursing her through her amputation for a broken leg, we fell for her charms and kept her. If we don't have more I.C. cats, it's because the program has been so successful. If no kittens are born, we have nothing to adopt! Posted by Picasa