Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bad cat food?

I've been getting cat food for my cat facility via a generous source which has, it appear, run dry. For the past two years, I was able to get Science Diet at a far-far-less-than-market cost, but it appears this won't be an option at this time.

The house cats normally eat Chicken Soup For the Cat Lover's Soul (lite adult) food. Please don't laugh. This used to be Diamond Brand cat food, which is a premium food, and still is, but now has this cheesy franchise name. Nonetheless, it's a good meat-as-primary-content food, with no dyes. Our house cats love it.

Until this last bag.

Money has been tight, so I had been feeding the house cats my cat-facility food (low-cost semi-donated Science Diet, normally $30 a large bag but costs me far less due to certain generous individuals). But when the Science Diet option got tight (I was only able to get 3 bags last month, and I need 15 bags a month), I reserved the Science Diet for the facility cats, and started buying the house cats $20 a bag CSFTCLS food again via the house bank account (i.e. the money Mark and I set aside for house bills, versus my own remaining money I use for cat rescue).

But they wouldn't eat it.

I assumed they were just being temporarily finicky. They have always LOVED this food.

But a week went by and they were merely picking at the food. Weight was melting off them. They were not going to eat that food.

Now, I'm one of those "Paranoid people create picky cats" people. I roll my eyes at family members who say their "cats won't eat that" food. I've had hundreds of cats go through my hands and they eat what I give them, you know? From Dads to Science Diet--depending on my economic status over the last 20 years, they've eaten it. There are rare cats who would die rather than eat a food, but truly finicking cats really are rare.

But when ten cats agree "We aren't eating that crap you are giving us?" Something is up.

Today, we took it back, and our WONDERFUL pet food store, Ithaca Feed and Pet Supply (no web page?) gave us a new free bag of Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul (non-lite) food, and this is what our cats told us:

The rest of the ten cats in the house were waiting in line.

Something was up with that old food.

Once this is gone, we'll buy a small bag of the lite diet out of a new lot. If they eat that, I'll get another big bag and we'll try again because it's great food. The fat cats keep a nice normal weight, and the lightweight cats don't get too thin on it.

Buyin "stuff"

(Note: some links on this post contain links to lethal traps).

OK, so I went, like, to the NYSWMA conference, you know?

And there are two major components to a conference:

A) Hang out with really great people you really like whom you haven't seen in a year and
B) Buy stuff from the vendors or drool over what you can't afford

Ummmm...yeah. And you are supposed to listen to the speakers, too.

(Actually, feedback is that the speakers at this conference were EXCELLENT with capital letters all around. I didn't pay the conference fee and instead just volunteered to help at registration so the board members would be free to make contacts as board members should. So I stayed at the registration table all morning and didn't hear the speakers. Then I headed back home to do chores).

Hanging out the night before was fun. I've known some of these guys for 15 years. Our politics are completely different, but these are honest, jump-into-the-path-of-an-oncoming-train-for-anyone gentleman (although I did discover some guys I though were conservative were actually liberal--so I'm guilty of stereotyping, myself). The evening was fun except for one guy who wanted to pretend to the other guys that he was flirting with the only woman at the table. Being a guy, he probably has no clue that it is pretty insulting to "pretend" to pick up a woman he has no intention of picking up, especially when it's clear the guy A) WOULD probably pick up a gorgeous 30-year-old if she indicated she wanted to be picked up, but B) isn't likely to pick up a gray haired bit-overweight 44 year old and was only tossing comments out because I was the ONLY female there.

And guys? You know, I might have been flattering at 34 to be asked if I were 25. Because at 34 it's even possible I may have looked 25 on a good day. But it ain't flattering at 44 to be asked if you are 34. Okay? I have stark white hair. Only a fool would suggest I look 34, and to assume I'm the kind of fool who would believe you are serious, well...

PuulEEZE! I've got a husband at home who makes any come-on artist look like rat bait.

At middle age, we should be over this, you know?

