Saturday, November 21, 2015

You Can Help.

Lately, I've been told by a lot of people that what I do is awesome and that I'm great for doing it. To be honest, I really like kittens and I have a soft spot for broken things and foundlings. My experience as a volunteer fostering these animals may be labor intensive, sometimes involves a lot of driving and may involve cleaning a lot of cat boxes... but I also get kittens. All the kittens I can stand. And then I get to watch them go to new homes where they will be loved. That in itself is pretty damned rewarding.

However, some of our animals arrive with problems and animal health care can be expensive. We have a great vet partner, but St Francis Society Animal rescue can still use more help. The care for Lenore, Linton and all of our other kitties includes shots, blood tests, spay/neuter and additional medical care as needed. These costs are taken care of by the St Francis Society Animal Rescue of Tampa, Florida. If you are moved by the stories of these rescue kitties and want to help out, there are several ways you can do so.

  1. Donate money to St Francis Society. This cash is used to pay for medicines, vet expenses, surgeries and more for Lenore, Linton and countless other animals who come to us in all sorts of shapes. 
  2. Check out the St Francis Society wishlist and send them items that they need. Their physical mailing address is on the page so you can busy stuff online and have it shipped to them, or you can drop it off at one of their Tampa locations
  3. Adopt a pair of our fabulous rescue cats and kittens. Everything is better in pairs, especially cats! Each adoption opens up space for our volunteers to foster more animals.
  4. Sponsor St Francis Society. If you happen to be high up in a company that makes charitable donations, please consider your company sponsoring St Francis Society.
  5. Volunteer to foster some cats! It's rewarding, you meet great animals and get to watch them go to awesome homes. It's rewarding and at the end of the day you feel appreciated by the animals, the adoptive families and even the other volunteers. It's a pretty great group. If you have a spare bedroom or bathroom and are not deathly allergic to cats, you can do this too. It's an adventure, but it is an adventure with purring and that makes it pretty unique.
  6. Volunteer at one of our adoption centers. Every weekend, volunteers can be found in a number of local pet stores manning adoption tables and events. You can hang out and play with kitties and help play matchmaker for families that need kitties. 
  7. If you are one of my friends and want to help on a more personal level, you can come over and help me socialize kittens, drop off a bag of cat food or send a gift certificate for litter. I get mine shipped to me in 40lb bags from Amazon. Money shoved into my hand or in my bra also seems to work. 
Thanks to the following folks for their recent support. I cannot tell you how amazing you are enough times for me to feel like I have thanked you satisfactorily, so let me tell the world that you have helped:
  • Jill S
  • Jennifer K
  • Brian W
  • Lisa P
  • Melissa T
  • Jim T
  • Janet S

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Night Vet Night!

It was a action packed adventure night for Madam Lenore and Mr Edgar Linton. Lenore was already scheduled to visit the fine folks at Westchase Veterinary for a post-op check and Linton got a unexpected trip right with her.

Here's the run down of my hot Friday night date night:


Lenore is awesome. She's happy. She purrs like a motor and her wounds are healing just fine. She's also an escape artist who can untie a double bow and take off her own collar. Seriously, it's like she has thumbs. She gets to spend a few more days in the Bathroom of Chill before returning to Gen Pop.


Linton came from a litter of kittens that had a rough start. However, since intake his siblings are thriving, whereas he is not. All three kittens came in with diarrhea but after intake medications were applied, his siblings got better. Linton, not so much. He also was favoring a paw and limping, but it was thought that might be a slight sprain and I was told to let it heal for a few days and see what happened. Well, it didn't get better.

So, with bloated belly, diarrhea, a limp and and extremely inflamed anus (which, might someday make for a solid punk band name), Linton got the go-ahead to get a checkup. In short, he's a sick kitty. He's dehydrated, likely has an infection lurking in his digestive system, has a joint that might be permanently damaged, and for the time being he has a very ouchy backside. I'll be kind and not include a photo of that.

This has won Linton a private, all expenses paid, convalescent retreat in the middle of beautiful Tampa, Florida. His quarters include a snuggly afghan, a private bath and private dining quarters. He will also enjoy toys that shall not be stolen by his siblings and he shan't be pounced upon by a soul until he is feeling a bit better.

His luxurious quarters are the inside of a very large dog crate in my living room. Additionally, tonight I learned that disposable lasagna pans make decent insta-litterboxes.

Linton's treatment plan consists of:
  • Sub-cutaneous fluids administered at the vet office. I got to watch a kitten leak extra fluid. That was... unique.
  • Metronidazole (anti-diarrheal medication) and Albon (sulfadimethoxine, an antibiotic used to treat coccidia infections which are a common cause of severe diarrhea) mix, administered twice daily in .5 ml doses.
  • Buprenex (pain medication) administered one every 12 hours in a .3 ml dose.
  • Rest
  • Snuggles
Blessedly, both medications are delivered by oral route, so I don't need to make him more miserable by shoving solid objects down his throat or... inserted by other means. 

