My sweet Indy gained 2 lbs. in 3 weeks!  He was only 2 lb. 11 oz. when I found him (the vet came the next day, and I doubt he’d put on much weight in one day, although he eats like horse!).  She came last Tuesday (for a distemper booster, a rabies shot, and to take a stool sample to see if the coccidia was gone) and weighed him. He weighs over 4 lbs. now!  He gallops into the kitchen every time I go back there or if he hears a plate clink on the counter.  He would eat every hour if I let him.  We were giving him at least 3 oz. (wet food) at each meal, and now even more, but he always seems to want to eat.  And he’s not fat. He’s very lean, although right after he eats he gets the big tummy.  He is so active (what kitten isn’t?) and seems to metabolize all his food, so I’m not worried he’s overeating.

I found out from the vet he has another type of worm, but the coccidia is gone. She said they have different life cycles and one stool sample doesn’t always pick up all the worms.  She gave him another worm medication (oral).  This Friday I have to give him one pill and 2 weeks after the pill will send off a stool sample (FedEx). Hopefully he won’t have worms after the dose on Friday.  Worms could be why he’s so hungry, but I’ll keep an eye on him to see if his appetite stays the same or is lessened.

These are the most recent pics.  I took them 2 nights ago.  He was sleepy on the couch and we’d had a rousing session of “chase mama’s arm and fingers under the blankie [in bed]”, and then another rousing session of “chase the feather wand” on the couch, and he finally slowed down. I was able to wind the feathers around his neck and aimed my reading lamp at his face. Using the flash doesn’t work — I have taken many pics of him with a flash w/ his eyes closed, and the all details blown out, and if there is no direct light on his face the pics are too dark.  I got the idea to try the reading lamp and it worked!  These are by far the best pics of him so far.  I’ve wanted to post pics before this, but they were too blurry, or too dark, and frankly simply not much good.

It makes me wonder how folks are able to clearly video their cats/kittens when they are running around like mad things. They are SO FAST — we have many a blurry pictures and videos of Indy.  I guess you have to know what you’re doing.  Now at least you can see how pretty he is, and I love the feathers around his head (the colors)!

He is still so affectionate.  He doesn’t always sleep on my chest now, but sometimes still comes and flings himself down on me and purrs like crazy.  He is also very smart.  He knows “No” now, and also seems to “get it” that when I’m asleep in the morning he should just come up on the bed and sleep with us (me and Lulu).  Lulu still isn’t really welcoming him, but she’s not as bad as in the beginning.  I feel sure he will win her over because he is very persistent and seems to want so much to be friends with her.  I am so happy I heard him outside and was able to rescue him and bring him in.  Someone at work said they thought Isadora sent him to me.  I am very pleased if she did, because he is a joy.

juwee on lawnNo, I am not dead in this picture.  My husband and I were looking at properties (we are house hunting) and the grass in this yard called to me. I love lying with my bare feet flat against the grass, my back in full contact with the earth. It’s so grounding.  You know the advice to cleanse crystals is to bury them in the earth?  Mother Earth is generously receptive and will absorb all your negative energy and give back wonderful, positive, energy to take the place of that old, gunky stuff. It was a lovely, slightly cool day and the grass was completely dry.  The owner did NOT have a dog, and I wouldn’t have lain on the grass if she had, so that made the opportunity all the more tempting.

My husband, our realtor, and the lady who owned the home were out showing us the backyard and I HAD TO lie down on this lush, gorgeous grass.  It must have been 6 inches thick and was very cushy.  As I was bending over my husband said, “I think she’s going to lay in the grass.”  I believe he was warning the owner and our realtor, but it was calling to me so strongly I didn’t really care what anyone thought.  Thankfully, the owner laughed.  I don’t think she minded.  I think she was amused.  I hope so.  If not, she hid it very well.  And you know what?  I think people were raised to be so much more polite years ago (she was in her late 60’s or early 70’s, I think), and that’s excellent when you’re only acquaintances and someone thinks you’re a loon.  ‘Cause I sure didn’t want to know it if that’s what she thought.  She carried on as though people flung themselves onto her beautiful lawn daily and she was used to it.

My husband snapped this pic of me while I was lying there.  A woman I work with said, “I hope you get this house because you’re color-coordinated with the ladder in the back!”  Good omen, right?

By the way, lying in the grass, looking straight up at the sky without twisting your neck is a really serene experience.  Try it!

