Tag Archives: feral cats

Missing ‘the Kids’

Giving kisses to my oldest 'kid' Rhett

Let me say right up front that I don’t have any children and I don’t presume to know just how rewarding, amazing and challenging raising a child must be.  What I do know is that my five animals are like kids to me and the love I feel for them is pretty overwhelming itself.  And when it comes to having to leave them for an extended amount of time, I turn into a neurotic, annoying, mess.

Grandma (our babysitter) with one of her kitties, Isabella

My husband and I just got back from our annual summer vacation in the islands and as usual, it was amazing. What wasn’t amazing was the realization about six weeks before we left that our usual babysitter would be out-of-town the same week as us.  Our babysitter is my mom, or ‘grandma’ as she’s known to the animals. (Well, mostly the dog, who freaks out with joy when she hears that word. The cats, as they’re wont to do, tend to not react at all.)  Anyway, grandma only lives 10 minutes away and when we’re gone, Maho the dog gets to go live with her for a week and the cats get a visit from her every day.  Even though we miss them like crazy, it takes a lot of worry off our minds knowing that our babies are in such good hands when we’re gone.

Cut to six weeks ago when I told my mom the week we’d chosen to go on vacation and her dropping the bomb that she had scheduled a vacation that same week.  Both of us had already paid for plane tickets and such so there was nothing we could do.  Immediately, I started stressing.  I know there are many great kennels and ‘animal spas’ out there nowadays but A.) None of my animals have ever stayed in one before and B.) many of my cats are have special needs, including a formerly feral one who would have to be tranquilized just to get him out of the house.  So we scratched a kennel off the list right away.

Maho looks chill but she's high maintenance

Many of our cats, like Sweetie, have special needs

That left finding someone else to take Maho in and come check on the cats throughout the week.  I have a lot of friends who are big animal lovers so you’d think that would have been a pretty easy task. But my husband and I approached picking that person out like we were choosing a god parent or something.  The checklist was almost comically long: Had they met Maho already and did she like them? Did they have a secure, fenced backyard so Maho couldn’t get out? Did they not have any other dogs in their house since Maho is kind of a big scaredy-dog when it comes to other canines? Did they live close by so they could check on the cats often? Had they met Rhett and understand that even though he’s blind now, he may still attack them?   Did they know about all our cats’ various medical issues and could they handle them?  Did they mind having to clean out four, yes, four litter boxes? (Wow, reading that back over I realize what a high maintenance crew of animals we have.)

Even in these amazing surroundings I couldn't stop thinking about the animals

Anyway, after spending a whole evening offering up names of our various friends, then running them through our checklist, my husband and I finally agreed on the same person, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve read about this cool chick before.  She’s my friend from my old TV station that spent a night climbing fences, ripping her shirt, then getting her hand ripped up as we tried to catch Sweetie (the feral cat) when he showed up badly injured.  Thankfully, she was more than happy to take on the big job of babysitter and we took off for vacation with our minds thoroughly eased.

Louie looks as sad as I feel when I'm away from my animals

Now, that’s not to say we didn’t spend stupid amounts of time wondering how they were doing, talking about how much we missed them, postulating what they were doing at that exact moment, etc…  I even called and texted my friend almost every day just to ‘check in’, (I’m sure she loved that,)  and to say hi to Maho. And the moment we got on the plane to come home, all I could think about was opening that door and seeing the cats come running and hearing Maho’s shrieks of joy. If that’s how I feel about my animals, I can’t imagine what it must be like for all you real parents out there. How do you ever even leave the house?? 🙂

I’d love to hear about your animal love on the Adopt-a-human Facebook page.  It’s dedicated to spreading the word about getting shelter cats adopted into good homes and the more people who participate, the more animals’ lives that we’ll save. Thank you!

Scavenger Hunt!

I’ve had the pleasure of writing these animal blogs for about two months now and I hope *you’ve* found some pleasure, (and many laughs) while reading them.   But whether you’re well versed in my animals and their antics at my house or this is the first time you’ve read this blog, everyone can take part in my monthly blog Scavenger Hunt!  

