Monday, December 29, 2014

Brave Little Buffy

Buffy is an absolute trooper.

She's started coming around and greeting me every day.  I go out to feed the cats in the mornings and I hear her meowing all the way to my backyard. Same thing when I pull into the driveway at night. She mostly hangs on the property next door, under the porch or in their detached garage but when she hears the swing of my backdoor or the sound of my car pulling into the driveway, she meows her way to my back patio.

She has the cutest little meow and I can't help but hope that one day she'll actually let me pet her.  Hey, it could happen!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Release Phase

I released Buffy this morning.  It was so hard to do, but I did it anyway.  

I set the carrier outside on the ground, facing the area where I feed her, to orient her.  I left the carrier closed for a minute so she could feel the breeze and possibly register where we were, then I opened the door.  She sat there for a minute and then she bolted.  It'll probably be a while before I see her again.  She'll try to keep out of my sights until she no longer remembers my audacity in grabbing her like I did.

My brain knows this is best for her.  She won't be happy inside and I already have a full house of completely indoor cats and there just isn't room for one more.  Still my heart wants to keep her and work on socializing her. 

I keep telling myself I've done everything I possibly can to give her the best possible chance of survival.  I had her spayed and got her shots.  She's been dewormed and given flea meds. I'll continue to feed her and give her water, but she's just so little still.  They said five months at the Humane Society, which according to most rescue organizations is past the age of socialization.

Five months in kitten-world though is still little, and I'm thinking she's fairly small for her age as well.  I just hope she makes it through the winter. I'm not the right person to do this whole TNR thing (Trap-Neuter-Release), at least with kittens. When they're full-grown adults, it's not a problem for me. But when they're kittens, I feel so cruel not investing the time to socialize them because I know from personal experience that it's not about the age of the kitten.  It's simply about the patience and effort you're willing to invest in the process of socializing them.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Buffy the Feral Kitten

It's a regular kitten parade over at my house.  I dropped off two of the kittens I've been fostering to a shelter last Saturday (they'll be taking the third kitten this Saturday) and discovered at least one kitten running around my property the very next day.  She's blonde and adorable, but quite fierce and so I named her Buffy.

No matter how often I do this - rescue kittens from wherever I find them (feral and not) - I just never seem to get it right.  Sure I should have set out a trap and sure I logically know that the ole snatch-and-grab is never a good plan when dealing with ferals, but when opportunity presented itself this morning, I just couldn't resist.

On the plus side, I was wearing gloves, so they mostly protected me.  I was absolutely shocked when Buffy came right up and ate the food as I set it out rather than waiting as usual for me to walk away.  Since she approached unexpectedly, I went ahead and went for it.  Needless to say, when I grabbed her, she went insane, snapping and biting at me.  Somehow I managed to keep hold of her though and got her into the house and into a carrier, but it was touch-and-go for a minute.  She did not like the turn of events.

I have a kitten who will be spayed in the morning though, a kitten who was absolutely destined to drop litters in my backyard for the next ten years, which would involve those kittens dropping more litters, so all things considered, today was a rousing success.

After getting Buffy into the carrier, I immediately took her to the Humane Society.  I was hoping they would agree to find a home for her, but was told she was already too old for socialization. Of course, I know this isn't really true - after all, I've managed to socialize Skittles who was on her own for the entire first year of her life. It just takes patience and a lot of calm, caring, soothing effort. 

I completely understand why this is the Humane Society's stance though. Some kittens are easier to socialize than others, but bottom line, shelters have to focus on helping those they truly believe they can adopt out and a feral kitten is always a long shot.  So, though it broke my heart, I requested the feral package, which involved spaying her, giving her shots and tipping her ear.

I'll pick her up tomorrow, keep her for the weekend to ensure she recovers well from the surgery, and then I'll release her once more to the wilds of my backyard.  I absolutely support the efforts and theories behind TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) programs, but the release part is always the hardest to manage for me.  If I could find homes for all of the homeless cats in the world, I would. Still, little Buffy with her sharp teeth and wicked claws should be fine to defend herself.  I'll feed her and make sure she has water and shelter and she'll undoubtedly love her outdoor life, for however long it lasts.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kitten Update

No luck finding anyone who claims the kittens.  A neighbor near where I found them told told me that the kittens were born outside and that the local kids (I found the kittens right in front of an elementary school) play with them, but that no one actually owns them.  This would explain why they're so friendly! Most kittens born outside aren't as friendly as these (most aren't friendly at all!) In any case, this means I definitely need homes for these babies.

I've contacted local shelters and one has promised to take them as soon as they have space.  In the meantime, I'll continue fostering and falling in love with the darlings more every day.  If anyone wants a kitten, you know where to find me!

Update 11/15/14:  A local shelter has taken the three kittens and promised to work hard to find them forever homes. It was hard to hand them over, but with a full house, I just couldn't keep them indefinitely, though I desperately wanted to!  I miss the little darlings already.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kittens Kittens Kittens

I rescued three kittens this morning.  They were playing on a busy street, running out in front of traffic, generally freaking me out.  I expected them to run from me when I pulled over and went to get them, but these kittens were completely socialized.  So, of course, I spent time trying to find their owners.  No one knew who they belonged to and they were playing right in front of an abandoned house so I fear they were left behind.

They had no collar and they were clearly without any common sense (running in front of traffic!)  Also, there was no mother in sight.  I went ahead and took them home, but will continue trying to find out if they have a family. Once I'm sure no one's missing some kittens, I'll be contacting shelters, in the hopes that someone can take them. If anyone needs some kitten-love in their life, let me know.

