Giving Tuesday

You may have heard people talking about it, or it mentioned on the radio, or you may have seen a post from a friend – today is Giving Tuesday.

After the craziness of in-store and online purchases that only a US Thanksgiving weekend can bring on, people feel they are all shopped out. Whether they shop for themselves (after all, the deals are better than most of the year) or for gifts, the whole thing feels like a frenzied fever of grasping.

Giving Tuesday encourages everyone to volunteer with or donate to their favourite charity. It’s about giving what you can. Maybe giving back a couple of dollars you saved in shopping. Maybe taking the time to remember and stand up for the causes that matter to you. It’s about making a difference.

Some people think that they’ll wait until they have a better job, or are more settled or are more organized before they give of their time or money. The truth is that is always a further and more distant goal, but giving at this time… this moment can make you feel wonderful. Who cares if you have $2 to give. Or $16. Or $60. Those donations matter as much as the big ones… maybe more.

In cat rescue, it’s the vet costs that are crippling. Most cat rescues work on a wing and a prayer. Everything is volunteers… from homes for fosters, to driving cats to the vet, to going on a call for an animal in distress. So whether you have $2 or 2 hours, you are the difference in a life.

Do you want to see what your money does? Look through my photos of the Spice Rack or the Rascals… their vet costs were paid by people who love cats… a couple of dollars at a time.

Last year, I saved a cat’s life with $16 and the coincidence of being online at the right time. Paypal. She was in the USA – going to be put down in the morning. Just a few months old, calico, friendly and beautiful. There was a rescue there who could take her. They had precious space. They didn’t have the money to vet her – and as some places do now, they take pledges to see if they can meet the animal control release and vet costs. If they meet their target, a life is saved. If not… the life is lost. So many people had pledged… a couple of dollars at a time. I watched it get so close to the target – I didn’t pledge because I try to help locally. But time was so tight … 2 hrs… and they were $16 short.

I don’t have a ton of money right now. But it doesn’t matter does it? You can make a difference with $2. Or your hands. Or your time.

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a US staple. It might be a small and growing movement (just 3 years old!), but Giving Tuesday is All Canadian! Way to go, Canada!

Makes me really proud to be Canadian today – and the giving really does feel like it’s bringing the Christmas spirit into our home.

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Happy December 1st, friends! Let’s make it a holiday season to remember!

#GivingTuesdayCAN #GivingTuesday

Bleary-Eyed

Is it really morning? We are both blurry-eyed this morning because Merlin complained all night long. He did not want to stay in his room. It was not yowling. It was a sad, pathetic complaint of not wanting to be alone. He was just lonely and wanted company.

Do you watch Big Bang Theory? Merlin is a Beverly Hofstadter special – Needy Baby, Greedy Baby. Merlin is an attention hog – and doesn’t want to be away from the action or the love. He wants me there with him even if he’s sleeping in a sun puddle. He loves to sleep touching my toes. Or to nap on my lap. I should tell you that he gets my undivided attention in his room for 1.5-2 hrs a day, and he wants more. I think it might come from being abandoned outside.

At the same time, he’s got a few not-so-nice outside behaviours he’s brought with him. He has nipped me 2x now. Today and about 3 days ago. They are hard, but not hard enough to break skin. He seems surprised to get scolded when he does it. Love bite? Well, love bite or not, it’s an inappropriate behavior and needs to go. Poor J… he was brushing Merlin and suddenly he lunged and scratched J’s forearm. Hmmmm… wants to be brushed… loves to be brushed… and then attacks? I think this is all about the attention. Like some kids will use either positive or negative attention to feed their needs. Someone needs some gentle guidance and training.

I use both positive and negative reinforcement when training. Negative is voice tone … and until that alone is enough to stop a behaviour, I will use the water gun. I haven’t got it yet. I don’t find it’s needed much… and my personal philosophy is that there should be at least 2 positive reinforcement moments for each negative one.

Getting back to last night… I have to hand it to him… he kept it up for hours. Then it would die down until he’d start up again. This is a big downside of having him beside our bedroom. I checked him only once before bed … and the food, water, litter, sleeping spots, toys were all in good order. I can’t give in or I’ll be inadvertently training him to be the most annoying whiner who ever lived. I don’t think the 4 of us got much good rest… poor Shady and Nuala.