Indy on bed with LuluMy sweet Lulu (black and white) hates other cats. This is because Nijinsky, who I had when I got Lulu as a kitten, decided she was the problem (why he wasn’t the “top cat”) and used to beat up on her when I was gone. I often petted her head and found scabs. She was actually fine with other cats when I first got her. She lived with Nijinsky for 12 years, though, and gradually must have decided other cats were not nice.  She likes humans just fine and is a very affectionate cat.

Since Indy (gray) came and although we introduced them gradually, she has clearly been unhappy. She’s been pissy and swipey with us (humans), and in general has looked upset. When Indy jumps up on the bed or gets close to her she was growling and/or hissing, and then often moved away (under something) to hide.  It’s hard to keep him off the bed; he’s just so curious and moves so fast, and he wants to be everywhere!  Plus, he wants to follow her around — he is dying to play (all the time!) and I feel sure he knows she is another cat and wants to have some interaction with her.  Our apartment is a shotgun apartment and we can’t really close off a room so if he’s out, he has access to the entire place.

I bought Jackson Galaxy’s “spirit essences” to try to help her. They have been getting rave reviews online. They’re not cheap! $23.95 for 2 oz. I bought 3, one called “Peace”, one for anxiety (and marking – basically if a cat is overly territorial), and a “Bully” remedy. Since I don’t think Lulu is at heart a bully, I started her on the other two on Monday. You are supposed to dose them up to 4 tx/day. We are adding 10 drops of each to her food twice a day, and then I try to put some on her fur at least once a day (behind her neck so she can’t lick it off). She has not been fond of my putting it on her fur, but I’ve found if I pet her head and dose her from behind (there are droppers in the vials, and you can just suck a little of the spirit essence into the droppers), then rub it in (in a petting motion) she seems o.k. with it.

Didn’t notice immediate results, but yesterday told Chris I thought she seemed a bit more mellow. Earlier today she hissed at Indy when he came near her, but not as bad as before. Sort of shorter and not as angry, more like a reflex. The picture attached is one Chris sent me tonight (I work nights). I am so happy! Thus far I’ve not seen Lulu relaxed at all when Indy has come near her. Far from it — she’s been hyper-alert and very, very defensive.  Believe me, if you know cats, you can see she is quite relaxed.  And I am SURE, beyond any doubt, that she knows he is on the bed.

A little update on Indy. I’ve been dosing him orally with the coccidia meds (syringe with meds in fluid form). He hasn’t liked it (what cat does?). But it’s only once a day, and only for 2 weeks. I’m hoping when Dr. Hanson (Holly) comes on Nov. 4th, he will be ccoccidia-free. He’s due for his distemper booster on that day. She will take a stool sample with her and test it (for coccidia).

He’s a real mush. SO sweet. Now I’m thinking he wasn’t feral at all, but was hissing the first day because he didn’t know me. He lies on my chest and stretches out and purrs and purrs (he has a loud, strong purr). He rubs his head on my neck/chin, and loves to hold my hand/fingers in his two paws while he licks and licks me. He is very loving. If my husband feeds him, Indy flops down at his feet and turns over to show him his belly!  This is a real sign of trust from a cat.  Also, to me it says he’s not really an alpha-cat, which is good, because Lulu is.

I can’t accurately describe how much it relaxes and makes me feel all warm and happy when he lies on my chest and purrs. I read or saw online something about a study that was done on purring, and it drops your heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Honestly, I get a warm feeling in my heart chakra when Indy lies on my chest (above the boobs) and purrs. I try to get in at least one session a day like this with him because it’s so damn rewarding. I hope he stays this affectionate, but one cannot be sure, so I’m trying to get the most out of it now, while he’ll let me pull him over onto me when he gets sleepy. Then I pet and pet him, and he purrs and rolls and licks. It’s something money can’t buy and if you don’t have a pet, it’s hard to understand how marvelous it feels when a little kitten gives you so much love!

Indy and me 10-8-14

Indy and me 10-8-14

Indra is the Hindu “warrior god of rain and thunderstorms”.  I looked online for deities with names relating to ashes, dust, fog, etc. I was looking for a name that referred to his coloring, hence the rain/fog theme. Do you know there is not one god for fog?  Really?  I mean, lots of places have fog, right?!  It seems to me there should have been some deity designated to handle fog — why did fog get left out?! There were many names that were too common/obvious (like Zeus), and quite a few that were unpronounceable (lots of them Native American).  For instance:   Wheemeemeowah, or  Gudratrigakwitl.  I’m actually pretty good at pronunciation, but can’t imagine calling a cat one of these names (or ever being able to pronounce it). Who wants “Gud” as a nickname, though?  I originally thought he had a white flame on his chest, but was wrong.  He is ALL gray.  Everywhere.  Not a stitch of white on him.  We will likely call “Indy”, which is a neat nickname for Indra, I think.  In fact, we are already using it.

