Wednesday, November 30, 2005
(photo from Animal Rescue New Orleans)
NOTE: If you are arriving here from Best Friends, they have linked to this article but not the main blog address. If you would like to read our current posts, click on Wildrun at the top of this blog. Thanks!
I thought I left issues blogging behind me when I hit the delete button on Cat Out Loud, however I wonder if there is middle line somewhere between "issues" and "day-to-day."
I wonder because a conference call invitation found its way to my inbox. On that call were Michael Mountain, Paul Berry, and Francis Battista of Best Friends Animal Society, Jane Garrison of Animal Rescue New Orleans, and Eric Rice of EricsDogBlog.com. And Joe Trippi. Yes, Joe Trippi is working on behalf of Katrina animal rescue. It was addressed to "Friends and Bloggers." So, hey. At the appointed time, I called. And listened.
And heard what I expected. That there is a ton of work left to be done in the Gulf region. The animals aren't all dead, fostered, reunited with their owners, or adopted. There are still hundreds of animals on the street who need to be rescued, and many hundreds in still in foster homes, filling up those foster homes, pending reunion or adoption.
But three things were particularly pertinant from the conference call and websites I have visited.. First, that the Gulf is about to become a birthing spot for a large generation of feral animals if rescue efforts aren't aggressively pursued now. Those feral animals will have little chance of adoption if not captured during the critical seven-week socialization period for kittens and puppies. Second, that Americans were very generous with donations, and those donations have the ability to bring about change if they are dedicated to today's rescue, and rebuilding of a sustainable rescue future for the Gulf now (not just the status quo). And third...People are needed to make it happen. Now.
Many of the people have gone home. People who perhaps could not volunteer before but might be able to now, may not know where to go to offer their help. We are a country that operates "in the moment." But when the "moment" passes, crisis often still remains. The Gulf still needs help to prevent the crisis there from becoming something different and larger. Animals that fall through the cracks are not just going to kick off and die. They are going to breed. Every city has a general stray population, however in this case the human population has dropped precipitously. What may have been the usual stray population before is now far larger, while the human population (who feed, notice, capture, rescue, or even kill those strays) is far smaller.
Perhaps I am being rash and thoughtless to make this comparison, but I remember after all those people died on September 11, during the stunned days that followed I thought "At least we can create some memorable change out of their deaths. The world is looking our way. The world wants to help. At this moment we are all united. People died, but we will make their deaths worth some greater good."
I feel we missed that moment. No matter what anyone's opinion is on the conflicts were are now involved with after 9/11, we did not take the best advantage of the moment. We could have changed the world, and instead we just pummeled it in our usual way. Instead of changing the world, we concentrated on making "the world safer for America." Instead of becoming more united, we remained divided. We did not say, "Let's all come together." We said "You are either with us or against us."
Hurricane Katrina has given animal rescue, and society's awareness of the human/animal bond, a special moment. People and animals died to give us this moment. Animals are dying yet. Humans still suffer over the animals they left behind. They have paid a huge cost, in death and suffering. What will we do with it?
Will we continue to say "Let's come together?"
For a short time, animal groups were united in their resolve, and all realized it was just too big for any one organization. The moment is perfect to create incredible compassionate sweeping change. Together.
Will we do that? Or will we just give the Gulf our usual good old best try, then walk away to a world that we've left basically unchanged? Will we all go back to our seperate corners, separate budgets, separate missions? Or will we see ourselves as a puzzle piece in one larger mission, that we are all a part of?
Do you want to help? I don't have much time to blog tonight, but I hit the sites that first came to mind and looked only for concrete information on what groups are doing, or how to volunteer, now. For the purposes of this topic, I have only included websites that offered immediate opportunities for volunteering on the ground in the hurricane region at this time. If anyone finds others today, please let me know:
Animal Rescue New Orleans volunteer info
Alley Cat Allies Volunteer info
Best Friends Volunteer info
Just call your local shelter! Find out if they are accepting Katrina animals. By fostering or adopting a local pet, you make space for a Katrina pet. They also may need volunteers to transport pets, or get reunited pets back to their owners.
For those of us who are not free to respond, there are other options. We can donate directly to responding organization, and organizations locally that are sheltering hurricane animals and who intend to shelter more. We can keep an eye out to see if we can help with transport (watch websites and check with your local shelter). We can foster. We can adopt or foster a pet--any pet--from local shelters that are accepting hurricane pets. If our homes have the perfect number of pets already, we can encourage others to adopt rather than buy. This saves a local pet, and provides more space for either a hurricane pet or another local pet.
