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.

Isadora

Isadora

Ain’t it a gas {{{sarcasm}}}? I hadn’t posted in almost a year (364 days, to be exact) and today makes two in a row.

Why? Because I had to put down one of my (2) indoor cats today. I’m feeling very toxic to cats, lately.

Poor, sweet Isadora. She was a feral kitten when I got her at 10 weeks old in September 2000. I’d lost my 17-1/2 year old cat, Peleas, the year before (to kidney disease) and finally felt, after almost a year, up for getting another cat. I had Nijinsky, but he was never a lap cat, nor was he particularly affectionate. Plus, having just one cat felt empty.

I decided to get a kitten that “really needed a home” and called my (then) cats-only vet and asked if they had any kittens. They did! Feral kittens had recently been found and brought in and were ready to be adopted.

I went to the vet’s office and was told, “Oh, they’re fine. We can clip their nails and pick them up.” I picked the prettiest one, a beautiful calico with a delicate face. I’d already decided if I got a female cat to name her “Isadora”.  Can I tell you she’s never had her claws clipped by me since the day she came home?  Not once.  Not possible.

Back in 2000 I had no idea how to introduce a new cat into my home. I let her out of the carrier in the middle of my living room and she scooted under the couch, where she stayed for the next month. Nothing could coax her out, and I ended up having to feed her under the couch or she would have starved to death.

Two weeks after I got Isadora, my laundry lady, Lucy, handed me a black and white puffball of a kitten and said, “Julee, can you take her? I have 5 more at home.” This kitten snuggled up to my chest and started purring. The insane part of my brain said, “What’s one more?” and I dropped her in my purse and took her home with me. Thank goodness I did, or Isadora would have been returned to the vet. She just wasn’t my idea of what I wanted in a cat. I need an affectionate cat, and Isadora wasn’t even letting me near her at that point.

For the next 2 years I thought off and on about taking Isadora back. We really didn’t have much of a relationship. However, I knew she would have a hard time being placed, since she wasn’t very social, and of course she was way past the cute kitten stage, so eventually I realized I had to keep her. I knew she didn’t have a bad life, but it was hard to see if she had much happiness. Still, I knew because I had Lulu (the black and white cat) that if Isadora didn’t seem unhappy, and she got along with the other two cats just fine, I needed to keep her.

Admittedly, I didn’t understand anything about feral cats. I thought Isadora would eventually adjust and be like other cats I’d known. Wrong. Completely wrong. No thanks to the vet’s office, which didn’t bother to explain anything about feral cats, I was in the dark and this was well before I went on the internet to look things up. I just didn’t have any information and made assumptions based on my experience with cats that had been socialized to humans at a young age. Isadora was nothing like any cat I’d ever experienced before.

As the years passed Isadora became more social with me. She didn’t like my husband (then boyfriend) and disappeared the second he came in the door, but the moment the door closed and he left she came out, so I knew she knew what she was doing. She and Nijinsky (the cat I had to put down 1-1/2 years ago) liked each other a lot and she slept with him and groomed him. She seemed okay and content in her way.

After my husband left for 2 years (we weren’t married at that time) to work in Canada, Isadora and I bonded a bit more. When he came back she hid. Since he was living in my apartment, this was not good. I finally assigned him cat feeding duties, knowing that Isadora would eventually like him again if he was in charge of the food. I was right. She eventually started coming out again when he was in the room and even started letting him pet her sometimes, a real breakthrough.

All her “progress” took years. I realized after I’d had her for maybe 5-6 years that one can only measure the progress of feral cats – their acclimation process – in years. Not days, not months. Years. But progress happened and it was very gratifying. She used to leap off the couch if I tried to pet her. Then she tolerated it, although she squinted her eyes and cowered a bit when she saw the hand coming, so I learned to pet her from the back of her head so she wouldn’t be so afraid of the hand. And in the past several years, she had actually started coming to me to be petted. She’d come up on the couch and sleep right behind my neck, her back snuggled up against me. She’d head butt me (like a little pony rearing up) when she was on the floor if I reached down to pet her. And in the past maybe 2 or 3 years she came up on the couch and stood, her front two paws on my leg, and asked for head scratching. In the past year or so she came to me almost nightly for head scratching, and I was able to brush her, which had never been the case before.

We went on vacation a month ago and when we got back she wouldn’t come out from under a chair in the living room where she likes to hide. I was worried, but my husband said she was coming out to eat. Since her appetite seemed fine, I figured she just didn’t like the person who came in to feed her, or maybe just the change in routine. She always hides when new people come into the apartment, so this wasn’t really unusual.

