Monday, June 30, 2014

Cute kittens, comin' up

Okay, so I do have some pics from Saturday's adoption event (two down, ten to go!), but I haven't downloaded them off the camera yet, so first here's some cute kittens for all.

Who got adopted?  Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Friday, June 27, 2014


On my way to the state forest a couple of weeks ago, I noticed an old cemetery down the road, so after I got done hiking, I walked down to check it out.

This headstone was placed prominently at the entrance:

Most of the stones were in various states of disrepair:

and some had a decided slant:

Most were hard to read.  This one was for three children - Making it to adulthood was a tough row back in the day:

Poor Harry Hill only lived a few months:

Here's a family plot:

Some stones had been replaced:

And there were some markers where there was no gravestone:

Uh-oh - looks like somebody's trying to crawl out ...

I just love old cemeteries.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TNR, Part the Last

Okay, so, scroll down to read Parts I and II.

Saturday evening, after an afternoon of grocery shopping and mowing and cleaning the foster room, I headed back over to Susan's.  We left for the clinic, making it there a little after seven.

All seven cats came through surgery just fine.  Turns out there were five males, two females.  The neck wound cat had his wound cleaned and was given a shot of long-lasting antibiotics.  One of the females had recently given birth; we had tried to determine the night before if any of the trapped cats were potentially nursing, but it's hard to do when they're thrashing around.  Spayed cats can still nurse; we just had to get mama back home so she could get back to her kittens, wherever she had them stashed.

The cats had been placed into carriers we had taken up that morning; now we just had to jenga the empty traps, the feral cats in the carriers, and the family cat into the back of the truck for the return home.  Susan had brought four more kittens up to be vaccinated, so it was after eight by the time we were finally on the road.  I now know the route between here and the clinic, all fifty-flipping-miles of it, very well.

We stopped to drop off the family cat first; then it was time to release the ferals.  We headed over to Mr. IBM's house.  The neck wound cat and the female who wasn't nursing needed to be kept inside as long as
possible;  the female for her spay surgery to heal, the male for his neck wound to scab over.  The man agreed to keep them on one of his porches as long as they would tolerate it.   The nursing female and the rest of the males could be released right away.

We asked Mr. IBM to set up the outdoor food and water bowls in their usual places before we got started.

We bushwhacked to the back of the house (and may I say that Jillian Michaels knew what she was doing when she made duck-walking part of her brutal workouts), set down the carriers, and carefully opened them up.  Some of the cats sprang out and ran off.  A couple lingered in the carriers before finally moving on.  We said our goodbyes, made plans to come back in August for more trapping, and went back to Susan's, where I picked up my car and finally, finally got home, a little before eleven.

Seven a.m. to eleven p.m., plus the trapping the night before.  I have NO IDEA how Susan does this, twice a month, month after month.  I have no idea if we're making any headway in the tide of homeless cats.

I just keeping reminding myself of the starfish story.

And there are seven feral cats out there who won't be making any more junior ferals.  Hooray!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TNR, Part II

Okay, first off, scroll down to read yesterday's post and get caught up.

So.  I left the trapping site on Friday night a little (okay, a LOT) discouraged.  There were just ... so MANY cats. What possible difference could our little rescue make?  The clinic we use has neutered over twenty-four THOUSAND animals in the past nine years, and yet the overpopulation problem persists.

But.  I kept reminding myself of the starfish story.  We can't save 'em all, but we can save some.  I got up early Saturday morning, sore from lugging the traps around the night before, and headed over to Susan's house; we had to be at the neuter clinic, forty-odd-miles away, by nine a.m.  She had ended up trapping two more cats the night before, for a total of six.  She kept them in the traps overnight, and while that may seem cruel, trying to move an angry feral cat into a crate or carrier is practically an impossibility without either the cat or the rescuer getting injured.  They were safe in the traps and would remain there for the trip to the clinic.  The man where we had trapped the night before called and said another cat had been caught in a trap that was left overnight, so I headed back over to pick up that cat.  Another volunteer had brought over a family cat that needed to be neutered, and I brought my six oldest foster kittens, who needed their first vaccinations.  The back of the truck looked like this:

Seven adult ferals.  One family cat.  Six kittens.  Two rescuers.  One truck.

