Smoke = Bad. So Here’s Pics

Hi there!  I have been promising an update on the newest, feral kitten in our household.  But I have been kinda under the weather.  And with all the fires in California and Washinton all blowing their smoke up here for us to breathe, I feel pretty icky.

So here is the next best thing.  A bunch of pictures of the new boy, Buckaroo Bonzai.  From his first day, caught in the cage and refusing to eat.  To now, where he’s decided that inside the house is GOOD.  We have food, it’s safe, and he has a giant momma dog to protect him and keep him warm.

Enjoy!

Little Buckaroo Bonzai’s first day.  Lookit how tiny he was!

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Maggie becomes a Kitty Mommy

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Buckaroo Bonzai love’th his new mommy.

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Maggie cannot escape the kitten.

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Resistance is Futile.

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It really is.

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There is no escape.

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Though … they are kinda de-sheeting my bed.

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Aw well, I suppose I can remake it later.

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Have a great day!  And stay out of that smoke!

Oops, almost forgot!

Here’s a video:

 

 

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The Fixing of the Ferals

In our lovely town of Port Angeles, Washington there is an organization that calls itself, simply, Clallam County Trap-Neuter-Return. It is staffed by dedicated volunteers in the area who go out into the wilds to trap our local colonies of feral cats, spay and neuter them, give them basic shots, a flea treatment, then releases them back to where they found them. The only exception to this is the kittens. If they catch feral kittens young enough to be socialized, they are moved to the Humane Society for adoption.

It is a lot of work. And a lot of care goes into what they do. And because of their efforts to spay and neuter every wild-cat they can find, the feral cat population here is steadily decreasing. So much so, that there are now very few feral kittens available for socialization. I find this amazing and wonderful.

And why I am writing about this is, as you all know, if you’ve been reading this blog, Jatina and I have our own small, feral-cat colony living under our house. Three boys, one mama, and one kitten. And it was slowly growing in size. Jennie, the mama, was having 1 kitten a year. And though we were okay with feeding four, feral kitties, now there were five. And we really didn’t want any more.

When we spayed Cienna (we got lucky with Zeeta, as she was ear-tipped and already fixed) it ran us about $300 for everything. That took a good bite out of our finances, and we knew that there was just no way we could come up with that kind of money for five, feral cats. So about a month ago, I went on to Facebook’s PORT ANGELES PAWA page and began inquiring about any low-cost spay/neuter options for our ferals.

Shortly after my post, I was contacted by a woman named Marion Wagner who was part of the Clallam County Trap-Neuter-Return group in our area. She was quite willing to help us.

As C.C.T.N.R works with our local Spay to Save Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic, Marion was able to arrange four slots for our ferals on the 30th of July. Then she sent one of her volunteers over to bring us the traps, and to show us exactly how they worked, and to advise us on how to go about trapping our kitties.

I want to take a moment to say how much I really liked their traps. When we bought the small, Havahart trap for Cienna back in December 2016, it had a spring mechanism that snapped the door shut HARD. We were very worried it might slam down on her tail or a foot. And I wouldn’t recommend Havahart traps for that reason. (See Photo Below)havihartOwch!  Look at that scary door thing!

But the C.C.T.N.R. traps are designed quite differently and are far safer. When the trap is tripped, the door falls via gravity only, then locks securely, making it almost impossible for the animal to be hurt. Also, these traps had two doors, one which slides up so that you can put food or water into the cage without an escape. And I liked that, too. (See Photo Below)

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Aren’t they great?  It is the Humane Way 914048 Live Trap Animal, Medium 32″x12″x10″

The volunteer that came to our house on the 14th was named Bruce. He went over the use of the traps more than once to make sure we understood how to use them. And then explained the plan.

We were to start feeding the ferals from inside the unset traps immediately. We would do this for a couple of weeks, and then, two days before our appointment at the clinic, we would stop all food. Then, the day before, on the 29th, we’d set the traps and bait them, and our hungry boys and girl would come running, and find themselves captured.

There was one exception. They brought one trap with a “kitten door”. It was a piece of plywood with a small entry hole cut in it and secured near the front of the cage. This would keep the big cats out, but let the little one in. Bruce wanted us to catch the kitten right away, and begin socializing it. That way, should we decide not to keep it, it would be accustomed enough to humans to make it adoptable at the Humane Society. (I will write about this process soon.)

Catching the baby turned out to be incredibly easy. Since we had stopped all food the night before, everyone was hungry. And since only the baby’s trap had food, it wasn’t even an hour before we had the little one.

