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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Mr Midnight

A few weeks ago, I saw a black cat without a collar around our back yard. I think I saw him 3x in about 5 days. I watched for him, to try to tell if he was lost or alone. It’s so hard to tell when people don’t put a collar on a cat and let it wander. He looked healthy and his coat was good. I stopped seeing him.

We’ve been seeing a little calico lately. I’ve seen her in my back yard. J has seen her near our driveway. There’s no collar, but she doesn’t look ‘rough’. The other night she was on the forest edge behind my home right before a huge downpour – if she is a neighbourhood cat, there is no way she could have got home in time. We’ve seen her wandering around recently, and we don’t know if it’s an especially careless owner or she’s a ‘displaced cat’.

J was so worried about this sweet calico girl; he’s been putting out a bowl of cat food on the edge of our deck. Twice in 4 days it’s disappeared. We were not able to see who ate it – but it was during the day hours so we know it’s not a racoon, skunk or possum. It could be someone’s wandering cat … or the little calico.

Today the food disappeared in an hour. An hour later, J spotted the little black cat in the forest just about 10-feet beyond our fence. J had Nuala outside on her harness (she’s supervised at all time), and Mouci was out with them sleeping in the sun. He seemed fascinated that there was a cat there… but didn’t come closer.

When Nuala came inside, J put out a little more cat food. Just now, I saw the black cat on the deck. He ran as he saw me, but the food is gone. Nuala was riled up to see him.

I wonder if this beautiful midnight kitty is lost? I think we will just have to continue with one scoop of food each day on the deck and keep a watch. Let’s be honest… even a cat with a home would eat free food if it was offered. (And I don’t want to draw wildlife in a 2 block radius to my little garden!) Also cats who have been outside for a long time (or are feral) look cleanly groomed like Oscar did. I have no way of knowing the status of these two cats… I will just have to wait and see.

What do you think? Stray or not? Should I feed or not?

Indoor Life

I want to let you know some good news with Oscar: his pee is never stinky anymore (post-neuter), he hasn’t sprayed indoors (he used to love spraying outside), and he’s given up any yowling. If the door to his room is closed in the morning, I do get some wake-up meows since he knows I sleep 8 feet away. In this respect he is pretty much like every pet cat out there! He also reaches under the door and pulls up my carpeting. He’s created a hole in the carpet there – luckily I’m not renting! I wouldn’t get the deposit back! He just wants his morning attention.

I was worried about his grooming, but it seems he grooms his fur when I’m not around since he’s looking great. He still has his thick winter coat and I’ve started to brush him – just a couple of strokes a day until he gets used to it. Cautiously since he still has an edge of mistrust of hands over him. He did try to bite the brush this morning.

I haven’t succeeded in getting him to use a scratching post: he doesn’t do anything to groom his nails. I suppose he has never had to: life groomed them for him in the past. He was getting stuck on carpet since they are long and he didn’t retract his claws properly. He thought that the carpet tiles in his room were out to get him sometimes. This has improved a great deal in the past 5 days. He has learned to retract his claws while walking on carpet and has a fave place beside the bed where he prefers to spend his day.

I’m calling on your expertise:

Any ideas on how to get Oscar to scratch on something? (He has a vertical and a horizontal scratcher, both rubbed with cat nip. He ignores the vertical one and licks the horizontal one)

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There is forever a little golden loaf-cat on this side of the bed now. And yes I know – I need to clean the crud out of the sides of his eyes. He just doesn’t love that level of me grooming him

The Wanderer

Oh well, I’m the type of guy who will never settle down
Where pretty girls are well, you know that I’m around
I kiss ’em and I love ’em ’cause to me they’re all the same
I hug ’em and I squeeze ’em they don’t even know my name

They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around

 Okay Oscar, you will have to just give up your harem ways! No more skirt-chasin’ for you, my man. You have roamed far and wide for too long! Oh yeah, and you’re really quite the ‘rebel without a cause’ since you’ve been getting into scraps with the local kitties for years. This is not the 50’s and there is no need for a turf war over a bunch of grrls who aren’t interested. You can finally stop risking your life for girls, food and shelter.

 Oh well, I roam from town to town
I go through life without a care
And I’m as happy as a clown
I with my two fists of iron and I’m going nowhere

 Now stop it Oscar. Without a care? Com’on – you have frost bite, tattered ears and some scars on your nose. How would you have fared being outside this past week? How is that ‘without a care’? You are in a new life now: a whole new paradigm. Silly boy!

They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around

 Beginning a few days ago, Oscar has taken up a little indoor wandering. Imagine? I’ve been keeping the door to ‘his room’ open as I fold laundry or do other small chores in our bedroom. At first he wouldn’t so much as peer in. Then he had a few furtive glances. Next he’d wander about 4 feet from the door. So I sat on the ground beside the door to my bedroom and he came for petting … all curious and nervous. It was actually quite endearing. He then took the massive step of walking into my room – making sure he could still see his ‘safe’ spot. He went about 8 feet and was quite calm.

‘Atta boy Oscar! Since then, he’s come into my bedroom a few times (with that door closed to the rest of the house of course). Just to sniff around and sit with me. I’m trying to get him to come to the big window with me so he can have a bird’s eye view of the feeders and his old haunt. No such luck. But he is learning!

