The Last of the Line

This morning I took both Shasta and Turner in to be neutered. This is it for me, the last neuters of all times. Then, I will turn to and get this dang vet bill off my neck, take care of my crew while still trying to find homes for the kittens here and just concentrate on finishing my manuscript. That’s the plan and this time, I believe God is on board with the agenda. I asked Him first what He wanted me to do, instead of just plowing ahead and doing it.

I was quite embarassed this morning at the vet’s office. I had filled out the spay form and the neuter form and presented it to the girls. Judy came out, picked up Turner, vanished into the back. A few minutes later, she came for Shasta, vanished behind the door only to reappear a few seconds later grinning.

“Mary Anne?” she asked. I turned around and said “Yes?”
“Your little girl kitty- well she has balls!” Then she laughed.

It figures, when the lady gave me the kittens, she said here is a little boy and a little girl and I never even thought to check! I just thought okay, another female better watch her because brother could get her pregnant.

Well, I didn’t have to worry about that, and my neuter bill just decreased by $60.00! Plus the recovery time of a neuter is minutes not hours as in a spay.

Last night when I went to pick up Turner, he freaked out. Someone was shooting nearby (hunting season) and the gun sounded like it was in our backyard. I had Turner scruffed, the gun went off, Turner started, he twisted around, sank his tiny teeth into my right wrist, his back legs found my left wrist and his front legs found my right one. He was out to turn me into shredded wheat. I couldn’t get him off me to save my life, and I knew if I just released him he would hide for days. So while he was still biting me, I carried him into the cage in the bedroom (it is heavily padded- stuck my arms inside and using my body, I used the door as a scraper to get him off me.

Boy it hurt like the dickens and I was bleeding like a stuck pig. He just missed my vein on my wrist with his teeth, but I was raked pretty good. I ran into the bathroom, grabbed the antibacterial soap, lathered up, scrubbed and scrubbed, more hot water, then I poured bleach over both arms and tried not to scream. Another scrub-down, applied neosporin and gulped down some antibiotics I keep on hand. Holy smokes! My arms look like I was in the arena with a baby lion!

I fully expected to wake up this morning to swelling and bruising-but the bleach took care of that. I am sore but not painful. As far as Turner goes, I am sad. We had made such great strides together and now I am once again the ultimate predator in his world. When he comes home, we will just have to start over from scratch (no pun intended!)

I could have sworn I was having a photo contest

But two photos does not a contest make. So instead, if you have a funny, funky or ROTFL video or photo of your cat- share it on and be in line for a bigger prize if you win!

We are being slammed with high winds and heavy rain. All that plastic I put up to protect the kitties in the enclosure has all come ripping down. Last night, the wind was howling so loud it sounded like a bad concert! Lost power for 6 hours- was really peaceful though- the whole town went dark. A bunch of people just aimlessly driving around in the dark, I guess looking for the light. I sat on couch for hours listening to the silence, surrounded by purrs. Though I admit, I was glad when the lights came back on.

I went shopping today- for me! I felt very selfish, but I bought shoes for the trip- and a purse. I am going to be traveling in jeans and in comfort, but once I get to cat writers’ it will be all business. I tried on all my professional attire last night- that was a zoo. I keep my professional clothes in a closet in the living room away from kitties. Opening that door, pulling out dresses, slacks, blazers etc and keeping the black clothes free of cat hair turned into a rodeo! I am happy to say that everything still fits me- some stuff is even loose! I think I have my travel and conference clothes figured out. I was also thrilled to go to a local shoe store and actually find shoes in my size in Women’s! I bought comfortable walking shoes for work and some really cool half boots black for the conference. I guess it is official- in 23 days, i will be flying to New York!

Christmas is coming a bit early

My parents have decided that my talent in writing is worth the gamble of them financing my trip to the Cat Writers’ Conference next month in New York! I am so over-the-moon excited about the possibility of sitting down with editors, agents and publishers and getting my manuscript at least considered! It is a guidebook for people to take that scared kitten or cat out of the bushes and bring it into the house safely. I can’t believe that they are willing to do this, and I hope I do not let them down. I am scared to travel all that way from Mike and the kitties, but my friend Hailey will be here to help out with the cats while I am gone. I will leave Nov. 18th and come home on the 21st!

When the conference was in San Francisco, it was more economically feasible to go to that one but since they moved it to New York it has been out of reach.

Cleaning Litter Boxes

Today I tackled the upstairs litter boxes. It was an all-out assault of dumping the soiled litter and cleaning each box, inspecting them for cracks or other defects and putting in new litter. I started at 11:00 this morning and finished at 12:18. Whew!

