Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thomas in his home, Adopter photo

Thomas is a lucky cat. Cell phones don't take the best shots, but nothing could mask the happiness here!

Here's Thomas when when he was partying with us in 2006.

I love getting photos like this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All we need is a little Hope

Lesson #1 in TNR: When a new cat shows up, catch her now...not tomorrow.

Remember this cat? The new cat I saw at the Fast Food Feral feeding station in August?

Well, tonight I went to feed the FFF cats because Kat is out of town at a conference. It was dark by the time I got there, because I had to feed the south hill cats as well, and I also stopped by the library.

After I put food in the feeding station, I waited as I normally do to see if anyone would come out. I've seen Vannie lately, but I haven't seen the new cat since that day in August. Of course, I also haven't trapped, because I've been traveling (excuses, excuses -- I could have made time).

Well tonight there were all sorts of night sounds. The parking lot across the creek at Garcia's was jumping, and as usual they had music playing outside. There were all sorts of interesting bug noises, and a periodic sharp bird cry. No cats came out so I started to walk away.

Sharp bird cry? At night? Was it a bug of some sort? It sounded just like a newborn kitten. But it was coming from across the creek by Garcia's dumpsters, well away from any place a cat would choose to give birth to kittens. And if it were a kitten, it was the sound of a newborn, not a 4-week kitten that might have wandered away from the nest and was yelping for mom.

I drove the truck out and around to Garcia's and went inside to introduce myself. It always amazes me that we feed these cats every single day for years, and people never notice us only 20 feet away. The staff were amazed that there were cats at all, let alone a crazy bunch of people who took care of them. I asked for permission to poke around and they said OK.

I went out to the dumpster, shined my flashlight into the bushes, and there she was. The black tuxedo cat, only two feet off the parking lot, curled up protectively around something.

I talked to her and she didn't run away. I put a handful of food down, and went back to my truck for my crate. She was still there when I came back. I hoped she'd be friendly, but she wasn't. She slunk a little bit away and there was her single kitten, still with placenta attached, but dry. I slowly reached for the kitten and Mom showed me what a good Mom she was. She was going to take my hand off, thankyouverymuch. I slowly moved the flashlight toward her nose. She smacked it, but backed away. I scooped the kitten and afterbirth out of the gravel and leaves. There was no nest. Maybe she had been giving birth somewhere better and had been flushed out by another cat, and had to give birth here. I don't know. But the kitten was very cold to the touch and was dry. She knew enough to be protective, but not enough to bite the afterbirth off and eat it. There were fresh adult cat feces right nearby, as if she had had a bowel movement while giving birth. Or perhaps, again, she was being threatened by another cat (cats when facing down will sometimes have a bowel movement).

Of course, I did not have a trap with me (sigh). I left a pile of food near where the kitten had been. Mom was now glaring at me from about 15 feet away by the shed.

The staff came out and I showed them the kitten and the mom cat. I covered the afterbirth with the towel so they only saw the cute little face and not the dirt covered disgustingness attached to it. To someone who understands it, its no big deal, but it was pretty nasty looking. I told them I would be back in the morning with a trap for mom, and to look and listen for more kittens. I gave the my card and told them NOT to touch the call, just CALL if they needed help.

I have to take Lily into the Ithaca vet tomorrow to be spayed, so the timing is good, at least.

I had planned on going out for soup and salad, but headed home instead, feeling bad that I didn't have anything to warm the kitten up with.

Then I realized I was on a fast food strip.

So here's a new lesson. If you need fast food to use for temporary heating pads, a cheeseburger is NOT hot enough. However, two large fries are. Just keep them in their containers and tuck them under the towel on either side of the kitten, and put a small towel over all three.

There you go. Finally, a really good use for McDonalds fries.

So here he/she is. The spitting image of Mom.

She's very upset right now, because I won't feed her until she's thoroughly warm.

When rescuing tiny kittens, 1) Warm them up 2)Hydrate them, then 3) Feed them. Hopefully she got a little milk from mom, because there are important antibodies in mom's milk. If I can catch mom fast, maybe she'll take this kitten back.

