Tuesday, January 31, 2012

paws quiz

It's quiz time. How well do you know the fourwhitepaws cats?  Well, we're about to find out! Match the paws to the correct cat in the photos below then check your answers at the bottom of the post when you're done.

Whose paws are these?
Whose paws are these?
Ok, how about these paws, who do they belong to?
And whose paws are these?
What about these precious paws?
Almost done, recognize these paws? Whose are they?
And last but not least, whose paws are these?

Ok, ready to check to see how you did? No cheating, no changing your answers!

The answers:

Monday, January 30, 2012

new challenge

Oliver is the sweetest cat. We had a sunny day recently, so I spent quite a bit of time with him outside on the back porch.

He adores affection, he soaks it up with great gusto. When I walk in the yard, he runs over to me, expecting to be picked up. If I don't stop and love on him, he tries to herd me to him by darting in front of my feet so I have to stop or change directions. Being held, hanging out in my lap, nose bops, head butts... and then there are the never ending purrs... He loves it all. He's still a bit on edge and can be spooked by a loud noise in the yard, but I'm guessing that's just part of life for an outdoor cat, always watching out that they don't get eaten by some predator.

No question that Oliver has really worked his way into my heart, I love him dearly. 

Taking care of all the outside kitties has really given me opportunities to be challenged in difficult areas of my life. I have experienced personal growth and feel once again that I am facing a new opportunity to grow.

Each day that goes my Oliver gets less and less content being an outside kitty, he so much wants to come inside and experience the 24 hours comforts of inside living. When I come in the back door, he tries to rush the door. I have had to cover up my upstairs windows because he climbs up on the roof, parks outside the second story windows and watches us while crying. This drives Buddy insane and he becomes violent trying to tear through the window.

I wish I could invite Oliver inside to join the clan of inside kitties, however, Buddy seems to be sworn enemies with Oliver. It seems even the slightest thought of Oliver gets Buddy going all out. The other problem is the emerging whiz-wars. Oliver likes to mark his space with a little dab of spray. Buddy now follows suit.

Oliver keeps trying to find new ways to get inside. His latest stunt involves high jumping onto the small window ledge of the first floor window. He parks there and watches us through the window while crying loudly. He prefers to do this at night. Again, Buddy goes ballistic trying to get at the intruder kitty. Anyone near Buddy gets the brunt of his redirected rage.

Theo visiting with Oliver through the window.

Something needs to change. When summer comes, I'll need to open the windows and with the current situation, that won't work. I'm not inclined to board up my windows nor put heavy bars on them. I've read somewhere that Prozac can help a kitty not get so worked up when they see foreign cats in their yard. Maybe it might reduce aggression toward meeting a new cat. I'm not overly fond of the idea of drugging Buddy with psychotropic meds.

What? We're just visiting. I just learned there's a new hot tabby in town...

Another option is to try to find Oliver a forever home, and I'm wondering if this is the next challenge I must face. I've always marveled at people who can foster cats - to attach to them and then be able to let go. I tend to get over attached and then never want to let go. 

I've started the conversation with my rescue connection, Nancy, about possibly finding Oliver a forever home. She thinks it could happen, so now I must truly consider what it will take for me to give him up. In my mind I think this would be the best option, for him to find a forever home where he can be the only cat and rule the house. He also needs a lot of human attention, and having five cats already, I barely have enough time to give each one the love, play and attention they desire. Even though my head knows this is probably best for everyone, my heart bucks at the idea as giving him up, kind of feels like giving up a piece of my heart. 

Oliver's positive relationship with his family also gives me reason to pause when considering relocating him. He really enjoys hanging out and playing with his family and his family seems to enjoy him. I'm sure they would manage without him and he could settle into a new human family just fine but I still think about such things.

I still have some time to figure something out. If anyone has any ideas of how to help Buddy and Oliver become friends, I would love to hear them.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

TNR class

It's been an action packed weekend and I've only experienced one day of it so far!

I got out of bed early on Saturday because I wanted to be sure to release the feral cats in the cover of darkness. I figured they usually only come around in darkness so they would probably be more comfortable leaving in the dark.

The releasing went without any problems. Oliver was there to see them off. As I saw the last one dart out of the yard, I wondered if I would ever see them again, I sure hope so.

In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend a TNR class facilitated by The Community Cat Task Force which was formed as a coalition of several local rescue groups. The class covered all the basics of what needs to be considered before engaging in TNR. The handouts alone are worth gold. Here are a few of the many things I learned:

