Friday, June 29, 2012

hope and gratitude

As much as I complain about living in the Pacific Northwest, there are two great things about living where I do - I'm only 15 miles (24 km) away from two truly amazing local cat-loving organizations.

The Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project (FCSNP) is a non-profit organization who's mission is "to save the lives of homeless cats by providing access to high volume spay/neuter surgery in a safe and humane environment, collaborating with others and mentoring like-minded organizations to increase spay/neuter in their regions."

Since they started in 1997, they have altered 75,000 cats all by licensed veterinarians! That is a huge number of cats! According to a recent article in a local town paper, The Mukilteo Beacon, approximately 39,000 of those cats were females. From that figure, they estimate that 468,000 kittens were prevented from being born and thus not added to the cat overpopulation crisis. Holy catnip, that's a lot of cats!

Their goal for this year alone is to alter 10,000 cats!! During a typical clinic day, up to 50 cats are altered, including 25 spay surgeries. Many rescue and TNR groups transport their cats up to the FCSNP clinic for alteration. I've heard stories of some groups who pool their resources and drive across the state with a van load of cats to be altered.

Even more amazing about the FCSNP is that free-roaming cats are altered for free! Tame cats are altered on a donation basis. Their funding mainly comes from private donations. How awesome is that?!!

And if that were not amazing enough, they also provide all the information needed on their clinic model to make it easier for other groups to duplicate what they do. Right there on the website, you download their forms and see exactly how they do what they do so you can help start a similar clinic in your area.

The Seattle Channel produced a five minute video on local TNR efforts and the FCSNP.

The other amazing local cat organization is Purrfect Pals, which I've mentioned many times before. They were founded in 1988 and according to their website, "Purrfect Pals finds loving responsible homes for more than 2,000 cats every year, performs more than 2,000 spay and neuter surgeries at our cat hospital, and provides lifetime sanctuary to more than 250 permanent resident cats."

Purrfect Pals has adopted out 30,762 cats since they started in 1988.

Purrfect Pals also offers a free spay and neuter clinic every Thursday for community cats. All my backyard TNR cats (with the exception of Oliver) were altered at Purrfect Pals. You also might remember my write up back in early May about the Average Joe Cat Show, a big fundraiser for Purrfect Pals. They also host the annual Black Cat Ball, an elegant dinner and auction fundraiser.

There is a large network of Purrfect Pals volunteers in the area who foster and help place thousands of adoptable cats each year. They also have creative programs like their Prison Kitty Foster Program, where a select group of inmates in a local state prison foster feral and semi-feral kittens. Socialization and human contact is essential for these young cats to have a chance at being adopted out rather than euthanized in local shelters. A local television station recently produced a heartwarming story on this program:

As I reflect on these local resources, I'm filled with immense gratitude that two such wonderful cat loving organizations are practically in my backyard. For everyone who volunteers with these organizations and for everyone who financially contributes to these groups - thank you, you all are truly awesome. Your gifts of money, time and energy are having a huge positive impact on both the community cats and the pet cats of Washington State. For the many companies, large and small which donate significant amounts of monies to these two groups, I want to support you with my patronage because I share your interest in caring for the community of cats of Washington State.

Are there amazing cat-oriented organizations where you are? I would love to hear about them!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

on finding the perfect napping spot

Rose shares her secret for finding the perfect napping spot.

I never seek out a sunny spot...

I always choose the perfect location first...

and then let the sun come to me.

The sun is attracted to cutes you know.

And I've got wicked cutes.

Enough talk, time for nap.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

what feral cats do when no one's looking

One of the many things I love about cats is their simple silliness. The feral-cam recently caught one of these silly moments as MK decided to play dress-up on the back porch!

Notice on the bottom left of this picture, there is a dish towel hanging on the exercise machine.

 MK decides to wear the towel...

Towel in place, it's time to show off!

It's not only high fashion it's a toy too!

So, Oliver, tell me the honest truth...

does this towel make my butt look big?

 Here's a short video of this moment.

MK always makes me laugh - such a silly and delightful cat! Oliver really enjoys him and I can see why.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Early Tuesday evening I looked out the window and saw three black cats hanging out in the yard. Nothing new here, this is a common scene. Since there was still some light, I decided to snap a few photos. I've been wondering for a long time if there are more than four cats in Oliver's family, perhaps there are like 25 black cats that all look the same and they have an agreement to only come in pairs so as not to blow their cover!

Anyway, as I was looking through the photos, I once again ran across a cat whose ear doesn't look like the others. So, again I ask you: Is this cat's ear tipped? The lighting was not great, so the picture is a little fuzzy.

A close up of the cat.

A close up of the ear.

It looks UN-tipped to me, as I see a rim of black around the left ear just like on the right ear.

Now, it's your turn to tell me what you think by voting.

Tipped or not tipped?

You might remember that back in April I asked the same question from a picture I had taken of a cat on the back porch. Here is that picture side by side with this new one. Is this the same cat? They look different to me.

