Friday, May 18, 2012

Where's the kitty?

Where did Molly go?  She was just here a minute ago.  

Oh, wait, that quilt didn't have a lump in it before.......
Never mind.......

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meet Tuxedo

I finally got some pictures of my little stray kitty, which is difficult because he doesn't stay still for long.  He's a mover, that one.  Constantly back and forth around the garage, up the steps to the kitchen door, smelling along the garage door edges, meowing at full bore if he's been in the garage too long.  The only time he's really still is when he's scarfing down his cat food.  Then he's off again.  He's even stopped in mid-meal to take a lap of the garage and check out everything.

Here is the best one I could take.  It does show his little face and his exceptionally long and thick tail.  That's the longest kitty tail I've ever seen!
 He has started to pay attention to the door into the kitchen.  Once I began going in and out of the house while he was in the garage and he got a glimpse of the interior, he became very curious.  I think it shows he knows about being inside houses.  But he wouldn't be the best indoor candidate right now because he has a terrible marking habit due to his territory battles with his nemesis, the big gray cat.  When he left this morning he jumped over the back fence as usual but paused by a large beach type ball the neighbor kids had left in that yard to give it a spray as if to say "My ball!"  Mercy!  
Here he is, off again, checking out the garage.  He's terribly hard to photograph.
The only semi-closeup of his face that I have gotten so far.  Not a great picture, but you can see the black dot on the end of his nose, which I think is pretty endearing.
Tuxedo is still skinny but is starting to fill out.  I wish I could get two meals a day into him, but the only time I see him is around 7:30 each morning.  He waits for me under the maple tree and I try to get outside at the same time each day;  I'm not sure how long he would wait if I were late and don't want to risk him missing his meal because I think it's all he gets to eat.

I couldn't get a picture of all the scrapes he's collected from fighting but you can sort of see one on his left shoulder blade in the second photo.  He got fairly beat up but he's healing.  

Today I tried something that worked surprisingly well.  I have been petting him and handling him as much as possible trying to get him used to it, and have picked him up several times.  He didn't fight back at all, just hung there in the air with my hands around his middle behind his front legs, looking a bit puzzled but not upset.  I gave him a good petting and some bologna after I put him down, trying to make favorable associations with being handled.  This morning, I was sitting on a step stool beside him as he ate;  he would take a break ever so often and rub against my legs.  He put his little front paws on my knee and stood up for me to pet his chin, so I just scooped him up and placed him on my lap.  And he liked it!  I started petting and he purred so loudly you could probably hear it outside.  No arguments, no clambering down - he took to laps better than my cat Molly - and he stayed there for several minutes without protest.  When I put him back down on the floor he resumed eating like nothing exceptional had happened.  He's amazingly tame with me.

Mind you, I still wear heavy gloves and thick pants around him, and am very careful, but this is no feral.  He was with people once, and has been abandoned.  I have great hopes that I can find a home for him.  He's a sweetie.    

Friday, May 11, 2012

Too little to be a fighter, too bold to stay out of the fight

The little tuxedo tom cat that showed up last November is now a regular  at the feeding bowl.  Every morning he arrives around 7:30 for his wet food and kibble and bologna (trying to fatten him up and he loves the stuff).  After breakfast he is off again, to wherever he considers home.  Today he was a little late.  I kept checking the yard for over an hour after I first looked for him, and he finally he jumped over the fence around 9 a.m. with a plaintive "I'm HUNGRY" meow.

After several months of working with him, he comes in the garage now to eat.  I make up a bowl of canned and dry cat food, and sit near him while he has breakfast.  After he's finished his food we pet and visit, and then I give him a piece of bologna.  The last several days it had looked like he was in a fight;  there was a long scratch above his right shoulder and a couple of small puncture wounds near his neck, as if he gotten in a mix up with another tom.  This morning there were more wounds, a scrape on his left shoulder, more punctures and scratches near his neck and what looked like a bite on the top of his head.  I can pet him a little but he won't tolerate a lot of fussing, so trying to doctor him is out.  He's a stray, after all.  So, I'll watch him and make sure everything is healing up all right.  After just one day, the scrape on his right shoulder had scabbed over nicely and is healing, so I expect that he'll be OK.

