Sunday, April 30, 2006

Playing in the dirt, and a drive home on memory lane

Yesterday was a "help your family day." Mom called on Thursday and asked if I might come over to help move some perennials around, as this is a bit difficult for her with her (second) hip replacement.

Her garden doesn't look much right now with everything starting to poke out of the ground, but man, you should see it in July and the rest of the summer. Gorgeous. She lives in a mobile home park and probably should get an award for "nicest yard." It's incredible what she's done with the postage-stamp lot she's on. So I dug, and I amended soil, and I split plants, and we had a nice time talking.

One neighbor came by with her sweet and pudgy pug, and another neighbor walked by with her young black lab mix who was just spayed today (yeah! No more ubiquitous black puppies!). Posted by Picasa

Mom has two cats, Charlie and Oliver (whom she rescued on her own...that's the only reason I don't rag on her for not adopting from me). They are quite sweet and have stayed here with me when mom was recuperating in the hospital. Posted by Picasa

On the way home I meandered through Norwich since it was such a beautiful day. I used to walk two miles to school on these railroad tracks (through the snow, uphill! --joke)

I also got grabbed by the throat and thrown down an embankment on these tracks by a male jogger. Apparently tossing women twenty feet into a ditch was his idea of fun, as he kept on jogging. Lucky for me. I think I was about seventeen at the time.  Posted by Picasa

This used to be Four Winds Animal Hospital. I was hired here after I just turned eighteen. It was a live-in position as a vet assistant. For $25 a week. A week after I began, another staff member left and I got more responsibilities and a raise to $60 a week. The little efficiency apartment had HBO (a major luxury back in 1980) and of course the was a washer and dryer, plus things like paper towels, etc. that I never needed to purchase, so it actually was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a girl who loved animals and wanted to get out on her own.

I handled Saturday and Sunday clinic work, cleaned the facility daily, kept things stocked, set up meds, monitored critical patients, and covered emergencies and assisted in surgery at night. Dr. Briggs thought I was headed to vet school and so he grilled me regularly. I learned an incredible amount from him, and it was because of this job that I was hired after college as an animal control officer. His family was wonderful and I used to go out to their farm and ride their son Tim's horse Jojo.

Although I had already graduated from high school--and disappointed everyone by not going to college right away--I discovered that a kid could continue to attend high school post-grad until they were 21. Now that's not a thing they advertise, is it? So I continued to go to school full time for another year, since I did not work during the day.

Dr. Briggs was pretty perturbed when he discovered I was going to Ithaca College---not Cornell---for philosophy. Later in life, during my "police dispatcher" stage, when I came to visit he used to tell clients that "Here is my best worker, and look--now she's the Director of Traffic." When I started doing cat rescue, he provided me with any legal meds I needed, and I often drove my harder cases all the way to Norwich for his second opinion.

He was a fairly gruff, tell-it-like-it-is, person. And that is pretty much an understatement. Yet it was exactly because he was blunt and expected the best work out of everybody, and was willing to share what he knew and explain things clearly, that the job was so valuable.

My last day here I sat on the hill behind the hospital and cried. Those trees weren't even as tall as I was, back then.

Dr. Briggs passed away recently. The clinic was sold and is now Compassionate Care. My mother uses the new vet, and so did the lady with the newly fixed black pup. They are obviously taking great care of the place. From what I understand, my apartment is now gone and is being used for other things.

 Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 28, 2006

Foster home needed!

Esperanza and her five kittens need an experienced foster home. I'm off to New Jersey next week for three days, and while I have enough people to check on them here, Espie plays in her water and tosses her cat litter, and this makes for a messy cage! She needs a real room with a big cat pan and room to get away from these little brats. Not to mention a big water bowl that she can't splash the water out of.

Any past fosterers interested in a week of kittens? (or more if you are willing). It must be someone with the fortitude to deal with the possibility that these guys could have congential problems that could result in some hard decisions later on (see below). If you are interested, email me at info @ (remove spaces).

Radial Hypoplasia

Nothing is ever simple, is it? Posted by Picasa

The kittens are beginning to play. There is nothing cuter than kittens who are too small to walk, rolling around waving their paws at one another. While watching, I noticed that one of them wasn't using his front legs correctly. He didn't seem to be able to straighten them.

My heart sank when I picked him up (or her? They are not sexed yet). He appears to have radial hypoplasia, which is congenital, not developmental. In other words, the kitten was likely born with condition; it wasn't caused by poor nutrition, etc. after birth. Radial hypoplasia is often linked to kittens with a polydactyl condition ("extra toes") which this little fellow has.

