Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year, 2011

Last year, Longfellow was just a little tyke. The year before that, we had a pom pom drop in the cat facility, narrated by the fishies who are bigger now, too.

This year, I'm headed up to the spare rooms with a wine bottle, paint brush, and the computer set to watch the live webcast from More to come!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Bah, hum.....awWWWWWwwwww"

You just can't be a humbug about Christmas when one of your adopted kittens arrives in the mail on the front of a Christmas card. I'm fairly certain that candy cane wasn't photoshopped in there, and I can just see in my mind's eye, someone slowly easing it under Phillip's paw while he was snoozing...

When your next Christmas card is from a couple who adopted a kitten from you oh-so-long ago and their note says "Amelia is still hanging in there at nineteen and a half, moving slowly, but still moving!" you can't help but smile even wider.

Nineteen years!

When the phone rings, and yet another adopter says "Let's do dinner this week; I have presents for the cats..."


It makes you contentedly brew up a pot of coffee and get to work on that unfinished pile of Christmas cards of your own.

Christmas changes for all of us over the years. From the giddy anticipation of childhood, to the adult glow of seeing loved ones open gifts you carefully chose for them, to years of sadness when you may have faced Christmas alone, to other years when you reach beyond family to the community, and discover the quiet solid joy of volunteering with a food pantry or your church, or sharing dinner with a friend or neighbor.

This year Christmas sort of crept up on me. I did not have my holiday party this year. The most I could muster as far as decorations were my two little out-of-the-box artificial trees, the red bows on the fence in front of the house, and pine boughs in the window boxes of the cat facility. I can't quite comprehend that Christmas is this coming Saturday. When you work from home, there are no peripheral office parties and decorated cubicles, no Christmas trees in the the lobby, no stopping at the store on the way home and greeting the bell-ringers with a dollar a day or emptying the change from your pockets each time you see one (I stuffed a five in the kettle in front of the Big M last weekend, knowing I might only run into them one more time before the holiday arrived). You don't really realize how much you count on the random "Merry Christmas!" and "Happy Holidays!" salutations to pull you into the holiday community, until they aren't really there.

There's just the carols on the radio--which seem sort of disembodied without the rest of the holiday tinsel. And the wonderful, wonderful Christmas cards. Then the Big Day arrives and when you climb in the car for dinner and hugs in some other city. And then it's over. The next day, the carols are abruptly gone from the radio airwaves. Just like that.

But oh, those Christmas cards make a person smile! They are still here after Christmas, too, in a glittering pile on the coffee table.

My own cards will likely be late (maybe not!) arriving in the mailboxes of others. But Phillip and his candy cane sure made the task even more enjoyable.

May your days before Christmas bring you increasing joy!

Other cat rescue Christmas posts:

Black Cat Rescue
Animal Shelter Volunteer Life
Joa's Arc

and just in case you thought having a cat and a Christmas tree was bad, click here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dr. Whitten Wu checks in

Mary Beth writes:

"Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how the former Ferdinand, now known as Dr. Whitten Wu, or just Whitty for short, is doing.  We're coming up on our one year anniversary with Whitten and he is as friendly and loving as ever.  He has grown into a hulking 13.5 lb cat with the silkiest, most magnificent black and white coat with a pronounced gray undercoat and big fluffy tail.  He greets us with tiny, happy mews every night when we come home, and has successfully taught us to play "cat and mouse" - we have learned to throw the pink toy mousie for the cat when he brings it to us - over and over and over again.  He likes to keep our laps warm and also occasionally begs for a few minutes on our enclosed (but not heated) back porch to scratch on the welcome mat and sniff the breezes.  He's a great cat, thanks again for helping us bring him into our lives."

These are the kind of messages we love to get. 

Whitty is brother to Longfellow and Wiggles below!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Moving into the world of YouTube

I promised the people interested in Longfellow a video of him. My camera requires me to buy and download special software, which I really didn't want to invest in because the video on my camera is pretty poor. So today I stopped at Walmart and picked up a cheap little Flip camcorder.

Even the word "camcorder" scared me. Remember what that used to mean? A great big huge piece of equipment that cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I held the little Flip in my hand and marveled.

The software that comes right with the camera is not particularly intuitive. Taking the video was absolutely simple. But after that things got a bit murky. I had to Google things like "how to tell the size of a Flip video" and "how to edit a Flip video" in order to get rolling. Even then it made more sense to create a YouTube channel than save the things.

Yes, we are on YouTube. Heeeeere's Wiggles!

Before taking any video, I vacuumed my floor, which scared all the cats away. Longfellow disappeared (his trip to the vet today might have had something to do with that, too). So much for his career in film.

Hopefully having video of the cats will help with adoptions. I've dedicated myself to getting cats out of here. I'll let you know!

