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Archive for June, 2008

Now that the ‘mean feral cat’ (who never got a name) is gone, I can concentrate on the sweet feral kitty. She obviously had given birth by the time I discovered her and looks way too young to be a mother. I’ve been feeding her for about three weeks on my front porch and she lets me scratch her on the head and pet her now. She’s very sweet, just shy.

I knew the kittens had to be somewhere on our property. Yesterday I decided to track her and found myself tramping through various groves and bushes on our overgrown property trying not to lose sight of her. She took me on a tour of neglected and very user-unfriendly areas at our back fence line.  I found myself ducking through wild plum branches and dodging the tendrils of our crazed wisteria vine that attacks everything that doesn’t move (think ‘killer tomatoes’). She took me the whole length of a narrow strip between the barn and a wire fence embedded with sapling trees, vinca groundcover and spider webs.

It was the scenic route for her, I suppose.

We ended up in the barn, which isn’t really a barn is the classic sense. It’s a storeroom for old flooring and boards and a dismantled windmill that my husband swears he can’t part with, and lots more spider webs.

The trek ended at the fartherest most inaccessible corner of the barn where she laid down next to an old caste iron sink. Out came a black kitten and sat shyly behind her shy mother. Then I saw another head poke out. But that was all of the show on the first day.

Today, however, I knew where to look and could avoid being captured by the wisteria-on-steroids. She was lounging outside behind the barn and all four kittens were playing around her. She hissed a righteous hiss as I came closer and I told her what a good mother she was. She decided to let me pick up her kittens. They hissed their little baby hisses and then…it was all over. They melted into my hands. They were ‘humaned’.

I picked all four up and they fit into my hands like they were one kitten with four heads. Then I gave them back to ‘mom’ and thanked her for sharing. She looks like a good mother, even if she is very young.

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NOT 'my' mean feral. This is a cute black feral from the JFK airport cats. Click on image to read about the situation at JFK. I have been dealing with a mean feral cat now for almost a month. In researching all I could find on feral cats, Trap-Neuter-Release programs, rescue cats, I truly believed that if I could just trap him and get him fixed, he’d calm down and learn to co-exist with my beautiful orange tabbies.

But after the third puncture wound and almost $200 at the vet for both of my pets (see My Mewsers) I was losing heart. When I took Marco in last Saturday for his rabies shot, the vet examined his wound and took his temperature. He had a fever and she said to wait on his shot. She’s treated my cats for all three of these incidents now, so I asked her frankly. “If this was your situation, what would you do with the feral?” Her reply both stunned and relieved me. She told me that he was too dangerous to let roam freely and if it was hers, she’d have him ‘taken care of’.  This is from a woman who is a cat lover and a wonderful vet.

I took Marco and Polo home, gave Marco his antibiotics and told them they had to stay inside until this was over. I went out and bought my own trapping cage.  That night my husband set it and in 30 minutes had the black feral female trapped. We let her out because I think she has kittens hidden somewhere.

An hour later–this would be about midnight–I heard noises on the porch and lo! and behold, the gray cat had taken the meat and escaped! Hubby was already asleep, so I took a look at the cage instructions and reset the trap. I was not going to give up. I opened a can of tuna and hoped that his stomach would override his increased skittishness from his narrow escape. I didn’t know if I would have more than one chance with this guy. He was wily and cunning.

I went to bed. The next morning when I looked on the porch, there he was–trapped inside the cage, staring at me with those yellow eyes. I called the County Animal Control and they  came to get him. He was transferred into one of their cages where he went kicking and screaming and peeing on the Officer.

It’s a horrible story and certainly not the way I wanted this to turn out. I wanted a happy ending, a successful rescue. It because a matter of self-preservation. I had to protect my own cats and my children and I wonder why it took me so long to ‘turn him in’.

But I do know why. It’s the ‘cynical optimist’ in me. I always have hope for even the most hopeless. The black feral female is letting me stroke her head now when I put food out for her. I’m hoping that she will let me find her kittens soon. I expect that some of them will have a bit of gray in them.

To bring up the previous postings about trapping this cat, click here: ‘Feral Cat’.

Comments welcomed.

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A number of people have ended up on my blog from search engine terms for ‘shades of gray’. To those of you who came here expecting a home decorating sight, my apologies. So that you haven’t completely wasted your time, here are three lovely shades of gray that have been digitally produced from the fur of this kitten.

