Sunday, September 27, 2015

the boyfriend?

It's very rare that I see Nora. She comes by only under the cover of darkness and only to eat. Unlike Pierre and Oliver, she's still super-feral. Saturday night I thought I might have seen her hanging out in the alley, but after further consideration I think the black cat I was seeing was a bit too big for Nora. Sunday morning, for funzies, I checked out the saved images from the feeder cam and I found, two cats peacefully sharing the feeder!

Sept 27, 2015 3:34am
The only cats I've seen in the feeder together were Oliver, Pierre, and MK. But in this case, Pierre and Oliver were locked away on the back porch, so I know it wasn't them and MK is no longer with us. So then, who are these two black cats?

Sept 27, 2015 3:39am
From what I can tell, the cat in the feeder doesn't have an eartip. Nora, Pierre, and MK all had eartips. I think this guy is the one I tried trapping last year but was never able to get. The kitty on the ledge turned around and look, it's Nora! (notice her eartip)

Sept 27, 2015 3:43am
So, who's Nora's friend? Maybe a boyfriend??? Maybe Oliver has a brother, and this is her uncle? Nora's pretty little face looks just like her brothers! I'm thrilled to see her doing well. I do wish she would learn to trust me and hang around more.

Sept 27, 2015 3:44am
I think it's time I take another go at trapping this guy... Meanwhile, I'm left to ponder why my yard seems to only attract black cats?! Weird.

Friday, September 18, 2015

gather around the water cooler

It's been a week...

Thank you everyone for your kind words and continued prayers for my friend, Sarah. Each are greatly appreciated! The surgery on Monday went well, however, it only yielded more questions, no answers.  The pathology results are supposed to come in today, and hopefully they will provide some needed answers.

Marvin went to the vet this week for a check-up on the status of his kidneys. The results were not good, showing high levels for both BUN and Creatinine. The results might be a little skewed right now due to some very loose stools (thanks to a bacteria that hopefully is dying a painful death from the metronidazole). Vet recommended upping the level of care to include fluids or expensive supplements.

With all that is going on right now, I'm at emotional overwhelm. The other day, a few hours after doing a little therapy with my friends Ben & Jerry, I discovered I had returned the carton to the refrigerator, not the freezer. Sigh. Then yesterday, I bought my non-refundable plane tickets for my upcoming work trip to Tennessee only to discover I had bought them for the wrong day. Sigh.

Some good news, Oliver also went to the vet for his annual inspection. He was declared a pillar of health! He even lost weight from last year, a whole 1.5 pounds! (0.45kg) - Way to go Oliver! He purred non-stop through the entire experience.

And now for a few random pictures...

My search for a new local "happy place" took me to the North Fork Skykomish River, which is up in the mountains. Nice place, but a little far away and only accessible in the non-snowy months.

Last weekend, I took a walk to a nearby park to make some intentional space for grieving. I passed the empty horse show courts. I counted 16 lonely, sad courts, I wonder if these ever get any use?

I hope your weekend is all it needs to be. For me, I'll be up on the garage roof once again trying to patch the holes. The recent rain revealed many more leaks. Oh joy.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

5 years of Rose!

Happy 5th Gotcha Day Rose!

Rose                                 Sept 16, 2015

It was this day, five years ago that I rescued her from the engine compartment of a truck parked in front of my house. She was about 8-weeks old at the time. This was before I knew anything about cat rescue, so our plan was to take her to the animal shelter in hopes they would find her a good home, but then this happened:

Sept 18, 2010
Once Laura held her, it was all over. Rose was here to stay! It's a good thing too, because just a few days later, our local shelter had an outbreak of the highly contagious feline panleukopenia virus and in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly disease, they decided to euthanize all 81 of the shelter cats. I'm very grateful Rose didn't get caught up in that mess.

Sept 19, 2010

Sept 21, 2010
Back then, Rose was not so afraid of humans.

