Yes, I’ve been up to my kitty ears with kittens and cats this week. Eight of them. Yesterday, the two smart little hamsters kittens went home with their fully vacationed parents. The two senior cats will be living with us indefinitely. More on those two later. For now, I am exhauserbated.
Wedding week is here, so our family is busy and scatterbrained. But before I sign out for the celebration days, I need to share an important message. I jabber about Perry a lot. He’s a cat who is somewhere on the continuum between feral and socialized. I hope with my loving care that he can become socialized enough to make a very good house cat. He showed up in the right yard if he wanted to find somebody who was willing to give him a chance.
But at our shelter for the past full year we have had two little brothers who are just like Perry. They even look a little like him–furry and grayish. I’ve posted about them in the past, but they are growing older and are now fully adult cats. They have become socialized enough that they love to play games with people. They looove other cats. All they need now is a home together where they get the attention of a patient human family who wants to experience the rewards of finishing the socialization process of these two gorgeous cats.
Life at the shelter is not a path to socialization.
Check out the video:
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We need to find a home for these sweet boys. They deserve a chance. They wouldn’t survive being sent to live in a barn.
A couple of weeks ago I told you the story of the cat who came to visit our yard and how we trapped him so he wouldn’t get eaten by a local predator. I had him neutered and took him to the no-kill shelter where Perry was put into the ISO room until he could be vaccinated and microchipped.
Although the vet and vet techs that did the surgery on Perry realized he was not feral because he was affectionate and even let them handle his family jewels (before the big heist), once he got put into that tiny cage in that little room right next to the big dog room (with their loud chorus of barking) he became withdrawn and very unhappy with humans.
The shelter began to wonder if somebody had made a mistake or even lied about Perry being a stray, but domesticated cat. Maybe he really was feral and, if so, what would the shelter that is designed for putting friendly cats in together until they get adopted into loving homes do with him?
I talked to the wonderful organization Alley Cat Allies that works to better the plight of feral cats and to the spay and neuter clinic that had done Perry’s surgery. It seemed clear to anybody not witnessing him at the shelter that he was not feral. I’ve gone to the shelter every day, but only for a short period of time, to read to him and (don’t tell anyone, please) sing to him.
Perry’s favorite book
He seems to like the “Riddle Song” and “Billy Boy,” two of my specialties. I put an extra stanza in the latter that always seemed missing from the original. I am careful to show him the illustrations in the picture books and notice that his eyes track the images as if he is really examining them. I find that interesting . . . .
Using a soothing, but pleasantly expressive voice while reading to cats and dogs is very effective with them. It doesn’t get done often enough because of time constraints. Consider reading to shelter animals near you or bring children who are early readers so they can practice their reading skills out on the very nonjudgmental animals. In the Curious George book, Mr. Herb gets angry with George, but I am careful not to show that in my voice to Perry who can’t handle that kind of emotion right now.
The techs and volunteers couldn’t get Perry out of the tiny cage in ISO to move him to a big 3 story cage in the roaming room so that he could have better accommodations and get to know other cats and humans, too, and we don’t have a “cat den,” where a frightened cat goes to hide and the “door” can be shut so you can move him. But finally our cat volunteer and staff member ROCKSTAR Judy maneuvered him into a kennel and moved him to the new cage in the big room. I didn’t get involved in this for two reasons. One is that I want to be a safe person for him, one he doesn’t associate with grabbing and other mean shenanigans. The other reason is my primary lymphedema. Cat bites and scratches can be very dangerous for someone with lymphedema, so I am always aware when working and playing with cats that are not my own (and even my own).
Yesterday afternoon I was heartened that Perry was no longer in his cave. He was sitting in his litter box (hahaha) on the bottom level of the cage. I had put a skirt of towels around the bottom, so maybe that was why. I assume he was in the litter box rather than the soft bed next to it because that bed might be too soft compared with what he is used to outside. I opened the skirt in front and sat on the floor to read to him. Another new cat, Oreo (a very friendly guy), crawled into my lap and stuck his nose in the book. Although I used the book as a little shield between the two cats so Perry wouldn’t get spooked, Perry was quite good at Oreo being so close and even meowed once at him. He also meowed at me and gave me eye blinks, both good signs that he is thawing.
