Sunday, January 31, 2010

Feral beagles?

On Long Island no less.

I would take the first few sensational paragraphs with a grain of "oh yeah, gotta make an interesting story into a horror story" of course.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Norma, and time passing...

This is Norma. I think perhaps I've posted one photo of her on the blog in the past, from fairly far away. There's good reason for that. Norma is my last little house feral (after Schubert passed on of diabetes). She is one of my pet cats. Normally she would never let me this close to her pointing the "flashy thingy" her way. But Norma is sick.

I'd noticed last week that Norma's little "mow!" was quite loud. A loud voice on an old cat normally indicates someone is getting a little deaf. I took note of it, and made sure she was eating and drinking and using the cat box without a problem.

Norma lives upstairs, and refuses to come down. She used to sleep with Mark and I. She was the only cat who was permitted on the bed, and she reveled in her privilege. When I was alone and I moved downstairs, I would go up twice a day to give Norma treats and sit with her on my lap for awhile. I rearranged her room with couches and a bowl of toys. A very quiet cat, she would periodically explode into fits of wild play and I'd hear her thundering overhead.

For about a year she would come to the heat grate at precisely 10:00 pm and "mow" for Mark to come up to bed.

She finally gave up.

She has a jar of "special Norma food" in her room that the other cats don't get. When I visit her, I quietly (very quietly) scoop out a handful and leave it near her so she can eat it before the other cats notice she has something other than Purina One.

Nellie, a non-feral but skittish, fairly soft and plump cat, likes to spend her time with Norma, which made me feel better about the whole "alone upstairs thing." They cuddle up in this very fur-covered cat bed together.

The other day, Nellie started coming downstairs a lot, sitting in the kitchen, flirting with Ivan, and staring at me. I normally only see Nellie when I have a bowl of breakfast cereal. She loves milk and can discern the sound of pouring Cheerios from any point of the house. This was odd behavior for her, so I went up to check on Norma, who was crouched on the futon bed on the electric blanket I recently bought for the upstairs cats to toast on.

She seemed fine, but when I pulled up on her fur, it "tented" and she was clearly dehydrated.

She didn't want her treats.

She didn't want a/d mixed with water.

She was VERY unhappy when I syringe-fed her baby food and water. The fact that I was able to even attempt this with her was a very bad sign.

I gave her some sub-q fluids (also bad that she tolerated this), put a heating pad over a side of her kitty bed, and went to bed.

This morning, she is the same--alert but dehydrated, refusing to eat.

Can you say kidney problems, anyone?

Last night I was trying to remember how old Norma was. I was counting back to when I pulled her out of a Garden Apartment wall at Ithaca College. We named her after Norm, our wonderful landlord (and my boss at the time--he has since passed away) whose last name was "Wall." I know, bad pun. She had to be thirteen? Maybe fourteen? Norma gets a vet visit only every handful of years, and her most recent visit last year was a home-check. Other than a weepy eye/sneeze once a year or so (likely from having rhino or calici virus as a kitten) she has been an incredibly healthy little cat.

This morning, after spending time with her, I dug out her records and realized why I could not recall. The first vet who spayed her didn't write dates on her receipts! I remember that spay clearly because the vet didn't give a discount, and presented me with a bill for $252. I can still remember my stunned shock.

The earliest rabies certificate I found was 1994. And Norma was six months to a year old when I caught her. We thought she was a kitten when I brought her home because she was so small. Then she immediately went into heat. Whoa! She has never gotten larger than 5 pounds.

Norma is 16. Maybe 17!

Criminey! Yes, it's time for the kidneys to be a problem.

So I gave her more fluids and I'll try to get her into the vet today, but they are only open a half day on Saturdays. Why do all my cats get ill on weekends and holidays?

Poor little Norma.

(Post note for those who know my house: I have opened up the stairwell curtain and cranked the heat for her).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sustainable cat towers

Very cool although out of my price range (there's one on craigslist for $200. Notsobad when you realize a regular Petsmart cat tree is $159).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Need to laugh?

