Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Today Rhett and Scarlett went to the vet. They tested negative for FeLV/FIV and giardia (yeah!), and got their vaccinations. However, we did have a surprise I had to share with the adopter:

"Hi. Hey, the kittens went to the vet and came through with flying colors. Everything was negative. We did however discover Scarlett has something we didn't expect..."

"What's that?"


Scarlett is a boy.

I hate when that happens! It happens to the best of us, but usually when you get the kitten as a tiny kit...not at over 12 weeks when things are readily apparent. And not when the kitten is orange (the majority of orange cats are male) even if the mom (female, obviously) was orange herself. But the vet's office got a laugh, and I enjoy laughing at myself, too. I'm glad now that they had a good vet check, so I didn't embarrass myself more fully when I bring them to be neutered next week!

When kittens are little and their testicles have not descended, you have to judge by the distance between the orifices. Males have a greater distance than females. Males look like two dots, and females more like an exclamation point.

The fact is, I just didn't look closely enough.
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Monday, December 26, 2005

Cats, Christmas, family and friends.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, and are headed into a great New Year. Alden brought the facility cats new feather toys (and me a bottle of wine). Mark got them a label maker, so I can replace the hand-written pieces of tape on the cat facility cupboards with something more professional looking, and also can label my father's clothes so they won't go astray in the assisted living center. I also got THREE of these, which fulfilled my request for indestructable, ultra-washable, warm, and nice looking clothes. Luckily they were available in more mainstream colors when Mark purchased them.

Last year our friends Martha and Hilary made us the fleece blanket in this picture. This year they brought us another with autumn leaves (Ditzy is currently sleeping on it. So much for OUR gift). We had two breakfasts on Christmas. One for Mark's parents (11:00 am), and one for my mom and sister (2:00 pm). No turkey this year! We had pancakes, scones, venison sausage that had been a gift, fried potatos...Mark said if he had to cook, for once he wanted to cook what he enjoyed---breakfast!!!

I want to thank everyone for their gifts and their company. And I want to also let the readers here all know how much it means to me to see how many people return again and again, even though it is just a little cat blog. Having readers means we try harder here. We look a little closer, take more photos, think more about what we are doing. It makes a big difference to not be "alone." Scrutiny helps.

Today I went to visit my father (along with my sister) at his living center. We purchased him clothes at the mall (!!!! the day after Christmas! Egad what crowds), arranged for him to have a haircut and manicure, and visited a bit.

Tomorrow the kittens must be at the vet at 8:40 am, and then work from 10:00-6:00. It was a busy holiday, but I'm glad we got to see family and friends. Posted by Picasa

Peace on earth, good will in bed-sharing

Nick the cat had no problem sharing the dog bed with Randy, our friends' dog who came to visit last night. However Ditz and Ivan, who have lived together for years, require a pillow to break eye contact, or they launch a snit-fest.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

The meaning of Christmas

Pinky (whose more respectable name is Raphael) currently despises me. He is being treated for giardia with metronidazole, which is the nastiest tasting stuff in the universe. Take it from someone who tasted it. Nasty, nasty, nasty. Pinky is a faint flame-point Siamese cross who is very very shy, and is destined for the long-term cat room once the giardia is cleared up. He won't take a capsule, which means he gets his metro in liquid form, twice a day. This is not helping the taming process at all. When I open his cage, his little ears go flat. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body, so while he'll do anything to avoid me, he never swats or bites. I feel like a torturer. I cannot begin to express what this stuff tastes like. All I did was put my tongue to it and I began to gag. He gets a cc twice a day. Poor guy.

Shopping was almost painless today, which actually was a bit frightening. There were tons of parking spaces at the mall right near the entrance. While there were lots of people there, I only had to wait a short while for a salesperson to help me at one store, and every where else there were no lines at all.

On the way home, I realized it was Christmas Eve, so if I needed anything from the grocery store, I needed to get it before 6:00 pm.

Which reminded me of the very first family Christmas that Mark and I hosted.

