Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A day in the life of a human

May 29, 2007

6:00 Rise and shower
6:20 Check work voice mail and crank out some work email
7:00 Round one cleaning in cat facility. Clean "big cats" room, put big cats back, and let Leo/Wings/Perci/Ben out. Clean kitten cages and hand-feed little grey kitten
7:25 Leave for vet in Ithaca (23 miles)
8:15 Drop off two cats for spay/neuter. Leave vet and head home (23 miles)
8:45 Stop at neighbors to cat-sit
9:00 Crank out some more email and phone calls for work.
9:35 Jump in truck and drive to Owego to lawyer for estate issues (18 miles)
10:00 Sit down with lawyer
10:20 Hear yelling outside in hallway. Lawyer goes to check. Bat flying back and forth in hallway.
10:25 Catch bat, check with office staff to make sure no one had any contact with it. Release bat outside. Sit back down with lawyer. Drive home (18 miles)
11:15 Back to work. Weekly phone meeting with supervisor by phone. While on work phone with boss, take home phone message from vet. Male cat is FIV positive. They have already neutered/vaccinated him, and he could be a lost pet (he's friendly, and remember Angel!) so euthanasia is not a moral/legal option anyway.
12:15 Off phone with supervisor. Quickly call vet and confirm I will be keeping Lawrence the FIV cat.
12:20 Back to work
2ish Take a break to walk Sadie, Round two cleaning in cat facility. Leo et al. back in clean runs, and the "kids" come out to play. Clean their cages.
2:30 Back to work
4:30 Jump in truck to pick up cats at vet and hit post office for work mail (23 miles)
5:50 Home (23 miles). While pulling in drive, notice orange cat standing in my parking space. Another cat! Quietly get out, but he runs away. Pop a can of cat food and put in grass by bushes where he disappeared. Put the two spay/neuter cats back in cages.
6:10 Back to work.
6:15 Mark is home. He says he'll find something to eat because I need to keep working tonight to make up for my running around during the day today (and I haven't started any dinner).
9:00 Done for the night! I've sure had enough of talking on the phone.
9:15 Out to cat facility. Feed kitten. Put dry food out on a plate outside for the abandoned cat.
9:30 Make two last work calls to people on the west coast who hopefully are home from work by now. No dice. Leave messages. Check work voice mail.
11:30 One last trip to the cat facility. Clean downstairs (feral) cat cages. Put "kids" back in their cages upstairs, sweep floors, feed kitten, let big guys out of their room, turn down radio, scoop boxes, turn off lights, say goodnight!
12:45 Read for a bit and fall asleep on the couch. Damn it, I hate it when I do that!

Today, no running around to interrupt work. Happy day! I think I'll start early.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Incredible turnout....thank you!

Just a quick post--more later.

Five people came over yesterday--Georg, Donna, Judy, Nancy, (and Donna W. stopped by to say hi)--who made a huge dent in sewing (georg) and painting the downstairs cat facility. Then today, Donna S (Gunsmoke's adopter), Donna W., Cleo and Bob, Jim and Virpi, Mary (adopter of the buff kittens), and Herbie's family (you forgot your cooler! We must get this back to you so you must visit again!), my sister Linda (adopter of Sylvester and Harley), Dr. Anne Shakespeare and her two sons,, and Karen F. came by today, and it was surely a busy place...have I missed anyone? Mark, of course, who was keeping things under control. (Hey, if anyone has a website they would like me to link to them, let me know! Above links are the results of very fast internet search)

Sewing cat beds and toys:

Serious weeding in the pet cemetary:

Painting the ceiling and trim upstairs...

Finishing up the downstairs...

The amount of work that was completed is just incredible. I wish there were more photos, but quite a few were out of focus, perhaps due to the level of activity?

There aren't enough thanks in the world...

Thank you, Girl Scout Troop 38

Georg came to the first day of our Work-N-Party Weekend (more later on that!) and came bearing little gift beds made by Girl Scout Troop 38. One of our new feral kittens models this one (photo courtesy of georg, too!)

My internet connection was down for awhile so I'm sorry I didn't get Day One photos up, but I will have some to go along with Day Two!