Win a cool prize from our Pet Boutique by taking part in the Scavenger Hunt!

 

SPCA Tampa Bay and Adopt-a-human are offering up a great prize from our Pet Boutique to the person who posts all the correct answers on the Adopt-a-human facebook page, in the quickest amount of time.  I’m going to post ten questions at the end of each month and you can find the answers by going back through my four blogs that month.  Since this is the first one, you’ll have to do a little extra digging through my first nine blogs, but hopefully you’ll have a lot of fun during the digging process! 

So here goes: 

1.  What was the name  of my Persian when I was growing up? (Here’s a hint: he could throw up on demand on my mom’s favorite rug.) 

Lucy Jane covers her eyes to keep the light out, but she's not blind. What is her disability?

 

2. What disability does Lucy Jane have? 

3. What two cat tricks did Rhett do when he was a kitten? (And then promptly stopped doing when he grew up?) 

Louie and Ally hanging out with Sweetie hiding in the background.

 

4. Who did I name Ally after? Even though I find it totally embarrassing. 🙂 

5. What items do I HAVE to bring downstairs whenever someone cat-sits for me to ensure that Rhett doesn’t attack? 

6. Name two of the bizarre nicknames I’ve bestowed upon Louie.  

7. Where did I find Sweetie? 

The cats chowing down.

 

8. What do my cats do when they’re eating that drives me CRAZY??? 

9.  Who gave me Rhett and why? 

What is this sweet doggy's name?

 

10. This will determine if you’ve really been paying attention: What is my dog’s name? 

Good luck to all of you and I can’t wait to see your answers on Adopt-a-human’s facebook page.  Don’t forget, there’s a cool prize at stake here!

Cat Olympics

kamona

Adoptable cats like Kamona will amaze you at the Cat Olympics!

The Winter Olympics may have come and gone, but fear not sports fans.  The most majestic of all games are upon us: the Cat Olympics!  Held at SPCA Tampa Bay this Saturday, June 19th, they showcase the finest feline athletes around as they do battle for the ultimate prize…a forever home. 

Watch in amazement as our top notch adoptable cats take on the Tunnel of Tuna, jump into the Leap of Faith, totter across the Cat Walk Tightrope and blaze their way through the Cat’s Meow Obstacle Course. All of that just to get the attention of a new mom or dad!  Plus, you’ll get a chance to show off your cat knowledge during our Cat Jeopardy challenge and win fabulous prizes. (I feel like Vanna White.)  Read more about this Saturday’s festivities here and we hope you join us!

Louie giving 'high ten'

Now, my cats may not be able to pull off a Cat Walk tightrope, but some of them do have some serious skills and tricks up their sleeves.  Louie the Lump, so named by my  Mother-in-Law, will shake off his lumpiness once in awhile and decide he wants to high five me.  This started not long after he grew out of kittenhood and could actually focus on one thing for more than 20 seconds. 

I was putting on my make up in the bathroom and as usual, Louie was keeping me company by lazily hanging out in the sink. But what was unusual this time, he actually got up, ambled over to me, sat up on his hind legs and started pawing at me with one furry foot.  He obviously just wanted some attention, (Louie the Persian wanting attention?? Color me shocked!) But it looked like he was high fiving me, so I said, “Louie, give me high five,’ and smacked his foot with my hand.  If a cat can look delighted by something, Louie certainly did.

But you have to trick Louie to high five outside the bathroom

It has since become a ‘thing’ I can get him to do on command.  I just have to put up my hand, snap my finger and say ‘High five, Louie!”  Nine times out of ten, he’s right there, smacking my hand, and as a bonus, sometimes I even get a high ten!   But here’s the rub.  He will only do this cat trick in the bathroom. I’ve tried in vain to get him to do it in any other room in the house, but he flat out refuses unless you ‘trick’ him by holding a cat toy up in the air.  So it’s not so much a parlor trick as a bathroom trick.  And that kind of takes the coolness factor out of it, no?