Oh, Longfellow finally came out of his shell:

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Black Cat Three

First Skinny Bear. Then Coyote. Now...well...I think I've run out of names. I called her Porch Kitty when I named her .jpg for her photo.

I've seen her around for a few weeks, but I thought "she" was a "he." She got in a hellacious fight with Bear up in the garden. I've seen her out the fields at the neighbors. She was peering in the window one day, and I was able to leave her some wet food on the porch one night. She ran away, but came creeping back later to eat it.

Tonight I dished out some turkey stew for the cats and for the most part they turned their noses up at it. They aren't big on people food. I looked at the big plate of cat-licked stew and figured I'd take it out to the porch to see if the black cat might come by. It was windy, cold, and snowy outside, and I immediately noticed cat tracks. Good, s/he'd been by!

Then something came yowling out of Bear's cat shelter at a run, winding around my legs. It always amazes me how these cats play shy for months or weeks, and then one day say "ENOUGH!" and come running up for help. Surprised, I set the plate down, and a pretty, plushy, but skinny black cat tried desperately to decide if she wanted to be fed or petted first. She would turn and wind all around me after grabbing a mouthful of food. I copped a feel under her tail and determined that she was going to be a $150 cat instead of a $70 cat. Alas.

What to do with her? I had just emptied the cage in the lower barn. I had just introduced Coyote to the cat facility cats and she was doing well. Her cage downstairs had been empty two whole days.

I brought Porch Kitty into the bathroom and sat down with her. She was mad with happiness. A peek at her teeth showed she was a couple of years old. Coyote's mom, maybe? The two of them abandoned together? Then I saw the ticks. A tick on her chin. One by her ear. Uck! Outside with her! I pulled the ticks I found off with a tick-twister. I carried her down to the barn and we shut out the winter. She explored the downstairs while I set up the recently vacated two-level cage that Coyote had been. I plopped her inside with food and water and went to the house to warm up a Snuggle Safe for her. It beat being out in the howling wind and snow.

Then I came in, threw my clothes immediately into the washer, and took a shower.

I've been toying with the idea of some "BurmaShave" type signs along my road, dealing with abandonment. I think it's time. With my luck I'll probably get cited for illegal signage.

If you can think of any ditties telling people why dumping cats on struggling farm owners is irresponsible and illegal, please leave your poetry in the comment section!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Long distance adoptions

So I got two inquiries on Longfellow this week. One didn't respond after I sent back the application. This  usually means the person has found another cat, or is looking for an indoor-outdoor cat, or is thinking about declawing (which we don't permit). The other line of inquiry continued---from New York City, near Central Park.

It's always interesting when I get emails asking about cats. I always expect the folks to be right next door---people from Owego or Spencer, wanting to adopt a cat. Often, after I reply, it will come to light that the person is 4-6 hours away.

Most are at least 40 minutes to an hour away.

There are Wildrun cats in Germany, France, California, and Florida, but I didn't adopt them to those states. They were adopted close by, and their adopters moved to those remote locations. I have adopted directly to PA, NJ, NYC, and Maryland.

As a control freak, I have natural concerns about long distance adoptions. What if it doesn't work out? What if the people turn out to not be as they seem? What if they were to lose the cat--so far away, how could I look for her or him?

This was Longfellow we were talking about. Longfellow who has been curling up in my elbow for over a year now. Patting my face, purring at my back in my bed, making me laugh with his graceful bounding around the house. I was just looking at Wiggles and Longfellow this week, wondering...are they here for good? Are they another Squeak and Nell--kittens that never left?

Wiggles had visitors this summer, but they ended up adopting a kitten. When they came and Wiggles began lobbying, I realized she would be much happier in a home where she receive the attention a pet cat ought to. Personally, I don't believe a cat ought to have to compete with five other cats for attention. One to four cats is optimal. After that, the love gets hard to spread around.

So after a moment of angst when I saw Longfellow's name in the subject line of two messages, I thought "Yes, he deserves his own home."

So both Longfellow (and Wiggles) are off to the vet next week. They are due to their vaccinations today, actually, and then they'll be good for three years.

And we'll see how it goes with the New York City possibility, for Longfellow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Emmi checking in.

Emmi is proof that adopted cats that come back can get great second homes. Emmi's second home ranks waaay up on the "seriously spoiled" meter. She's a lucky kitty. Although I'm not certain why she's in the corner in this photo. Perhaps she was stealing turkey off the Thanksgiving table?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Calling all travelers

And so we return to a game we have not played in awhile: "Name that Airport."

Facebook friends are ineligible. ;)

Here's a major hint:

Zuzu and Jasper check in.

As usual I am behind on my email. Stephanie sent photos of ZuZu and Jasper a few weeks ago and I am only just posting them. In the second photo they are chasing a laser dot.