He was a little “hissy” with me when I opened the carrier door on Monday to feed him, but the vet (Dr. Holly) came Tuesday to the apartment!  Oh Joy!  There is a vet service online http://www.vetdispatch.com that sends vets to your home and I highly recommend it.  HIGHLY.  She checked him out and he was SO good!  The vet tech (Marie) talked to him and then grabbed him by the scruff of the neck to take him out of the carrier when he seemed a little bit relaxed.  She petted and scratched his head and chin as the exam was taking place, and he never tried to bite or scratch.  At the end, when they were weighing him (he only weighed 2 lbs. 11 oz.), he started purring and rolled over to show her his belly.  He let her pet his belly, too, which is a sensitive area for cats.  Some will let you and some won’t.  He loved it!

He is definitely a boy, and the vet thought he was about 3 months old, not 5 or 6 mos. as I had guessed.  He tested negative for FeLV and FIV, and the vet pulled blood and took a stool sample to make sure everything else is covered.

She called me yesterday to discuss the blood results and Indy has worms, pretty much expected for an animal who has lived outside.  It’s coccidia, which is microscopic and doesn’t show up in the stool, it’s only visible in the blood through a microscope.  She will mail me the meds (oral) and it will be cleared up in about 2 weeks.  Everything else tested out fine.  He barely has fleas; they combed him and there was a little flea dander.  We put Frontline flea medication on him on Tuesday, so hopefully this will take care of any flea eggs.  No ear mites.  A possible light eye infection, but she put some salve in the eyes and didn’t leave any with me because she felt it wasn’t going to be a problem.

After watching Marie (the vet tech) handle him, I realized I needed to pet/scratch his head while he ate, which I did Tuesday while he was in the carrier (I put the food near the opening).  He started to purr and when he was done eating came out of the carrier and rolled around on my lap, showing me his belly, butting his head up against my hand, gazing into my eyes and basically being a wonderfully sweet, loving little guy.  He’s a doll!

I am going to buy a big, collapsible crate (w/ wire sides so you can see in and he can see out) for him, since right now he’s in my cat carrier).  I don’t want him to be out on his own right now unless I’m home.  I fear Lulu (my 14-year old female, who also got a vet check-up on Tuesday) might harm him.  She does not much like other cats.  Also, he is still so little and could get into a tight spot or in trouble.   Kittens have a talent for mischief!

I had him out in the living room last night and we played with the feather wand.  I forgot how fast little kittens are!  He could keep up w/ as fast and as far as I could move that thing, and he took the tight turns like a cheetah!  We are going to try to get better photos of him this weekend, and will also video-tape him.  Sorry the above is a bit blurry, but honestly, he is so squirmy that it’s hard to get a good shot of him.

He is VERY food motivated.  I was feeding him about 1/2 a 3 oz. can of wet food 2-3 times a day on Monday, and the vet said he could have more, that he “should know when to stop”.  Um, that ain’t happening!  He downed a full can Tuesday night, and yesterday another full can before I went to work. Last night I gave him a full can on the floor in the kitchen, and he went back 3 times to lick up the little, tiny pieces that were left, so I gave him about another 1/2 can — I think he would have eaten until he popped if I’d let him!  Probably because he was outside and hungry.  He was very thin when I got him, but is already fattening up.

I have revised my opinion that he was feral.  I’m now thinking “half feral”. But he’s clearly been exposed to people, since he came around so fast. I can’t imagine, even after just 3 days, being without him.  After he ate last night we went into the living room and my husband stooped down to pet him.  Indy rolled over and showed him his tummy, then wound in and out of his legs, rubbing his head on my husband’s legs and purring like crazy.  He is just about the most affectionate little kitten I’ve ever known, and Lulu was a very affectionate kitten.  Indy is gentle, too.  He has not once used his claws on me, nor has he tried to bite.  He didn’t even try to bite the feather wand!  I feel lucky to have found him, he’s such a love.

Today, just about the time I was in the front of the apartment getting ready to go to the back (the bathroom) to start getting ready for work, I heard a kitten outside, screaming, like s/he was very scared and crying for Mama. If you’ve ever heard it, you know what it sounds like. Very fast, loud, ragged-sounding meows. I guess although they’re generally quiet, when a kitten thinks s/he’s lost, s/he will send out extremely loud distress meows. Once, several years ago, I heard a much tinier kitten from across the street, through closed windows, meowing the same way. It’s very, very loud!