We had recently purchased our first house. Mark had the day off, and I was working dispatch for a police department. We both worked odd shifts and were used to shopping at the stores during the evening and sometimes even late at night. We had grown used to grocery stores that were open 24 hours a day. And we both usually had to work holidays, and just assumed others did, too.

Mark came into town to purchase Christmas dinner supplies on Christmas Eve...and discovered that the grocery stores had closed at 6:00. He came to see me at work to break the news. I refused to believe it. I got on the phone and called every store.

And indeed, they were all closed. We had my entire family coming the next day, and we hadn't even purchased a turkey. We didn't have much money, but we had saved to be able to have my family over. I was very proud to finally be grown up enough to have the family over for this yearly gathering.

Then Mark said "I can spin some pizzas..."

No way, NO WAY, was my family eating pizza on this very first Christmas!

So I picked up the phone and called my boss, who had also been my landlord in the past. I counted him and his wife Cathy as friends as well as supervisors. But he was still, well, my boss, you know.

He had once made a joke about having two turkeys in his freezer. Maybe he still had an extra one. Mark was the one who was now appalled. He couldn't believe I might beg Christmas dinner off of a variety of people. But I knew Norm and Cathy. They were the kind of people who would think that the very reason they had a second turkey was precisely to help someone out in a situation like this.

Also, I was a police dispatcher. You had two tools. A radio. And a phone. I'd learned that there were very few dilemmas that could not be solved via the use of a phone. (Now of course, add computers, video survellience, and the Internet).

When I called Norm, his extended family was visiting. I could hear the laughter in the background when they realized that Susan had called to be saved from a serious case of bad planning. It was friendly laughter, all the same.

He told me to come on over. They had not only an extra turkey, but supplies for an entire second Christmas dinner. Right down to an extra can of cranberry relish and stuffing! Maybe it wasn't stuffing. Maybe they had potatos. I think they even had a frozen apple pie that we didn't need because my mother was bringing dessert.

So Mark and I drove on over when I got off my shift at 11:00 pm that night. The party there was still in full swing, and our arrival made for more gaity. The pantry was thrown open. We went home laden with supplies and a true Christmas gift...the gift of friendship. They refused to take any money. And the next day, my family had a wonderful Christmas dinner, with all the trimmings.

Norm passed away last year from cancer. He was only 47. If ever a man deserved to live to be a hundred, it was Norm. He was the kindest, most generous person I've ever met.

In that story somewhere, is the meaning of Christmas.

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A year ago...


Christmas for kitties

What do you do if you get an end-of-the-year bonus? Begin to spend it on the cats, of course. I went immediately to Revival Animal Health

Item: 40-242 - Quick-Lock Crock - 4 - $4.39
Item: 95-760 - Kwik Stop - 1 - $4.38
Item: 16-025 - Vet Solutions Ear Cleansing Solution - 1 - $6.49
Item: 95-176 - Gauze Sponges - 1 - $4.99

Item Subtotal: $33.42
Basic Shipping: $7.95
Order Total: $41.37

They don't have terramycin eye ointment? For shame!

(The Kwik Stop is actually for Sadie the dog. She has black nails and for the first time, I clipped too close in the last session of nail cutting) I want and need Drontal, but at $144.00 I hesitated until other bills are paid and Christmas has passed. Another luxury would be a fogger for disinfecting. Oh, and a nebulizer would be really, really nice. And a Wood's lamp. But not this time.

I've come to the conclusion I may have to start making my own cat beds out of berber or polar fleece. The ones I used to buy have been discontinued, and new designs are either too expensive or just don't stand up to washing.

I also called the vet and made two appointments to get kittens and cats FeLV/FIV tested, rabies vaccinated, giardia-tested, and fixed.

I've done zero Christmas shopping other than a flurry online last Tuesday (arrived yesterday, thank goodness). Oh, I also hit up the Animal Rescue Site for gifts for my cat feeders, but they won't arrive for a week or so.