I hope this makes sense… I need another cup of coffee just to start thinking straight. In fact, I just poured coffee into my drinking glass… got half way to the top before I realized I needed a mug. Anyone else lived through this?

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Eat Dammit!

I have so much I can write about today with our new friend. I will need to break it out over the next few days for you.

Today, I wanted to talk about something I watch every time a cat comes to my home: eating and drinking. New cats need to be watched to make sure that liquids and solids are going in, and liquids and solids are coming out in good timing and form. (Are you grossed out? Sorry!)

When I got our foster, the lady from the rescue told me that one thing she had trouble with him was that he barely ate. She’d only had him a number of days since his operation, but there didn’t seem to be foods he liked. Okay… radar officially switched on.

He came in the early evening and is a sweet cat – I can’t believe how immediately friendly and people-centered he is. Once he arrived, I put out food for him… a selection of 3 dry foods. This is what my cats are currently eating… a mix of three (one tasty cheaper but good brand, one great shaped, great protein medium priced brand, and one they find less exciting but extremely good-for-them-brand). My cats eat all three and yes, they sometimes do pick through for their favourites. This is good for my new foster… if he’s picky he can eat the ones he wants.

I gave him the dry food and left him alone for a few hours to let him settle in. I returned and no food had been eaten. No problem: he’s still new to the room and home. So I offered some wet food and left him alone for some hours again. No eating.

By mid-day the next day, there was no change. I tried a different dry food.  My spouse tried and he ate less than 10 pieces of kibble and stopped. I tried fresh (different) wet food. He looked interested and sniffed each food and walked away. Once or twice he licked the food and left. He might have had one mouthful of wet food – when again my spouse offered him some. Getting more concerned, I opened a bag of treats and gave him two. He licked one and then ignored it. I opened a second bag of (different fave junky) treats thinking any eating is better than no eating! Again nothing. 24 hrs with almost no food at all.

I was getting worried. Did he have a medical issue – ulcerated tongue or painful teeth? How a cat eats is one of the first things to watch in a new foster. Also, my cat became anorexic – something stressful happens and they stop eating. Unfortunately with cats, it’s like a switch in their brain that gets turned off and they will (if they get anorexia and there is no intervention) starve themselves to death. My cat who got this used to act this way … sniff food, maybe lick a kibble and then walk away. This got me jittery. Eat Dammit!

After petting and gentle brushing, we left him to sleep.

The next morning, most of the food was gone! He had eaten all the wet and most of the dry by early morning. I fed him again in the late morning (1/4 can of wet and 1.5 scoops of dry) and he ate all of this by evening. I was just so happy to see him eat! In the evening he got 1 scoop of the mixed dry and a little wet… he had cleaned the bowls and was eagerly anticipating breakfast. This was a pretty voracious appetite. I think he had been stressed and holding himself back from eating for days and days.

The second part of the equation is the litter box. Especially after stress, surgery, and being moved, litter-use is a good indicator of health. He pee’d right away and again the next day so I knew those pipes were fine and working. With not eating, he had not pooped. 48hrs – nothing. But sometime during the night – before 60hrs since his arrival, that food he ate was processed and the eagle landed.

I can breathe a big sigh of relief.

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All There Is To Know

When I foster, I become a sleuth instantly. I’m not sure if this is from a childhood full of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys reading, but the kitty who arrives nervously on my doorstep becomes an irresistible mystery to me. While I’m not a fan of puzzles, a cat presents the best, most intriguing, interactive puzzle.

It’s the hours before your foster arrives and the day or so after when you have the best opportunity to learn all you can about the history and back-story of the kitty. That knowledge is still fresh in the rescuers minds and with the vets who have met him. In a perfect-case scenario, you will have a intake or med report copy so you can read the observations, dates, and medical procedures. You will rarely get a full story – it’s likely going to be sketchy at best, but it’s something!  I’m going to list some questions that I like to start with:

  • How old is the kitty?
  • Where was he found?
  • What were the circumstances in which he was found?
  • Did someone surrender him? If so why?
  • Were there any injuries?
  • What is his temperment with people?
  • What is his temperment with animals?
  • Has he had his shots? What shots (Kitten boosters? Annual shots + rabies?)
  • Has he been de-wormed 2x (especially important if he was found outside to catch the right-stages of worm development)?
  • Is he fixed?
  • Was he in an animal shelter? If so for how long?
  • Is there anything else at all you know about him?