I ran to the back, jumped into some pants (I had on my long (to the knees) sleep T-shirt), grabbed a fork, a styrofoam plate, and a can of food and went out the back door and around to the side of the house where I’d heard the meowing. I live in a very long apartment, which takes up the entire side of this house, and it takes a minute to get from the front to the back!

Called and called but couldn’t find the little bugger. I knew I’d heard it because (a) it was loud and prolonged, and (b) my cat, Lulu, had her ears perked up on the bed and was looking towards the noise. Back inside I went. No sooner had I put everything away and gone to the front again did I hear the meowing! This time I grabbed my keys and went out on the front porch, because some of the guys were working there. I asked Jehmal if he’d seen or heard the kitten and he said yes, that he’d given it some milk because it had been panting and seemed hungry. I told him this was not good to give kittens, because it gives them diarrhea and they can get dehydrated and very sick from drinking cow’s milk. I asked where it was and he told me. So back inside I went, to the back (the kitchen), and got the plate, fork, food, and grabbed the cat carrier. I put a cozy, white towel inside it.

Ran out the back door, again, and asked Jehmal where the kitten was. He said “under the truck” (there’s a parking lot on the side of our house). But it wasn’t — it had gone under a HUGE bush that’s in front of the house/apartment building. I put some food on the plate and pushed it under the bush but the kitten, who is gray with a small white blaze on its chest, wouldn’t come close, so I backed away. I set the open carrier down near the food, and the kitten came over and started eating. I asked Jehmal if he could catch the kitten from behind, but instead he maneuvered the food nearer the carrier. I asked him to push the plate in the carrier and when he did, the kitten went right in. Jehmal was able to close the door and the kitten never even knew what happened.

I am guessing s/he’s about 5 months old. Very small for a ‘regular’ kitten of that age, but it is about as big as the feral kittens I’ve seen around that age. Very thin, although not sickly-looking. To me it’s clear s/he is definitely of the neighborhood feral strain, because we’ve had several feral cats in this particular gray color come around over the years. In fact, the original mama cat with the split ear was this color gray, and her male kitten was the same color.

I brought the kitten inside and then had to figure out where to put it. My apartment is sadly cluttered with stuff I’ve been buying in anticipation of moving (to our own home), and I finally decided to put the carrier up on a box that’s in the middle of the kitchen (which is very large), next to a chair. I put litter in a small, foil container that I have in case it’s necessary to put litter in the cat carrier, and shoved it into the front of the carrier. The kitten hissed (a little) at me and moved to the back of the carrier, and I was able to take the food plate out. I didn’t put water inside because I didn’t want him/her to knock it over and soak the towel.

Of course, Lulu, now my only cat, came in to investigate. I haven’t rushed to get another cat since Isadora died because Lulu doesn’t really like other cats. I didn’t introduce her properly to Nijinsky when I got her, and he always resented and beat up on her. I think this is why she decided she doesn’t like other cats. When I fostered the two kittens several years ago, she was very hostile. She didn’t really like Isadora all that much, although they got along, but when Isadora jumped up on the couch and Lulu was there, Lulu would hiss and growl and often jump down in a huff if Isadora stayed. Lulu much prefers people. She’s been in heaven since Isadora died, because she’s had my undivided attention.

I went up to the carrier several times to check on the kitten and talk to it (my crazy, big, upside down head framed in the opening — I wonder if this kitten thinks that’s how I look?!), and it stayed in back, curled up. It hissed a little a couple of times (weakly), but it doesn’t seem too wild and crazy. I put another towel over the back so that it will feel cozy and warm while I’m gone.

I can’t leave this little guy outside. He’s too small, and would never make it through the winter. I called the mobile vet tonight and Dr. Holly, who came out for Isadora, will be at my apartment tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. I want her to check the kitten, as well as give Lulu a “well cat” exam. I can’t expose Lulu to anything the kitten might have, so except for fleas and perhaps worms, hopefully the kitten will be o.k., and we will try to integrate him/her into our household. She’ll have to test for FeLV (which I hope is negative), and worms, and perhaps give the first set of shots, as well. I understand the field test for FeLV has a lot of false positives, but I need to know if s/he has it or not.

I texted my husband and he said he is excited to see the kitten. He asked if I’d taken a picture, but it never occurred to me. I am so old — surely anyone 30 years younger would have snapped a pic first thing! I hope to take a good one tomorrow and will try to include it here, or in another post, when I do. Will keep you updated on the little one. Would like to know the sex, too, and am hoping the vet can determine that (sometimes it’s difficult to tell!). Keep your fingers crossed that the kitten is well enough to keep and doesn’t have some dire disease which, given this past year, I am praying will not be the case.