So guess what I'm doing today? I'm going to the MAAAAALLLL!

After I take the trash to the solid waste facility of course. We must have our priorities, and three cans full of used cat litter ARE a priority.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Call me Fluffy. I can take it.

I can't resist posting this photo of Fluffy, the grand alpha master of the cat facility. Somewhere out there is a perfect home for Fluff...with a guy who wants a seriously cool cat, who doesn't mind combing him every day, and who respects the fact that this cat was fully feral until he was two years old, and even though he is a classy affectionate cat now, if you corner him or try to restrain him without a towel, he will sink his teeth into your hand and not apologize. He'll put up with yanking at mats, the giving of medicine, etc. but if you think you can just grab him and hang on when he gets alarmed and wants to get away, you are seriously mistaken. He doesn't bite with attitude the way my own pet cat Ivan does. He only would bite out of self-defense (and has only bitten once, but it did end up in a trip to the hospital). Everyone who comes here dreams of taking Fluffy home. But pretty much everyone takes a look at that coat and thinks...nope. Ain't gonna happen. Thankfully he loves to be combed...IF he doesn't have mats. And even when he has mats he puts up with a lot, and will wap you with a soft paw to let you know when he has had enough.

I have a real basic rule that determines whether someone is seriously considered as a home for Fluffy. If they don't ask questions, and just say "I am interested in Fluffy" without any reservations, they aren't the right place home for him. If you consider taking on eighteen pounds of serious cat who comes with a coat that had better NOT get matted, you'd best have some reservations.Posted by Picasa

Dreaming of a Gulf rescue Christmas?

Two Christmases ago two friends of mine became holiday saviors for little Paddles. They came to our open house, and met Paddles, a manic little extra-toed biter with a bad eye, and decide she had to be theirs. They renamed her Gizmo, and gave her a wonderful home.

This year they are continuing their holiday trend...in a big way.

"We are heading to Metairie, LA on Monday for a week
of volunteer work at the new ARNO shelter in Metairie!
It was a spur of the minute decision to go, based on
the last email from Michael Mountain...Should be back
the 4th or 5th of Jan. Should be interesting! Have a
great holiday"

What a way to spend your holidays, hey?
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Diamond pet food recalled

More here

Rhett and Scarlett may have a home!

Rhett and Scarlett had holds put on them tonight! I forgot to ask the adopters if I could blog them, but two college professors and their son came to visit the cats, and fell for these two. They also came bearing Christmas ornaments, so the memory of Rhett and Scarlett will remain on our tree for many many years to come.

That's possibly five cats adopted this month. Merry Christmas! Actually, given the day...have a wonderful solsticePosted by Picasa


Ummm. I think Wings here defines "pear-shaped." Maybe it's time to switch over to Science Diet Lite. He may be fat, but he's a sweetheart. Anyone want a cuddly orange fellow? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Women, beauty, and...cat ladies?

Speaking of Ithaca College, I periodically check their Intercom page and caught the announcement of the 2006 presentation of WomenSpeak. This year's theme is Women and Beauty.

This isn't normally the kind of thing I would be likely to pick to sign up to speak on. The one time I did present at WomenSpeak the topic was Women and Nature (I believe). I probably spent more time on that short artistic presentation than I ever had on a long academic one. I really enjoyed it.

But that was Women and Nature.

Women and Beauty? Beauty is not high on my priority list.

Which may be a very good reason to examine...why? There is a a stereotype of the dumpy cat lady. And you know, it is a stereotype with some truth in it (as I sit here in yesterday's slacks, a fur-covered blue sweatshirt emblazoned with the Colorado Association of Animal Control Officer's logo, and, I admit, I failed to take a shower today). I have seen dollars that I used to spend carefully at the sale rack of the Bon Ton buying work clothes get siphoned into cat rescue.

I've seen my diet run toward McDonald's because, after all, I'm catching cats on a fast food strip. When you destroy your nice clothes crawling under a trailer...well...you stop wearing nice clothes. You stop eating at the table, and choose food that is best consumed from bowls on the couch.