April 2012
June 2012

MK's ear is certainly tipped.

This cat's ear looks tipped.

Oliver's ear is not tipped due to him being more of a friendly pet than a feral. 

With at least four black cats that all look very similar, I'm trying to figure out how I would trap the one in question to investigate further. Meanwhile, I'll keep an eye out for this one to see if I can get some clearer pictures that might solve this mystery.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

urban wildlife

It was only a matter of time before the undesired wildlife discovered the outdoor cat food. This past week I learned that two different wild critters have been coming and stealing the cats' food.

First, on Tuesday night I recorded the overnight back porch happenings. Later reviewing the recordings, I learned that a raccoon entered the back porch several times throughout early Wednesday morning and helped itself to the feral's food.

Oliver watches the raccoon eat his dinner

Later the raccoon comes back for seconds

A few days later, I happen to look out the window at the right time and saw the raccoon cross the street and make it's way to the Dining Hall for dinner. I tried to frighten it away with a water pistol but it just ignored it! I tried throwing a small rock at it and no result. So, I pulled up the food. As soon as I went back inside, it came right back looking for the food, not finding any, it went right to the back porch. It then gave up and moved on. I'm sure it will return on it's way back through.

Watching the raccoon through the back door was informative. That sucker was huge! I'm actually wondering if there might be more than one that comes around because the one that I saw looked a lot bigger than the ones in the above feral-cam pictures.

Come Thursday morning, I happen to glance out the window and I see Oliver and MK hanging out in their yard. Suddenly, my eye is drawn to a large white critter ambling across the yard. It was an opossum!

Oliver hanging out with the opossum

beady eyed, nasty looking bugger

MK doing his best "walk like an opossum" impression

This might be the first opossum that I have ever seen that's actually alive. Usually, I see them in the form of roadkill. Even though they are ugly, I prefer them alive, but in someone else's yard!

I'm not interested in feeding all these other critters, nor do I want to be the neighbor who is attracting all the undesirable urban wildlife. So, that means it's time to make some changes to the outdoor operations of the fourwhitepaws hobby cattery. My friend Nancy has inspired me with some ideas for outdoor raccoon-proof feeders. Inspiration + weekend = stay tuned!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

feral happenings

There has been much to do here at the fourwhitepaws hobby cattery this week.

First, a moment of delightful harmony on the back porch.

The new brown tabby is sleeping on the lower left and Oliver and MK are snuggled up together in Oliver's loft-bed (upper right). They all slept like this for over an hour! Seeing them all share the same room without any fighting was a splendid sight. Maybe they can be friends after all.

Much of the excitement this week centered around experiencing my third round of backyard TNR. The more I do this, the less anxiety I experience about it.

On Wednesday, I planned to trap the new brown tabby. So, I set up the both the drop trap and the regular trap in the side yard and then moved the feral-cam outside so I could keep an eye on the traps from the comfort of my couch. This setup also allowed me to record the trapping process on video.

It didn't take long at all before he wandered into the trap and I was faced with that heart pounding moment of needing to pull the cord to activate the trap. That one little moment feels like it goes on forever. In the video you will notice that I wait a long time before pulling that cord, I'm not trying to prolong the tension, I pause because his tail was too close to the edge of the trap. With the trap being made of wood, it's pretty heavy and I didn't want to risk it landing on his tail and freaking him out even more.

All is well in the video until I concentrate on transferring the cat from the drop trap to the carrier trap, because at that point I forgot about the camera. Why is this relevant you ask? Well, you'll know why soon enough. Had I been thinking, I would have stood on the opposite side of the camera and saved everyone from an unpleasant view! Live and learn.

The brown tabby spent the night in the basement awaiting early morning transport to the spay/neuter clinic for his operation. He seemed very calm in the trap, which makes me wonder if he's had some human contact in the past. Maybe he's more of a stray than a feral, but I'm not going to risk opening the trap to see if he's friendly, I'll leave that to the people at the clinic who know how to handle such things.

At the TNR class I attended several months ago, I remember the facilitators urging us to resist looking at the cat in the trap and to especially avoid making eye contact, but there's no way I could resist such things! This guy is such a beauty. I get so lost in his eyes, which are the most beautiful brilliant gold I have ever seen.

post-surgery recovery

The clinic staff estimated that he's around 2 years old, is in great health and is 12.3 pounds of muscle! He's a big boy! The staff said he was more feral than tame, which is a bummer. After he returned from his surgery, I felt compelled to transfer him to more civilized accommodations so he could be more comfortable, so I moved him to the larger wire crate, that way he could have a litter box, a blanket and a food bowl. He happily snarfed his food and used the litter box several times.

As I was tending to him, I realized that the time has come for me to build me some recovery pens for ferals. At first with just Oliver, I thought the trapping thing might be a one and done, but now I'm seeing that there will be plenty of TNR opportunities just from the cats that show up in my yard. My mind is already working on my ideas for these recovery/holding pens.