It is probably the most unpleasant aspect for cat lovers when it comes to caring for the indoor cat, and I have to admit, I wish it were an easier chore to do. I will share my routine and hope that it will help those of you who also look at cleaning the pans as the least pleasant aspect of sharing your world with a cat.
First of all, I do not use regular litter pans. I find them way to small for most adult cats to use and because I have so many cats, I use tall containers made by rubbermaid. The one cat sitter I had a few months ago when she came here to care for my cats expressed her disbelief that I use these containers. I guess she didn’t think the cats or the kittens are capable of jumping over the edges, but they love to jump and will do so willingly. Plus some of the boys like to keep their rear up and I got tired of wiping cat pee off my walls. Upstairs, I have fourteen of these containers for litter pans.

I dump all the soiled litter into garbage bags inside a trash can with wheels. This makes getting the bags downstairs a bit easier, plus the bags don’t have a chance to break on me- which has happened in the past.

Then, I carry the containers downstairs and scrub them out good with a mixture of hot water and bleach. I wipe them dry with paper towels and YES I always wear rubber gloves.

Once the pans are dry, they all get a solid coating of PAM cooking spray, then I dump fresh litter in the pans. The PAM allows for no sticking of urine or feces to the bottom of the containers.

By the time I am done- then I sweep and mop the floor and go downstairs and reward myself with a big drink of water and hot shower.

I do this three times a month- this complete scrub and I scoop litter pans daily, sometimes more than once.

Right now I am so dog-dead tired, I just want to curl up on my sofa with a good book and a kitty by my side, but I am sure they are upstairs baptizing each litter pan as is their custom!

Oh the wonder of ferals

One of my cats made a strong pee-litical statement last night and sprayed the outer edges of my mail-in ballot! I aired it out the best I could but since it only got the outer edges, I filled it in and sent it on.

I think looking at all the political smash ads of late, this is an appropriate action. On not only the cat’s behalf but mine as well.

A Simple Act

I noticed her cats first, I have to be honest here. A big cow kitty sitting on a broken down porch accompanied by a black kitten with the devil in his step.

I saw the elderly woman struggling with a large roll of fence wire, and as I drove past with thoughts of what to buy for dinner and how to get home before having to go to work, a voice within said- “You need to stop.”

“But Lord,” I argued. I can’t stop! This is a one way road and I am only going one way! If I stop, this means I have to circle around the block and I will lose valuable time! I have to go to work tonight and there is much to do.”

I heard the voice again; “You need to stop.”
So, with a deep sigh of how inconvenient this was becoming, I looped my car around the block and parked next to the building- right next to the woman still struggling with the wire.

As I got out of the car, I simply said; “I stopped to let you know that I love your cats!” The woman looked up and her eyes, once empty filled with pride and color. “They are rescues,” she said proudly. “I am putting this fence up to keep Sushi in the yard-he is my devil kitty.” As if hearing his name, the little black kitten came running out from under the porch and approached me. Fearing, he would dart out in the street, I stepped inside the wire and onto the grass. Sushi rolled over exposing a black belly tinged with white and I quickly rubbed his belly before his claws found my hand. “That’s odd,” the woman said- “He never lets anyone touch him!” I just laughed and told her I had a way with cats.

Come to find out the woman’s name is Judy. She is living in a small house behind what was once a fine gallery for local crafts. She had hired a few men to help her with the fence, but after taking off with her $700.00 and putting in only a few hours of work- they vanished never to be seen again.

I stayed most of the afternoon, helping Judy string this fencing. She is living on social security and her one delight besides The Beatles are her cats. When I pointed out to her that her cats would more than likely easily scale the four foot wire fence if they wanted to, she sighed and said it was the best she could do. Being in town, she was only really allowed to put up a 3 foot fence but applied for a variance for an extra foot. She lives on the street I have dubbed Drug Alley and she has lived there over 50 years. She told me of seeing the degratation of the houses and the neighbors around her and talked of the days of old when there were barbecues and get-togethers held in the middle of the street as neighbors celebrated good news and got together during the worst of times.

She insisted on paying me and I insisted she not. I told her that if I ever needed anything, I would stop and ask her if she could spare anything. But for now, it is good. Just to spend time with her and her cats and know that in some way, I brought her crew a bit of protection and her some happiness was payment enough.

As we worked, one by one the cats came out from under the old building. I had to skirt around several of them while rolling fence posts and twice, Sushi came close to snatching the pieces of wire in my hand as I twisted wire against wood.

Judy shared that after she had hired these men to help her, they took her money and then returned one night when she wasn’t home and robbed her blind. They even took an ornate urn she had by the door and she confided to me through a flood of tears, that the urn held the ashes of her dear husband.

Later, she escorted me to the other side of her home where she has effectively planted and placed plants and trees to make a small park. Even though she is in the middle of town, you can sit on the porch swings (which I noticed she had chained down with heavy locks) and for one brief moment forget that you are living on Drug Alley.

What would have happened if I hadan’t listened to that voice and continued on my way? She has had several shoulder surgeries and should not even lift her heaviest cat let alone a heavy section of rolled wire! Would she have hurt herself working alone on a street where most neighbors head indoors for a hit of meth?

I didn’t get litter pans scooped, groceries bought or my kitchen cleaned up today. But, I made a new friend and I visited with some wonderful ferals along the way.