Now that I telecommute and the time requirements of my job are also more demanding, I find that the checks and balances of personal neatness have vanished. There is no one to see me, so if I choose to be neatly dressed, it is entirely to please myself and my husband. I don't have to take a shower by 7:00 am...I can take it at noon, or in the evening or even (gasp) skip a day. Dress clothes are uncomfortable when you are plopped in front of a computer all day so my chosen wardrobe is....soft and dumpy. Clothes that are perfectly good but sat in the drawer unused because they were unattractive, are now worn. Who is going to see them?

I will always remember the afternoon this summer when I realized I needed cat litter and jumped into the truck, drove to the local store, jumped out of the truck...and realized I was wearing short (soft and warm but quite silly) wool socks decorated with tiny yarn poodles with tinier yarn floppy ears. They were amusing at home, but appalling in public. I stripped off my poodles in the parking lot and slipped my sneakers back on, sans socks.

At what point will I jump out of the truck, look down at my poodles, and think instead, "What the hell?" and leave them? Will people look at my poodles and think "Busy telecommuter?" Or "crazy cat lady?" Even my sloppy sockless state could be considered sliding toward the cat lady stereotype.

At the party last night I ran into an administrator who mentioned she was now neighbors with a former student who knew me in Biology (at the height of my cat rescue frenzy, probably during the Kitten Year from Hell). Martha told her I used to work in the Provost's office, in skirts, pant suits, and heels. I understand the graduate expressed astonishment.

What is beauty? Why do we aspire to it? Why do we sometimes give up on it? What makes us scrabble at fragments of beauty. To whom does it matter? Ourselves, or our perception of ourselves?

In Rome, cat women are titled gattare and I am as of yet not able to determine if it is a title of respect, ridicule, or cultural romance. But when I first heard it, I thought "How beautiful." The dumpy ladies of my imagining instantly became more beautiful to my mind's eye because they were in Rome, and were called "gattare." I always thought gato and gatti were beautiful words. To find the term associated with the women who care for them...well. How beautiful.

(anyone remember Don Gato? Come on now, sing along in your mind... The words were silly, but the music was oh-so-poignant).

Any thoughts, cat folk? About beauty and cat ladies?

Holiday get togethers (and of course, cats)

Last night I accompanied Mark to 2 Fountain Place for the annual holiday gathering at the house of the president of Ithaca College. Staff, faculty, and friends get together each year. It was great to see people I hadn't seen since I left IC a year ago. I really do miss IC, although I love my current job.

And, hey, I touched base with two people who may want to adopt cats! Yes, I cannot help but lobby for cats even when walking around a beautiful house, wine glass in hand, with a pianist playing holiday music on a baby grand. It's a sickness.

But a good sickness.

So tomorrow a former professor of mine (and now a friend) and her husband will be coming out to visit the cats. And the husband of an administrator will be checking with his (non-college) staff to see if they are interested in having an office cat or two at his business.

Afterward, Mark and I went out with our friends Martha and Hilary to Just a Taste.

It finally feels like the holidays.

Ebay puts pet listings on hold

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with eBay. I was sent a "stop eBay from selling pets!" email and went and visited one of their forums. They had a representative/staff member on their forum answering questions and responding to concerns. I don't think I've ever seen that on a forum before.

The results are here

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The ballad...

of Frankie Lee.

Via the The Carnival of the Cats at Music and Cats.

Sorry, no post this morning. Must get some work done and do family things as well. Have a wonderful Sunday. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Practicing religious tolerance.

It's Christmas. The one time we open up the Great Room during the winter. Ivan, however, a pagan, is worshipping at the alter of the Kerosene Heater. Posted by Picasa

Don't burn your whiskers, Ditzy.

It is cold in here. But it is not THAT damned cold in here, OK?