I don’t yet know Oreo’s story, but he and another cat share a cage (that he happened to be out of at the time) and both wear lime green collars. That makes me guess somebody turned them into the shelter because they couldn’t keep them any longer. 🙁 New cats generally stay in cages inside the roaming room until they are used to the room and the other cats. Because the two cats are together and are wearing collars, they didn’t live outside like Perry did so they are more social.
Please send good thoughts Perry’s way that he loses his fear (terror) and begins to show his affectionate nature so that he can work his way toward the perfect home for him.
With my son’s wedding coming up and other family matters, the only thing I am able to handle right now in addition to work is trying to do a little promotional stuff for Kin Types. Finishing Line Press is very good about providing a sample promo packet, along with sample press releases and the likes, but it all takes TIME, a phantom-like wisp that I have been chasing but not catching for a few weeks now. So although a few ideas for writing have crossed my mind (and disappeared into the horizon) I definitely
Last week was busier than usual. Among a long list of other things (that may or may not include termites and breast cyst colonies–both those suckers travel in packs), the gardener and I trapped a cat that was hanging out in our backyard. I think strays and ferals see our cats through the windows and decide our yard makes a safe place to set up camp.
This one would come sit tall and proud on our pony wall and wait for his dinner. Yes, we had to give him dinners because underneath his long fur he was quite skinny. Besides, dinner is how you trap a cat.
Have you ever seen a cat trap?
They are scary looking, but when you cover it with a blanket, the cat can’t really see how scary it is. He only knows there is good food inside that he doesn’t have to rassle (wrestle for you grammar nazis) to eat.
We didn’t know if this cat was stray or feral. A stray cat will make a good house cat once he gets acclimated. A feral cat probably will not, although you have to take it on a case by case basis. This cat would look at us in the yard, which is unusual for a feral, plus we do not have a feral colony anywhere near. In fact, there are no cats outdoors as a general rule. That is because we have a pack of German Shepherd-sized coyotes and a large bobcat. People who try to have “outdoor cats” in our neighborhood end up inadvertently killing them. In fact, I contacted people through “Next Door,” in the adjacent neighborhoods, and they spoke of the zero cat population and how a Maltese was severely injured by the coyotes.
OUR HUGE BOBCAT
We didn’t know if the cat was male or female, but I was calling it HE and HIM. I had an instinct, but didn’t know if I was right.
After days of luring the cat farther and farther into the trap, we were ready to catch him. That meant that the gardener needed to “set” the trap as he was the one who got the instructions from a friend we borrowed the trap from. It had been a few years since we used a trap. He was busy with stuff and couldn’t be rushed, and I was worried Mr/Ms Stray/Feral would come for dinner too soon. He did. When we came out to set the trap, he was sitting there so proud and so skinny on the wall around our fountain. He watched us very carefully as I put the food all the way to the back and the gardener set the springs. Then we went inside to see what would happen. I worried he would be annoyed and avoid the trap because he saw the trap without a blanket on it and saw it being set.
At first that was true. I watched between the drape and the window frame. He circled the trap, trying to get to the food without entering the open end. Then he left.
Durn it all, I said to the gardener. You should have come out to do it earlier. Only I didn’t say durn.
I was nervous he would get killed before we could catch him. And I was a little anxious that I already had scheduled an appointment for him next day at the spay/neuter clinic. I didn’t choose them for the lower price only, but because they are used to handling feral cats. If he was feral, he would need that expertise. The receptionist asked me if I’d named the cat. I had not even thought to, but after that two names came to me: Perry for a boy and Polly for a girl.
