Thankfully I don't usually see many cats roaming around the downtown business district of the city where I work. Although occasionally it does happen.
When time and weather permit, I take a nice hour long walk down to the beach and back. The walking path is sandwiched between a busy shipping port terminal with a tall chain link fence and railroad tracks so it's not the most scenic path but it works.
Urban cat graffiti (you might need to bigify to really see)
Every summer for the past few years the city installs about a half dozen pianos on the sidewalks around the city. They are meant to be available for the public to play as they desire. The pianos are always painted up and decorated in various odd ways. This one is a cat, complete with whiskers.
I've seen this cat up on the roof numerous times. It likes to hang out up on the roof of the house (on the right) and bat at the pigeons who roost inside the roof. It waits in ambush just waiting for the pigeon to appear from the tattered roof and tries to swat them.
The new raccoon-proof feeder is working great. Although I don't think the raccoons share my joy with how well it's working. A gang of black-masked marauding coons paid me a visit early this morning and trashed Oliver's porch to protest the new feeder.
The secured plastic bin of cat food which has a rubber seal and two latches was moved to the middle of the room and it's lid torn off. The water bowl had been tipped over and dirt was everywhere. The cats are always respectful of their shared space and would never do such a horribly rude thing. To be sure I wasn't making false accusations, I had to review the surveillance photos.
Sure enough, three of them - a full raccoon raiding party. Their black masks are a dead giveaway that they were on a thieving mission.
The one on the far left went right for the food bin while the others work their mischief.
This was obviously a well planned out raid.
Their intent is clear, these coons were not interested in peaceful exploration, they were bent on destruction and anarchy.
They must not have planned well for the latches as it took some time to open the bin.
After the raiding party is long gone, MK surveys the mess
Thank you everyone for your positive encouragement about my involvement in TNR, so far I love the work, it's very rewarding.
I didn't get much sleep this weekend, spent most of the weekend working on this project. I'll write up the whole adventure with pictures later in the week (after I catch up on sleep)! Right now I feel like I'm gonna just drop. Poor Oliver, he didn't get any of my time over the last four days, I have vowed to wake up early on Monday so I have some time with him.
Some preliminary numbers: 15 cats taken from the site today (Sunday) were spayed/neutered. 3 of those were boys, 11 were girls and 1 was a geriatric boy (pet) who was already neutered. Out of those females, 3 were pregnant, 2 were 5-weeks along with five kittens each and 1 was 1-2 weeks along. We still have one mom that needs trapping and we learned of some more kittens that need to be altered.
True confession time: I've been holding secrets from you all. But no more.
First: I've been heavily involved in a big TNR project. A number of weeks ago I took on the project coordinator position for a collaborative trapping endeavor. The project opportunity was brought to the attention of the Community Cat Coalition, in which I am a member, and I just could not resist! The site is less than a mile from my house, so it's practically backyard TNR!
The project site is a city block of densely packed homes. Originally there were thought to be 14 kittens and a handful of unaltered adult cats. As the project has unfolded the scope has increased and more litters of kittens have been identified. The ages of the litters vary from 5 days to much older. Thus far 7 kittens have already been removed thanks to one of the cooperative residents. Five of those seven are adorable Siamese kittens!! Most of the kittens removed will hopefully be tamed and adopted out.
Some of the residents on the block has shared their desire to work at taming some of the yet to be trapped kittens. Hopefully when we are done the population will be thinned a bit by people adopting them and taking them inside! Yea! Even with those off the street, there will still be plenty of cats left roaming the neighborhood.
I have 20 reservations for the spay/neuter clinic on Saturday and 3 more for Monday. Hopefully we meet or exceed those numbers. Most of the kittens that were trapped early have already been altered.
So far this has been a great project. There are some residents on site who have a big heart for taking care of the community cats, so that makes things a lot easier for everyone, especially the cats! Everyone else I've talked to on the block and surrounding houses have also been friendly and sympathetic to what we are doing. Part of the TNR work we do involves educating the public about TNR. So many local residents I have been talking with knew there was an overpopulation problem with feral cats and yet they didn't know what to do about it - that's where we come in! Hopefully word will continue to get out that there are many of us here locally with the knowledge, equipment and desire to make a difference for the community cats.
Second: Along with working on the big TNR project, I've also been assisting another Coalition member on her big TNR project. Last I heard, 22 cats were trapped and altered from this site! There are still several more litters of kittens on the site, but the hoarder folks who own the property refused to allow us on their land, so getting access to those kittens is a challenge. We'll keep working on it.
Third: I was walking to work last week when I saw a "lost cat" poster. I called the lady and offered to assist. I loaned her some traps and got her set up. It was over two weeks from when her cat went missing that someone saw her poster and her cat! I'm thrilled that she has her cat back. This was my second time helping someone find their lost cat and I think there will be many more, it's very rewarding!
Fourth: I have been working on developing a new website and blog (backyardTNR.com). The focus of this new site is my backyard TNR efforts with Oliver, his family and the other cats that come through as well as my other TNR work in the community. This new site/blog will not replace fourwhitepaws, it will supplement it. As I get more involved in the TNR community, I'll be writing all about my adventures on the new blog. I'll also occasionally mention some of those TNR adventures on fourwhitepaws.
On the BackyardTNR.com blog, I have already started to write about my recent TNR projects including the big one that is going down this weekend.
I am hoping BackyardTNR.com will be a source of information for the global community about TNR both in terms of how it works and what it takes for someone to get involved. I'll keep adding more information to the site over time.