He's too young to tell whether or not he will be able to use his front paws, or whether the problem is so severe he would walk on his wrists. Wrist-walking would cause all kinds of complications, and I'm not sure he would be adoptable. Right now he waves his little paws around to bat at his littermates when they are rolling around, so he considers them useable. One leg appears to be worse than the other.

So at the moment, it's "wait and see." Even kittens with normal limbs can't walk at this age. And it was this kitten who was the first one to crawl out of box, so obviously it isn't slowing him down. Yet the stories from caretakers of cats with this condition make it clear that this isn't a simple problem for a cat to live with.

And caring for one is a serious commitment.

See how he scoots around now? He uses his wrists, not his paws.

POST NOTE 2007 - This guy grew up just fine. Slowly his upper legs grew out and the issue with his lower legs and paws became less noticeable. He walks without a problem and was adopted. Posted by Picasa

Little kitten problems...

We've got various issues going on in these kittens. They are bright and active and eating well. This little fellow (girl?) has third eyelids that really shouldn't be up this high all the time. I'm not going to get seriously worried about it right now, but it's not normal. Posted by Picasa

The eyes should look more like this. Posted by Picasa

Cornell's Feline Follies Tomorrow!

Cornell Feline Club Plans ‘Follies' Sunday

ITHACA — The Feline Club at the Cornell University College of Veterinary
Medicine will present its annual charity cat show event, “Feline
Follies” from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at the veterinary college.

Admission is free. Funds will be raised via a bake sale and raffle and
will be donated to the Cortland County SPCA and Feral Cat Friends of
Auburn Veterinarians will give talks on feline health such as behavior,
dentistry and nutrition.

During the event cats from the Cortland County SPCA will be available
for adoption.

Thanks, Mark, for sending this to me this morning.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

And then there were four...

Well, this completes the litter! Delilah's family sent in her photo, since all the rest of her litter have been posted in their new homes. DeeDee actually wasn't a Wildrun adoption, since her family rescued the whole batch and fostered them. Delilah caught their hearts, and they kept her. I must say, I think this is the first time we've had pictures on an entire litter in their new homes a year after they were born. Let's keep it up!

I love blogging. Slowly, we are picking up more local readers. It's taking awhile, but our adopters are finding us, one by one. I hope some of them will consider blogging on what is most important in their lives.Posted by Picasa

Foreclosures up?

I know, I know. When I ditched the old blog and started the new, I said "No issues. Just cats." Must be something about spring (Earth Day, probably, has a lot to do with it), but I have a hard time keeping silent.

I suspect we are headed a general crash. We have been naively willing to accept the loss of personal freedoms as well as global aggression in return for economic largess. We also naively run our own lives the same taking on crippling debt to have more, more, more. Because we are told (and want to believe) that we CAN afford to pay later for what we can't pay for now.

How, please?

(BTW, the creation of the bank debit card is probably the best single financial innovation of the decade. I can now have credit-card convenience while only spending money I actually have).

Others can blog on politics far better than I, but now and then I discover a piece of information that seems as indicative of future disease on a national scale.

It's like hearing too many sneezes in the cat facility---a sneeze here and there is probably due to dust bunnies. More than a few sneezes? --- Something is seriously wrong.

Once kittens are in the house, a simply upper respiratory outbreak can mean death. What is just an inconvenience to the old boys with good immune systems (or big bank accounts) is deadly to the young who don't have that buffer.

This appears to me to be a few sneezes over the dust-bunny threshold: Foreclosures appear to be way, way up.

And we've got a heck of a lot of kittens named Iraq, Afganistan, New Orleans, global warming (warming that we won't even acknowledge exists, let alone take steps to resolve), loss of domestic jobs, culture shock over the new connection with our immigrant identity, etc.

Too many sneezes, and too many kittens. And it takes high gas prices to make us even begin to whimper. We/I should be doing a lot more than whimpering!

Another hurricane season is coming. I predict we will see the tolerance of U.S. citizens tested this year. Last year was a so-called "surprise." This year we don't have that excuse.

Is that another sneeze I hear? What am I doing about it? I can close the door and pretend I'm not hearing it...hoping the problem will go away, although any rational person would know it won't. That's what hoarders do. They say "I love my animals," while all around them their animals are ill and dying.