Sept 29, 2010
 Abundant kitten cutes!
Oct 17, 2010

Rose has always had a thing for being cuddled up with fluffy Nahum. 
Dec 31, 2010

Jan 9, 2011

For us humans, this 5th year anniversary of Rose's Gotcha Day is a day of celebration. However, I imagine if she were telling the story it would lack the celebratory feeling.
It's been five long years now, since I was first imprisoned by these evil humans. At first they played with me and loved on me, said something about rescuing me and giving me a good life, but then they turned on me and it was terribles. I trusted them, I'll never make that mistake again.

They took me next door and locked me in a small cage for a week all alone. Then sometime later, they dragged me back over there and the lady in the white coat sliced my belly open. They said something about a string that I ate and all of this was for my own good, but I know better - those humans were just sizing up my innards in order to know how best to cook me. Then came the cramming of nasty little objects down my throat, which again they said was for my good, but I know it's lies, cuz I never see any of the other inmates get treated this way. Not long after the trauma from that horrible ordeal had finally settled, they once again forced me back into the prisoner torture unit and brought me back to that awful torture-place and this time the evil humans took away my girl-parts. It was so humiliating.

And if all that weren't bad enough, every year they celebrate that awful experience by forcefully dragging me back to that awful place so the lady in the white coat can have another go at me. Indignity! Horror! Humans!! I've learned my lesson, every day I'm on guard, because I know they are always lookin to snatch me and torture me further. I just know they eat cute little cats like me. It's all I can do to keep a wide distance...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

friend in need

I grew up a diehard dog person and knew nothing about cats until we moved to Washington State and befriended some crazy cat people. One of the couples we met shortly after moving here was Tom and Sarah, two transplants from Ohio, who had two cats at the time, Elmo and Lucy, and they had countless hours of entertaining cat stories!

Misha, Aug 2007
Lucy and Elmo were pretty cool cats and then later came Misha, a young fluffy black kitty who was lots of fun. She loved to play and be silly. One time when Tom and Sarah were away for a few days, I got to look after Misha and in that time I really connected with her. These three cats were my first introduction to the crazy world of cats, my heart was open.

My heart holds a great deal of gratitude to Tom and Sarah, two delightful, amazing friends who have journeyed with us in life (the good and the bad) over the past 12 years. In addition to Misha, Tom and Sarah now have an 8 year old son and a young dog, both of which keep them quite busy.

Tom, Sarah, Laura, and me after hiking up to Lake 22, June 2003
Sometimes our blessed lives quickly turn upsidedown, giving us pause to consider the preciousness of life itself. Such a turn happened very recently when Sarah learned that she has advanced stage cancer. A few tests after the initial discovery revealed the cancer had spread to several places throughout her body. The prognosis given was grim. 

Sarah, Aug 2015
This Monday, the 14th, Sarah goes in for more extensive testing and exploratory surgery so the doctors can better understand the extent of her condition and then hopefully they can come up with a treatment plan. 

Blog friends, I am scared - we are all really scared. I would be immensely grateful for your prayers and purrs for Sarah, Tom, and their 8 year old son. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Oliverland (Part 1)

Most cat people who visit my home want a tour of Oliverland (Oliver's Yard). In particular they want to see the structures I've built for him and his family. With this in mind, when I did my annual Oliverland cleaning on Labor Day, I took along my camera so I can give you a close-up tour.

Oliver has two independent, fully insulated and heated houses available to him. There is Oliver's House which is tucked behind a bunch of trees near the northeast edge of the property and there is Oliver's Guest House, which is closer to the southwest edge of out lot.

The tour starts with Oliver's House, which is nicely hidden in this greenery. I ran underground electrical service and network cable to this location to power the electric heating pad and network camera.

You can see the greenery needs some trimming.

There is a secret treasure hiding in the greenery that most people never get to see, but Oliver gets to enjoy - there is an old red wagon with some old plant boxes in it. You can tell it's wicked old because it's in black and white.

