Tuesday, January 20, 2009


In this past week, I've seen Stranger probably twice. The others I haven't seen at all. It's a bit disconcerting, but I'm chalking it up to the cold. It seems to have gotten a bit warmer these last couple of days, but going out to feed them earlier in the week was harsh. I can't even imagine what it is like to have to live out there.
I have been going around the fenced-in backyard because the back gate is frozen. I couldn't jam the pin up to open the gate for the life of me! I even took a hammer out with me to attempt to knock the frozen-ness out of the pin, but it was stuck like stuck likes to stick. Therefore, I walked around the gate for a few days. It only takes about five minutes, but let me tell you: five minutes in this weather is not pleasant. My lips have been extremely chapped because of the trips outside to feed the cats - which means I have to wear chapstick now. Ugh. Those cats. = )
On Sunday, Ryan took the food out for me. Nice boy, he is. And somehow, I don't know how, he got the gate open. Must have been luck. Or maybe it was three degrees warmer and the pin decided to be nice to him. He was all proud of himself, however. Here I am proclaiming, "You have to go around, the gate is stuck, you're wasting your time," etc. And he gets it open. I suppose it's good, though. Shows the gate who's boss.
Every day that I take the food out, I check for kitty prints around the area. This last week, I haven't noticed many fresh prints. I'm not sure whether they are disappearing due to our trapping and neutering or because of the cold. I just hope that wherever they are, they're okay. The cold has made me realize that we need more shelters as well, especially for those that would prefer to sleep alone. The igloos were a very good start, but we need something a little more tailored to our cats. I would love to purchase the shelters sold by http://www.feralvilla.com/, but they are a bit bit pricey for our budget. I am always on the lookout for more inexpensive igloos on Craigslist, but I think what we need is to make the tote shelters as seen on http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelter.htm. There is an Ebay seller who makes them and uses the profit for her own feral cat program, which is pretty nifty. I should buy one or two online and then attempt making a few in the summer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Members of our Colony

I try to keep track of each cat we see, whether he/she tends to be a regular or not. This helps in identifing who needs to be altered, if we need more shelters, and if more food needs to be provided each day. I include even those that are only seen from a distance, as we want to represent as many members of our little wooded area as best as possible. I'll provide a brief list of our current cats, with a short physical description and alteration status. (In order of appearance, as accurately as possible)

1. Stranger (neutered, ear-tipped)
- all black, green eyes

2. Pickle/Boy George (neutered, ear-tipped)
- grey/brown tabby, thick white stripe down nose, large white vest down to stomach, white front and back feet

3. Snuggle/Tricky (neutered, ear-tipped)
- grey/brown tabby, tiny white spot between eyes, small white vest

4. Jehzar (neutered, ear-tipped)
- orange and white longhair, white marking down nose and left side of face, large white vest down to stomach

5. Brother Joe/JoeJoe (neutered, ear-tipped)
- grey, small white vest, white cheek spots, thin white stripe down nose and spot on nose

6. Torrini (neutered, ear-tpped)
- black with white vest, feet, and markings on muzzle

7. Stevie (neutered, ear-tipped)
- white with black spots, black on head, like a helmet

The wooded area behind the hospital is large enough so that we suspect there may be many cats out there. (There are always more stray and feral cats than anyone supposes.) The other day, I took a little walk through the trees to find out what was on the other side. There was a building, a parking lot, a few cars. I wanted to discover what building it was, but I didn't want anyone to see me walking out of the woods like a madwoman... = ) Tara and I have agreed to walk around the whole area on one of our days off to figure out how big it is, what's on all sides, and how best to provide for the cats out there.


Jehzara is one of the two cats that we have ben purposely hoping to trap for a few weeks now. The other is Pickle, whom a few think is the same as Boy George, but I disagree due to different distinctive markings. Unfortunately, Tara forgot about the trap today. I'm not sure how long it had been since she had last checked it, but when she went out to bring it in, there was Jehzara. In the trap. Much to my dismay, there was not enough time for her to be spayed, so they let her go. I'm not sure if this was the best decision, as I am sure she will be even more wary of the trap, but what's done is done.
Sadly, Jehzara had hurt herself a bit in trying to free herself. I wonder if the better choice might nave been to keep her overnight and spay her tomorrow morning and make sure she was completely okay - no more bleeding. The vet did mention something about how cold it is, however, and that he does not want to do any more trapping for a while due to the weather. So maybe it was for the best that she was released... Actually, as it is possible Jehzara is a girl, and would be spayed, this might be better. We have been lucky in that the other three were boys, that their surgeries took less time, and that their recovery was short. I am much more worried about a female recovering in these temperatures, especially as she would have to be shaved, which leads to much heat loss.
I am relieved that we won't be trapping for a bit. I would like to get back in the routine of feeding and watching for the regulars again. Trapping is stressful for all parties involved.

Monday, January 12, 2009


He was my first feral cat. I noticed an all-black cat with bright green eyes making his way around the wooded area behind the fenced-in backyard and over to the dumpster at Quiznos. I found out that he had been in the area for at least a year - they had been feeding him at one point and had even trapped and neutered him. As he had no name, I stewed over it for a while and then dubbed him "Stranger." A mix between Strider and Ranger: man-o-the-woods. I took a picture of him, labeled it with his name, and stuck it on the cork board in the kennel kitchen. And started feeding him daily.
I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, to be quite honest. Feeding one feral cat is quite easy, especially when he's already been neutered and ear-tipped. Though I knew that more cats would arrive at the food source, I simply didn't realize HOW MANY. As soon as I began taking care of Stranger, I sought to educate myself on the topic of feral and stray cats. The Best Friends website has been invaluable. The left column has two links that prove to be extremely helpful: the Online Forum (forum archives) and Resource Library. So much information is provided here, from fundraising to adoption to feral cats. I haven't been able to stop reading anything and everything I possibly can on feral cats, shelter animals, and how to find homes for the homeless.
I hope to be able to document some of what we have gone through in order to help these cats as well as our present progress. I would like to keep track of who we have TNR'd, which cats I see on a daily basis, and offer helpful information and suggestions on how to provide for your own stray and feral cats. There is a lot of ground to cover - and I am excited about learning new things through this process as well!