Thursday, November 27, 2014

never ending blessings

I wasn't planning to do a Thanksgiving Day post today, but then I read lots of other kitty blogs sharing their blessings and I got caught up in the gratitude, so I grabbed my camera and took all these photos...

It's been a year of great blessing in the kitty family. I'm most grateful that everyone is still with us! I hope I can say the same next year.

Theo


Still crazy and fixated on his food! This year he has become more affectionate and seeks out more cuddles. We both seem to be liking that just fine! I love Theo Time, our nightly ritual that takes place after I've gone to bed. First Buddy gets his tummy rubs, then Theo hopes up on the bed and climbs on my chest for Theo Time loves. It doesn't take long for the drool to start!

Rose

Every year Rose gets a tiny bit more trusting of humans, I think in another 20 years she might even let us pet her! She's made some good progress this year. She lets us walk by her without jumping away in a panic. She also will occasionally take treats from my fingers. We keep working with her and hope she will someday get to relax with us. 

Buddy


Mr. Tummy Rubs - I'm so grateful he's still with us. His arthritis keeps getting worse and hence his back legs are more unstable. It's hard to see him struggle to jump or be so unsteady. He's still having a good time and lives for his tummy to be rubbed - so, we'll keep caring for him until he tells us he's ready to cross the bridge.

Nahum 


Nahum always makes me smile. He's in love with life - he has a case of infectious happiness! Seeing him be silly and playful brings joy to my heart. He follows me everywhere wanting to play or just be near me. This year, he's really become more cuddly, choosing to hang out in my lap. 

Willow


Every year Willow gets cuter. I don't know how she does it. Her adorable face and soft, luscious white's accented by her soft gray furs just melt my heart. She's always talked with me, but this year she's become quite the talker. She doesn't meow, she makes a unique Willow sound. We often carry on conversations, she's got a lot to say!

Oliver


Oliver! What can I say about this boy?! He continues to capture my heart with his amazingness. He's so clever, affectionate and silly. His complete trust of me brings me joy as does seeing him care for his family. A few of our new rituals are, he greets me at the car when I pull into the drive way. I open the car door and he hops in my lap for some purrs and loves! What a lovely welcome home greeting!

I tell Oliver's story in my basic TNR class and every time I do, I reconnect with my deep seated gratitude for him. I owe my involvement in TNR to him. If he hadn't brought his family to my house, I may have never got hooked into TNR!


As you recently read in a earlier post, he's been spending the nights secured on the back porch. Most nights I go out to lock him in and he comes running up to me on the porch. I love that he doesn't feel negative about being locked on the back porch at night. Having his family join him for the night probably helps!


Oliver got to spend some hangout time with me on the bed this morning. He so loves being inside kitty. When it's time to bring him back outside, he knows what's about to happen, so he rolls on his back to have his tummy rubbed and to make it harder to pick him up! He's super clever.

Pierre


Pierre has come along way in trusting us this year. He spends most of his time on Oliver's back porch or somewhere on our property. I'm so grateful for him feeling safe and secure here. When he's sleeping on the back porch, he no longer flees when we walk through, he just watches us, then returns to sleep.

MK
MK wasn't around when I took today's pictures, this is old picture of him. 
Back in July, MK went missing for a week. Each day that went by without him returning I grew more heartbroken. I thought he was gone forever. When he returned on the 7th day, I was overjoyed and now each time I see him I'm still overjoyed! As I recent'y shared, his using of the special cat door is huge progress this year. He's not as trusting as Pierre, but has made some progress this year. I'm so grateful he's alive and that he's his silly self!

Bert


A catguy couldn't ask for a better foster cat. Bert is such a love. He looks a lot like Rose, just bigger and wears his coat a little more tightly. I'm grateful for Bert's unending love. Soon he will be going to the yearly Holidays adoption event that I participate in - lets all hope he finds his forever home soon!

