Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy #LeapDay

A quick update on the kittens.  They are doing well. I have not seen any signs that they are missing their mother. Sprite seems to be a bit more outgoing as a result, which is nice. Wryn still runs from me when I walk through the door, but she is a bit more willing to walk up to me. Yesterday morning I brought down some baby food (because I forgot to get hot dogs). I underfed a little them the night before so they would be hungry for sure when I walked in the room. Sprite easily took it but Wryn was not a fan of my coming at her. If I could sneak up on here she'd take it... which in my mind was a win. I had a feeling it was going to be very slow going. I kept pushing, and at some point, she had had enough of my shenanigans and wouldn't come near me. I continued to sit there and play with them and she eventually came closer.

Last night I brought the camera down to get these photos, and we had a long play session. I then fed them and sat on the couch and caught up on some tv. Sprite climbed up on the couch and fell asleep. Wryn, not wanting to be alone, soon climbed up too, and she picked a spot right next to me and voluntarily touched the back of my leg. I nearly squee'd myself.  She too fell asleep, and I was able to pat her and she started to purr..  If she keeps this up I won't be able to convince myself I should be keeping them much longer. We'll see how the next few days go.

As I predicted, Lemonade was snapped right up at the shelter and had a home before Saturday had ended.  I went into the shelter in the afternoon to take photos and she was already gone, so she was barely there 24 hours.

And now.. we leap.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kittens and the Catit Scratcher

A while ago I became a Catit Ambassador which means once a month or so I receive a newsletter from them and they offer one of their products for their ambassadors to win if they send in a photo of their kitty and explain why they want to win.

The other month they offered a scratcher and I was quite tickled when I won. They sent me the product a few weeks ago, but I was still under the weather so I only got it together the other day. They did not pay me for this review, and all opinions are my own.

The scratcher was very easy to put together. The pole fits into the base pretty easily and then the cardboard 'backbone' slips on the middle pole. You can put them on so they all line up or so that they alternate. We chose to line them up. As you can see, my cats weren't the least bit interested in it.

But that's okay, it really was for the kittens. It is a relatively short scratcher for adult cats and my adult cats in particular. Once I took it down the kittens really took to it.

Even Lemonade tried it out, but it was so short that she did it once and walked away. She has rubbed against it a few times, scent marking it so I think she likes it.

I liked that it was well made. It went together very easily. The scratching bits are replaceable, and the base and pole are washable.  The base even has a rubber o-ring to keep it from skidding across the floor.

It is also packaged in a fun box that can also be turned into a toy.

I like that it is easy to put together, easy to clean, that it has a long life with the refills, and it won't skid around. I also like the box.  I'm not a fan of how short it is. Adult cats need a nice full body scratch which helps not only their claws but gives them a good stretch. However, since every cat is different, and I imagine there are some cats who prefer shorter scratchers, this might not be a negative for you.

Thank you Catit for picking us, and giving the foster kittens something new to play with.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The kittens get a field trip

I've been thinking of ways to boost the kitten's self-esteem and thus their confidence and one of the more powerful tricks I have up my sleeve is to take the kittens out of the house for a quick trip somewhere else. Last night I thought I'd take the kittens out of the house for a bit, so I packed them up and took them to my office for about forty-five minutes.

They were fairly quiet on the ride in, just a couple of mews. Once we were there Sprite came right out of the carrier and started looking around. I tried to keep their area limited because I didn't want to have to track them down, so I attempted to keep them within the confines of my desk.

I got my computer and turned the music up and sang a bit to them. I tried not to move too much as I feared frightening them and causing them to panic. When it came time to leave I was a bit afraid they had gotten free and were hiding somewhere that I'd never catch them, and then I turned around and saw this.

I scooped up Sprite and put her in the carrier and brought them home. They were just as quiet on the way home, which was nice. Once I got home I went right back to the kitten room and Lemonade was happy to see them. She chirped at them and sniffed them and gave them a few licks and then it was business as usual. Everyone ate some and then it was time to take a bath.

All in all a successful trip.Hopefully, it will help the kittens realize they can handle anything. Time will tell.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spending some time at the shelter, photographing cats, and dreaming of improvements

I went to the shelter this past weekend because they were holding one of their quarterly volunteer meetings. About a year ago the shelter hired a new director and all kinds of changes have been going on ever since.  Being that I work full time and foster, I don't have a lot of time to go in and just hang out waiting to hear news and this meeting brings me up to speed on what is going on.

