Monday, December 31, 2007

Artists in polarfleece and plush

We have about five seamstresses out there (and workers-in-yarn) who periodically include us in their generosity ring. This week, my mom gave us a whole bag of catnip toys for Christmas, and Mark's sister Becky zipped out two cat mats.

Cat gifts of these sort serve more than one purpose. Of course, the cat facility cats benefit. But we also keep some on hand to go with adopters, or to give to people who have been particularly thoughtful. The cat mats are available in our cat facility if people want to buy them for themselves or as gifts.

It's always fun to get sewn gifts, because they always arrive unexpectedly.

Especially when Jack unwraps them himself on Christmas morning, before unwrapping officially begins:

Life is certainly going to be quiet (and less amusing) without Jack!

Spending your money, Part III

Scanning the cat facility for "shabby moments," one aspect leaps right out. The climbing wall needs some serious help. Carpeted with two remnants donated by Donna, it didn't stand a chance against 20 cats. Hey, they've had fun with it, but because it was in two pieces and also not bound, they were able to destroy it in short order.

Coming back from the vet this morning, I dropped into Warehouse Carpet Outlet. When I told them what I wanted the carpet for, they led me straight to a 6'x9' bound roll of dense beige carpet for $89. "But that's not your price," he said, and lopped off almost 30% without me even having to dicker.

While he was ringing me up, he began talking with knowledge about what makes good cat carpet. And guess what? Warehouse Carpet Outlet will re-carpet cat trees! Granted, you can do it cheaper yourself, but some folks simply don't have the time, the inclination, or the elbow power to pull out all those staples. He told me that if people take the old carpet off themselves, it brings the labor cost down.

I know I'm heartily tired of recovering my own cat tree, although given the other things I can use money for, I can't justify paying someone to do it for me. But there are people who would gladly pay not to have to deal with that task, especially for a sturdy large cat tree, so it's good to know someone is available for the task!

Speaking of carpet:

What's this, you say? Just a broad expanse of spotless purple carpet?

Exactly. The new cleaner is wonderful. You want to see something disgusting?

Those are the fur clods that the cleaner couldn't suck up, that the rollers spit off to the side. It's from the deep-down shed fur that was in the carpet, that the beaters on the cleaner turned into pickupable clods. This is AFTER the carpet was vacuumed and the edges attended to with an edge tool. You can see why we needed a deep cleaner.

The cleaner is very easy to use. It uses quite a bit of cleaning solution, and I had to refill the water tank four times, but I'm quite happy. You know that nasty perfumed smell you get with the spray-on carpet cleaner in a can? If that stuff smells overpowering to me, I can't imagine how overwhelming it is to the cats.

This cleaner merely smells nice, not overpowering. The carpet dried within a few hours. I'm looking forward to trying the cleaner on the vinyl next, since that is dull after months of damp-mopping and Swiffer-mopping.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

How I'm spending your money, Part II

So I just ordered four Fuzz-e-Floors and four Lixit Quick Lock crocks.

We can never have too many of either of these.

The Fuzz-e-Floors are great hammocks for kittens and standard sized adult cats, to add a nice soft space to the wire cages. They are pretty sturdy, but do wear out in about a year. They are also very bright and cheerful, and spiff the place up.

The Crocks are wonderful. Feral cats and rambunctious kittens can't knock them over, and they twist off to be refilled. The small ones are too small for cats, but the large ones are just right. I wish it were possible to purchase new clamps, as these sometimes crack. I'm sure I can come up with some substitute. Some day I'd like to be able to toss all of my miscellaneous bowls because I have so many Quick Locks I don't need them!

Free shipping!


How I'm spending your money, Part I

This past few weeks we have received some rather overwhelmingly generous donations. Like: "I'm sorry, am I reading this check correctly?" donations.

Amazing. Amazing. Overwhelming. Incredible.

Merry Christmas, kitties!

Some of them were adoption donations that were above and beyond our $50 request for the vet fund. These donations were made out to our vet. Poof! The $353 balance is gone, and we have a $200 buffer, which is great because we have promised to help spay/neuter at least three shivery girl kitties who are being rescued from the street by people who are willing to keep them but weren't expecting a big vet bill right after Christmas. It is much cheaper for us to pay for vet bills than to end up taking in the cats ourselves, especially adults who will sit here for months before adoption.

Some were donations from the button at the right, which go into our Wildrun checking account and are used for vet bills as well. We received $170 via the Amazon button this past month, which also will save the lives of at least two cats. Thank you, blog readers!

Then there were the "out of the blue" donations (for which I will be sending out thank-you's today!). These are from past adopters and landowners we have helped. It is always amazing that the biggest donations come from the "help thyself" folks. These are people who called us from help, but really did most of the work themselves (by providing homes to the adult cats dumped on them, catching cats themselves, doing a lot of the running around). And then they give US money!


I don't like spending donation money on food and cat litter. That should come out of my pocket. I figure if people give us money, it should literally save a cat (pay for spay/neuter or other vet bills), or provide some improvement to the cat facility.

