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An Update on My Dear Darling Perry Cat

A couple of months ago I wrote that I was thinking of changing my weekly posts from Mondays. After trying things out on other days, I have to say that I like my old pattern best which is to try for Mondays and if other days arise, then post then instead or additionally. So it’s Monday. And I’m posting.

I want to tell you about my darling Perry (in the photo he’s nestling up against Kana). It’s been years now since he first showed up in our backyard and we trapped him, got him neutered, took him to the shelter where he was all but kicked out. They thought he was feral because he was completely shut down emotionally. I ended up bringing him home and earning his trust over weeks and weeks. I read poetry and stories to him, sang to him, and held his food bowl while he ate. Then one day when I stuck my hand under the bed, he came toward me and started to touch my hand with his paw. That was the moment when I knew he wasn’t feral and was going to be a big sweetheart. Video of Perry Hiding Under the Bed Touching my Hand

Perry has been a member of our family for 5.5 years now, and he’s the King of the Castle. He’s been the babysitter of cats and kittens. He is in charge of it all. I have expected to have him around until I was really old. Imagine my shock to realize something is wrong with his health. He’s got weird poos that have gotten increasingly soft, light-colored, and smelly. He’s lost weight–down a couple of pounds in the last two years. He feels skinny. And yet he’s a picky eater which gives me anxiety as it reminds me of Felix and Tiger when they got sick. On top of the GI symptoms, he suddenly has a level 3 heart murmur. This isn’t a terrible one, but it’s significant and especially for a seven-year-old cat. So he needs medical tests. The GI troubles could be Irritable Bowel Disease–or they could be lymphoma. The vet want to start with an abdominal ultrasound. Perry’s going to get an echocardiogram to examine the heart murmur. Please send all your prayers, vibes, and general good wishes for my dear darling special boy. The ultrasound is Friday, and the echo is in a month (they are hard to schedule). 

As you may realize, we took in my son’s two cats six months ago. Two older cats who have their own ingrained habits and don’t get along that well to begin with is a pretty big thing to bring into a household with three older cats (two seniors plus Perry). It has not been a smooth six months. Not. smooth. at. all. 

The gardener and I are over our Covid (we hope). It wasn’t fun, but it sure wasn’t anything like Valley Fever (I’m only speaking for myself here). 

If you haven’t picked up a copy of Rooted and Winged, please consider it as a way to support the poetry community :).

If you have one and haven’t posted a review at Amazon (and maybe Goodreads, too), I’d sure appreciate it.

If you would like to review it for your blog or a lit journal, please email me at luanne[dot]castle[at]gmail[dot]com and ask for an ARC.

And if you have already bought a copy and reviewed the book, a million thank yous!!!!

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Filed under #poetrycommunity, #poetswithcats, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Rooted and Winged

Summer Junky Art Journaling Project

For the past 75 days I have been participating in a class, taught by Kasia Avery, through Everyday Art called 100 Small Steps. The course was designed a couple of years ago which is when others took it. But it’s still up at their site and the price is minimal. So I am taking this class all by my lonesome. The structure is that of a daily prompt, a guideline, and a bonus life enrichment prompt and is meant to “force” one to do something creative every day. There is a Facebook page related to the course, and I am posting a photo every day of that day’s work. Of course, I am the only one doing so. And there are people who took this course in the past who are kind enough to give me regular encouragement although they are long past this experience.

At this point, I am 3/4 of the way through the program. Even when I had to go out of town for work or had distressing life events, I still made sure to do something in my art journal. There’s a lot of crap, but every day taught me something. And there are a few pages that make me very happy. One important thing about pushing myself through the 100 days is that I keep going. It would be easy to miss some days, but then it will be even easier to miss a few more. And time spent with my art journal is my zen time.