Five minutes later darkness descended on the backyard. I couldn’t really make out the door of the trap. I asked the gardener to come look. He said it was sprung.
So I turned on the porch light and went out to see. Our little gray and white visitor was huddled up miserably inside the trap. The food was untouched.
In the garage I had put a thick blanket on the floor for warmth and then covered that with a Chux pad for potty needs, so I placed the trap there for the night. The spay/neuter clinic would open at 7AM, and the kitty would have to be in the cage all night. I knocked the food out of the cage so he would have an empty stomach for neutering the next day. Although I’d been up all night just a couple nights before (ER visit for the gardener for a kidney stone–I told you we had a lot going on), I got up early to drive “clear across town,” which means a long way through rush hour city traffic.
I’ll be darned if they didn’t do his surgery until after 4PM! Poor thing had to wait in that trap without food or water all that time. And I was so impatient because I wanted to know:
Boy or girl?
Feral or stray?
Feline leukemia negative . . . or not?
PERRY turned out to be stray and negative for feline leukemia. Good news for him! So I brought him over to our shelter fresh off the operating table. What nobody warned me was that some cats act like maniacs while under the effects of the anesthesia. He threw himself against the walls of the cage. It was frightening because I thought he might hurt himself–and it sure seemed a different story than how lovely he was to the vet and vet techs before his surgery. That night in his cage in the isolation room at the shelter, he tipped over his litter box and got it all over, spilled his water all over, and didn’t pee or poo at all. However, he did eat all the kibble that was left for him.
Worried about him, I ran over there first thing the next morning and cleaned and reset up his cage and amenities and gave him a little canned food. He was calm, but scared.
Perry on the bed of the iso cage–the cage is much taller, but it’s underneath the bed
Please send vibes or pray for him, however you’re inclined, that he settles in, loses his fear, and finds a loving home!
I hope that Kin Types will be ready for pre-order soon. Waiting to hear from the publisher about that.
I’m participating in the Great Poetry Exchange along with 65 other poets with books. In the month of March I am sending Doll God to one poet and receiving a book from a different poet. I can’t wait!
Unlike other creatures of planet Earth, cats live in a world of more than three dimensions. This means that they are suddenly appearing and disappearing from our limited viewpoints.
Here’s a recent example. The other day, Pear Blossom was missing. She didn’t come to breakfast. I looked everywhere in the house for her. She had not been let outside, so if she was accessible within three dimensions, I would have found her. But she was not under a bed, in a corner, not even behind the toilet.
Eventually I decided to scoop the upstairs litter box since I was up there looking for a little tuxedo cat between my hanging clothes and in the shower. While I was bent over, Pear materialized behind me. Science fiction, but fact.
I don’t have a good education in math and science, so I can’t figure out exactly how many dimensions exist for cats. If their world is four dimensions, then Pear must have slipped into a different time point than I was in. But maybe she lives in five dimensions. All I have for an understanding of that world is a 60s singing group with an amazing lead singer called Marilyn McCoo.
I’m glad Pear decided to show herself to me. She’s my oldest cat, and I do worry about her health.
She and the other cats seemed happy to welcome the foster cat Slupe to our family for good over a week ago. We revised her name to Sloopy Anne Castle, and when I call for her, that’s what I call her–Sloopy Anne.
Arizona is so hot that Felix doesn’t want to leave the water bowl. Just in case he wants to drink some, he sleeps with his chin on the rim.
I’m no longer even pretending I’m going to write this summer. Maybe in a few weeks!
Lots of new cats at the shelter–and a few that have been there too long. Check out Home Fur Good’s cat roaming room if you’re in the Phoenix area.
Gigi came as a little kitten to Home Fur Good with her sister Dora. Dora was adopted months ago, but Gigi is growing up in the shelter. She’s a spunky little sweetie pie.
We have lots of kittens right now at the shelter. This little cutie is just one of many cuties of all colors and patterns.
Hope the rest of your summer is beautiful and restful. Or furry like mine haha. Gonna go on blogging break to recharge the brain batteries.