My oldest cat Rhett is also my smartest cat and it’s no surprise to me that he’s pulled off a cat trick or two in his long lifetime.  His need to show off showed up early on when he displayed the decidedly dog-like attributes of fetch and catch.  I was a young, pretty poor college kid (weren’t we all?) and using a balled up piece of paper to amuse my new kitten.  I tossed it and suddenly he reared up and snatched it right out of the air mid-toss.  I had grown up with all kinds of cats and had never seen anything like it before.  I spent the next 30 minutes throwing that ball, and Rhett never missed it once.  It was like having a puppy in a kitten’s body. 

Rhett used to do cat tricks to please me...now he pleases only himself.

The next time I went to play with Rhett, I discovered another of his talents.  I threw the paper ball, waiting for him to snatch it out of the air, but he just watched it sail by him.  I was disappointed, but only briefly.  Rhett waited for it to land, then briskly trotted to where it had landed, picked it up in his mouth, ran over to me, and deposited right at my feet, looking up at me expectantly.  I threw it again and Rhett repeated himself.  My baby had added fetch to his repertoire and I couldn’t have been more proud!  This fun, carefree period of cat tricks and pleasing mom lasted, oh, about six months and then Rhett determined he had to please NO ONE but himself and I’ve never seen him perform those tricks again.  But at least I know he’s capable. Sigh.

Lucy Jane waits until you're asleep, THEN screeches!

As for the rest of the cats I’ve had in my life, it’s a bit of a stretch to say they can do tricks.  Sweetie, my feral cat, has the ability to ‘disappear’ if he even senses someone other than me is about to enter our house.  Our deaf cat Lucy Jane does this just awesome trick where she knows exactly when we fall asleep and then lets loose with her insanely loud yowling.  And I had another Persian growing up named Alexander who could vomit on command, always on my mom’s favorite, very expensive Oriental rug, whenever he got mad.  Talented bunch, wouldn’t you say?

If you’ve got a cat with fierce capabilities, we want to hear about them. Leave your cat ‘tails’ on our Adopt-a-human Facebook page and you’ll be entered into a grand prize drawing at the end of June!  Remember, the more people who know about the Adopt-a-human campaign and take part, the more cat’s lives we can save. Thank you!

Feral feline adventures

          

sweetie

A very skinny Sweetie when I first brought him home.

Hey gang!  I hope all you pet mommies out there had a great Mother’s Day!  My four kitties and dog got me the sweetest card, though I’m pretty sure they had a little help from Dad when it came to signing it.              

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, the reason I’ve teamed my animal blog up with the Adopt-a-human campaign is to bring awareness to all the fantastic qualities cats possess and how they can enrich anyone’s life, from any walk of life.  The campaign also wants to educate people about the cat crisis happening at many shelters here and around the country.  The fact is, kittens, puppies and adult dogs are all easier to adopt out than adult cats.  One thing aggravating that fact is the feral cat population, something I have a good bit of knowledge about.  If you’ve stopped by this site before, you may recall that our third cat Sweetie, was a feral cat living behind my old TV station when I found him.  I mentioned in my first blog how it was pretty hard to tame him, but almost downright impossible to get him to our house and I promised to give you all the dishy details about that two week saga.  So, here goes:               
  

Our station was moving to a new building in June of 2004, and after spending the past three years patiently feeding and taming Sweetie, I decided there was no way I could just abandon him there.  But the week before I was planning to take him home, Sweetie threw a wrench into my plans in the form of a terrible fight with another cat.  He showed up late one night behind the station, limping in pain, his right paw crooked and very swollen.    

A very fat and contented Sweetie, with his mom

At that point, I thought he’d been hit by a car and I totally freaked out.  I knew I had to get him to a vet right away, even though it was about 11 at night.  I ran inside and found one of my fellow animal lovers and told her what was going on.  As luck would have it, she had a cat carrier and some blankets in her van, so we grabbed those and ran back outside.  Now, in the best of times, Sweetie was still very skittish and cautious, even with me, and now that he was hurt, he was on high alert.  He took one look at me and my friend armed with the carrier and blankets and quickly hopped off, squeezing through a small hole in a fence surrounding one side of the building.  The fence stretched about forty feet long, but was only fencing in about a five foot width of grass.  Sweetie was crouching about halfway between the two ends of the fence and watching us warily to see what we would do.  What we did was decide our only choice was to climb that eight foot high fence and try to trap him.       