We brought the baby in and transferred him/her into a dog crate with a small cat box, food, water and a blankie. Then we removed the kitten-gate, and put that cage back outside with the others. Then put food out for all the hungry ferals, inside the new, blanket-covered boxes.

It took no time at all for Jennie, Little Boy, and Biggie to start eating out of the covered traps. They seemed to really like it, to be honest. They thought they were cool, new cat things, and they’d come daily, sniff around, stretch, and go in and eat. Biggie even claimed one for himself, laying outside it between meals, and mostly the others respected that. They each seemed to pick out their favorites.

The only one I was not seeing regularly was the one we call “Papa”. In fact, it is possible I’ve confused seeing him with Cienna because he looks exactly like her. Also, I did see him recently laying on a lawn of a house down the street, relaxed, even with people sitting on their porch. So … maybe Papa isn’t so feral after all. And that’s a good thing.

All this said, I still have to admit that I felt a bit guilty setting them up like that. But I knew that if we fixed them, we would be helping to keep the feral population down. And that’s a very good thing. Plus we were worried about the fighting. Whenever a lady-cat went into season, everybody went crazy, and eventually, someone was going to get hurt. Not to mention that our Mr. Biggie is getting very old.

And then, the 28th came before we knew it. We kept Cienna and Zeeta in to keep them out of the traps, emptied out the food from all the cages, and waited until the afternoon of the 29th. Then we baited and set the traps.

We caught Biggie first, poor old boy. And an hour later, Little Boy was trapped, too. But Jennie. Jennie was crafty. She made in and out of her preferred trap 3 times before we finally switched it out for our other free trap. And then, we caught her. There was much cheering in the household because she was our main target.

The last trap remained empty, though. Not because of any malfunction in its door mechanism, but simply because we saw no trace of Cienna’s Papa. I guess, if he has a home, he just doesn’t feel the need to eat here all the time.

So. Our feral kids spent the night in their covered cages. And the next morning we put them in the back of my 1989 Silverado and drove them to their appointments. Mostly, they were very good about it. Little Boy threatened to kill us when we reached for the cage but settled fairly quickly when we picked it up. Biggie and Jennie were mostly quiet but were a bit jumpy when we first picked up the cages.

We arrived at the Clinic at 8:30am, filled out paperwork, and with the help of one staffer, put the cages in the shade next to the Mobile Clinic. And that’s when we found out that they don’t just spay and neuter the feral kitties. They also give them free shots and a free flea treatment, too. And they fix ferals for FREE. I was quite surprised. And left a donation with them as thanks.

We were told to come back at 4:30pm for our ferals, and once home, to leave them in their cages till the next morning. We thanked them and drove home to wait.

At around 3pm, however, we got a call.

Upon examining Jennie they discovered that she had a disease called Stomatitis, an extremely painful condition that is very hard to treat. They said often it is incurable, and only gets worse with time. They told me that they’d brought in another vet to get a second opinion, just to be sure. And everyone agreed that she had it, and it was advanced. I was told that she was in extreme pain, and after talking to Jatina, we agreed to have her put down. They said that they could do it for us there.

And … I … am quite sad. But also grateful to the Spay to Save Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic for taking care of our little girl.

But, the boys seem to have done well. We brought them home and kept them inside in their covered cages overnight. The next morning we let them loose and they went straight under the house. We haven’t seen Biggie since, but likely he’s ticked at us and it may be a few days before he is willing to tolerate our presence. But Little Boy… Little Boy was out hanging with our Cienna within a couple of hours of being released. He looks pretty happy.

And that is the story of the Fixing of the Ferals. If you have ferals yourself, you might google your local area for a similar group. There seems to be people all over the country coming together to help keep down the feral population.

And even if you are feral free, but have a pet you aren’t sure you can afford to fix, look for a local “Spay to Save Mobile Clinic”. Ours will fix your fur babies, cat or dog, for only $20 for the girls and $15 for the boys. And shots and flea treatments are also available for a discounted price, as well.

Both groups do very good work. If you are looking for a place to donate to, please consider:

Spay to Save Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic
Clallam County Trap-Neuter-Return

And thank you! I hope you all have a wonderful and inspiring day!

Cienna is Ticked

All day today Cienna has been nipping us.  Not hard, but consistently.  Because today we are evil humans.  So evil and untrustworthy, that we are not allowed to pet or hold her.   And after some consideration, we think that we know the reason why…

Historical Video Below:

About two years ago, we caught Cienna in “The Contraption”.  Since then it has been stored in the garage, dusty and closed, with boxes on top.  Cienna has seen it every time she goes in there to play, and it has never been a problem … closed and dusty and empty.

