Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Peter Singer speaking at Ithaca College

"The School of Humanities and Sciences presents Peter Singer as the 2007 Distinguished Speaker in the Humanities on Thursday, December 6.

Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, will discuss “The Ethics of What We Eat” at 8:00 p.m. in Emerson Suites, Campus Center.

Food is an ethical issue, and Peter Singer will reveal the range of ethical issues that lie behind our food choices. What lies behind labels such as “organic,” “fair trade,” and “certified humane”? Is there such a thing as “humane meat”? Is fish better? And what about buying locally? The lecture offers a moral framework from which to respond to these difficult questions, and shows how our food choices can make a difference.

There will be a book signing following the lecture."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kitten Swarm!

This morning I let the kittens out downstairs to play and they all immediately ran to the floor spot where the sun was streaming through the window. It was the cutest thing.

Two of these kids are adopted, two will go to the off-site cage at Cornerstone tomorrow, and then we'll be at the Pyramid Mall next Saturday for American Recycles Day and I'll bring a few there, too.

I MUST get photos taken today for the Petfinder site! They are ready to go!

To Walmart by way of Denver, Colorado

Yes, I've been traveling again, and I'm home for about a week and a half. Boy, have those kittens grown!

I was off to Denver, Colorado for work, for the Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies conference. While it was a whirlwind trip, the one day conference was a great experience. The participants were extremely engaged, and the speakers tackled new topics or dealt with familiar topics in new ways. I stayed at the slightly funky Curtis Hotel (yes, that is The Dating Game motif you see there), and their staff was extremely accommodating and let me use their front desk computer to print things out at 4:00 am because the printer in the business center refused to print.

I was in a bit of a fog for the trip, having been to New Jersey and Silver Spring (MD) Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday (then the flight to Denver Thursday, conference Friday, flight home yesterday), so when I was driving home (two hours) from the airport through Cortland and passed a Walmart, the Kitty Litter Alarm almost didn't kick in.

But it pinged weakly and I realized I should not pass up a chance to stock up on Cats Pride since it's no longer available in Ithaca in large bags. I loaded up Mark's car and made it the rest of the way home on autopilot.

The cat facility was shiny clean, thanks to Donna. The cage cats were on their Freedom Time, and when I went to put them back, all their cages were perfectly clean, with fluffy beds and a toy for each. :) It was nice to tuck them all in, let the Big Cats out of their room to roam for their night, and head off to my own bed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

California Fire Pet Rescue Info

Please post this link far and wide. The URLS are and .

Way to go Stealth Volunteers! Flood (Katrina) or fire, there they are.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blogging from New Jersey

I'm out of town today for work, and Donna and Mark are holding down the fort. I got a voice mail on my way yesterday that someone is interested in the two black kittens at our off-site adoption site at our veterinarian's office. Two more adopted (I hope), six to go!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Coming out from under my rock...

We had visitors from Waverly today, who are planning to fix the cats on their street, and also ran out to vaccinate and worm a kitten that will be transferred to us once I'm done traveling next week (if he doesn't worm his way into is rescuers hearts...) They have a mom cat and two kittens living under their porch. Well, now just one kitten, since they snagged one and have him living in their bathroom. He's tamed up nicely and he's going to be a lovely fellow.

Look at this kitten. What a cutie.

Aw, crap, Blogger is having issues with photos. Maybe later. Sorry! Trust me, he's really cute! He's a longfurred cream kitten with beautiful eyes.

Postnote: Here he is!

Loss of cat advocate, Barbara Rockett

I was very saddened to read in the paper yesterday that Barbara Rockett had passed away. I only met her once briefly, at a Waverly meeting, but heard about her constantly, and her hard work to have Waverly initiate trap/neuter/return to help manage their local feral cats.

The village of Waverly released a tribute statement here. It's clear she will be missed.

Which reminds me that Waverly folks have been asking for some help and I have been remiss in contacting them, so I will get on that right now. It would be the least we could do to help people who are picking up this mantle for cats in the village.

One lucky cat gets a home!

Will it be Espie?

One of my vets emailed yesterday. One of their long-time client had to put a beloved cat to sleep, and she thought perhaps she wanted another cat, but was concerned she would outlive it. We will take back any cat if for some reason it cannot stay in a current home, and we have several adult cats here who would just love to be living with an affectionate human in a small apartment.