Have you considered the color of your cat when choosing that wall color? This is quite possibly the newest trend in home decorating.  After all, your cat probably spends a lot of time sleeping in the living room, right? If you are extremely color-coordinated conscious,  you will start to notice that the color of your cat doesn’t quite blend with the color scheme in your house. It’s one of those things that, if you don’t nip it in the bud, it could really keep you up at night. 

If you already have a cat, you’re pretty much stuck with the color. (There is the possiblity of designer-colored cats in the near future, but this is currently only available in North Korea and it’s limited to glow-in-the-dark colors. (See my posting: When Korean scientists meet with marketing gurus) at this point. But give them some time. I’m sure it won’t be long.)

On the other hand, your cat’s fur color could offer the perfect solution to that nagging problem of paint scheme. For example, I have two orange tabbies (The Mewsers) The thought of painting my living room in shades of orange reminds me of shag carpet and avocado appliances. Orange only looks good on cats and flowers and oranges. But just to see what it would look like, I ran a photo of Marco and Polo through the color picker on my graphics software.

Here’s the Mewsers color palette. Surprising results. Not orangey or 60’s at all. Kinda earthy. I showed it to them at our Monday morning board meeting. They loved the colors, of course, and they absolutely adored the idea of blending in with the walls (they already blend in with much of the furniture). Maybe I’ll take it to my local Sherwin Williams dealer and see if they can match it.

If you’ve spent hours looking at color samples, searched the internet for inspiration and advise and nothing has ‘clicked’ for you, here’s your solution.

Take a photo of your cat and send it to me. I will run it through my graphics color picker.  Free service for the first 10 submissions.

 

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Marco, NOT feral, recovering from encounter with mean kitty.If I wasn’t so determined to become a responsible cat person, I’d have given up trying to trap this mean cat. See previous postings which chronicle this fascinating saga  🙂  

But Marco (at left) is now limping again. I heard the cat fighting noises last night and hoped that it wouldn’t result in yet another trip to the vet. I can’t find any injury or swelling, but he’s not putting any weight on his right front foot and he simply refuses to tell me what happened. Male pride.

I have yet to connect with the two groups in my area that can provide trapping cages. These groups are dedicated volunteers who are mainly providing spay/neuter services and they are simply overwhelmed and overloaded. There is not really a separate trap-neuter-release program here and certainly not enough cages.

The people at the local SPCA weren’t really sure what I meant when I asked them about TNR programs. They also told me there was a two month waiting list for getting an appointment for spay/neutering your own cat. They weren’t very interested in my feral problems, probably because they have enough to deal with.

So where do I go from here? I can’t get close to this cat. He’s coming up to the porch for food every day. But if I open the door, he bolts.  If I do trap him, then what?

What do I do with this feral cat? Marco, my beautiful orange tabby is curled up sleeping it off. (actual photo at top) The Mewsers are going in for their rabies shots tomorrow, so Marco will be getting proper medical attention.

Now to complicate things further, there’s a small black cat who I haven’t really talked about yet. She hasn’t been a problem. She’s been coming up to eat from the feral cat feeding station (a bowl of food and fresh water on the porch) every day and she’s letting me pet her head. I figured she would be an easy catch. I was able to scratch her belly this morning. Guess what? She pregnant!

It’s obvious we need more services here. There are few resources in my area for trapping cats except the volunteer people who are backed up. Then there’s Animal Control. Somehow I just can’t go there. I guess I feel like if he were ‘fixed’ maybe he’d be less likely to pick a fight all the time. I’m not looking for ‘tame’, just less hostile.

I’m reading about all kinds of feral and rescue programs elsewhere in the U.S. There’s a lot that could be done, but it takes a community effort. Where does one start?This looks exactly like 'mean kitty'..foul mood, yellow eyes and all! Please share your stories of feral cats and how your community deals with this problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The face of compassion

It’s fire season in California and the latest one in our area was the Humboldt Fire, which was close enough to us to tinge our sky hazy yellow.

The fire destroyed over 20,000 acres around Chico and Paradise. The entire town of Paradise (a beautiful place that lives up to its name) had to be evacuated. This included evacuating all of its animals too, a successful mission due to the efforts of the local animal disaster rescue groups.

I am always amazed at the dedication of the firefighters and volunteers who give 200% of their time and energy. The North Valley Animal Disaster Group, based out of Chico evacuated over 400 animals during this fire along with the help of United Animal Nations and the Yuba Sutter Domestic Animal Disaster Assistance.

This is my small voice of appreciation for their efforts. If I have left out any group or individuals who valiantly assisted in this rescue, please let me know. Here are a few photos from the rescue groups.

 

Humboldt Fire rescue effort

 

 

Needs no words

Emergency Animal Rescue Service, a division of United Animal Nations shared these beautiful images below.