Max

Even though Max crossed the bridge over five years ago now, he remains very alive in my heart. He gave me the incredible gift of discovering the joy of cats. I never knew cats were so amazing until he showed me it was so. His loving, sweet nature has forever changed me and for that I will be forever grateful.

Yes, it's been a good year, even beyond the kitty family. The humans have experienced many blessings too, which I am tremendously grateful for. My heart overflows with gratitude for all these amazing gifts. A big thank you to all you awesome cats out there on the interwebs!

- - BONUS BLOG POST MATERIAL - Capturing The Willow - A behind the scenes look - - 

Getting amazing photos of Willow might seem like a challenge to get but it's not really. In this case, she was one of the last cats photographed for today's post. She wasn't too happy about being last, and followed me everywhere, waiting for her turn.


I asked her to show her cutes and I provided two props, a fuzzy fleece blanket and a nip-filled fleece fish. She took those items and worked her magic...







Happy Gratitude Day!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Joy!

This morning, as I was lying in bed not wanting to get up, I starting thinking about the outside cats. I thought of how I might try luring MK onto the back porch at night by feeding them Kentucky Fried Chicken or something similar. Cats love that nasty stuff!

Then I thought about how getting two out of the three boys safe for the night was great and might be all I can do, thus I need to accept it as success. Acceptance of such things when it comes to the cats is not easy for me.

After all that thinking, it was time to get out of the warm bed and go feed the outside cats breakfast. I love feeding them breakfast, it brings me such joy! One time a while ago, Laura thought she was being generous and fed them for me as I stayed warm in bed, but I was so disappointed and mad! After working through my feelings I was able to get to see the kindness in her gesture, but she's told me now that she won't make that mistake again! Seeing the family out there, safe and healthy on the back porch starts my day off with a major happy!

Imagine my surprise this morning when I went out to the back porch with their breakfast and I find three boys out there waiting for me! Yes, MK had figured out how to work the SureFlap cat door and let himself in! My dream come true! And he looked happy, not at all stressed! He came right over to me and circled my legs, like Oliver was doing. When I scooped the food into the dish he was calmly and curiously sniffing my fingers.

Seeing MK safe and happy with his family on the back porch brings me such incredible joy! Yea for MK! He so adores Oliver, so now he can come in and visit Oliver any time he wants, day or night!

10:00am -- Update

In honor of MK's big achievement and the delight it brings me, I've declared today official MK Day!

Nov 22, 2014 10:02am
MK and Oliver are enjoying a lazy Saturday morning cuddle on the back porch!

MK hasn't been sticking around much in the days lately, so seeing him here so late in the day is wonderful. My dream would be for Pierre and MK (and Oliver of course) to live here always and never wander off the property. I keep trying to make it more and more attractive to them so they wander less and maybe its working!

The heated bed they are snuggled up in was built for single cat occupancy, but obviously, I underestimated their cuddle needs. So, that needs to be rectified ASAP! A bigger heated bed is being engineered. I want something with a removable canopy/roof type thing, so in the real cold, it will hold some of the heat in.

Happy MK Day!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

SureFlap Microchip Pet Door

At the start of this year I shared with you my challenge of trying to keep Oliver and his family safe during the nights. I had started bringing Oliver in at night or locking him on the back porch so he couldn't fight with the other neighborhood cats in the night. The problem was by doing this, his family couldn't be with him overnight. Pierre and MK both adore Oliver but being ferals, they keep their distance from me. So, I needed a solution that would allow Oliver to be locked away and yet would allow Pierre and MK to visit at their will.

I discovered the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door, which is a programmable pet door. It can selectively allow cats to enter by scanning their microchip as they stick their head near the door. And it has curfew mode, where you can program a time that will allow authorized cats to enter but not leave again until the pre-programmed time. My hope was that this would solve my problem. They are a bit pricey, but after saving all year, guess what I got?!

Introducing the latest bit of technology installed on Oliver's back porch - the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door!


I installed it through the wall, next to the existing, old-school guillotine cat door. I left the existing door because I wanted options and I had the space.