I pinched the umbilical cord with a forceps, and sliced off the afterbirth with a scalpel blade. I took the forceps off after about 20 minutes. She's snuggled up in a towel on a heating pad. She's been there about an hour and a half, so I'm thinking it's time for some water with a tiny bit of KMR in it, and I even have a tube of Bene-bac. I am now going to cruise the kitten care pages on the web to make sure there isn't anything I've forgotten.

Her name is Hope.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Barn Sale this weekend

I'm getting rid of some stuff I had planned to Craigslist and did not (don't worry personal stuff). If anyone wants to come and hang out, here's the link to the Craigslist post! I'll be sure to have a six-pack on hand for anyone who just wants to chat and sit in the sun for a little bit ("hanging out" is for friends and adopters, OK, not the general public).

I can see it now - 45 people driving up going "where's the beer?"

Break it!

I heard this song while driving in the darkness to Toronto, and I immediately cranked it. I heard it once more on the way home, and had to do a bit of surfing to find the artist.

Like all music videos I post here, I suggest you turn up your speakers and close your eyes for the first go-round, to come up with your own vision. However I the video itself made me smile...a woman chucking stuff out of her farm house seemed somewhat...familiar.

But still, shut out the video and just listen the first time, especially if you are at that point where you feel its time to make some changes in your life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where have I been?

I have been at the most recent seminar by Speaking of Dogs in Toronto, Canada, just a short 6 hour drive away. It was excellent. If you ever have an opportunity to see Gina Phairas (of North Carolina) and Shannon Cummings (California) teach, go for it. Day One was about "assessing your dog assessment" and hours of insight into decision making at animal shelters as well as dog behavior and assessment information. What was most remarkable about these two trainers is they made many parallels between dog behavior and human behavior. Because training a dog also involves teaching the owner to help train the dog, I came home with all sorts of insight into communicating with my cat adopters, and even people I interview for work. This wasn't just a seminar about "dog training" was a seminar about communication.

Some attendees brought their well-behaved dogs. They fidgeted less than I did.

Before I left on Monday, I mentioned I was interested in visiting some shelters and asked the conference coordinator if she knew what time Toronto Animal Services shelters opened. She insisted on escorting me straight to two of their shelters --East, and South (they have four). The staff were extremely friendly, and the shelters were clean and spacious. At both shelters, cats were housed either in large-sized traditional metal cages, or runs where buddy cats shared a chair, comfy cat beds, and toys. East had more traditional housing (except that some of the cats enjoyed dog-sized runs) and South had large glass fronted rooms in additional to more traditional cages.

I am a sucker for tubby cats, and this lady knew it. I can only resist the animals I visit at shelters because I know I have almost 20 at my place looking for homes as well:

Aisles were very wide, brightly painted, and quiet. The staff joked about how they had so many dog walking volunteers, the dogs sometimes didn't know if they were coming or going. Two dogs were picked out to be transferred to rescue while I was there.

I would have liked to have visited more shelters and other agencies, but I had to have the car safely back at the Corning/Elmira airport by 6, so had to leave Toronto around noon.

Ontario has a Dog Owner's Liability Act that essentially includes a ban on pit bulls An appeal was heard last week.

As usual, a big thank you goes to Donna and Tim, who looked after the cats while I was gone, and all the people who hung out at the house. Donna is now off volunteering with a shelter in Kentucky and had to drive through that awful windstorm to get there. I hope her drive home next week is uneventful, and she has a rewarding experience!

Kittens in the house

This will be a bit lively around here as I have moved the kittens in the house to socialize them more, and let Lily (their mom) dry out so she can be spayed next week.

After I finish blogging I'm going to curl up with my mug of tea and the book Cleo sent. I had a nice "mailbox morning" these past two days. Thanks to both my moms for remembering I'm turning 46 pretty quick!

I suspected 45 was going to be an earmark year. Little did I know, huh? I'm looking forward to year 46, and I'm thinking this time next year I'll look back on something quite remarkable.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

1:00 am again. No title

Isn't it odd that when we were teenagers, we hide our diaries, and now people are putting their journals on line? Thirty years ago this would have been unthinkable and narcissistic. And now it is just....narcissistic.

30 years ago I would have picked up a dictionary to learn there were that many s's in "narcissistic." Now I just highlight and right-click. Scary.