  • Don't make eye contact with the feral cat. I have read before that eye contact with cats can increase their level of anxiety. I know this to be true with Rose, she gets scared and sometimes runs away when she sees a human looking at her, it's very sad. Buddy, on the other hand loves eye contact and can't get enough of it. Anyway, I can totally see how eye contact would freak out ferals. When I heard this at the class, I felt sad for Oliver's family, because I made eye contact with all of them! I couldn't resist seeing how beautiful they are up close.
  • Always secure the trap doors with something (bungie, carabiner, zip tie, etc.) when traps are occupied and in transit. Apparently there are stories of ferals escaping from their traps while being transported. Can you imagine, a freaked out feral cat loose in your car while you are driving - yikes! That's not something I ever want to experience.
  • Have more traps than cats you plan to trap, especially with black cats, who may all look the same. I can testify to this. Had I not been watching carefully, I most likely would have caught the Crooked Tail Kitty in a trap, which may not have been a bad thing, but it would have meant not having enough traps for all of Oliver's family.
  • Always use a trap divider when opening occupied traps to replenish food and water or to change out bedding. I was very thankful I had purchased one of these tools when I got my trap, at the time it seemed like a necessary tool and that certainly proved true. 
Marianne demonstrates the proper use of the trap divider. Come in 
from the side and make sure you go out the other side, otherwise 
the divider won't stop the cat, just slow it down as it escapes.
  • Always keeps the traps covered. I learned this important part when trapping squirrels and birds in college. Wild animals calm quickly when covered. At the class, I learned that making a trap cover out of vinyl is easy - a better option than my clunky rain-sheds!

Marianne demonstrates how homemade vinyl trap covers can be used.
  • When you are trapping lots and lots of cats over time, it appear inevitable that a few will figure out how to escape their traps. The seasoned TNR'er doesn't get discouraged, but refocuses and tries again to re-trap the wily kitty. If I ever experience a cat getting away, I bet I'll be pretty freaked out. Hopefully this doesn't come to pass for me.
  • I learned that my heart still has the capacity to love dogs. How did I learn this in a TNR class, you ask? Bayley, the Welsh Springer Spaniel (on the bottom left of the photos above) was with us at the class. She is the she sweetest dog, she has such a gentle presence and these amazing soulful eyes. Several time she would quietly come and sit in front of me, all the while gazing at me with her enchanting eyes. If that wasn't enough to get my hand petting on her, she would softly place her paw up on my foot or leg. I wanted to take her home with me! I haven't felt that way about dogs in years.
  • Always have your well stocked cat trapping kit with you when in the field. Each of us students were given a wonderful laminated list of necessary items for these kits. And we were even given a bunch of these items to start our own kits, including one of the most important items, chocolate for the trapper! When it comes to something like TNR, I'm a big planner. I need to have a well thought out plan in advance of whatever I am doing as it greatly reduces my anxiety. Having a well stocked kit would be a significant part of that plan.
I'm interested in this whole TNR thing. It seems like such a really good thing for the community cats. I'm considering how I might get more involved. I like that TNR can involve lots of people assisting in the process - one person may trap, another transport and another do the recovery part. I think I would like to start by assisting some people as they plan, trap, transport, recover and release - to see how they do it. I need some hands on experience in the field and I need to learn how not to get so emotionally attached to the cats where I compromise my boundaries while also somehow keeping my heart open to their plight.

Thanks to Jenny (and Bayley) from Pasado's Safe Haven for hosting and Ruth, Nancy and Marianne for teaching a helpful class and being very generous with giving us lots of bonus goodies.

Meanwhile, in the late afternoon, back at home, I went out before dusk and stocked up the food bowls in the Dining Hall with wet and dry for Oliver and his family. I was guessing that his family wouldn't be back for awhile, but just in case they felt safe enough to return, I wanted them to have as much food as they wanted.

Imagine my delight when later in the evening I saw one of the ferals out there chomping away! I was thrilled that it was back. It got spooked when it glanced over at me and noticed me watching it through the window. Later I saw another one out there eating too, it may have been the same one, it's hard to tell. I certainly slept better last night knowing that at least one of them still trusts me enough to come eat my food.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

armload of love

 Buddy                                        Photo: Laura

Theo                                            Photo: Laura

A quick update on Oliver's family. They are back resting in their traps in the basement. They are all quite freaked out about everything, which considering everything they have been through is quite understandable.

The vet, by evaluating the wear of their teeth, thinks they are all around 1½ to 2 years old. Two males and one female. So, now I'm all confused as to how they are related to Oliver. They all look the same, I suppose Oliver could still be their papa. From what Sue said, the cat I called Mama Kitty is really a boy kitty! Yikes! I apologized to him but I don't think he was interesting in hearing anything I had to say. I'm still wanting to verify with my own eyes who is the female out of the lot (by looking to see which one is shaved for the spay) and Sue wasn't quite sure who was who in the end.

The female had to have some baby teeth extracted. They all got their vaccines, flea treatment and everyone appeared to be in overall good health.

Sue confirmed that all three cats are definitely feral and wanted nothing to do with any human. At least now I have confirmation that I didn't snatch up someone's family of black house-cats!

Thanks everyone for the encouraging comments, it was delightful to read your reassuring words throughout the day as I worried about how the ferals were doing. I still feel thrilled at how the trapping endeavor went down - it was a crazy adrenalin rush. It has been a long day, I'm exhausted and after trying to change the bedding in the traps and seeing how freaked out the ferals are, I'm trying to remind myself of the positive long-term outcome of all their suffering. There are three less fertile cats in my neighborhood, which is a very good thing.