I joked during a presentation that in the "old days" we would buy an expensive presentation pointer to use to play with our cats. Now we just take the plastic mouse cat toy pointer to our presentations, because why pay $29.99 for a presentation pointer when you can get a cheap one for $4.99? Who cares if you walk around with a mouse-shaped piece of plastic in your hands at animal welfare conferences?

Here is the handsome pair:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Catching up

I've been traveling quite a bit for work and haven't been keeping up the way I should. It occurred to me that I never posted that Owlie was adopted. I believe I was holding off in case he didn't "stick," given his nervous tendencies and very loud voice, but it appears Owlie is doing great in his new home, and he'll benefit from the higher quality food he's now getting, since he has a tendency toward urinary issues. For once his big eyes and nervous ways worked out for him--sometimes the "sympathy factor" works.

Unfortunately, Owlie's adopter couldn't take two cats, but maybe that's a good thing. Owlie's sister Tinkerbelle is quite a bit more interactive since he has been gone, and you can carry on long chatty conversations with her on her bed in her run, now that nervous Owlie isn't laying right on top of her, using her as a shield. I should try to get some video of her conversations..

I lost the picture card from my camera, which peeves me to no end. I'm hoping it's around the house and I didn't leave it somewhere in Texas. So until I find it, I guess I'll have to post Owlie's Petfinder photo instead of the new shots I had taken a few weeks ago.

The second "long termer" to get a break from the cat facility is Dustin. She has a mysterious back issue that has been examined, xrayed, viewed by high-level radiographers, and determined "unknown." She flinches when anyone touches her back (but only when she's in a bad mood--the problem mysteriously disappears when she's feeling flirty). She has gone off to a guest room with my friend Diane to see how she is in a real home, because she absolutely the despises the young cats. This is quite odd, since she loves the other cats, Wings in particular.

So recently, life has been a misery for her with kittens around. She couldn't stay shut up in a cage to keep her away from them. I know that cats stay in cages at shelters for long periods of time, but I hate it when that happens here. So hopefully her break from Wildrun will be good for her and, if so, I'll do some major publicity for her and we'll work hard to find someone who will adopt her. She really is a cute thing, and she loves being cuddled and combed. But you have to scoop her up rather than pick her up from the middle. You can comb her back, but you cannot lay your hand on it. SO odd.

When fall travel for work is over, I plan on going on the publicity rampage to get some of these older cats adopted, in addition to the younger cats. A lot of the reason cats stay here so long is because there are not enough hours in the day to A) work, B) care for the actual cats and facilities C) promote them, D) meet with adopters, and E) provide follow-up support.

Follow-up support is something most people getting into rescue do not take into consideration. It is an integral part of rescue, and even shelters provide follow-up and behavioral help. Rescues often even provide financial help. I'll post about that later today.

Luckily many adopters "self-report"--which is a huge help. They may not even realize how great it is to get those "Fluffy is doing fine and she and Tiger are now inseperable" emails, because it means we know the adopter will likely let us know if problems occur in the future, and they are now checked off the list of new adopters that need to be contacted. With pediatric spay/neuter, at least I don't need to be tracking down adopters to make sure adoptees get fixed. But if a new adoptee breaks with an illness immediately after adoption, it often is due to something they were exposed to with the rescue, and in my opinion, is the responsibility of the rescue to help resolve.

Some adoptions just don't work out, and the cat or kitten needs to be returned. This is why adoption is particularly hard if I'm due to travel. I can't just shove kittens and cats off into home and they fly off across country. In an emergency, I have good friends who could help out if a cat needs to be brought back to Wildrun, but in general I would just prefer to be home for a few days following an adoption.

Trying to be "perfect" however, means kittens and cats don't get homes as quickly as they ought to. So striving for perfection is often not good for the cats. It can even lead to hoarding if "I want to do this well" turns into "Nobody can do this as well as I can."

That's why it's time to lobby for these long-termers. Cats like Fluffy may be here for good, but certainly Tiger Tom and Leo are adoptable and deserve the same kind of special relationship that we all have with our "one-and-only cats."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What a colony can be like

I posted this video to show a presentation audience how easy it is to add a YouTube video to a blog, and forgot to not that it's not one of MY colonies. It's a beautiful thing to watch.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another cat...but found her owner

For the past few days I have seen a big torti running around the western part of my property, crossing the road by the creek. Today I heard Molly bark and there she was, crossing the road once again. I went out with a bowl of wet food and a scoop of dry, put the bowl down by the creek where I had seen her, and the dry food with one dollop of wet on top up by my compost bin, where she would end up if she followed the creek.

An hour later I took some old food from my fridge out to the bin. The wet food and some of the dry were gone. I heard rustling in the shrubs and I gave a "kitty kitty" call.

She must have figured that I was OK since I provided food, because instead of running away as she had on previous days, she came busting out of the bushes, looking hopeful.

I had set the lasagna pan down on the ground so I could open the compost bin. Her eyes lit up and she darted in, grabbed the top layer off the last old piece of lasagna, and ran.