On the outside, I installed a larger shelf so the cats could access both doors and have room to navigate around the flap that would swing out on the SureFlap.


The manufacturer makes a smaller model called the CatFlap, but it doesn't have the curfew mode and it's made for a small to average size cat, which means it wouldn't fit Oliver! They also make what they call a "Dual Scan Cat Door" which is the same size as the CatFlap but has the ability to scan microchips both coming and going, so you can program which cats can enter and which can leave. The Pet Door only allows you to selectively choose which cats can enter. The idea is to keep undesired cats or raccoons from coming into your house. I wish they made the Pet Door but with Dual Scan option, that would be the best choice.


Programming the unit is fairly straight forward. It comes with a large manual, but the bulk of it is the same information presented in multiple languages.

The door's memory can remember up to 32 different microchips, wowza! I think that means I can get more cats! Oliver is already microchipped, but I haven't gotten Pierre or MK chipped yet. Thankfully, the door has the option to function as just a non-discriminating pet door with curfew mode, with this setup any animal can enter at any time but animals can't leave during the programmed curfew time (8:30pm to 6am). I'm still planning to get MK and Pierre chipped so I can use the scanning feature, I just need to gather the gumptions to trap them and get it done.

Installation was fairly easy. The challenge was going to be how to teach feral cats to use a cat door! When the door is closed it has strong magnets that pull the door to the plumb position, so the cats have to push hard enough to overcome that magnetic pull. My regular cat door has a magnetic closer to but this one is way stronger, which is great for making sure the door is in the proper place so the locking mechanisms can function correctly.


I started by taping it open like shown in the picture. This would allow the cats to get used to the feeling of it rubbing their backs as they passed through. Each day I used a bigger piece of tape making the cat push against the door more and more. I also taped a string to the door that went up and over to the other side of the room, this way I could open the door from the mudroom and encourage the cat to try coming through.

Pierre figured out the door the same night and has had no problems pressing his head against it to open it and push through. MK has tried but still hasn't managed to figure it out. After being locked in someone's garage for a week last July he's gets very anxious about being locked away somewhere, so I'm guessing he's figured out that if he goes through the door it will result in him being locked away, which probably curbs his enthusiasm for trying to come in. I haven't seen Oliver use the door yet, so I'm still not sure if he knows how to use it! During the daytime, I just open the old guillotine cat door so everyone can enter and exit at will.

Now, before I go to bed for the night, I'll go out and secure Oliver on the porch. Then it's just a matter of time before Pierre lets himself in, locking him in with Oliver for the night. Pierre has let himself in every night since I have installed the SureFlap! This makes me very happy.


Thus far I am very happy with my SureFlap Microchip Pet Door, it works awesome! It's well built and feels sturdy. It operates on 4-C batteries, which they say will last about 6-months. My complaints are really just nit-picking - I think the instructions could be laid out better in a way that makes it easier to figure out the basic operations and I wish they had the option for using AC power in addition to battery power (like the Pet Feedster I recently reviewed). And as I previously mentioned, I wish they made a Dual Scan version of the Pet Door. I've read that SureFlap provides awesome technical support, but so far, everything has gone perfectly, so I haven't needed to talk with them.


I LOVE coming out in the morning and finding Pierre cuddled in with Oliver. Seeing this every morning has made me feel really good about spending the money to buy the SureFlap Pet Door, it's been totally worth it. I so hope that MK gets comfortable using it too. Maybe soon I'll come out and find all three of my boys safely secured on the back porch for the night.

The fully enclosed back porch currently offers three heated bed options, but with the temperature falling to crazy cold recently, I've started to think it's time to insulate and finish off the back porch so Oliver and his family can truly stay warm in a heated and insulated space. The heating pads do a great job keeping their tummy side warm but their topside gets chilled from the freezing cold air temperature. Hmmm, I think I see my next project calling my name...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

belated blest Sunday

I really wanted to participate in the blest Sunday blog event, but I missed the mark as I was settling back into life at the hobby cattery. Better late than never, so here goes.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few of the blessings I'm tremendously grateful for.