Laura helped me release him the afternoon after his surgery. He trotted away at a fast walk. After releasing them, I always fear that they will have been so traumatized that they will never return. Three hours later, I saw him watching from down the alley, he'll be back! Hopefully, now that he's fixed, he and Oliver can become fast friends!


If he sticks around, which I'm guessing he will, then he's going to need an official name. My mind is already working on it and as always, I would love to hear your ideas.

Thanks to Nancy for all the coaching and encouragement, a big thanks to Sue for transporting him to and from the clinic and a huge thanks to all the wonderful staff and volunteers at Purrfect Pals who host these weekly spay/neuter clinics!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Buddy's first Gotcha Day!!

Today is Buddy's FIRST Gotcha Day!!! One year ago today he came into my life. Gosh, where does the time go?!

I've heard it said that the way to a man's heart is through the stomach. Well, this was Buddy's approach to getting out of the shelter and it worked! His soft tummy furs were irresistible!

First contact at the shelter.

Second contact.

When we visited the shelter one year ago today we had no intention of growing our family. And then we met Buddy. A few hours later he was coming home with us!

Buddy loves his porch time!

Loving on Buddy means endless tummy rubs! 

Photo: Laura

13 years old and going strong. It's been a delight having Buddy in my life for the last year. He's our must snuggly inside cat and he's very set in his ways! He tells me when he wants more food and when it's time for bed. If he thinks I'm not listening he'll intensify his campaign. And of course he's always asking for his tummy to be rubbed!

I look forward to the second year of delightful Buddy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Hmmm... Another lump under the blanket.

Who could it be? It must be Theo again.


It's Nahum!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012


It's good to be home! I'm thankful for a wonderful trip. The kitties are all happy we're home. Nahum, Oliver and Buddy have been especially clingy, with lots of laptime and snuggles, which I love!

Mr. Oliver is hanging out with me on the bed at the moment (the door's closed to keep the others from disturbing his peace). He sooo loves being inside. He's konked out on the LL Bean fleece cat bed. Occasionally he rolls over wanting his belly rubbed. So sweet! I love that he feels safe and secure with me.

A few notes about the trip. We were just north of Denver when my phone rang. My friend asked if I wanted to take Marble with us. I was torn. I knew we couldn't take in anymore cats and yet the image of Marble's sorrowful and bored gaze burned fresh in my mind. It seems the love and attention I gave him only made him want more, so he started to get more vocal. This guy deserves a home where he will be adored. I somehow mustered the courage to say no and I offered to help him find an new home once I returned home.

Marble soaking up the attention

The last trip I took to the midwest a few years ago yielded me another cat, Theo. I was very aware of this fact when I declined the offer to bring Marble back. I realized I was on the cusp of setting a dangerous precedent. No new cats!

On the drive home, we decided to route our trip through Yellowstone National Park and then as we got closer we decided to stay the night in the park. We saw tons of buffalo, antelope, a big bear and lots of amazing geological features. What a gloriously beautiful park!

A buffalo and calf enjoying breakfast munchies

The best part about leaving for a trip is the coming home. I can tell that the kitties all missed us, I know I certainly missed them! I spent many hours watching them on the kitty cams from afar.

Willow, as lovely as ever

Nahum keeps demanding to be in my lap

Not sure Rose missed us, but maybe!

Oliver enjoys "welcome home" cuddles

I was most concerned about leaving Oliver, since he doesn't let any other humans get near him. I feared he would think I abandoned him. As the two weeks went on, I saw less and less of Oliver on the back porch feral-cam while I saw more and more of the new tabby.

Oliver was at the house when we arrived home and he was the first to greet me. He purred and purred as I loved on him, he's such a delight! No doubt he missed me. I'm so thankful to see that he's ok, although he does have a small wound on his ear, perhaps from a fight.

Yesterday, I was home most of the day and after a short time of morning snuggles with Oliver, he disappeared for the day. I'm guessing while I was away, Oliver spent most of his days with his family, wherever they hang out. I'm hoping that now that I'm back, he again will call my home his home.

While I worked hard to not bring home any more cats, it seems we still gained a new cat with this trip. The brown medium hair tabby has decided to occupy Oliver's back porch and yard.

Hi! I'm new here, I really like it here, can I stay?

It's not clear to me the relationship between this new guy and Oliver and The Family. Thursday night, as I sat on the back steps with Oliver curled in my lap purring away, the new tabby walked by. He seemed spooked by me and Oliver paid him no attention.

Later the tabby was having some dinners on the back porch and Oliver sat on the steps growling at him and eventually chased him away. And again last night, I saw Oliver chase him away.

And then this morning, the feral-cam shows this:

Oliver's settling into his bed while the new tabby is on the floor

Less than an hour later, when Oliver is inside snuggling with me:

 the tabby comes back and once again explores the back porch

The brown tabby seems insistent on sticking around even though Oliver has tried to run him off. So, even though I resisted bringing home another cat, it seems another cat has decided to call my home his home. I'll try to trap him this week so I can learn more about him. Meanwhile, I hope Oliver, The Family, and him become fast friends.