Feel free to stop by any time after 11:00 today. It sounds like we are going to have a great turnout. The downstairs was almost completely painted yesterday. Thank you Donna, Judy, and Nancy. It now just needs a second coat here and there and some trim work. Georg made cat beds (and stoned my house cats by sprinkling catnip on the floor until my two old sewing machines seized up, so she cut out all the rest for today's sewers to finish up. All today we'll be tackling the cat cemetery (in the shade), the ceiling upstairs needs painting, there are some cat shelters that could be painted outside (for those of you looking for a little sun) and if someone wants to tackle digging a hole in gravel by the creek (lots of little stones to pull out) for the Peace Pole, that would be wonderful.

Pictures later! In the meantime, here's Cricket helping georg...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bet you can't guess what I found tonight...

I was running back and forth between the cat facility and the house getting things ready for tomorrow, when I heard some caterwauling in the high grass behind the barn.

I wasn't surprised, because Mark had said he'd seen an orange tiger cat with a short tail standing in the road yesterday, and last night Nick was howling at someone or something before he came in for the evening.

Out of the grass ran...a brown tiger cat, which means Mr. Orange is still out there.

This fellow was shy, but was willing to let me pick him up after he'd had a good roll in the dirt. He's skinny, scared, and unneutered; probably a drop off.

Today I "culled" a handful of older wire dog cages that just aren't secure enough for cats. I figured I'd clean them up and put them out alongside the road this weekend with $5 on them to get them out of my life, and tough luck...if I didn't have more cages, I couldn't take more cats, right?

Then this guy shows up, and I had no new cages available. So I ended up dragging one of the old, newly washed cages back in again.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Reminder, Sunday and Monday

Reminder, please come Sunday and Monday, not on Saturday/today. I got the trash to the transfer station (along with posters of the cats I caught there for them to post), loaded up the truck with the cardboard to recycle that's been filling up Mark's work area (sorry Mark!) and turned around and drove back to ditch that. I'm about the clean the cat facility and run into town for the paint for downstairs (I have the paint for upstairs) and to feed the Fast Food Ferals.

Oh, yeah, and to buy people food for tomorrow!

See you tomorrow and Monday!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dear Seamstresses--bring sissors

I priced sewing sissors today. OMG! Please bring your own!

I have fleece, some catnip, stuffing for toys, four new spools of thread (blue and beige), and two sewing machines. Mark's mom is bringing her own machine. I'm pretty sure I have a bunch of bobbins of various thread colors.

I do NOT have straight pins other than a sparsely populated pincushion from my highschool days---I don't want to own pins in a house full of cats. If you need them, please bring yours along. More thread may be needed.

And yes, bring your good sewing shears! I really couldn't afford an additional $20 and our sissors are all paper shears.

Georg, do you have catnip left? If you do, I won't buy more.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Countdown to the work n party weekend

It looks like we're going to aim for just Sunday and Monday for our Work-n-Party Weekend, because I'll need Saturday to get ready. You when you clean the house before the cleaning lady comes? I need to be sure I have everything for everyone to use, and have cages moved away from walls to paint, buying paint, putting together the Peace Pole, etc. etc. etc.

If you think you may stop by on Sunday or Monday and haven't let me know via email or comments, please leave a note or email me at Info at Americancat dot net!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Guess where I spent Sunday afternoon?


I'm cleaning out the quarentine area (where we had ringworm kittens last year) and the "headbanger room" (the section of the barn where the ceilings are too low for Mark to walk) and in addition to the towels donated by IC students (four bags) and my usual laundry, I discovered I had bags of unfolded towels stored away. Clean? Dirty? They looked clean, but I wasn't going to risk it, especially since I planned to give away a bunch. (All the towels from the quarentine area I threw away).

So rather than subject our poor overworked washer to that much cat laundry, I picked through our change....

And headed off to the Laundromat. A place I swore I would never have to go again, since it is such a black hole for time.

Surprise...they don't take change anymore!!!! Argh! I had to buy a card with my foldable cash--which is just as well as I had nowhere near enough quarters for the sixteen loads of laundry I ended up doing. The triple loaders were all full so I had to use their small single loaders. I have been spoiled by our huge washer at home, which holds at least 50% more clothes.