You may ask why this is important. Good question! Any information you have about the kitty will help you ‘read’ him, understand some fears or needs, and help him engage with his new environment. Later on, his future family will want to know all you can tell them about his past. I think this helps them know their kitty better, bond with his life-story, and see themselves in his forever. It also serves to help future vets he may meet.

Here’s what I know about our new friend:

He’s a stray of about a year old. He was found in a town 1hr north of my home.

He was immediately taken to the animal services vet because he had been limping and had a problem with his back leg. He was put on antibiotics – and the leg healed. Note from the shelter “The animal control officer attended and retrieved him on the 20th of April and took him to the vet where it was discovered he just had an infection.  He was given antibiotics and he quickly recovered.  He is extremely sweet and very intelligent with a really unique sense of humour.  He gave us no problems during his stay.”

Hearsay (and you do have to take hearsay as what it is; a game of broken telephone that is at least a good part right) is that he was someone’s kitten and they likely threw him out or moved away without him. Someone was kind enough to feed him until he showed up limping with a hurt back leg – and thankfully she called animal services (or someone else) to come take him since ‘he’d been hit by a car or something’.

The rescuers don’t know which leg was the problem, or what the injury was – she can’t see anything unusual with the leg.  Last week he got his neuter, vaccinations and revolution and is doing well with clean bill of health. He had one other dose of de-worming prior to Revolution (so that makes two which is necessary – I can only hope the time-spacing was right). He has been in a home since his neuter but with the shortage of foster homes, he would have to return to the shelter (albeit a nicer one) if we didn’t take him. He has been noted to be social, intelligent, curious, and rambunctious. He apparently doesn’t know how to socialize with other cats and was likely on the streets for his kittenhood.

 YES, I know. The post is great info, but you want a photo!
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Fears of a Foster Cat

I’m taking a leap here – I don’t have permission to re-print this but I’m going to anyway. I am hoping that it will help some of you who are considering fostering and I know that it gives a good perspective on those first days of fostering a new cat.

About the Author: Ruth is a fantastic foster mom. She cares deeply, has patience, and ‘gets it’. She has insights that come from intuitively knowing cats that were honed with years of fostering and making a difference. Ruth is in Toronto and fosters with Annex Cat Rescue. In fact, you have seen her letters before in my blog. Ruth took the Rascal’s mom Mattie after she was fixed – and we kept in touch to try to help her adjust. The kittens were only 8 weeks old when we separated them from Mattie – I would have liked a few weeks longer based on all the stress and trauma this little group had been through. But I fostered the Rascals outside the ‘rescue system’ – so when a viable foster home with Ruth became available with Annex, I jumped at the opportunity to get Mattie to a safe, experienced home and officially into a rescue. She did not adjust well – even with Ruth’s great care. She howled for the kittens non-stop and was miserable. We sometimes ask too much of them – though we know we are acting in their best interests!

So without delay… here are some very wise words from Ruth:

Environment You might be familiar with the saying that “dogs remember faces, cats remember places”, i.e. familiar environment is more important to cats than the care-giver. When I had my own cats and had to travel, it was always better for them to arrange for a cat-sitter to visit daily and tend to their needs, than to send them somewhere else. Many of our foster cats have experienced multiple environments: cat colony, vet clinics, temporary rescue homes, then foster homes. They have endured capture, and spent time in clinics being neutered/spayed, being de-flead and given shots. Cats have acute and very efficient senses of hearing, sight and smell. Before coming to you as their fosters, their senses have been bombarded by hundreds of sensory experiences which they have had to deal with and sort through. They have been physically handled by rescuers, vets etc. No wonder that they are disoriented, confused and fearful. Of course, we are doing what we think is best for them, but they don’t know that. Thus, the more traumatized cats need time to adjust to yet another new environment with a stranger. They need to spend a great deal of time examining every inch of their new setting, not just once, but over and over again, often daily in the early days. They also need to time to put their imprint (scent) in various locations and features of their new place: feeding stations, litter boxes, furniture, beds, toys, window sills etc., before they become comfortable.

