Gabi’s Chair

Gabi’s chair used to be my chair, and on good days, she lets me share it with her. At 17 plus, she’s an old lady, and this nice soft comfy chair suits her fine.

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She sleeps the day away here, and the nights too, for the most part.  She comes to eat her breakfast and dinner when served, but then she’s back to resting. At 17 1/2, that’s the most you can ask of her.One of the younger cats will occasionally disturb her, and they get some pretty harsh words in exchange. Sleeping is serious business at her age.

She’s got good taste – that chair is pretty comfortable. With any luck, I may be sleeping my days and nights away there when I’m old too. (61 isn’t old, right?)

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(These photos were partly an excuse to try an early Christmas present from one of my blogger buddies, a tripod that was no longer wanted.  I can now take photos in a pretty dark room, and they still work. Magic…thank you Kate and Dan!)

Annie, Thanksgiving Three Years Later

Three years ago this month, she was on death’s door.

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Annie is now a healthy cat, somewhere between three and four years old. She was about 7 months old when I captured her as a feral kitten, sick to the point of dying any day. It took four months of intensive care and meds to remove the hookworms that had moved into her intestines, and repair the extensive damage they did. None of us was sure her GI system would ever work well, but she surprised us all, and recovered completely.

Annie was born in an outdoor colony and TNR’d when she was around four months old. Too old, in general, to bring in and socialize, so she went back to her colony. She was terrified when I captured her several months later, but too sick and weak to flee. While I had her in care those early months, she got very friendly with me, sat on my lap, and enjoyed my company. But the moment she was given the freedom of the whole house (instead of one small room) she reverted to her feral ways. I’m told this is pretty typical.

Annie attached herself to one of our senior cats, Thomas, and she was his shadow for the last three years. With Thomas by her side, her need for humans was non-existent. She came to eat, and she will play with us when we use wand toys that allow her a good distance from us, but otherwise, she prefers to keep her distance, even to the point of sleeping in a closet for most of a couple years. Annie likes to be hidden.

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Thomas, as some of you know, died recently, and that rocked Annie’s world. Her security blanket is gone. But that’s also given us an opportunity to break down the barriers a bit. Annie hasn’t been to the vet since 2014 first, because I had to trap her (in our home) to get her there the last time, and second, because I don’t want to do anything to make her more afraid of us. But all our cats should have annual checkups, and beyond that, we would just like to be able to be closer to her.

So when she gets her food now, she has to put up with being pet. I’m trying to get her to associate petting with something she likes – food – and she’s getting there. She will hiss a good bit sometimes, but I am backing down less. In our cat house program, the rule for the baby kittens is that the more you hiss, the more you get pet and cuddled. That’s pretty easy when the kitten weighs a pound, and a little different with an adult cat, but I’m trying to be fearless. I’m also picking her up, ever so briefly, but just lifting her and putting her back down so she starts to get used to an action that will be needed for vet and other care.

Annie loves to play still, so we have our wand play times, and she eats out of my hand, which requires that she touch me at least briefly with her face. Little by little, we are making progress. In 2017 Annie will get an annual at the vet’s office, hopefully without trauma for anyone!

With our community cat program, folks often want to bring cats inside, ones who have lived outside all their lives. Sometimes it can be done, and that’s always a joy. But for many cats who have been born to and lived in outside colonies, the indoor life is a real challenge. Annie, after three years, still finds it difficult. She likes our cat community, and I believe she is basically happy, but she is still fearful of the two-leggeds in the house. This Thanksgiving, just as the one back in 2013, when we rescued her from death’s door, we are very thankful for her presence with us. Maybe by Thanksgiving 2017 she will be as happy to be with us as we are to have her here. Paws crossed.

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Bodhi

Bodhi is easily one of the best dogs we’ve ever spent time with, no disrespect to many other wonderful dogs. I don’t know what it is about him…the blindness, the blind trust he places in us, his gentle spirit, and his general happy-go-lucky way of being. He’s just a great dog.

We’ve had some September days in November, and one of the things Bodhi really enjoys is to head down to one of the open fields, and on leash, since he needs help not running into something, he wanders until he is done checking out the place. We had a lovely time with him in the leaf-covered field today, enjoying 70 degree weather with our happy guy. Life is good.

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The Late Season Babies

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Our late arrivals at the cat house…hopefully the last residents for the season…are doing much better. They weren’t eating last weekend, but they are back to eating like little piggies now, which does our hearts good. They shed lots and lots of dead (thankfully) roundworms this week. I will spare you the deals. Suffice it to say it was gross. But they feel better now.