Of  the ferals, there were four black cats, one gray, one siamese, and one tabby with a severe neck wound.  "I thought it was a red collar," Mr. dipsh*t IBM said.  When I saw that cat in the trap the night before, I asked Susan if she was going to release it, but bless her, she took a look at the wound and said, "Nope.  Maybe they can patch him up at the clinic."  I was afraid that he was a goner, but Susan was willing to give him a chance.

We headed for the clinic, making it there by 8:30, and started unloading.  The ferals had been amazingly quiet during the ride; evidently they had decided to just tough it out.  Even more amazingly, nobody had peed or pooped in their traps; Susan said that stress, instead of making them void, sometimes does the opposite.  The volunteers at the clinic used squeeze traps with the ferals so they could be knocked out for the surgery.  They were doing a total of thirty-one cats and five dogs that day.

With all the ferals (and the family cat) safely sleeping and awaiting their operations, it was time to vaccinate Beary's kittens.  One by one, they were weighed, vaccinated, flea-treated, and sexed.  Three girls, three boys!  All weighing between two and two-point-four pounds. 

We made it back home with the kittens around eleven in the morning.  We would have to be back at the clinic by seven that night to pick everybody else up.

To be continued ...

Monday, June 23, 2014


When Susan, the woman who runs the rescue for which I volunteer, asked if I wanted to go along on a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) this past weekend, I said sure.  It was about time I did some of the dirty work, I figured.

TNR is done in areas where there are large numbers of feral cats.  Feral cats are those who are born to stray or feral mothers; having never had contact with people, they are not (generally) friendly and are, for the most part, unadoptable.  If you get feral kittens young enough, they can be socialized.  Many shelters will not take ferals over eight weeks of age; the oldest I have successfully socialized were twelve weeks old when they came into human contact.  My two feral fosters, Bindi and Callie, came into rescue care at sixteen weeks old; while Bindi is now "pettable", after a year of work, Callie is still not touchable.  Bindi may become friendly enough to be adopted at some point; Callie probably never will.  Our rescue will continue to care for both of them, regardless.  Probably at my house. Ha.

Not all stray cats are ferals.  Stray cats are those who belonged in a home at one point and then became homeless.  Some strays turn feral, i.e., wild, but some strays remain friendly toward people.

When our group does a TNR, determination is made at time of capture whether the cats are stray-friendly or ferals.  Stray-friendlys are put into foster care to determine if they are adoptable; ferals are neutered and released.

Some people say that's cruel; that all the cats should be given opportunities for homes.  The truth is that the vast majority of feral cats will never adapt to life with people, any more than any other wild animal would.  We spay or neuter them, vaccinate them, address any treatable medical issues, and release them back where they were captured.

So!  Friday night it was time to get started.  Susan had previously received a call from the low-cost clinic who provides our veterinary services; there was an elderly man in our area who had been feeding neighborhood cats.  The cat population had gotten out of control, and he was not physically able to trap the cats and get them to the vet.  He was willing to pay for the clinic's services if we could get the cats there.  A paying customer!  (99% of the time, our rescue ends up paying for the spays and neuters of the TNRs.)  Susan said yes, contacted the man, and told him we'd be there on Friday.  We would trap the cats, take them to the clinic Saturday morning, and bring them back Saturday night.

We pulled up to the house with the back of Susan's truck full of live traps, and, well ... it was the kind of house the little kids skip on Halloween.  Set on a heavily wooded corner lot, the house was barely visible from the street.  As we got closer, we could see that the porches were filled with ... stuff, and cats scattered in all directions.

The man, a retired IBM-er, came out, and I'll tell you what, I'll bet you a million bucks he was an engineer, because the dude. was. clueless.

He had set out a trap himself, but had neglected to bait it.  He couldn't figure out why he hadn't caught anything.  He told us confidently that we didn't have to bother trapping the younger cats, "because they can't get pregnant until they're two years old."  And the rabbit story ... oh, remind me to tell you about the rabbit story sometime.