So I thought I would blog what I purchase with these recent incredible donations so you know what you all have bought us!

First up is something we have desperately needed for the carpet in the cat room. Shelters really ought not have carpet (they have to be thrown out if there is a serious disease outbreak), but the cat room is the long-term room and we like it to be as home-like as possible. While the rest of the facility is vinyl floored, this one room has a big, thick, Scotchgarded carpet.

We have needed a wet vac/deep cleaner for about a half year now. I was going to get an affordable SpotBot and just resign myself to being on my hands and knees for a few hours every four months, but it hasn't happened. A few weeks ago I looked at rental cleaners, but they are huge, and the thought of dragging one up the stairs, and only having it for one day--and then having to rent one again every 4-6 months, was a concern.

So because of you I was able to purchase this yesterday:

It also cleans bare floors, so the vinyl will get a serious washing as well. And it will be available whenever we need it. I got the Bissell instead of a Hoover because Bissell is a sponsor.

I have never been so excited about cleaning a carpet in my life.

So that's purchase #1! Thank you all!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jack has a home!

Quite a lovely, big home. He and Holly will be good for one another, I'm thinking!

Coming into our house was a bit quiet, however, without Jack trotting out to greet us. But he'll be trotting out to meet Holly soon, once he's out of his safe room, and he'll have what he's always seemed to want: someone to be his "one and only" that he won't have to share with other cats.

Next up, Lawrence and Ben!

Great working cats blog

Working Class Cats!

Poached from Caturday

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas! What a day!

We've never done a Christmas kitty delivery, but time ran out on Christmas Eve, so after Mark and I had our morning coffee and sat on our refurbished futon couch (which I love -- Merry Christmas to us!), I bundled up Schubert and Tuck into Mark's car and delivered them to their new home, only a stone's throw from their foster home, and only a stone's throw and a half to the adoptive home of their two sibs!

AND right near the TNR'd poultry farm colony. We seem to be drawing some seriously good vibes in that neighborhood. It must be Nancy C's influence. :)

Look at this. They get their own private fireplace in their safe room while they get used to their new home. Lucky cats, I think, don't you?

In the "small world" category, it turns out we've already adopted a cat to this family. The couple mentioned that they were talking to their sister, and learned the sister had adopted a Sage Road cat we rescued a number of years ago. The adoption was actually from the SPCA, but Susan M. and I had been TNRing the colony, so after the adoption I went over to their house and showed them how to handle the very shy cat, and to clean her ears since she still had ear mites. I was very glad to learn that cat is doing well and they are very happy with her.

Good Christmas news!

Then it was back home for family and presents. Jack helped.

About noon the phone rang. Paatie the "outside becoming inside cat" who was just spayed had a really nasty eye infection...on Christmas Day. The only emergency vet is Cornell and I really couldn't give advice whether it was a "today" emergency or a "tomorrow" emergency, so I said "bring her over." And then I recalled that this couple is friends with my sister Linda, who hadn't seen them years, and who just happened to be at my house for Christmas. So I called them back and said "and plan on staying for dessert." Paatie found herself back in her old cage with eye meds, and we had a lovely time in the house.

This morning, Paatie's eye is MUCH better and she has an appointment tomorrow at Cornerstone (temp is now normal at 100.5). But you can see by the reflection there are "issues."

It was the first time cats have taken over Christmas, but it actually expanded the human celebration for us. While I don't think I'd plan to add cats on purpose next Christmas, the accidental cat aspect this year added quite an enjoyable dimension to yesterday's holiday.

I'm sure Paatie would prefer not to be dealing with an eye infection, but I'm glad it brought her caretakers over to our house!

I hope everyone who celebrates had a lovely Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Trying to spend money, and failing. Good!

Mark and I decided this year to buy stuff for our house together, instead of getting one another individual presents. We made some bucks on our barn sale, which was seed money for a "new couch," since we have very little furniture we have chosen ourselves. We wanted a new futon couch, mission style, dark wood, with a really nice thick mattress for our great room. We had done some window shopping this summer, and figured if we threw in what we would normally spend on one another, we'd have enough money.

We've been dealing with all sorts of space utilization dilemmas lately. First, the fuel oil bill arrived. $835!!!!!! So much for heating the upstairs this winter. And my office is upstairs. Brrrr...

I needed a downstairs workspace. I tried working from the couch, but after a week my butt was in agony, my laptop was stuffed under the couch when I wasn't working, and there was paperwork everywhere. So I looked online for tiny laptop desks. If I were going to take over our den, I didn't want Mark having to look at a general mess. I finally settled on this one.

I was set to buy it (free shipping!), but decided hold my horses and take a look around the house before parting with actual money. Tonight I realized I had the album shelves that my grandfather had built my mother. It has been sitting empty. So...

You'll note there are real curtains in that window. We've been in this house since 2000 with no real curtains. We saved to order these last month. Previously we had been using polar fleece (hint, cheap, you don't have to hem it, and you can make cat beds out of it later on!)