But you see, we have this problem.  One of the ferals we feed is a lady-cat, and she keeps going into season and having a kitten.  Only one, I suspect, because she’s kinda tiny.  But she’s been having them consistently.  And it needs to stop.

So, I looked up this group in Port Angeles that arranges very low-cost spay/neuter services for feral cats: $20 for the ladies and $15 for the fellas, and they’ve agreed to help us.   But we have to catch her first.   And so, we have set up “The Contraption” again for the mummy and the wee kit.  It is now in the greenhouse where they tend to hang out, door open, and food and a blankie inside.  And Cienna saw it this morning.  And Cienna is @#$ed.

She came right in, yowling complaints, and refusing to let us touch her at all, pinching us with her teeth whenever we try.

It’s been going on now for hours.  And I suspect that she’s going to be even more ticked when we catch them and bring them inside.  Mum and Baby are not going to be happy about it.   And I suspect that it will be contagious.

Who says cats don’t remember things after 6 months.  Cienna remembers just fine.

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Damn it.  It is HARD being a responsible human sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biggie is Sneaking Inside.

Yes.  He is.  We’ve caught him sneaking inside to steal cat treats now several times.  And again this morning.

I saw Jatina standing oddly in the hallway.  I asked if everything was okay.  And she said, “Biggie is inside again”.  And I peeked around her, and there was he was.  He kept eating for a moment, then hesitated, looked at us, and hobbled as quickly as his old legs could manage back outside through our door.

Cienna was sitting next to him, very socialably. 🙂

(P.S. I understand that socialably isn’t quite a word.  But for that sentence, “socially” doesn’t seem to fit.

Any suggestions?

We Are Being Invaded…

…By Cats…

Biggie has now decided that if the house is quiet enough, he sneaks inside and checks out what goodies we’ve put out for Cienna and Zeeta.  Which recently, has been various chicken livers from the whole bodies I’ve been smoking on my Weber Smokey Mountain (great, great smoker by the way.  Kicks Brinkman’s in the rear.)  And Biggie seems to love the chicken livers.

And Baby?  The last few days Baby has been following Cienna inside when they’re playing.  He/She doesn’t come all the way in but stops on the windowsill to stare forbiddingly at us before exiting.  And we have begun to suspect that Baby and Cienna have had a few Inside Playdays while we’ve been out shopping.  Because that look just seems ta scream, “why aren’t you GONE?”

Also?  Biggie loves the Weber Smoker.  I think whoever owned him before might’ve been a BBQer.  Because he wanders over to where I’m cooking, then keeps walking back and forth, and round and round, as if he’s saying, “Look!  Here I am!  BBQ Cat.  I love BBQ.  Don’t forget about me, the old, frail kitty, when you pull that yummy stuff off.”  And yes, I do throw him a bite when I pull it all off the grill.  Silly old guy.

And soon, yes.  We will have FOUR cats.

I am both happy and horrified.

 

 

 

Kitties…

It has been a little while since I made an update about our latest feral kitty, the tiny and very autistic kitty, Zeeta.  And that is because change is slow with Zeeta.  Zeeta is a kitty of routines, and you must never vary Zeeta’s routines.  Sameness is the glue that holds her world together.  “Change,” says little Zeeta, “is EVIL.”

I recently had a very fine reminder of this.

Because I have been sick, I have had a tendency to get up at least 5 times in the night.  And Zeeta had worked this behavior of mine into her “world view”.  We had a routine.  She would come into my room at night, hop up on my bed, get love and snuggles until a  sound or movement sent her fleeing into my closet.  And there she would stay until I got up for my drink of water, and returned.  At that point, Zeeta would come out and make her inquiring “mak” sound, asking if she could get on the bed.  And I was supposed to say, “hup, hup”, pat the bed, and she’d hop up, get love, and then settle until the next thing scared her.

Well, I’ve been doing better.  And one night, after she fled to the closet, I stayed asleep.  Fast asleep, until I was awakened by a very odd noise.

It was a noise that cannot be properly described in text.   It needs … an illustration, and it went something like this:

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Zeeta was walking back and forth next to my bed, occasionally doing circles, with hair practically on end.    She was so upset that it took her a minute to register that I was calling her.   When I finally got her to come up to the bed, she continued to “mak” at me, because of the horror, and it took a lot of loving to settle her down, because … Change.  I’d changed my routine and threw off Zeeta’s entire world.

In the morning, after the dust had fully settled, I did find it terribly amusing.  Because I am an evil, heartless, Cat-Mommy.   But the upside was that her experience actually lead to some improvement in Zeeta’s state.

