Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bobby Boxed

He didn't fit very well, but Bobby just had to try out Diedra's box.
I came out into the kitchen this afternoon to hunt up some lunch and was treated to the sight of Bobby trying to curl up in Diedra's favorite box. Bobby is quite a bit larger than Diedra, and he kept shifting and squirming and moving around trying to get comfy. Bits of him were overflowing the sides, but dammit! He was going to sleep in the box!

I snapped a couple photos, then tried to get some video of him squirming like a 3-year-old. Just as I got the video started, though, Tyrone had to come along and see what was going on. Tyrone was VERY worried that someone else was in the box and he kept getting in the way. Then something remarkable happened: Bobby settled in let me pet him! He has allowed a quick scratch between the ears before, but he let me do the full-head rub and tail scritch. I was so excited I just had to share.

Sorry about the poor quality of the video. It was shot with my cell phone, not a real camera. But it still recorded an awesome moment with Kate's Cats. You can see it on YouTube HERE.

After that I started having WAY too much fun with the video thing. Here is the first episode from a new show called "CSI: Cat Scene Investigation."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

FLOOD!!!

Disaster struck yesterday evening at our house. OK, it really wasn't that bad, but the cats thought for sure it was the end of the world.

Kristin was at work and the kids were at daycare and I put some laundry in the washer before lying down for a nap prior to my graveyard shift. Tyrone and Diedra were being kinda rowdy so I shut all the cats out of my bedroom and turned on my noisemaker to drown out their thudding, yowling and general mayhem.

I got up at 9:30 p.m. and wandered into the living room to find Diedra, Tyrone and Bobby sitting in a row just at the entrance to the kitchen. They all swiveled their heads in unison to give me a frantic look, then turned back into the kitchen. Just then Ashi let out an anguished howl from the laundry room, which is just on the other side of the kitchen. My first thought was that they were out of food ... again. I started my diatribe:

"Seriously, you guys! I filled up the dishes just before I went to bed. There's no way you're out of food already! If one of you spilled the food again, I'm going to ..."

Splash! I hit the kitchen and stepped in about half an inch of water. The washer had overflowed and sent water gushing across the laundry room and the kitchen. The laundry room rug was completely soaked and the cat box was practically floating. Ashi was high and dry on top of the dryer, her eyes wide and staring. She let out another yowl, as if to say: "OMG! It's everywhere! The water is everywhere!"

I waded into the mess and started throwing down towels to mop up the water. The whole cleanup was supervised by all four cats. Diedra sat on the kitchen counter and glared - convinced, not doubt, that the whole thing was designed to inconvenience her personally. Bobby especially seemed distressed by the fact that his new food supply might be cut off. His eyes were wide and he kept coming close to watch, then would skitter away, then come back. I could hear him thinking: "Not cool, man. That's the food!" I finally took pity on him and grabbed one of the food dishes off the dryer and set it in the living room so he could eat. I also ferried Ashi across the lake and put her at the edge of the kitchen. She huddled on one of the dining chairs and watched the whole mopping process, yowling occasionally to make sure I didn't forget her.

Tyrone was probably the funniest, though. He sat there at the edge of the water and would occasionally put a paw out to test and see if it was still wet. He'd shake the water off, back off for a moment, then come back and test it again. "Yes, it's still wet!" I told him. He just looked at me with his head cocked, then reached out a paw and tested it again.

Unfortunately I was too busy dealing with the mess to take any photos of the cats and the water. Yes, I know my priorities need to be reassessed. Those pics would have been hilarious.

Oh, and you'll be happy to hear that the water was successfully cleaned up and the cats had full access again to the cat box and the food. Happy ending!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bring the puppies - and kitty - home

The Puppy Rescue Mission posted an update this morning on its current fundraising. The great news is that Babur and Patches have officially arrived in U.S. and their new homes and Spike has all the funds he needs for the trip. The bad news is there are still five active fundraisers going, including one for Gimpy and her three puppies. They really need a push to get them to safety. The tiniest bit helps. To donate, click on the links on the right side of this page.
Spike has all the funds he needs and will be on his way to his new home soon!
Babur and Patches have arrived on American soil. Yeah!!
If you need extra incentive, just look at these sweet faces. You can see more wonderful photos on the Puppy Rescue Mission FaceBook site.
Gimpy and her puppies - Bear, Samson and Delilah - need a huge fundraising push to make it to their new home.
UPDATE: Oct. 25, 2010

These puppies and kitty received a huge push in fundraising over the weekend. They are SO CLOSE! Even a dollar or two helps. Just think of how much you could donate if you switched from mochas to regular coffee for one week. It isn't much to you, but it literally means the world to these animals and the soldiers who want them home.

Here are the updated numbers from the Puppy Rescue Mission:



Friday, October 22, 2010

Real men rescue cats

I saw an awesome sight today. I was driving down St. George's main drag and saw a barbecue set up in front of one of the fire stations. I don't eat meat, but I was sorely tempted to stop and get a burger anyway. Why? Because there is nothing hotter (pun intended) than a fireman.