And we can keep the word alive that help is still needed, in both large and small ways, both in the Gulf and at home.
I wasn't going to, because my readership on this new blog is pretty small. Then I thought...what the heck. I enjoy looking at the maps on other sites, and the map frenzy/fad will probably wear off in a few months. So why not enjoy it while it lasts? So if you'd like, please add your self to the Wildrun map on the sidebar, and feel free to include a photo of the feline(s) who rule your life.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I don't hunt, but I make my property available to those who do, if they meet certain criteria. Lately it has become harder and harder to find good people who have the actual need, and the time to hunt. If they need to hunt for food, they don't have the luxury of taking the time off from work. So needless to say, no deer have been taken on our property since we moved here five years ago.
In our area, there are genuinely people who do count on venison to feed their families. Around here, if you hit a deer with your car, someone is likely to stop, ask if you are OK, then ask if they can have the deer. In that case, it's not about sport. It's about filling the freezer for your family.
This morning Mark mentioned someone had thrown a deer carcass in our creek, just above our property line. My brother-in-law and I went down to get it out of there before the rain might wash her downstream into the residential area.
She had been shot (illegally, I assume, otherwise why remove her carcass from where she had been shot?), her hindquarters removed for the meat, and then purposely thrown into this pool about five feet off the road. The whiteness you see is the inside of her hide where they skinned her back and haunches and left the flap attached. She didn't wash there from upstream, because you can see the leg on the shore where the hunter left it. It's bad enough that they took a deer illegally from some other property and tossed it on someone else's. But why contaminate the stream? Just to hear a big splash?
We pulled the deer up on shore where the foxes and other scavengers and decomposers could get to her. So it appears even "meat hunters" (who I previously had a naive stereotyped general respect for) can be just as slobbish as some trophy hunters.
I guess any human, anywhere, can be disrespectful of life, of law, of nature, or of neighbors, whether they spend their lives looking for trophies or just dinner for the table. In the woods or in the board room.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Today the temperature warmed considerably and I wanted to get those kittens from the abandoned farm house caught. Family came by in the morning and headed off to shop in Owego. I cleaned the cat facility, peeled some vegetables, threw a pot roast in the oven, and jumped in the truck around 3:00 pm. At the top of a snowy hill in Erin, I called the woman who was feeding the kittens, completely lost. I didn't want to go down the hill if I had already past her! But she was in fact at the foot of the hill, and the snow melted away down below. I picked her up and she took me out to the old farm house where two kittens and a mom cat were dumped two weeks ago.
Is this where you would leave two kittens and a mom cat if you wanted them to find a good home? To the people who dumped these cats I have one line for you: Misdemeanor. Up to one year in jail or $1000 fine. Gosh, I would love to meet you in court.
Momma is a sweetheart. We shoved her in the trap and she just wanted to turn around to be petted. The male tiger sniffed the food and also was happy to be given a good hard shove into a kitten trap. The female hid in the house until we walked down the truck for a fourth trap. When we returned, she was already in the kitten trap we had left behind. Easy catch! They are all purrboxes but the kittens need to get FeLV tested, neutered, and on line as soon as possible, while they still have those cute kitten faces. Mom cat may already be pregnant, so she needs to be spayed ASAP as well.
Because their house is slated to be removed via burning this next week, we named mom Tara, and the kittens are Rhett and Scarlet. To the woman (and another neighbor, I believe) who fed these cats the last two weeks, and who handed me $50 to help pay for their care, thank you for caring. So many people just drive on by and make a phone call, and think that is enough. I'm honored to have met you. There are so many good people in the world. We could use a few more of them!.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
No way is that truck making it up Swartwood Hill this morning without snow tires!
I got a call yesterday that a young cat and two kittens were dumped some time ago at an abandoned house and barn. The house is due to be burned down next weekend and it is up in the hills. My studded snow tires were getting down to where I consider them useless for the kind of driving I do, so last spring I put them out in our periodic roadside "free" pile. But have I replaced them? Nooooooooo. Yesterday I started in to feed the Ithaca cats and had to turn around when I hit a squall before McMillan Hill. I was able to get in a few hours later. The problem with hills of course, is if the weather is getting bad, you might get out, but you may not get home. Or you might get stuck halfway up. My little truck is a great little thing if it has studded snows and at least 80 pounds of weight in the back. But with worn summer tires....useless.