For the first 25 days I used a zippered binder and its “cardstock” dividers. This binder had been left at my house by a previous boyfriend of daughter. For the second 25 days I used an address book. 26 letters of the alphabet is pretty close to 25 days! Then I started a journal that Kasia had recommended as an inexpensive type she likes. It’s a Decomposition Book (hahaha), made of 100% post-consumer-waste recycle pages and printed with soy ink. This one has a topographic map on the cover and graph paper inside. The pages are a bit thin, so sometimes I glue two together. And the gesso helps strengthen them, as well. My big dilemma now is whether I continue in this book or switch to a fourth book. I think I’ll switch because the journal is already getting pretty thick with gesso, paint, collage, fabric scraps, safety pins, and the like.

The kitties are a lot of work because of integrating all these various personalities. But they sure are cute. I discovered that Meesker is talented at catch. We bat one of his toy mice back and forth. He catches with his claws extended and then smacks it right back at me. Lily is a talented eater and excellent lovebug.

I had a couple of poems from my Red Riding Hood project accepted at a wonderful journal (I’ll share when they are published) and have one of my Rooted and Winged Grandma poems accepted at another. I want to start a writing project before too long. Maybe when 100 Small Steps is completed. Go have a great week!

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Filed under #amreading, #poetswithcats, #writerlife, #writerslife, #writingcommunity, Art and Music, art journaling, Cats and Other Animals, Writing

The Math of Cats

There’s been a lot of subtracting and adding going on at my house this past year. After my daughter lost her dear cat Izzie, the gardener and I lost Felix and then Pear. Those three sweet furry souls were all gone within two months. That left us with four cats and my daughter with zero (although she had her dog).

I started to think about the years ahead when we would have fewer cats, thus making it easier to travel. And I would have less daily kitty chores.

Then daughter and SIL adopted two kitten sisters. Daughter was keeping her fingers crossed that they would bond as well with Riley, the dog, as with each other. Sure enough, this happened.

Cute enough?

I asked my daughter if when Tiger (who was 18) was gone, she and her husband would bring their animals over here and take care of everyone while the gardener and I go on a long trip (first time ever).

But early this summer we had to open our home to my son’s two cats, all while our little Tiger seemed to be ill. Sure enough, she died on June 28–4 weeks after the new cats arrived–and on the 7th anniversary of our furboy Macavity’s death.

So we were six cats, then five, then four, then six, and now five. Follow that? No long vacation for us for awhile!

Lily with her new best friend Perry
Meesker

Lily is the long-haired orange and white cat, and Meesker is the house panther. Lily, a very affectionate girl, is already fully integrated into the household, but Meesker is more shy and prefers the freedom of his own suite (i.e. bedroom). That’s because his Minion Manservant (the gardener) watches TV two times a day in there with him. They play mouse, too, and Meesker brings the mouse back so it can be thrown again. Sometimes he stops by his water bowl and washes the mouse before he brings it back.

Now I just need to figure out how to get Meesker out of the room without stressing him too much. I will also have to figure out how to tell, in a half-second, whether it’s Meesker I’m seeing or my other house panther, Kana.

Has anybody read the Ruth Galloway mystery series by Elly Griffiths? I just plowed through all fourteen books, and I’m upset that I have to wait until 2023 for final installment. As much as I love Louise Penny and Ann Cleeves, I liked these even more! The characters are wonderful, and Ruth’s love life is certainly interesting.

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Filed under #amreading, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction

Cat Rescuer Extraordinaire Holly Provance

Dedicated to the memory of Kit Kat, the “Calico Queen”

This is my friend Holly Provance with her dear Kit Kat who just passed away at the age of 18.

Holly is a heroic cat rescuer in Temple, Texas. In fact, she volunteers a lot of her time in the cat and dog rescue field. I interviewed her to see exactly what she does to help the animals that most humans have forgotten.

 Would you please tell us what you do for the animals?