After a week she came up on the couch and I noticed she seemed dirty, and her mouth was slobbery. There was a lot of saliva. I wondered what was up, but I’ve never picked her up (when we moved to this apartment I put her in a carrier – she was only about 5 mos. old, and she bit down on the bars of the door so hard I realized if she’d bitten me she would easily have bitten down to the bone, which was a major warning that she was very different from the other cats I’d had). I couldn’t look in her mouth, but she let me brush her and seemed very relieved. Gouts of fur came out and I had the impression she hadn’t groomed herself the previous week.

I kept checking with my husband that she was eating, but was concerned because she was getting dirtier (her feet, especially), and the saliva was always there, plus she made a sort of yawning motion with her mouth as though she was trying to dislodge something. I spoke with the person who’d fed her when we were gone and he said she’d come out every time he came over to feed them and seemed fine.

Finally I realized, after a week, that I needed to take her to the vet. Much easier said than done. I tried feeding her in the cat carrier and she kept a back foot out of it every time. I finally tried to close the door one morning and she just sped out, and after that wouldn’t go back in to eat at all. So we fed her normally, and then last Monday I set up the have-a-heart trap and baited it with food. She would not go in. We tried and tried. One morning she had gone in the night before and I thought, this is it, I’ll set the trap (I’d taped it open to feed her). I went in the bedroom and waited for it to spring. I heard it spring and thought, “Yay, I got her” when all of a sudden she comes into the bedroom. She must have touched the outside of the trap and the damn thing sprang w/out her in it. After that, she wouldn’t go in that thing for love or money. We withheld food for two consecutive feedings and although she’d sniff at it from outside the trap, she simply wouldn’t go in. I didn’t want her to starve to death, so we again started feeding her normally.

Unfortunately, she’d been getting dirtier as the week(s) went on. She had food down the front of her chest and on the sides of her cheeks for the past several days. Her feet were filthy. I brushed her at night, but she wouldn’t let me near her cheeks, as that area seemed sensitive, and I’d never brushed her chest and she seemed nervous when I tried, so I brushed her head, the top and sides of her long body, and her tail, which got crusty every day. She seemed to like it and would sit on the couch and purr.

Several days ago my husband mentioned she was taking much longer to eat. Then yesterday he told me she was getting food all over the floor and a lot of it wasn’t actually being eaten at all. So I contacted Carol, the person who has the feral cat organization in the city where I live, and asked her for suggestions (on how to trap Isadora). She sent me an email this morning saying, “Why not have the vet come to your home?” and emailed me a link. http://www.vetdispatch.com

I had no idea such a service existed! Let me tell you, if it exists in your area I highly recommend it. I called and the person on the phone was very nice, she listened when I explained the problem; that I couldn’t get Isadora into a carrier and she was feral and the vet might have a problem examining her; that she would very likely have to be sedated. She contacted a vet in my area immediately and the vet agreed to come as soon as possible. In fact, she was unavailable after today until next Tuesday, and I didn’t feel it was a good idea to wait.

She showed up about 1:50 p.m. with her mother! Holly was the vet, and Pauline, her mother, is about 5’ and weighs, I’d guess, around 90 lbs. She had bright red hair and was the sweetest person imaginable. Holly couldn’t get a vet tech to come with her on such short notice, so she brought her mother, instead. Holly is the vet Carol told me (in the email) she’d heard great things about, and I was glad she was the one to come and help with Isadora.

It was very difficult cornering her. She kept finding the smallest cubbyholes to hide under/behind. She found a space behind a kitchen cabinet and went back there. Fortunately, my landlord’s shabby work was an advantage here, because the cabinet is moveable, but I had to take everything off the top and then move it. Holly had a big towel (mine) in one hand and the sedative/syringe in the other, but Isadora got past her. She was growling as Pauline called to her. Isadora finally went behind the stackable washer/drier and Holly was waiting for her with the towel and syringe on one side, while I took a pole (an extension for rolling paint) on the other side and poked at her until Holly grabbed her and managed to sedate her (w/out getting scratched or bitten).

Isadora made her way under a wooden Ikea open shelf (it has about an 8” clearance off the floor), and I had to clear away everything in front of it to get her out. Holly recommended waiting for a couple of minutes for her to go under. When I moved everything she was lying there, very obviously out, although still breathing.

