Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Incredible fawn photos....


Meeting a kindred spirit...

I was having dinner at a hotel dining room, when I noticed a cat outside the window with her feet against the glass, peering up at the two gentleman at the table in front of me.

Well, hell.

Then I notice she had friends, slouching down the warm hotel sidewalk.

I've been so used to running across cats that need help, that I immediately began entertaining whether I would be able to rent a car to bring them home if I went out there and found cats that really needed help.

It turned out times have changed. The hotel staff was more than willing to help me track down Nettie, who had been caring for the cats for years. The next morning when we met, she told me the cats were all fixed, tested, and vaccinated. All except one newcomer. She'd thought about going to PAWS, because they had a senior citizen discount that brought the cost down to $25, but she would have to pick the cat up the same day, and she didn't have space to recover him at home with her own pet cats. So she thought she'd use her vet, who would cost more, but provides overnight care.

It seemed to me this would be a good, simple project for The Leewit Fund. So I told her Wildrun would pay for the neuter of her new cat, and if you've ever given an unexpected gift, you can imagine the look on her face. She called her vet up, and I arranged to go over and pay at the clinic. I got a truly warm hug. She said I couldn't know how she felt. I told her I was sure I could, since I'd had the same done for me in the past.

It was one of the nicest moments of my life.

Her vet was a joy. Sporting a white head of hair, he immediately remarked on mine, and then waxed eloquent on what a wonderful person Nettie was to her cats. I paid for the neuter, testing, and vaccinations, and left certain that the money couldn't have been better spent.

How wonderful to fall over cats that don't need help! Wouldn't it be great for this to become the norm? Perhaps I'll find it already is.

I went for a walk and found the cats' shelter, and a few of the ten cats as well. In the GA heat (95F)they were in nap mode, but nonetheless were ready to run when I came poking around. I let them be.

When I came by the hotel desk this evening to tape up a package, the maintenance man asked me I was the one who had helped Nettie that day. I guess I'd become the day's story, and I'm sure the white hair (and perhaps the yin/yang cat t-shirt) gave me away. I learned even more about the cats, and he assured me there had been no kittens for years and years, except for those that were abandoned.

I was just at a conference where cocktail-hour conversation included concern that, in practice, trap/neuter/return sometimes projects stalled or fell apart. I had pointed out that when you were asking average people to do what was essentially animal population management, we were expecting a lot that each colony would be successful. Biologists screw up on management programs. Do we expect common citizens to be successful without real education, resources, and support?

The hotel cats are a textbook case of how TNR *does* work when the caretaker is committed to the animals, and the support network---like an accepting workplace, veterinarian, and staff--are in place.

We had also discussed at the conference whether it was acceptable to return sterilized feral cats to a location where there "was no caretaker." I have never yet failed to find a caretaker where I've found cats, except in the case of the Fast Food Ferals, where I then arranged for the cats to be fed myself. I just feel that if we can go to the effort of getting cats fixed and vaccinated, we should be able to go the extra step of making sure they are fed. Chances are good someone is doing it anyway; isn't it better to make sure they are doing it right? And how do we answer concerns about cats preying on wildlife, if we are putting them out there with no food, expecting them to rely on their hunting skills? And if we are unable to provide the cats with a warm place by a safe fireplace in a home, don't we owe them a few shelters and a scoop of dry food once a day? Is that really so hard?

I have seldom seen so many kind faces in a single day. If being a cat lady means that when my age matches my hair color, I'll have as many people who smile over me at as who smiled over Nettie today, then I'm more than happy with my future fate.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Last cuddle time before foster time

First one kitten crept up on the bed...

then two more...

I let them stay for an hour while I worked (and, I must admit, watched the comedy part of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report via internet) and then packed them off to the great room for the night so Ivan and Ditz could reclaim their traditional sleeping spots.

These kittens are going off to Christy and Gordon this weekend. The kittens my vet was fostering are back. They are going off to Valarie and Craig for a little bit. I need to get adoption-worthy photos of them all, so I can get them up on Petfinder.

My vet neuter/spayed the kittens she had, as a donation.