Then it got even better: I saw a sign saying that the barbecue was to raise funds for one of the local animal rescue groups. I pretty much had a lust attack right there on the spot. The only thing sexier than a fireman is a fireman who rescues animals. And you don't necessarily have to be a fireman. Any animal rescuer or shelter volunteer will do. You could be hunchbacked and covered in boils and you would still be sexy if you are helping get a kitten out of a tree.

Several months ago I found a bumper sticker on the Animal Rescue Site that I absolutely fell in love with. It says "Real Men Rescue Cats." I posted a link on my FaceBook and declared to the world that if I ever saw a vehicle with that sticker, I would track that guy down and marry him on the spot. That offer still stands.

So it's no surprise that when I heard of NOWZAD and the Puppy Rescue Mission I was immediately attracted. NOWZAD is a rescue group that helps bring dogs and cats out of Afghanistan and Iraq. These are animals that were found and rescued by soldiers serving in the area. The soldiers care for and love these animals, but when they are restationed they have to leave them behind because military transportation does not allow animals. NOWZAD and Puppy Rescue Mission raise funds for civilian transport out of the war zone and provides safe shelter for the animals until they get on the plane. You can check out the links to both groups on the right side of this page.

You know, soldiers who rescue animals might be even hotter than firemen. It's definitely a toss-up.

Rainy days

Water falling from the sky. [sigh]
My first hint that it was raining last night was waking up because my back was cold. I lay there for a moment trying to figure it out, then realized I was cold because there was a big wet spot on my bed. Tyrone was completely soaked and had come in to cuddle and get warm.
Wet toes wet toes wet toes wet toes wet toes wet toes ...
It doesn't rain very often in Southern Utah, but when it does it really comes down. And it baffles the cats big time. Ashi will try to ignore it until she is so wet she can't stand it. Tyrone will go out and play anyway, then come in doing the "wet feet" dance. Diedra just sits in the window looking forlorn, shooting me glares every once and a while; after all, it's my fault it's wet outside!

Don't worry, kitties. The rain won't last long.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What is it with boxes?

I am ceaselessly entertained by cats and boxes. Big, small, flat, tall, folded or covered, a cat will sleep on, in or under a box if given the slightest choice. Why? you ask. Good question.

With some boxes it makes sense. The cat can cuddle inside it like its a cave, warm and protected. But what about the cramped box that leaves their feet hanging out? Or the box folded flat to the floor? Or the one that's so shallow they might as well be sleeping flat on the floor?

And they don't just sleep in boxes. They sit in them, play in them, hide under them and stash their toys in them. They use them to sharpen their claws. They chew on them or shred them to pieces. If the box is full, they will use all their ingenuity to empty it or simply melt themselves around the contents, taking up all available space.

I have yet to meet a cat who didn't love boxes. It is one universal appeal among feline kind. And it is one of those mysteries that will leave those of us who are not cats baffled for all time.

But it's cute, so we'll let them do it.
Diedra takes a flattened box for a test drive.
This one's a little bit better ... but not by much.


Ashi says: If I fits in it I sits in it!
If you don't fit in it, sleep on it.
Tyrone is an expert in interpretive box sleeping.
This box obviously does not meet Diedra's high standards.

Meet Bobby

Bobbi is a very recent addition to the household. We have no idea what her story is - or even if she is a her and not a he.
Bobbi finds a cozy spot out of the rain.
A month or so ago I came down the hall to the kitchen and saw a dark cat go streaking out of the laundry room where we keep the cat food and out the cat door. I just caught a flash of dark fur and at first I thought it was Diedra, but then I saw Diedra sitting in the chair in the living room. For the next week or so that's all we saw: a flash of a dark tail disappearing out the door.

From what Kristin and I were able to figure, it was a feral or abandoned cat that had figured out that a house meant food. We started calling it "cat," then started calling it "Bob." We finally decided on Bobbi, so that it could easily be switched to Bobby if she ended up being a boy.
A few days ago Bobbi got daring enough to check out my bedroom.
Bobbi has slowly become more comfortable coming into the house. First she would just curl up on the floor near the cat door. Then we started finding her on the big pillow under the window or even on the couch. One very daring day I even found her on my bed, much to Diedra's dismay. She would still run from Kristin and I, but we caught her one day on the pillow next to Kent and she was letting him pet her.

We've been taking things slow with her, letting her take her time and go where she is comfortable. I've been coaxing her closer with cat treats, but letting her back away if she gets spooked. This morning we reached a turning point when she came into the kitchen while I was fixing lunch and "talked" a bit until I gave her a treat. Then she let me scratch her head a bit and even leaned into it so I would rub her ears.

We still haven't gotten close enough to verify if she is in fact a she. We also don't know her age. She has that gangly look of an adolescent, but she is large. With her thick, shaggy fur and her size we are thinking there may be some Maine Coon genetics going on. Eventually she'll get comfy enough with us and we'll get a better look at her and get her to the vet for a checkup. But for right now we're letting her take her time.
Bobby comes inside to get some chow. He has the most beautiful pale green eyes.

