Growth Spurt

Sorry to be so absent lately. Partly it is my busy pet sitting season. Partly pet sitting for some animals who aren’t terribly well. Partly that I made the decision to stretch myself and get a real camera, and spend some time studying and try to bump up my skills. The camera arrived yesterday, and without doing much of anything at all, it intimidated the daylights out of me. I couldn’t even figure out how to put the strap on the silly thing.  I hit the overwhelmed spot after less than an hour, parked the camera on a chair and ignored it, and eventually went to bed. I was seriously contemplating packing it up and sending it back.

It was still on the chair this morning, but I had a ton of work to do, so I let it be. It is an amazingly patient thing…no nagging or anything. I finally had some conversation with it (and with my sister, who is my camera coach) and got some very elementary photos done this evening.

I bought this camera so I would have something to grow into. I may be dead before I understand all of its workings, but I will not be bored.  I may never figure out how to put the strap on but I’m hoping my husband can do that. Here are some of my first photos. No great shakes, but you gotta start somewhere. I guess I’ll send in the warranty cards.

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And, of course, a cat!

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Blackie

Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken: Cat

Sometimes in doing trap/neuter/release (TNR) work we get cats that are “broken,” the subject of this week’s photo challenge. Blackie – or so we named him – was one of those broken cats. He came in with a badly lacerated eye, and bite wounds on his tail. Someone had done a number on him.

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This photo was taken after about four weeks of nursing. Originally he looked much worse.  Definitely broken.

Blackie

 

He was not a cat that could go back out to his colony. His eye would never heal entirely, and it would only get infected over and over outside. So we found Blackie a home in a wonderful cat sanctuary where he can live out his life under a watchful eye, and get medical treatment if needed. This was the last time I saw the sweet boy, as he said farewell, and joined his new family.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped: Kitten

Few creatures are better at enveloping themselves than cats, so this week’s photo challenge – to show what enveloped means – was easy! This little one is Annie, a feral kitten brought in because she was so sick. She was already about 7-8 months by this time, very late for bringing in a kitten who hasn’t been socialized to people. She lived in this wonderful cat cave inside a large dog crate for awhile so we could be sure she got her meds. She’s a happy, healthy adult cat now, living in the open, but she was very glad to be completely enveloped in those early days living indoors.

Annie

Cats and Politics

I’m not much of a political creature. Which is to say, I don’t usually jump into political circles or get into many political arguments. Most of my life, I’ve let others do the heavy lifting in that arena. But I made the mistake of  becoming president of Derry Township Community Cats at the beginning of 2015, and now I need to play…like it or not! It is, for me, pretty new territory. I can assure you that I am a better kitty nurse than I am a politician for the cats, but I’m trying!

Derry Township Community Cats (DTCC) is our local trap, neuter, return (TNR) program, and I am passionate about it, to say the least. We have taken more than 600 community (free-roaming) cats through out program in a little over two years, and that’s a pretty impressive track record.

Community cat

We have been doing this out of our own homes for the past two years, which has been more than a little taxing. And now, with summer heat starting to hit, we don’t have anyplace to keep the cats that is temperature controlled. My garage, where the cats have been for the last 6 months or so doesn’t have ventilation, and I would need to replace the electric line to make the space habitable for the cats in the summer. I love the program, but not that much!

Since this program benefits our Township – as in saves them money, and lets the police do other things than trap cats and take them to be euthanized – we sorta feel like they would benefit from giving us one of the many empty spaces in town to work in. And so I am on the agenda of the Board of Supervisor’s meeting Tuesday night to plead our case. Otherwise, the program ends with this week’s last TNR group. Six months without us working, and the cat numbers on this area would rise exponentially.

 

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And so, I am getting political. Hopefully just for a little while. I can’t say I enjoy this. But I’ll do all I can for the cats, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll know I did my best.

If you happen to be here in Derry Township, you can get political and help too. We’ve started an online petition to ask the Board of Supervisors for help. If you happen to live here in Derry Township, PA, please get political for just a moment and sign it…even add a comment about why it is important.

Thanks for listening…back to our regular content soon!

Grey tiger

TNR Week Two

We’re still catching up on the calls from folks over the winter with cats who needed our trap/neuter/return (TNR) services, so we’ve been working our tails off lately. There are those in the TNR world who think you should spay and neuter free-roaming cats even in the dead of winter, and I understand and respect that perspective, but our group doesn’t share it. Those who believe in winter TNR do so because females start getting pregnant (in our area) around February or so, so if you spay them in the winter there won’t be kittens. A good thing, granted. But we just can’t find it in our hearts to put a female cat whose belly has been shaved back out in single degree temperatures three days after surgery. We know it is done all the time, but our group chooses not to do it.

And so, we keep a list of cats that need to be “done” and we play catch up when the weather turns less ferocious. We have a nice new group hanging out waiting to go to their surgeries on Saturday. It has been a frustrating week in one way. We’ve caught a lot of cats whose ears are already tipped. While that’s a little annoying, it’s also a sign that our program is working! Last year about 20% of the cats we caught were already ear-tipped. This year we’re running at 50% or more. (Ear tipping, for those who don’t know, is taking a small slice off the top of the left ear during surgery, and is a universal sign that a cat has been neutered.) We’ve also caught a large number of racoons and skunks this week, which is a sign of absolutely nothing except that the food in the traps looks good to wildlife.

This week’s crop of cats is an unusually sweet one. Callie, a very nice tortie, may actually go inside when this is over. No guarantees, but her caretaker is considering adding Callie to her crew of three indoor cats.

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Bringing an adult free-roaming in isn’t always the right choice, but it might be for this sweet girl.

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One of the boys that came in last night seems to suffer from claustrophobia, and he was so stressed overnight in that trap that he’s now missing some skin on his forehead.

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That doesn’t happen very often. Most cats get pretty quiet in the traps, but this guy just can’t manage trap life, so I moved him into a big dog crate today, and he calmed down right away. He’s actually a really sweet guy, and was probably someone’s cat once. He was rubbing against my arm and tried to cuddle with me while I was doing his room service. He left me clean the open skin on his forehead and apply antibiotic ointment with no problem, and it is good to see him feeling more relaxed.

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For some in the TNR world, it is mostly a numbers game. Get as many cats as possible, especially females, and those numbers certainly matter.  We’re as happy as the next group to see the number of kittens born each year go down, and to see the free-roamers living as well as possible. Many live better than their indoor counter-parts, depending on their caretaker.

But for us, it is also about hospitality for the cats. Making them as comfortable as we can while they are with us. Insuring that any medical needs they have get treated. One of our current guests has a pretty nasty-looking eye wound. I don’t think it is recent, but we’ll have the vet look at it anyway. She’ll let us know if we need to do anything to help. Everyone gets fed as much food and water as they want, and their “rooms” are cleaned twice daily. They get flea and ear mite treatment while they’re under, as well as deworming, and all their vaccinations. We want to send them home in tip-top shape. And if they are too sick to be outside anymore, we will either place them in a local cat sanctuary to live out their days, or occasionally we have been with a cat who needed to be released from suffering. Euthanasia may not seem like hospitality, but I can tell you that there are times when it is the most hospitable and caring act we can offer.

It has been a very long week, and we are definitely tired. Long nights, and early mornings, and a zillion phone calls and texts all day and evening from trappers and volunteers and what not…we are ready to let the medical and recovery team do their thing come Saturday and take a little break. We’ll breathe for a day or so, return this crew, and then clean the traps and the towels and the tables and the dishes, and start all over again. It’s a grind at times, but it is a good and satisfying one, and when winter comes we look forward to a nice break.

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