This is the reason I no longer use kerosene heaters in the cat facility. One day I smelled burning hair, and there was Puma with his tail in the flame. Then I put the heater in a cage, but the cats would lie on top of it. A thermometer indicated it was over 100 degrees F up there. We now heat with electric, with a fund to replace that with propane sometime soon. Times like this you remember that cats were originally desert creatures.
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The Blogpound has kittens!

Here, have some pre-holiday cuteness Good luck with those little guys!

Friday, December 16, 2005

In memory of Jasmin

Photo from Animal Coalition of Tampa.

Jasmin was a great friend to all on the feral cat listserv on yahoo, where I met her. When I began the Cat Out Loud blog, under a pseudonym, she found her way there and was a frequent commenter. Feral cats and countless humans have lost a good friend with the unexpected passing of Jasmin Kung.

About her colony cats, she wrote to me:
I love them with every fiber of my being and they in turn reward me by finally letting them touch me. I know I'm "The Can Opener" and they do count on me for food :) They are happy, healthy, and content. This is what matters to me so much.

I learned of her death on the feral cats listserv, however it was the email I received today from her husband that brought me to real tears. He had gone through her personal email directory and contacted everyone there. My thoughts are with the family and friends of Jasmin. I understand her colonies are being cared for. She touched a great many lives, both human and feline, and I will miss her.

A tribute to her is on the front page of Alley Cat Allies

Post Note: You know, the more I read this, the more upset I get. Jasmin was a center of kindness in a world full of self-centeredness. She was never anything other than kind and thoughtful. Seeing her in "comments" or on feral_cats was such a joy, and yet I never met her in person. You must wonder...you MUST (meaning ME or anyone who knew Jasmin--or someone like her---do you know someone like her?)...what you can do yourself to make some small change in the world, so that a life like hers has a continuing legacy.

Happiness is your very own cat tree...

Especially when just a few weeks ago, you lived here

This is the first time I've arrived to deliver an adopted cat, where the new owner has already purchased such a prize for their new pet. Tara is a lucky cat, I think.

Post-note: Whoops, I see this post was added to the Friday Ark! So I probably should add more explanation about Tara's new homePosted by Picasa

Tara has a home!

Despite the nasty weather, I finally delivered Tara to her new home. I had promised on Tuesday, but between emergencies, work, and weather, it kept getting pushed back. She is now a very happy cat. She settled right into her new apartment, and rubbed up against her new owner's legs. Her owner made a donation to Shelter Outreach Services for the adoption fee (since as a business, I can't "sell" my cats). Now I just need to find a place for her kits, , Rhett and Scarlett.Posted by Picasa

There were no foot tracks at the cat shelters this morning, so I'm glad I was able to shovel out the cats before Kat had to wade in to feed them. Posted by Picasa

I had to go into town to take a cat to the vet, a cat to her new home, and dig out the Fast Food Ferals. I'm happy to report that I was forced to buy new sneakers for my truck. Happy, that is, because now I won't be stranded by the snow. The guys at Kost Tire set me up with some serious grippers for a decent price. It's still costly ($210 for two snows with studs), but this truck will get where it needs to go now. Posted by Picasa

Lots of snow and ice overnight out here in the boondocks. This is the old chicken barn on our property, looking quite beautiful this morning. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Keeping up in the world

Lest anyone think that animal welfare is all cute and furry, or angry and tragic, there is a significant scientific side. While I can't afford a ton of publications, I have finally subscribed to the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS) and Society and Animals, to keep up with current research into animal welfare issues. Since I'm used to the hulking journals from my brief six-year venture into lab animal science (and used to copy-edit for a fairly large ecological journal so was forced to learn how to understand all those damned tables--loved the job though), I was surprised at the small size of these journals. But they are relatively young, and to tell you the truth, given the pace of my life, I think I like being able to to curl up with one of these and get through an article. It's not like research is light reading, and a huge thick journal can be imposing (not to mention expensive).