Self-Preservation. My observation over the years has been that self-preservation is a cat’s foremost and extremely compelling instinct, which might account for why they have survived and thrived for thousands of years. Thus, if they are fearful for any reason and feel threatened, they will either retreat or fight back. Don’t take their reactions personally: they are only doing what cats do instinctively.

New Setting. Cats have an enormous amount of information to absorb when they go to a new foster home: the physical setting itself, sights, smells, noises, the garbage chute across the hall, the “thump” of the delivery of the newspaper, nearby construction etc. They also have to adjust to the new human(s) in their life. How many are there: just one foster, a couple, children, other pets etc. Equally important are the routines of the new household, their comings and goings. My observation is that cats very much appreciate routine and predictability, including their mealtimes.

Patches and Shreddy. Some of you might know about this rescued non-related bonded male pair. I mention them because it took a long time to socialize them. They hid in the bedroom closet, not in the bed that I had prepared for them in one half of the closet, but behind the shoe rack. For many days, I visited them in the bedroom, played with them etc. It finally dawned on me that I was rewarding them for staying in the bedroom, so I stopped visiting them, opened the bedroom door and waited for them to emerge, which they soon did. When they did so, I sometimes ignored them, allowing them to explore the rest of the apt. as much or as little as they wished. At other times, I called them by name and encouraged them to visit and play. I gave them lots of time and space to become comfortable in their new home. Only after that did they become friendly and playful with me: joining me in my reclining chair and in bed, and letting me stroke and groom them.

Meowtini (I have nicknamed her “Tina”) and Rue. They are my current fosters, a mother and daughter pair that have experienced rescue, veterinary care, temporary rescue care, unsuccessful foster care and adoption. I have given them lots of space and time to get used to my home and routines. My best compliment from them recently (as it has been from other fosters) is that they sometimes simply ignore me. That is, they used to be alarmed at every movement I made, even the crackle of the newspaper. They have now had time to absorb enough information about their environment and my comings and goings, that they are much more relaxed. Instead of lying upright and on guard, they now lie all curled up in their favourite places. They also both now show up in the kitchen at mealtimes. They are a long way from letting me touch them, and they still run away from me, but not as much as before.

Main Points

  • Please understand and appreciate what your foster cats have experienced
    before coming to you: physically, emotionally and psychologically.
  • Don’t expect too much of them too soon.
  • Be patient and low-key. Take your cue from them.
  • Give a lot of thought and time to understand their needs. Give them lots of space and time to get used to their new environment and to you.
  • Be affectionate toward them, talk to them, give them assurance.

Ruth

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The 12 Dangers of Christmas

I love Christmas – I hope you do too. The holidays bring families together, create occasions to gather with friends, and give us so many reasons to celebrate. While this is wonderful, warm and happy, please be aware that there are many kitty-dangers to the holidays. No one wants a tragedy with their fur-family – especially during this time.