It wasn't too bad. I napped in the truck on and off, used one space of time to purchase more laundry detergent. I could have gotten out faster, but I didn't want to hog all the dryers. As it was I was using six washers and five dryers and between the detergent etc. the trip cost about $50. Now I remember why we bought a washer and dryer!

But it's all done! Now I'll sort out towels to keep, and towels to give away to other shelters, because I surely don't need this many.

I still have money on the card, but Mark will probably be bringing home more donated towels. I'm sure it will get used up.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Fast Food Ferals -- "Lightning"

I stopped to feed the Fast Food Ferals, and the tiger guy was waiting for me. He's never let me get this close before, and by getting close I was able to give him a name based on the beautiful zigzags on his forehead. He is a handsome fellow.

Click the shot above to see the creekside jungle they live in.

Click to see that handsome forehead.

I'm actually going to really miss these guys when they all pass on. A new one, like Lightning, shows up every now and then, so perhaps there will always be a colony here.

Thank you, Kat, for taking such good care of them during the week, and to Mark for hauling food in this week when the can was empty.

Saturday morning kitten butt

First off, let me say I ended Friday with a nice surprise. A donation via the Amazon link from Susan B., and two new cat beds in the cat facility from ???? I can guess, but must confirm first. And Shakespeare really likes his. I moved them into cages, because on the floor (where I found them) Dude thought it was way too much fun to flip them over and hide under them like a turtle.

Thank you both!!!!

I decided to spend some time working with the feral kittens, so I broke out the baby food. They succumbed nicely and were happily licking it from my finger while in my lap. However, Perci, a baby-food fiend, was frantically meowing from her run, so I had to let her out to lick the spoon.

While feeding the torti longfur her baby food, I sniffed suspiciously and realized she had a bad case of kitten butt. This lovely condition arises when kitten poop get stuck in the butt fur and can only be resolved by a bath in our bathroom sink. She was pretty good about it, and even sat and groomed herself while I blow-dried and combed her. I think this lady is going to be a pushover.

To make sure there were no repeat occurrances of kitten butt, this little lady got a butt clip (and right now Mark is reading this and thinking "You used my NEW SISSORS on a KITTEN BUTT!!!!!). Don't worry, it was WASHED kitten butt (and I washed the sissors as well).

Since I had the camera in hand, I was pleased to look over and see one of our very timid ferals checking out the action and was able to get a nice shot, for once. She is one of two who is headed out to an organic farm for relocation this week (cage and all).

On the home front, Nick is enjoying the dry weather. He is such a filthy cat.

And Mark and I agree, it's going to be one of the best years ever for lilacs in New York.

And, oh yeah, the chair fetish strikes again. These were being thrown out at the county facility where I was catching kittens. So of course they had to come home with me.

One of them has a snapped leg which I think I can fix. These will go down where I plan to set the Peace Pole along the creek, so if they are stolen I won't be heartbroken since they were free. One of the perks of kitten-trapping!

Have a great Saturday. It's already 12:34 and I have so many errands to run!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's that time of year again.

The students go, but their towels stay:

Thank you, Ithaca College students, for leaving your unwanted towels in Take It Or Leave It (Note, that's a 2005 link). Our cats love them, and so will the animals at the other local shelters that I'll take them too.

And no, that's not some bionic appendage on Cricket's back. It's a microscope by the phone. Doesn't everyone have a microscope by their phone?

OK guys. It's chilly...

But it's not THAT chilly:

Mountaintop Greenhouses, Tioga Center

For Mother's Day, my mom wanted to come over to my region and visit some of our local garden centers. Most importantly, she wanted to visit this one, the very fun and different Mountaintop about eight miles down the Halsey Valley from our place.

(click photos for larger images)

Please, don't buy your plants from "big box" stores that are killing our local businesses! It was so depressing to see my very favorite business in Ithaca with a vacant front lot empty of flowers, while Lowes, Home Depot, etc. have waves of underwatered plants, half of which will be thrown out, that they bought at painfully low prices from out-of-region growers.

