Thursday, March 31, 2011

Record year for abandonment

I stepped outside to let Molly in from her clip, and Bear in from the porch, and heard:

"Mow! Mow! Mow!" from under my truck by the road.

He's going to the vet in record time. I had an appointment for Cricket tomorrow, and Cornerstone fit this guy in as well. He's a sweet fellow, but moving..always moving. I had a devil of time getting a photo of him. I'm sure it's because he's scared and nervous. Who wouldn't be, after being tipped out in the road, quite likely.

He has earmites and fleas. Revolution and Capstar will take care of those. The vet likes to give me good-natured hell if a flea crosses the surgical site. My cats are flea free, so I always forget that strays are not.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

All those blankies, and they love the bag

I had blogged earlier about the great gift of handmade blankets we received. Both the foster cats in the house and in the facility are loving them.

However, nothing beats a bag! I saved one of the bags they were shipped in for the return address, and it's still going strong and is the favorite playtoy. So far, no one has sat on top of the bag to squish it. It's like they know that will wreck all the fun.

Zootie gives Tyler a poke (for adoption!)

Bear (pet cat) manages to fit inside.

Zootie takes a nap.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stand Together -- Spreading the word about food recalls

In 2009-2010 there was a lot of blog chatter about food recalls. I blogged a food recall last year, and one of my adopters wrote to say she herself was feeding that food to her cats and was glad of the alert.

This year there was a food recall for Wellness canned cat food that I did NOT blog. Sara did finally learn about the recall on Facebook, from someone else, about a week later.

Sara is my supervisor and friend, and while I was in NJ, I watched Daffodil struggle for her life last month, unable to walk, stubborn about eating, but regarding the world with determination, choosing the sunshine to lie in.

Daffodil did not make it.

Two years ago tomorrow a little orange cat was taped into a greasy cardboard box and left on the doorstep of a local animal shelter in the cold. The shelter cleaned her up and she spent a year waiting for a home. After Gretel passed away, Daffodil was adopted on 3/18 as my birthday present to myself last year.

She was a cute, odd little kitty with a strong personality – and voice. She’d hiss at us, Mr. Pickwick and furniture. Once she settled in, Daffodil became really affectionate and funny. She would sit and stare at you with her huge green eyes and if you spoke to her, she’d roll belly-up. Daffodil slept by my head every night, sometimes with her toothless head resting on my neck.

Sadly, Daffodil passed away earlier this week after suffering neurological complications resulting from eating recalled food. She spent a week with the neurologists at Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers where we visited her daily. We were lucky enough to have Daffodil home for nearly two weeks after her hospital stay. During that time she made attempts to walk and enjoyed sitting in the sun. Just like always, she started purring as soon as you got close to her. After making some progress, she stopped trying last week and we said goodbye to her on Monday.

Sara asked for donations to go to any of these shelters that rescued the cats in her life:

Homeless Animal Adoption League (Daffodil’s shelter):
Friends of Homeless Animals (Gretel’s rescue):
Angels of Animals (Mr. Pickwick’s rescue):
Montclair Township Animal Shelter (my local shelter):

It is important that we CONTINUE TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT FOOD RECALLS in every way we can, to reach pet owners.

I understand Wellness has been responsive to messages and questions about sick cats, however I'm concerned that their recall page states there has only been one incident. Perhaps they mean only one incident confirmed by Wellness. But there are cats who have been eating the recalled Wellness food that have fallen ill, and Wellness has been notified of them.

Please check the dates on your food if you are feeding your cats Wellness, and regularly monitor and pass on recalls that you become aware of.

The lots involved in this voluntary recall are:

Wellness Canned Cat (all flavors and sizes) with best by dates from 14APR 13 through 30SEP13;

Wellness Canned Cat Chicken & Herring (all sizes) with best by date of 10NOV13 and 17NOV13.

If you have cat food from these lots, you should stop feeding it to your cats. You may call WellPet at 1-877-227-9587 to arrange for return of the product and reimbursement.

Yikes, and KITTEN FOOD, which we would not know were it not for Susan Thixton on

Pet food recall pages:

The FDA at

Please send me other comprehensive pet food recall pages that are still updating. There were a lot a few years ago, but many have disappeared.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Let's talk about adoptions. And let's talk about doing a poor job with them. I was looking at my pet list online, and realized someone was missing.

Gawain. Handsome. Sweet. Friendly. Loves other cats. And totally missing from any online promotion. Is it any surprise he's still here?

Some days the light is absolutely perfect for photos...for about twenty minutes. Today Gawain caught the twenty magic minutes.