Visit Stella's video. Thanks for Sara for posting this on her Facebook page.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Making the kitty fetish page...

...and Wiggles is helping.

Making the kitties is quite enjoyable. The beading, and the photography, is a real bear, as I am quite far-sighted, and the dollar-store glasses give me a headache. :)

Valentine kitty, anyone?

Fuzzy photo. Must take another. Sigh.

I'd like to say I'll have this done today, but I'm afraid I need to take a break to drive to Ithaca for cat litter.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Longfellow and Wiggles

I think it's time for a new name for Wiggles. She's such a sweetheart. This is promotion weekend. Petfinder created a new flyer-maker, so this weekend I plan to plaster the world with kitten posters.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So why is Susan pimping out her house?

...albeit, slowly?

In this day and age of "carbon footprint" management, it's hard for me to justify squatting on a huge piece of land, curled up in a huge house. Granted, the felines might be counted as other souls in this picture, but nonetheless, it's a big house and something ought to be done with it.

My ex and I had romantic amorphous plans about a bed-and-breakfast. We also looked at the Great Room and toyed with the idea of small conferences. However, this house simply isn't fantastic enough for people to choose as a B&B destination. We are surrounded by other far-more-beautiful B&B options. The Great Room is really too small for anything more than 5-10 people.

When you close in on 50 years of age, you begin to wonder "What am I going to do with my life?" I'm sitting here on a big farm. A) I'm not going to farm, B) I have no plans to add another person to my life, C) I have discarded the idea of renting the upstairs, D) while I love rescuing cats, I am at a point where I do not want to be a shelter. There will always be rescued cats and kittens in my life, but spay/neuter funding and education really makes a far great impact.


TNR weekend workshops (2-6 people).

You come to Spencer NY. You settle into your comfortable room upstairs (two suites), with the business center (on the upstairs landing) with free wireless, fax, and desktop if you don't have a laptop of your own, as well as a library. In the morning, you wake up to breakfast on the deck (not yet built!) or in the Great Room, complete with "who I am and why am I here" introductions with other visitors, and then you head out to care for the cats and start to start learning all that is involved in caring for a small private cat facility.

And yes, you do actually scoop the poop.

You then visit the local SPCA to see a rural shelter in action, including their spay/neuter clinic. On the way, you visit a feral cat colony. You stop in Owego and visit the RiverRow shops (lunch on your own).

Back at Wildrun, we sit down in the Great Room for a workshop on TNR, with video (provided by Neighborhood Cats/HSUS, and Alleycat Allies), hands-on trap setting, and question and answers. Take-home materials are provided. Experienced folks are invited to provide their input, especially in trapping and community-building.

After an hour of time for yourself, we have dinner at The Bishops Inn (included).

After dinner, we finish up the TNR session and settle in for discussion about issues each person is facing. Tea, coffee, and refreshments are provided. If it's a beautiful night, we have a fire in the firepit outside and talk out there surrounded by the tiki flames.

"Crackberry" addicts will not disturb us, as there is no cell service here.

The next morning, it's breakfast and cat care again, and then we launch into social networking and marketing. We look at how other organizations are utilizing the web to promote their animal control, rescue, or spay/neuter efforts. Each person creates (or updates) a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. (or whatever new social media has been introduced since then). We will go over on-line options for colony or shelter record-keeping, and on-line fundraising.

Lunch is a sandwich setup (catered--we should have Panera Bread in Ithaca by then!).

We will do a very short session on medical issues in home sheltering, and large-scale sheltering, along with resources and suggestions where they can get further education from shelter medicine veterinarians. As a non-vet, I can give basic information, but can't give advice on actual problems participants may be facing. Encourage participant to order particular books right then online if they have the budget for it.