And they call hoarders mentally diseased.

This is just plain weird

And to think I used to think it was fun to just tunnels out of Pringle's cans for my hamster. Oh, yeah, and I liked to pet him, too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Well, it's officially spring at Wildrun

Need I say more? Posted by Picasa

Check out the extra toes! Jen and Sam are up there naming them now. I wonder what they will decide on? Those pulled-up eyelids will need to be watched, in case they have a bit of an upper respiratory infection. Posted by Picasa

I jinxed myself when I posted Herbie's photo (below). The couple who rescued Herbie rescued this mom cat too. And they have four other strays because apparently someone removed a mobile home near them, and left the cats that lived there behind. I have to go to New Jersey next week, so they will come out and check on the kittens while I am gone, so they get extra attention in addition to Alden caring for the cats (hmmmm...I supposed I'd better ask Alden if he CAN care for the cats next week...)

Monday, April 24, 2006

I love it when adopters send photos.

Herbie's owner sent a photo! Here he is all grown up. And there he is at the top, when he was here at Wildrun and his name was Sinatra. I'll need to send this link to the folks who rescued Sinatra, Sam, (Sampson) and Rocket (Marshmallow).Posted by Picasa

From chat at work today...

Cat saved by movie star.

Annoying little messes...

Slowly I've been trying to get the house under control. Especially the shabby things that are the fault of my cat habit. This mess, for example, which is the cat tree in my office. If you could close the door on my office, this might be OK. But my "office" is in fact the landing of our stairway (we are big on square footage, but small on actual rooms with doors). This cat tree was made by our friend Martha and when she moved she wasn't sure it would fit in with their new house. So it came to live with us. I recarpeted it in purple (it was cheap...purple carpet is always cheap) and replaced the sisal rope. But that was almost two years ago, and it obviously could use some help. Posted by Picasa

This is what the cats have done. They actually do claw right through the rope over time (as many of you know). Posted by Picasa

First step, take off the old stuff. In its various bits and pieces. Posted by Picasa

Then I just used the previous pound-in staples to attach the new piece of rope. I didn't take all of the old rope off. This stuff costs money, so if it has some life in it, I leave it. There are people who are fussy about multi-colored cat trees and want new rope of the same color. Those people either make more money than I do, or they probably haven't rewound cats trees twenty times or so. Or maybe their houses are just a lot nicer than mine. Around here, three different colors of rope on the cat tree is the least I have to worry about in my decorating scheme. Posted by Picasa

Then wind it around the cat tree, trying to hold it fairly tightly. This gets boring very rapidly, so if you have dreams of a floor-to-ceiling sisal cat tree, realize it will take almost ten packages of rope, a couple hours of work, and many many little rope slivers. I had one of those in our previous home. The cats loved it. I loved it. It was hilarious watching them climb to the ceiling. I replaced the rope about four times and believe me, I've never been tempted to install one in this house. Posted by Picasa

This is the important part. You have to pound the rope down tight as you work. Really pound it. Otherwise, the cats will drag it down as they claw it over time, and you'll have ugly gaps. Posted by Picasa

Well, that's one section done. The upper levels aren't too bad, so I may let the cats destroy them more completely before replacing them. Well, that middle section may have to go. See what I mean about the cats dragging it down and making gaps? Posted by Picasa

I have an actual storebought cat tree in the dining area. It was ripped to shreds as well, and since it's the first thing people see when they come in the door, I was glad to replace the rope. I needed Mark's help taking the tunnel off, because (of course) it didn't use a standard phillips head screwdriver and I gave up happily as soon as he said "Need help?" Posted by Picasa

The calico is Cricket. She has only three legs, but it doesn't stop her from going straight to the top of the tree to hang out in the crow's nest.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Unplug the shredder.

Damn. Just when you thought you were aware of every hazard.

Today was a people day...

Today (Sunday) was a people day. There was an animal cruelty training sponsored by the ASPCA at the vet college at Cornell University. So this morning Mark and I got up, downed our coffee, he walked the dog, I took care of the cats, he headed off to Earth Day at the Ithaca Farmer's Market, and I headed off to Cornell.

I was encouraged by the many police vehicles in the parking lot. It's great to see police taking animal cruelty seriously. I have seen the (excellent) presentations at other conferences so I came by at late morning to touch base with area folk that I might not otherwise run into on a daily basis.