A couple of our photographers were still inside the building at that time, and had one of them by chance walked out to catch the next ten minutes on video, they would have had the next You Tube sensation.   Picture this;  I’m still in my business suit, in a skirt, with about four inch stilettos on, and there I was, climbing shakily up that fence with a blanket clamped under one arm.  My friend was at the opposite end of the fence, climbing that side with a lot more ease than I was.  Or at least I thought she was until I heard this LOUD ripping sound, an ‘oh @#$@,’ then silence, then a faint ‘I’m okay!’   I heard her drop to the ground as I climbed carefully over the top of the fence, giving anyone who happened to be watching, quite the show I’m sure.  Finally, my stilettos hit the ground and we were ready to rock and roll.  Sweetie, however, was just ready to roll.     




Is this the face of a troublemaker??
He sat tensely and watched as my friend (in her now completely ripped and ruined shirt,) came at him from one side with the cat carrier, and I approached him from the other with the blanket.  We made it to about within three feet of him and I was just getting ready to throw the blanket over him, when he pulled a move that would make Walter Payton proud.  He faked to the left, then immediately darted right, running by me before I even really knew what had happened.  Fortunately, since he was  injured, Sweetie’s speed was not up to par and even in my heels, I was able to catch up to him as he awkwardly climbed the fence.

 I lunged at him as he crested the top of it, my hand just grazing his back legs, reaching, grasping for him, but it was too late.  He slipped through my fingers, jumped to the ground and I watched in shock as he took off into the neighborhood behind the station.   I navigated the fence again, no more gracefully than I did before, and spent the next 30 minutes calling his name and shaking his bag of food, but to no avail.              

 The next morning I called my vet and told him what happened, (he had the good grace not to laugh at my fence-climbing antics,) and he came up with a new plan for me.  He gave me some cat tranquilizers and told me to keep an eye out for Sweetie.  He said since it appeared I was Sweetie’s only source of cat food, he was sure Sweetie would eventually show up at the station again, even being hurt and likely traumatized from our ill-fated attack.  I kept the pills in my desk over the next two days, frequently running out back between anchoring the news to look for any sign of him, (and to any of my former managers reading this, yes, I’m well aware this was not how I was supposed to be spending ‘company time,’ but come on!)   I had just about given up, when late on the third day of his disappearance, my fence friend came running up to the anchor set, yelling ‘He’s here! Sweetie’s back!”  

sweetie louie

It took some doing, but Sweetie now chills with his siblings.

Of course he’d come back right when I was in the middle of the newscast and could NOT, under any circumstances, get up to go try to tranquilize a cat.  I told me friend where the pills were and begged her to put them in his food and have the cat carrier ready to go when he finally gave in to the sedatives.  She took off on her mission and for the next 30 minutes, I sat anxiously on the set, reading the news without really even comprehending it, worrying in my head that this wouldn’t work and he’d be lost forever.

Finally, the newscast done, I bolted to the back door of the station and opened it just in time to see my poor friend closing the cat carrier door on a snarling Sweetie, her arms scratched all to hell and bleeding.  Turns out, even with enough sedatives to fell a big dog in him, Sweetie’s feral fight instinct was strong enough to overcome them.  He was definitely woozy but still alert enough to put up quite the fight as my friend’s arms could attest.               

Now, this saga doesn’t end here, not by a long shot, but I’ll save that for another day.   Suffice to say, Sweetie made it through and made it home to my house, where he’s been living quite comfortably for the past six years, snoring loudly in our bed every night.  As for my fence friend?  I think I still owe you a drink for your troubles.  And probably a new shirt.               

 So what are your feline adventure stories?  All my fellow cat addicts at Adopt-a-human’s facebook page would love to hear about your funny, sweet, keystone cops-like dealings with your cats.  Write about your antics in the comments section under today’s blog.  Tell your friends too, since the more cat fans we have, the more cats we can spread the word and save cat’s lives!