Friday, February 27, 2009

Why I love country music

It just sums up life so well.

Normally I recommend turning off the screen and not reading the lyrics, but the spelling errors are just all part of the fun!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back in the saddle again.

With spring comes the mad dash to spay every female cat that comes within reach, and neuter any male cat that happens to get in the way, before kittens start appearing. Debra was referred to a Waverly resident who has a back-porch cat who needs fixing, so this black tuxedo cat is here tonight awaiting her trip to the vet tomorrow.

We may be beginning a fairly large TNR project soon. I'm not sure we will have the liberty to share the location, however it is a commercial location with quite a few cats and a caring staff.

Yes, indeed, it may not feel like it, but it's spring!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hope's mom gets a new job!

Cary, Wildrun kitten-bottle-feeder, and adopter of Hope and Simon, and all of her additional long-time animal welfare efforts for other groups (well before Wildrun wandered into her life), has a new job! Congrats, Cary!

We've got a couple of Angus photos here and (hold for photo!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wanderer cat on Ellen set?

I just got an email from Best Friends Animal Society suggesting I watch the Ellen DeGeneres Show to find out, but I don't have a television. So someone be sure to let us know what's up, OK?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hemingway Home

The Hemingway Home in Key West is a bit of a Mecca for cat folk. The lot is surrounded by a stone fence, but it is easily scaleable by cats. Because these descendants of Hemingway's polydactyl cats are used in marketing for the museum, they technically may fall under USDA regulations for the use of animals in exhibition. This would mean they may need to be restrained by primary and secondary enclosures, and a host of other requirements. An understanding was struck that enabled the cats to remain. Purrfect Fence was erected to keep the cats safely on the property.

The story is fascinating. Here is an article from when the controversy was still open.

Hemingway had this fountain built for the cats to drink from.

You can see the Purrfect Fence (mesh that bends into the property) at the top of the existing stone fence.

This fellow totally ignored a tour as well as the tour guide who explained how it was his own job, at the end of the day, to relocate this fellow outside. The cat, oblivious now, knew exactly when the day was done and would come to life at closing time, making his daily eviction less than easy.

I'm afraid at nearly 2 am, I'm fresh out of narrative.

Monday, February 16, 2009

OK, I'm done now. Back to work.

These should be small enough to go on an anklet without dragging it down. And faster to make as well.

Okay, that's enough of the "Adult PlayDough Session." Back to work! I hear cat boxes calling me...

No food, no litterbox required.

There are some offsite adoption opportunities coming up at which, in the past, I have never succeeded in adopting any cats. They aren't events that people go to intending to encounter cats that need homes. However, I know the organizers like having me there to add some "color" to the aisles. And the kids love it.

It makes sense to have something to sell, to at least make my time there worth it. Even if I sell nothing, having something available keeps people at the table--talking about cats.

I've been playing around with beaded jewelry for the past year but, looking what is available at the Farmer's Market, I realize I don't have the vision to design truly unique and beautiful adult jewelry. Of course, I didn't learn this until I had already purchased, over time, a hefty bead inventory.

So I decided to go for whimsy instead. I have one kitty design, and my family may recognize him, since he has graced the back of my envelopes since college. I don't have a kiln, so I bought some Sculpey today to move him from 2-D into 3-D. The kitties above are my first three tries. The black kitty bead with the black feet is the most recent attempt. We're getting there! Once I get the kitties down, I'll decide what other beads will best show them off in a silly-sweet necklace. I supposed I could make them into pins as well. Or on a single strand of beads as a window charm so people who wouldn't be caught dead wearing one have an excuse to buy one to hang from their car rear-view mirror.

I also have a ton of shells and stone beads, and will make anklets for those of us longing for summer weather.

I cannot begin to tell you how hard it is to make a tiny cat! These guys are an inch high. You know how small those noses are? I finally gave up on trying to make them triangular. Yikes! I had to break out my $1 Rite Aid glasses to see what I was doing.

As I play around with these "cute" kitties, I'm going to also be bending my brain on a design that is more elegant than sweet. Maybe the typical ying/yang cat....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is anyone here on Facebook?

Want to be friends?

I can't believe how many people I have found (or who have found me) that I haven't seen nor heard from in years.

If you haven't joined, perhaps you should! :)

Just a note on "peripheral" people

In trap/neuter/return, the issue of whether to fix free-roaming cats when they could be someone's pet comes up again and again. And as time goes by, more and more stories come up of people who don't even notice their cat has been fixed. They fail to notice the shaved belly or missing equipment, and assume an ear tip is a fight wound or fanbelt encounter.