I went back into the house for another can of cat food, and we played cat and mouse for quite awhile. She was walking oddly. One of her front feet turned inward. Finally she realized what I had in the can was much better than old lasagna. I was able to coax her to the door of the barn, where I scooped her up (grrrrRRRRRRRRrrrrr!!!!), took her inside, and popped her in a cage.

She was very hungry, but not that thin, and she was a big glossy girl. I recalled one of my neighbors up the hill stopping by this summer looking for a torti. This one clearly hadn't been lost for months, but the neighbor had mentioned she had TWO tortis. Of course I could not recall their names.

Because it was slightly likely she as someone's pet, I was about to haul her off to the vet for the twisted foot, when I recalled where the neighbor had said she lived. I took the photos above, and drove up the hill a mile or so and took a guess.

Surprise! A very nice gentleman was outside. He looked at the photos and said "Yup, she's ours. She's been missing a few days. Our daughter will be very happy to know she's safe!" I drove back down the hill, fetched the cat, and took her safely home

It turned out the odd gait was because she was declawed. She is also spayed, thank goodness.

Sadly, they did find their other lost cat. She had been killed by a car.

I was so glad to not be stuck with yet another cat, especially now that all the kittens are altered.

Now there is only one other cat running around my property--a big black tom that got in a huge fight with Bear four days ago.

Hey, it only took about 13 years....

With scraps of this and scraps of that I build pieces of my life. I won this framework at the NYS Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference in Hamilton NY well over ten years ago. It came with fabric, and was meant as an indoor rehab cage for songbirds. But now it will be a cat porch, since screening in my front porch will cost more than I can swing at the moment. The only thing I've had to buy so far have been the hardware cloth, some long screws, and some shelf brackets. And the stain. I doubt it will last more than five years since it's not made of pressure treated wood. In the meantime, the cats will enjoy a small bit of the outdoors--if I get it finished.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The passing of Gillian

So last night, Nancy sent over a Craiglist post for a lost sheep in Spencer. I ended up in the lost/found section of Craigslist, and as I do, I checked out the lost/found cat listings, to make sure none of the lost cats had turned up in my place, and none of the found cats were any of my past adopted cats.

I found this ad:

we are very sorry to report that we found a cat--not living--on rt.96 very close to Rogan's corner gas station...we found her (i'm assuming it was a female) on 10/10...we took her home for a loving burial......go to the PET section for a full description..the post is titled: FOUND date is the same as this one: 10/21----craig's is not letting me post the same in two catagories so not including description can contact me for whatever help i can be...

Which is near the South Hill cats. So I scrolled through "pets"...

this is not good news..i'm very sorry to say we found a cat in the PM on 10/10 that had been struck by a car a very short time before we arrived...the cat was not alive...we took him/her home and gave the cat a loving burial...the cat was 3 or 4 colors so i assume a female...she was beefy, about 13 or 14 lbs.--black tiger stripes on a mixed color background of light brown; light gray and white hair flecks......white hind legs, white front paws....white bib and muzzel with stipped mask around eyes and ears...very big gold eyes and a black ringed racoon tail---very beautiful....this was on rt. 96, very close to Rogan's Corner gas are welcome to contact me and we can make arrangements which might help you to deal with this...again, this is news i hate to bring to anyone who loves their pet....

Gillian. I knew it was Gillian.

I emailed her photo over to the person who posted the ad, and they wrote back a lovely but very sad note that they were certain it was she, and they asked her name, which was extremely touching to me, and pretty much destroyed me emotionally. It is incredible what simple things indicate kindness from a stranger.

You see, there are so many people in the world who would just drive by a dead cat in the road. How many people would stop on a very busy highway (four lanes!) to pick up a cat, carry her home, bury her in their own yard, and then post on Craigslist to try and find the owner? How many people, once confirming the identity of the cat, would write and say "We would like to know her name?"

I emailed Mark, because since leaving IC I only feed Gillian on weekends, and he confirmed this morning that he hadn't seen her in about three weeks, but that there was another cat eating at the feeding station.

Gillian showed up at Ithaca College about eight years ago, with two kittens, one of whom is Leo, who is still here with me. She was feral. I sort of just casually asked the grounds supervisor if he wouldn't mind a mouser in the barn, and he said "sure," so trap/neuter/return was born at IC. Gillian has been living amongst the tractors, trucks, buildings, and a passing history of recyclable chairs, desks, and other interesting items for eight years. Periodically she would be spotted sleeping in the sun on what had once been a plush office chair.

We named her after the past president's wife, Gillian. Mrs. Whalen used to have a horse at the barn, and she was a terror (in a good way) at making sure that horse was cared for, and periodically ended up at my dispatch desk at Campus Safety to contact the vet when the horse needed care. It seemed fitting, after she and Dr. Whalen left IC, to have a "Gillian" in the barn.