They're absolutely adorable and over-the-top loving.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another Skittles Anniversary

It's been two years since Skittles joined my household and in that time she has managed to squirm her skittish way into my heart.  She's probably the smallest cat I've ever owned, as she is still able, at three years of age, to scoot beneath my bed with its mere three and a half inch gap between it and the floor. This is her safe spot, the place she will retreat to when feeling threatened.  When visitors are in the house, when I have unexpectedly managed to scoop her up and pet her into purring submission then finally released her from the hellish bliss of my affection, this is where she will retreat to.

In the beginning, she would retreat to this space and would not emerge until the visitors had been gone for hours or until I had left the house after subjecting her to the trauma of being loved.  Over the past year, the time she would spend beneath the bed has shortened, until lately, her retreats coincide with the hours a visitor is in my house.  Within moments of that visitor leaving, she will emerge, happy to be part of the household once more.  

Lately, she has not even retreated to her safe spot after being held.  Instead she has simply shaken off the manhandling and watched me warily from across the room, uncertain whether I will attempt to ruffle her dignity again.

I wonder where another year will take us.  This process has been so slow, earning her trust.  When I sometimes get impatient, I remind myself that one year ago, her claws would come out every time I touched her and two years ago, she hid from me pretty much 24/7.  I have this fantasy where one day, out of nowhere, Skittles will just jump up onto my lap and nudge my hand, ready for some attention.  It could happen.  So long as she's with me, I'll hold out hope, and even if it takes another ten years, that's all right because in the end, my sweet, skittish, little Skittles is definitely worth it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Road Trip Travels

Happy belated father's day to all those dads out there.  I spent this year's Father's Day on the road with my awesome dad, road trippin' to Tennessee to visit my aunt and uncle there.  As usual, we listened to Janet Evanovich on CD and laughed a bunch along the way.

As promised to some friends, I took some road hat selfies along the way (these are not your normal road hats, by the way). They come from the vast collection of hats that I often forget to wear. Looking for any opportunity (read: excuse) to wear them, I packed a bunch into the car and had some fun along the way.

Here are just a couple from the journey (my dad gets into the fun a little later on - go, dad!)

Traveled with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Marvin across Tennessee to Gatlinburg, we had an awesome time. Perhaps the best moment was during the pre-show Lumberjack Feud, when on the board my dad was suddenly featured as the "Star of Duck Dynasty". For those who know my dad, this was an awesome moment in his life and mine. I nearly fell over laughing.

After our adventures in Gatlinburg, we returned to Murfreesboro, where I left the family to travel to Ohio to meet up with a friend, then on to Pennsylvania for our writers' residency at Seton Hill University.  As usual, fun times were had by all. I returned home inspired and ready to leap back into the writing.

The road trip home from Tennessee was fun as well.  My dad and I took an unexpected detour to the Round Table at Hopkinsville Community College.  It's funny because I'd just heard about this place from my friend Carrie and literally a week later, I'm driving home with my dad and see a sign for it.  Of course, I had to stop.  Who knew this kind of fun could be had in Kentucky?

It was great visiting here with my dad and I'm looking forward to the fall when a group of writing friends and I are planning a trip here for a Writers of the Round Table mini writing retreat.  In the meantime, my friend Kathleen doctored a photo in anticipation of the grand event:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

On Skittles' Terms

Skittles has identified one specific spot in the house where she will allow petting to occur.  Any petting outside this zone is strictly prohibited (though I have been known upon occasion to break these rules).

Of course, the area she has chosen is perhaps the most annoying one in my entire household, as it happens to be any spot within arm’s length of the toilet IF I am seated upon it.  She’s figured out this is a place of vulnerability for me.  I will not move quickly from this spot, which gives her ample opportunity to flee if she perceives an attempt to pick her up is imminent.

She loves being pet and will purr ferociously when I stroke between her ears or beneath her chin, but in the perverse nature of all cats everywhere, she is unwilling to endure that which she loves unless it is on her own terms.  Thus, when I’m on the toilet, no matter where she was in the house when I headed for the bathroom, Skittles will always show up. 

She enjoys pacing in a large circle at my side, moving from almost close enough to snatch up to outside arm’s length.  She loves for me to catch her tail in a gentle hold at its base and then allow it to slide from my grasp as she circles away.  As the tip of her tail escapes my hand, she invariably circles back, tilting her chin toward me, inviting me to stroke her there as well. She’ll stand still for a few seconds, allowing me to pet and stroke her head and chin, then will slowly move beneath my hand until her tail is once more within my reach and the cycle begins again.

We’ll repeat this strange ritual multiple times until her need for contact has been appeased and she strolls leisurely away.

Over time, she has circled closer and closer and lingered longer and longer, for more extensive petting.  Over time, she has even occasionally ventured close enough for me to snatch her up and hold her in my arms.  In the early days, her claws would immediately extend and she would struggle to escape. I would use towels to capture her when I could, just to protect myself from though wayward claws. Though I should mention that her struggles were never aggressive in nature. She was struggling to get down, but not attacking me. Any scratches I received were purely inadvertent results of her desire to escape.  In later months, towels and blankets were no longer needed for protection.  Instead, she would simply freeze upon capture, claws fully sheathed. It would take long moments of constant stroking and attention for her to begin purring again.

Now, after many months of negotiating how and when she’ll be pet and held, I’m finally able to sit upon the closed toilet to engage in our petting ritual.  And though she still tries to flee when sensing imminent capture, Skittles now purrs the moment that capture becomes fact. 

And because I must work so very hard for her affection and her time, Skittles’ every purr, every head butt, every tail slide brightens and enriches my world. 

As we continue negotiating the parameters of our relationship, I slide ever deeper into love.