Another source for scientific data is Petpopulation.org
and Cat Management in Communities

It's another night that is far too cold (1.9F). It's also another night that I am up at 2:45. I've got to stop this. Granted, there was a couch nap mixed in there. But there comes a time in every middle-aged person's life, that if they want to be alive to be an old-aged person, they need to get to bed by 11:00 pm and get seven hours of good solid sleep.

And no, your computer screen isn't dirty. Apparently the lens on my camera is. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What a night to be driving west until 2:00 am.

A full moon and the Geminid meteor shower---something I had never heard of or paid attention to until tonight as I returned from New Jersey, pulling out onto the road at around 10:30 pm. The first two streaked down from the sky as I wound through the back country roads toward route 78 (as "country" as that country gets). Number nine shot across my vision as I climbed the final hill into Binghamton near 1:20. Number 10 appeared as I passed my father's nursing care home along Route 17. Number 11 graced me just as a deer bolted across the road in front of me on 96. And Number 12 said goodnight as I drove down my road toward home.

When I saw the first one, I counted myself blessed and dedicated it to the coworkers I had just left after a holiday party full of laughter. The second I was surprised, and made a wish for Mark. When I saw the third I realized this was more than your common spate of shooting stars, and the only thing I could think of in that flash of a moment was: Peace. The fourth seemed to deserve Peace as well. The fifth brought my cats to mind, huddling on this cold cold night in their shelters down on Route 13. And then I spent some time thinking about dad and the other members of my family, and how they are doing as a progression of stars flashed by.

It was a long drive, and it was too cold to stop to nap, as I often do. I didn't realize it was below zero until I stopped for gas in Harford and the gas guy said "Cold enough for you?" I smiled and nodded...and then found out he wasn't just spouting a friendly howdy, when I went to pump my $20 worth of gas. Damn it was cold! My cup of coffee poured steam as it sat on the roof of my truck.

So did the Susquehanna River when I came down into the valley. A cloud of mist hung about forty feet above the water, a matching river of whiteness under a nearly full moon. It followed along the highway all the way to Owego, where I left it behind.

What a gorgeous, gorgeous night. It is sobered by the thought of the humans, stray creatures, and wild things, who are stuck out there in it, and aren't now sitting beside a woodstove that is now clacking with heat after I tossed in a few logs at 2:20 a.m., turning on my computer to learn my falling stars are called the Geminids.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

For those who could not make it yesterday...

Here is a virtual tour of our small feral cat facility in the barn. Welcome to Wildrun!

The cage room where new cats and feral cats are confined. To the left you can see the door to the vestibule. The facility is heated, and usually is about 68 degrees F at standing height, which is why the cages are elevated to take advantage of the fact that heat rises. Elevated cages also make it easy to tame cats and clean cages, by bringing them up to human level.

The runs (on the right) off the vestibule.

The cabinets (previously college book lockers) for supplies:

The cat room for long term resident cats:

Plushy says: "Thanks for the bed! And the toys. They are mine, all mine."

Taking us at our word, people brought turkey baby food, which we use to tame kittens, who just can't seem to resist this stuff. Posted by Picasa

There is a small radiator heater in the cat room, which I keep under a tall cage to prevent it from being tipped. The cats love to sleep on top of the cage in the warmth. Here are Fluffy and Kid sleeping off yesterday's excitment.

Tiger Tom and Plushy may have gotten a home! Here Plushy, who has been with Wildrun for three years, checks out a new gift bed from Jane, while Tiger Tom looks on. Nancy also brought two beds. An open house visitor wonders if these two might make good office cats. The suggestion is tentative, but it would be wonderful if it works out. Posted by Picasa

Turning a donated cat tree into a coffee service. This neat (but heavy) cat tree was given to us by a dog rescue nearby. It needed cutting down, painting, and new carpet, but I hadn't gotten around to it. Well, something had to be done with it sitting in the middle of the first floor of the barn on its side, so I finally got around to getting it cleaned up. Once it has a few more coats of paint I'll figure out how to get it upstairs. In the meantime, it works well for serving coffee and cider to guests downstairs!Posted by Picasa