It is, in fact, the first time I have physically poked a man with a fork every time he made a smart remark. He was harmless and amusing, but it meant that the mere two hours that I would have like to have spent in conversation with friends ended up focusing on the amusing jokes this fellow was lobbing off me.

However, we know what goes around comes around. He didn't appear at the conference the next day until early afternoon. Obviously what he'd had to drink had come back to haunt him.

The exhibitor's hall had some great people the next day. Bill Brothers from ACES was there, as well as Alan Huot from Wildlife Control Supplies.. Also, I need to go visit Hotaling Signs (no web page?). They were churning out magnetic signs and stickers (great variety of clip art, too, and LOTS of cat options) right at the conference with their portable equipment. I need a new sign for my truck, because mine has the wrong webpage address on it. So I'll be in touch with them down the road.

I figured there was nothing that could tempt me to part with my meager cash, until I saw the bright purple flashlight on Alan and Carol's table. I picked it up, read the sign, and the fact that this UV flashlight detects cat urine and, I assume, some types of ringworm.....

Oh, I had to have it.

(looks blue; is actually vivid purple)

It was the only one they had, and they wanted to show it off to other conference attendees, so I came back later that afternoon to pick it up.

Mark got to test it when Nick decided to back up and pee on our entertainment unit. Look, the flashlight says he actually did squirt there, the little SNOT! Out comes the Murphy's Oil Soap.

I already have a Wood's Lamp, which is basically the same thing, but not as rugged, and I want something in the truck or house that isn't likely to break.

When I got home, I went online to look for it, and couldn't find the same one I purchased. Alan said he'd get it on his own webpage at some point. A Wood's lamp is probably more affordable for most of you ($20 cheaper than this flashlight).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

People who have $600 to blow...

....really should not look at this page.

Check out the rest of their stuff too. Gorgeous. It's so pretty that just printing a photo of it and looking at it makes me happy.

Heck, I don't even need to print it. That's why I have a blog.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Jasper and ZuZu, adopter photos.

Stephanie sent photos of Jasper and ZuZu. It looks to me like someone is living a life of feline luxury.

And I did finally switch over to New Blogger, and survived the experience. I have today off, and it is dedicated to getting crap done that I've been putting off.

I'm not sure what it will do to comments. I hope it doesn't make you jump through too many hoops.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Conference season begins.

Today I'm off to an Animal Behavior and Management Seminar in Binghamton. I would have shared this on the blog in case others wanted to go, but I just managed to register Friday evening (by calling the conference coordinator at home) since I hadn't been able to track down registration info earlier.

Next week I've told the guys at the NYS Wildlife Management Association I would sit registration for their conference on February 24.

On March 2nd, there's a Adoption Options in Philly that I might zip down to. Adoption Options are only $10 for members and $20 for non-members, so it's a deal. There is also the New Jersey Wildlife Damage Control Association seminar, but I don't think I'll make it to that, although I would really like to. It's in Atlantic City, and it would be nice to go to the wildlife control conference then also go visit the cat colonies on the Boardwalk.

On March 11 its the Community Business Showcase in Spencer from just 1pm to 4pm. Come by and visit our booth!

On March 20, the Empire State Animal Response Team is having a FREE workshop right in Ithaca at Cornell University. Anyone want to go? FREE. Can you say FREE? (i.e. No Excuse?) There are also other workshops: Syracuse on March 21, Renssalaer on April 9, Mahopac on April 11, Yaphank on April 13, and Batavia on May 16.

March 23/24 is the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey annual conference, and there are some great cat speakers there! I would encourage those who can get free to attend. This is always a great conference. I've gone to the last two and this will be my third. Unfortunately, I'm speaking on wildlife handling right during one of the cat presentations. Doesn't it figure!

So far, that's it for this spring. It's going to be a busy two months. At least only New Jersey is an overnighter, unless I decide to stay in Philly for the Adoption Options.