Once again, I sat down to write a heartfelt post, and have stopped at photos. They are from last night in the cat facility, where I went to sit on the floor for an hour, to decide whether being with the cats still made me happy, and whether I should remain in rescue. I'm in such a state of flux now, I can't really tell what makes me happy and what I'm doing because I have to do it.

Had the cats turned into a "just have to do it" thing? How could I tell when I was painting house and mowing lawn, traveling for work, and having to shove their care into the cracks of time I have, feeling anxious the whole time?

So I took a little time to sit with the cats last night and tonight, and take stock in what I'm going to do with myself from now on. They were in heaven to have me down on the floor on their level. Wings just wound around and around and around... In short order, everyone came over to say "hi."

In those hours I was able to come to some conclusions about what did and didn't make me happy. The cats made me happy. Friends made me happy. Kind people made me happy. Being outside made me happy.

So the next morning, Bear and I took a walk up to the top of my the hill to look at MY farm. My farm, my farm, MY FARM! This farm is going to be something that helps people some day. It's going to be my tiny legacy. Life doesn't hand you a beautiful 58 acre farm on a platter for no reason. Our lives are short, things are a bit scary right now across the world, and I've got a gem in my hands. Land is going to be important. I'm keeping it, and something needs to be done with it.

Bear follows me like a dog up the hill. Coming down, he likes to wait until I'm way ahead, then come roaring down behind me, just like Nick used to. Only Bear is 16lbs of hard muscle. It's like a train thundering down the path.

After work, I zipped into Ithaca (uncommon for me on a weekday) to pick up smoke detectors, as one of mine malfunctioned today. And cat litter, since any trip to Ithaca means buying cat litter. I spent a comfortable half hour picking out books at the library, and wandered over to Mustard, book in hand. I had never been there. The waitress steered me to a table right next to a reading lamp, lamented the lack of a liquor license when I queried about wine, pointed out a wine shop across the way...the wine guy was a hoot...a corkscrew and wine glass were on my table when I returned. I cuddled into a new restaurant with a book, soup and salad, a glass of cheap but good NYS wine, and no ghosts of Christopher Robin to bother me. When I corked up my mostly-full bottle of wine to leave (after paying my meager $10 check) I realized I was going to be sauntering down the street with an open container. I had considered gifting the remainder to a new arrival, but I was the only one left in the place. The waitress fetched me a bag. I joked that I knew all the old cops, so it would be a young one who nabbed me. She joked that she knew all the young cops, so I should be plenty safe.

Speaking of cops....

It was late when I got to campus to feed Gillian, so I stopped to let the Campus Police know I was there before I started skulking behind buildings. I figured I would just report in and go, as I probably wouldn't know the officer at the desk. Explaining I was a crazy cat lady would be bad enough. But L. was on tonight, and she ushered me into the office to sit, just I had when I'd worked there almost 20 years ago (it was a far shabbier dispatch office back then). It was all computers, screens, crackling radios, alarms, and ten-codes, just like two decades ago when I used to bottle-feed kittens under the desk. We talked seriously, we talked humorously, then the guys wandered in from the road and office, and we all laughed. They joked about hiring me back (they are hiring officers how). I joked that the academy would likely kill me. L.suggested that perhaps they had a old ladies division and mimicked rocking back and forth in a chair. I suggested that perhaps she could just take the director's job and I could be in communications again. I stayed for over an hour, and suddenly recalled what it was like to simply feel at ease.

They are such good people.

I wandered out to feed Gillian across the way at the abandoned compost facility, and her bowl still had food in it. I breathed a sigh of relief, because I continuously worry she is not being fed during the week. I was wrong, and it was good to be wrong. But I wouldn't have known if I hadn't checked.

It was late when I got home, and poor Bear came down to meet me at the barn at a run as I unloaded cat litter. I fed kittens, I cleaned the cat facility, scooped up cats for a hug, and came in to my house.

I took a vacation day tomorrow, because I need one. Who doesn't?

This has been a good start to remembering, forgetting, and beginning again.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

1:00 am? When did that happen?

I was going to write a post about a calming session in the cat facility, but I also made another vow to get to bed at a reasonable hour. So I'm afraid it will need to wait until morning...when I have other resolutions I also need to meet as well. See you then!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Could have been worse, but...