The polar fleece will now move to the kitchen to cover the windows there for the winter.

Mark scored me a really nice used office chair. This was my previous chair with a memory foam pillow to save my butt:

When Mark brought the "new" chair home yesterday, Cricket had to try it out (Yes, she is missin' a leg):

Ummm...Cricket? MY chair?

Well, off we went today to go couch shopping. Once upon a time, Ithaca was the futon capital of the world. Now you can only buy them at Treeforms. But, sadly, they had nothing in a mission style in our price range. So with Mark diplomatically steering me away from disappointment, we finally decided to buy a new double foam core futon for our current basic blond couch frame, and just settle for that for now.

The choice of futon covers in stock was pretty dismal. We normally just use fitted sheets, but you know, I really do want a house that looks like grownups live in it. We picked out a dark paisley print and settled for ordering one for future delivery. The manager (owner?) came down to help us, and while we were flipping mattresses from one frame to another to determine what size they were, I found a rustic looking cover sitting off to the side. I jokingly showed it to Mark and he said he LIKED it! So we brought it home.

Just in case you can't make out that pattern, Jack is showing it off here in a close up:

Yes. They are bears. So much for being grownups! And I swear we weren't drinking at lunch. In fact, we didn't even have lunch. Maybe it was low blood sugar. Mark looked at me and said "You do realize that this sort of sets a new motif for our great room, don't you?" The previous "motif" had leaned toward worn Victorian. I'm not quite sure where we are headed now!

OK, next dilemma. Since we would now have two old couches, instead of an old one, a new one, and an old one to sell, something had to be done with the oldest couch to make it presentable. Thankfully Joann Fabric was having a 60% off sale (plus $3.99 for upholstery pins). Goodbye orange and green upholstery!

The new inexpensive look:

Mark had headed off home with the futon. I was still Christmas shopping. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology was right around the corner and they have a Wild Birds Unlimited (good gifts for Mom!).

You know how when you are shopping for other folks, you always find one thing you really want to buy yourself? Well, why the Lab of O had a tile with a feral cat painted on it, I don't know, but I asked the clerk if she could get it down for me to look at.

As she handed it down from on high she lamented "Oh, it's cracked!" Indeed it was, in many places. I asked if she would reduce the price, and she said $10. I said yes, then looked closer and we both agreed the damage was pretty serious. Reluctantly I handed it to her and said no. $10 can buy me two discounted bags of premium cat food.

As I was checking out, the two clerks conversed, and mine rang up my gifts and said "You know, we'll only have to throw this out. We are going to give it to you."

And here it is after a layer of decoupage finish over the cracks:

Thank you, Lab of O! I promise all of our kittens will go to indoor homes so they'll never eat another bird!

So now, does anyone want an old futon? It's a full-sized, totally cotton (no foam core) futon, with no disgusting stains (although a few small non-disgusting ones). It's OK as a second futon under your main one if you are sleeping on a futon on the floor, or folded in thirds as an extra couch against the wall if you are in student or squatter mode. It would also be fine as a bed if you have nothing else, but its damned firm, so you have to be futon-savvy. Drop a note in comments or email me at info at americancat dot net if you want it. After Christmas it goes on Craigslist or Freecycle.


Schubert has a home (and maybe his buddy, too!). And what does he do? Comes down with a new sneeze! A big wet one. And he's not alone. Others are sniffling too. Argh! He was just into the vet this week for a healthy pet check, so I called my vet at home (bad, Susan, bad, but I SO need to get cats out of here into homes. "Too many kittens" is precisely why they get sneezes) and he's on Baytril now.

It frustrates me when big, fur-shiny, bouncy kittens get sneezes. Normally it's nothing much, but you just can't take the risk, even when you are sending kittens into a home where there are no other pets. If it's a virus, it will just have to run its course. If it's a bacterial infection, I should see improvement right away.

Pickles was out tonight, and I tried to get a photo of her without glowing demon eyes. No luck.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2007. It went so fast...

Sorry, no music. I didn't like the music on (all vocal?) and I don't know how to add my own...yet. I think I'll check for some other slideshow option. There's too much extraneous stuff on the shows.

We are open after 1:00 today

...if anyone wants to come to visit. I'll check my email periodically if anyone needs directions. Email info at americancat dot net. Put that in standard email format. See you!

With possible exceptions, kittens adopted today will be held until after the holidays and delivered to you. So feel free to come by to look, play, and put a "hold" on a special someone.

Or just come for some coffee and to hug a kitten.

Can you believe I almost bought cookies? With tins of Christmas cookies all around me? I definitely am a bit overworked.

I hope everyone has their shopping done (Ha! I've purchased ONE present so far...)

Maintaining the NY/NJ kitten balance

We took a momcat and three kittens from New Jersey earlier this year. Now we're sending a kitten back.

Fuego is adopted! He's going to a home with two pre-teen girls, and there are safety measures in place in case it doesn't work out. And perhaps a second kitten will follow him as a playmate after the holidays.