Have I mentioned I love my vet?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Phantom Wildrun cats

There are two classifications of phantom cats at Wildrun.

First, there are the cats still wandering around the farm, a product of dumping. Oh, how I look forward to the day when I catch the next person dumping a cat! I think our court system is now such that the person definitely would end up with "animal cruelty" tagged on their record, which is not so cool when you have to fill in that "have you ever been convicted of a crime, if so, what?" question on job applications.

I tend to think of these cats as Wildrun cats, even though they are still at large. They need to be on my radar, to get caught, get fixed, and get homes.

The second are adult cats I have sent away with past adopters and friends, to bring them out of their shells. They are cats that were getting more shy here, not more friendly. Sparkles and Charlie are two of these. What usually happens in these cases is the foster home comes to see the cat as theirs, and well, they end up sort of pseudo-adopted. But it's really not fair on my part not to check in more often, just in case the person has had enough. I've only had one or two come back in the past, and they do come back much happier and less skittish.

So believe it or not, I did set a computer alarm to check in on my cats that are on "vacation." If they aren't still hiding under the couch, maybe I can get some pictures.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hay barn cats lose their home; some lose their lives

above photo from a story in the Ithaca Journal

Today the hay barn colony barn burned in a smokey inferno --- 45 minutes, and it was gone. It's likely the kittens, and perhaps the friendly cats, did not make it. Hopefully, as it was daylight, many of the cats were out in the fields.

Nancy let me know via Facebook and I drove out just before dark. The fire department and the owners were there, standing over the smoking ruins....a vast field of metal roof, and the skeletons of tractors. I can't begin to describe the devastation, just as I could never adequately describe how huge it was in its glory.

They have put out food for the cats along the field. I saw one cat, and the fire personnel said they had seen three or four. Originally there had been around 35, but the numbers had dropped over the years after they were neutered. New cats and new kittens kept the colony from dwindling entirely these past three years, and the owners kept them well fed.

I won't blog about what I learned there, as the investigators will need some time to go through the ruins. I offered my help with the remaining cats. The owners have my card. It just doesn't seem fair. Of all the colonies I've been involved with, this was the only colony that was truly safe. They had this huge wonderful warm dry barn, lots of hay, and two square meals a day. Even water bowls. And litter boxes for the friendly cats at the south end of the barn. Every couple of years I would stop in to catch a few for fixing or rabies boosters. Nancy stepped in to help last time. There was no need to sneak around. It seemed like the sun was always shining.

I swung by her place to fill her in. She'll probably have more info than I in the days to come.

It wasn't until I was on my way home that it really hit me.

The hay barn cats are no more. Here is their story. Warning, Nancy, that may be a sad post for you to read.

And now it begins to rain.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dumped kittens

Well, with two kittens off at foster camp, you had to know it wouldn't be long before others moved in. These three little kittens--obviously home-raised, as they know their way around a house--were dumped at a dairy farm along a busy highway. In other words, someone decided to sign a death warrant for these little guys.

Two are male, and one female. For once, the numbers worked out to the advantage of the bank account.

They were hungry and dehydrated when they arrived. They knew what kitten chow was, and lapped water right up. Like I said, they obviously received attention growing up, but whomever had them couldn't be bothered to find homes for them, and dumped their problem on someone else instead.

Bear put up with abuse of his tail only so long before he sent this little guy packing.

I had them shut up in the great room last night when I picked them up. This evening I opened up the door, and they immediately laid claim to the house. They are friendly without being needy, playful without being overly aggressive, and litterbox trained. After they are FeLV/FIV tested, I'll ship them off to some sucker for two weeks. Then they'll be ready for homes.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Adopter photo: Marbles!

Kelly sent photos of Marbles (formerly Casper) to my Facebook page. He is a big fellow now. Kelly has three Wildrun cats, which along with Nancy J, puts her up there in the "most cats adopted" category. Except for Phill and Eugenia, who adopted six FeLV kittens, but the kittens were born under their porch, so it was more like me fostering for them, rather than them adopting from me.

Thanks, Kelly!