Saturday Animal Adventures, part 1: Deliveries

My volunteer efforts these days focus on animals instead of people, primarily as a foster family for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. You can visit their website here: http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

We have fostered three litters of kittens in the last nine months, all named after various pantheons of gods: The Greek Pride, The Roman Pride and The Norse Pride.

At 10 a.m. this morning, which is rather early when you get to bed at 2 a.m. after clocking out of work at midnight, teenager #1 and I had an appointment to meet a fellow FURR volunteer at the Petco where Mars and Minerva are in residence awaiting FURRever homes. Today, we wanted to reunite Jupiter with his siblings.

Crating Jupiter did not go as easily as anticipated, the teenager couldn’t find her shoes, we forgot Jupiter’s folder and we missed some of the turns for the store. But we arrived and now the Roman Pride is together again, except for Vesta who is now known as Paisley in her new home.

Jupiter reuniting with siblings, video here.

We left Petco, and retrieved the missing folder. But before returning to Petco we had to catch the baby birds as I was transporting them down to Bird Mania so they could be tamed and potentially sold.

That was a process, moving four baby birds to a separate cage. But teenager #1 managed to do it.

We took the folder to Petco, grabbed some coffee at Wawa, and headed to the bird store. The staff at Bird Mania scooped the baby budgies like cats on the hunt, trimmed their claws and clipped their flight feathers.

On the way back, we got a phone call from FURR that someone was interested in meeting Hermes at the adoption Saturday event at Petsmart on Rte. 248 in lower Nazareth. Our Hermes?

I had to ask because Hermes is an absolute love and a character, the last remaining “kitten” of our Greek Pride litter that we brought home August 1, 2020. He loves to be in the middle of the action, loves to play, loves to sit two-to-three feet away, but will not tolerate being touched by human hands.

You see, he was very sickly as a kitten and received a lot of medicine. Medicine is delivered by human hands.

Oh, and Hermes is the matriarch of all our other fosters. He turns one any day now and has mentored every other kitten we have had.

And this potential adopter thought maybe we could bring him over for a meet-and-greet and that maybe he could go home with them.

I said I would gladly arrange a visit for the future but their was no way we could crate him today. This is Hermes’ adoption page: Adopt Hermes.

Hermes is a very entertaining cat, and would be the perfect for someone who just wants a pet who interacts versus one that cuddles.

So, last but not least, I anticipate a part two to this entry as we are scheduled to acquire a new foster later today, one with special needs that make her very suitable for this house. More on that when it happens…

Kitten Drama, my own mission to Mars

Kittens, like small children, can get into everything. And while cats, at least most of them, are extremely intelligent and practical creatures, their attraction to climbing, exploring and getting into small spaces can get them into serious trouble.

I like to tell the story of how Oz, the second dumbest cat I have ever owned, used to get his head stuck in every shopping bag or item with a handle he found. And then he would run around the house like the Tasmanian Devil.

This morning, I had a scary experience with my almost seven-month old fosters, The Roman Pride. They are part of the rescue efforts of volunteer nonprofit group, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Teenager #1 spent the night with her dad. Teenager #2 got up early, fed the household cats and mastered the art of an over-easy egg. I apparently had fallen into a deep, cozy sleep and after several days of getting six hours of sleep, I slept from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m.

I headed to Teenager #’s bedroom after a breakfast of two eggs on a crumpet and a cup of tea, prepared by Teenager #2, and immediately knew something was wrong.

The room looked like this:

And the kittens looked like this:

And my mom instincts immediately were on alert. Headcount… 1… 2… 3… 4…

Where is Mars?

I text Teenager #1 the photos to warn her. I open the wet cat food, which isn’t necessary as they have a self-feeder.

Everyone congregates at the food bowl. Except Mars.

Teenager #1 suggests he got into the closet. That she’ll check when she gets home. But I am unsettled. Other moms will understand. I text Teenager #2 the photos. Teenager #2 comments. And I mention I can’t find Mars. She joins me. And she finds Mars lying docile in a corner.