Most shelters made it through OK, it appears, although some experienced some damage. Some of the ones I talked to expressed concern that maybe next time, people might not evacuate.

From the North, to the South, we worry about you. It must be hard to evacuate, but we feel so much relief when we hear you are safely inland. There's no way to know whether a storm will be a Gustav or a Katrina, until it is too late.

Stay safe. Stay safe.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Adopter photo: Maestro!

Maestro's owner is moving between apartments, so he's crashing with Valarie today, and it looks like she used him for portrait practice. Isn't he a handsome fellow now!

Maestro is Cosmo's brother.

Gustav links

...Are below. Click here.

On toenail paint -- totally frivolous blog

About three weeks ago, I was invited to a girls-night-out near a pool...and all the women had painted their toenails but myself.

How does one get to age 46 without noticing such things? Then while ushering speakers two weeks ago, on a casual day off I noticed one speaker, dressed in chic comfortable casual, had painted tootsies. My eyes went right to her feet. Huh. Whoever thought toes would complete an ensemble!

So the other day, for the heck of it, when Walmart proved to be completed OUT of cat litter, I stopped in the cosmetic aisle and spent $3.50 on nail first such purchase in maybe 20 years. Oh, I think I bought a bottle of clear polish somewhere in there to fix runs in pantyhose and for that "just in case" fancy event. And I did once invest in a manicure at an airport once, just to see what it was like.

So yesterday I painted my toenails, and went off to a family picnic in sandals. I figured family would be amused...and forgiving.

Yes, indeed, people remarked on my toes! My niece Emily had nails of pearly pink, and we sat on the porch with Eliza (paintless for the moment, but known to paint her toes), talking about the female fashion in general, from toenail-painting to how many times women wash their hair.

So, my question to you-all out many of you paint your toenails? And are there others of you, like myself, who never have in their lives considered doing so?

I have to say, it is a frivolous and fun experiment. When I mentioned to Nancy that I had relinquished and tried it, she laughed and said "We'll turn you into a girlie-girl yet!"

And no, there will be no blog photo of my toes. While I'm comfortable enough flaunting my feet and scrawny legs in public (because I figure what nature gave you, you should be happy with) no one needs to be exposed to a feature photo of my feet!

Where oh where have I been?

I need to be sure I post while traveling or my family thinks I've fallen off a ladder painting my house. I guess my blog is my Internet wide "medic alert" system.

Last week I was off to staff meetings for work, in New Jersey, and then zipped down to Philadelphia for the always-excellent Pennsylvania Bar Institute Animal Law Conference (held each year in three locations in PA). Sadly, they always update their calendar, and no links remain to the course. It is a stellar program, and a tribute to the PBI that they consider this topic so important. I spoke to an individual from VA, and they hope to hold a similar program there!

They have an exhibit area, so attending professionals from the field of law can meet with animal welfare proponents (and of course, many animal welfare professionals also come as attendees as well).

I highly recommend this conference, and will try to blog it in advance next year, so people know of it and can register.

Two of the kittens went with me. Luckily, the weather was cool and parking was always in parking garages, where I could nip down to feed them in their very large crate. One hotel wanted a $75 cleaning fee (bringing the cost of the room to $300!)for the benefit of possibly-allergic future visitors (have you no pet-friendly rooms?) I finally ended up "just not asking" at one hotel, and making sure the kittens never came out of the bathroom so the room was not exposed to cat dander. They are still so small that all they did was curl up on my towels (not the hotels), suck down their dinner from a bottle, and sleep.

The biggest kitten stayed at home with his mom.

Sadly, my clothes and luggage are probably a larger source of allergens for future visitors than any bottle baby kitten I might haul along with me. I should keep that in mind when I travel, and give my luggage a periodic vacuuming.

Gustav weakens to Category 2

Keep hoping and praying! It would be nice for this to be just a test of the emergency management processes put in place since Katrina resulting in minor damage only.

I'm thinking that if New Orleans dodges the bullet on this one, they should throw a big New Orleans style celebration to thank everyone for taking the warning seriously (let's not slide into apathy for the next one), and bend their attention toward levees that still need repair. Anything that made them nervous this time around should be at the top of the to-do list....