Queen Sheba

I believe that this little girl must have Turkish Van in her. The reason why is she loves water, her tail is always in motion in the slow, swishing way that cats who are usually hissed off have about them. But she does it all the time (much like Vans do) and she is a happy little girl. That is, until I decide to let the kittens into the bedroom to be with her. They could care less about her, but her hormones are still raging and she is still protecting her kittens. She becomes quite formidable and shows me quickly that her social skills are still weeks or perhaps months from developing.

I Cry for the Lost Ones

I took Sheba into the vet today because I was concerned at how pregnant she is, how little she is and how young she is. The vet agreed with me, she got taken on her first heat cycle which means she is just 6 months old. She is carrying 7 plus kittens and they are due to arrive any day.

I had a long talk with my vet and even though my heart weeps, I have left Sheba there for an emergency spay. I hope no one thinks less of me for this decision. I don’t like and it just shouldn’t be this way. But it is, what it is and until people decide to act responsibly towards their cats, this type of situation will occur again.

I talked with other rescuers who I know I can cry on their shoulders and they agreed I did the right thing. It is the worse of spots to be in- to factor in Sheba’s age, the fact that she probably never really had a mom and therefore has no maternal skills. Her unsure history of whether she got proper nutrition, because even though she is pregnant, she is skinny in places she should be fat. This means that the kittens could have compromised immune systems and my hands would be full with bottle feeding so many mouths.

There are NO homes for kittens here. People can email me and tell me to try harder to find homes for them (which by the way really hissed me off!) No one tries harder than I do to find homes for these kittens and cats. We are looking at a bad economy, a dying town and a state with the highest unemployment rate in the country. My other kittens have been on petfinders now for almost 4 weeks and there have been no clicks on their details. No one wants another mouth to feed.

So on the way home from the vet, I wept for the lost ones who should have never been. It is so unfair and sad.

The Cardboard Lure

I don?t know about you, but I don?t share my life with any cat who doesn?t believe that cardboard is a wonderful kitty magnet. No matter what arrives in my home, be it from the post office, Fed Ex or UPS, once the contents have been removed, the cats play for hours with the empty box until it collapses from exhaustion!

Recently, a new product has come to my attention. Created by Creative Pet, The Cube takes the simple principal of cardboard attraction and creates a sturdy, eye-pleasing cat condo/playhouse for your kitty?s enjoyment.

The product is lightweight and the instructions are easy to follow, however, some of the cardboard sections (16 pieces comprise one set) were probably not keen to become kitty sacrifices so they were a bit hard to assemble by myself. I had several claws into the action, but the arrival of hubby soon put the claws to rest and the condo was put together quickly.

This condo has been created to make your life easier, especially if you are living with a cat who prefers to be inactive. The countless escape hatches in the sections that you punch out at your preference offer your dormant kitty a challenge he can?t resist. Soon the cubes were alive with kitty and cat bodies popping in and out of each section.

The cardboard sections are sturdy enough to bear the weight of my largest cat- McKinley who is a Maine Coon mix and a whopping 22 pounds! He had no problem navigating the many hatches provided.

Because of the smaller sections of cardboard and how they are constructed- you don?t need to worry about the beginner set toppling over. If you wish to buy more sections and go higher, my suggestion is to be sure and stabilize the height because of the frenzy of activity the condo promotes.

For me, this condo is a godsend. Most condos on the market are made of carpeting, reinforcing to the cat that carpet is wonderful to scratch on. So far, the condo has been scratch free, again because of the smaller sections of cardboard. Cats tend to scratch tall objects.

Beginner Condo starts at $19.95 visit Creative Pet and put this cat lure into your home today!

Morning Wake-up Call

This morning when I was talking to God, I told Him I have to believe that there is a purpose for my home to be bursting with kittens right now. Waking up, most people wake up to sunshine streaming into their windows, we wake up to a wave of blackness surrounding our feet.

Sinclair, one of the little boys loves to jump on my neck in the morning and snuggle into my hair. Shakespeare has a foot fetish. My toes need kevlar in the mornings to keep them safe from kitty claws and teeth. When he is finished vanquishing the enemy, he settles triumphantly on my foot causing my toes to go even number than they are already (I have tarsel tunnel in both feet)

Walking to the kitchen, black obstacles block my path. These furry gladiators are armed and ready for combat and fuzzy slippers- they are the conquest. As I move, small thumps are felt as the kittens launch themselves tirelessly at the prey that dares to come in their midst.