Now, between Mars and Vesta— the two who did a residency at our local Petco— one of them has loose stools and has peed on Teenager #1’s blankets. We are starting a protocol today to decipher who needs to go to the vet. But meanwhile, I am looking for clues.

Vesta has been a little lethargic lately. Mars is the spunky one, who, often panics when being handled. He bit one of the other volunteers which is why they came home. And he’s not usually prone to biting. I wouldn’t have sent him out to Petco if that were the case. So now he’s missing. Maybe he is the sick one.

When teenager #2 tries to handle him, he doesn’t fight but he doesn’t cooperate either. He sticks his claws in the nearby cat tree. But we found him. So I relax. And teenager #2 leaves. But he’s still not joining the others for food. I open one of the coveted squeeze-up treats. Still, he stays put.

My gut says something is wrong.

Teenager #1, in her second year of wood shop, deconstructed her bunk bed and made it into a loft. On one end of what used to be the lower bunk is a bookshelf and a seat that hides a storage box.

The other side is a cat tree and some cat beds of various types.

Mars is under the cat tree in a cat bed. Between the seat and the cat area, the new soft sided carrier I got for Christmas is on the floor, open. I reach for Mars. He doesn’t move. I pull him up to my lap, the cat carrier bangs into my legs and prevents me from getting him to the destination.

Quickly, with the cat in one hand, my hand supporting his belly, I put it all together. I grab the carrier with my other hand.

I pull everything into my lap. Now this cat is silent and limp. Remember— he’s the spunky one. This is very wrong.

My fear is legitimized. Mars has somehow crawled through the handle of the soft-sided cat carrier and gotten it twisted tightly into a knot around his hips. He has soiled himself— his back legs are wet. And if you know cats, you know they will go to great lengths not to soil themselves.

Do you know that moment in any bad situation where you have to chose between calm and panic? I am thinking about all the ways poor Mars could be hurt and trying not to panic. I need to free him. I’m trying not to think about how long he has been trapped like that.

I have to swirl the bag in one hand over poor Mars to untwist the knot against his belly, again and again. I call for teen #2, verbally as I have no hands left to grab my phone and text her. She runs in. I free him. She gets more wet food. He gently jumps free of me and goes to the bowl.

A few moments later he jumps up to the water bowl and drinks slowly for a good five minutes.

And when he is done, I hug him. He doesn’t fight me. I take the carrier into the hall. Now, if you excuse me— Mars needs another hug.

Learning to Fly

This is a post about babies of multiple species.

My dad helped me… no he did it… my dad got a really disgusting clog out of the vacuum cleaner last night. And then we (with my stepmom) went to Tic Toc Diner to harass teenager #1 at her first official job as a waitress. The young man assigned to our table recognized me and asked if we wanted her to serve us, and I said that wasn’t necessary we were happy observing her from afar. But he gave her the table anyway.

That’s my baby, and she was buzzing around looking very focused. There is a strange heartwarming and heartbreaking feeling when you see your baby becoming independent.

Earlier that day, Vesta and Minerva went to the adoption event at Petsmart. But no one inquired about these Roman Pride babies. I brought them home to Hermes.

Teenager #1 is with her dad right now, so I spent some time working with our foster kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. I’m going to post some videos from today to show progress.

Hermes is afraid of human hands. And Mars— oh spunky Mars— bit one of our fellow FURR volunteers when she tried to move him from the habitat at the Petco in Easton to the one in the Phillipsburg area.

Video: Manhandling Mars (and Hermes)

Video: The Roman Pride

Meanwhile, I decided I had to let go of my fear of harm coming to the parakeets. I opted to let them free fly for the first time since Boo-Boo’s death (see Farewell Boo for details). And it was the first time for the babies. My room is oddly silent right now because all SIX birds, including Nala the Goffin (who turned five this week), are sleeping. The budgies flew so hard!