Shakespeare is an option, but Espie, I think, would be ideal. She doesn't much like other cats, so would be happy in an apartment alone, she's hilariously playful without being destructive or over inquisitive, and she loves to be petted. She needs her dental though, so when I'm off to the vet to pick up our off-site-adoption kittens, we'll arrange for that.

Laurence was also a thought (our FIV positive cat) but he throws himself at people's ankles, and I'm not sure that's the best choice for an older pet owner.

I'm just tickled. One of our sweet older cats gets a home!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Two down, eight to go!

Nancy found homes for two of the kittens she was fostering for us, with her neighbors, whom I was able to meet this evening. Lucky kittens!

We still have eight that need homes (only ten total, Nancy, not eleven as I thought). There are so many I apparently cannot count them accurately. I hauled eight off to the vet today and they all tested FeLV/FIV negative. Ellen, the vet tech, took the samples one after another without a hitch.

Then my truck died in the parking lot, damn it! It has been having fuel line issues. I was finally able to limp it over to the gas station to fill up the tank (and increase the line pressure, if that makes any difference) and I had to rev her up at every red light, but we finally got home.

Gizmo is probably happy to see Nancy's foster kittens go. "Yeah, whatever, just get the little urchins out of here, OK?" Gizmo was rescued from a garage in Spencer one cold winter. She was the only kitten of a feral mom cat. She had one heck of an upper respiratory, a great big abscess, huge paws, and an attitude to match. Mark called her "Paddles." She pulled through with just the clouded eye, and lives the pampered life with Nancy ("Except when she fosters those annoying kittens!").

Nancy also fosters shy dogs for the TC SPCA, which, as any animal person can tell you, is a lot more challenging than fostering shy kittens! I was going to post her foster's photo, but Blogger appears to be ill right now. Tomorrow!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Updating my blogroll

And it hurts. I took off blogs that have not updated in months, or who no longer seem to be there. There was great pain in removing Yellowstone Wolf, Running Scared, and Foxwood.

So now the search begins for new animal blogs, particularly rescue blogs. Any suggestions, out there?

National Feral Cat Summit, FL.

I'm going to this, for work reasons See why I love my job?

Anyone else going?

Anyone WANT to go, who can get there on their own?

Let me know!

My email is info at americancat dot net.


We're all getting up in years....

Including Nick. When he first showed up in our lives, he insisted on going outside (and stressed to point by refusing to use the cat box indoors). We are an indoor-cat family, so I fought the good battle for awhile, but I lost. I began by letting him out in the morning, bringing him in before I went to work at I.C., letting him out when I got home from work, then bringing him in at dark.


He soon learned NOT to come back at work time, and he periodically insisted on staying out all night. I slept on the couch on these nights, getting up now and then to check the front porch for him. He would insist on remaining outside all day even in the most frigid of winter days. If he got too cold, he would simply find some at-home neighbor, usually retired, and peer plantively in their window or sliding glass door until they let him in. Seeing he had a tag, they would just let him out again when he wanted to leave. Nick found "soft touches" in both places we've lived with him.

It's pretty embarrassing, when your cat goes missing during bad weather, to have to trudge through foot-deep snow to someone else's house and ask "Hi, is my cat here?" And there's Nick, curled up warm and dry by the neighbor's gas fireplace. It's like fetching your kid home at dinner time.

But Nick is getting older. The temperatures just dropped to the 40s, and I looked out the door the other morning to find him huddled up against it, asking to come in. He came in twice that day, and even spent a few hours snoozing before going out again. He almost always comes home at night now, even early. He only stayed out late three or four times this summer.

After the "huddled against the door" incident, I figured it was time Nick had a place on the porch where he could really get out of the weather, in case I didn't notice him out there asking to get in. Usually one of the other cats sees him out there and paws the window (all the cats get treats when Nick comes home), but during the day they are often all asleep, and no one notices the poor old guy.

So today Nick got his very own cat shelter on the porch. And it's right next to an outlet so I can plug in a heating pad in the winter.

I had a smaller box with one door on the porch a few years ago, but he refused to use it, probably because it's no fun being in a box with one exit when a raccoon sticks its head in. We'll see what he thinks of this two-door version that we make for the ferals.