The problem is that he evidently can't pass up a territory fight, and at probably 6 1/2 lb, he's just too small a tom cat to win any of them.  He keeps getting beat up something terrible and I don't know what to do about it.  He only tolerates being closed in the garage for about 30 minutes, then he gets pretty vocal and rowdy.  I can't imagine trying to get him in a carrier for a trip to the vet.  And what do I do after that?  I can't bring another cat in the house.  I don't know how to find him a home and don't think he is really tame enough to be an indoor cat.  Taking him to the shelter is a death sentence.  We've wrestled with these problems before when faced with feral cats.  Tuxedo cat is tamer than the others were, but he's not a pet.  The only thing I can do for him is make sure he doesn't starve.  It's a terrible choice, and an awful life for him.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's "silk purse out of a sow's ear" time

I just finished the new covers for the patio furniture.  Amazing what some 50% off Sunbrella fabric will do for ratty wrought iron furniture.  Just look at the covers and not at the starting-to-rust chairs.  I debated sanding them down and painting the chairs this spring, but the surface rust is the least of their problems.  Water gets in the hollow tubes of the furniture and it rots from the inside.  I used to have another chair, but last spring when I was washing windows, I gave it a tiny shove to scoot it over out of the way of my stepladder and a leg snapped off the chair.  The outside wasn't even rusty, it was all on the inside.  So these may be on borrowed time, but at least their last days will be pretty!
This is where we sit most evenings, so they and the bench across from them got full covers including the arms, since the wrought iron on the arm rests makes a checkerboard pattern on your skin if you lay your forearm on them.  Ouch.  These covers aren't padded like cushions so they dry quickly after a rain.  They just protect your clothes from the furniture and add a little color to the patio.
The bench gets the most sun so we'll see how long the fabric lasts.  I got all smarty-pants and made velcro tabs to attach the covers instead of ties.  Those things drove me crazy and took twice as long as assembling the rest of the cover.  
The chairs at the table got the simplest covers, just on the seats.  The woven metal on the seats of these chairs will chew up the back of your clothes unless they are covered, which is why I made the first set several years ago.  After two summers they were bleached almost white by the sun and starting to mildew.  As long as I can buy the fabric on sale, I'll make new covers before I try to clean them;  they were ugly anyway.
My last chair is on the front stoop, which is really too small for a chair but I like to sit out here in the morning and in the late afternoon after I pick up the mail - it's a great place to sort the junk mail and read catalogs.  You can see a little footstool under the chair so I can even prop my feet up.  And notice my wild blue flowerpots which match the shutters.  Why blue shutters, besides the fact I like blue?  It makes directions easy.  "It's the brick house with blue shutters."  Nobody else fits that description.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What part of "wild" do you not understand?

Veronica and Archie were on the trip of a lifetime.  It was her birthday, so what better present than to take the opportunity to pet the cheetahs?

Wait a minute.  Cheetahs?

This is one of those stories where your first reaction is "Oh my goodness, how horrible!" and if you have half a bit of sense about the behavior of animals your second reaction is "Is this woman crazy?"

I don't have a particle of ill will toward Veronica.  I hope she heals quickly and without problems from the injuries sustained during her attack.  I feel very sorry that this had to happen to anyone, and respect her greatly for stepping in and trying to keep the cheetahs from harming that little girl.  But...........

I hope this resonates with people who will give a second thought to risky actions such as this.  For no matter if they were hand raised, fed by humans, cuddled and trained and socialized, these are not pussy cats.  They are wild animals, with all their instincts and skills intact, and not a bit blunted by contact with humans.  They may have learned some new behaviors around people and damped down their primal instincts, but it doesn't take much for those primal instincts to come out - with deadly results.

Make no mistake, even your house cat is a cute little furry killing machine.  Cats are not much removed on the evolutionary tree from the wild cats, large and small.  (Did you know that they can interbreed with some small wild cats?  That means that they are not genetically different from them.  Think of it.  You have a little wild animal in your house.)  Domestic cats have learned that association with people can be very handy, to enjoy and seek out our company, but everything that makes the feline a supreme hunting specialist is still in there.  Don't tell me that you haven't seen it in action.  You are playing or petting your cat and something sets them off, a little too rough play, a little too much stimulation, and ....whack!  There are the claws or the teeth.  It might merely last a fraction of a second, but you have just looked the wild beast in the eye.

My cat Molly has done that on rare occasion;  she has the good graces to look properly embarrassed afterward.  Other cats in my past did it too.  Something in what you were doing woke up the ancient instincts.  Now, just imagine a cheetah.  It's not domesticated, just barely tamed.  Maybe there was a disturbance that upset it.  Maybe that little girl moved too quickly.  For whatever reason, the wild came out.  And poor Veronica got the brunt of it.

It's disturbing to me that people are so removed from nature, red in tooth and claw, that they don't see these creatures for what they are, magnificent and regal and most of all, wild.  I am also disturbed by those domestic/wild cat crossbreeds that are available as pets.  The further the generation from the wild antecedent, supposedly the more domestic its behavior, but I don't know.  Sounds like an incident just begging to happen.

Let's cherish the creatures of the earth in their natural habitats.  Learn from them, enjoy the spectacular sight of them, but not try to make them into what they are not.  

Let's leave the wild animals in the wild.