Video: Baby birds awkward flight

And here’s a video of Hermes from yesterday: Hermes amid the vacuum

So all the babies are doing well!

My favorite cat litters

This won’t be the most game exciting post, but as a foster parent for feral kittens and a long-time cat mama, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of development in the cat litter arena.

I thought I’d share the cat litter we stock in this house in case it would help anyone else.

In our main living area boxes we use So Phresh from Petco, on repeat delivery. It’s nothing fancy but the price is very reasonable and it ships to the door. Plus, the plastic buckets are reusable and the kitty on the bucket looks like our Fog. I apologize to the UPS man every time we get a delivery. We fill our four cat boxes downstairs with this litter (one on the sun porch, one in the dining room, two in the bathroom).

Even though the fosters receive donations from the supporters of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, because we currently have five cats in teenager #1’s bedroom, we order Arm & Hammer’s Clump N Seal from Chewy.com. This is my favorite clay litter, but it is pricy so I can’t justify buying it for every box. But it really does seal in odor and isn’t dusty. So for the two boxes in the teen’s room, Arm & Hammer it is.

Both of these litters are fairly scent-free because I know cats have sensitive noses and I do, too.

Now there are occasions when we use Yesterday’s News and Feline Pine. Yesterday’s News is a pellet litter made from recycled newspapers. It dissolves when urinated on, but does not clump with poop. Same is true with Feline Pine. With both, you can scoop out the poo and shake the box and the box refreshes in a way. I like that the pellet litters are easy to clean up when they get kicked out of the box. Yesterday’s News is very clean and scentless— so when a cat is recovering from surgery or illness it’s a safe choice. I also use it in the tray of the bird cages.

But I like the pine smell of the Feline Pine when the cat uses the box, so I keep a tiny litter box in my room with that litter. It’s small because with the birds, cats aren’t typically in my room.

Teen #2 has two boxes for her two cats in her room, and I suggested she use one pellet and one clay litter so her cats have a choice.

Our foster cat godmother from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab recently traded in her traditional cat boxes for a horse trough. That is a brilliant idea!

The Harder Side of Rescue

We have worked with three litters of kittens trapped by Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab: The Greek Pride, The Roman Pride and the Norse Pride.

  • Artemis
  • Apollo
  • Hermes
  • Hades
  • Zeus
  • Mars
  • Minerva
  • Jupiter
  • Vesta
  • Fenrir
  • Loki
  • Vale

And when they are trapped young and healthy, it’s easy to socialize them and find them homes.

But the Greek Pride was already a little wild when we got them, and they had kitty cat respiratory infections. Hades sent me to the hospital with a cat bite within the first 48-hours. I stayed four days.

She never settled into a house cat routine and ended up in a barn. I was giving her eye meds at the time she bit me— while I scruff my cats relatively frequently I hadn’t scruffs a kitten in a very long time and didn’t have a good grip.

Apollo got so sick he started sneezing up blood. He would let us swaddle him, wash his face and feed him antibiotics but once he got healthy the experience left him aloof. His sister Zeus was the runt and she was always a goofy love. She didn’t get as sick as the others.

Luckily, her FURRever family adopted her AND Apollo. He still remains aloof, but loves the other cats in the family. His mom is so patient with him.

Artemis was actually adopted first, and he is doing great at his home. His mom is now my Facebook friend and I heard he had a cold last week. My heart hurt for the poor little guy.

Hermes is still with us. Not only did he get eye infections and respiratory infections, he also had two bouts of ringworm. As a consequence we are still working on his fear of human hands. Video: Hermes

The Norse Pride have all been adopted and every communication I receive has been positive.

That leaves the Romans.

The softest tuxedo kittens ever, now about six months old.

Vesta and Mars just spent about three weeks at the local Petco and Minerva has been attending the Saturday adoption events at Petsmart.