It’s the yin and yang of fashion. If you do a “best”, you’ve gotta do a “worst” list, as well. Besides, it’s way more fun, lol. Since I saw far more “bests” than “worsts”, it’s all good (in the end).

“WORST DRESSED” for me was Katie Holmes in Marchesa. Top thing I hated was that yellow color on her, which is NOT flattering. The fabric looks wrinkled instead of ruched, and what is that pointless embroidery across her stomach? Finally, there was the hair! Looks like it was styled for a Halloween witch costume and she changed her mind about the dress but forgot to change the hair. UG-A-LEE.

Katie Holmes in Marchesa

Katie Holmes in Marchesa

Eryka Badu: the HAT, of course. WHY?

Eryka Badu in Givenchy

Chloe Moretz: I hated this dress. The ruffles, the twee neckline up to her neck. The general “under 4″ vibe. In order to give her the benefit of the doubt I looked her up on Wikipedia to see how old she is because I thought, well, if she’s only 12, then I suppose it’s age-appropriate. People, she’s 17! Did anyone see Hailee Steinfeld? HER dress looked fabulous, and she’s 18! Come on, now. So no, no, NO to Chloe Moretz’s awful, baby-doll dress. Shame on her stylist.

Chloe Moretz in Chanel

Chloe Moretz in Chanel

Kate Upton looks like Miss Kitty in “Gunsmoke”, don’t you think? Well, I thought she did.

Kate Upton in Dolce and Gabbana

Kate Upton in Dolce and Gabbana

Why is Lea Michele wearing a gold lame fanny pack? She has a purse with her already!

Lea Michele in Altuzarra

Lea Michele in Altuzarra

Sadly, I tend to hate whatever Lena Dunham wears, generally. I say sadly because I want to like her, I do. And also, is it really so impossible to find a stylist who would dress her in a more flattering way?

Lena Dunham in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture

Lena Dunham in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture

Her body is lumpy, she looks dreadful (if happy), the front of the dress is too short for her not-very-attractive (i.e., lumpy) legs. It’s completely unnecessary for a larger girl to look so bad. She is certainly NOT the ambassador for looking good while large, imo. I’m sure she has a lot on her shoulders, being a writer and actress AND a normal-looking woman in show biz, but isn’t that what a stylist is for?

Lupita Nyong’o in the worst dress I’ve ever seen her wear. She looks like a flapper, which is not a good thing. It looks more like a movie costume than an gala gown. I will say the green color suits her, but that’s about it.

Lupita Nyong'o in Prada

Lupita Nyong’o in Prada

Maggie Gyllenhaal. OMG. Someone actually designed this dress? I can’t even say ‘Valentino’ while looking at this picture. It looks like he ripped the fabric off an old couch from the 70’s and stitched it up. Gross. Plus the hair color isn’t doing her any favors at all.

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Valentino

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Valentino

Why does Natalie Massenet have an accordian on her chest? Also, who is she?

Natalie Massenet in Christopher Kane

Natalie Massenet in Christopher Kane

Sandra Lee, a/k/a “Space Cinderella”. Her girlfriend, Dara Lamb, helped Sandra create this dress. OK? If only she’d had a pumpkin-shaped purse . . . AW-FUL.

Sandra Lee in Dara Lamb

Sandra Lee in Dara Lamb

Valentino. The tux itself is fine, but does he have on make-up to accentuate his cheekbones? DOES HE?!? Click the picture, people, CLICK IT! Make it bigger! LOOK at his FACE!

Valentino Garavani in Garavani

Valentino Garavani in Garavani

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka. In the olden days it was traditionally “Pierrot and Columbine”, but now we’re all p.c., so I’m gonna say they look like “Pierrot and Pierrot”. CLOWNS, folks. Note the absence of socks. I’m pretty sure actual circus clowns wear socks.

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka

The rest were not at the top of my “ick” list, but they didn’t look good, either:

Ming Xi in Michael Kors

Ming Xi in Michael Kors

Since Joan Rivers died and “Fashion Police” will never be the same, I figure it’s high time for me, a woman past the mid-point of middle age, to post what I like about fashion! While I’m not in Joan’s league nor her age category, I do have strong opinions and that makes me a contender, damn it! Haven’t written about fashion on my blog so far, but love it. Used to follow it far more avidly when I was younger, took a lot of fashion magazines and enjoyed looking through them for trends in both clothing and make-up. Now that I’ve gotten so fat I can’t wear much of anything I really like, I don’t peruse magazines much any more, but instead focus on the fantasy gowns of the red carpet events. I rarely have a need for anything dressy, much less formal, but there is something about these full-length, gala gowns that makes me doey-eyed and dreamy.

