Wednesday, December 22, 2010
WARNING: this post is little depressing.
As a senior in highschool, I acquired an orange cat named Sammy. My mom's friend had taken in Sammy when her pastor had moved away, but the female cat of the house, Mittens, dominated the household. Sammy ended up staying in the basement. He was free to come upstairs whenever he desired, but would only venture upstairs at night.
I remember sleeping over at her house when he was there - he would always come upstairs and sleep on my chest. I thought he was the sweetest cat in the world - and he really was.
We brought Sammy to our house the Christmas of '04. I was so excited to have a cat - the only cat I had ever had was in childhood. His name was Bustafer (I really don't know how to spell that - it was from the musical Cats). My mother told me that we had to get rid of him b/c I was allergic to him. I found out a couple of years ago (from my dad) that she got rid of him simply b/c he was a kitten, climbing on things, tearing things up. I was never allergic to cats, something I believed until I was 21. We won't digress into the multitude of my mother's lies right now.
Unfortunately, life for Sammy wasn't much better at our house than it was for him at Pam's. My mother insisted that he be kept down in the basement b/c of the litterbox and for fear that he'd scratch the furniture. I was not comfortable in basements, so I would bring him up to my room when she wasn't looking. I fought with her often, b/c although I knew little about cats, I knew it was wrong to keep ANY animal away from loving contact with other animals, including us humans. Happily, I found out later that my sister, in attempt to get away from our overbearing mother, spent a lot of time down in the basement, watching television. Sammy was the kind of cat that would push himself onto your lap, forcing attention from you. She gave him a lot of affection during that time.
We only had Sammy for a few months. One night, he started crying, and I knew something was wrong. You know how you know instinctually when something is really wrong? Well, I knew. I told my mother, "There is something wrong wth Sammy. He's crying - we need to take him to the vet!" But she, of course, said that he would be fine, and that maybe we'd take him in the morning if he was still crying.
We watched the movie Hotel Rwanda that night. Not only was the movie horribly heart-wrenching, but I was worried about Sammy the whole time while watching it. As much as I tried to convey to my mother that there was something wrong with Sammy, she just wouldn't listen. As soon as the movie was over, I ran downstairs to bring Sammy up to my room for the night. But he was already dead. He died in the litterbox.
I remember screaming, running away, hiding in the bathroom for the rest of the night. My uncle came to take his body away.
It's hard losing a beloved animal, but even harder when you have an emotionally abusive mother, an absent family, your childhood dog was put to sleep a year ago, your best friend taken from you - in essence, when you have no one, it's really difficult to deal with another loss. Especially of such a loving animal as Sammy was. He deserved better.
I have no pictures of Sammy.
The cat above is a stuffed cat filled with those tiny beads - you know the pillows that are so fun to squish? I saw him in Bed Bath and Beyond and had to have him as he reminded me of Sammy. This stuffed cat went through a lot of squishing and being cried upon for a few years. He then spent a couple years with my baby sister. Recently, however, I took him back with me, b/c Brianna has way too many stuffed animals, as many little kids do. And now Smidge likes to lay on him. I'll have to get a picture of that - it's cute.
Although I've learned from Sammy's life, he deserved so much more. I now research everything. I try to provide the best possible life for my pets. I don't let other people make decisions for me, and I certainly go with my instincts.
I wish I believed in some sort of afterlife - it would be so much easier picturing Sammy in some sort of Spirit world, chasing the butterflies... Well, who knows? Maybe he is.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
I was going to try to trap the last black cat on Tuesday, but some unknown person had already laid out a *lot* of food. The cats had no interest in me with their stomachs already full.
But I couldn't leave. Because one of the black and white cats was dead in the middle of the road. Animals killed by vehicles generally activate a grief response, no matter how many dead animals I pass by. But this cat was from this colony that I have been trying so long to finish TNRing. This cat was in my car at some point. Was spayed or neutered at our hospital. Is probably somewhere in my pictures.
Making that connection with a dead animal in the middle of a busy road just immobilized me. I think I sat in my car staring at the body for a half hour, not able to turn the car on or decide what I should do. I remember thinking to myself, "you need to put the keys back in and leave." But I couldn't move my arm to pick up the keys.
My dad ended up texting me, to see if I was coming over, which basically snapped me out of my inability to move. I drove back to the hospital to get a cadaver bag and some gloves so I could remove the cat from the road. But when I came back, the cat was gone. Someone else must have picked him/her up.