I volunteer with several great organizations. Snip and Tip does primarily TNR (trap-neuter-return), but I recently worked with them to rescue 15 cats from a very unhealthy living situation. Normally these cats would have been returned after neutering, but the environment isn’t safe, so I took the kittens and cats in to foster so that hopefully they can have a better future and not have to go back to living at a drug house.

I also volunteer with Fixin’ Ferals TNR and Rescue. I foster community cats with mange, skin and eye issues, or other conditions that need some “extra” work, and then return them to Fixin’ Ferals for them to either be returned to the community or adopted out. I recently went and picked up a cat that was paralyzed, and was able to send her to an amazing foster home through Fixin’ Ferals. We found out someone shot her, so she will always be paralyzed, but she is doing great in her foster home. Such a different outcome for Dragon than when I found her dragging herself from under the porch of a mobile home begging for help.

I recently took in a trio of kittens through Journey Home Rescue, which is primarily a dog rescue, so they networked to find a foster for some sick kittens, and found me. My own organization is Ferals and Friendlies, where I manage my own colony, and do neighborhood TNR here in the beautiful Garden District of Temple, Texas.

The Meowtel, where fosters stay when there is a large group. It’s air conditioned and has an enclosed outdoor area for rambunctious kittens
This is Wacoville, complete with multiple food and water stations, and shelters. The fencing keeps the dogs from bothering the colony cats who aren’t dog-friendly.

In my spare time (ha ha) I am a volunteer for Texas Transport, helping transport dogs to new homes/rescues, and I am a scanner with Central Texas Lost and Found Pets. When someone finds a pet, we go and scan for a microchip to try and get the animal home. Sometimes, that leads to rescuing a pet. I recently went to scan a very old Chihuahua who someone had found wandering down the highway. The poor guy was covered in fleas, had ear mites, and horrible skin issues. The finder couldn’t keep him, and I didn’t want him to end up at the shelter as they are already overwhelmed. So he came home with me as a foster. And now, I’m the proud owner of a very old, still kind of scraggly looking Chihuahua who is heartworm positive, and wobbles when he walks, but is an absolute little rock star who quickly became a much-loved member of the pack. Welcome to the rescue life.

Trio is one my recent transport passengers. I was one leg of a 19 leg transport team sending Trio and his friend Toby from Texas to a rescue in Michigan.
This is Dobby, who was just supposed to get scanned for a microchip, but ended up living the dream when he wasn’t chipped and no owner came forward.

How did you get involved in volunteering in rescue?

I started doing TNR (trap/neuter/return) when I moved to my current house 3 years ago. There were a number of cats that just started showing up, so I put out food, water, and shelter, but I wanted to do more. I contacted a local TNR organization called Snip and Tip, and they lent me traps and helped me do my first big TNR. Through them, I connected to other organizations, and realized I could help by doing medical fostering. I joined different Facebook groups, and just offered to help when I felt I had the skills and resources that were needed. I connected with Fixin’ Ferals TNR, and I got my first mange cat from them. I had no idea what I was dealing with I took in Waco (so named for the city he came from.) But I found a treatment plan that worked, and so used it to help other cats with mange or other skin and eye infections. At some point, I agreed to foster a litter of kittens through Fixin’ Ferals, and I continue to foster for them.

What is your professional background and does it help in any way(s) with rescue?

I have spent most of career working in the nonprofit world, for organizations big (American Cancer Society and NAMI Texas) and small (Austin Steam Train Association.) But I never wanted to work in the animal welfare field because I felt like I would connect too much. Three years ago I made the leap to the for-profit world, where I serve as the business development director for an inpatient mental health facility. I love it because I get to help educate the community about mental health, provide resources and support to patients and families, and work as an advocate for better treatment options and access to care for individuals living with a mental health condition. Having a lot of community connections really helps, because you never know who may be a resource for the volunteer work I do. For example, I currently have fourteen foster kittens/cats needing homes. So I am partnering with the Hewitt VFW to host an adoption event at their post. I have that connection because of my job!