Ming Xi is my pick for “BEST DRESSED” for the evening. I had to mull it over, overnight, though! I felt the combination of colors and the difficult middle portion of this dress could have been a disaster, but she pulled it off and looked wonderful. Tough dress to carry, and she did it so well. Her hair is perfect, the plunging neckline really works on her, and she can even manage that bright color and extra fabric around her waist/stomach/hips. Kudos to her and her stylist.

I chose ONLY the dresses/looks I thought worked completely, with a couple of exceptions. If I didn’t think, “WOW”, then it’s not included. I have no clue who some of these women are. Some names I recognize, but couldn’t tell you what they’ve done. And I went fast — click, “WOW” or click, “NOT”, or click, “I give her a ‘B'”. Don’t know why the last phrase kept coming to mind, but it did. That means it looked good but not great. Only the “greats” are included here. I’ll try to post the looks I thought were awful in another post. Since this is only my opinion, if you disagree, keep it to yourself or post your in your own blog about your favorites!

Click on any picture make it bigger. Disregard any men with women in the pics. They are just arm candy and not part of the look (for me, anyway), except for the one male couple I included, because they looked great. There was also one woman I loved in a 3-woman shot, but I mentioned her by name and color of dress to be clear which dress I was loving. By the way, the Asian ladies really pulled out all the stops. I was wowed by several of them.

Two looks I didn’t think were 100% “WOW” but came close: (1) Karolina Kurkova in Marchesa. She looked fabulous. The dress fascinated me, but I can’t tell if I love it or not. It’s so edgy. However, because Kurkova carried the look so perfectly, I included it. (2) Felicity Jones in Olivier Theyskens. I hated her hair. Hated it. Why did they choose bed-head for this event?! But the rest of the look I loved, so it’s included. It’s a 95%, not 100%. The rest I LOVE — everything about the woman, the dress, the hair, the make-up. Like I said, If I didn’t love the entire look, it wasn’t included (except for the 2 exceptions I mentioned).

Finally, I haven’t seen any best/worst dressed lists for this event, nor heard any commentary, so I’ll probably have chosen some things the fashionistas hate, but so be it. This is MY “best”, dammit!

Original Feral Kittens

Original Feral Kittens

Something I know a little bit about is feral cats. I’m often surprised when people online use “feral” to indicate outside or stray. Feral means wild. It’s a HUGE mistake to think of all outside or stray cats as feral, because many of them are quite comfortable around people and need good homes. Feral cats, on the other hand, are not usually habituated to humans, or at least not in the first 6-9 weeks of their lives, and have reverted back to a wild state. As such, they can be very dangerous if you try to treat them like the cats you may be familiar with.

I got started feeding feral cats because I had a garden in the backyard of the apartment where I live (it no longer exists — my *sshole landlord cut it down to the ground several years ago). I liked sitting outside on nice nights and saw a mama cat and her two kittens in November one year going into the yard next door and thought they would not make it through the winter, so I began putting food out for them. That was the beginning. I’ve fed the ferals in my backyard for many years since then.

Original Feral Tomcat

Original Feral Tomcat

As I sat outside (later that spring) watching them eat, I started seeing how they act and how they act differently from socialized cats. For instance, feral cats have a zone that, if you step one foot over it, they will move away from you. The zone is larger or smaller, depending on how feral the cat is. The gray and white Tomcat, above, needed the biggest buffer zone I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t get closer to him than about 20 feet. He would just move back. That photo was taken with a zoom lense! He was very wary. I used to catch sight of him many blocks away from our apartment. His territory was huge for a small animal! When he came into the yard every cat was on alert. He wasn’t nasty (some intact males are bullies), but commanded the utmost respect. No other cat would challenge him and most gave him a lot of space. The feral cats I feed will let me come in close when I have food in my hands, but after that it’s usually a minimum distance of 3 feet. If I step in closer they just move away. It’s important to try not to make them nervous about their space, because they are already pretty wary anyway.

I feed the feral cats after midnight because I work 2nd shift and come home late. On nice nights I was able sit outside and watch the cats eat. I used to put out 2 trays of hard food. Those long, rectangular planters have a long, rectangular trays that sit under them and I bought a couple to put hard food in, thinking several cats could line up to eat. It worked, but the cats must know each other already to sit side by side. If there was a new cat, s/he had to sit apart from the other cats and wait for them to finish, then cautiously get something to eat. It took a while for a new cat to be accepted by the group and until it was, it had to wait. It seems barging in isn’t tolerated, except with kittens. Kittens can barge in all they want and it’s fine with the adults! The younger kittens often stand on the food itself to eat. It’s so cute. No boundaries!