Today, another FURR volunteer tried to move Vesta and Mars to a different Petco where she thought they would do better and someone had expressed interest.

Then we got a text that Mars had bit her.

So they are with us again, and we hope Vesta and Minerva can go to Petco instead while we see if Mars was just nervous and scared or if something else was going on.

Mars (left) and Vesta

We have had problems with shyness and skittishness but no one in this litter has ever bit anyone before.

Video: Mars in bed

Video: Original arrival at Petco

Video: Vesta and Mars

Full of Cupcakes

I was exhausted and grumpy most of the day. But not a single thing happened to make me grumpy, I was just tired.

It was a nice day. Teenager #1 and I took a friend to her podiatrist appointment, and as promised said friend provided a nice coffee and added a surprise— home baked matcha cupcakes. I love matcha and I have loved matcha for far longer than it has been trendy.

So it’s gonna be a good day, because matcha cupcakes. Which reminds me of one of my favorite songs: Good Day.

While our friend is at her appointment, we run to Sheetz. The teenager took my money and bought herself a turkey wrap. Not sure why a turkey wrap screamed breakfast to her but she also brought me my favorite cupcakes, Hostess orange cream cupcakes. More cupcakes!

I saved my cupcakes.

The teenager didn’t even get to eat her wrap because she got a phone call from one of our favorite diners, Tic Toc, asking her if she still wanted a job as a waitress. She was quite flummoxed. She starts later today (it is 1 a.m. now).

My maternal instincts say this will be the perfect job for her. She has the patient, cordial nature and coordination for the job. And the girl loves her food so I think she’ll have the knack for details.

And I love that she’s not working in a grocery store, or a fast food joint. I think she’ll learn a lot and gain a lot of new stories to tell. And while working for a small local business will have its own unique challenges, I’m glad she’s not getting the big corporate crap job for her first official work experience.

Speaking of work, my average time per fix was between 4.25 and 4.58. I QC’ed 83 fixes and that’s— as usual— really low. But higher than last night! I took two naproxen sodium and pain was down around a 2.

And the friend I mentioned gave us hand me downs— so I got to go to work in new-to-me jeans. She had several sizes so everything really small went to teenager #2.

And to warm my heart, there is always, Fog, who started life as a feral kitten. Teenager #1 rescued him and his brother last winter. He was so shy he wouldn’t come near me for a month. Gradually he started sleeping in my bed, until a couple months later he was sleeping at my feet. Then my knees. Now he waits for me to come home from work and we go to bed. Video: Time for Bed

In the morning I have a chiropractor appointment, she has probably taught me more about my cerebral palsy’s impact on my body than anyone else.

PS— i survived today by drinking too much coffee, having several sugary snacks, taking a nap and eating too much.

À demain, mes amis. À tout à l’heure.

Snowy day all around

The snow started its gentle cascade yesterday and has kept going, blanketing the world in cold and stillness.

Yesterday I cleaned the birdcages— the budgie family is doing well— and spent some time cooking and checking on friends.

Snow days are for chili, and several others on Facebook had the same idea. My chili was a vegetarian version with kidney beans, black beans, black eyed peas, carrots, spinach and corn (and a Yuengling to make it just right).

I did some more concocting today. Made some pineapple-curry quinoa patties I had in the freezer and chicken potstickers with some sautéed pineapple anticipating that the teens wouldn’t be keen on the “burgers.”

I even used the juice from the pineapple to whip up some homemade sweet and sour sauce. Somehow though I grabbed the chocolate vinegar so my sweet and sour sauce turned chocolaty which actually accented the pineapple.

The animals meanwhile are either sleeping or in mischief. Minerva of the Roman Pride played in some red paint and Mistofelees decided he was a bird.

A video of Misty in the bird cage: Silly Misty in Bird Cage

The snow is still coming down and my shift at the Bizzy Hizzy has been canceled. I’m going to take my vitamins and watch another Brockmire.