HSUS is putting on a bunch of feral cat workshops around the country, I can't make any of them, but that doesn't mean some of you can't!

I highly encourage people to attend conferences and workshop whenever they can, especially when they are low cost or free. It's not just what you learn, it's who you meet, and the networking between sessions. I can't begin to tell you what a relief it is to spend time with people who don't think you are crazy for caring about animals or the environment. Even if you sit in a corner and don't say a word, it is an experience that, in my opinion, is a necessary balm for any person interested in animal welfare.

Hello Rocket; goodbye sleeping blogs

April sent me this cute shot of Rocket well over a month ago, and I'm finally getting around to posting it. Rocket has been on a diet, and it looks like she's doing pretty well on it. She's such a pretty girl. Doesn't she look like Casper/Marbles?. She was rescued by the same person, but not from the same location, so she's not related.

On a sadder note, I've finally gotten around to removing a few of the blogs on my blogroll that are either DOA or whose owners haven't posted in more than four months. I need to add some new ones. I hate removing blogs that I really like, especially if they have been kind enough to blogroll me as well. But if they haven't been touched in four months, I'm figuring they have taken the long snooze. If they wake up, I'm sure I'll find links to them on the other blogs I read, and I'll put them back. So, farewell, friend blogs. I'll miss you!

Post Note: I don't if April just happened to log on and see this post and send me an email, or her ears were just ringing, but she sent me some photos of the snow in their neighborhood in North Syracuse:

Remember you can click on any of the photos in the blog to see them in a larger version.

Yikes! Lots of snow.

Mark had offered to shovel out the Fast Food Ferals because I wasn't sure, when he left for work this morning, if I were really coming down with something, or just had the common morning "lousy feeling." By 10:00 am it was clear I wasn't sick, so I left a message on his cell that I would go into town and shovel them clear so Kat and the cats didn't have to wade.

And wow, had they been wading.

See that big snow bump to the right of the shovel handle in the photo below? That's another shelter. There are three air conditioning units behind this building, too. I was going to shovel them off, but figured that, if ice fell on them from the roof, the snow might cushion in the impact. Last year one of them got quite a dent.

Mark stopped by when I was 3/4 done and found the food can for me, by prodding down into the snow with the shovel.

All clear, kitties! Sorry I was so slow getting out there, poor things. I was puzzled by the relative lack of tracks until I realized they were walking over the drip-ice under the eaves, where they wouldn't sink into the snow.

Kat, BE CAREFUL. Watch for falling ice. Better to feed early in the morning, before things have had a chance to warm up.

Trying to be zen.

Sorry I've been MIA, and an especially big apology to my regular volunteers as they probably have no clue what is up.

I am attempting to be zen, as I have just received yet another phone call from another well-meaning person who has had a stray cat show up outdoors cat and wants to know "what to do" As I stand in the kitchen screaming "Feed the F%#$ing cat!!!!" at the answering machine (even though the person on the other end, who certainly can't hear me screaming, is a very close friend to whom I wish no ire) I realized I really really need to take the time to get myself in emotional order.

This emotional breakdown was heightened when I tried to get on Blogger and it began a subversive game to get me to switch to New Blogger. I do not have TIME to deal with New Blogger right now, OK, Blogger? I love you dearly. I appreciate this FREE FREE FREE wonderful opportunity you give me to blog. But in the list of things I need to do, tweaking the crap out of my blog after New Blogger has it in its clutches is not one of them. I do not have time to tweak this week.

So please, stop tricking me into the password area of New Blogger, and when I forget my password instead of sending me to the password change area, you send me back to the New Blogger Log In page over and over (and then tell me I need to read some sort of FAQ on resetting my cookies in order to log into Old Blogger), just DEAL, OK? If you want me on New Blogger, be honest and say "You must switch to New Blogger by XX date." Geesh.

And then my hairdrier (dryer?) died. So now I am sitting here with a soaking wet head, knowing better than to go outside in these temps before it at least dries a little. Damn it, I have things to do!