Oliverland yearly maintenance involves trimming greeneries, clearing off the roof, and completely emptying the contents of his home and using a giant outdoor suck monster to clean out any bugs or miscellaneous debris.

There are several layers of wood in each house with a layer of rigid insulation between each layer. I've seen people just use the insulation, but I didn't want Oliver or his guests scratching up the insulation, so I built a thin wooden box to cover all the insulation.

With all the extra wood and insulation removed you can see the outer wood layer. The red fleece fabric parts in the middle and attempts to cut down on the drafts coming in the doorways.

I had plenty of help with the work, Pierre is so curious about everything he had to see what I was up to!

Pierre tries to sneak up on me through the greenery.

Oliver's House features a large single picture window made of real glass. It's amazing how dirty it gets in a year. This is the view from inside his house with the dirt still in place:

And the view after cleaning. Now that it's clean again, Oliver will get to enjoy the beauty of the old wagon every time he visits his house.

Once everything is clean, I sprinkle in a bunch of diatomaceous earth between the layers to keep the bugs under control. I've heard it naturally kills fleas, but is not harmful to the cats. Replacing all the innards is basically the reverse of taking it apart, first the insulation goes in followed by the wooden sides. 

With everything cleaned, it's time to add the heating pad and soft clean fleece blankets, but before the roof panel can be added and the house closed back up, my handiwork must pass rigorous quality control standards.

It's much the same process for the Guest House, which is smaller than Oliver's House. Because each were custom built, the general principle is the same with some slight differences.

All the layers are removed and it's sucked out. The wires go to the net camera, which has already been removed. Each house has it's own camera so I can watch the cats. 

Now that everything is out and cleaned, I add the diatomaceous earth.

And then start piecing back the layers. Each board and piece of insulation is marked to help put it all back together.

All the panels are made to be a snug fit, so friction holds everything in place. The bottom board is the second to last piece to be installed with the insulated ceiling being the last. With everything put back (heating pad goes under the fleece blankets), it's time for quality control inspections.

The roof cannot be re-installed until Oliver has personally inspected the work and gives his approval. The beige thing on the right side of the back wall is a wireless temperature and humidity sensor. Each house, and the lounge hall has one, that way I can monitor the temperature inside the heated homes compared to the outside temperature. I rest well knowing the kitties are quite toasty warm in their houses even when it's crazy cold outside.

Safety First! You'll notice each house has two doors. Emergency egress is critical. If a predator or strange cat comes along the last thing I want is Oliver to be trapped. With two doors, he can always escape.

The window on the Guest House is noticeably smaller than the luxurious picture window of Oliver's House. Oliver wants his guests to be comfortable but also wants them to always remember that he's topcat.

It looks like the Guest House passes inspection, now off to inspect Oliver's House...

Oliver's House gets the same thorough examination. You can see the net camera on the bottom right, it's attached to the ceiling panel. 

And thankfully, Oliver's House also passes inspection. I'm nearly done.

The insulated ceiling panel is snugly put in place, the hinged roof is closed, and the camera is adjusted by reaching through the kitty entry door while watching on the iPad.

And we're good for another year!

In similar fashion, the Guest House is closed back up.

The next day, when I checked the net cameras, this is what I found from Oliver's House: 

Oliver is on the left and Pierre on the right. They seem to like the fresh, clean bedding! The heaters in the houses are not on right now as it's not quite cold enough (although the heaters on the back porch where they sleep the night are already going!) Seeing these guys enjoy the space sure makes all the work worthwhile. Back when MK was still around, he loved cuddling up with Pierre or Oliver on cold winter days. Every time I tune into the cameras and see them snuggling my heart gets all mushy!

The Guest House hasn't had any visitors yet since the cleaning. But it looks inviting and comfy!

In Part 2, I'll show you the raccoon-proof feeder, Lounge Hall, and all the enclosed back porch amenities including Kitty Castle and Loft.

Oliver sitting on the ledge of his raccoon-proof feeder snoopervising the cleaning work.