I've never neutered a free-roaming pet on purpose, but I have discovered after the fact that a handful of cats I've had neutered were loosely owned by more than one person. Owner #1 requested neutering. Owner #2 lived a block away and had no knowledge that "their" cat was also living on another back porch. None had ever been to the vet or had a rabies shot (required by law in NYS).

In Key West, I was sitting at an open-door bar with friends. We were attended by a friendly male barkeep. We asked the name of the cat keeping vigil on the doormat.

He said "That's Bobbi. She's 16 years old. She's not really anyone's cat, but this is where she hangs out." Bobbi did indeed have the craggy good looks of a senior cat.

I raised an eyebrow at my friend and said. "Really? When did she last have kittens?" And he replied, "Oh, about six years ago."

I was pretty sure when I bid "Hello" to Bobbi upon entering, that Bobbi was a neutered male. I wandered to the door and knelt down. Bobbi was more than happy to boost "her" butt to be petted. Yes, Bobbi was definitely a boy.

I didn't see any point in mentioning this. Everyone was happy, right?

I wonder what happened to the original kitten-bearing Bobbi? Or had the kittens in the area actually belonged to some other cat, and this Bobbi simply tolerated them around him? Who knows?

Obviously, one night early in his life, Bobbi was scooped up by someone and taken for a trip to the vet, and his current absence of testicles led the barkeep to assume this cat was a lady.

Probably that trip to the vet is what has enabled him to live to this grand old age, gracing the mat of this handsome bar, where northern cat ladies can stop for a rum-runner and enjoy a Key West breeze.

Maybe no human noticed, but it has made all the difference for Bobbi.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Florida Keys SPCA

One of the great perks of working for a pet-related website, is that you can walk into an animal shelter, say where you are from, and people treat you like gold. The Florida Keys SPCA staff practically threw gold dust at my feet even though I arrived five minutes before they closed. Of course, everyone in Key West was wonderful--even the taxi driver who dropped me off and somehow magically showed up at the very second my half-hour tour with Matt ended.

Key West of course got walloped by Hurricane Wilma and could be in a storm path at any time. They showed me how high the water reached in their facility, and explained their evacuation plan for Wilma, and future storms.

Spay/neuter for pit bulls and feral cats is free. Oh, how I wish we had that here! And they have a very low-cost spay/neuter program for other pets.

Like most shelters, their facility could use a face-lift, and they are hoping to build a new shelter in the future.

They jokingly offered to bundle a little senior chihuahua up into a soft-sided crate that would fit under the seat in my plane. :) Or a hamster or two. I managed to resist.

The cats have an air-conditioned room, and screened cat porches where they can lounge or stare (and try to chase) passing birds and chickens. Their cat and dog intake is lower than my area. Most dogs are returned to their owners. But they have the huge additional challenge of "stray" iguanas and chickens. Not to mention the looming presence of storms.

Sally was happy to show off for me.

I promised to send them some grant resources, and I need to get on that.

They had a big handsome black pittie with white paws who was reaching out to me between the gap where his door met the frame. There are far too many sweet pit bulls in the world who need homes!

Catch-up blogging

Ugh. You know those overdone head-cold medicine commercials with the absolutely average looking woman (but pretty--it is a TV after all) with the swollen, tearing eyes, sneezing her head off...more than any person really does in real life?

OK, that is me. People really DO get puffed up eyes like that. I had to stop telephone conversations today to sneeze, and stood off to the side in the supermarket today until my eyes stopped watering lest something think I was crying. Luckily, I have no fever, aches, pain, etc. Nothing that boxes and boxes of Kleenex with Lotion and some NyQuil won't ultimately solve. I'm staying away from fellow humans though. No one else deserves this.

I realize I have ignored you all week. Yikes! I've been catching up on work email, digging through family paperwork, dealing with slightly odd rescue-related threats (my first in a quarter century), and I even had my job evaluation (a good one--yes!). So I promise over this holiday weekend, I will fill in the blanks.

First up are delayed Key West posts. One of the places I went to visit was The Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. The entrance fee was $12. Really $13, as there was tax. I was in and out in 20 minutes. If you really love butterflies, and have a good camera, this is a great place to stop. If your wallet is thin, the store is open to you without a fee. I chose to go inside.

Bring a lens cloth, or treat your lens ahead of time, because it will fog up every few seconds due to the high humidity.