Please tell us about the cats. Are there special ones that you want to tell us about? What are the most difficult cases? What are the biggest joys?

Cats! I love cats!! My current crew consists of Kit Kat (RIP dear friend), Lucky, Moxie, Pixie, Strut, Charlie, and Poppet. We just lost Kit Kat the other day. She was the calico queen at age 18. She was picked up off the highway as a very small kitten.

Lucky is 14, and her name comes from the fact that she was the lucky one of her litter who survived being thrown out of a car. Moxie and Pixie were also found on the road kittens, and they are now 4. Pixie is a tortie, and boy does she let you know it. Strut and Poppet came in as medical fosters. Strut suffered some type of blunt force trauma to his face and leg, and was having seizures when we got him as a foster. He lost an eye, and one of his legs is crooked, and he’s a klutz, but he is the sweetest boy. He was up for adoption, but the right family never came along, so now he’s one of the crew. Poppet came in with horribly infected eyes, and we had to have both of them removed. She was also up for adoption, but as with Strut, the right family ended up being ours. Finally we have Charlie. who came up with one of the neighborhood cats as a kitten. We were able to trap him, and he bonded with Strut, who was also a kitten at the time, so he became a permanent member of the family. They live with Baxter, Bandit, and Dobby, our three rescue dogs.

Baxter, my emotional support floofmonster

There are the “permanent” colony cats – Bear, Jr., Jester, Jon Snow, Pirate, Shimmer, Waco (the infamous mange cat,) Goldeneye, and Jax (another mange cat from Waco.) While normally Waco and Jax would have returned to their colony after they recovered, but the colony they came from has lots of medical issues, so the decision was made to allow them to stay with my colony. There are also the neighborhood cats who are regulars – Curly Tail, Floof Tail, Swirl, Hissy, Gigi, Grayson, Blue Eyes. They come and go, although Curly Tail is working his way up to permanent colony member. That just means that he has moved from eating at the feeding station in the side yard, to eating and spending most of his time in Wacoville, which is a designated outdoor living space for the colony cats.

I don’t decide who becomes a permanent colony member – they just let me know at some point that they like living here. For the neighborhood cats, my rule is that if they come here to eat or to seek shelter, they get snipped and tipped. So I trap regularly. They are spayed/neutered, ear tipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas and mites, then released.

Click on the images below to open larger.

Finally, there are the current fosters – twelve kittens, two mom cats, a teenager, and an old man. Ten of the kittens (the motorcycle gang of Harley, Davidson, Throttle, Silly, Sprocket, Spark, Tank, Piper, Speed, and Racer,) and the two moms (Mom Cat and Not Mom Cat) came from the drug house rescue. Wynken and Nod came in with their brother Blynken, who didn’t make it. But the two remaining storybook boys are doing great, and will be going to Pet Connect Rescue to be adopted out through Petsmart. The teenager, Sam, came in very sick with all kinds of nasty parasites, and now is waiting to find the right furrever family. Then there is the old man – Carrot – who came from a hoarding situation. He was bad allergies, and he seems to have a flare up every time I think he is ready to be posted for adoption. It’s hard enough to find the right home for an older cat – but it’s pretty much impossible when their back end is bald! In the meantime, he has him own special spot in the crew here, and he is living a great, although noisy, life.

How do you handle the emotional toll of what you do? A lot of people say I would love to do that, but I can’t handle the sad stuff. If there are things that make you “keep coming back” and taking care of your own emotional health, what are they?

The emotional toll is sometimes overwhelming. I’m so fortunate that I have an incredibly supportive partner, who lets me cry when I need to, who digs very small graves for very small kittens who don’t make it, and who doesn’t bat an eye when I tell him that I am bringing home the body of a deceased puppy I went to scan (no microchip so no owner to notify) because I couldn’t just leave it on the side of the road. Our motto is no one crosses alone, even if that is only in spirit. Everyone gets a proper send off to the rainbow bridge. Believe it or not, that’s one of the things that keeps me coming back. That the sickest who don’t make it got to live out their final time, whatever that was, being cared for. They are warm, fed, bathed, loved for as long as we have them. And then there is the total joy of delivering a kitten to his new home! Or matching an older cat with an older woman who recently lost her cat, and was in need of a special companion. 