One exciting feature on BackyardTNR.com that I am very excited about are the live video feral cams!! Right now I only have one active, but soon there will be more. So now, you too can keep an eye on the feral cats in my backyard! The camera that is currently up and running is in the feral feeder.
MK and sibling have some dinners
Brown kitty enjoying some dinners
Hopefully my network doesn't get overloaded with everyone viewing the cameras. Don't be surprised if there are technical difficulties as the bugs get worked out of the system. And since the site is still being developed, it will continue to be tweaked over time.
Here is the LIVE stream for the feral feeder, which you can find at BackyardTNR.com:
Thank you everyone for helping me celebrate Mr. Oliver!! I spoiled him all day with all sorts of fun celebratory things. He enjoyed some nip, a full can of stinky goodness and about four hundred tummy rubs! He must have partied pretty hard last night with his friends and family, because he came home naked! I've looked all around the yard for his collar and it's no-where to be found!
Meanwhile, I'm trying out a new way of being around Ms. Rose and even though it's only been about a week now, the results are looking promising. I've decided to avoid eye contact with her at all costs. I'm trying not to look at her, which is difficult because she's so cute!
This idea came to me as I was recently working with a terrified young female feral cat. This cat was more on the timid side than fierce, which reminded me of Rose. There was one point where I was looking into her eyes and she was staring back at me with an expression of pure terror as she peaked over the blanket at me. I realized in that moment, that she was telling me, "You're 20 times my size, I'm trapped in this cage. I know I won't stand a chance against you if you decide you're going to eat me. Please sir, don't eat me!"
After that experience I remembered that I've seen Rose give me that look too, like she thought I might eat her for a snack. So, I wondered if I didn't look at her maybe she would be less anxious. So far it's a huge success! As a result of this new approach, she allows me to walk by her now without darting away in terror.
There have been times recently when she was laying on the floor and I was able to walk within 6 inches of her and she didn't budge! That would never have happened before as she's always insisted on having at least a 5 foot buffer between her and any human at all times.
With this much progress after only a week, I'm eager to see what kind of change occurs over a few months. She's such a sweet cat, I would love to have a more active, hands on relationship with her. I'll keep you posted!
Guess what today is? It's Mr. Oliver's 1-year gotcha day!!!! One year ago today he started making his way into my heart. Before he told me his name, I called him BK for Black Kitty.
On this day last year I saw Mr. Oliver, sleeping under the cover of a bench and tree to stay dry from the rain. Knowing he was homeless and seeing him there stirred my heart to take action. I realized I probably couldn't bring Oliver inside my house so I needed to find another solution.
Nine days after that his original house was converted to a guest house and I built him a larger fully insulated house just for him. He took to living in his house right away. He had to wait until mid November to get the heat installed, poor guy. His big house sits right in front of the bench swing I saw him sleeping under.
Guest house is on left, big house on right
It took a long time before Oliver was willing to stay in the yard when I came out. Over time the distance he would create between us kept decreasing. Forever etched in my brain is the memory of the first day that Oliver climbed into my lap and melted into a puddle of purrs. It was October 20, 2011. This boy was so hungry for human touch.
non-stop loves and purrs
At the end of December he finally told be his name was Oliver!
It didn't take long for him to invite his family over to share his wealth.
Dining Hall filled to capacity
Oliver takes the roof and gives his family the house
In February 2012, he got his first chance to walk inside the house and explore!
In March 2012, I built him his special loft on the back porch, which he immediately took possession of.
Sometime over the summer of 2012 Oliver talked me into having a daily morning snuggle time on the human bed. He meets me at the door, I carry him inside and we have our morning snuggle time.
Oliver is an extremely affectionate cat, probably even more affectionate than the indoors cats. He loves to play and to be close. If it wasn't for his insistence on urine marking his possessions, he would certainly be an inside cat.
Today it's time to celebrate Mr. Oliver's 1 year of gotchadom!!!
To mark this special occasion today, Mr. Oliver gets his official collar and tag to tell the world that he has been gotcha'ed!!!!!!
I got proof! I'm not homeless cat anymore!!
He proudly wears his new collar, however he's not a big fan of the hanging tag, so I'll be looking for the tags that go around the collar rather than hang.
My house is over a hundred years old and is cheaply constructed. This means running ethernet wire (cat 5e) through the walls is posing to be quite the challenge. And since the garage is detached, I'm having to bury conduit in the ground to get the network over to the feral feeder for a future camera.
Having an older, cheap house means finding a lot of previous work that is sub-standard. The electrical service to the garage comprised of a wire running just a few inches under the ground from the house. There was no conduit or anything, just wire. Yikes! So, since I was digging things up anyway, I figured this would be a good time to run some extra PVC conduit to run the electrical service through.
Of course while I was doing all that hard labor, Oliver was supervising from a safe distance.
Although, every so often, he made his way over for a closer inspection of my work.
Digging the trench was actually the easiest part of this project. The next part was the part I was looking forward to the least. The conduit would go under the back porch, which means crawling in there.
The porch is accessed through this little door. Inside there are about ten thousand spider webs.
This section is right under Oliver's back porch. It was accessed not long ago, so the spider webs are under control.
However, this section, is under the back porch landing. I've never gone under there and very much did not want to! This is where the ten-thousand spider webs were waiting for me.
Thankfully, I didn't have to fight the spiders without assistance.
Oliver to my rescue!
Oliver decided to do some up close supervision.
Oliver, meowing orders to me.
With Oliver's help, that part of the project was completed without too many difficulties. The next phase has been much more challenging, running wire from the basement up to the second floor. Slowly and surely progress is made. An exciting announcement hopefully be coming shortly!