Petey is the one above. He’s the shy one. His brother, Parker (below) has been much faster to play, to let us cuddle him, and to adapt in general. Petey is coming along, mostly because his brother is dragging him into playtime and fun! Parker needs no encouragement to play, and as far as being his playmate, as the Borg would say, resistance is futile.

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We originally separated the kittens from mom, but we had to put them all back for a bit. A lesson learned for us…let them get used to their new digs before moving too fast. We usually don’t have a mom when we get kittens, and almost never a friendly mom, so we learned some lessons from these two. But mom will be going for her surgery soon, and the little ones needs to spend time without her and get used to that.

So during the day now, mom gets the run of the cat house, and she seems to enjoy the time away from the kittens. They are also doing well with that, and having a blast playing with each other in the huge dog crate that is their home. At night, mom rejoins the kittens, but I’m already starting to see that she is just fine in her sweet bed outside the dog crate. I think separating them in a few days will not be so traumatic this time.

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Mom has a home waiting for her once she is spayed, and the kittens will hopefully go into a local rescue’s adoption program after they are neutered, and all…we hope…will live happily ever after. And we still look forward to a little down time between seasons.

The End of a Long Season

One of the volunteers asked me yesterday if I would miss all the kittens when they were gone from our cat house. She comes in often to pet and cuddle them, and she really misses then when they leave. Me? Easy answer: No.

I’m not heartless, really and truly. But the TNR season has been long and hard – satisfying, yes, but still a challenge – and I’m ready for all the little ones to go off to rescue groups and get great forever homes. THAT makes me very happy. We take really good care of them while they’re with us, but they still live in kitty condos or large dog crates, and they don’t get to run free, sleep in bed with someone who loves them, tear the toilet paper from the holder, and all those other things kittens and cats so love. So I’m glad to see them go and move forward into a better forever future.

Most of the cats are gone now, either back to their colonies, or for the friendlies, off to rescue. Four more go in the next couple days, and that leaves us with the mom and her two babies that we caught last weekend. For reasons that are not yet clear, they aren’t doing great. Because they were living outside we have no idea what their history is, and they stopped eating a couple days ago. They’ve been the the vet, and there is no obvious problem…except that they’re not eating, which is a big problem all by itself. So for the time being I am force-feeding the crew every three hours throughout the day…they get to sleep at night. And if they aren’t eating by Monday morning, I will see about getting them hospitalized so they can get the best supportive care. (I haven’t taken any photos of them to share with you…they are stressed enough right now. )

No, I won’t miss all of these ones when they are gone. I am tired. Many of us are very tired. And our program closes down over the winter months, so the end is near for this year. While some TNR groups go ahead and keep spaying and neutering over the winter, we’re not fond of putting a female cat with a shaved belly out into 20 degree temps. Cats don’t get pregnant during the cold months of the year, so we take a few months off to recover so we can do this all again next year.

One of the goals of a geographically targeted TNR program, like ours, is to get so many cats done that you reach a maintenance-only level. We haven’t gotten there yet, but with almost 900 cats done in the last four years, we think our numbers of intact outdoor cats should start decreasing. That would be good for the cats, and good for us too.

So keep your paws crossed for the momma and babies over the next few days…she’s a sweetie and her kittens are coming around nicely to human touch, so we want to see them perk up and thrive and get great homes, like so many others this season. And then, we are ready for a little rest…maybe even a lot of rest. And some time to catch up with the non-cat parts of our lives.

November kittens

It has been warmer longer this year, which means we are still getting kittens coming in to our program. Sigh.We have been trying to close the program down for the season, but a couple kittens and their mom had other ideas. Mom will be spayed on Wednesday and either go into one of the rescue adoption programs (she’s very sweet) or the person who did the trapping will find her a home.

Her kittens are probably between 6-8 weeks old, just young enough to be socialized, but it means they will be with us a 4-6 weeks…sigh. Not that I mind kittens, but was just hoping we were done at the end of the week. We’re all pretty tired by this time in the season and looking forward to a few months of not trapping and of tending to the rest of our lives. But it will have to wait a few more weeks.

These two came in this afternoon…lousy photo with my phone, but it was what I had at the time. They are scared as can be, no knowing yet that their lives are about to improve big time. They get to sleep in a warm building tonight, with plenty of food, to start with.

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They’ll get to meet the vet this week sometime and get weighed and examined, and their first distemper shot. Probably de-fleeing and de-worming are on the list this week too. But this evening, they are resting. I did a little petting and they hissed away at me. They were introduced to our house rule: the more you hiss, the more you get pet, or even picked up. After a few moments they cowered and were quiet with the petting. It will get easier, and within the week, I bet they’ll even enjoy it. Welcome to the cat house, little ones.