Feral Kitten eating out of tray

Feral Kitten eating out of tray

If cats don’t like each other (and some don’t) one will come later than the other so they can avoid direct confrontation. If a female has kittens, she will wait until the “crowd” clears to bring her kittens to eat, and most definitely take care to avoid an intact, top male cat. I think it’s because they might harm the kittens. Mama cats are fierce when it comes to any other cat who gets too close to her kittens. I’ve seen a very small female growl or just give the stink-eye to other cats while her kittens are with her, and the other cats always back off right away. They know mamas with kittens mean business.

Mama ferals don’t bring their kittens out to eat until they’re about 3 months old. They know who feeds them and the kittens have to stop nursing at some point, but the mothers, while knowing to bring their kittens to friendly feeders, are still very cautious. I’ve known several mama cats over the years who were pregnant, and then “not”, who came back to eat, but I never saw the kittens until they were about 3 months old. These extremely wary mamas are quite clever and bring their kittens to eat much later than the other cats, and also when I’m not outside, so as not to expose their kittens to people/other cats too early. They see everything as a threat. I got a little bit smarter and started going out at odd times in order to spot the kittens when I knew a female had had a litter. That’s a thrill, to see a little kitten in the yard, eating. I can’t think of anything cuter than a kitten!

3 Feral Cats eating

3 Feral Cats eating


Feral kittens, although small, are very fast, and there is no way to catch them manually; it works better to use a humane trap. They are way too fast. I’ve tried. Also, it’s best not attempt to pick up or corner a feral cat or kitten. They can shred you and inflict very real and serious damage. Plus cat bites can turn septic quickly (because they are puncture wounds and the top of the bite closes over). Don’t try it. Humane traps are the best way to trap feral cats. With kittens, you want them not to be too small because if the trap springs, it could catch them and break something, but if they are older/bigger, they will trip the trap and be caught w/out harm.

Trapping feral cats has a learning curve! I went to a clinic given by a woman I know who has a feral cat organization, and she showed a video on how to do it. I think “Alley Cat Allies” (online) has a video about how to go about doing it. If not, they have a lot of info about feral cats in general and can point you to a website that has videos. I learned quite a bit about feral cats from Alley Cat Allies. It’s a great website if you are interested in more information about feral cats.

Another Feral Kitten under car

Another Feral Kitten under car

The reason to trap feral cats is because it’s best to TNR them. T/N/R stands for Trap/Neuter/Return. It’s the terminology for the most human way to manage feral cats. The fourth initial should be “F” for “Feed”, and the fifth should be “S” for “Shelter”. TNRFS. “Tenurfus”. Doesn’t roll off the tongue very well, does it?! Returning neutered/spayed ferals to the same place they live is a must or they will desperately seek to return to their territory, and very possibly be killed as they try to find their way back. It’s inhumane to dump feral cats elsewhere. Providing food and shelter, as well as spaying/neutering, is the best way to stabilize a group of feral cats so they don’t procreate, and also “fixing” cats cuts way down on territorial fights and fights about breeding (as well as howling and screeching — who wants to hear that!).

If feral cats are removed from an area it just creates a vacuum, and since these cats are attracted to a habitat for a reason (believe me, there were cats coming through my backyard every night for years before I ever started feeding them), other cats will discover the place eventually and fill the void. The trick is to neuter/spay, so you cut down on unwanted kittens and stabilize the population.

Many feral kittens cannot be socialized to humans and need to live out their lives as feral, outdoor cats. Some can come inside, but most are just too wild. It depends on the individual cat, of course, but if a kitten won’t let you touch it and grows up not allowing you to come very near, you can be pretty sure it wouldn’t do well inside. However, they need shelter from rain and cold, and providing outdoor shelters greatly eases their lives and provides a place to wait out inclement weather. Cats often die from upper respiratory illnesses, and shelters help cut down on that, too.

Original Feral Female Kitten

Original Feral Female Kitten

There were two kittens (both torties) in the yard once (after mama had dropped them off they stayed) and I was able to tame one. I would sneak up very quietly behind her when she was eating, and then touch her. This took months, but finally I was able to stroke her (from the back, if they see your hand coming in front of them they run) and one day she PURRED! After that she let me pet her all the time, though she never let any other human come near. Her sister never, ever, let me touch her and remained feral. Taming her (I named her “Ina”) was one of my big, feral triumphs!