I am so glad it snowed. The snowless brown winter was literally, driving me to a constant state of anxiety. When the snow came down, it was as if Normality had won a small victory. I could do without the one-digit temperatures, but bless the snow. Bless the snow.

Poor Nick, our indoor/outdoor cat who is getting up in years, has finally declared defeat in the face of winter. Gone are the winters when he would spend the entire day outside, no matter how nasty the weather. He was gone all day, then would come home and crash. Nicky has two modes: Seriously On, and Seriously Off. Play Mode and Sound Asleep. There is no in-between.

However, at age nine, he has decided that this is just too much damned cold. I think all that warm weather through January convinced him that we had finally done as he has constantly requested, and banned winter entirely. When it returned with a bang, I faced the very new experience of a Nick who refused to go outside when the door opened. In fact, I now have to physically place him outdoors, upon which he runs to the snow, empties his bladder, and runs back in, just like a house poodle. Nick has never used a cat box.

But, what wonders! I came in the kitchen and saw a small miracle. Fat Nick was stuck in the cat door to the cat box room. He obviously was so cowed by winter he had deigned to use the indoor facilities. I had to push him through. Now he is using the upstairs cat boxes (which don't have a cat door to negotiate). Huh!

He is still squirting on the kitchen garbage cans, but as long as he limits himself to an impermiable surface, we can suffer with that. I don't want to scream at him too badly for using vinyl surfaces, lest he decide the carpeted closets are a better, more subversive, option.

But worse, now we have to deal with the "Seriously On" Nick IN THE HOUSE. The "Seriously On" Nick needs to play constantly, and frankly, he's psychotic. Here he is, killing the curtain that keeps the warm air downstairs:

You should hear him spit while he plays. It's hilarious.

This has upped the cat-pecking-order considerably. It's bad enough that we have Billie and Jack in the house instead of the cat facility. Now with Nick inside instead of outside, there are two many fricking cats in here. Our cats are far too polite to fight, however they aren't so polite that they will abstain from poking, picking on, and staring evilly at one another when one of them gets in a snit.

So, I was not planning on attending the Spencer Business Fair in March, but I think now I will, and I'll bring Billie along on her halter and lead to see if she can charm her way into someone's heart.

(Hey, Donna, will Totalily be there?)

OK, I feel much better after posting. Please, limit your comments to sharing your own emotional insanity rather than expressing sympathy about mine. Misery loves company, and if anyone attempts to sooth me, you can be certain that I will be screaming at the computer screen when I read a soothing, sympathetic comment, just as I was screaming at the answering machine a half hour ago.

I am SO not into being polite today! :)

Off to go shovel out the Fast Food Ferals (if Mark hasn't already done it) and buy cat litter.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Good vaccination against chicken eating.

I am a recovering carnivore...and I backslide often. I've gone vegetarian a few times, but have a lousy diet, and don't eat properly. So vegetarian for me usually equals pasta and cheese---not a healthy diet. Mark and I therefore have instead tried to purchase meat that is locally raised, often by friends. We have a couple of chickens for our own eggs (although they aren't laying right now). One thing that always surprises me is people who won't eat beef for humane reasons, but will eat chicken. Cattle, at least, get some small measure of freedom. They are usually permitted to wander, are well fed, and while they suffer a hideous death, one might say they do at least experience some small space of "normal"life. This does not morally justify eating beef, to my mind, but if you are picking and choosing the animals you eat, it does have bearing on a person's decision.

Chickens, however, suffer hell from birth to death, unless they are raised on a local farm. So if you are going to pick and choose your meat based on "humaneness"---ditch the chicken.

Here's a YouTube video of how hatchlings are processed (it is not full of death and gore, but it is sad and alarming).