‘Cause I’m a wanderer
Yeah, a wanderer
I roam around, around, around

Oscar the Wanderer
In summer when he didn’t have his winter coat. Yes – a bit scrawny even with feedings

Now What?

We’ve come a long way, baby!

In November I exploited Oscar’s willingness to be friendlier, lured him with daily warm tuna ‘soup’ for breakfast, and then captured him and quarantined him in our bathroom. We juggled really fast to get him a vet appointment and got him neutered, FIV/FeLV tested, got his shots and Revolution treatment, got him micro-chipped. Then we just let him relax while watching his health and bathroom habits. He’s settled in and is learning the indoor life.

What’s next?  I don’t really know! I always knew that this endeavour had far too many variables to control them or plan them before we took Oscar inside.

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I was stuck at this point for 2 weeks. Deciding what stage Oscar was at, what would be best for him right now, and where we stood. A couple of days ago I decided that Oscar is ready to find a home in the next weeks. This was not a decision taken lightly. He’s a really good boy about being litter trained, eats and drinks well, and he’s been quarantined for 6 weeks now without any indication of underlying illness. He is certainly a loving soul and likes to be petted and to sit beside someone. He is already primed to be a couch-kitty. But I really feel that he needs some kindness, patience and guidance.

I think I’d mentioned that our lovely boy had ‘turned a corner’ in his confidence about a week ago. Well, he has. He is somehow less afraid and more open. He’s all around his room now and is the biggest love bug. He wants to sit touching me no matter where in the room I sit. He’s very bonded to me – and has come far with trusting. Quick movements or strange sounds still get him nervous and he shrinks back, but I think this is par for the course. I repeat ‘good Oscar’ soothingly each time and he manages to come round.

I guess I need to start finding a home for Oscar. I really want him to have a great life, and want him to be safe, warm, and loved forever. Can I find someone who will love him as I do? How do I find this person?

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Ruggedly Handsome, isn’t he?

Biting Cold

It’s absolutely freezing out there: –14C with a wind-chill of –28C with blowing snow. It’s weather in which any warm-blooded creature must fight to stay alive – and cats are not made for this weather. And yet they are out there… trying desperately to simply stay alive.

If you know of any strays or ferals, please try to offer protected shelter. The shelter I bought last year for Oscar last year was an insulated plastic tote box with entrance and straw inside. (Use straw – it is a good insulator, and doesn’t get damp and frozen like cloth, blankets, or hay.) If you can put the shelter off the freezing ground (on bricks? Or on the deck like I did), weigh it down against the storm (brick or two on top?), and keep the entrance out of the snow, you will be an angel for those in need. Put out warm water in a ceramic or heated bowl (stays liquid longer) and put out food in a dry, protected area.

Last year I was so weighed down with worry about Oscar in weather like this. And I had reason to worry, since he got frostbite on both his back paws and his ears last winter. I wanted so much to try to save his life by taking him in.

Yesterday I read a story of a kitty that froze to death in this weather. It was heartbreaking and I can’t get it out of my mind. I won’t tell you the details and make you cry. I will tell you that it happens far more than people think. Perhaps I am too sensitive, but I shed tears for each one.

 

The good people making the feral/stray shelter I bought for Oscar: http://torontostreetcats.com/shelterbuilding/107-2/

Since they are very re-usable, Oscar’s old shelter is now donated to a small rescue group in Durham … they are using it to provide cover for a little lost cat in a ravine.

 

Or make your own:

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It’s easy to make and can save a life or two. In a perfect world it would have the tunnel entry to save the inside from blowing snow, an exit hole (cats don’t like to be cornered) and be weighed down so it doesn’t tip over.The dark colour is excellent if it’s in the sun – it will gather a little extra heat.

 

 

Stray vs Feral

I just realized how long my last post was. Wow – sorry. I guess I had a lot to tell about Oscar’s story! I talked about Oscar being abandoned. Who knows really! He’s not fixed so his biological urges could have made him dash out of someone’s home and then get lost. He could have been dumped in the little park that adjoins the conservation area. Or yes, he could have been abandoned when someone moved away.

Here’s why I know he’s not a feral cat:

  • He comes up to humans. Despite being chased off by neighbours, he is people-friendly or at least people-curious. As of 2 days ago, he lets me pet him full-out. You know; the big, 2-handed, all over the body petting.
  • He tried to get into my house a long time ago. Despite having females in the house, a feral would never try to get in.
  • He meows. They say meowing is a trait picked up by cats who live with humans. Go figure. He purrs too… a little purr. While he sometimes hisses when he gets food, it’s rare, soft, half-hearted, and not really meant to intimidate. I’ve also seen this in rescues I’ve fostered.
  • He is a food snob. No really. He won’t eat bits of real meat, fish, or pork. He will not eat most wet cat foods. I’ve tried him on ones for kittens, ones my girls won’t eat, ones my girls love. He will eat any type of dry cat food I put out for him. Oscar, you are easy to please!
  • I think he understands doors.

So there you go. I think Oscar is not only human-friendly but fully re-hab worthy. And his friendly (if shy) nature will make him a good house cat. Better than that: if I can do what I hope to do in the next few weeks, he will be the perfect adoptable indoor-outdoor lap cat.

What do you think? Am I out in left field?