Good luck, Fuego!

Oh, and those three tiny kittens in the picture in the New Jersey post? They need homes too, here, and here, and here!

Whoa! I don't have Petfinder pet notes for Tubbs and Spit! (thus explains lack of links above). I'd better get my butt in gear!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Feeding birds...and cats

I found this absolutely astonishing when I read it. It is an article about bird feeding. Bird feeding is a purely selfish past time I myself engage in. The beauty of birds brings plain joy to a person's life. However, this article tells us not to feel guilty if congregating songbirds at a feeder are killed by a feeder-cruising hawk...but woe for the evil feral cat!

Hawks: Where songbirds congregate, so will bird-eating raptors. As painful as it can be to see, remember, it’s part of a bigger plan and it’s not your fault. Your feeder only brought this aspect of nature into plain view.

Feral or house cats: They are another story altogether. A 1996 study by University of Wisconsin Professor Stanley Temple found that free-ranging rural cats in Wisconsin were probably killing tens of millions of birds each year. Your tabby or your neighbor’s is no different, and they don’t need to eat birds to survive. Keep them indoors where they are safer, healthier and away from feeders.

"They are another story altogether." Really? How is that? This sounds much like the misguided anger we exhibit when we pound on our windows to chase away the squirrels, blue jays, grackles, and pigeons that dare to pause and eat the food we had put out hoping to draw only small and colorful birds. Our speciesism is often appalling.

The truth is, if we didn't put feeders out for cardinals and chickadees, those beautiful songbirds (who tend to stay close to trees and brush) likely would not get nailed by backyard hawks. The hawks would probably be scooping up abundant birds that tend to fly in areas of less cover (doves, non-native starlings, non-native house sparrows, etc.).

Feeding wildlife, including birds, simply so we can view them more easily, is utterly selfish. We should accept this. By exposing them to large windows, putting them in proximity to predators, both native and non-native, and to each other so that disease is more easily spread, we put songbirds at risk.

That we demonize a semi-rational animal (the cat) because it takes advantage of a habit that we PURPOSELY exercise (spending millions of dollars on each year in food, feeders, binoculars, etc.) just so we can watch birds out our front window (only the pretty ones, thank you!) says a lot about how we like to place blame in our society.

If a bird gets killed at my feeder, whether by hawk, cat, window, or disease, it's my fault, thank you very much. I'd save more birds if I stopped feeding them. And yet I do feed them. My pleasure in seeing them is entirely personal, and I put out food knowing that I'm also teaching the local raccoons and bears bad habits...that might result in them getting killed down the line, too.

But let's blame it all on the cats.

Coffee and Kittens Tomorrow!

We have potential adopters coming to look at kittens tomorrow. I experienced an issue with my americancat email, so if anyone sent me an email and did not hear back, please email again!

Guess whose got a home!

Fuego leaves Saturday morning! Thanks, Nancy, for placing yet another Wildrun kitten!

TIGER TOM has a probable home if he passes his "dog test" on Christmas Eve (Friends Martha and Hilary are bringing Randi for a visit, and Tiger Tom will move in the house for the weekend). Thank you, Cary, for thinking of us when your Dad said he's interested in a cat.

JACK has a suitor! She'll come by to visit next Thursday.

Someone's interested in Schubert (but may of course fall for another cat or kitten).

And we will be using adoption fees from any holiday adoptions to pay the pet deposit for a friend who may be willing to take one of our big friendly cats who has been here too long (Ben? Thomas? Leo?)

We will be open Saturday afternoon after 1:00 pm if anyone wants to stop by. I'll probably be open until about 5:00. Coffee will be on!

Have a wonderful Holiday weekend. And no, my shopping isn't done.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

From outdoor to indoor....

I normally don't blog during work hours, but I received this photo today from Peetie's rescuers (now owners) and haven't blogged in so long, I figured I would quickly share. Isn't Peetie handsome? Can you tell he is (pre-neuter days) the dad to these two kittens here and here?

What a gorgeous shot. I may need to steal this for next year's Christmas card.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Reading editorial cartoons will really make you smile today...

A holiday gift from Mallard Fillmore to all the shelters and adoption groups on Petfinder (see right side of last panel; click for larger).

From this site.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Buy a cool iPod Nano and help Carlo and Bunny!

Check this out. Don't you want one anyway? Surely there's someone on your holiday list who has been dreaming about one...

Post Note: Too late! The Nano was adopted.

Why we do what we do.

I have removed portions of the following letter. This will of course keep me in good spirits for weeks to come, and I hope it will also give everyone who loves Shakespeare a similar lift, including Chris, who arranged this adoption, and Tim, who ALMOST fell for him:

"Thank you on behalf of my mother, for allowing her to adopt Shakespeare. I visited her recently and fell in love with him! He is so sweet natured and affectionate as well as beautiful. My mother adores him. She says he is one of the nicest cats she has ever had...He seems content in his small quarters, plays with his toys and of course has lots of attention from the nursing staff and other visitors as well.