I went to another local favorite in Ithaca, but to compete they have stopped selling six packs and now sell primarily larger 4" pots at a higher price, and the price of their (gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous) baskets is out of my range. They have had to target a different market to survive...and I'm not it.

But I found Mountaintop!

Come on out to our place, stop by for our Working Weekend, and zip on down to Mountaintop to help a a neighbor with a beautiful business. They grow all their own plants, and the prices are lower than you will find anywhere (six packs for less than $2, and hanging baskets for $13.99). And many, many greenhouses with masses of healthy plants. By after next weekend it should be warm enough for your outdoor plants.

If you are coming from Binghamton/Owego, stay on 17C and travel west past Owego. As you come down the hill into Tioga Center, turn right on Halsey Valley Road (if you go over the bridge in Tioga Center, you've gone too far). They are just a few miles up on the left. If you are coming from Ithaca, take 34/96 to Spencer, turn left onto 96, turn right on Halsey Valley just past Spencer, and go about 11 miles and they'll be on your right. It's a gorgeous drive, and as I say, we are on the way!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

County kittens. Cute, cute, cute.

Too tired to blog about them this evening, but enjoy their cuteness. They are the kittens of the lady cat on the county property. I captured her this evening, after netting these little kids earlier today.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

White light and good thoughts for Herbie, please.

I just got an email from Herbie's adopters. Apparently he suffered a heart attack and is at Owego Veterinary Hospital. Please send good thoughts their way. Herbie is a young guy so this was entirely unexpected. He's got a wonderful loving family and I'm sure this is really hard on them.

I am not at all familiar with heart disease in cats. I am learning more via the internet, starting with this page on

Saturday, May 12, 2007

All-night trapping.

As mentioned in the past, I have several locations where I promised to trap cats that haven't been finished up yet. There is a county property that is one of these. I vowed to myself this week would be the weekend to get that taken care of, so I ran out Friday after work to set some traps.

I ran out again at around 10:00 pm and discovered that the trap was closed and someone had set dry food out in front of it. Hey! Helpful humans! Don't touch my traps!

Good-hearted meddling is often a problem with trapping in an area traveled by humans. This trap has been sitting (without a back door) for a month for the cat to get used to. I'm guessing a staff member saw it set, assumed someone else had "meddled," then closed the trap and left food. They probably didn't realize it was me.

So I reset the trap, removed the dry food (you can the grease marks where it was in this photo) and left my business card under a rock in front of the trap, so Mr. Whoever would know it was me who had re-set the trap.

Four A.M. (groan) I crawled out of bed and drove the 20 miles over to check the trap, and began to curse a bloody streak when I saw ANOTHER pile of dry food in front of the trap, which was once again closed! But as I shone my flashlight around, I saw something was inside the trap.

Apparently Mr. Someone had come along, seen the trap still closed but the dry food (which I had removed) gone, assumed a cat had eaten it, and put more out, not realizing there was actually a cat already in the trap!

Good thing the cat hadn't been a skunk!

As you can see, there are signs on the trap (with my phone numbers on it), and I also trapped after closing when one would assume there wouldn't be too many people around. And this occurred between 10pm and 5am. There appears to be damned good staff security on this place.

This is the cat:

However, the county had reported a lady cat, and this fellow was definitely no lady. So when I went in today and showed them pictures, oh la, it's a different cat. So I still have to continue to trap to catch their lady cat, and this guy need to have a poster drive to see if he has an owner.

The staff said they had put food in front of the trap. They now know I'm trapping all this weekend. Personally I'm glad to have had "meddling" occur. This means staff have been making sure their stray cats are fed. So often people only bother to check once a day...or only a few times a week. Whoever kept putting food out for this cat (between 10pm and 5am? Are you crazy?) obviously looks every time he's near the building. And that's great.

Guess I'll be crawling out of bed at 4:00 am tomorrow, too!

This is an absolutely gorgeous valley to travel through. On the way home today, I caught sight of this goose nesting, and turned around to take a photograph of her. She wasn't so thrilled, as you can see by the defensive posture of her head. I took this on zoom, so as not to disturb her too much.