The floor is littered with black kittens ready to stalk and pounce as this is when they are in their element. Nothing is safe. If it isn’t nailed down, it must be prey!

Now, after the arrival of “Queen” Sheba, the kittens know something is afoot besides fuzzy slippers moving among them. Opening up countless cans of food for my clowder, my hope is to sneak upstairs and visit with Sheba, give her a few pets and the food she appears to love (tuna).

However, the kittens arrive before me. Go figure, these critters can navigate our narrow stairs better than me! Who would have thought?
Now the blackness settles on the stairs each one challenging me to dare to come up and give my attention to another critter. I look at the scene before me and decide to divert and conquer.

Taking my fuzzy slippers off, I toss one downstairs into the hall and step back to watch them scramble after it. Any laggers, I have another slipper to distract them and I am able to get into the room in relative peace.

I check the several food bowls presented to Sheba last night. Her Royal Highness has declined the Kitten Chow. The fancy feast is sampled but the tuna is half gone. Figures for a queen, she has to have elite taste. Ignoring the stacks of canned food I brought up yesterday, I return to the downstairs pantry and grab the tuna and a can opener. The blackness doesn’t bother me, they are to busy tearing into fuzzy slipper a sacrifice for the day.

I managed to pet Sheba on the head several times before she moved off. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t touch a new cat or kitten for several days until they decompressed and adjusted to their new world. But with her being heavy with kitten, so heavy her nipples drag the ground I have to push the envelope a bit.

She is not feral- I suspect either someone tired of her kitten antics and threw her outside where she became scared, lost and pregnant before she ever should be (not that she should be at all). Or, she is part of a litter of an abandoned queen and has a small set of social skills with people but still she does not trust the world that betrayed her.

I drape the futon with blankets to give her blackness of her own, for her darkness is security. I push tuna and water under the futon towards her and leave her till the next meeting at noon.

Outside the door, the black plague waits. Mom is inside and so their quest is to find out why. I manage to get out without letting the plague in- and wonder what is going to happen in the next few days when Sheba starts labor. I need to call my feline specialist and make her aware of the situation so she can stand by to help me.

I told God, I have to believe there is a reason that these critters come here. I have to trust that I will be able to provide for every need of these wonderful felines and that the end result means you won’t have to see me for the first time on the next episode of Hoarders!

Another arrival

The flood continues no matter how much I pray for someone to put their finger in the dike to hold back the tide.

This little one was dumped on us tonight. She is a beautiful, quite young gray kitty. I am guessing not quite 6 months old and she is very pregnant. I already know that there is no vet in the area that will spay her because she is due any day. I put her initially into the large dog cage, but she was so stressed out, I feared for her health. I have since put her upstairs. She is hiding under the couch up there and although I have given her several different choices of food, she is not eating. It is clear she is not feral just a product of an abandoned or neglected pet. Mike said with our luck she will drop 14 kittens! Heavens! I hope not.

The resident cats are stirred up with her arrival, but really what choice did I have? Someone dumped her and I am just supposed to ignore her very pregnant state. She looks like our Squirrel. Please God don’t let her give birth to pure black kittens!

Who Needs a Personal Trainer When You Live in a Multi-cat Home?

My friend Steph emailed me the other day and she was so proud that her husband Toby bought her training sessions with a personal trainer for her birthday. Steph and I have been friends for over thirty years, and like me, gravity has caught up with her and she is fighting the battle of the bulge and combatting other struggles with her body.

Her email was full of all the rigors this trainer is putting her through. She said it was almost as if she was in boot camp, he was so tough on her.

I answered her wishing her luck in her new physical fitness training program, without reminding her of the countless gym memberships of the past that both of us attended with enthusiasm for a few months before our passes started gathering dust and cobwebs, including our membership at Richard Simmons Exercise Asylum- a bout with Spa and Fitness World and the boxes of motivational tapes from exercise gurus Jane Fonda, and others to numerous (or embarassing) to mention.

By the time I was finished composing the email, it was time for me to get busy around here.

The first order of the day- strength training consisting of lifting several 20 pound bags of dry cat food and pouring the food into the several feral feeders we have around the place. If you have ever wondered how many cups of food you can give your cat from these bags- I have the answer- you can get 45 cups of food from one 20 pound bag.