To get away from the record heat in Phoenix, we went south for a day. Tucson, at 2,589 ft, is a higher altitude than Phoenix, which is 1,086. Plus, Tucson is protected from the sun by the mountains and thus has more cloud cover. But we didn’t stay there long. We went to the real mountains. To Bisbee, AZ, to be precise. 5,589 ft.
There are those darn lines again!
It was a lovely temperature for summer. I don’t know what temperature it was, but it felt perfect. There was even a drizzle part of the day.
See that B up there on top? Stands for Bisbee. No kidding! The population is about the same as the altitude. About one person per foot of altitude.
Bisbee is a very charming looking town because in the downtown area there is very little new construction. It’s almost all “antique.”
The museum had a lovely garden.
And the shops were interesting to me. A honey shop. A custom hat shop. A dress shop where I bought a hat in my favorite color (coral called peony). And a shop with a window after my own heart.
Dolls, masks, old photos, and memento mori. What more could I want?
The only thing they had very little of: gluten free food. Yikes. OK, I won’t go into that rant again.
On the way back from Bisbee, we drove through Tombstone (yup, that Tombstone), where we’ve been before.
I had to take photos out of the car window . . . .
We also drove through St. David, a town founded by LDS pioneers. It’s still mainly Mormon, and it appears to be a farming community, but maybe the farming was in its past. I was glad to get home, though, to my 4+1 cats. Slupe is doing so well! She’s now been out with all the others cats, and I am hopeful that they can be one happy group (when Tiger watches her back so Kana doesn’t sneak up on her).
My new writing project is a play. I’ve been working on the play with my daughter. I find it fairly easy to write dialogue, but more difficult to conceptualize how it all works onstage. That is her expertise. As an actor, she has a good feel for the physical parts of the play. I expect it to move slowly because of being the work of two people.
Have you ever worked on a project, writing or otherwise, with someone else that you were used to doing by yourself?
I’ve always had a thing for liminality. Yup, liminality. Doesn’t it feel good on your tongue? According to Merriam-Webster (remember her?):
Definition of liminal
1: of or relating to a sensory threshold
2: barely perceptible
3: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition :in-between, transitional<in the liminal state between life and death — Deborah Jowitt>
I love that in between space there. You know, anywhere. Passageways like cupboards and rabbit holes and wardrobes. The place of process, like focusing on the process of art instead of the finished product. The place of change where you are different at one end than you were at the other.
I thought I’d let my camera start searching for some of those liminal spaces. If you find any, please share!!!
This one is at the Virginia Dare office and shopping center in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
On Monday I have such a deal coming for you! Watch for it!
In the meantime, life with Slupe is sweet.
Did you think I’ve forgotten about Kana and Tiger (and Pear and Felix)? Nope. I think I have mentioned that Tiger has a little window seat that is all hers. It’s her happy place. I put an X of double faced tape so that Kana can’t lie there and annoy her. She has an ice cube tray with toys so that I can hide treats under the toys. And I placed a mini litter box behind my antique trunk in case Kana blocks her from the ones in the laundry room. Lots of quail and bunnies and lizards for Tiger to watch.
Tiger has a little squeak like a mouse and runs from Kana which prompts Kana to chase her. Sigh. I guess it’s all that liminal space ;).
The year is winding down, and it’s been quite a year for me. I guess it was my turn. You’ve probably had your own years with lots of ups and lots of downs. I feel a post brewing about mine, but I don’t feel up to it today. Maybe I’ll write it for New Year’s Eve.
So I’ll show you some other endings: the sunsets in Arizona have a lot of pink and red in them. I took this one at a truck stop along the 10, and the sky was a vivid burgundy. I wish the color here were more true.
This one is typical of almost every December night. Sometimes there are palm trees silhouetted across the pink and dark blue sky.
OK, those were the endings of the day. Now for the hope of new beginnings!