Holly weighed her on a portable scale she’d brought. I was surprised that Isadora weighed only 6.5 lbs. She was always a small cat, but she is long, and I simply figured she weighed more, although I don’t pick her up so don’t know why I thought she weighed more. She wasn’t emaciated, but I sensed she’d lost some weight over the past couple of weeks (her hip sockets were more pronounced) and yet was not expecting her to weigh so little.

Holly examined her mouth. I have a big flashlight that I use when going outside (at night) to feed the feral cats. It’s very powerful. Since we were in my kitchen and there wasn’t as much light as Holly might have been used to at a vet’s office, I shined it in Isadora’s mouth. Holly lifted Isadora’s tongue and there was a mass under it (adhering to the underside of her tongue). It was a tumor. When she saw it she said, “This is not a good cancer to have. I’ve seen it with many cats, and it’s a very bad place to have cancer. It’s hard to treat, and the treatment is usually not effective.” She explained that chemo didn’t seem to work well on this type of cancer, and that it might eventually lead to them cutting out Isadora’s tongue and taking off part of her jaw. I said, “No, no, I don’t want that.” Holly then said, “Since she is 14 and this cancer does not respond well to treatment, I think . . .” and I wailed, “NO!” but realized it was what we needed to do for Isadora, because the Dr. said she was in pain (the drooling).

Holly said she is usually a strong advocate for treating cat diseases, but not in this case. She also said since Isadora was already sedated, now was probably the best time to put her to sleep. Her mom, Pauline, was so sweet and kind to me and they both said they’d step out and she would get the paperwork and let me have some time to be alone with Isadora.

I petted her and cried and told her I was sorry. She wasn’t very conscious, I don’t think. Her pupils were huge, but she was breathing steadily. When Holly and her mom came back, Holly kissed Isadora and said, “I’m sorry, Mama” and kissed her again, then shaved the inside of her back leg, which exposed a vein (meaning it was visible). Then she had her mom come over and hold her finger on the vein above where she was inserting the syringe.

I didn’t realize Isadora had died. I was able to chant over her as Holly administered the drug, although not very strongly, as I was crying. She didn’t move at all, didn’t twitch. I petted her head, and then Holly said to her mom, “Mom, let go” and then a few seconds later she said, “She’s gone.” I didn’t realize Isadora had died. When I had Peleas put to sleep (in 1999) he took a couple of agonal breaths after the drug was administered, and it took a while (a few minutes) for him to die. But with Isadora, she passed very, very quickly and peacefully. In fact, Holly checked again (with her stethoscope) but there was no heartbeat.

Holly was gone (with Pauline) by 3:00. It seemed like the whole thing had taken hours but I checked the time because I had to text my husband about the decision I’d made (I’d texted him earlier to let him know a vet was coming to the apartment). Because he was in the city and works one-on-one with people, I don’t usually call him because it interrupts what he’s doing. He was upset that he didn’t get to “pet Isadora and say goodbye”. And he cried, which I’ve never, in 15 years, ever seen him do. He said, “I hoped she would move with us to our new house.” So did I.

Last year turned out to be a bad year for my feral, backyard cats. In my last post I wrote I had seen the orange kitten after taking his mama to the vet (and having her put down). He came around for another 2 weeks to eat, but after that I never saw him again. I tried coaxing him into staying back there and tried to make it a friendly place for him to hang out, but his mama taught him too well and each evening after eating he left the yard and went to his hiding spot. What happened to him I don’t know, but I haven’t seen him since he reappeared (after those 2 weeks). This is the difficulty of caring for feral cats. It’s tough to keep track of them.

Adding to the difficulty is that I am not allowed to provide a shelter for them (we rent) because my landlord is an unfeeling jerk, which makes it very hard to know where they go after eating, because many of them do not stay in our yard, but leave to go elsewhere for sleep/shelter, etc.

I lost the orange kitten’s mother (explained in another post), then him, and a third cat from my colony died a few months after the orange kitten disappeared. She was a tortie, like the orange cat’s mother. She, however, had been fixed the year before. I got her fixed along with her sister and two brothers the previous summer. She was in the last litter “Mama Cat” had. My upstairs neighbor, Dave, who is a cat rescuer himself, helped me trap them and Mama Cat, and we had them all spayed/neutered through a program that another woman in my city originated. She had funds allocated for fixing ferals, and we were able to use those funds to get all 5 of them fixed.