Over the years, the farmhouse was torn down, the barn was tightened up and used for storage, but Gillian remained. Her feeding station has moved from place to place depending on how things got shifted, but she always found it. She was never sick, never injured, but I always worried about the day when she would just disappear, like all ferals do, victim to one awful thing or another.

I worried that the current wildlife control contractor might truck her off someone if someone complained about her.

I didn't always see her on weekends, but now and then I would sit in my car and wait after filling the bowl, slamming down the top on the feeding station, and yelling "kitty, kitty, kitty!" and she would come sauntering calmly out for her dinner.

Eight years is a good long life for a full feral cat, and a car is probably the best possible end she could hope for. That she was actually picked up, carried, home, and buried in someone's yard is something short of a miracle.

I took the day off today. I found I really couldn't function. The loss of Gillian is also a loss of a bit more of the connection with IC.  I trapped over 130 cats on that campus since 1988. I expect I'll go trap the new cat, and if he's friendly, he'll go to the TC SPCA to find a home and the feeding station will be packed up and brought back to Wildrun.

And there will be no more weekend runs to feed Gillian.

Rest in peace, little girl.

How do grown cats hide from a passel of kittens?


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jeeves is now Bubba

If that isn't a drastic name change, I'm not sure what is!  :)  He sure looks happy. His first week at his new home he found his way into the wall and ended up traveling from the second floor to the cellar. He might be a bit too big for those kitten-holes now.

He does kind of have a "Bubba" look about him, doesn't he?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

If you support PeTA, you support killing cats

ALL the cats on these blog pages. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Even the adoptable ones. Why? Because if we told landowners the only option we could offer for their barn cats and back porch ferals was death, they wouldn't let us on their property to help.

And who would kill these cats? The state of NY and our local towns provide zero funding for cats. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. All cat control in this county is provided via the donors to Stray Haven (who receive no municipal funding for cats when last I checked), and via volunteers on the street.

So what's better? Unfixed cats that suffer and die anyway, or fixed cats that have a better life and produce no future kittens, and kittens and friendlies that get help and homes?

PeTA states they are an animal rights group, yet they propose you destroy a feral cat's "right" to life. They destroy 95% percent of all the animals that come into their own shelter (2006). That's the worst of the worst as far as kill rates go.

With a B.A. in Philosophy, I'm no Tom Regan, but I guarantee PeTA would flunk the "defense of a right to life" test.

If you send any money to PeTA, send it to your local shelter instead.

This was written in support of this "Yes, Biscuit" post.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The more visitors they get, the more relaxed they get...

Gretchen came over today to help me to not destroy the vinyl flooring I was putting down (it can rip if you look at it wrong) and to socialize kittens. After a long kitten-play session, and work on the floor upstairs, we came down and the kittens were all arrayed comfortably along the back of the couch. We both looked at one another and the unspoken "Don't scare them! Get cameras!" look came into both our eyes.

And believe it or not, those kittens didn't move! Bless them.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Blaming it all on kittens...

I've been absent from the blog a long while. I'd like to blame it on the kittens but frankly, it's just me. The horse farm litter is now large enough to adopt out, and I'm going to have to promote them hard before they get beyond the cute and fuzzy stage. It's so difficult, because getting spay/neuter appointments right when they hit three pounds depends a lot on how busy the vet is.

Bob isn't going to hit 3lbs for awhile yet. He's the runt of the litter and my personal favorite. He's sooooo tiny and has perpetually worried eyes. But he was the first one to curl up next to me on the couch and fall asleep.

(Post Note: Oops. Bob is a girl)

Sunny has her unusual markings on her face. She'll be over 3lbs soon and can soon be spayed.

Zootie may already have a home, although he was still pretty shy with the two young boys in the family when they came to visit. He just got neutered.

And this little girl, Cinnabon (the name was stolen from a cat The Shelter Pet Project featured on their Facebook page)is just the prettiest little thing imaginable. Like Zootie, she's a chunk.

There are eight of them (including Gulliver, a kitten abandoned in Candor whose just a bit bigger than the seven horse barn kittens). I finally moved them downstairs to my den because they were growing up too shy in my quiet upstairs.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I posted this on Facebook, but I just have to share it with my blog friends and family, in case you haven't seen it yet. Turn up the volume!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When I'm too tired to post... just get kittens.

It was a long but productive work day. I don't think I'll ever take a week of vacation, followed by a short holiday week, followed by a travel week again. It's just tooooo hard to catch up. Nonetheless, when you kick out a ton of work, it feels good.

So here you are. Kittens!


If you didn't realize we live in "puppy mill land..."


We so like to believe that we central New Yorkers live in a green utopia of care and concern. Because of that, we tend to be blind to cruelty of the economy around us. Puppy mills? Here? Yes, people. Right here.