The BP Crew

This morning, Mike had to laugh as he came into the living room and found me asleep on the couch covered in black cats. Even the latest black cat- Gideon had joined his color crew and surrounded me in the night. Mike said I wasn’t covered in cat hair, I was covered in cats.

I was so tired when I came home last night, I just crashed on the couch. It got cold in the night, and the heater hadn’t been turned on, so the cats must have sensed I was without protection and they became my blanket. I think that emotionally I was just so drained from the weekend. I must still be tired because it is just now 8:00 and I am finally awake. The cats generally wake me at 6:00 but not today. They are so intuitive!

It is foggy and cold this morning and I know Brook wants to go on her walk- but I don’t know as I have the energy at the moment to take her on the trail. Maybe later if the sun comes out as I am off work today.

Not really off work though because in my absence, Mike didn’t scoop the litter pans. That is the first order of business this morning once I have my coffee.

Women of Faith Conference

On Friday, I was unsure of why I was even there. Although the music was incredible, the energy in the room over-the-top- nothing was really speaking to me. Of course I kept nodding off because foolishly I told work I would do the closing shift on Thursday (one of the other girls was really ill) and there was no one left to cover the hours. So I didn’t even go to sleep on Thursday night- just stayed up all night prepping the house, preparing foods for Mike and seeing to the cats.

But Saturday, the Lord came out of the middle of nowhere and started teaching me lessons and really battering me around.

The gist of the conference is that we as women are all keepers of secrets. We are for the most part broken and just trying to survive. God on the other hand, never leaves us and we are so precious to Him that he keeps our tears in a bottle. He sure must have a lot of bottles with my name on them!

Nicolle Johnson, a dramatist and strong, beautiful Christ-filled woman performed skits. One on Saturday really hit home in my heart. Ironically (or probably not so ironically) the night before, I had shared with my friend Hailey a secret of my past. One I have kept hidden for so many years because of the stigma and the shame attached to the word it related to. The last thing I shared with her about the experience I went through was that I remembered the blood wouldn’t stop.

When Nicolle began the skit, I realized why I was there and the dam broke. I had my friend hugging me, women clustered around me as I poured my heartache up to God.

The skit concerned an abortion- there, I said the word. I had an abortion in 1975 after my son died. My husband had decided after the doctors informed me that if I got pregnant again (I had had miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, cysts on my ovaries) not only would the baby die, but so would I. So, Don decided to get a vasectomy.

Long story short, the vasectomy didn’t take and yes, I got pregnant again. The doctor called me at home late at night after I went to see him that day because I wasn’t feeling well. I need to clarify that during pregnancies, most women bloom, well, I wilted. I have what is called hyperemisis where I am allergic to the fetus. I am worshipping the porcelain god 24/7 and I am itching (on fire itching) for nine months. Nothing the doctors gave me stopped the vomiting for the itching. So when I went to see the doctor, I thought I had the flu. Turned out, I was pregnant.

Don was sick with a raging fever that night, so I turned to my mom. I had just lost my son and my sanity and I knew I couldn’t possibly go through another loss. I didn’t care if I died at that point, but I couldn’t see another baby lose his or her life. This time, it was double the pain because when the doctor told me “Mary Anne I am sorry to tell you this, you are not only pregnant, but it is twins.” I broke inside.

My mom said she would “take care of this” for me. I was numb and agreed. This was during the time when abortions were just coming out of back alleys and into specialized clinics. My mom made an appointment the next day for me and said she would take me. I thought she would stay with me through it- but I thought wrong, she dropped me off.

It was and has been the worst experience in my entire life. Humiliating how they treated all of us girls who were there- and I will spare the details but I will say that afterwards, the blood wouldn’t stop. I remember vividly that room that they shoved all of us into, the lumpy cots, the towels soaking up the blood- and it wouldn’t stop.

Nicolle did a skit on Saturday about this very situation. In her skit, she was a married woman who had just found out from her doctor she was pregnant and she got thrown into the past where she had an abortion. It was very powerful, and it ended with the sentence: “The blood wouldn’t stop.”

I crumbled and cried. I had women surrounding me, holding me up in prayer, hugging me, having no idea why I was so upset, but understanding that the pieces needed to finally be organized, put into a box so I could finally be whole again. It was simply incredible.

So, I have said it here on the Internet for all to see. I had an abortion and this procedure was necessary to save not one life but three. How twisted is that? The procedure messed me up really bad as it was crude and painful and later, even after Don had gone through a second vasectomy, one that did take- I had to have a total hysterectomy. I was 21 years old.

So this is my recovery period. Where the sectet comes out of the box, and God gets yet another bottle to collect my tears.


As of 2:30 p.m. Tandem’s fever has broken and is back to 102. This is a great relief for me because I was unsure whether Mike would be able to give her the care she needed if she got worse. Now I can leave in the morning and only worry half the time that Mike and the cats are okay.