"I am so grateful that she is enjoying Shakespeare's companionship knowing that if she is unable to care for him at some point in the future that you will take him back" (Note: we make this especially clear to people who hesitate to adopt due to age, or whose family lives very far away, as this adopter's daughter does. No one should go without a cat when they can provide one with safety and love)..."She would not have adopted another cat without knowing someone could care for it later on. After spending 10 days with my mother and Shakespeare I felt sad to leave them both. Shakespeare is a truly wonderful cat and companion."

And she sends an incredibly generous donation that will spay at least three cats. So Shakespeare, you've done good, guy. You've made so many people happy, and your sweetness, and the kindness of people who have met you, have saved three more cats as well.

I'm keeping this letter right here by my computer for a few days, and then I'll take it out to the cat facility for everyone else to enjoy.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I was checking out philosophy blogs...

I found a few that seemed interesting. I added them to my blogroll. When I went to check one out today, what should I find as a recent post but this?

I'm actually doing it...

Christmas cards!

I used to faithfully purchase wildlife cards for my wildlife control customers and contacts, and cat cards for my adopters and cat friends. The last five years or so I've been a poor correspondent and have been cheating. You know: keeping a pile of cards around, and as people send you cards, send them one right back, using the return address from the envelope you just received.

This year I vowed to get cards out to almost everyone, and update my woefully out-of-date Christmas card list. It's the least I can do after all the help I've received this year! I only had a handful of cards left over from previous years. Having been out of wildlife control for awhile, this year I figured I may as well stick to a 100% cat theme. Finding cat cards proved to be difficult, however. I finally located some at Wegmans, of all places. So here I sit, organizing the paperwork I should have organized months ago, addressing cards, and having a thoroughly enjoyable time re-living adoptions and recalling all the great people who came to visit this year, provided a home for one of our cats or kittens, or came and volunteered!

I've also enclosed a short update letter, and a small flyer to help our current kittens find homes. If you get a card (unfortunately I don't have addresses for all my blog readers!) please help by posting the flyer at your workplace, or other location where it would be seen.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Speaking of philosophers...

Gary Francione has a blog!


A week and a half ago I finally tackled the dark stairway from hell. If you haven't visited, you can't appreciate how dark and miserable the stairs from the first floor to the second floor were. It became even worse when the 100 watt bulb blew out and I was forced to replace it with the only bulb available: 60 watts. The stairwell was so dim you were putting your life at risk trying to get down them.

I was about to go rummage for another light bulb, but I figured I might as well finally paint the stairs to brighten them up. The steps were tile red, and the walls were unpainted.

Huh! It's amazing what a little paint will do! You can actually see where you are stepping now. Those you of who have visited or volunteered before may not even believe it's the same stair:

The dog and cat prints on the wall are from a dollar store.

Then I had these nice cages. The one on the right I had ordered with a stand . The one on the left I had ordered without a stand, to save money. I ended up having to crawl around on the floor to clean it. I gave in and ordered a stand for it....oh, months ago, and it has kicked around, begging to be assembled. Finally, while I was waiting for stair paint to dry, I assembled it, tipped the cage over on its side (sans kittens, of course) and got it on. What an improvement! They both look better side by side now that they are the same height. And the cage is now so much easier to clean. The kittens really like being at eye level.

Click on the photo to get a better look at the cages. I wouldn't mind one more. This one would be cool. Or this one. Some day. I'm not in a hurry. They are expensive (about $600 with shipping and the powder coated wire). One was purchased with a work bonus, and the other was purchased with a very generous donation from an adopter.

However the wire dog cages work the best for feral cats, so I would never want to replace all my cages with this type.

What else can I fix? There is still so much painting to do.

If we ever move, some kid is going to have one heck of a clubhouse.

Cat folks who do more than I do...

A few months ago, a Cornell student mentioned a colony in my general region that needed help. She had rented a room at a house where there were lots of cats. I had fixed a few cats for the same folks in the past (they contributed), and I told this students I'd be happy to help out. I took her email address...and lost it.

Once the Waverly cats are done, this other colony would next on the list. So I emailed a fellow cat rescuer at Cornell and asked if she knew the student's name. And my friend the feral rescuer told me that all the cats at that site were ALREADY done. The student had caught them and my friend (whose name is also Susan) had gotten them done (she uses the same vet as I do).

AMAZING!!!! How did she DO that in addition to all the cats she does on her side of the county? Susan probably gets 3-5 times the cats done that I do.

I also am constantly in shock at the number of cats that this woman fixes in Oregon.

There are countless people out there, doing the same thing --- using their money, their family's money, their friends money, as well as the money of strangers -- to fix other people's cats and find homes for the kittens and friendly cats that would more sensibly grace a warm home than someone's back porch. It's an odd compulsion, and a common one.

Strangers who come across me say "Um, isn't that an unusual past time?" Actually, it isn't.

We are everywhere. And I just found one more. Visit Chris at the SATCat blog!

Fuego arrives.