Of course, it's always important to destroy any illusion of grandeur with a shot like this:

Spring at last

It's maple weekend in New York State this first day of spring, and the best way to celebrate it is to find a pancake breakfast. Arnot Forest's maple weekend celebration was today, so I set my alarm, puttered around the house, and then headed out to Schuyler/Tompkins county Rt 13.

It takes a little skill to find a good place to sit where you'll have someone to talk to. The woman taking the money noticed on my coat and then proceeded to tell a great story about how she and her husband were building a new home with heated floors, and how they were nursing their 16 year-old cat along because they had planned those floors for her and they wanted her to survive to enjoy them. The woman in front of me had volunteered with the Chemung SPCA and was familiar with TNR. The table she and her husband sat at was also occupied by three gentleman my age and older who were out that seemed like a good choice for conversation. And it was. The three men were all landowners so natural gas and woodlot management kept breakfast going through a couple of cups of coffee. Then I wandered down to the sugarhouse to pick up a jar of maple butter.

On my way to Ithaca to feed the cats, I swung down Chaffee Creek Road, which always has some bittersweet memories. This was my very first "non-apartment home"--a 14x70' mobile home that two colleagues at Ithaca College had set up in the side yard of the family farmhouse, with the idea that one day his mother would move into it. I rented it for a song until Mark and I bought our first house. The mother decided upon a more active city life in Ithaca, and the mobile home was sold. The entire farm was sold as well, I believe, and different people own it now.

There is now a horse living in what was once my front yard. I'm content with that.

At South Hill, I sang out loud for Gillian. I don't think I mentioned on this blog that Gillian lives! Almost six weeks after we decided she had been hit by a car, Mark noticed her in the bushes, waiting for dinner.

After filling her bowl today, I found her patiently waiting in the parking lot for me to leave.

I stepped quietly around the trash truck as she skirted me and managed to get a closer photo of her.

Someone put a sweatshirt in her feeding station. It was nice that someone cared that she should keep her feet warm and dry.

Then it was home again to salvage some of the afternoon to clean up the mess that winter left behind.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Feral Cat Coalition

One of the oldest feral cat information web pages, the Feral Cat Coalition on the west coast has a web page worth reading, primarily because it is a local group providing resources for their own community, but in a manner that is helpful to other groups who are "on the streets" so to speak.

If you know of other great feral cat pages, please leave the URL and what you know about them in the comments, and I'll highlight them here!

Gearing up for kitten season

The Tompkins County SPCA releases their resources for kitten foster homes, which is a good brush-up for anyone who reads it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The CATalyst Council

CATalyst Council is a non-profit organization that includes three distinct groups: Veterinary Medicine, Shelter/Animal Welfare, and related Industry entities such as Foundations and Cat Fanciers, the Media, and commercial companies. The Council "intends to make a difference in the way the United States sees and experiences cats." It will be interesting to see where this group takes their mission over time.

They have some great videos that I plan to incorporate in my work. I will be creating a series of email messages to send to new adopters (at, say, one, two, four, and six weeks post-adoption). I would like to include links to videos, and this site has excellent options. Because the Council is directing their information at a range of animal professional, they have done an excellent job of finding a balance in tone and language for their varied audiences. It leans towards more clinical language in some cases, but it is important for owners and rescuers to become familiar with this language.

For example, I think this video on handling a fearful cat at the vet is one every cat owner should see. It certainly is important for the veterinarian to know how to examine a fearful cat. However it is up to the cat owner to bring a crate whose top can be removed, and a towel that smells of home. The cat owner may take the video more seriously when they see it is aimed toward the veterinary community. They will feel (I think?) that they are being included in the exam room experience if they are invited to view these videos.

(Note: The only thing I would disagree with in this video is letting the cat on the floor. In a treatment room that may see many cats throughout the day, it is unlikely the floor is going to be disinfected after each visit. I do like how they have the bench where the owner and veterinarian can sit quietly to begin the exam with the cat).

There are a lot of other videos on the site, and more resources to come! Bookmark this site and join their email list, to check in now and then.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Feral cat organizations: Neighborhood

I'm a huge fan of Neighborhood Cats, perhaps because I've seen Bryan Kortis speak so many times (and maybe because they put my two-door cat shelter in their first manual?). Their goal is to train every person who cares one whit about cats in how to do TNR simply and well, throughout New York City and beyond. When you come through one of Bryan's workshops, you leave wondering why you ever thought it might be complicated, because he stands there with his trap, tells it like it is, hands out his DVDs so you have the info when you leave, and you simply have no excuses.