The second door is on the end, at the left. People keep begging me to put the directions for building these on my website, and I really need to. They can be made from one single piece of plywood, cut in simple strips. They are much easier for non-carpenters to put together. You can cut a bunch of them out, and the pieces store easily for future assembly. They just look like storage boxes, so no one really pays attention to them behind the local McDonalds (although I put mine up on legs to reduce wildife issues). They don't scream "A Cat Lives Here!" They aren't pretty, but they do the job. The problem is, the dimensions vary for us depending on what we use to hold it all together (1x1s, 1x2s, even 1x4s--whatever is kicking around) so I haven't worked out the actual plans.


Fall is here. Winter is close behind.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dalai Lama via live-streaming today

You can view two addresses live today, at:

this link

I finally got our peace pole in the cat garden this week.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Money Woes Bite Tompkins County SPCA

I would like to commend the new executive director, Abigail Smith, for telling it like it is. I am absolutely astonished that she has the guts to step forward and say--not that "No Kill isn't working"--but that the community needs to take responsibility for animal control if they want a top notch shelter. In other words, good animal control needs to be bought and paid for, and it needs to be bought and paid for by more than the dedicated sweat of volunteers, humane society staff, and the willing pockets of donors. Municipalities need to show they value the service a shelter provides by paying at least the regional average for animal control services.

Full article at The Ithaca Journal, here.

According to statistics presented by Smith to the Ithaca Town Board Thursday night, 2002 cost for animal control nationally was $4-6 per capita per year. Tompkins County residents, in contrast, pay $1.76 per capita.

“Municipalities have been getting the deal of a lifetime for a long time on animal control,” Smith said.

Tompkins County's SPCA is unusual in that it provides animal control as a contractor but also functions as SPCA organizations do everywhere — saving, rehabilitating and making animals available for adoption.

Smith said the SPCA has for years been covering budget shortfalls in its animal control function with donations intended for its traditional animal protection function.

“In my mind, the SPCA has a mission, and the people who donate are donating to that mission,” Smith said. “Animal control is a state mandate. It's a contracted function and it should pay for itself. It shouldn't rely on the goodwill of donors to cover their requirements.”

New York state mandates that municipalities meet certain basic requirements for animal control, including providing a facility where strays can be held for five to 10 days, Smith said.

“You have to obviously provide food, shelter, medical attention and competent care,” she said.

On Aug. 27, Smith sent a letter to all of the county municipalities, informing them that the contract fees they pay will have to double next year or the SPCA will cancel all contracts.

Smith said when she was appointed executive director in February 2007 and started looking at the organization's finances, she was floored.

“I walked into a deficit situation, and it was pretty clear what the source of the deficit was: contracts are less than half what they should be,” she said.

If you expect that, upon opening your door to find a stray dog, you should be able to pick up the phone and have someone appear at your door that day and take it need to pay your four bucks a year. If you also feel that dog should get a bath, vaccinations, worming, a vet check, and a reasonable chance of finding a home, you should find $4 a year to be a bargain.

It seems like Ms. Smith is the kind of person who is willing to honestly say that all is not perfect or easy in Never Never Land. But notice she says "we" throughout. I don't see her outwardly setting blame on any previous individual(s). That takes guts. She wasn't here when previous decisions were made, but she's saying "we" now, because as executive director, it's her responsibility to take the heat.

One of the TCSPCA's previous director "took the heat" for being a hero. He got a lot of flack, but he got a lot of worship, too. He was a change agent, and change agents have the luxury of stirring up outside-the-box thinking, but then leaving it behind to move onto the next step. All organizations NEED a change agent. They give us all a good boot in the butt to get us out of the rut we are stuck with. But it's a bit more popular to "take the heat" when you can go to bed resting in the assurance that the right people will think you are right. In Abigail Smith the TC SPCA now has a director who has to keep the momentum going. She doesn't seem to be worrying first about that shining national example. She seems to be worrying about her animals, her staff, and her volunteers. She's examining how a shelter provides good services for a good community. She's saying something unpopular that no one else before her was willing to say so, overtly.

And, in that article, and in the video I recently saw, she isn't blaming anyone else. She could say "previous administrations, blah, blah, blah." Instead, she says "we."

About ten years ago, a township in Tompkins County approached me to ask if I would do dog control. The sum they were offering at that time (I believe it was $3000 for the year at that time) was so low it was appalling to me. My cat rescue probably costs us $6000 a help out maybe only 100 cats in a busy year. At that time, I had a wildlife control and feral cat contract that paid me $7000 a year for only 400-some acres of land (24 hour response however, 352 days a year). Call up a wildlife control company and ask how much it costs per animal to pick up a rabid raccoon, or a hit-by-car skunk...and learn how cheap domestic animal control is, relatively, even at the national average.