Boy, do his poor little innards make a lot of noise. He drank about a cup of water when he arrived, and I've been feeding him small amounts of food.

I drove past the house where he had lived, which had burned. Very sad. It's clear the family lost pretty much everything.

He's in the house, because I really have no idea what to do with him. He has a bit of a snizzle, and I have two kittens in the barn with a snizzle. Mixing upper respiratory illnesses is a big no no. The downstairs of the cat facility is being heated now, because Paatie is down there, but it's hardly kitten friendly.

He's been a bright spot in an otherwise pretty lousy day.

Is there anybody out there with no cats who would like to have a sweet kitten to cuddle up with for two weeks or so? He's quite the computer buddy, sitting here next to me as I work. Maybe some student stuck here alone for the holidays who would like a friend?

Friday, December 07, 2007

This will make you smile

Paatie gets spayed tomorrow

She's mom to the two longfurred kittens here. No more kittens for Paatie! And, lucky her, her caretakers are going to keep her and make her a pet cat, rather than a porch feral. She's a sweetheart.

Peter Singer lecture

I am so clueless. Why did I not think to bring my Singer books to be signed? Or bring some money to purchase one of his newest books? I've never been the type of person to seek signed copies of anything, but I don't know, I think I would have liked to have a copy of Rethinking Life and Death" signed by the author.

My photos of the author came out poorly, so all you get is a photo of his books. It's time for a new camera, but I'm afraid it will have to wait.

So, the lecture was very good. Peter Singer is certainly an excellent teacher. This presentation was a more general discussion than I had expected. Having delved through all but his most recent books, I had hoped to have had to lean forward and frown thoughtfully in concentration a bit more (yes, I am totally starved for challenging education--my brain craves some serious exercise). I think I was hoping for a master class rather than a public lecture, which is a bit unrealistic, I suppose, when there are hundreds of people in the room.

While the audience was settling itself, I was lucky enough to be spotted by Lee Bailey, a former professor and now friend, so I had good company instead of being alone in the audience.

Singer addressed the choices we make about what we eat, and the impact our food production. He said "you'll notice I provided information, but did not provide answers." And indeed, this was an illustrative lecture concerning the impacts of factory farming on animals and the environment, and an examination of other choices we might make, to purchase organic foods, to choose a vegetarian or vegan diet, to purchase locally produced foods (whether animal or vegetable), and, finally, to eat less (what a novel thought in America! Eat LESS!).

He pointed out that what we generally assume consumes fewer resources may not. Tomatoes raised in a northeastern greenhouse in May or June may actually use more energy than tomatoes trucked up from sunny Florida. A response: perhaps locavores must sacrifice eating tomatoes until late July when they finally ripen in our home valleys. If we choose to "eat local" and also eat with the least environmental impact, we will also need to eat "in season."

Upon arriving home I cracked open the door to our unheated Great Room and picked my Singer books off the stone-cold book shelves. When they thaw out, perhaps by the weekend (smile), I shall settle in for a good read.

Off topic note: I arrived early, concerned that the Emerson Suites might be overcrowded, but I learned I had time to kill so I wandered the campus a bit. My first surprise was the large number of students striding toward the Campus Center. The Center (Egbert Union, when I was a student) had been a vibrant public space when I took classes in the 80s. After its renovation in 1987 or so, it became more sterile. The dark old pub and the cramped snack bar were replaced by spaces with a more Howard Johnsons-type feel, and the main Union, which used to be so full you tripped over fellow students, become remote and echoing.

These spaces were recently renovated yet again, and wireless is available. They ditched the small modular couches in the main area--useless things--and replaced them with tables and chairs, where students were working tonight. The lounges were ALL full with evening student events, the TV lounge was gone -- replaced by a classroom (this caused me an odd twinge of pain -- I'd watched the towers fall on 9/11 in that dark lounge with other staff and students). The snack bar, where I finally wandered, was absolutely teeming with working students. An open mike poetry night was taking place. It exhibited a spontaneity that had never existed during either my student or employee years.

And the "bar" (the failed replacement for the old pub) was serving coffee (as it had when I was an employee--during the day, that is) and it was OPEN. At NIGHT. What a novel thought, that students might want coffee in their snack bar in the evening when they studied.

This is not the Ithaca College I knew three years ago. And this is a good thing.

Fire kitten coming

I just received an email from our very caring local dog control officer. She has periodically written me to say "I know of a cat..." or "I know of a kitten..." and I've always said "No, too, too full" both because I AM too full, and because there has always been another intelligent human in the picture. When there are other suckers in the picture, I often say "no." We try to keep ourselves as a house of last resort, where people can go when they have already done a lot, or for people who can do half a project but just need a hand doing the other half, or when there is just no one else there.

This time there is no one else there, AND people have gone more than half way. A local family lost their home in a fire, there are animals who need sheltering, and it sounds like friends and neighbors have already gone out of their way to shelter a lot of them. There are cats who need feeding, and a kitten who needs to come in out of the cold. And while the last thing we need is another kitten, this is one time when "no" just ain't gonna cut it.