Sue thought maybe the kittens I saw awhile back are still out there! Maybe there are more TNR adventures yet to be had for me. Something to look forward to.

Someone asked who the Crooked Tail Kitty is. Crooked Tail kitty is one of the roaming neighborhood cats. I think he might actually have a home because he is never that interested in the food. He checks out what is being served but never eats much of it. He got his name because he has a kink in his tail.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TNR: notes from the field

6:55am - fed outside cats light breakfast. note: Mama Kitty in middle of yard watching me, something she has not done before, appears to indicate she is trusting me more, a good sign.

7:07am - play "chase the red dot" (laser pointer) with Oliver and Mama Kitty through window. note: this is the first time Mama Kitty felt comfortable enough to play with red dot.

8:30am - breakfast with friend. discuss plan to trap ferals and accompanying anxiety. thankful to receive compassion and care from friend rather than "you're a crazy cat guy" look.

12:05pm - attend therapy appointment. focus on reducing intense anxiety related to trapping Oliver's family. session is helpful.

1:35pm - final preparation for trapping. materials and supplies gathered. plan finalized.

1:46pm - feed Oliver large late lunch, give him lots of loves, hoping he sleeps late and is not hungry come trapping time.

4:45pm - darkness falling. traps baited, set. ready for action. anxiety rising.

5:11pm - darkness fallen, watching, listening, waiting. trying to remember to breathe. visibility difficult with darkness.

5:21pm - Oliver continues to sleep his his home.

5:43pm - movement detected in the yard. turns out to be Crooked Tail Kitty. scared him off as he's not part of the plan.

5:46pm - looking for black cats in the dark is not easy.

5:51pm - backup has arrived, Laura arrives home from work, nerves settle a bit

6:07pm - weather forecast was calling for 70% chance of rain right now. thankful it remains dry.

6:15pm - first glass of wine is served, yea for backup!

6:24pm - first kitten spotted. goes over and enters Tomahawk trap, triggers trap. quickly cover ends of trap with blanket and relocate trap to basement. kitten thrashing around in trap more than I would like, hope it's ok. note: sprinkles now falling from sky.

6:28pm - Mama Kitty and second kitten appear in yard. kitten goes into trap under planter, triggers trap. Mama Kitty stays by trapped kitten, trying to get to kitten. trapped kitten calmly eats the sardine bait.

6:28pm - text Laura requesting immediate backup.

6:29pm - Mama Kitty checks out last remaining trap, enters, triggers trap. grab towels to cover traps and run out with Laura to cover and transport traps to basement.

6:30pm - Oliver's family all secure in their covered traps in basement awaiting transport to clinic in morning.

6:31pm - Oliver appears in yard to see what all the commotion is about.

6:31pm - anxiety level back to baseline. mission accomplished.

6:59pm - celebratory pizza ordered, second glass of wine poured.

I'm so thankful to have caught Mama Kitty and both kittens!! Everything worked so perfectly with little trauma for everyone. Thank you everyone for your positive thoughts and energy. Thank you Nancy and Sue for answering my hundreds of questions.

Now, I'm eager to find out the genders of the kittens. Tomorrow morning comes delivering the cats to Sue for transport to Purrfect Pals. Then at the of the day, I get them back, so they can rest for 24 hours before being let free. The hard part for me is over. The hard part for the ferals remains.

Willow Wednesday

Willow enjoying her favorite wool ball.

I can never have too many pictures of my Willow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

tuesday tussle

Nahum and Theo battling it out.
The stare down...

the take down...

Theo tries to get Nahum in a headlock...

blows are exchanged...

Nahum fast with his tooths while Theo chooses to use his paws of death...

Nahum takes a paw to the head.

Good times and thankfully no blood was shed!

Monday, January 23, 2012

a year of Oliver!

It was a year ago today that I took my first picture of Oliver. I don't remember how long prior to this picture that he'd been around. Initially, I had assumed he was one of the many neighborhood pet cats who roam through our yard. In time it became clear that Oliver had no home.
Jan 23, 2011

 Feb 9, 2011

Aug 15, 2011

Aug 22, 2011
Seeing Oliver curled up under the bench during a
summer rain inspired me to build him a shelter. 

Aug 26, 2011

 Notice how thin he is looking.              Aug 30, 2011

Sept 6, 2011
Oliver, with a full tummy, appreciates breakfast in his Dining Hall.

Sept 18, 2011

Oct 16, 2011

 Oliver melts into my lap.                  Oct 20, 2011

Nov 8, 2011

Both of us enjoy a game of feather toy.     Nov 28, 2011 
 Playing string in the yard.           Dec 23, 2011
Dec 30, 2011

 Oliver explores the kitchen!          Jan 7, 2012

 Oliver shares his home and food with his family!  Jan 12, 2012
I'm hopeful the second year of Oliver has many more blessings to offer for all of us! Maybe it will be the year Oliver finds his inside forever home. Oliver is such a sweet loving cat. He's playful, silly and a complete love bug. He certainly made his way into my heart and seems quite comfortable there!