None of this would be possible without the love and support of Derrick. That’s Poppet on the back of the chair. He’s holding Bandit, who came from our local shelter. He was so fearful that he bit Derrick when we went to meet him. The rest, as they say, is history.

Please let us know how people can donate to your project of helping the cats who have been let down by other humans.

The best way to follow the many adventures, and sometimes misadventures, is on my Facebook page, Ferals and Friendlies. I keep an Amazon wish list posted, which is a great way to support the colony and the fosters. I also post when I have large vet bills, in case someone wants to support a specific foster cat. But what I need most is to find furrever homes for the fosters, so that I can continue to bring in new fosters! So please like our page and share our posts. And if you see a kitten – or two – you know would be the purrfect addition to your family, email me at feralsandfriendlies@gmail.com. You would be surprised at the number of places that the volunteer transports go!

Thanks to Holly for sharing about her life as an animal rescuer. It’s good to know that we don’t have to live in Temple to donate or even to adopt your animals. I love how you mention “or two” about kittens. I learned over the years that it’s by far best to adopt two at a time when adopting kittens. So much better for their upbringing—and easier on the humans, too. My daughter just did that this spring, adopting two little female tabbies—and their bonded cuteness is so adorable. When I babysat them I noticed how much easier it was to take care of two than if one little kitten had been here on her own.

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Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Inspiration, Interview, Nonfiction

Too Sad to Write Much

On Tuesday, June 28, 2022, Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina Castle tiptoed across the rainbow bridge while her Mommy and Daddy cried and her doctor gave Mommy a big hug. She met her feline sister and brothers Pear Blossom, Macavity, and Felix, her canine brother Sandy, and her feline niece Isabella Rose at the rainbow bridge. Tiger Queenie had the biggest catitude in the littlest body. Her beautiful tabico coat inspired one of her names, Josefina, as it was the coat of many colors. We loved her so much.

Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina, RIP

The day before she had to be put down for a probable brain tumor (her deterioriation by the day was marked), I learned that our dear Kana is in renal insufficiency and needs testing. Last July was Izzie, August was Felix, and September was Pear Blossom. This past year needs a re-do. Suffice it to say for now that Tiger Queen Princess Mimi Josefina was a very special kitty. She was the gardener’s favorite cat of all. And we both loved her universes-full.

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The Queenie Princess Turns 18 This Week

On Friday, April 1, (or thereabouts) Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina turns 18 years old. Her feistiness has calmed down, but she’s still pretty agile. She lies on the back of the recliner, for instance.

The other day we had a little pearl-draped photoshoot for the Queenie Princess. Here is our resident royalty on her throne.

And here she is looking so adorable on the fake fur on the piano.The fur that matches her green eyes.

And, finally, here she is at rest after a grueling modeling shoot.

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A Plea for the Animals

In this festive season, it’s good to remember those in need. In this case, I want to remind us about the pets in Afghanistan, specifically those cared for by the Kabul Small Animal Rescue.  American Charlotte Maxwell-Jones is a veterinarian who runs the dog and cat rescue in Kabul. When Afghanistan fell, she was at the airport in Kabul with her animals in kennels, ready to leave. But the U.S. military would not take a single one of her animals. She was clinging to a special needs dog as they left Charlotte at the airport with her furry charges.