So tomorrow there may be another kitten in the cat house.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Moving cats from dens to traps for vet visit

We are helping folks in Waverly get their feral cats fixed, as our vet has space for spay/neuter. They brought in two cats two weekends ago, a beautiful long-haired brown tiger named Eye of the Tiger, and a black and white named Oreo.

We give each of our feral cats a feral cat den (about $50 with shipping, and worth every penny. We now own about seven dens, some of which were donated by ACES or purchased for reduced price at conferences or benefit auctions).

When making vet appointments, guessing the sex of the cats can be a bit of a toss-up. If you take the time, you can determine the sex of a cat while he or she is in the trap. I'll do a post on that with the next round. Or, if you have a flexible vet who doesn't mind if a male neuter turns into a female spay, you can guess based on your twenty years of experience as a person who has handled far too many cats.

I guessed on body and face type (and feedback from the caretakers) that EOT was male and Oreo was female. Neither one of them had a tomcat smell to their urine (easy to tell from the tiny catboxes they had in their cages), but EOT was a pretty big laidback guy. Hey, maybe he was young, or already neutered. Lucky for me, and for the vet, the guesses were correct.

When purchasing traps, always get traps with back doors that slide UP. These cost only a few dollars more than the type with only the front trap door. Never purchase the type with a back door that swings to the side (like a standard human door). We buy Safeguard traps. They are economical, strong, wider than most traps so there is more room for a cat if he is being kept in the trap overnight, and they have a back-door model. It is always cheaper to purchase traps online than at your local garden store. I like fTomahawk traps very much but they are more expensive and are narrower than the Safeguards.

Come neutering day, we move the cats from their cages back into the traps. The vet can anesthetize the cat right in the trap using a trap divider, fix the cat, and then put the cat back in the trap to recover. This is the least stressful option for both the cat, and the vet staff.

It makes far more sense for the cat caretaker to make sure the cats are already in traps, rather than making the vet deal with a cat in a crate or feral cat den. The cat then somehow then has to be maneuvered into a squeeze cage at the vet's office, or worse yet, manhandled if the cat gets loose, or chased around the crate with an injection stick. Remember, YOU are the feral cat expert. Most of the cats a vet handles are pettable. It's best that YOU make sure the cats are properly stowed, and not expect a busy and overworked vet to move a cat into a cage suitable for injection.

We put towels on the bottom of the trap. I don't put newspaper down as well, because the vet is going to have to tip this trap to use a trap divider to squish the cat on one end for injection. A soft towel is easier to pull out or move around than newspaper. Check with your vet for his or her preference. They may want nothing at all in the trap, in which case I bring along a clean towel so the cat has a towel to lie on after the surgery.

Once the traps are standing by, the cat can then be shut in her feral cat den, the den is placed against the end of the trap, both sliding doors are opened, the den is tapped to encourage the cat to move from the den to the trap, and the sliding door on the trap is closed.

Covering the far end of the trap sometimes encourages cats to move out of the den. Some people leave the trap uncovered with the theory that the cat will leave the den, seeing light, to try to "escape." I want my cats to be as unstressed as possible, so I don't want them bolting into the end of a wire trap in a frustrated escape attempt. Quiet, patience, and a few taps (which often aren't needed) are usually enough to move the cat into the trap.

Don't forget to lock the trap! Some traps have top locks, and others have bottom locks. Forgetting to fasten them can mean a loose cat in the car, or on the street, or at the vet's office. Cats CAN push these back doors up.

Once the cats are in the traps, it is extremely important to cover ALL of the trap. I can say "ALL" until my face turns blue, and people will still bring me half-covered cats, or cats that were left overnight with a bit of trap uncovered and their nose rubbed raw from trying to get out. During transport, two pillowcases with one side slit will cover one trap perfectly. To keep a cat overnight, a fabric sheet entirely covering the trap will do a great job.

When transporting the vet, be sure your car is protected from urine and dirt. I have a truck with a rubber mat, and I usually lay a towel beneath the traps, just in case.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Two Talking Cats revisited

OK, if you love cats, someone has sent you this sometime over the last week:

The original Two Talking Cats

Have they sent you this yet?

The video response

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Winter arrives and Vannie turns 5 years old (Amazon donors, please read)

Today I went out to feed the Fast Food Ferals. I brought along a shovel to deal with our 5 inches of snow.

As the years pass, one sometimes wonders if there are still cats out there--or are we feeding only raccoons and muskrats? The arrival of snow brings answers. Yes there are cats. At least one cat:

After shoveling a path and filling the bowl at the feeding station, I went to the car to fetch a bag of food to fill the on-site can so Kat would have kibble for the cats this week. When I returned, I saw a cat on the other side of the cat bridge.

It was Vannie. One of the Origicats.

In 2003 when I took on this colony, I was pretty broke. Well, "broke" is the story of my life, but I was not only broke then, I had promised all the businesses on the north side of Route 13 that I would fix all of these cats on the Fast Food Strip in return for their support and cooperation in caring for these cats for the rest of their lives.