ANYhow.  Dude was clueless, but he was trying to do what he thought was the right thing by feeding the cats (colony feeding is about as controversial as TNR), and he was willing to pay to get them spayed and neutered, so we were all in.  We had to go around to the back of the house where he was feeding them to set the traps, and trying to lug those heavy, clumsy traps through the undergrowth around the house ... well, it wasn't easy.  I'm STILL sore.  PLUS, as we're bushwhacking around the house, I saw first a woodchuck and then a damn SKUNK go skittering away, so, well ... we might end up with more than just cats in those traps.

We had seven traps, and we set them all, baiting them with catnip and tuna.  We had asked the man to skip his regular evening feeding so the cats would be hungry.  We backed off and went for a little stroll to give the cats time to approach, and when we headed back, we could hear the traps going off.  Crash!  Bang! Crash!  Four of the traps had triggered.

We hurried back to the traps.  Inside were some of the angriest damn cats I've ever seen in my life.  A cornered feral is truly a frightening animal.  They were snarling and howling and thrashing and scratching and the traps were literally bouncing around the yard.  Remember the scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation where Grandma puts the cat in the box and Chevy Chase picks the box up and shakes it and it starts flailing around?  Yeah, like that.

"Grab a trap," Susan said.  "Let's get 'em down to the truck."

I looked down at the trap at my feet, filled with very angry wild cat.  "Ummmmmm," I said.  "How do I do this without losing a limb?"

"Grab a towel," she said.  "Put the towel on top of the cage, and down the side between you and the cat.  Grab the handle through the towel.  The cat won't be able to get his paws through far enough to get to you.  You're safe."

Gingerly (okay, MORE than gingerly), I dropped a towel over the crate, grabbed the handle, and picked it up.  And with the cat inside hissing and spitting and flailing and lurching, I headed back through the undergrowth, down to the truck.

By that time a small crowd of neighbors had gathered, wanting to know if we were taking the cats and were we taking them ALL and would the cats be coming back and oh have you got that Siamese one that Siamese one has several litters every year and do you know about that lady down the block who has all those cats and what about that long-haired tabby THAT one fights with all the other cats and

I started to get overwhelmed.  It was apparent that this neighborhood has a MAJOR problem with feral cats, but nobody was actually doing anything about it.  Other than the one gentleman who called the clinic, bringing us in.  These cats were breeding like damn rabbits all over the place, and nobody saw fit to take action other than that one man.

By this time it was almost nine, and we still had three traps left to fill.  "How late do you stay?," I asked her.  "As long as it takes," she said.  "Two, three in the morning sometimes.  But you go ahead home, and I'll see you in the morning."  I think she knew I was discouraged and about to crack.

To be continued ...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Freaky Friday: This raises a host of questions

Last Saturday, on the side of the road between the state forest and a cemetery I visited, I spotted this:

A cane.  By the side of a quiet country road.


Judging by the dirt on it, it had been there for a while.  Who ... loses a cane?  By the side of the road?  Did the Rapture happen and only one person was called?

I picked it up, dusted it off, and used it on the walk back to the car.  Those old folks have a secret they've been keeping - Walking is much easier when you use a cane!

But I still wonder what happened to the original owner ...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

State Forest

 Last Saturday, I headed for a state forest where I'd never hiked before.

The beginning was not auspicious - Only a culvert marker indicated the start of trails:

On the plus side, this forest has miles of trails.  On the minus side, and this is a BIG minus, none of the trails are marked.  Oh, there was the occasional cairn:

But other than that, nada.  Which means that if I'm going to spend any time hiking there, I'm going to have to start marking trails.  Seems like a project is brewing ...

I spend limited time there Saturday, because no marked trails = me getting lost = no bueno.  The portion I did explore was mostly old growth pine:

Nobody drop any lit matches, okay?