They also have finally done what needs to be done, and that is design the perfect trap and make it affordable. One of their newly designed Tomahawk traps is only $55, and with a divider to help restrain the cat, it's only $69. Given that I spent $79 on a Tomahawk 15 years ago, this is an incredible value, and a great trap.

Their home page is jammed packed full of everything. You can tell from the home page exactly what is there. It is great! I send homeowners who want to help their cats directly to Neighborhood Cats, because it's very clear and straightforward.

I see they now have a news feed up at the very top of the home page. This addition will keep me coming back. They are also on Facebook

So go right now to and make sure you bookmark it for future visits. Their history is worth a read. The final paragraphs sum up the current status of TNR in the animal welfare movement.

When to socialize kittens

It is amazing to look back on the last 15 years. Petfinder is fifteen but so are several other resources that provide us with options we did not have before.

For example, feral cat groups.

This morning when I opened my mail, there was a newsletter from Alley Cat Allies. ( In that newsletter was a link to their page of socializing kittens.

It provides all sorts of information that I had to figure out on my own in the past, for better or worse. Some of it wasn't an option back then. TNR, for example. It was socialization or death for feral kittens 20 years ago. Spay/neuter was rarer, and it was hard enough to get tame cats fixed, let alone wild ones.

ACA has grown up over the years (Well, so have I). I remember how offended I was when they released printed material that discouraged taming kittens, outright. Their understandable reasoning: if you have limited resources, spend it on TNR. If you have limited homes for shy cats (and all of us do), don't get stuck with unadoptable cats who were once shy kittens. They have since learned how to say the same thing without hitting you over the head with it. I have also changed. Twenty years ago, taming kittens was what I did. Nowadays, I don't have time. I can tame them up, but I don't have enough people coming and going to get them used to strangers. I don't have a husband around, getting them used to men. There are kittens I would TNR now, that I might not have 15 years ago, especially if they are in a safe location.

ACA now says that ultimately, the decision to tame or TNR is up to you, and then give you their tools for making that decision.

All groups will have vital resources that will benefit your work, and reading their web pages will help you remember there are other people out there who care about the same things you do.

If you haven't visited the Alley Cat Allies page in a long while, I would suggest a visit to remind yourself of what is there, and see what is new. For example, they have a great series of photos of kittens at various ages.

I'll be posting on other groups throughout this week--not so much to educate you about them, but to remind you they are there before kitten season rolls down upon us.

If it has not already.

On cats. On adoption.

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day

I meant to have a photo here of the very first cat I ever adopted. Unfortunately my printer/scanner/fax seems to feel that being out of ink is good enough reason not to scan electronically. Last I knew, scanning didn't require ink. That, my friends, is how the "Oh my God, it's only $99" printer/scanner companies keep themselves in business.

$27 ink cartridges.

I adopted my first "own cat," Rastus, during my post-graduate year in high school. Yes, you can take post-grad sessions in high school. My friends had all gone off to college. I'd stayed behind for a boyfriend, fool that I was. I got a job--miracle!--at Four Winds Animal Hospital. I had a apartment, HBO, and $60 bucks a week. I worked nights, and during the day, with nothing much to do, I took business classes at the high school--a two mile walk from the clinic. The vice-principal didn't much know what to do with me. They let me roam the halls and come in late. I had no homeroom and no study halls. I took typing, shorthand, and choir.

Working at the hospital, my apartment was sometimes designated as a place for homeless cats to stay. At the time, I was hosting Bernadette, a cat that had belonged to a fired staff member. I wanted, however, a black kitten to replace my family cat, Thomas. I would regularly visit the Chenango County SPCA, which at that time was in Polkville, about a mile from the school. I would walk over after school to check out the kittens. They had plenty of black female kittens. But no black male kittens like Tommy.

One day, I walked over from the school at midday. Once again, there were no black kittens, but there were plenty of other kittens to play with. I opened a cage with a mom cat and a pile of peachy gray kittens. They all came tumbling out, and I frantically pushed them back. One, a fuzzy gray tiger, refused to detach from my sweater.

And so, I had a kitten.

I still have the receipt. "$3. Gray Kitten." It was 1980. I won't share the name of the person in my family who nicknamed by black family cat "Thomas Rastus." The nickname was racist, and I had NO CLUE. I named my little gray kitten Rastus, after my old cat Tommy, and for at least five years I had no idea why people gave me odd looks when I introduced them to my gray tiger cat. I believe I had graduated from college before someone made a racist comment using that name, and the light went on.