Why we need new screens

I always find it hilarious to come outside and find cats sunning their bellies. This is why I have hardware cloth (instead of just screening) on the windows. But you can see why we need built-in removeable screens/hardware cloth instead of this set up. Fur gets caught inside it, and it looks like crap. BUT it does keep our tubbies from falling out! This is Thomas.

If you want to see sheer contentment on a cat's face, click on the photo to expand. You'll also get a healthy view of old cat fur. Yick. I'm getting the vacuum attachment out now and we'll see if we can suck some of that stuff out of there.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Do you crochet?

Check out this great web page and you'll never have to buy a cat toy again.

Note: I would not include the long single dangly yarn pieces, unless it's a pull string and you are going to put the toy away when you aren't there.

Note to visitors: Please scroll down or click here if you came searching for info on our Memorial Day Work and Party Weekend.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I'm a cat thief! Today one of our neighbors from around the corner and down the road stopped by to introduce herself (thank you, Nancy, for getting us together!) and in passing asked if we had seen an orange and white male cat.

I asked if he had long hair.

Yes indeed.

Turns out our winter visitor Angel belongs to Rune Hill. He had not yet been neutered when he showed up here because he had gone to the vet for a wound and infection and the vet wanted him to recuperate from that.

I had assumed he was a dumped cat because he and Shakespeare showed up at exactly the same time and appeared to be brothers. And were both unneutered and had some mats.

Well, Angel is neutered now, and the mats are all clipped out. He sure was happy to see his mom. She jogged on home and came back with her van, her son, a travel box, and a check for his vet care (which she didn't need to do, but insisted).

Which goes to show: even when you are CERTAIN a stray doesn't have a signs anyway. Just one or two signs would have gotten Angel (now "Red") back home a month ago.

And Angel is home tonight. Next time he shows up to sleep on Sadie's dog bed on the porch, we'll just give him a cuddle and a ride back home.

Memorial Day Work-and-Party Weekend

People are always telling me "Susan, you've got to tell people how they can help."

The fatal problem with any animal rescue operation is when caretakers get so bogged down in taking care of the animals (or rescuing in new ones) that they don't keep up their infrastructure, and don't get involved in creative programs that get the cats adopted.

They aren't going to adopt themselves!

So it occurred to me that a flexible work weekend might be a good way to give people an opportunity to come out whenever they chose, to help out. I'm wondering if Memorial Day (May 27, 28) is a good option.

The cat facility ceiling needs to be painted, and because of the strips that run across it, this is going to be a bear of a job. Luckily the ceiling is really low so no ladders are required. But if different people came in and took a 6' patch, that ceiling would be done in no time, with minimal neck strain to any one person.

The downstairs area (which is now basically just a work area) need to be painted. It's a pity to cover up that wood paneling, but its dark and dusty. I think a nice light butter color will help get this floor on the road to recovery. Later this summer I'll clean and stain the concrete floor.

If someone is handy, the windows above also need to be trimmed out. I'm sure we have the wood kicking around for that. If not, Mark can tell me what I need to get.

Then there is the cat garden, which we make available to feral cat caretakers and others who need a spot to bury pets, or when a special cat here passes on and is buried. This needs some serious weeding (garlic mustard, which pulls easily if you catch it early) and mulching (we have the mulch!). It would be great to get the whole slope done, with newspaper laid under the mulch in the un-used areas, so that it is available if anyone needs space.

With it looking nice, and the seats out, this is a nice place for a visitor to just spend some time outdoors sitting, as well.

If you'd like to bring a shade-loving plant, shrub, or a statue to honor a loved one, we can supply markers as well.

Then there is the short section of road up to the cat garden. It would be nice to have the ruts filled with stone (just the ruts, not the whole road). This means they need to be dug out a little bit, and stone wheeled up and shoveled out. This is a short section (not this whole hill!) and we will have the stone. Again, this is the kind of project that if different people just did two wheelbarrow loads, it would get done without killing any one person. Then if someone wanted to just drive up and look, then back down, they could. Right now anything short of a tractor or four-wheel drive truck would surely get stuck.