I did find what appeared to be an old foundation:

At first I thought this tree had been used by bucks scraping the velvet off their antlers:

But on closer examination, the depth of the gouges indicated that birds had probably been pecking into the wood after insects:

Will I go back?  Sure.  As soon as I pick up a couple of cans of paint, to start marking trails.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bearycat had decided she was done with the whole nursing thing.  A day or so after that, I noticed that she was listless and off her food.  She didn't appear to be in any pain; she just seemed ... distant.  Thinking she possibly needed a break from mom-hood, the rescue moved her into a different foster home for a couple of days of R&R.

She continued to decline.  She was being hand-fed, most of which she refused, and she vomited up most of the fluids she was given.  Yesterday, thanks to the incredible generosity of a volunteer for another rescue, our rescue was able to take her to the veterinarians at Cornell.

She was diagnosed with acute and irreversible kidney failure.  Bearycat was euthanized yesterday afternoon.

Bearycat, you were a sweet, sweet girl.  You had a rough life as a stray, and yet you were always friendly, head-butting me when I'd walk into the room.  You had a lovely purr and a gentle manner.  Your legacy lives on in your adorable kittens, who soon will be going to loving homes.

Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Before and After

Here is the foster room, right after I got done cleaning.  It looks this way for approximately fifteen seconds,  two or three times a week:

Here is the foster room the way it looks 99.9% of the time:

Chaos, I tell ya.  It's chaos.  But happy chaos.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Density of lead: Now with Updates!

So, I use Fresh Step cat litter.  It is the only litter I've found that comes anywhere close to containing the litterbox smell of many (many, many) cats.  It's more expensive than some other litters, and it's horrifically dusty, but again, the smell.  The litterbox smell must be conquered.

And Fresh Step has this rewards system, where if you buy so many boxes, you can "earn" things like cat toys and magazine subscriptions and, of course, more litter.

Except the rewards program is rather seriously flawed.

In order to earn points, which can be traded for rewards, you have to cut a panel out of the side of each box of litter.  There is a code printed on the inside of the panel, which you have to enter into a program on line.

Calling NASA!  Sh*t's getting complicated!

Okay, so first off, you have to find a pair of scissors, then you have to cut the box apart, and may I say, boxes that contain heavy, heavy cat litter are rather sturdily built.

Having passed the first hurdle, you now have to enter the code, which is on the inside of the panel, into the reward program's website.

Except the codes are written in Captchas.  Insanely hard-to-read Captchas.  Like, the most blurry, incomprehensible Captchas you've ever seen.

Hey!  Understandable, right?  I mean, they're guarding gold and platinum and the secrets of the universe!  They have to use difficult Captchas!

yeah, no.  It's cat toys and magazine subscriptions and cat litter they're giving away, here.  I'm not sure that fraud is a serious problem.

But.  You've cut the box apart and gone on line and signed in to the rewards program and entered your Captcha code nine billion different ways because you can't READ the damn thing and you finally luck out and enter the right code and you do this, oh, ten or fifteen f*cking times until you FINALLY have enough points built up to earn a reward and hey!  What do you choose for this reward?  This reward you've worked so hard for?

Why, more cat litter, of course!  Did I mention that I currently have *&kh%* amount of cats?

So you choose the litter, not being a stupe, expecting that they'll email you a coupon for a free box of litter, which you will take to the store and redeem.


They mail you the box of litter.

ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha *gasp* hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa

I'm not even kidding, here.

Fresh Step mails you the box of litter.

Do ... do you know what cat litter weigbs?  It has the density of lead.  Of bricks, squared.  Even the smallest box, the box that I earned with reward points, the box they are mailing to me, weighs fourteen pounds.

They are mailing it.

Dear Fresh Step:  There's an easier way.  Trust me on this.  There's an easier way to do this.


Update:  As evidence that the Fresh Step people have not completely lost their minds, they did send me a coupon for the litter, not the actual litter itself.  There is hope for humanity, after all.