When towns say "We'll seek other options" they had best do their homework. A dog control shelter is required by law to have office hours so owners can look for their lost dogs. It's not just a matter of picking up and housing strays. They need a relationship with a vet for animal care and euthanasia. Or they need training, staff, and appropriate drug storage so they can euthanize the animals themselves.

Ask any DCO about dog control and they'll tell you -- "It's not the dogs. It's the people." It the time you must take working with people that costs the time and money.

Anyone interested in taking over one of these contracts needs to do their homework as well. If they euthanize too many dogs, the spotlight will be turned on them. If they put in the effort necessary to find homes for them all, they'll need to commit far more than what the towns are willing to pay them. They need to realize that people will call them---not just about strays--but to surrender owned dogs. And when the dog control shelter turns them away saying "We only take strays" those dogs will show up tied to their front door, or worse yet turned loose in the parking lot or the state forest (where now, they ARE strays). The TC SPCA accepts owner surrendered dogs. A dog control shelter will not be able to afford to unless they subsidize their sheltering funds beyond what the municipality provides. But they will get owner-surrendered animals anyway. Without the infrastructure to support all those dogs, they could find themselves in a serious situation.

If they are a vet clinic, they need to realize that seriously pissed off people are now going to be walking in their front door, mingling with their best customers. They need to realize that they will be expected to provide services additional to caring for stray dogs. Barking complaints, late night response for emergencies, etc. If they are a business, they'll shortly find out whether what the town is offering will cover their costs--and their heartache.

When someone walks into the vet clinic with a box of 12 puppies, and the clinic tries to turn them away because they "aren't strays" and the guy says "fine, I'll just dump them down the road," and your customers are listening....what will you do?

You'll take the puppies, of course. And each puppy will cost you approximately $100 to care for and adopt. $1200 for ONE big litter of puppies. And how much is that town paying you for the whole year?

I can imagine there are one or two businesses in Tompkins County that could pull this off for a town or two. But it will entirely change their mission. They need to go into it with open eyes. And I imagine in a year or so, they too, will be demanding a raise from the municipalities.

The Tompkins County SPCA has two buildings, volunteers, and staff. Pay them what they are worth so they can do a good job. Pay at least the regional average. If you aren't willing to pay the regional average, the message going out is that the municipalities of Tompkins County aren't willing to pay for basic animal care.

What does that say about our "no kill community?" We were all willing to accept the kudos when someone was saying "Hey, it's easy!" Now that someone is being straightforward and seems to be saying "No, it seems it's possible, but it means we need Commitment and that means dollars"--some people aren't willing to face the music.

And to anyone who does decide to leap in and take over an animal control contract: Remember, you can't do it alone. Work together with the SPCA. Who knows what kind of good things could result from cooperation and partnership? It is important for the county to remain an "animal community" even if the work does end up, once again, split up, town by town.

Go for it, Abigail. And good luck to you, and to the staff and volunteers of the TC SPCA.

(OK, now where is that TC SPCA donation envelope they sent me? Now that I've ranted, I guess I'd better put my money where my mouth is...)

Jack sleeping...

Jack desperately needs a home. With Schubert gone, he has decided there should be some rotation in the pecking order. He's picking on Nell and Norma (the shy girls) and even Ivan is backing down to him. At least Ditz still gives him hell, and Squeak has decided to take over the Great Room. When Nick comes in, he's willing to let Jack know that he (Nick) has been in REAL cat fights, and anything Jack can dish out is kitten's play.

Nonetheless, I miss my nice balanced household. It's time for Jack to find a place of his own, which is what he really wants.

Adopter Photo: Zuzu!

Cleaning up the desktop and finding things I mean to blog... this funny air-freshener that Donna found. It's quite potent (and smells like hyacinth, not cat butt thank goodness) and right now its in a zip lock in the downstairs of the cat facility, making the place smell quite a bit LESS like real live cat butt.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Candor Fall Festival

I zipped out for an hour to the Candor Fall Festival this afternoon.