 

EARS volunteer extraordinaire Jamie Peters took charge of the cat house.

 

Awwwwh....a happy ending

 

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Gray Cat with yellow eyesI’m on Day 5 of feeding ‘Mean Kitty’. I put the food where I can watch him from the window when he decides to come out of his hiding place to eat. He won’t let me come out on the porch while he’s there. As stealthily as I try to open the door and tiptoe out, he turns to leave, checking me out over his shoulder in hopes I’ll go away and let him eat in peace.

I still don’t have a name for him although I’ve had two suggestions. ‘Rambo’, from a blog friend and ‘Fuzzy’ from my granddaughter. I’ve been contemplating Benjamin Moore paint color names for shades of gray since they always have such creative descriptions. Not only is his color gray, his very presence is ‘gray’. He’s not handsome or likeable and fights with my cats (who are very handsome and likeable) which makes this naming job even harder.

Should I name him something that fits him as he is….or find a name he could live up to?

A little gray paint color research turned up these results: Benjamin Moore: Carolina Gull, Heather Gray, Silver Marlin and Cashmere. I don’t think so.

On to Sherwin Williams gray paint names: Mystical Shade, Soulmate, Gibralter and Outerspace. More creative, but I certainly don’t envision this cat as my Soulmate although he might be from Outerspace.

There was an Laura Ashley gray called Chimney Sweep. I can’t even imagine painting a room that color! More designer colors turned up Ralph Lauren’s Pewter, Sweatshirt, Basalt and Storm. Hmmm. Maybe Storm.

Lowes/Valspar paint colors looked more promising. Although Cement, Overcast, Asteroid and Meterorite didn’t work for me, but there were three others that might work.  Jasper , Slate and Legend.

So I’m taking a poll with my new polldaddy widgety thing here to test it out. Pick a name you think would fit this feral cat — the color of a dark storm cloud in a perpetual bad mood.

I can’t post a photo of ‘mean kitty’ because he won’t let me get anywhere near him yet, so you have to use your imagination. He’s solid gray, no other markings as far as I can tell. On an RGB color scale, he’d be a 38.3, 38.3, 38.3.

 

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This is an update. To follow this story, start at “What do I do with this mean ol’ cat?”

Feral cat at the poolI was supposed to meet MaryAnn (not her real name) in the parking lot of our local megaPet store last night to pick up the cat trapping cage. It was getting dark and she hadn’t arrived. It felt kinda’ wierd hanging out in a parking lot at night, but I noticed a nice looking couple in a truck next to me also waiting. I struck up a conversation with them. They were there to pick up some kittens MaryAnn had taken to the clinic (60 miles away) to be neutered and innoculated. They foster feral kittens. They took their commitment seriously. Wow, I didn’t know anyone even did that for ferals.

We got to talking about how to trap a feral cat. I’ve caught some strays (read: dropped off) before but they were younger, less skittish and easily tempted into a normal cat carrier. This Mean ol’ cat was going to require strategy. One that would fit into my lifestyle. I don’t have the time or patience to sit in a ‘cat blind’ waiting for it be cooperative so I could slam the cage door.

The feral-foster-kitten-couple-in-the-truck had lots of experience with the trapping cages and described the process. The cage is open wire so that the cat isn’t so intimidated about going in. There’s a metal plate on the floor which the cat has to step on. The door slams shut. Perfect. That’s just what I will need. But when MaryAnn showed up with her daily kindle of drowsy kittens, she said the cage was still in use by someone else. No problem.

I realized that I had work to do first. I wasn’t going to get more than one chance with this cat. I just feel that in my bones. So I plan to get him used to coming to my trapping location, but first without a cage in sight.

I haven’t been feeding this Mean ol’ Cat (or the other feral that lives here); mostly because I want them to catch mice and rats and they seem to do fine without Meow Mix. But now things are changing around here. Now I’m planning on putting food outside every day (while the Mewsers are inside having their morning nap).

Of course, this morning when I opened the can of tuna, Marco and Polo immediately  woke up. So I split it between them and put a small portion in a bowl on the front porch, calling “Here kitty, kitty” towards the bushes and woodpile. Who knows where this cat might be? He might be sleeping or he might have wandered across the road into the peach orchard, or down the block to find some sweet young thing.

When I checked the bowl about 5 minutes later, it was licked clean. Feels kinda’ devious, knowing that I’m doing this to trap him, but I know it’s for his own good.

Now I’m feeling like Mean Kitty needs a name.  Got any suggestions?

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