And then, for those with sewing skills, there are piles of cat toys and cat beds to be made. Georg has kept us supplied with these, but they've turned out to be a huge boon...we give the toys to everyone who helps us, as well as our cats, and everyone appreciates and remembers them. I've got a load of polarfleece here, and Ditzy approves of the loft and color for beds (just double-sided mats for the cages or to protect a chair). We have two sewing machines (nothing fancy; they sew a straight line) and lots of room in the house for a couple of folks to churn out a few as they wish. I have family and friends who like to sew but surely wouldn't be into hauling stone, so maybe they would be interested?

And where else could scrap-booking be considered a vital volunteer role? I have a ton of scrap-booking supplies to make three books to feature our current cats. I want to place these at local restaurants, etc. who are willing to help. But I simply don't have time to sit down and do this, as much as I would enjoy it. So we can have the dining room table set up with photos of the cats, plus the scrapbook supplies (including anything you would like to bring).

Speaking of photos, by the end of an afternoon, the cats should be pretty tuckered out from all the coming and going, and it would be great if someone with a really good digital camera could come by and try to get some nice shots of some of the cats. My camera (and portrait skills) rot, and good photos are really important on the Petfinder search engine. Even if only a few cats got better photos it would be a huge help.

Depending on the feedback, I figured we would provide lots of food and drink for all three days, so people could stop by anytime they want. Probably we'll pick one day for a real picnic. Memorial Day is one of those weekends where you usually have to do something with the family, but you also kind of want to get away for a few hours, somewhere. It's a beautiful drive here, and rain or shine, there will be things to do indoors or outdoors.

Most importantly are people who want to just come by and say "hi!" If you don't have time to pick up a paint brush or pull weeds, or you really aren't physically equipped to work, the cats love visitors, so do we, and a cheerful face will help the party atmosphere and help things go faster for everyone else.

IF it arrives in time, there will be a Peace Pole to plant (bearing the words May Peace Prevail On Earth on one side, human tracks on another, leaves on another, and animal tracks on the fourth side), and of course we have our prayers flags, made at the winter holiday gathering, to fly in the cat garden.

We also desperately need window screens made with hardware cloth, that fasten with hooks, instead of hardware cloth tacked up permanently on the outside. Not only does the current "screening" trap cat hair and look shabby, its downright dangerous. In a fire, someone inside couldn't get out, and people outside couldn't get in to let the cats out. I really want actual removeable screens, but they will need to be hand built.

If all of this gets done this spring, it means the place will be cleaned up and ready to be open every Sunday for adoptions, and Coffee-And-Kittens (where visitors come and sit around with scared kittens on their laps to socialize them) -- and lets get some cats into homes!

This would be a huge, huge help. Right now I have some money to pay for supplies (stone, paint, fabric, etc. etc.). If anyone thinks they might be interested, please leave a comment below or email me directly at info at americancat dot net. Any help we receive will set the stage for success all summer long.

Oh yes, and we have KITTENS!!! What better reason to stop out?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cabinet construction.

Shakespeare navigated the directions...

And inspected the results...

All done...

I did good right, lady? Can I come up for a hug now?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shoppin' for the cats

I ran into town to pick up some things for the cats, since Friday was payday. I've been meaning to get rid of the huge old bear of a cabinet I have in the cat facility and buy one of those resin/Rubbermaid sort of things (with four shelves for supplies) and a resin porch-seat thing to store clean towels, and I finally got around to shopping for them.

However first I had to make it past the garage sales... No, I didn't buy any more chairs, but I did find these little Happy Meal toys (three for $1) that will be great cat toys!

It took three stores to find the cabinets (Lowes), and I went ahead and got new cat boxes as well (storage containers are better and cheaper than traditional cat boxes). And I also picked up seeds and peat pots to start the summer crop of catnip.

And then I nearly bought them a new building!

No, not really. But isn't this cool?

Maybe once I have my 501(c)(3) we'll have a little capital campaign. It would be nice to start from scratch. I'd get rid of the overhead door and have a second walk-through door, plus many many more windows.