Buddy:


My senior (15+ years) who is starting to have more health issues. I love this guy and his non-stop insistence of having his tummy rubbed. In his mind, there is never an excuse that justifies why his tummy is not being rubbed at a given moment. I'm grateful for each day he continues to be with me.

Willow:


My little Willow is turning into quite the cuddle bug and cuddly cats are the best!! Willow's existence in my life brings my heart great joy everyday.

Safe crossings:


As I walked home from the dentist Tuesday morning, I saw MK dart across the busy street near my house. I hate that the ferals insist on crossing the roads, but I am immensely grateful they have safely crossed these streets for 3+ years now. I hope they have many more years of safe crossings to come.


I wish I could somehow contain MK, Pierre, and Nora and keep them from crossing streets - but they are truly feral, and I live in a city.

Mr. Bert:


With the colder than normal temperatures, Bert has moved! He's now occupying Oliver's room inside the house, yes, inside, like a real inside kitty! 


Bert is passionate about being loved on. He LOVES love. I really get the sense he's aware of the gift he has received at a second chance of being a spoiled inside kitty and he exuberantly expresses his gratitude. He's non-stop wiggling around trying to smash his head into my hand or have his tummy rubbed. All hands must be actively loving on him somehow and he must be smashing his body into the hands that are loving on him. With Bert, love is truly a verb!


For this boy's enthusiasm for giving and receiving love, I am grateful.

Beautiful view:


The list of things I don't like about the Pacific Northwest is vast, however, I am grateful for the pretty view of the Cascade mountains I sometimes get to enjoy from my office window.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Vermont travels

The Vermont portion of my trip has been delightful. I LOVE Vermont, it's such a beautiful state and the simple way of life really speaks to my soul. I so want to move back.

I stayed at the Hotel Coolidge in White River Junction, which dates back to around 1879.

It's a lovely building and the rooms are very unique. It has the slopeiest floors I've ever seen! It was fun, I would certainly recommend it. 

The rooms are simple and perfect for the old hotel.

An original phone in the hallway. I didn't try it to see if it still works!

A neighboring Catholic Church, dated 1897.

This cracks me up - it's a park & ride at 9:30am on a weekday! 
Where I live, the park and rides are overfull!

I love Vermont forests. I stumbled upon this trail and enjoyed every minute of it. The forest bed of dry leaves was delightful. In the Pacific Northwest, we don't have forests of deciduous trees, so the forests are dark due to the greenery and the forests are always wet due to the forever presence of drizzle!

This kitty window ornament was in a store that sold locally made Vermont Artisan products. I think it would have come home with me, but sadly, the store was closed for the day.

After leaving Vermont, I drove on little roads through New Hampshire. This was some lake alone the way. I love the lakes in New England, most of them are undeveloped and just beautiful.

I got to meet Toby in person. He's my brother's latest cat who had to had his eye removed. 
He's a lover boy for sure! It's good he rescued him and gave him a chance at the good life.

My trip is coming to a close. It's been a lovely time away exploring two different parts of the country. I've enjoyed keeping an eye on my kitties while away, but soon I'll get to love on them in person!

Oliver cuddles with one of his sons

The boys' room!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

more vacation

Vacation sure is nice, I need to do this more often!

We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast in Grand Haven, Michigan, called the Boyden House. The house was built in 1872 and has been beautifully restored.



Going to a beach town in the off-season can be a gamble. We won! The weather was warm and windy, but so beautiful! We're not lay on the beach-kind of people, so seeing the empty beach and rough lake was perfect.

No dogs, but cats must be ok! 

I didn't see any cats, except this one.
 
Rough seas!


Nahum waits by the tunnel

Oliver is still looking bored stiff!

Today, our paths diverge - I'm on my way to Vermont while Laura returns home to the kitties! Soon the cats will have their normal routine resume, that makes me happy!