She’s such a hero, it makes me teary just to write about her. Well, Charlotte has continued to do what she does. Some of the dogs that were left at the airport were taken over by the Taliban. Charlotte’s rescue now sees to the care of those dogs, making sure they have safe sleeping quarters, food, and medical care. She also still takes care of all the other rescue animals that have made it to her shelter. Now she has organized evacuation flights for the dogs and cats for January 2022. They are taking the animals to Dubai (for now–maybe they will end up in Canada). Her fundraising goal to accomplish this is $400,000. She’s not even at the halfway point yet. PLEASE can you help her to help these animals she has devoted her life to?

DONATE FOR THE EVACUATION FLIGHTS

Topol, pictured below, is one of the dogs who will be leaving Afghanistan.

Please make it a HAPPY NEW YEAR for these animals!

 

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A Plea for the Animals

In this festive season, it’s good to remember those in need. In this case, I want to remind us about the pets in Afghanistan, specifically those cared for by the Kabul Small Animal Rescue.  American Charlotte Maxwell-Jones is a veterinarian who runs the dog and cat rescue in Kabul. When Afghanistan fell, she was at the airport in Kabul with her animals in kennels, ready to leave. But the U.S. military would not take a single one of her animals. She was clinging to a special needs dog as they left Charlotte at the airport with her furry charges.

She’s such a hero, it makes me teary just to write about her. Well, Charlotte has continued to do what she does. Some of the dogs that were left at the airport were taken over by the Taliban. Charlotte’s rescue now sees to the care of those dogs, making sure they have safe sleeping quarters, food, and medical care. She also still takes care of all the other rescue animals that have made it to her shelter. Now she has organized evacuation flights for the dogs and cats for January 2022. They are taking the animals to Dubai (for now–maybe they will end up in Canada). Her fundraising goal to accomplish this is $400,000. She’s not even at the halfway point yet. PLEASE can you help her to help these animals she has devoted her life to?

DONATE FOR THE EVACUATION FLIGHTS

Topol, pictured below, is one of the dogs who will be leaving Afghanistan.

Please make it a HAPPY NEW YEAR for these animals!

 

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My Kitty and His DNA

People who know Maine Coon cats often think Perry is part Maine Coon. It’s his face shape, the tiny tufts on the tips of his ears, his long fluffy tail, and his affectionate, intelligent, and very chatty personality. So when I was feeling really bad about losing Pear, Felix, and Izzie, I bought a DNA test for Perry as a present for myself.

DNA tests for dogs always made more sense to me than ones for cats. There is such a wide variety of dog breeds, and it can help to know what the needs are, depending on what combination of breeds make up your mutt.  DNA tests for people make a lot of sense for me because I love family history and genealogy, plus I’m such a Nancy Drew that I like investigating things. The gardener calls me “Sherlock.” That is in addition to all the other nicknames.

So maybe it’s that curious streak thoroughfare that runs through me that made me want to see the results for Perry.

Soon after the kit arrived, I gathered Perry’s spit, packaged it up, and sent it off. This is the activation notice I got on the website for Wisdom Panel, the company I used.

I was prepared to wait for a month or two because that’s how long it took for human and dog DNA I’ve sent in. But I got the results in  just a couple of weeks.

This is a Maine coon cat, by the way, so you can see what they look like. 

You could have knocked me over with a cat sneeze when I took a look at Perry’s breed mixture.

81% American Domestic cat. That’s not surprising. But wait. The next breed listed is NOT Maine Coon. He’s 11% Sphynx cat!!!!!!! 11% means that one of his great-grandparents was a Sphynx.

Sphynx cats are bald!!! They are extremely intelligent and are also one of the most dog-like cats in personality. So now we know where Perry gets his neediness :).

More information from Perry’s DNA suggests that he is white and one other color, has a long tail, and is long-haired.  The best part of the test is that he tested negative for the 49 health issues that Wisdom Panel tests for. He happens to be blood type A like his human mama and papa.

Now he can relax! Perry says HAPPY HANUKKAH on this first day of Hanukkah!

 

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In Loving Memory

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Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Family history, Memoir, Writing