The shelter has some incredible plans to expand their operations as well as the spay/neuter clinic they have on-site. I will say that being a shelter in New England has its privileges because there isn't the stray overpopulation that there once was, or is in other regions of the US. When I first started volunteering for this shelter in the 90s they were doing great things with what they had, but as time and attitudes changed their live release rate went from your typical shelter stats of less than 50% for cats to the point where this little open admission county shelter can call itself "no-kill" (and does).

One yr old Prince Charming.
Up for adoption while in recovery
They recently increased the amount of space for the administrative offices, which was long overdue. the expansion is beautiful and something the staff needed. Now that is complete, they are looking to expand the back end of the shelter where humane education and training is located as well as the spay/neuter clinic.

The clinic was added a few years ago and has been tirelessly neutering cats and small dogs for the community. They do low-cost operations for people who qualify financially, which has further pushed down the number of stray cats in the area. They were only limited by the fact that there was one vet and only room for one vet to work. They recently expanded the clinic - taking away part of the storage room where the foster supplies were stored - and added on additional staff. This new shelter expansion will increase the clinic even further and put it right in the front of the building - currently, you have to walk around to almost the back of the building and it can get confusing for clients.

I didn't catch this cat's name.
They also have plans to build a separate building for adoptions so the healthy adoptable animals are in a different building from those who aren't ready. The shelter imports adoptable pets from other shelters, in and out of state; animals that come from out of state need to be in quarantine for several weeks before being available for adoption.

They also have plans to reroute the entrance to the shelter and increase parking, all very positive things as currently you drive up to the administrative offices which is not where the public needs to be.

Capital improvements are very important, and the plans sound wonderfully impressive, but considering I have to walk through the treatment room and isolation to get to fostering supplies, I wondered what plans they would have for that program and asked. It apparently hadn't been a consideration at that point because it flustered them for a minute or two, and they talked about how they were planning on giving access to the current storage area from the back of the building. I can only hope this is something I can drive up to so I don't have to walk all the way around the building to stock up on supplies for a few years while expansions happen.

Luna. Luna is diabetic and has been up for adoption for over a year.
I then asked what plans they had to improve the current cat areas. I will fully admit that our community cat rooms are beautiful and have a lot of catification going on in them, with cat walks, bay windows for sitting in, and even a small catio. But two of the cat adoption areas have not been changed since I started volunteering in the 90s.  This question also seemed to fluster them a bit. It isn't that I don't think that they are ignoring the cats, but well.. cats.  I'm guessing they didn't think anyone would ask.  The director said they were considering new cages with two chambers so the cats didn't have to sit right next to their litter box, and then said that if I had any suggestions for improvements she would be happy to hear them.

Either Bob or Ava.
Either Ava or Bob. Both are white cats that are seven years old. I didn't ask how to tell them apart.
They were surrendered and thus caged together.
This kitty looks grumpy, but was purring at me and rubbing its head against the cage
Bobo, 13 yrs old, REALLY wanted attention
Bobo is very thin, and has that old man feel to him, but he was a LOVE BUG!
Bear was not in the mood to have his photo taken, he became quite grumpy with me.
Maybe Bear would have liked me better if I had read Harry Potter to him.
Fluffy, one-year-old intact female Nebelung. I practically swooned
Fluffy was given up for having a 'bi-polar' personality.
I'm guessing if they had spayed her, that would have stopped.

I know what recommendations I would make for improvements at our shelter, but I am curious, what improvements in shelter care for cats (in general) do you want to see? What improvements in your own shelters have you seen that have impressed you? What have you seen at other shelters? Be specific but don't feel you have to name names if you don't want to.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Kits are becoming Kittens

For those of you not used to it, kittens grow like weeds. These two are growing up every single time I blink.  What once were two puff balls are now starting to look like actual kittens now.

It helps that they are eating better now. It did take some convincing but they are eating canned food fairly well now.  I have also started mixing in some dehydrated goat's milk that is full of probiotics hoping that it will help Lemonade's stool situation. She developed pure liquid diarrhea and nothing showed up in the fecal sample I brought into the shelter, so I put her on raw food for a couple of days. She was unamused and held out for the dry food; fortunately, the kittens ate the raw so it didn't go to waste. Lem's stool firmed up, but it still smelled very badly so I decided to try the probiotics. If all goes well with her, I will try sending her back midweekish. I really want to give the kittens some time here without her to see if they will turn to humans for comfort and attention.  Sprite is comfortable with us, but still isn't attention seeking. Wryn would prefer it if I never tried to touch her ever again.

Yes, that is Sprite washing her face like a bunny does. Anyway, I have no doubt that Lem will be snatched right up. I wish I could get to know her true spirit without the mother part of her personality overwhelming her.  I can see sparks of it when the kittens get tired and she gets a chance to play, and she is freaking adorable.

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