I've always wanted to stop at Side Hill Acres dairy goat farm, so this was my chance. They have 250 pretty happy looking milking goats that really like people. I grew up in cow dairy barns and I have to say, there's something kind of nice about going into a milking barn and having the animals all wander over to get their ears scratched, instead of just acting like they wished you would go away.

Unfortunately they were temporarily sold out of the cheeses I liked the most (perhaps I'll have to stop by tomorrow). They had quite a few crafters, and Bully Hill and Six Mile Creek Vineyards were there. I did a fast loop around the village, stopped at the Wood Carvers Show, and then headed on home due to the pile of work here left to do.

See the schedule at the link above! It sounds like most of the events are going on Sunday as well.

Wildlife rehabbers across the U.S. are likely shuddering this story.

These are the salad days for one lucky skunk. Officer James Kellett said a skunk whose head was stuck in an empty salad dressing jar wandered into the police station's parking lot Thursday in Carrollton Township, near Saginaw and about 80 miles north of Detroit.

Kellett wanted to serve and protect the white-striped weasel, but wasn't interested in any resistance — spray or otherwise. So he grabbed a BB gun used in hunters' safety courses and shot at the jar from about 40 feet.

The shots cracked and shattered the jar, leaving a glass collar around the skunk's neck. With its head free, the skunk ran off.

"I didn't want to use deadly force, and it is a residential area," Kellett told The Saginaw News. "The way he was when he took off, he was able to eat, breathe and spray — and do anything else skunks like to do."

Kellett didn't get much in the way of gratitude, but he's grateful the skunk didn't spray. And the makers of T. Marzetti's salad dressing are sending the officer coupons good for free dressing as a reward.

This is NOT a good thing. This is not the way to handle a skunk in this situation. This should not be in the media as a good way to handle a skunk in this situation.

As much as the idea of getting sprayed by a skunk gives us all heart palpatation, you can do almost anything to a skunk, if you speak to the animal, and approach calmly with a towel or sheet (not plastic, which rustles)--and you will not get sprayed.

Step one is NOT "get out a gun" but "call someone who is familiar with handling wildlife."

In this case I would have found a square garbage can and set it on its side along a building wall. With a towel or sheet I would have gently herded the skunk into it. The skunk would not be able to jump out once the garbage can was tipped back up on end. The sheet could be laid gently over the skunk, you reach around under the sheet and grap the jar, and allow the SKUNK to pull out of the jar.

If the jar is on too tightly, you call a vet, who can tranquilize the skunk right in the garbage can.

I once had a skunk who was in the middle of a college campus going round and round in circles with a yogurt cup on his head. I was able to just go over with a feral cat den, set it over him, and slide the door closed. Then I took him home, cover the den with a sheet, got a set of pliers, reached in and grabbed the cup, and let him pull it off.

Unfortunately this left a ring of plastic around the skunks neck. So I gave him a bit of time to calm down, and grabbed the ring with the pliers, and let him pull back.

Then I took him back where I had caught him and let him go.

So far, with the countless skunks I've had to round up, skunks have only sprayed when I've had to catchpole them (and then they sprayed in the cat crate that I set them in...not on me, thank goodness). I've since learned that herding them into confinement is the best way to go. As long as you speak to the skunk so it knows you are there (they are nearsighted and spray when alarmed), and handle him carefully, and take your time, you'll be alright.

There was once a skunk in a highway with a six pack holder stuck on its head. Given the heavy traffic, I ended up just running out, laying a towel over the skunk, bundling it up, and taking it to my car (I don't recommend this unless you are willing to take the risk of getting sprayed--it was an emergency. People were stopping to gawk and an accident was sure to happen). Another time there was a skunk in a small box in a dumpster. He refused to come out from the box, so I just shut the lid on him, laid a towel over it, and carried the skunk, box and all, into the woods a few feet away and set it down.

I have to say, the wide-eyed looks I got from people as I walked down the sidewalk with a box and a skunk tail hanging out, was worth it.

This poor skunk in this story is now out there with a ring of broken glass around its neck. And because it "looks OK" we tell ourselves "Of COURSE he's OK."

He's not. He's likely going to die a long slow death because of that broken glass around his neck. The cop would have done better to shoot him outright (although that would indeed have caused the skunk to spray).

This is not a good story. I can't blame the cop for using the tools he had available, but in this case someone should have just called someone who isn't afraid of skunks and who preferably is rabies vaccinated. Perhaps they tried, and no one would help.

But I can't help but feel sorry for the skunk.