I was wondering, why do we not want to leave the bodies of people we loved or animals we cared about? Why does it feel like abandonment? Or maybe we simply don't want to accept the reality of the death?
I'm always afraid that when grief overwhelms me like that, I won't be able to find my way back to happiness.
But I'm a lot stronger than I used to be. Not that these things hurt any less. I'm just stronger.
And that helps.
I don't know if I will ever know exactly which cat it was in the road. But I do know that it was a horrible death. And I am one cat away from making sure no more babies are born to this colony in this particularly dangerous area for feral cats. Busy roads, little shelter, teenage boys, unwelcoming business owners... This is no safe place for such a large colony. I'm glad that the baby makers are almost all out of business here.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
I am so excited that this colony is almost done! It has taken me forever, but is very worth it! No more babies! Healthier cats!
Speaking of health, the first couple of black cats I brought in had large wounds around their eyes, from fights, I would assume... And several were extremely thin, with clumpy coats. All of the cats seem so much healthier now! Their coats look better. They seem less skinny. And I have not seen any of the cats with large, bald patches of red, smooth skin around their eyes. Yay!
After finishing this colony, I have to go a couple buildings down to the Hostess Bakery outlet. I have been told that there are a few cats over there. They might have been from the Tipsy colony... One woman mentioned that she has seen a couple of them walk back and forth between the two areas...
And maybe the police station after that...
And a random thank you to Strayer for constant inspiration! I seem to go back and forth with many blogs, but I always make sure to read hers! You can't get more devoted to spay and neuter than she is!!! Thank you! = )
Friday, October 15, 2010
So there is this black and white cat that looks similar to my Noms that I've seen under my dad's van at night... And just generally on our street. Well, my dad's street.
Anyway, I got a call from a woman looking to get a cat neutered. She takes care of five feral cats, has recently had an addition and wants to make sure he's sterilized and healthy. She's super nice, has even told the neighbors that they need to get any cats they feed fixed so it doesn't become a problem. And guess where this is? On my dad's street! I just thought it was funny. Turns out the Noms look-a-like is one of hers. Good to know!
I'm going to be lending her a trap if she decides to go with our program... And giving her the rest of my straw, most likely. I've used as much as I can at the three colonies (Wendy's, Tipsy's, the hospital's), but still have at least half a bale (bale?) of straw left. Too much straw! Makes me itchy...
Speaking of itchy, I have realized recently that certain dogs with short, prickly fur give me hives. Odd. Like contact hives, if there's such a thing? Just little bumps where their fur poked into me... Weird...
Okay, seriously, good night! = )
It was raining steadily all throughout the day and the pavement is like a lake in that one area by the dumpsters. Fortunately, I had thought to wear boots, but I still ended up getting soaked.
I didn't want him to have to run through the lake, so I crossed over to the path between the fences. I wanted him to be able to find a dry area to rest in without getting drenched first. But when I made my way to the path, I realized that even though there are more shelters available to the cats, they're still using that broken dog house. I saw two b&w kittens and the grey cat poke their heads out when I released the recently-neutered kitty.
And it broke my heart, because the top of that dog house is lopsided, cracked, and a chunk is missing from the side. (I believe the skateboarders beat this house up) The rain just falls right in, getting the straw and the kitties wet.
A volunteer from Habitat from Cats had suggested clear shower curtains as a good alternative to brightly colored tarps that draw attention, so I immediately made my way to good old WalMart to buy a clear curtain. (Well, not immediately - I totally checked the dollar store and the Goodwill first, but they had no plain, clear ones...) After I purchased the curtain I drove back to Tipsy's to cover the dog house.
It took me a while to cover it to my satisfaction, but I finally succeeded. The tree branches that surround the house made it a little difficult to get around, but I was able to keep my balance and not break an ankle by falling off the ledge onto the pavement below. Go me! I hope that it stays on okay. I also brought more straw to replace the wet stuff.
Too much rain. Somehow, my jeans got soaked during this process. And I had straw in my hair, on my boots, in my sweatshirt sleeves... And then I had to go grocery shopping looking like a hobo. Ah, but I survived. = ) At least that house will stay dry.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Another woman who feeds the kitties has set some plastic shelters over here recently, which were stolen... I'm assuming it was a skateboarder, but sorry for jumping to conclusions if it wasn't... But still. It's a plastic shelter! Back off!