The breeder, David Yoder of Romulus, New York, took a whelping box that he fitted with a metal door with a hole in it. He put the exhaust pipe of a 3 horse power engine and pumped carbon monoxide gas into the box filled with dogs. He killed 78 adult dogs and 15 puppies in this way. He killed dogs in groups of 5-6, all carried out in front of the other dogs in his kennel.

As for himself, Yoder left the dogs alone some of the time because the fumes gave him a headache.

One day I was at Petsmart and there was a young man with a bichon puppy. I asked him where he got it and he said "Oh, a wonderful farm up the lake."

When you say to a kind, young, optimistic person something like "I'm sorry, but those farms are puppy mills, didn't you know?" they simply don't believe you. "Oh no, it was a FARM!" (i.e. "farms are good.") "They had cows and gardens and things."

People don't realize that dogs are raised like livestock. They are born in pens and raised in pens. Those that aren't shipped off to petstores are brought out to those beautiful farm stands and sold along with the pumpkins and veggies. It looks quaint, but it isn't.

And just like rotted fruit, if you can't sell it, you get rid of it. And you throw it away.

Here's another link to a post on Philly Dog.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

3 of 4 cats will wear a collar

Linda Lord, Brenda Griffin, Margaret Slater, and Julie Levy are probably the best friends cats have. They continue to churn out research to give us real information about cats, rather than myths.

Three out of four cats will wear a collar (for the six months of the duration of the research project).

And not just indoor/outdoor cats should wear collars.

And indoor-only cats can get lost. Lord’s recommendations from this study are informed in part by her previous research, which has found, for example, that 40 percent of lost cats in one community were indoor-only cats, or that free-roaming cats without collars are very likely to either be fed by strangers – reducing the likelihood that they will return home – or to be ignored as strays.

“The return-to-owner rate is abysmal for cats. Fewer than 2 percent of lost cats are returned to their owners,” she said. “If we could get cat owners to try using a collar with identification, it would be a big deal.”

As far as the dangers of collars go (getting the collar caught in the mouth, getting a leg through the collar, the collar snagging on branches, and the cost of replacement collars for Houdini cats), I stopped buying commercial collars long ago.

Instead I buy the soft blue aquarium hose and straight connectors, and Jiffy Tags (although currently Bear has a real tag). Cut a piece of hose, trim to the appropriate length, slide the tag ring on, and fasten around the cat's neck with the connector. The cat can chew through it if they get it caught in the mouth, and the hose will pull off the connector if the cat gets hung up or puts a leg through. And these collars are cheap cheap cheap. They also don't rub a collar mark on the cat's neck.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Dude checks in!

Debra shared some photos of Dude on her Facebook page, so I took the liberty of snitching some of his handsome gator face.

I'm sure there are a lot of Wildrun folks happy to see that Dude is doing well.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Coffee and Kittens - Three kittens get homes so far this weekend

I'm sorry I kept the very sad post about Buttons up for so long. Buttons has left us at Wildrun. He continued on his rapid decline, so I once again made a decision about euthanasia (and I don't wanna talk about it no more).

On a brighter note, lots of new kittens are finding homes. Tyler, Jeeves, and Jazz were adopted this weekend. We had lots of other visitors as well who came just to socialize -- Karlene and (oh, I've forgotten her name!) on Friday afternoon, and Audrey, Christy, and Gordon today. I think that's the first time we've had two men in the place on a single day in a long while! Christy took all of the photos you see here.

Faith ALMOST squirmed her way into Mark's home and heart, but Tyler won the lottery. It's hard to choose just one!

Gordon and Christy are already full-up with Wildrun cats, plus the cats they have rescued themselves, so although Jasmine (below) gave Gordon's nose a good wash, she's still here with us tonight.

We could see the positive influence so many visitors had on the kittens (stiff and scared yesterday, far more relaxed by the end of today). If you want to visit (no need to adopt!) just let me know!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another sanctuary cat falls ill

I guess you find out which one you really love when they fall ill. Bugsy is doing well in her cage, happily consuming baby food, but still unable to walk on the floor without rolling sideways. She's not suffering, but she's not improving. Part of me wishes I had had her put down right away. The other half is glad I have given her her chance to improve.

If she were a pet cat, especially an "only" pet cat, this really wouldn't be an issue. If Ivan were rolling sideways (my pet cat), but still loved his baby food (and me) and could be coddled and loved and helped, it wouldn't be such a devastating illness. But Bug doesn't like people. She likes cats, and she like her wet food. She can't stay trapped in a cage, and she can't jump up to her high places that she loved so much. Am I keeping her in a cage to give HER a chance, or just to make the humans involved feel better because THEY gave her a "chance?"

She misses her buddies. When they are "at liberty" in the evening she comes out of her den and meows. I think I'll give her some down time in the cat room with them tomorrow, but I'll need to keep an eye on her, so hopefully she won't just hide in the corner if I'm there.