I know a few “special needs” cuties in Phoenix that need a home for Christmas and beyond.
This is Betty. She was born in 2007 and has lived at the shelter for years. Yes, that says years. She is overweight, although you can’t see that from this glamour shot.
Why is she overweight? Maybe because for a very long time she was confined to a cage without exercise. She now gets to roam free in the cat roaming room with the other cats.
Betty (I think she needs a name change) had gotten a reputation for once in a while biting someone. I haven’t been so honored (yet), but I am trying to figure out what causes her to do so. I think it’s when she gets mad because she is being touched when she does not want to be touched. A volunteer might be petting her for a long time and then starts to forget she’s petting her, which means she is ignoring her. Betty might bite a bit to get her to stop over-stimulating her or to pay her attention. Anyway, several of us brush her and she likes it. When I sit on the floor at the shelter, she crawls into my lap and likes me to pet her and then stop and just let her sit there for as long as she likes.
Betty needs a home with an experienced cat person who wants to give someone who needs a chance THAT CHANCE. Betty will reward that person with loyalty and demonstrative love.
Lisa is a sweet black cat with a wonky left eye. Her vision is fine, but the eye itself is scarred so a bit cloudy-looking. Her official name is Lisa Left Eye, but I refuse to call her that. In this photo, I think she’s praying for a home.
Here is Lisa again:
Finally, here is 4-year-old Slupe, a darling Calico that has been at the shelter since long before I started there (which is now almost a year!!!).
Slupe doesn’t like living in a shelter environment and desperately needs a home of her own. Recently, she has lost fur in a few patches on her body, and I think it’s a reaction to stress. She loves to play in water and hide in boxes. She enjoyed playing with the kitten Scarlet, but Scarlet was just adopted so now Slupe needs a human friend and a home. Slupe is considered special needs because she has not been adopted for so long.
Even if you don’t have the right home for one of these adorables, please share their photos and stories in case you know someone who can! They are available here:
On a cat-related note, I gave my daughter my Homer’s Odyssey book to read. I wrote about it in this post Cat Heroes. Now I see that there is a sequel out about the blind wondercat Homer!
I can’t wait to read about Homer’s life as a celebrity :). Raising Betty, Lisa, or Slupe would be a piece of kibble compared with raising lively blind Homer.
Our shelter’s cat newsletter contained the following very important Christmas tip for cat owners:
This holiday season be careful with all those curling ribbons, tinsels and other Christmas decorations. According to Pam Johnson-Bennett, “Cats have barbs on their tongue that point toward the back of their mouth. These barbs are used fo r both grooming and removing the meat from the bones of their prey. These barbs are the reasons cats cannot easily spit items out of their mouth; things get stuck. This is why toys with thread and string can be dangerous if left unattended.” Pam also warns us about real pine needles being toxic to cats as well as the tree water, so you should never let your cat (or dog) drink it. You can use netting or Sticky Paws for Plants over the reservoir to ensure your pets don’t have access to it. To read more about how to deter your cats from nibbling on tree brunches or Christmas lights and more, read Pam Johnson- Bennett’s article here http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/how-to-keep-your-cat-away-from-the-christmas-tree/
If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is full of peace and joy. And for everyone, I wish you much peace and joy in your lives. See you next week!
My father passed away two weeks ago. That is when the hummingbird returned to her nest with the intention of starting a new family. She did lay two more eggs before I traveled to Michigan for my father’s funeral and to spend time with my mother. When I returned this week, she was still on her nest. I am awaiting the new babies.
Many times I’ve read stories where a bird visits when a parent dies. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection here.
The funeral was good. Many people spoke about my father, and my daughter sang “At Last” (the song popularized by Etta James). A military ceremony was held at the National Cemetery. The flag that draped his casket was given to my mother. My uncle put it in a hand-crafted flag case (made halfway by my father and then finished by a friend of his) and then my brother added the casings from the gunshots fired during the ceremony.