I’m a Hank Azaria fan, in part because of his diverse and longstanding voice work on the Simpsons but also because he was hysterical in the Birdcage with greats Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.

I gave Brockmire a test run because of an interview on Fresh Air (this should link to the podcast). I’m finding a lot of humor and a lot of societal commentary and perhaps just reality. Some of Brockmire’s comments about larger issues like climate change surprise me. In general, Brockmire as a character experiences a lot of growth.

And he gets a tortoise in season three. As a former tortoise owner, the tortoise humor slays me. Even though he does keep calling it a turtle.

Clip featuring Clemenza: Clemenza, Brockmire’s tortoise

So now that my dishes are going and my coffee is done, let me head back to my Brockmire.

Hermes

Hermes overlording

Hermes world view is expanding. He’s about eight months old and though timid super inquisitive. He’s the last remaining member of our first litter of fosterkittens. He is listed for adoption on the web site, www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

This cat is the perfect mentor for younger kittens. He loves to watch the action and the household but doesn’t like to be the center of attention. If you’re looking for a subdued cat who loves to listen to your conversation, sniff everything in the house and sits near you without being clingy or needy, consider him. As he continues to relax around people, he’s going to be a character. And he’s no dummy.

YouTube video: Hermes explores

He’s timid because he was so wild and sick as a baby. He would dart around the room when we tried to med him. Hence the name Hermes, like the Greek messenger. He had a couple rounds of respiratory infections, weeping eyes that still flare up occasionally, then two bouts of ringworm.

Now he’s healthy and the patriarch of our fosters.

Beginnings and babies

My routine is fairly set… I get up, use the bathroom, weigh myself, feed cats, and brew a cup of coffee (using the time while it brews to tidy the kitchen).

I drink the coffee while hanging with our personal cats, sometimes I do my journal entry then other times I wait until I return upstairs.

Once my coffee is done I start a load of laundry, make sure the kibble is put away where our two cats with urinate issues can’t find it, and head up to “wake the birds.”

Usually by now it’s around 9 or even 10 a.m. (as I work 3:30 p.m. until midnight). I open Nala’s cage (my Goffin’s cockatoo) and throw back the curtains so the budgies fill my room with chirps and chatters. I check on the babies and everyone gets fresh food and water.

Chicks growing feathers

The photos really don’t do them justice. They all have open eyes, clear faces, beaks, feet and wings. They are getting feathers and one is turning blue like Mama Periwinkle.

After feeding everyone I let Peek-A-Boo-Boo free fly as she is stuck in the tiny cage right now.

Then, in an attempt to set my head straight for 2021, I made my bed— inspired by a post by another blogger on her M goals for 2021.

See the whole post here: Olivia’s “M” Goals for 2021

Movement and mindful eating are also on my list. I am losing a little weight every day just by making better choices and paying attention to how much I consume.

I think my journaling and blogging might be similar to meditation. It clears out my head and puts me straight.

But I failed in my grandiose plans to start my I journal with some sort of fancy motivational speech.

Loki went to the adoption fair at Petsmart with our cat rescue group Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. He had a scheduled meet-and-greet with a family. While he was gone, teenager #1 and I went to the dollar stores looking for organizational materials.

And then we got the sad text: “Loki did not go. 😦 ”

So now he’s home with us again.

Farewell 2020 wish

It’s 12:05 a.m. and I still have to open my journal. My morning started merely five hours after I went to bed with a series of foibles that are normal in my life… so let me appease anyone waiting for my next blog post with this little post I made on Facebook:

Some of our challenges in this household for 2021 include:

  • Reassure teenager #2’s male cat that he is safe. The other cats feed off his insecurity and terrorize him which leads to urination outside the box.
  • Eat healthy again.
  • Each member of my household has some sort of fitness goal. Mine is the inevitable lose weight, but I am going to focus on strength training. Strength and endurance to me are the key to building a healthy body.
  • Raise healthy kittens and enjoy my budgie chicks.

Update on chicks video