Tonight I went into the cat room to give everybody their Wednesday-Saturday comb-out, and figured since they'd heard me pop the top on a baby food jar for Bug, I should give them a treat as well. I opened another jar and went from cat to cat, running my hand down those that permit petting, and combing each one as they ate. When I got to Buttons he was on his usual spot on the window ledge, flirting with me. I ran my hand down his back...

and slightly pudgie handsome Buttons felt like bones. Like old cat bones. How could a cat lose that much weight in just four days since his last combing? Did I miss him because I was concerned about Bugs? I cracked open his mouth and checked his teeth. No red gums. No abscessed teeth. Was he bonded with Bug and had stopped eating entirely because she was gone to the other room? I put a dab of baby food down on the shelf and he went right for it. Lick, lick, lick, lick...but then after about 45 seconds he stopped, gave one last lick, and turned away. "Hey, I'm hungry! That smells good! That tastes good! Oh...I don't want to eat anymore. Something doesn't feel right..."

I petted him and he purred like nothing at all was wrong. He let me open up his mouth again and poke around. This wasn't just a little weight loss. This was serious weight loss. A few weeks ago I had been wondering if maybe I should put him on a diet. Last week I had thought how he was looking good (but maybe was already losing weight, going from pudgy to normal)and wondered if I should bring him in he house as a pet. Now here he was, way too thin.

And all the sudden I found myself in tears. I had been prepared for Bug. I have even prepared for Fluffy, since he has entered his senior years (he's doing fine). I wasn't prepared for Buttons. I pulled up on Buttons' fur and he was a bit dehydrated, but not too bad. I tried some more baby food and he just turned to face the other way. Still purring. But not willing to eat any more.

You know, it's hard enough when they are pets, but at least they had a full and loving life when they become old or ill and pass over. When they have been stuck here in a building all their lives with no special ONE PERSON to love them... I realize that they came in here before TNR was an option. They are the in-between cats. I always was prepared for the day when they would become ill. I expected it would be earlier than a pet cat, given the stresses of living in an adoption facility. Still, I can't help but feel that their lives have been stolen. They never had a home and alternatively, they never were allowed to be free. They were warm, well fed, and had the company of other cats. But there was never that expansion to their lives. A home. Their own home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Returning little spitter barn kittens to their barn

So I returned the four spitter kittens back to their horse barn. Here is their cage, inside a stall. I'm going to go over to check on them this morning. I'm not sure if the barn owner opened the door yesterday or was going to wait until today. I don't like returning young guys to a barn, but this a nice barn with caring people, the kittens are tough cases, and frankly, I have 14 friendly kittens and only a few inquiries to adopt them.

One of the kittens was out here at the barn entirely by himself for almost two weeks, so hopefully he'll be able to show his siblings (who were caught earlier and might not remember the place well) the ropes.

The feral cats dens are lashed in place by bungie cords so they stay stacked.

Post note: Barn owner states she has opened the cage and the kittens are doing well. Three hate her (like good little feral kitties) and one lets her pet him when he's eating. Weather forecast is nice for a few days, so I feel better.

Vaccinating trailer park cats

So a fellow rescuer neutered 40 some cats at a trailer park about 15 miles from me, two years ago. She was able to place many of them for adoption through the Tompkins County SPCA. My cat Bear is from that colony. Some of the cats stayed here to recover from surgery. I had let Bear out to stretch his legs because he was tame, and he pushed out a pane of glass on one of my antique barn windows and was gone. He was nothing but pawprints in the snow for four months until my husband left, then Bear (formerly "Blackie") decided to step into his place and showed up on my walk, perfectly tame, and announced my place was his.

So anyway I felt some compulsion to help when a rabid skunk wandered into the park, prompting the health department to order booster updates for the cats.

The resident who feed the cats has been incredible. Luckily she's able to watch the traps from her kitchen and she has been active in setting traps, letting out cats that have already been trapped, and covering and shutting the trapped cats up in her shed so they are safe. 13 cats have already been trapped and revaccinated, and that's pretty much all of them.

So don't let anyone tell you you can't revaccinate a colony!

Here's Tom-Tom after being released:

Their sturdy shelters:

One of the trapped torti-cats:

I was going to have to go out this morning to fetch a cat they caught last night, but the rescuer just called and she's going to do it. One less thing to do!

So much to blog, so little time

Wow, am I behind. I am technically on vacation. Vacation implies vacating, which I tend not to do, since my job involves way too much vacating on a regular basis. I had all sorts of plans for things to get done at home, but of course fate intervenes.