Mama Cat passed away last year, as well. I was told by someone who works for my landlord that a cat who looked like her had been hit by a car (on the next street) and was dead. I hadn’t seen her for about 2 weeks before he mentioned this, and when he told me I felt sure it was her, because she usually showed up nightly to eat. Mama Cat never hung out in the backyard except to eat or bring her kittens to eat — she went somewhere else. I was sorry she died so soon after the spaying (within 9 mos.) because I’d hoped she might settle down and perhaps decide to stay in the backyard, but it was not to be. She was such a smart and wonderful cat mama. In fact, we had a lot of trouble trapping her because she was so smart.

The little tortie who died last winter seemed to have developed an upper respiratory infection. I tried to trap her, but was unsuccessful. She just wouldn’t get into the cage. I could tell she wasn’t doing well, and hoped she would recover, but one night I think she crawled up on my engine block for warmth and died there.

I didn’t realize where she’d gone and banged on the car hood before leaving (which I always do), then drove to work. On the way I smelled something sweetish and organic, and when I got to work asked one of the guys in the mail room to look under the hood for me (I’ve never opened the hood on this particular car). When he did I saw her little feet sticking up. The engine was “cooking” her head, which had fallen down and was resting against the engine block. She had a big, black circle on her head, but otherwise looked fine. I am certain she was dead because the wound was not pink at all.

I had a mini nervous breakdown in the parking lot and got pretty hysterical. I was not sure initially if she was dead before I started the car. It took me a while to figure out she must have already died before I started the car and drove to work. The shock of my smelling her, and then seeing her feet sticking up, was upsetting in the extreme. The guy who looked under the hood jumped back when he saw her and went back inside, leaving me to deal with it. I called one of the women I work with who is a big animal lover (and rescuer) and she came out with gloves, a box, and a plastic bag and put the cat in the bag/box, and then put it into a dumpster. She asked if I wanted her body but since I rent, I really had no place to bury her. This co-worker also let me cry, literally, on her shoulder and hugged me until I calmed down. Thank God for the kindness and good sense of some people. I actually heard from someone that the guy in the mail room was mad at me because he thought I was rude to him. Really? He couldn’t see that I was hysterical? I don’t remember anything after seeing her feet sticking up except sitting in the car, crying hysterically, and finally having the thought to call my co-worker. I guess I may have said something insensitive, but honestly, wasn’t it apparent that I was extremely upset to the point I was unable to talk and was sobbing and shaking? Come on. Who was actually the insensitive one?

Right now my feral colony is down to only 4 cats who come to eat, which is the lowest number I’ve fed outdoors for many years. Buddy, my black and white “old boy”, who has been in the neighborhood for at least 12 years, anchors the backyard. He was once owned by people who lived in a row house down the block, but was abandoned by them and started coming over not just to socialize with other cats, but to eat as well. Two of Mama Cat’s four kittens still come to eat every night. One is a torbie girl, and the other is a black male. The male is stunning, has no white on him that I can see, and is the most feral of all the cats. He doesn’t like me coming near him and only shows up to eat, then leaves. The torbie girl hangs out in the yard with Buddy sometimes. She’ll roll around and shows her belly when I drive up, but won’t let me touch her. Finally, there is an orange male, unneutered, who showed up this spring. He has a very “top cat” mentality and is not nice to the other cats. I feed him from his own tray, or he just intimidates the other cats into moving so he can eat their food. Buddy used to be a top cat before I had him neutered, and he isn’t intimidated by the orange male, but the other cats are. The orange guy doesn’t stay in the yard but comes to eat most nights. Buddy gets along with every cat that I’ve ever seen come through the yard. He has a very special ability to subtly keep order and not back down from the intact males that show up from time to time, w/out being a heavy or unpleasant about it. He has a really sweet soul.

I wasn’t able to talk/write about these deaths until now, because they took a toll on me. I get very depressed and talking about it seems to make me relive the sorrow, especially regarding the two female torties who died. The one in the car was particularly difficult, and I had many nights before going to sleep picturing her on that engine block. It took a while for the image to fade, and then of course the substitute picture of the other tortie with maggots in her wound came to mind all too often, as well.

I am emotionally invested in the backyard cats, even though I am unable to provide much shelter for them and don’t name them (any more). They become very personal for me and while they aren’t, say, as beloved or coddled as my indoor cats, when they disappear, or die, I am deeply affected.

I feel since I’ve written a lot about the cats I owe anyone who might still read this blog an explanation about what’s happened with them. My husband and I are looking for a house and when we finally buy one, I will relocate all the cats in the backyard with me and they will have a more permanent, comfortable home. It saddened me that so many died last year, as I’d hoped to take them all, but this is the way it goes with feral cats, in my experience. The uncertainty is difficult to deal with, but I feel I must continue to care for them as best I can because they have no one else.