  1. Spray snow might look lovely on the tree, window or on seasonal decor, but it’s very toxic to cats if ingested.
  2. Lilies of all kinds are toxic to cats… the stamens and pollen are the worst parts of the whole toxic plant. Cats go into kidney failure just hours after ingestion of just a little bit and often die before the owner even knows what happened. Amaryllis are from this family of plants.
  3. Many plants we decorate with at Christmas are toxic to cats; poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, pine. Some are deadly (mistletoe) and some are mildly toxic (poinsettia). We know cats love to chew on green things, and to explore anything like petals or leaves which fall to the floor so please be vigilant.
  4. Tinsel is extremely dangerous to cats. It’s shiny, fun to play with, and easily ingested. Once a cat starts eating a piece of tinsel, it has no way to ‘spit it out’ and must continue to swallow it until its all gone. Once it’s half in, it’s too dangerous to pull out of your cats mouth (cutting and damage to esophagus and intestine) and kitty must rush to the emergency vet. When it gets into their intestines they need an expensive surgery to get it out or blockages will likely kill them. Consider becoming a tinsel-free zone.
  5. Ribbon – for the same reasons as above, ribbons are very dangerous to cats. Really is this a whole category – ribbon, yarn, and string. Our former Rascals foster Maverick ate ribbon last year and almost died – an expensive surgery saved his young life. His parents had to go deep into debt to afford to save his life. Lets face it – they are so curious: they get into things you never thought they could find!
  6. All those wires are dangerous to the kitties (I have one!) who find that they are the best chew toys ever. Keep an eye on them… new wires in new places offer opportunities for chewing… and electrocution! Rubbing bitter apple, citrus fruit, or apple cider vinegar on the wires might help stop them from chewing.
  7. Falling trees and broken glass ornaments. Okay I have to admit it’s hilarious on youtube, but not so funny in your own home. Many cats are fascinated with trees and will try to climb them so make sure they are weighted down and very stable. Many people anchor the tree to the wall behind it at 2/3 of the height. As for broken ornaments and glass… go plastic!
  8. Do you have a ‘real’ tree like I do? Some trees being sold are deadly to cats because they are sprayed with chemicals (ethylene glycol – this can kill your cat in a few hours if it’s ingested) or anti-desiccants to keep them fresh longer.
  9. Pine needles are liver-toxic and can tear throat and stomach lining. (Balsam is a bit better because the needles are softer.) Try to keep your tree hydrated so there is less fallout for kitty to play with and eat. To be honest I vacuum around the tree just about every day. Just as dangerous is the water in the tree stand as it becomes toxic as well. Keep the water level where kitty can’t drink from it and avoid using those ‘tree fresh’ chemicals that keep your tree looking good but are poisonous. Look for additives that are pet-safe. Artificial trees are better for cats, but like with tinsel, if they eat bits from it, it can cause internal blockages.
  10. Avoid giving kitties human foods. You already know that things like raisins, candy and chocolate are poisons to cats – but do your guests know? Well-meaning people give kitties ‘treats’. Keep in mind that turkey or chicken bones (cooked) are extremely dangerous to cats: after cooking they splinter and have the effect of eating nails – cutting the throat, stomach and intestines. I’m a suck and give our girls a little turkey but too much of a good thing brings on stomach upsets.
  11. Candles pose a threat if your cats are curious about them and end up getting burned. An old roommate used candles all the time … Mouci was lucky as a kitten because all she got was badly singed whiskers. Beyond burns, if a cat knocks over a candle it can start fires. I love candles myself, but I’m vigilant and try to keep them inside lanterns or up on surfaces my cats don’t ever get to.
  12. Your front door. What? With guests coming and going, poppers, loud music, changed daily schedules, stress of new things and people, some cats will hide. Other cats will dash for the door as people are coming and going and get lost into the night. Consider putting your cats into a ‘safe room’ for a party where they can feel comfortable with their things – food, water, litter and hiding spots. And even if your kitty is an indoor kitty, make sure they are micro-chipped and are wearing their collars with your phone number.

Please tell your friends and families to protect their kitties from these dangers – many cat lovers just don’t know the perils of this wonderful season. I would love to tell you that these are all the things you need to watch for …but I’m sure I’ve missed some.

PS One really bad idea I didn’t cover here is giving a pet as a Christmas gift. It’s utterly overwhelming for an animal – and a crazy time in any given home. I love shelters and rescues that don’t adopt out pets for Christmas. I turned down a woman who wanted to adopt 2 of my foster kittens as gifts because she refused to let her children meet the cats first. How do you know how each child will be with an animal? Some kids are rough or have a mean streak and it’s a blind spot for parents. How do you know if there is that magic bond? How do you know that someone actually wants a pet … or THAT pet? The alternative is to give a homemade gift certificate for a pet … one you can pick out as a family or a couple after the holidays. Or if there is one your heart is set on, reserve the pet with a down payment and pick him/her up when things are a little calmer.

MERRY Christmas everyone! Be safe out there!

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In From the Cold

A few days ago, we trapped the grey tabby. He’s dubbed ‘Storm’ since he was out in the… well, you know.

The poor little (not so little) guy was distressed to be in the trap, but he was clearly very hungry because he went in not once, but twice in the same morning to get a meal. You saw from the video in my last post that he is very skittish and nervous.

