Thursday, July 29, 2010

MISSING! then back.

We had some yard work done around the hospital last week. They removed the trees and bushes that were growing through the fence. And now there's a definite pathway all around the hospital. I miss the trees - the fence looks so vulnerable now! I swear, the trees were holding it all together!!!

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

3 black Tipsy cats fixed today

(all-black female, around 8-10months, I think. Very small, only 4.4 lbs.)

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.

(tiny all-black male around 4-5 months old, but only 2.7 lbs. Way too little for his age.)

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...
14 cats spayed and neutered from this colony now! And so many more to go! I just hope we're making some headway!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

And then people started getting sick...

The day I moved out, my sister was taken to the hospital for a couple days. (She's all better now, though, no worries) The day I was going to drive down to visit her in the hospital, I rear-ended a young man in a Land Rover. No damage to his car, just some red paint on the hitch, but I have to have my light and fender replaced. I just hope the collision didn't damage any of the internal parts. It was a horrifying experience. After it happened, I just sat there. I didn't think to turn off my car (I don't even remember if I put it in park). I sat there in shock, thinking, "What the hell just happened?"

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. = )

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hospital Lady

K from RIT finally trapped one of the two cats she's been after last night! She brought "Wooly" in this morning. Yay! Now she just has one more she needs to trap over there!

I had no time to be trapping b/c of moving - which I hope to finish tonight (it's super hot, so we're waiting until the evening). I have a couple more pieces of furniture to take over. Mellie and Noms are doing okay, but Smidge refuses to come out of her box. Noms has been eating and drinking, Mellie used the litter box, but I haven't seen Smidge since last night. I made sure she couldn't get squished by boxes before I left, but I'll let her take her time.

A few weeks ago, I met a woman at the hospital (the human one) who started talking about the cats that she feeds outside. She said she found a home for one, but the other she just feeds and provides shelter for, since he's an in-betweenie. I told her that if she happened to reside in our town, and if the cat is strictly outdoors, we could probably help her. I gave her my name and phone number and told her to call me when she was feeling better.

Fast forward to this morning. The woman called the hospital to see if she could get the male cat seen for an abscess on his face. She told them that she had heard about our program through me and was wondering if we could help her with the cat. She was able to get the cat into a carrier and brought him in this morning. The girls up front asked me what I knew about this woman and I told them: she's nice, she feeds a couple cats outside, she lives in our town, she wants to get them fixed, and I gave her my phone number to call me so we could work something out when she was feeling better.

They decided to feel the situation out and see if she had any intentions on keeping/rehoming the cat, which is why I told her to give me a call first - needed a little more info. But the circumstances are the same - she won't be finding this guy a home, but will be taking care of him as an outdoor cat. They decided to process the cat as a feral cat, then, and treat his abscess while under anesthesia. Fortunately, the RIT feral was the only surgery for the morning, so the Dr. had time to neuter this guy as well. He also got his vaccinations (rabies and distemper), flea/worm treatment, and his left ear tipped.

As I told the woman previously, we go by donation only. When asked if she would like to make a small donation to our program to help more feral cats, she made a check out for $200! We were all so pleasantly surprised by this unexpected generosity! Especially when it was just one cat involved!

I love getting wonderful surprises like this!

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Moving Day

I'm moving out today!!!

I'm actually not that excited. I like the safety of living with my parents. I like knowing that my family will be here when I come home. But there's not enough room for the four of us here. With four cats. So I and my three cats are moving out today. I just hope that I will feel comfortable in my new place over time, since I will be sharing it with a girl I used to work with, but hardly know.

I have most of my stuff moved out - it's really just the furniture left. My new room is smaller, so I don't know how it's all going to fit! Also, it may take a couple days to get my computer set up. How will I survive? = )

On my way to take a carload of clothes and random stuff over to my new house, I saw a dead animal in the road. The animal was terribly mangled, but looked as if it had been black. I believe it was a cat.

If the animal had been on the side of the street, or even if the street was not so busy, I would have pulled over. But traffic is crazy here, and the dead animal was in the middle lane of a regular four-lane highway/street.