And in other news, I have discovered that the quickest way to make the neighbor girl (who has been visiting with the kittens every night) disappear is to suggest that the next time she comes over,  she will not only be visiting with the kittens, but also helping clean up after them.  *poof!*   I haven't seen her since.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Saturday's Walk

A bright, sunny day:

The obligatory "The Hills are Aliiiiiiiiiiive" shot:


A collapsed ... something.  Maybe an old hen house:

The ferns are going great guns:

This fern clump was as tall as me:

Teddy's still there:

A spring:

Pretty soon, it'll be hot and muggy and buggy, but right now?  Hiking conditions are perfect.

Monday, June 09, 2014

An example

I peeked into the foster room on Saturday and saw this:

I think she's getting ready to use that ribbon to hang herself.

As I said in the comments to the last post, the mamma cats will nurse whoever wants a drink, whether it's one of their kittens or not.  But over the weekend, Bearycat, whose kittens are now in week seven and are eating solids, decided that she is just about DONE with this nursing thing.  She spends most of her time up on the windowsills, where the kittens can't reach her.  Yet.  So Puff has started picking up the slack.

Hang in there, Puff.  Just a couple more weeks.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Freaky Friday: Mutant kittens

Well, I've been trying to get some good pictures of the kittens.  Unfortunately, all of my shots seem to come out like this:

I actually kind of like these pictures; they look like something out of a scary movie.  "Attack of the Mutant Kittens".   "Litter of Doom".

So, yeah, I've been massively failing at Kitten Photography 101.  So here's some random, semi-non-blurry shots.

Here's Puffy photobombing a couple of her kittens:

 This cubby is a popular hangout:

Puff, with Beary's runt:

Yes, the room is a mess.  Yes it is.


Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


So!  I bought a new TV!

I really didn't want to; I was pleased with my twenty-two-year old, nineteen-inch Samsung.  Really!

But it was taking longer to warm up, and little fireworks-type static streaks were starting to appear in the picture, and I figured it was time to start shopping, before the old girl crapped completely. 

I'll admit it; I splurged.  I went with a massive TWENTY-NINE INCH SCREEN.

I KNOW!  They will be able to watch my TV from the space station, what with that gigantic, eye-popping twenty-nine inch screen!

So, I bought the TV on line and had it delivered to the store (free!),  picked it up, took it home, opened up the box, took a look at the set-up diagrams,

and went cross-eyed.

Confession time:  I don't DO electronics.  Do. Not.  It is one of the few things, auto repair springing first to mind, that I gladly outsource.   A simple wiring diagram can bring me to tears; I can't help it.  I have zero interest in learning about electronica.  ZERO.  Hand me the remote and get out of my way, is as complicated as I want TV things to get.

So I called the cable company.  They gladly sent someone out to my house, to relieve me of having to try to force-feed electronic wiring diagram info through my feeble little brain, for the low, low price of thirty-nine-ninety-five.

And even though I am so cheap I can squeeze a nickel until Jefferson squeals?  That thirty-nine-ninety-five service charge was worth every penny.  EVERY PENNY.

And boy oh boy, technology sure has changed in the last quarter-century, because the picture is aMAZing.  I feel like some hayseed staring at his very first motion-picture show, it's that good.

But!  I have a new rule:  No heads bigger than my own.

Because when I'm watching, say, the nightly news, on my new GIANT 29" screen, the anchor's head is the size of my own.

And that's ... disconcerting, somehow.  Like another actual person is in the room with me or something.

So I think that 29" is about as big as I'm going to go.  I don't want a 40", or a 50", or a 60".   I wouldn't want to have a bunch of scary giants in my house.

Monday, June 02, 2014


On Saturday, I took a break from kitten-wrangling and lawn-mowing to visit a local nature preserve.

Things are greening up quite nicely.


I was doing some bushwhacking by the pond, looking for more turtles, when ... wait a minute ... what's this?:

Let me sneak a leetle closer:

Oh, look:

 A baby!

I stayed only long enough to silently oooh and aaaah, took a few pics (using my zoom; I was not as close as these pics appear, I'm not a total a**hole), and backtracked before baby could get spooked or mom (who I am sure was nearby) could get nervous.

That's it.  I've finally found something cuter than a kitten.