When he got to our basement, he transformed to happy and calm to leave the trap. He ignored the water, food and litter and hid in a corner. That is so typical for any kitty facing a ‘shock’ of a new situation. He ate, probably drank, and used the litter box while we were not there so I was not worried about him. We left him there… for almost 24 hours – visiting sometimes to just chat with him in reassuring tones. My spouse (braver than I since my Oscar bite last year) reached out and petted him. He reached his head up to be petted – sweet yet timid.

He was still shy at the 24-hr mark when I sat with him. He was so cute … meowing at me but not coming out of his little cubby. He was wedged between the wall and the shelves… a width of about 6 inches. He turned his head to face the wall at one point – nerves taking hold. I backed off. At about 32 hrs, we both went in to visit him and gave him a smelly treat. The floodgates opened and he came out of the cubby and was suddenly our best friend. Okay – so he loves getting treats! He wanted to be petted nose to tail, meowed, head-butted us, and otherwise tried to make sure we loved him.

It’s hard not to love a cat who is so sweet-tempered.

The next day, my spouse found it easy to get him into a carrier and take him to our local Animal Services Municipal shelter. They have a microchip reader there and they are about 20min away. They checked our new friend Storm and said he didn’t have a microchip and they confirmed that he is a fixed male and he is very friendly to handling.

After speaking to the people there, J was sure that he would be in good hands with good resources if we left him with them. They posted him on their ‘found pets’ page the same day. They don’t have a lot of animals at this time and they would give him his deworming and shots and keep him in quarantine for a week. In that time, hopefully his owner would come forward. If the owner is not found, they will support his adoption after the holidays.

It feels weird that I didn’t get to say goodbye and am not taking full responsibility for him, but we are welcome to visit and also to call to see how he’s doing. So on the home front, we’ve posted his photo to a few different websites and pages we think owners of a local lost pet would look. The one lead we had before trapping him was not his owner – so we sent that person links to other similar cats who have been found. We’ve got our fingers firmly crossed for charming Storm. We know he is just too handsome, friendly and gentle to remain ‘lost’ for long. We will monitor and make sure he gets to a forever home.

 

Stormy

Update today:

We called Animal Services to see how Storm was and they said that the owner had claimed him. We asked but they can’t give us details of where he lives but it’s not far from our home. Clearly they let him outside regularly without a microchip or collar. I suppose they don’t care that he crosses a street, hangs out at the woods (which has coyotes in winter), is hungry enough to eat the food that I put out for my stray who is in desperate need of that nutrition. Oh – and I’ve seen a grey cat out in -20C weather a number of times – probably him. Some people are idiots (I could say a lot of @$%@#% about this). If I trap him again, he’s not going back.

Icy Blast

It is icy cold here – we got an artic blast that blew into our area last night and left us freezing today. The fluffy snowflakes which came down non-stop for two days have hardened into a crispy crust on every surface. The wind is brutal and gusty. It is January weather – the depth of winter chill. It’s about –8C with the windchill of –16C. Somewhere nearby, there is a little black cat struggling.

After not seeing him for two days so I don’t know if he got the food, or some other critter, he came yesterday. He was so happy with the hot soup I gave him – it might be the only warmth he gets in a day. I hope he is in a dry sheltered place. There is a little place he could go behind my bbq that is sheltered and always dry, but he won’t use human-logic.

It’s going to be cold for days. Days I won’t be here. The holidays are approaching and we are going to be away. Our amazing nephew has volunteered to drive out of his way to come and care for our kitties (and I trust his mature and caring nature) and feed the black cat once a day. I can only hope that the black cat will get the food each day. It might be a very hard week for him, and the cold weather could not have come at a worse time! Right now, this is the best I can do for him.

Please keep him in your thoughts and send him good thoughts every night until I return.

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Sigh of Relief

I woke this morning to the charming dance of snowflakes twirling by my window. The leaves are gone now, the municipal election signs have come down, the trick-or-treaters are eating candy somewhere, and the November greys have painted the sky. Tonight the clocks roll back and we will slip into the dark and cold months.

November 1st is All Saints Day. It’s a day I’ve begun to associate with black cats because they have been so vilified and unjustly tormented through blind and ignorant fears. This morning I was waiting to see Mr Midnight – to ensure he was all right.