We then launch into the controversies of TNR, mandatory spay/neuter, cat licensing, cat quotas, etc. I'm thinking many of these people will in fact be municipal folks who have been plunged into some sort of "cat issue."

At this point, people can head home, or remain. Dinner would be at The Bishop's Inn again (hey, it's good, and it's cheap, and by then they should have their liquor license) in a roundtable setup, with continued conversation centered on brainstorming options for each person's individual issues they are facing. There is cell service there, so people would send out tweets or update their Facebook status while at dinner.

People can then head home that night, or the next day. If it's a holiday weekend, that Monday I would tack on a wine trail tour and additional cat colony visits, especially for those cat folks for whom this might be the only trip they take all year.

I do NOT plan this venture to make money. It does need to pay for itself, however. First of all, I could only do a few a year so as not to interfere with work. I'm hoping to have only one in late summer of 2010--possibly Labor Day Weekend. In fact, the Labor Day effort might just be a test-drive with friends before I invest in licenses and insurance. What I do want it to do is A) justify having this big place and give it a mission, B) have some educational impact in the animal welfare world and C) provide a more intimate, hands-on training option for people who need it.

There are already plenty of educational options on the web, and lots of materials people can buy.

I don't think there is anything like this.

What I would need, at a minimum,

An improved bathroom. The washer/dryer needs to move to the kitchen closet, and the clawfoot tub needs to come in from the barn. I would need an additional vanity. New floor covering would be needed.

(Ultimately I would gut the upstairs and add a bathroom, but that will absolutely not happen unless a natural gas windfall occurs)

A deck, with a balcony for the second floor (fire escape) and an outdoor kitchen with an BIG grill dedicated just to the cooking for visitors.

An agriculture and markets license to use animals in education.

Improvements in the upstairs. The largest investment would be carpet throughout and the deck/balcony/fire escape.

Completed 501(c)(3) status (underway), and a new web page (underway--new name chosen!)

Insurance, local licenses, fire code, etc. etc.

Luckily I already have a huge water heater that can handle six people.

Quality incidentals and lots of them (towels, dedicated plates/utensils, coffee makers/microwave/water cooler/refrigerator for upstairs, blah blah blah).

This winter would be dedicated to finishing up the interior of the house. Spring would be dedicated to fixing up the cat facility.

In the cat facility, the downstairs would need a new ceiling, sheetrock walls, and vinyl on the floor. For larger groups, this would be the presentation area. For smaller, we would use the Great Room. In the lower barn, the dirt floor would need stone, and the woodshop needs to be finished so we can discuss cat-shelter building. The cat facility itself needs the attention of a carpenter for finish work throughout, and new storm windows that are removable from the inside (again, fire escape).

What think ye? LURKERS, SPEAK!

Downsizing and cleaning up

Craft stores are the devil's place. I can spend SO much money there on things that I aspire to create...and never will. Like scrapbooks. I had this little dream of cute scrapbooks at the vet's office, at the local restaurant, that I would update periodically as cats were adopted and new ones came. I think the only scrapbook that actually go made was one Donna made for me. After tripping over the stuff for two or three years, I finally pulled out what I would be likely to use on thank-you cards, and threw the rest in a pile to give away.

Longfellow decided to help. Luckily, Donna can use all this stuff, so it has a good home!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A great blog

Put this one on your blogroll:

Philly Dawg at

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Presents! Thanks, Stephanie!

It's always fun to come home to an unexpected package on the porch, as I did this weekend.

The kittens in the house have lots of toys to play with, so while they got the fun of opening it, I'm taking the toys and treats out to the cat facility felines.

Oh, I kept one of the tiny tennis balls inside for Molly. It seems to her that the cats always get everything!

It's always nice when the holidays get extended!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Venus is healing

I finally gave up on Venus's ear and neck abrasions and put her permanently in her sweater and E-collar. I take them off for her to have wet food twice and day, and have to syringe-feed her water to make sure she stays hydrated. But if I leave it off for any length of time, she scratches and rips the scabs off.