New product to rid you of that damned animal fur

....presenting, Billee, fur removal technician extraordinaire. Not only does she walk on a leash, love strangers, travel without a meow of protest, and play, play play, she also can make your unwanted dog fur disappear. Via ingestion. For some reason, dog fur is like catnip to her. And she's up for adoption, too! (Yes, we took this clod away from her, but had to take embarrassing pictures first).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wildrun...happily destroying your workplace productivity.

Hey, I don't start work til 10:00 am.

Go to and search for kittens, and you'll find waaaay too much stuff like this.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Too tired and uninspired to post much, but I did get a few photos up before they became too dated. More to come this week. Squeak agrees that an early bedtime is in order.

Thank you!

We've gotten gifts that I've failed to acknowledge. April sent a whole box of fluffy towels, and also forwarded some great photos of Rocket that I need to post. And Cary sent catnip mousies and a gift card which I will use for the very romantic purchase of cat litter. As you can see, Tiger Tom really likes the mousies (but will also definitely appreciate the cat litter). And I was able to ditch some of our shabbier towels to be replaced by April's nice yellow ones.

Apologies to everyone who has written and called, if I have not gotten back to you. I promise I will soon be in touch.

eBay has it's uses...

I have long wanted these banners. Actually, there is a whole set. But the price is ungodly...something like $28 to $34 for each banner. The whole set can be seen here. I wanted them for adoption events, to make the setup more eye-attracting and festive. Well, on a whim I checked eBay, and there they were for only $7 each. And the shipping was cheap as well. They only had two, but I'm happy. I'll keep an eye out for the grey tabby and the black cat to see if they show up for a similar low price. They are actually worth the higher price and if I were buying just one to fly for everyday, I'd shell out the $28 (Over $30? Maybe not). They are very nice, tough, pieced banners, thick without being stiff.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Reflections on a disappearing colony

On the weekends I go down to feed the Fast Food Ferals. Kat feeds them during the week. In 2002, there was such a swarm down there. Fourteen or so kittens, and twelve or more adults. There were probably more, but many were ill and probably died before they were caught and fixed.

I expected they would all get killed in that hazardous area in short order, but they did not. The females especially hung out and got fat and sassy. But four years later, it appears, from the tracks I am seeing in the snow, that there are no more than three cats left.

I am surprised at the melancholy I feel. After all, the whole point of Trap/Neuter/Return is to enable the cats to live a well-fed, more sheltered existance, while safeguards are put in place to prevent a reoccurance of the original problem (removal of other food sources, junk, neutering new cats, removal of new kittens or tame strays). It is expected that they will pass on, and obviously it's not going to be at a vet office at age 20 in someone's caring arms.

The fast food strip has really cleaned up. The junk is gone. The old trailer where so many of the cats lived (in relative luxury...they were INSIDE the trailer sleeping on upholstered chairs) has been removed. The dumpsters at many of the restaurants are now secured, or at least picked up more often. There haven't been any new kittens since the summer of 2003.

Sooner or later there will be no cat tracks at all. Tiger and Vannie are still around. Budgie was around this fall, but I haven't seen her recently. I haven't seen Wings (the orange cat above, who is dad to the Wings in our facility) in well over a year, and he was one who would regularly come out to watch as I filled the bowls.

Staff at the solid waste facility tell me they have seen cats that had been killed in the highway over the past few years, so that is likely how some of them have gone. However they went, it would not have been the gentler death of a pet cat in a home. Nonetheless, it was a better life than what they would have experienced had they not been cared for.

And there are no more swarms of cats and kittens on the Fast Food Strip.

I'm not sure what will be done once the cats are all gone. Some sort of monitoring will have to stay in place to watch for new cats. We can't just pick up and leave, or it will all happen again in a few years. I know from experience I can't just say "Call if you see if new cat," because staff at restaurants change (even the whole restaurant changes, next door to the colony!).

I did not expect, however, to miss them so much.

Here is Vannie, one of the last remaining cats. She is named after Vanessa, a wonderful woman on the feral_cats yahoo listserv who sent me money to fix two cats on the strip, back in 2003.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Family over cats, this week. We'll be back soon.