The next few nights, when “the thing” scared her, she hesitated at the edge of my bed.  You could see the wheels moving, as she considered that if she got off the bed, maybe I wouldn’t wake up, and she’d be stuck on the floor, “mak’ing”.   The hesitation led to her sometimes deciding just to settle at the end of my bed looking uncertain.

Nights went by with her discovering that staying on the bed did not lead to carnage and bloodshed.

And last night?  There was no fleeing at all.  She stayed with me, either laying on me or by my side.  The little bugger was actually happy all night!

I don’t know what’ll happen next because I have noticed a definite, “One Step Forward, Two Back” thing with the Zeeta.  Still!  Change!  For Zeeta, that’s really something!

Of course, none of this alters how she is when I am NOT in bed.  I still can’t pet her or pick her up during the day.  Verticle, walking Humans are still quite scary.  In Zeeta’s mind, only being horizontal in my bed makes me safe.   And if we are outside the house, she reverts to completely feral.  Super-duper Feral.  Even the three feral cats we feed outside the house are more comfortable around us than she is when we’re walking.

For an example, Mr. Biggie, our very old, feral cat hangs around us in a mildly social way when we’re puttering about in the yard.  He keeps a buffer zone of at least 8 feet, but generally does not flee like Zeeta does when we, um, move.  And Mr. Biggie always gives her a look for it, as if to say, “Really?  You live in their house.  What the @#$ are you running for?”   I think he figures Zeeta has the good life, and is putting on “feral kitty aires”.

Poor old Mr. Biggie.  Jatina is hoping he will move in with us this Winter.  She worries a lot about him because he is such an old kitty.  I suspect he will.  I’ve caught him peeking inside the house lately when the door is open for a breeze.  I think it is just a matter of time.  He is already testing the waters.

And?  Cienna’s friend “Baby” has been doing much the same.

We’re going to become the Crazy Cat ladies, aren’t we?  That Destiny approaches, and it’s inevitable, isn’t it?

Ah well.  At least it keeps the rats away.

And I really do like having a kitty sleeping on my bed.   What’s one more?

 

 

Breakthrough Baby

Well, at least a very nice step forward.

For some time now, Jatina has listened to me talk about poor, wee Zeeta and her unsuccessful attempts to sleep on the bed with me and Maggie-dog. Every night, usually more than once, little Zeeta would tippy-toe into my room, and kitten-cry asking to come on my bed. I would call her up, and she would jump up and try to settle, but invariably somebody would move, or cough, or I would pull the blanket over my shoulders … and it would scare the crap out of Zeeta and she would flee out my door and down the hallway.

So Jatina went and prepped a tiny cat box for my room, and told me to take Zeeta with me when I went to bed and just shut the door and lock her in. Maybe then, she’d know for sure that I wanted her in there with me.

So … Night Number One … was mostly about Zeeta roaming around the room crying.

Night Number Two, however, started the same way, but after about an hour, she gave up and got on my bed. This didn’t mean that she didn’t flee the bed over various sounds and movements, but after each one, if I called her, she did hop back up on the bed and laid down.

But then, after a couple of nights, to my delight, I noticed that Zeeta had begun going into my room during the day to nap. After this, she suddenly became much more confident in my room at night. I’d lay down and Zeeta was now a cute, cuddly kitten-cat, rubbing her head on me, rolling around, wanting and demanding much, much love. Before, of course, hearing something scary and jumping off. But now she always comes back and makes it plain that EVERY TIME she comes back, I must cuddle/pet her for at least five minutes.

Zeeta even, one night, when I put my “cat-petting hands” away by stuffing them under my pillow, she pushed her head under, found my pinky nail, grabbed it with her front teeth and tried to pull it out from under the pillow. Then, seemed to realize what she was doing and almost jumped off the bed, but I kept on saying “you’re such a cute kitty, so cute, so cute” and she came back. Though she looked chastened about the teeth grabbing thing. I think she expected me to punish her for the “nip”.

And now? Best of all? Zeeta has decided that instead of freaking out when she is in the hallway and someone comes toward her, that instead, she can LEAD them to my bedroom. BECAUSE if she can get the human into my bedroom, and on the bed with her, it is all good. She can be silly and get cuddles, because my room, is, I guess, A Magical Place.

Outside my room … however, is still “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” for kitties. There is much work yet to be done with Zeeta and the rest of the house. Really. You should hear her howl if we have to pick her up. But hey, still! We Haz Improvement! And I feel really proud that she has decided that my room is her safe place. Jatina was right!

And that’s where we are right now. And it’s a good place.