It is interesting to see the different behaviors of the butterflies. Some flit briefly from plant to plant. Some seem never to land and are hard to catch on film. Some ignore the windows. Others beat their wings against them with futility. There are tiny quail running around that no one else seemed to find fascinating. I could have watched them for hours rather than the butterflies. The birds were finches. Obviously they could not have birds that might try to make a meal of the insects.

It was a fairly small area. Small or not, I'm sure it takes an incredible amount of work to maintain. I would have like to have seen more interpretative signage in the actual conservatory, with artwork of each type of butterfly, their origin and habitat, and information about the plants as well. In such high humidity, they would have been expensive signs of course, to survive in that environment.

They have a learning center, with video, before you enter.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Heading home

After a week in laid-back Key West, I notice no one seems to much care that the windows of the airport restaurant are sealed with duct tape. The food is good and the waitress calls me "Sweet Pea." A ringnecked dove is watching me through the window.

I could live here, spiders or no spiders. I'll keep it in mind when I'm truly tired of shoveling snow.

Friday, February 06, 2009

If it weren't for the spiders, I would move to Key West

I'm blogging at you from outdoor wireless on a patio in Key West, a block away from the revelry on Duval Street. It took only five minutes for a cat to find me (relaxed, happy, neutered). Were it not that the trees are home to a fair number of webs and spiders, and the cheapest house costs $250,000--with the average at around 600K--you might see me selling everything I have and coming here.

After breakfast at the Blue Heaven I bid goodbye to my coworkers and remained behind as most flew back north. I have a day and a half of sun, cats, and chickens, before I climb on my own plane.

This is Coach, a Blue Heaven cat, absolutely blind and absolutely happy. She has her own plastic chair with a bed a customer bought her, and a sign with her name on it. She has many co-habitants here at the restaurant.

I roamed Duval Street today, picking up some small presents for family and friends. I bought a toe ring to celebrate my happy feet, watched the sunset (a rite of passage I am told, on Key West) with Mike and Joan, our founder Betsy's parents, and am now listening to the wind blow through the palm trees, and the buzz of scooters up and down the quiet street. You would never know hundreds of tourists and residents are partying just a block away.

Key West has not only community cats, but community chickens.

This little fellow came right over to see if I had anything edible.

Three full nights of sleep for the first time in perhaps a half year, a bit of sun, and the freedom of toes, has even loosened me up enough to post a photo of myself.

The lovely white lady is a Hemingway cat, but you will have to wait until tomorrow for me to post those photos, as it's a wee bit cold out here.

Tomorrow, breakfast, a beach, the shelter, the Rooster Rescue Team, then home again, home again.

Art for Factory Cats

(Artwork from "The Animal Rescue Art Project.")

I opened up a great email this morning asking if we could publicize an art event to benefit feral cats in Cincinnati. Absolutely!:
A group of artists across the country is creating art inspired by these cats. Through an auction of these donated artworks, our goal is to raise enough money to have all the cats spayed and neutered, provide medical care for any who need it, and get as many cats as possible into foster homes or permanently adopted. We also hope to provide Bud with a continuous supply of food and access to veterinary services to allow him to continue to care for the cats left at the factory ruins.
Bidding begins as a silent auction on Valentine's Day and continues on eBay. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Street cats in Key West

It took me exactly 20 minutes to get checked in, change my clothes, a find a hammock on the beach. Quiet waves, bright sun, brisk wind (which made the plane landing a bit...adventurous), I took advantage of the few free hours before work meetings begin tomorrow morning to free my poor frost-bitten toes.

A half-hour of bliss later, my phone rang and fellow staff called to summon me to a street-trek in search of dinner. And what did we find? Cats, of course. This fellow was friendly, fur-rough, thin, but healthy, car smart, and neutered.

The street cats in Key West are evident, and fairly friendly. And fed right out in the open. Perhaps these particular cats are pets rather than community cats. While the next two days are packed with back-to-back meetings, Friday afternoon and Saturday morning I hope to visit the local SPCA, the Hemingway House cats, the Chicken Store (home of the Rooster Rescue Team) and do a bit more exploring.

A Google search of "Key West Feral Cats" finds all sorts of information.

The influx of so many Jerseyites, New Yorkers, and DC residents at once appears to have altered the weather patterns here. They are experiencing an unusual chill. I'm convinced we are the cause.

I finally triumphed over the espresso machine in my hotel room this morning. I consider that a good start to a good day.

Post-note: I checked the weather at home. High of 6F and low of -14F? Crank the heat in the carpeted cat room, Donna! Brrrr!!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009