Her neck is fairly well healed, so starting tomorrow I may leave the sweater off (which keeps the collar from rubbing the abrasion). But that ear still needs days before it's healed.

I hate putting "things" on animals. It's so important to make sure they aren't rubbing or causing new problems (like dehydration). But sometimes they are necessary.

She's cute though, isn't she? It doesn't slow her down a bit!

I couldn't figure out who was ripping up the paper towels. I would come upstairs and the place would be trashed....paper in little bits everywhere. Today I discovered who the culprit was:

Fergie obviously likes to redecorate.

I think I'm in love....

No, I'm not buying

But when I do buy a new vehicle in a few years, I will be seriously considering this little baby. 25 mpg, between $21,000-23,000. I can haul things, and I can live in the darned thing when I'm on the road. No more tents, no more hotel rooms. Just pay for a camp site and throw open the doors. One-day trips would take no work at all (and one-day trips are really I can fit in with all these cats). The one question is, how it handles in the snow with studded snow tires on.

And I could do off-site adoptions out of it as well.

Wouldn't it be great as a hybrid? But then it would be $30,000. Dream on...

Post Note: "but what IS it" Nancy asks in comments. :) It's a Ford Transit Connect. Yes, I know, it's a Ford. :) And by the way, Ford? The reason I didn't link to your page for this vehicle is that your media on the landing page loads too damned slow. Give me a break, it's a work truck not a Mustang, you know?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Emmi checks in!

There are lots of folks in the Emmi fan club. I don't normally do long-distance adoptions, but this one was "brokered" by Sara, the ultimate perfectionist, so I had to trust that when she said this was a perfect home, she meant it.

She meant it. Emmi has been in her new home one year now!

Sara and her beau have since moved to a new home in Montclair NJ that came complete with feral cats (at least one who is already eartipped). Her beau has an eclectic range of incredible talents, one of which is carpentry. So the ferals on her street now have (not one but) four of these wonderful cat shelters this winter.

Sara thinks perhaps one of these street kitties might be happy in her home with her current cat Gretel. Gretal is the poster kitty on the pink "special needs" search bar in the righthand column of my blog. So perhaps we'll be blogging a new rescued feral sometime soon?

Here is Emmi in her first home as a kitten. And here she is back living with me when her first and second home didn't work out. And here she is last Christmas in her new forever home!

Pooh and Piglet check in

Pooh and Piglet live in a huge brick house in....hmm, would it be Groton out there? Here is their kitten picture from back in January 2005. They were born IN a cage trap at the spay/neuter clinic at the Tompkins County SPCA, so they almost didn't make it into the world. They were ash gray kittens with black masks and paws as babies. I'd never seen such a thing before. To to top it off, their mother, who seemed to be doing fine at my place, one day killed two of the kittens in the litter. I took Pooh, Piglet, and tiny Eeyore out to bottle feed. Mom was spayed and returned to the horse stable where she lived. Little Eeyore turned out to have a heart and lung condition (yes, you can radiograph a 3.5 week old kitten)

So only Pooh and Piglet made it. As you can see, they are doing quite well!

Beth came all the way down for the holiday party. Thanks, Beth, for the photos, and for all the love and security you've given them these five years!

(next up: Emmi pics!)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Ferdinand, now Foo Foo, checks in

And he's still the most handsome kitten on the block.
"Just wanted to drop you a note to wish you a Happy New Year and share a couple of photos I was able to capture the other day of Foo Foo resting in the sun. The older cats have grudgingly accepted his presence and he remains unflappable. He's a real lover with a purr that seems to only stop when he's asleep. He's as much of a clown as he is a sweetheart. He remains amazingly tolerant of Truman and his four year old ways. We couldn't have asked for a more fitting kitten for our family. Thanks again."

I have more photos rolling in. It's turning out to be a great New Year!