I'm hoping this stops in an hour or so and melts off the roadway. Swartwood Hill, of course, is steep, winding (locals call it Snake Hill) and shady. Drat.
Friday, November 25, 2005
This morning the new snow told tales that are less clear in the summer. Here are the tracks of the Fast Food Ferals near their feeding station.
Gillian's tracks at the south hill feeding station...
A fox checks out a feeding station, but apparently isn't much interested in cat food, since there was plenty of food left in the small bowl which supports two neutered cats. It is also possible this is a hind foot track of a cat standing to check out the top of the feeding station. That might make the hind claws more visible in the track. Normally you would not see claw marks on cat tracks.
A muskrat crosses the unplowed roadway as I walk in to check the south hill feeding station.You can tell opossum and muskrat tracks by the marks of their tail dragging.
Cat tracks are closer together...
Fox tracks are much farther apart.
Cats and people use the same paths.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Here's hoping we all get along well enough one day to eat out of the same dish.
Please, if you have not yet checked out the most beautiful blog in the world, on my blogroll, please do so now. And add it to your blogroll, so when things just seems like, well----hell----you can go there and realize there is so much beauty in the world.
(to see previous photos on that photoblog, click on the link on the upper right).
Cricket in mid-sneeze.
Little Scarecrow in the cat facility brought us what I call the sneezles, but is actually a viral upper respiratory infection. (Read that link, please!) About a third of the cats in the facility immediately got it. Because the discharge from nose and eyes was minimal and clear, I assumed that it was a virus. I did start Scarecrow on antibiotic to ward against secondary bacterial infections, and it had no effect on the progress of the sneezles. None of the cats have an elevated temperature. So the rest of the infected cats sneezed and snorted their unhappy way through the illness this past week without medication, and adoptions were ceased.
I used to throw antibiotics at my cats everytime they sneezed, when I was rescuing out of my house. Finally, after opening the facility and keeping more than two or three cats at a time (we have 19 at this time) I was convinced (just as the books say) that viruses aren't touched by antibiotics. However, my kittens all get a full round of antibiotics for any upper respiratory infection, because I did have one kitten in 2001, and a litter in 2002, come down with secondary infections that were life-threatening.
Problem is, you can't know what antibiotic will touch the "possible" bacterial infection a virally-infected kitten "might" get exposed to. In the case of the litter of kittens, once they started to spike a fever, three were started on Baytril, and one received amoxicillin because my emergency supply of Baytril (to be used on recommendation of a vet only) was only 3/4 of a pill (Baytril dosage for a cat is very small). The temp on the three kittens who received Baytril immediately dropped. The temp on the fourth kitten who received amoxicillin remained high, and he developed pneumonia and ultimately was euthanized after hospitalization. Obviously the bacteria they were exposed to was not susceptible to amoxi.
Worse yet, once cats are "better" they can still shed the virus and infect new cats, even while appearing healthy. So probably any of my facility cats can infect a new cat, even when every cat has been healthy for months:
Most cats infected with feline rhinotracheitis virus or calicivirus will become chronic carriers of the virus. This means they will continue to be infected with the virus but not show any signs of the disease. In the case of rhinotracheitis (herpes-1), cats will often shed the virus in secretions from the eyes and nose after they have been stressed, e.g., boarding, moving, new addition to the household, nursing kittens, etc. Cats with calicivirus will shed the virus continually for years. Cats who have been vaccinated for calicivirus and then exposed to an infected cat may become infected with the "wild" virus (the strain of virus that occurs naturally and can cause disease, not the vaccine strain), never show signs of disease, become carriers of the wild virus, and continue to shed the wild virus.
Another problem with illness in the cat facility is that it can become illness in the house cats, too. I call myself the Great Fomite, because between the adoptables and the house cats, I am the object that will carry sickness. I've tried changing clothes, taking showers, etc. but every now and then...
Well, poor Cricket became the next "every now and then." Five days ago she started sneezing. And she's a "ten-sneeze-in-a-row" cat. It's very pathetic to see her balancing on her three legs, sneezing away. She hasn't lost her appetite, but she's not eating dry because she can't smell it, so she's getting Fancy Feast canned food in the bathroom. So far no one else has come down with it, and I'm watching her carefully to be certain she's getting better, not worse.
No one else in the house has started sneezling. So perhaps we'll be lucky and it will stop with Cricket.