Rastus lived with me at the animal hospital and followed me around as I cleaned the clinic. After I went to college, he stayed at the hospital during the college semester, and came with me in the summer. I sent money to Dr. Briggs for boarding him, and at Christmas he gave it all back to me. Rastus grew fatter and fatter in the care of my replacement, to a point of no return. He slimmed down some when he was in my care, but nothing was going to shrink that huge swagbelly back down to normal.

My senior year in college, I had an apartment on campus. I smuggled Rastus in. My roommate Leslie also adopted a kitten, and we had a wonderful year together.

It was after I graduated and took a position as an ACO with the Tompkins County SPCA that Rastus's long-suffering role as a foster dad began. The first month of my job I adopted a kitten, Bramble. She pestered Rastus so awfully that I adopted a second kitten, Spot, to keep her company.

My first rescue was a week-old kitten. A woman had found the kitten in the yard, and she had no money for KMR. I knew if I took the kitten to the SPCA, he would be euthanized, so I kept him to raise him to adoption age. I stopped at the pet store to pick up a can of KMR and emptied my wallet. It was $13. I made $125 a week. The next day I took my guitar to Ithaca Guitar Works and sold it to pay for more. When he was eight weeks old I took him into the SPCA and went out on the road to work so I wouldn't see who adopted him. What if they weren't "good enough?" It's not like I would have a say in the matter. I still have the little note, on a tiny sheet of memo paper, that the adopters left me, thanking me for saving his life.

I can't remember the name of that kitten. He was the last kitten I took to the SPCA. From then on, I found homes for them myself.

Rastus ministered to the kitten while we had him. He washed him. He slept with him. He smacked him. He suffered being crawled over. And so it began with a steady progression of kittens. Rastus didn't much like them, but he put up with them because I asked him to.

My photo album is full of photos of Rastus with kitten after kitten, from the early years when his fur was glossy, to his older years when it was dull. He helped me with at least fifty feral kittens rescued from Ithaca College when I began working there in 1988.

Rastus's passing from cancer is a story in itself, and a painful one, ending in the suicide (a half-year afterward) of the veterinarian who did not want to put him down---a woman who could not stand that she could not save every pet in her care.

When the house was quiet with his loss, I sat and thought about the seventeen years we had been together. I was no longer the person I had been when he stuck to my sweater like a burr. And now I am no longer the person I was back when Rastus died.

I measure the progression of myself in the lifespan of cats.

Now there is Ivan. Ivan, a kitten I rescued in a rainstorm on Bald Hill Road, who bit me and won himself a ten-day quarantine and a place in my home forever. He is himself starting to go dull in his fur at age twelve. In my historical heart, Ivan is Rastus. And after Ivan passes (hopefully many years from now) there will be another cat, who will also mesh in my memory into that first special friend I adopted from the Chenango County SPCA so very long ago.

The Chenango County SPCA as I knew it was bulldozed for highway improvements. They are now the Chenango SPCA. They now have a beautiful shelter and a gracious big cat room with a huge cat tree that is a map of Chenango County (you must visit it one day, if you have not). The Tompkins County SPCA now no longer euthanizes one-week-old kittens. Times change. We all learn. We all suffer. We all grow.

Time moves on. But the soul of an adopted or rescued pet remains a living memory. Sadly, their lives are shorter than ours. But there will always be another, and another, and there will always be love.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Free adoption tag on Adopt The Internet Day.

Tell your friends. If they are one of the first 200 ADOPTERS to let Rockin Doggie know they adopted a pet today, they can get a great adoption charm free! I seriously want one, but alas, the last thing I need is to adopt another dog. Molly would love it. The cats would despair :)

Thank you, RockinDoggie!

(BTW my blog posts are Facebookable and Tweetable by clicking the icons below to share this easily).

Your homework and mine. Write about your adoption experience...

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day

Today is Adopt the Internet Day and the launch of Petfinder's fifteen birthday.

15 years ago, if you wanted to adopt a pet, you had to look up your shelter in the phone book, and find out what hours they happened to be open. Some people found the sheer number of pets, the sights, the sounds, the smells, overwhelming, and would not go--even though they knew it was the right thing to do. They "would want to take them all home"--and ended up saving none.

They would get their next pet from the newspaper classifieds, from folks who did not yet realize that not spaying and neutering their pets, and allowing them to have "just one litter," was killing lost and homeless pets in our shelters.