He arrived hungry and ate all that was left for him. I was so relieved to see him – healthy and safe after Halloween. I caught the fearful yellow-moon eyes before he disappeared off my porch. He missed coming yesterday – he must be starved!

After the more than a week of construction noise and activity next door, things changed with our outdoor visitor. He’d inexplicably miss a day. He’s even more skittish. He came sporadically. He came at different times. But he came. I often don’t see him for days – but the food disappears.

We’ve been putting out more food for him than we did for Oscar. We are taking chances to try to get him a good meal at any time of the day. We can’t get him on a schedule. Here’s what we’ve gotten for our trouble – a skunk (first I’ve ever seen at our home) came by last night, a fat wobbling raccoon visits almost daily, a little young racoon visits timidly sometimes, a large possum scours the yard, a little possum follows the scent trail of where the cat food has been, a blue jay has decided he likes cat food, a grey cat sometimes comes and helps himself to a meal. While I love animals, this is precisely what I didn’t want. I’m sure there are mice and voles that I don’t see.

Sometimes I think Mr Midnight must have a home – he looks healthy and strong, his fur is beautifully kept, he is less fearful about eating from an enclosed box in the rain than Oscar was, he misses coming for food some days and doesn’t come regularly. Yet other things tell me that he is homeless – he often eats more than my cats do in a day (which he shouldn’t do if he had a home), he comes at 7am, 9pm, and once or twice we have seen him later so I can prove he’s outside for most of a 24hr period, he is skittish so we can’t open the door when he’s around or he disappears like a wisp of smoke.

We have followed every lead for lost black cats in a wide radius and posted several ‘found’ notices. We will keep feeding him. It’s not all he needs, but it’s something. As usual, rescues are full and he won’t have a good chance with Animal Services. I’m just relieved he’s okay.

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Goldilocks Again

I was considering fostering a single kitty in our home. It’s somewhat selfish because Nuala would like a playmate. It would definitely be work, training, and socializing – but we’d be helping a homeless kitty. If it works, we could do serial fostering in this manner. Fostering can work for just about anyone: the trick is to clearly define the parameters for each person or situation. This time for us, it would be a different sort of foster because of Mouci and our decision to actively protect her health.

Here’s what I set as the parameters and communicated to the rescues:

  • We are hoping to take in one single foster between the ages of 8mos-3, either sex, with the vetting (shots, fix, de-worming etc) already done. The kitty will have the run of the house and so an active kitty is fine. This cat will be socialized with our young cat who is 2, active and social. There are two other cats in our home – Shadow who is about 10/12? and Mouci 18 – both gentle. We would provide a safe-room before we have full integration.

The first agency was one I respect and we fostered for before. After lots of back and forth, it didn’t work out because they are in the city. They didn’t have any vets within a reasonable highway drive from our home and they didn’t think their adopters would come as far out as we are to meet/adopt the kitty.

My spouse then contacted a local rescue. He filled out the forms and waited. And waited. And then there was some communication. And then he waited some more. It didn’t seem that this rescue was organized; they lost contact and one blamed the other for not contacting us back. I’m glad this didn’t work out because it doesn’t bode well if we had fostered with this group and needed to contact them for something to do with the kitty!

Next my spouse contacted a rescue that has been having some hard times but he was assured that they have good communications. Unfortunately, after the paperwork and waiting, it didn’t seem to be so. They wanted us to consider fostering sisters, and after two days of considering it, I said yes. However, it turned out that the kitties were not spayed despite being a part of their program for a year. Their coordinator was new to her job and didn’t contact us back for 2 weeks… and was not clear or helpful when I contacted her. Did they have any cats that fit our foster profile? Apparently not… at least they were not clear or forthcoming. I let them know today that I’m moving on. (There is lack of organization here and more importantly I am uncomfortable with their approach to rescue, fostering and adoption. I don’t think our beliefs align.)

I’m considering my next move… if there will be one. Even Goldilocks gave it up after 3 tries. Were my parameters set too tight for most organizations? I genuinely don’t know – but I know I can only do what I can (keeping my own cats’ health as paramount). I have confidence in our skills and dedication to every cat who comes into our home, but I’m not sure I want to waste more time with the buro-crazy of rescues right now.

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