Can't really do anything. Maybe we need to bolt these babies to the ground? Haha. Make them really heavy with bricks on the bottom?
Spayed female kitten. Doing good so far...
Grandma cat. Telling me to hurry up, give her some food.
I waited around for a couple hours, hoping to get one of the black cats... But only got the black and white adult in the end. I really wish I had been patient with the one black cat!
Not sure if there are any more black and white adults left to be trapped. I had thought previously there were... We'll see... It's comforting to see so many tipped ears, though!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
And I know that there is/was a black female, with some black kittens, but I haven't seen her or her kittens in a while. And certainly haven't trapped any black cats in that area yet!
I trapped two cats over at Tipsy's yesterday. Had to use the drop trap, because the cats are just not going in the traps anymore. The remaining cats are too smart. I trapped the little tabby kitten right away, then waited two and a half hours to finally get another cat. And I trapped the grey adult cat! Yay!
Several of the unfixed adult cats seem to know that it is not in their best interests to go under the trap. And I had to keep shooing the groundhogs away, which was not only annoying, but the cats would run away as well... And those cats just lay there, watching me. If I only I had a dart gun or something!!! Haha.
The two cats will be spayed today. I'm hoping that they will be ready to go back early this evening, as a friend wants to borrow one of my traps...
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
I'll have to try for them with the drop trap when I have a little more time. Right now, I am content to be able to fill the spots with any of these cats!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Anyway, Stranger & Company went missing for several days. We feed them every day at noon. They all come out to meet us, especially Jehzar, the orange and white kitty (he runs through the fence to greet us as if that will encourage us to put the food down for him). And they will finish their food within 15 minutes. Not so when there are trees being chopped down.
I was a little sad to see that they had piled a great load of chopped branches onto the cats' stick pile that they nest in, but they're probably having more fun with it than I suspect.
It was a little worrisome, because the cats disappeared for almost a week! And didn't even eat their food overnight! I thought they might have packed up and left for good! And although they're not my pet cats, I care extremely about these guys. They've become "our" feral cats, part of the animal hospital's picture.
Anyway, I hoped that they were just hiding from the tree-cutting man. I'm sure it was loud and unsettling. But, after being away for 5 or 6 days, all kitties made their appearance again. Torrini was looking a little thin last time I saw him, though... Hope he's okay! They better be sharing the food properly!
Returning the three black Tipsy cats today! Enjoy the start of your day!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
After several weeks break due to family medical issues and car accidents, I have been finally able to venture back to trapping. I may only be able to do one day a week, as I have to take care of my little sister on Thursdays and Fridays, but I hope to find others to fill those spots in... When I went yesterday to trap, I only intended on trapping one. I usually set the traps, pray for someone to take the bait, and listen/watch for the sound of the trap closing and the cats scattering. Because of the boys, I was checking the traps every 15 minutes - to make sure they weren't messing with anything.
Because I heard the sound of skateboarding, I climbed under the fence and let them know that I was trapping the cats to be spayed and neutered. I basically just wanted them to know that I was there, that I knew they were there, and that I was going to be staying around. They left probably a half hour later. When they did, I made sure to meet them at the opening so they would know that I was checking on my traps and that I had seen each one of them. These boys looked younger than the ones I saw the other day. I hope that by hanging out at random times, they might realize they're not as anonymous as they'd like to be. I obviously can't intimidate them, but they probably don't want to be seen, and now they have been. I really want to take a couple more shelters over to this area, but I really don't want them destroyed. It makes me angry enough already, without the houses being my work and effort in placing them there!
(slightly bigger all-black male, 4-5 months old, but still only 3.7 lbs. So skinny it's heartbreaking.)
When the boys left, the traps were empty. 15 minutes later, each trap contained a small black cat. I'm just glad I didn't have any more! I only had one spot, but fortunately, they were able to squeeze them all in today. I thought the cats were younger since they are so little, but since they are already 4-5 months old, I wouldn't feel comfortable if someone brought them in hoping to "normalize" them. Because it's probably not going to happen.
These guys will be returned tomorrow, not today, as it has started to pour. Also, the last neuter wasn't long enough ago for me to be comfortable in returning them. I just don't want the rain to interfere with the ear-tip, Revolution, or glue/sutures. Better safe than sorry. Who wants to be out in this rain anyway? I gave them some wet food tonight and will take them back home tomorrow morning, if it has stopped raining...