The days that followed the funeral I organized my mother’s basement, particularly the family photographs that were strewn throughout. I discovered 150 photo albums and collected loose photos into two cartons, in addition. Hubby bought my mother hanging plants and a rose bush and replanted an indoor plant for her. He taught her how to take care of them. He fixed her front door and her toilet.
I feel very far away from writing now. But hubby and I did make it to the shelter last night for the kitties. It had been too long. We have a new mom and her five babies. Her name is Galaxy as she is all black–and so are all five babies. If I had named her I might have called her Dionne after the famous quintuplets.
We have a lot of all black cats right now. If you’re in the Phoenix area, think of how much one of these little guys could add to your home. We have Nakana, Milo, Ebony . . . .
Please excuse me if I’m slow to get back to blogging. I hope to be fully back next week! xoxo
We have a winner for the name of the Doll God doll! She is to be called MaryGold, named by the mysterious John Janssens. So apropos, considering she was cavorting with marigolds in the photo. Second place is Violet, suggested by the charming Seyi Sandra, who writes the lovely blog Seyi Sandra David: A Writer with a Difference. Third place The other second place is Flavia, a name Mareymercy mentioned. She was so surprised to see the name do so well. She takes some amazing photographs she shares on her blog.
Taking the advice of a blogger who wrote about Goodreads, I have set up a Book Giveaway which begins today and ends on Monday. Of course, as with any new (to me) site, I’m a little unclear as to exactly when today and exactly when Monday. To be on the safe side, I would recommend entering the contest by Sunday! Let me know if you enter and how the experience was for you. And good luck to you!
On another note (and hence the blog title), Monday afternoon hubby and I visited a local no kill animal shelter to deliver the diabetic food and insulin we didn’t use for our oldest cat Mac. With the help of our vet, we went a different path for Mac because of his many medical issues. We are treating him with a different diet instead of insulin. I found a shelter that has a cat named Randy who is diabetic and can use the hundreds of dollars of food and insulin I bought and didn’t use!
By bringing hubby I had a method to my madness. He’s in semi-retirement, which means he still works a lot at home, but doesn’t get out much. He’s also “down” about how business (something he loves and is very talented at) has changed for the worse in so many ways. But he loves cats. When we got inside the shelter, I said, “Do you have a social room for cats here?”
“Sure, it’s right this way. I’ll show you!” She was very eager. Of course, she was. But so was I.
Many of their cats were off at places like PetSmart, looking cute and hopeful, no doubt, from within their glass cubicles. But there were a few left behind. We were greeted at the door by the impressive and friendly tabby known as The Mayor–named for his way of greeting everyone! The room was decorated like a nursery school playroom with fun equipment and toys. A tiny orange kitten sat alone in a big cage, blinking at me and hoping I would take him home (sorry, I can’t add to my cats right now, little buddy). They had a few long shelves with clean towels and blankets and a black and white cat slept behind some of the blankets. We peeked in to see her. She stretched at us. Another cat slept on a cat tree, too exhausted to visit with people who only stopped in for a second.
As we walked to the door, I said, “Do you need volunteers to hang with the cats?”
Yes, they do need those humans. The cats need to be socialized–to hear human voices, smell human smells, and feel human touch. What better people to do that than us? I am dragging hubby (reluctant, but not opposed) to the volunteer orientation in February. Stay tuned.
This is the man who, when we found our first cat, said, “I don’t do cats. Just dogs.” Hahahahaha. Famous last words.
On a related note:
Have you heard about cat cafes? They might have started in Japan, where apartments for young singles typically do not allow pets. People can go to the cat cafe, have a beverage, and play with cats! There seem to be some in the U.S., too, and you can adopt a cat from there, after making sure the two of you are a good match.
Plenty of apartments in Phoenix allow cats, so I doubt one could make a business out of a cat cafe here. But one could certainly make a charity out of it, right? Of course, that sounds like a LOT of work, so I think volunteering at the shelter once or twice a week would be something we could handle right now.