Illnesses and parasites are a fact of life with cat rescue, and a good relationship with a vet (or more than one!) is a necessity. If your relationship with your vet is semi-adversarily...no good. A vet who will tell it to you like it is, without beating around the bush, and whom you can talk to without too much fear of criticism, is gold, gold, gold. I'll save vet relationships for a future post.
Yesterday morning I discovered this visitor when I got up for my morning coffee. I assume it went through its life cycle in our house, because it's been cold out and there's snow on the ground. Obviously it didn't just flit in. But the question is...now what do I do with it? Why is it that I would easily squish a spider or a torpid wasp, but I can't just bring myself to squish this little beauty or put it out in the snow to freeze? I contemplated it all through coffee...such nonrational conflicts about life and death. Ultimately I invited it to step onto my finger and set it gently in our pantry on the garlic in the window, and I will look up its life cycle on the web.
We have a cat named Ditz who acts like she hates human contact (growls, hisses, yowls when you touch her) but really loves it. It makes her an easy target for human cruelty. Here Mark has wrapped her up in a blanket.
Here is Ditz saying "I hate it! I hate it! Do it again!"
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Jen and Sam came over today and made great progress painting the remaining cat shelters. They also got a really short intro to the cat facility, but I was in the middle of cleaning so it was a bit haphazard. I can't begin to express how happy I am to see these shelters painted. I look forward to finishing them up, getting hardware on, and getting them to the people who need them. This is a huge help.
I didn't catch any kittens, although we did catch two neighborhood cats. The landowner and her friend contacted the owner of the first cat and they came and retrieved him. The second cat had a collar and local tags, so they released him. With all that activity I'm not surprised the kittens didn't try the two remaining traps.Hopefully these friendly chow hounds are now afraid of the traps and won't wander in again.
I picked up three traps this evening, disabled the last one by removing the back door completely, and they'll feed the kittens in that trap this week. Hopefully the youngsters will learn to associate the trap with dinner. I'll try again next weekend.
I got up bright and early (well, it could have been earlier) to set the traps, and discovered I was being watched by this little guy (girl?). I retired to my truck to watch and he crept over to the porch. Hmmmmm....no food in the bowl. What are these trap things? However, like a dolt, I'd forgotten to put any lead-in bait after I re-baited this morning, so he spent all his time sniffing around the back and then went back to the porch to wait hopefully for his normal breakfast. Sorry, guy. No breakfast unless you go in the trap! Of course he ran off into the bushes when I returned to properly bait the traps.
I then went to pick up paint and almost wasn't able to get any from K-mart, as they don't mix exterior paint this time of year. But the paint guy was kind enough to find what I needed and mix some up for me anyway. So I have both green and beige paint for the shelters, and it will be nice to get those done!
This is Sam. He was a kitten at our place early this spring and his name, at that time, was "Sampson." I think it's clear he got a great home, especially since he's chillin' in his home at a party with twelve people. No trace of "feral" left in this cat! He was rescued by neighbors, who did the early taming before they turned him over to us. I'll have to be sure to send them photos.
Friday, November 18, 2005
I called both friends today, and they are both helping the same woman. And indeed, in 2001 I trapped eleven kittens and two adults from her neighborhood. Little Houdini, above, was one of them, along with the five kittens in the previous post.
FOUR years ago. How did that happen? How does time go that fast? Around here, if we help you with cats, you get a lifetime guarentee. We tell people if a new cat shows up, to call us. The last thing I want to do is put a ton of work into a site and find out it has all gone to heck because new cats showed up and bred to the original out-of-control numbers.
Well, four years later, new cats have shown up, and the woman caring for them is 95. 95 years old, and she's still looking out for cats. I should be so lucky.
Four years. That's pretty good, actually, in a neighborhood with a lot of people.
There was a mom cat, but she is MIA. There are three kittens, apparently still small. There are two friends, one who is able to help check traps. There is a dad cat, who will get a trip to the vet for neutering and a rabies shot. I've got some volunteers willing to give up their Sunday to come over and paint shelters, so we'll stow a shelter under her porch for any future cats, and neighborhood cats, since she'll probably feed anything that looks sadly in her back door. Then I'll also get shelters to people I promised, what, a year ago? The kittens I'll catch and we'll run them by the local shelter to see if they are candidates for their foster program.
If they aren't, I guess we'll keep them, because even if they take some time to tame, they really can't go back.