UPDATE: October 22, 2010

I have been able to confirm that Bobby is in fact male and so it is officially Bobby - or just Bob - and not Bobbi.

Last night he was sitting by the back door just kind of hanging out and watching me. So I sat down on the floor a few feet away and just waited. After a few minutes his curiosity won out over caution and he crept over and started sniffing me. I could almost hear this thoughts: WTF are you doing down here?

I held out my hand for him and he sniffed all over and then let me pet him a little bit, one eye closed in bliss while the other stayed open to keep an eye on things. Then he walked over to get some food. And yes, from that angle, I was able to confirm the male thing.

This takes a little pressure off of us with his socialization. We were worried that packing him off to the vet would damage what work we've done with him, and if he was female we would be cutting it real close on getting her in to be spayed before she went into heat. With a male, though, we can afford to wait a bit longer before trapping him and subjecting him to a vet visit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meet Ashi

Ashi is my very special fat brown cat. She is shaped like a football with legs, she is cross-eyed and bow-legged and her natural prey is chicken nuggets.
One of Ashi's favorite places is the dryer. Laundry day is always a battle to keep her out of the clothes.
I first met Ashi on Thanksgiving Day in 1999. I was living in Sherman Oaks, CA, at the time and my parents had come to LA to visit for the holiday. I got a call from Frank, a co-worker of mine, asking for help. His girlfriend Stephanie had found a tiny kitten wandering in a vacant lot left after a building had been torn down following the Northridge earthquake. The kitten was only about 4 weeks old and Steph was unable to locate the mother or any other kittens. She took the tiny cat home, but ended up being horribly allergic. She lasted through a week of misery before deciding she wasn't going to adjust to the cat and she needed to find her a new home.
On top of the dryer is almost as good as inside. It is warm and vibrates like a Magic Fingers massage bed. And it's where we keep the food dishes, which makes it even better.
Frank called me because he knew I loved cats. I had one in my house already - a former feral named Lyvani - and at the time I was working with the Feral Cat program in the San Fernando Valley. I wasn't sure how Lyvani would take another cat in HER house and I didn't particularly want another cat at the time, but I promised Frank and Stephanie that I would help them find the kitten a new home. I told them I would keep the kitten at my house until everyone got back from the holiday weekend, then I would find her a place in a foster home. I absolutely WOULD NOT keep her myself.

Famous last words.

She arrived at my house wearing a pink collar and with the name Pyewacket. She was so tiny she could curl up in the palm of my hand. The collar was "lost" in about 10 minutes and by the end of the day I was calling her Ashinoyubi, which is Japanese for "toes" - in tribute to her white toes. The name got shortened to Ashi and she has definitely grown. I think she currently weighs in at about 14 pounds. She learned very quickly that the kitchen is a place where good things happen and she is quick to come running every time I start to cook.
Ashi learned very quickly that having small children in the house meant there was always food readily available.
Ashi is 11 years old now and she's slowed down a bit, but she is still my special sweetheart.

Why I started this blog

I love animals. I love dogs with their winning personalities and unconditional acceptance. I love horses with their grace and strength. I love floofy bunnies and hyper hamsters, puffy chinchillas and devious ferrets. I love the smooth fluidity of snakes and the awesome diversity of lizards. I love the slow-but-steady dignity of turtles and tortoises and the quick, in-your-face humor of dolphins and whales.

But most of all, I absolutely adore cats.
I hang out with Tyrone, one of my cats.
I love felines in all their wondrous variety: big, small, long-haired, short-haired, spotted, striped and swirled. The crying of a kitten or cub touches my heart faster and stronger than that of a human baby and I just can't resist a whiskered face looking for love or food. And apparently they know that, because the lonely, lost and starving ones always seem to find my doorstep.

Besides being owned by cats of my own, I have also fostered shelter cats and volunteered at adoption events. I have worked with the feral cat program and advocated for the ASPCA. I have served on the board for a no-kill shelter and spent hours feeding, cleaning, loving and socializing these wonderful animals in search of a home.

A couple of years ago, things changed. My youngest sister, Kristin, and her two small children moved in with me. This was a wonderful thing, but the addition of two small children to the house - Kent was 1 1/2 at the time and Kassie was 6 months - put an end to my fostering program. Then my health took a downturn and I no longer had the energy for the volunteer work with the shelters and rescue groups.

I have recently started trying to find ways I can still help. There are a plethora of groups out there doing a wonderful job helping cats and other animals in need. But which one do I go with? And what good can I really do when I only have a couple hours per month when I feel well enough to do anything besides sleep and go to work?

The answer finally came to me while I was - fittingly - trying to spend some socialization time with Bobbi, a feral cat that recently started showing up at my house. Why do I have to pick only one group to help? I am a writer. I spend several hours per day on the computer and I network with people across the country - even across the globe. Why not do what I do best, share some fun and inspiring stories about my own cats, and raise awareness for the groups out there fighting the good fight to find these gorgeous creatures homes.

I will be content if I find a loving family for just one lost, lonely cat. Yet I won't rest until every single homeless pet has a forever home.