And there were a lot of people there! Stacy Wolf and Todd Cramer from the ASPCAwere both there (along with other people I did not get a chance to see). Leslie Appel from the ASPCA and our local Shelter Outreach Services was there, and as usual she took it upon herself to make sure Person A got introduced to Person B. So, due to her deft handling, I got to meet people from the CNY Cat Coalition as well as folks from the Humane Society of Schuyler County (HSSC). There were other SOS folks there, including Marla Hirsch and Jonathan Reiss (who originally told me about the training), as well as Dr. Heather Murley (also of HSSC). Diane from HSSC was also there. She had come out to my open house last winter.

They had over 100 people in attendence at this training, which is a wonderful turnout.

Afterward, I headed down to the Farmer's Market to be seen with Mark, since apparently my departure from Ithaca College has given birth to some small rumors that he and I have split up. Not likely!

The Earth Day celebration was a huge success to my eyes. Almost all of the Market booths were filled up, and all I could think was "Why wasn't I here with my recycled cats?" Next year I need to make sure I sign up for space to get people to spay/neuter their cats! Mark said that Tom Karl was there, walking a dog with a TC SPCA jacket, but Mark was at his booth so didn't get a chance to speak to him.

The Compost Fair section of the celebration was great. They had a whole end, with many booths, and they were all quite creative. Then another friend, Diane, stopped by, and Mark had apparently suggested to her that she foster Ben or Tiger Tom!!!! They need a break from my place and would love the attention. And Dan Robinson from the Ithaca College Men's Crew Team came by. Dan coached the women's crew team when I was on it oh-s0-many-years ago.

So it was a great afternoon. All the while I was coming down with some sort of cold I picked up in my travels, so I hope I did not pass it on to anyone. I took pains to sneeze out of human range when I could.

It is now evening, and we are sitting by the fire as our first thunderstorm of the year rumbles and flashes outside.

Welcome home to New York.

Imagine dusting all those leaves...

Okay, I worked in greenhouses for almost a decade, and even I can't imagine taking place of all these plants. The whole hotel was like this. Posted by Picasa

Pinky can't resist the lure of the feather toy...

Pinky is slowly coming out of his shell. He came out to play with the feather toy today, emboldened by Plushy (left) and Kid (behind) who are both quite friendly. He'll take a swat or two then run away, but in a few moments he comes slinking back, unable to resist. (BTW, it is not the easiest thing trying to play with cats with one hand, and snap a shot of them playing with the other). Posted by Picasa

Back from the west

Well, I'm back. Denver (actually, Golden) was quite beautiful and warm, with sun and 70 degrees. Before getting picked up by the shuttle to the airport I basked outside on a bench for about 45 minutes. The conference was great, the people were wonderful, and the flights were only moderately bumpy.

The shuttle ride from the airport to the hotel was interesting. There were two people from the mining industry on the van, and one gentleman was a Denver native and shared all sorts of information about the city and the local ecosystem. There was also an Audubon representative who was headed to a sports photography conference. He asked me who I thought was more over the top---the people on the cat side of the cat/bird debate, or the people on the bird side. I told him I thought we were all a bit over the edge. I feel that cat and bird advocates are both, to some extent, speciests, understandably trying to protect the species they love. There are also middle-of-the-road folks who realize there is a larger picture, and that to gain footing for a future with "fewer free-roaming cats" may mean a combination of both trap/neuter/return (i.e. "save cats") and removal (i.e. "euthanasia") versus a black-and-white world where it is all or nothing, and we stand around flailing away at each other with two-by-fours trying to maim the evil opposition.

I feel a moral community should try to save life, and increase quality of life. This sounds simple enough, but in truth...isn't always.

For once, I did not see a feral cat at the hotel where I was staying. I did get to see a few prairie dog towns. Denver has grown up quite a bit in the mere year since I last visited. Where there had been nothing but prairie last year, there were now houses and houses and houses.

We are a frightening species. It is amazing to see the change we create on the landscape over time.Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kittens in TC!

Judy from Jacksonville (NY, not CO) sent some photos of her Tompkins County SPCA foster kittens. Kitten fix!!

I miss kittens, but I know I need to get some of these friendlies placed, so I'm glad I haven't had any fall on me yet. I called Mark at home and he spoke tonight to a rescuer who knows of two more adult cats whose owner has passed away. The cats were friendly with him, but are running from her.

It's time to find some homes for these friendly fellows so we've got room for kittens, too! In the meantime, I'll just look at these little guys.Posted by Picasa