If any of you can help feral cats, please do. You may not be aware of it, but almost all of you probably have cats who come through your backyard at night. If you sit outside and begin to observe, you’ll see this. There is a wonderful organization online, “Alley Cat Allies” that deals only with feral cats and has many useful suggestions about how to help them. If any one of you can help but a few ferals in your area, you would be doing a wonderful thing. If we were all to help the abandoned outdoor cats in our area, we could eradicate this sad situation altogether, by spaying, neutering, feeding, and providing shelter for them and letting them live out their lives. By spaying and neutering we can cut the feral kitten population so there aren’t so many of them out there, abandoned, starving, dying from wounds or hunger or disease.

I was shocked and surprised last night around 3:00 a.m. when I went outside to take up the food I’d put out at about 1:00 a.m. (was late getting home — had to wait for a drawbridge).  Usually take water out with me to refresh the water I put out earlier, in case raccoons have upset/fouled the water, and as I walked around a bush to the water bowl, saw — THE ORANGE KITTEN!

YES, he is alive!  Almost 1 week to the day after I had his mama put to sleep and hadn’t seen him for several days before that (so about 9 days since I’ve laid eyes on him).  She must have taught him well, that sweet little 1-year old tortoiseshell mommie, because he looked fine – not too skinny.  He was hunched over, drinking water, with his back to me, and I guess he didn’t hear me until I walked right up behind him (about 5′ away). He scampered into the hostas quick, quick, quick!  I shined my flashlight on him because I was so surprised to see him and wanted to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me, but it was definitely him.  He also must have been coming to eat late over the past 9 nights, as she taught him, and I just hadn’t caught a glimpse of him until last night.  He’s so careful.  I feel he must be missing his mama, though, as he’s on his own.  Have never spotted a sibling.

As I walked back around the bush (towards the hostas) he took off towards the cars and hid under one of them.  I collected the cat food, all except one plate, went into the house, and got out a can of soft food.  Divided it in half, then took it outside and deposited the half portion onto the plate, and put it under my car, where I’d fed him and mama last week (in their separate, later meal).  I hope he ate it.  He wouldn’t come out for me (not that I was expecting that), but am hoping, since he was the only cat over there, that he eventually made it to my car and got his extra ration.

I will be figuring out some way to trap him, since I feel he’s way too small to leave on his own at this point.  One of the other cats was near him when I went outside but she ran off when she saw me.  She’s a small tortoiseshell, too, but was in the litter that we got fixed last summer.  The mama tortoiseshell showed up about a week after we got all the kittens spayed/neutered, and she was on her own (and was a kitten when she showed up).  This tortoiseshell who was near the little orange guy last night has a few of her littermates still around, even now (there’s a beautiful black male and a torbie [girl]).  I tend to think they do better in a group when they’re very young.  But little Mr. Orange-Boy is all alone, just like his mama was last year when she appeared.

I’m thinking of bringing this little one inside, although it’s not a perfect idea.  Since Nijinsky was put to sleep last year I only have 2 indoor cats, but one of them, my favorite, a black and white named Lulu, really hates other cats.  She loves people, though.  Still, I don’t feel good about his chances if he’s left outside, and think I owe it to his mama to rescue and bring up her baby, since she isn’t able to be with him any more.

They are a little difficult to catch, but I think if I put a trap out (Have-A-Heart trap) w/ food he will go inside.  I might catch some of the other cats, too, but will just release them.  They were all trapped last summer, but many times they forget, especially if smelly, nummy food is inside!  I also found last year that it’s imperative to cover the trap with a big towel so (a) a smart cat can’t fish the food out through the back of the trap and (b) a cat will tend to go into darkness, rather than an open-ended-looking trap.

I don’t have a place in my apartment to isolate him, either, so will have to get him to a vet ASAP and have him cleaned up (I’m sure he’ll have fleas) and tested (FeLV and Feline AIDS), but I think it’s the right thing to do.  Wish me luck!  Will keep you posted if/when I am able to trap him.  Have to start thinking of a name . . . I prefer mythology or opera names, and if anyone has a suggestion, feel free to leave it.  No “color” names or common names.  He’s an orange tabby, so nothing like “Red”, or “Stripey”, or anything like that.  I love exotic names for cats.  And he’s a “HE”, I’m relatively sure, so male names, please!

You may imagine how happy I was when I went inside. I had a giant grin on my face and a warm feeling in my heart chakra — I felt so very pleased to see him and know he hadn’t died. I feel that sense of hope again, and want to do my best for him since I had to take his mama in and end her life.

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