When I turned around to go back to my parents' house (can't say "home" anymore! *cries*) I slowed down while passing (hard to do when there's so many cars going 50mph, but I tried), and I do think it was a black cat, possibly with some white. Makes me so sad to think of this animal being killed in such a way. No one deserves such a death.

I won't even know if it was one of the cats from the bar/photo studio, since they don't really show their faces.

In our fast-paced world, we obliterate everything. Animals, plants, land, sea, air - everything.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A post of thought

I've been accused of caring more for animals than humans. All "animal-lovers" have been accused of this. But this is absurd to me. We who care for the helpless non-human animals are the same ones who care for the most helpless of our own species. We simply have different paths.

I watch a documentary about the lack of clean water in many areas of this world, and my heart breaks. I see the homeless walking the streets, rummaging through the trash cans for recyclable bottles, and my heart breaks. I read about the transgendered female murdered by her male friends when they found out she was a biological male, and my heart breaks. I hear about the 3 month old baby stabbed to death by an angry father, and my heart breaks.

Does your heart break? I bet so.

But what about the ones who accuse us of caring more for "animals" than for those of my species? Those who are not able to see the similarity in all of our paths of hardship - do their hearts break for the homeless? The hungry? The oppressed? So maybe, it all comes down to empathy. If your heart can't be affected by that homeless man, or that starving dog, maybe you simply don't understand the connection. What is the difference between a homeless man returning discarded bottles for money and a dog overturning garbage cans in search of food? The species. One is a man and one is a dog. Otherwise, their paths are the same. They are trying to survive. And THAT is what I care about. The survival. The dog wants to live as much as the man. In our desire to survive, we are all the same.

When I advocate for TNR of stray and feral cats, it's not because I simply like cats. It's because I have a respect for life. It's because I understand the struggle to survive. It's because I can empathize with the oppressed.

Nobody has the right to tell me that I am wrong to direct my life towards alleviating one particular species' hardship. I care about the afflicted and the oppressed REGARDLESS of species. I've been asked "Why are you spending all your time trying to help cats when there are starving children in this world? Aren't the children more important?" Um, not to be facetious, but have you brought them food? Hmm? How can you ask me that when you do nothing but sit on your behind and criticize what others are doing to make this world a little better? My life took a turn towards stray and feral cats. Another's life may bring water to the thirsty. Soup kitchens for the hungry. Safe havens for those sold in the sex trade. Education on Pit Bulls. Protection of endangered species. Sex education. Nursing. Therapists.

We are all in this TOGETHER. It sounds SO corny, but just as I cannot do all these things myself, neither can you. I wish I could help clean up the animals in the Gulf, stop circuses from using animals, stop pollution of our water and air, reduce plastic use, ban slaughter of animals for human use, and foster all the needy children in my area, but I can't. I can't do it all. I can't save the world. But I can keep hoping that we will be able to do it together.

I believe we should all take steps to support what we believe in. I won't ever go to a circus that involves animals again. I am researching cruelty-free and vegan beauty products for when my current ones run out. I am getting better at buying food without all the plastic packaging. I don't eat meat and am working on reducing the consumption of other animal products. Although I do not want to have my own children, I plan to foster needy children later on in life. But my life, at the moment, is driven towards spay/neuter of stray and feral cats.

I shouldn't have to explain that I care about ALL life. I shouldn't have to explain that we ALL have different paths. But there will always be people who need to belittle our efforts (in anything), to make us question the point. And though I never have the words in real life, I can write it down: my work in the feral cat colonies comes from my empathy for those who struggle to survive. My empathy relates to ALL animals, humans most definitely included. Had my life thus far not included one person or maybe contained an extra event, who knows: I may have finished college and become a therapist. I would have been on a different path - one that didn't include feral cats. But I would still be this same person who wants to alleviate the struggle of her fellow earthlings, humans and non-humans alike. I would still be me.

*I wanted to give this post a little more thought, but it is late and I am tired. Goodnight. = )