First off, the bad news. Bug, one of our sanctuary cats (history: around 8 yoa, trapped at Ithaca College, was adopted even though she was unpettable, got out when a storm blew a door open, took three weeks of trapping in nasty winter weather to get her back again), had a stroke last Thursday. I took her to the vet when I came into the facility and discovered that she had a head tilt and was rolling to the side when she walked. The vet felt it was a brain event (versus the other things it could be) which could mean: will see some improvement, will see no improvement, or could become worse.

So little Bug is in a cage for two weeks to see what happens. Luckily she loooooves her wet food, and she seems to be reacting to being caged as one long dessert. She's scared, but it doesn't stop her from becoming very happy when she hears the pop top on a can of food. The vet wants me to let her out in the cat room now and then so she keeps her bearings there. In two weeks we will reassess.

Perhaps someday this will turn into a post on the "no-kill movement." Little Bug is a dilemma. The only reason I have kept her (she actively dislikes humans) is because she loves the other cats, and seems content in the cat facility. She also gets great joy out of cat treats. Her sulking little body perks up, the tail goes up, and she meows in case you might forget her. I expect when I am not in the facility, she is fairly happy. Nonetheless, she's stuck in this 24x24 place for the whole of her life, and now she is dizzy and confused. And in the time she has been here, she has filled a space that a number of adoptable cats might have used to save their lives.

When people ask if Wildrun is "no-kill" I tell them "no." I don't like being associated with the anger and accusation that has become associated with that movement, although I strongly agree with many of the practices it advocates. Every cat at Wildrun would, 15 years ago, have been euthanized at a traditional shelter, so people assume I am "no-kill." Wildrun originally began taming feral kittens to help lower the euthanasia rate at the local SPCA.

I would say, instead, that I am an advocate of "raising the bar." Another person promoted the idea of "no harm" rather than "no kill" (I wish I'd thought of it). So the bar has been raised for cats like Bug--and perhaps, historically, will continue to be raised--but if she is unhappy, I'm not going to keep her shut up in a cage just to be able to say she's alive.

(this post then began a long ramble into my opposition of Oreo's Law, but I'm in such a hurry it was poorly done, so I'll need to revisit that).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Zephyr is missing on Bald Hill Road, Danby NY

Won't you please keep an eye out for her? Here is her poster, if you live near Danby and and can post it.

Post-note: No, Zephyr is not a Wildrun cat. Periodically people email us in case a lost cat finds her way to us, so I post them for nearby readers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More adventures this weekend

I got a call today from a fellow rescuer. A rabid skunk was found in a trailer park where she had fixed all the cats. Bear came from that colony. So all the cats have to receive rabies boosters ASAP. Guess what we'll be doing this weekend? I'll try to be sure to take photos.

If anyone has any traps they have borrowed from me, I will need to call them in immediately. I have only two here, and I once owned 15.

The older litter of kittens are all fixed, and went in for rabies vaccinations yesterday, so next week when I'm vacation I'll be doing a big adoption push. I've had two inquiries even with no bios at all on their Petfinder pet notes, and I'll be getting the rest up tomorrow. I'm going to get all the littlest guys up there too, in case someone would like to pre-adopt them.

If anyone hears anyone so much as whisper they might want a kitten, send them my way! As always, indoor homes only, and no declawing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When my fifteen minutes of fame arrive, I'll be in the shower

I live in the middle of nowhere but people do find their way out to me. When they do, inevitably I am in the shower. This happens so frequently I bring Molly in from her porch patrol and lock the door, because I've had people (dog on porch = Susan's home) wander right in, and I have a bad habit of leaving the bathroom door open.

I emerged from my shower yesterday, let Molly back onto the porch, and discovered that Christy and Gordon had been by bearing gifts:

So I sat on my porch enjoying their flowers and produce, lamenting that I had not timed my morning differently so I could enjoy their company as well. The barn cats I just brought home are from their neck of the woods. In fact, they are lucky little calico Jewel didn't decide to have her kittens in their own shed!

If you have flowers or tomatoes in your garden to give away, if there is someone nearby you can think to make a garden gift, you will have brightened up someone's day the way C&G did mine!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thank goodness

After a long day of hissing, hissing, hissing, at those kittens, Mama cat (who I have nicknamed Jewel, since there have been far too many "mama" cats in my history) finally settled down with me on the bed, relaxed and purring, and didn't object when I brought an already-bottle-fed kitten over. She put up with one, so I added three more, and when she kept on purring and even started licking one, I loaded her up with the whole crowd of seven.

I left her there for a half hour, but I was worried the kittens might fall off the bed. I went back up, moved the kittens back into their nest on the floor, and brought Jewel down to them. She allowed me to settle her on her side and let the kittens come back over again.

So hopefully all is well. I was not particularly looking forward to bottle-feeding and butt-washing seven kittens all by myself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I know, I know, ten days since the last post.

I'm sure my mother thinks I'm dead. But here, for your viewing pleasure is a little photo essay:

Now I'm off to buy KMR, but hoping we'll catch momma cat so it won't be needed.