Our feeders outside are 33 gallon trashcans with tight fitting lids and small holes near the bottom so the cats can come and feed. Once the kibble is eaten, it is a simple matter of a kitty sticking her paw into the hole to dislodge more kibble, so keeping it full is always an advantage.

Now it was time to fill the water bowls. I use small buckets in the enclosure. I have them set inside a large truck tire, so the kitties simply perch on the side of the tire to get a drink from their personal pool.

Because our puppy Gretchen believes hoses are the best puppy toy ever created, I either have to carry water out of the house, or load up my wheelbarrow with several empty buckets and trundle out to the pasture to get water from the irrigation well. The agility of this exercise challenges me. I am running through rocky terrain, weaving in and out while balancing the barrow. I do not want to get a ticket for reckless endangerment because my wheelbarrow tire accidentally smushed the tail of Riley, Squirrel of the other curious barn kitties.

Once the buckets are full, my chest and shoulders begin to ache during the return trip.

Deep Knee bends are crucial when I am scooping out the litter pans. One problem I encounter during these sessions is the inability to breathe correctly while I am working out in this fashion. Understanding that deep breathing helps endurance and expands your lungs does not erase the damage done to those lungs when you are scooping out waste and disposing of the matter. Holding my breath becomes a better option, even on scrub the litter pan days. Dry litter dust is killer on the respiratory system. Sitting waiting in the corner for their turn are several 27 pound bags of stall dry. Hefting them up on top of the counter and pouring the contents down into the litter containers works pecs and biceps.

Keeping my back straight while Panda sits on my shoulder improves my posture. Who needs a book on their head, when you have an 8 pound cat riding on your shoulder while you are doing cat chores.

My big feet carefully navigate the path created by mulit-colored critters blocking my way. Everest perches on the overhead ramp, following me as I make my rounds. Executing head bobs keeps me safe from his playful claws. He loves to get tangled up in my hair and pull it off to the side. Perhaps a hair cut is soon in order?

Who needs a personal trainer? I have over a dozen. They work from scratch. By the time I have filled all the food bowls, brought in water, scooped litter pans, cleaned up the floor from the midnight preytime and rubbed each kitty’s head half a dozen times, I can barely manage to stumble into the house where I take a hot shower. The hot water soothes muscles stretched beyond their endurance. I know full well I need to rest up, because tomorrow, the routine will start all over again.

The Lost has Returned

One of the surviving kittens of distemper has returned home. Sundance is an orange kitty who was one of four survivors from a litter of eight. He got out of the house somehow after recovery and vanished from sight. I looked everywhere I could think of for him, but couldn’t find him. I put up posters around town and finally just hoped that someone had taken him into their home because he is a kitty of color and orange kitties are desirable around here.

Tonight when I came home and drove up the drive, I saw an orange kitty sitting in the feral cat feeder in the tree. It was Sunny but as soon as I got out of my car and made my way slowly toward him, he had vanished down the tree and under the house.

He looks fat and healthy so I suspect someone did grab him and keep him, and he finally made his escape to come home. I just lent my traps out so I can’t trap him right now. I will continue to feed out there and hope that he remembers me enough to trust me to come in before winter hits. My heart is glad to see him- we have so many predators around- I had been afraid he had been a victim of a coyote attack. They leave nothing behind but a few hairs.

Mary Travers dies at age 72

I don’t know about you, but I grew up with the mellow sounds of Peter Paul and Mary songs playing throughout our home from the record player in the front room. Although some believe that Puff the Magic Dragon personifies smoking pot, I prefer to think that it is a fanciful look at the innocence of childhood, and a little boy’s belief that dragons do fly.

I struggled at summer camp, teaching my campers to sing 500 Miles and stay on key. I dated a college man in high school and he serenaded me one evening on my parent’s lawn with Blowin in the Wind.

With everything going on here at the homefront, I haven’t been listening to the news or reading the paper. I was so sad to read that Mary Travers died yesterday of leukemia.

Her songs will live on, and this weekend, I shall venture into our attic and find our trunks which hold all our LP’s and 45′s. I will search through the vast collection until I find my cherished records of Peter Paul and Mary- and soon our home will be filled with the folk songs that spoke so deeply through troubled times and gave voice to causes this group took up as their own.

Tonight, the angels are singing sweeter than ever before, as I am sure that Mary is leading them in a rousing rendition of All Men Are Brothers~

Excuse this entry….