If you decide to add a pet to your life now, you can start looking right from your desk at work, or your laptop in the morning. Even if you don't mind visiting a shelter to "browse," you can find your shelter's hours easily, or the times when a local adoption group will have their pets at Petco or Petsmart for you to visit. This new exposure for homeless pets has helped save millions of lives. It has put one shelter in touch with another to move pets from overfull shelters to shelters with space. It has enabled foster groups to assist shelters as well. It has enabled new foster groups to start up, knowing they have a place to feature the pets they rescue and care for.

Even if you rescued your pet off "the street," you helped a shelter by keeping that pet out of the shelter system and giving them room for another pet in need.

To celebrate the changes yesterday and today, and the changes we may experience tomorrow, please post a story today about your adopted pet, so your readers will keep adoption in mind.

And I'd really love it if you would link to the Adopt The Internet day page! Let me know in the comments when you post!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Animals help, and need help, in Japan.

AP Photo

Post Note: Serbian Animals In Need blog has a very comprehensive list of links to assist animals in this triple disaster in Japan.

Also, The Daily Tail

In the aftermath of the incredible multiple disasters in Japan, animals are both helping, and need help there. Canine search teams are prepared to head out..Unfortunately, existing restrictions on import of animals to Japan have resulted in roadblocks.

While the death toll here grows by the hour, U.S. officials said they are working with the Japanese to expedite approval of dog teams from Virginia and California now on their way to Japan to avoid similar bureaucratic snafus. The 150 American rescuers and their 12 dogs trained to find survivors will arrive in Japan today.

World Vets is also mobilizing to assist animals in need in Japan. I've placed their fundraising widget in the column to the right if you are able to give.

Healthy Pets & People reminds us to be prepared--for our pets' sake--in case disaster strikes our own lives. There is also disaster preparedness information on Petfinder's disaster page.

Go to the Blogpaws blog for more links.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Run like a rabbit and go! Adopt-the-Internet Day, March 15

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet Day

I know I have shelter and rescue bloggers who visit here daily. This is a great opportunity to get extra web traffic and help find more homes for homeless pets. If you know of a shelter/rescue who blogs, please pass this on!

In honor of's 15th birthday year they have named Tuesday March 15, Help Petfinder Adopt the Internet Day. It's a day devoted to spreading the word about pet adoption, so people think adoption when they decide to bring a pet into their lives.

It is basically a takeover of the Internet from now through March 15 (and beyond?) so the web is buzzing about adoption everywhere you look.

Petfinder is hosting a blog hop and asking websites and bloggers everywhere to talk about pet adoption. You or the organizations you adopted a pet from can be on there if you--or they--have a blog.

So you don't have a blog? If you have a Facebook page or Twitter account you can also participate.

Petfinder will be including a "linky" on their landing page on March 15 where you can add your post links. They will also be sharing your links all day on Twitter and will be promoting the landing page with the links on Facebook all day. They have over 100k followers on Facebook and over 11k on Twitter. That's a lot of people finding your post and learning about adoption from you.

Here is the landing page:  You can find badges to post on your blog or website, and more.

So...all you have to do is post just once between March 1 and March 14th about Adopt the Internet Day. That shouldn't be hard, since almost everyone here has adopted or rescued a pet and has a story to tell. ;)

Then, on March 15th--the big day--devote at least one blog post to the subject of pet adoption. You can write about what it means to you, share your own adoption story, tell your readers why adoption is so important.

You can also feature one of the shelter and rescue-nominated Adopt-the-Internet All-Star Adoptable pets at I believe Tiger Tom is in there, but I haven't clicked all 400-some pets yet.

Petfinder also has a giveaway for people who pledge to tell one friend about pet adoption. They have ways to share on social media and more. I'll send more information about that in a later post tonight.

Even ICanHasCheezburger is involved. You can caption adoptable pets!

Send me a link to your post--one now to spread the word, and another on March 15 to share your words on adoption--and I'll add it below. I'll also repost the list to get as much traffic as possible to everyone who participates. That will be happening all over the internet. Thanks!

DFW Rescue
Yahoo Contributor Network
Petfinder Blog (of course)
A Canine Opines

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Not boothing at Community Showcase, but will visit

Between traveling to NJ, and a quick trip I need to take to Syracuse, I've decided not to have a booth at the Community Showcase, although I will stop by to visit. I need the time open on Sunday for people to visit here who definitely want to adopt, and with Saturday taken up with other things, I need every Sunday hour I can get. (Alice, maybe you could give me a ring when you leave Light On The Hill and we could meet at the Showcase for a walkabout? I'll email you).