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Well, what happened was there was a shirt in the road. I thought it was a larger animal, like a dog. As I drove past it, I realized it was an article of clothing, and I remember thinking, "Oh, good, it's just a shirt." And then I slammed into the Land Rover.
The young man said that he and a semi had stopped pretty abruptly in front of a car wash/gas station, so that must have happened as soon as I glanced over to look at the black shape in the road.
Although this has cost me several hundred dollars so far, I am thankful for several things:
1. I didn't hurt anyone.
2. I didn't hurt myself.
3. I didn't damage his car.
4. My car is so far okay, only superficially damaged, to my knowledge...
5. We didn't have to report it, because the guy I rear-ended had no damage.
6. My dad was only 10 minutes away. = )
7. The police officer was a decent man.
Unfortunately, I couldn't go to visit my sister that day, because we weren't sure if my car was drivable.
That was a Thursday. That Sunday, my father was ambulanced to the hospital for having a seizure in his car in the parking lot of WalMart. Somehow, both shoulders were dislocated, one is broken, he can't drive for a year (because of the seixure), and he can't take care of the baby (because he's not physically capable of changing a diaper, picking her up, etc.).
These last two weeks, I've been doing nothing but working, sleeping, and spending every spare moment over at my parents' house. What a time to move out, huh?
Two days ago, I went over to the cats to refresh their water (don't worry, I haven't neglected them) and met one of the skateboarding boys. These are the boys that are allegedly destoying the houses and hurting the cats. I say allegedly because though I do believe it about the houses, I don't want to accuse them of more... There's definitely something fishy about the boys, because, well, I'll start at the beginning:
I got out of my car with the water and headed to the pathway between the fences. As I approached, I heard a scuffling sound. I thought it was an animal getting into the food, and I wanted to let it know I was coming so that it could run away. So I loudly started with "Hello? Hello!" To my surprise, a boy answered back. I then didn't want him to think I was sneaking up on them, so I tried to position myself so he could see me. One of the first things he said was "we're not hurting the cats, we're just skateboarding." To me, it seems that he either knows someone that has been hurting them and the houses or he has been involved in it.
He asked me if I'm the one that feeds the cats. I told him no, I just come over to give them water, because the puddles are nasty. He started saying something about how they (the boys) always have water with them and they could give them some.
I let them know when I was leaving. I knew I didn't want to ask them about the houses being destroyed, because honestly? There's little point.
As I was leaving, a woman ran up to my car, asking me about the boys, the cats... Telling me more stories than I wanted to hear... Turns out she's from Habitat for Cats, and comes to feed the cats every now and then? I told her I just do the water, and that I trap when there's time at the hospital. She asked if I was on good terms with the guys. Haha. I told her I just met them, and no, I don't think there's much point in confronting them about the damaged/stolen houses and possible animal abuse. Nothing I say will have an effect. Police involvement won't either. I'm afraid they'd just retaliate. And I don't need that on my conscience.
When I was getting ready to turn my car back on to go pick up the pizza and head back to my dad's, the woman who took the two kittens pulled in with food and water. I'm not sure what the woman from HfC said to her (probably the same stuff as she said to me), but she did tell her to call the police on the boys. As soon as I saw her on the phone, I told them I had to leave. I can't be involved with calling the cops on the boys, because the cops can't do anything. They have no evidence.
Yes, they could tell them to stay out of that area, because it isn't public property, but they'll find a way. And they'd probably come back specifically to hurt the cats.
I also don't need the guys thinking I called the police on them, because they probably only saw me that day. I saw the one guy's face, and he saw mine.
I wish now that I had climbed under the fence and met all the guys face to face. And explained to them what I am trying to do for the cats. They wouldn't care, I know, but instead of trying to get them to stop, maybe it would help if I could show them why I'm trying to help.
People do things in groups they would never consider alone. I'm hoping this is what this is. I am sad about the cats and their shelters, but also for the boys. Doing such horrible things takes a terrible toll on the soul. I'm not trying to sound hokey, but evil rips people into pieces. Evil makes it so you can't be whole.
I'll admit, after being terribly depressed about this situation, I thought "I'm not going to be able to go back. I can't deal with this." But the day after, I felt more in control of my emotions. I will keep on trying to get these cats spayed and neutered. I will keep up with their water. I will try to meet these guys. In the daylight, of course. Maybe I'll go buy some pepper spray. = )