I’ve had many more failures than triumphs. The most difficult thing with ferals is they’ll come to eat faithfully for months or even years, and one day just disappear and you never know what happened. It’s hard. I worry when they don’t come for a night or 2. Sometimes certain cats will come for weeks, then not come, then show up again. I’ve had some cats (not feral) who do that, but they always come back around. With ferals, though, once they find a good place to eat they usually come every night, so when one is missing, I worry. I used to keep a chart and track how many came each night, and when one didn’t come I’d record that. After months if one didn’t come back I’d finally put “deceased” next to their name. I stopped recording but keep more of a mental tally nowadays. It’s the not-knowing that’s difficult, and my imagination is very vivid, so I tend to imagine all sorts of horrible ends, which is not much fun. So many cats have come and gone from my backyard. My (*sshole) landlord won’t allow me to put shelters out for the cats and it’s hard on them over the winter, but he steals the shelters if I put them out. Once my husband and I find a house I plan to move all the outdoor cats with me and will provide them with shelter. My group of cats is mixed — some are feral, and other are just strays. I will write about the strays another time, and more about feral cats, because this is far from a comprehensive guide.

I thought it would be nice to add an uplifting post. These are pictures from our much-too-short stay in the Adirondacks (NY) in August, 2014. Please enjoy. It’s very serene if you ever get a chance to go there and the air smells divine (pine-scented).

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Nijinsky, Isadora and Lulu on the couch

Nijinsky, Isadora and Lulu on the couch

It’s different loving a cat from loving a person. Not the feeling of love: the feeling is exactly the same. The experience of loving an animal is what I’m talking about.

Isadora died a week ago yesterday. I told my husband on Wednesday (the day preceding the week anniversary of her death) that I hadn’t cried that day for her and she’d only been gone a little less than a week. How quickly I adjusted, is what I was thinking.

I found out when I had to have Peleas, my 17-1/2 year old cat, put down (in 1999) that our memories of cats are so very different than the memories we have of people. I panicked when I realized I didn’t have specific photo-type memories in my mind of us “doing stuff” together. I had to think about it and realized I needed to remember how it felt to have him around all the time, how his energy felt to me.

When I got Peleas (at 8 weeks old) I lived in Chicago. He moved with me to D.C., then Philadelphia, then briefly to Cleveland, then back to D.C. for 6 months, then to New York City, and finally to New Jersey (where he died). I didn’t have memories of us going on vacation and, for instance, paddling around in a kayak, or of eating out at our favorite little restaurant.

I had a strong sense of his presence in my daily life. A cat’s presence is one of constantly being there, at least in Peleas’ case. He was always there for me. He slept up against my butt every night, and every day he greeted me when I came home. Not with a “How was your day?” but with a sweet look, a readiness to be petted, and an immediate purr. His was a constant presence I could count on. Did I remember what I liked about him, for example, his sweet energy? Yes. Did I have specific memories of outstanding times spent together? Not really. I had to remember my sense of his personality and energy, not the stuff we did together. I used to tell my friends my relationship with Peleas was the longest relationship I’d ever had with any male other than my father or brother!

Remembering her presence is how I remember Isadora, except perhaps more subtle. Isadora was always the bottom cat. When I had Nijinsky, Lulu and Isadora, she (Isadora) was at the bottom of the feline hierarchy. When Nijinsky died, she was still the bottom cat. Both Nijinsky and Lulu (especially) demanded much more attention than Isadora. She would come into the bathroom when I got up and if Lulu was in there already, she could not proceed or Lulu would chase her out. At night when I sat on the couch Isadora came to me to get petted, but again, if Lulu was already on the couch, Isadora had to be careful and I had to be careful too, or Lulu would be aggressive with Isadora, so poor Isadora got the scraps of loving. She always seemed very grateful for any attention she got and if she had to make herself scarce, she didn’t seem to resent it at all but always seemed gracious in her acceptance of her role.

My memories of her are really much less of a constant presence than with Peleas, since I lived with him for many years when he was the only cat — I could give him all my attention. With Isadora, she was always the bottom cat among 2 or 3 cats and I now realize I should have made more time for her. I don’t really have an idea how I could have done it, and it’s really too late since she’s gone now.

If you have a dog or cat and think perhaps you aren’t paying enough attention to them, I’d like this to be a reminder that it will be too late once they die. So maybe you could take a clue from my relationship with Isadora and give your pet an extra few minutes today, and perhaps every day after this. Surely it’s not something you’ll regret, and I know your pet will be grateful for every extra second you give them.

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