I lamented my situation with my internet friends on the feral_cats Yahoo group, and five days later I received a check from Vanessa, a member of the listserv, for an amount that would pay for two spays, with the only stipulation that I name one of the cats "Vannie" after her.

Five years later, the swarms of freezing cats and sick kittens huddled on the dumpster of Pizza Hut are over. The kittens found homes, no more were born, and of the originals, only Vannie is left. One-Ear and Garcia are new cats. They have no need to hang out on metal dumpsters, since they are fed daily.

To my knowledge, only these three are left on the north side of Route 13 of the original 25-30 cats that were here in 2003.

I like to think it is Vanessa's love and generosity that has kept Vannie safe all these years.

I was so happy to see her today and to know she is alive. Although the "point" of trap/neuter/return is the ultimate elimination of the original colony, Vannie's survival has been my inspiration. I didn't want to take on the Fast Food Ferals. It was a project begun out of anger and frustration. It has become a project the proves the power and dedication of friendship (all those who have cared for, and currently care for, these cats, and those who gave their time, money, supplies, or land, to help).

Here is Vannie's photo when she was first captured in 2003:

As I left the feeding area, I watched Vannie step quickly across the snow on the bridge toward the feeding station. I've always thought she was a beautiful cat. Now that she is so rare, she seems even more beautiful. I had been thinking about making bracelets to give to donors, or to encourage other donations, and as I watch Vannie it occurred to me that the inspiration for the design of these bracelets ought to come from something other than pretty colors and neat beads. They ought to come from the cats the money goes to save.

Tonight, when I probably should have been catching up on the work piling up due to my vacation days, I made two bracelets with Vannie as inspiration. I think I'll make nine bracelets for each cat, in honor of their legendary nine lives. Then, no more.

Recently two people made donations on the Amazon link (one about a month ago, one about two weeks ago). The dollars fix cats and save lives (the funds go to my Wildrun bank account, which is used only at the vet for feral cat care; I am not incorporated as a nonprofit, so I pay taxes on the funds). Over the past two years, $1100 has been donated via this blog. $1100 just for talking about the cats!

These donations are a huge lift, just like when people come to the holiday party, or send a card at Christmas with a picture of the cat they adopted from us years ago. People CARE! And neither donor sent a message via Amazon to take credit for their donation either. They just sent it off to some strange woman on the internet, and trusted that it would save cats.

So if you both choose to send your names and addresses and the amount you donated, I would like to send you each one of Vannie's first two bracelets. My email address is info at americancat dot net (please put in normal email format):

The bracelet above is four strands of memory wire, with charms on each end proclaiming "Live" and "Inspire." The beads chosen are a "story" of Vannie's life. I'll send an explanation, and picture of Vannie.

The bracelet below is two strands, symbolic of the Fast Food Feral project, and Vannie's part in it. The charms read "Trust" and "Believe" because the entire project was based on the trust of those who gave to support it, and the belief that it would succeed.

I will be setting up a web page with future bracelets, and donors can pick which they would like, if any. And of course, people who come to the facility to care for the cats, or take care of the street cats, can have their pick at any time. Feel free to re-gift them, as I realize many of us are not bracelet-wearers. And of course, inventive souls can come up with other uses for them, perhaps as an ornament on your thick winter scarf, or to hold back a curtain...who knows?

I have to say, making them is very calming. The bead are all glass, stone, or pearl (no plastic).

Stay safe, Vannie. Stay safe.

Thanks to all who came out for the party!

It was a bitter cold day,and slick conditions in Ithaca and yammering of a big storm kept some people stuck at home, but we had a good turnout, and as usual, the last folks drifted home around midnight. During the evening visits the kittens could barely drag their eyes open, but they managed big purrs for everyone.

I took two days beforehand to pick up after last week's barn sale. Lawrence provided moral support:

The workshop does clean up nice, really! And Lawrence was a gracious host throughout, warming up the ankles of every friend of Wildrun who walked in the door. I wasn't sure about leaving him loose throughout the party, but he had no interest in the door once he realized all these folks were going to PET him.

Alden and Mark relax after the first round of visitors:

Many friends, old and new, came to visit. Donna Wray wins the award for most cat visits in one week: she stopped by three times between last weekend and this weekend! Kat, who looks after the Fast Food Ferals each weekday, helped move the party from the cat facility into the house once darkness fell:

As much as I promised myself that I would remember to take photographs, well, I did a lousy job of it. There are no photos at all of everyone playing with the cats, and none of the party in the house!

The cats were racking up the presents. Cat toys, baby food, (wine for the humans), bucks to buy more presents,

(Hey, Valarie, that bird cage in the background has your name all over it...)

It was a long, fun day. The forecast bad weather failed to arrive in Spencer...until about 3:00 am:

Oh, and Lawrence? All his hard work paid off. If his vet check comes through OK, he's got a new home!