I have been journaling since I was ten years old. Upstairs in the attic, are boxes and boxes of all my journals, my life as it were. It is my outlet, a way I can cope or make sense out of what is happening. Now, this blog takes the place of all those old school notebooks, journals, diaries and pieces of paper recording my history.

I laid in bed early this morning with kitties piled all over me and my thoughts were racing. We are hanging by a thread here, Mike and I. Although our marriage is as strong as it was 23 years ago, his Diabetes is sorely testing us. His hearing is now almost completely gone, and the expensive hearing aids we bought do nothing to restore his hearing. Thankfully, they came with a money-back guarantee or we would be in worse shape then we are now.

Our home that we have shared for nineteen years, well, there is a chance we are going to lose it. We are doing everything we can to save it and perhaps we wouldn’t even fight for it were it not for the cats. After all, where would you move after the bank takes your home if you have over a dozen cats?

Mike’s illness has caused a severe crimp in our finances. He is retired and we have his pension, but he is by trade a custom knifemaker, and he used to be capable of making knives that made your heart sing. Just an amazing man, who these days finds it hard to get out of the recliner and go into the kitchen to get his shot of insulin.

The other day at the vet the bookkeeper informed me that I can’t have anymore cat emergencies! Can you believe that? As if I plan on these kittens or cats to become so ill that I can’t help them here at the house. When I told the vet what she said ( I was really angry) he got even angrier and said he would “talk to her.” great, now I will have an angry bookkeeper sending me bills every month.

My friend called me the other day and they just got back from a cruise. I found myself wondering what that was like? To get on a ship and sail away from all your worries and frets, stuff your face, dance till dawn and not care that you have responsibilities and other aspects of your life waiting for you back home.

it has been ten years since Mike and i even took a vacation. We went back to my old home Southern California and I couldn’t wait to get back home to the relative quiet of our lives.

So life right now, as Mike and I knew it has changed drastically. The man I love is changing on a daily basis and I am watching the ravages of the Diabetes slowly eat away at his soul. He is defeated and tired, and I am weary and tired of telling him how sorry I am that I brought these extra kittens into our life when we had balance here at the house. But the alternative, I told him would have been horrific. How could I have turned my back on their plight? How could I have lived with myself knowing they were destined for landfill? He assures me that it will be okay, that God will provide and always have. We snuggled together while 8 kittens clustered around us, nibbling my hair, chewing his nose, kneading our chest, and generally making us laugh.

We may not have money at this point and time, but we have something I hold much dearer than that green stuff. We still love each other, we still laugh and enjoy each others company. He may not be able to hear me say to him that I love him, but he knows by my actions that I hold him dear to my heart. And that goes for every living creature under this roof. I may tire of kittens tapdancing across my keyboard, or scooping multiple litter pans and buying cat food on a weekly basis, but I wouldn’t change our lives for the world. And if they do come and take our house- well, I guess we will deal with that when it happens. Until then, I meet each day with a prayer and thank God that He has given me this incredible gift of being able to live among these strays and receive their unconditional love.

Unexpected vet visit

Although it wasn’t planned nor in the household budget, I had to take two of the dumpster kitties into the vet this morning. Both of them last night, quite unexpectedly collapsed in front of me. They were both hot to the touch when I picked them up. I put them both in the cage, applied rubbing alcohol to their ear flaps and toe pads and watched them through the night. In the morning, it was off to the vet. My thoughts were whirling- was this calicivirus even though there was no URI? Was it FIP? After last year, I take nothing for granted with small kittens.

BK3 had the highest temp of 103.9, the other kitten 102.6. The vet feels that this is a throwback of kitty play and we are dealing with kitty bites. Kitty bites don’t often abscess because the teeth are fine as needles, but they can spike fevers and become weak from a bite. I also did not know that they have lymph nodes on their legs. Bk3′s lymph nodes are swollen whereas BK2 is not.

The kitties are home and they are isolated in a room- but I am probably going to have to put them in the main bedroom because it is hot upstairs and it is not cooling down anytime soon.

The vet will be on call all weekend and I am to call her if they start sliding downhill suddenly.

7:20 p.m. Temps are dropping- 103.4 and 102.4 I have given both kittens clavamox and graduated them to the largest dog cage we have and put that in the bedroom where it is noticeably cooler. There is even room for a Drinkwell inside their cage as well as a larger litter pan. It was a bit of a hassle bringing in the cage from the porch but well worth the effort.