Linton goes back in 7 days for a re-check where we'll also culture up a stool sample and see what's cooking in his insides. Hopefully, his inflamed wrist is also a result of infection and the swelling will be reduced by then so we can figure out what is going on in the joint. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Annabel Lee

The last of the original Poe kittens, Annabel Lee is still with me and will soon be looking for a new forever home. She's best friends with foster kitten Lenore, so we're hoping to find them a placement where both kittens can go together.

Lady, why you wakes me? I was sleepings in the basket so happy.

I sleeps on faces too!
She's a sweet little puffball in black with long fur but a thinish coat that gives her the look of the Lykoi cat. It has been noted that this kitten looks like werewolf, wookie, cat, Scottish Terrier and Grover DNA all got mixed together and took cat form.

She's also one of the most sweet and loving kittens I have had the pleasure with which to work. Her current hobbies include chasing toys, exploring boxes, sitting on my shoulder like a terrible parrot and attempting to sleep on my face.

Currently, she is waiting by the door to the bathroom where Lenore is in her post surgery quarantine. They chirp back an forth to each other through the gap under the door. I've very much hoping that Lenore's checkup appointment tomorrow will allow me to put these kittens back together.

Sacked out after playing with an Amazon box and filler paper, plus some new toys.

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

Historic Cats: Pangur Bán

Lutrell Psalter, f°190r (detail)

In addition to fostering cats, I study the medieval period, especially the art form known as illumination. This art was used to decorate the books of the middle ages and comes in all sorts of forms from glorious to silly, breathtaking to irreverent. I also have an appreciation for poetry both modern and medieval. If you combine all of these things that I love into one place, you get Pangur Bán.

The poem Pangur Bán comes from the 9th century and was written by an Irish monk in a book known as the Reichenau Primer. The Primer itself is a collection of hymns and grammatical texts that was likely pen practice for a scribe. Preserved in the book is also the poem in which the author compares his work of study to the work of his cat hunting mice. 

The cat's name in the poem is Pangur Bán, which is not so much a name as it is a description of the cat. In Irish, the word Bán means fair or white. Pangur, however is not an Irish word. The Welsh word pannwr means fuller, which was a job in the middle ages. A fuller used a combination of washes, scouring and felting to remove oils, dirt and impurities from wool cloth. At the end of the process, the wool would be a bright clean white, as well as soft and strong. In short, Pangur Bán was likely an all white and beautiful cat. Today, we'd probably say the cat was dazzling white or sparkling white in color. He also seemed to be especially good at mousing, enough that he inspired a monk at study to write a poem about the similarities of their work.

So, here is the poem, translated from the Irish by Robin Flower.

Pangur Bán
Cat and mouse, Hours of Charlotte of Savoy, 
Paris, France, ca. 1420-1425, f° 165r (detail)

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

Created by @LauraEAydelotte with images of materials from Ms. Codex 724 
at the Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Patient Zero

He goes with the furniture!
For me, the 2015 Kitten Season was kicked off by Patient Zero. In a bid to not get attached, I figured I would just number the kittens as they arrived. The first catch of the season was seized from under some shrubbery near one of the pools in the condo complex with the help of my accomplices Jennie and Brian. The other litter mate slipped away and I was never able to spot it again, but Patient Zero stuck out like a sore thumb.

It isn't every day that you find what looks like a Tonkinese kitten hanging out in the shrubs. Tonkinese is a crossbreed of a Siamese cat with a Burmese cat. With the addition of the white paws which are not a Tonkinese trait, and the slight swirl of marble tabby that was faintly visible in the cream fur, I took a guess that this kitten was likely a Natural Point Tonkinese crossed with tabby. Mom was a white and black spotted cat, so I'm guessing she had a pretty sexy hookup with an exotic pal one night. They other kitten was a grey tabby, so I'm guessing mom got around a bit. Cat genetics are utterly fascinating.

A fine art companion.
This kitten was hissy as hell and would growl and take swipes at me. However, he was only about 5 weeks old, so it was mostly just cute. He settled down in a few days and found that life on the inside did not suck even a little bit. After the bathing and de-fleaing and then the forcible lovings and squishy food, Patient Zero got with the program pretty quickly. After one particular bath session, the little fellow totally passed out on my friend Lisa B's lap. I can her the hissy cat whisperer.

That is a happy kitten.
One thing that I knew for certain: a kitten this gorgeous was going to find a home very, very quickly. One sad truth of fostering strays and feral cats is that exotic looking kittens or ones with striking markings often get snapped up quickly, while tiger tabby cats and black cats languish in foster and sanctuary care.

This worked in favor for Patient Zero and he found an adoptive mom rather quickly. I am told that he is king of his domain and is regularly spoiled by his new mom. With his ice blue eyes, Patient Zero was renamed Sub Zero in his new home. Sub Zero was our first placement success of the 2015 season.

Here's a recent picture from his mom, Angel:

Being so handsome is exhausting!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lenore at rest

Miss Lenore has the Bathroom of Comfort and Solitude all to herself. She has my favorite chenille blanket all to herself and spends most of the day napping. Apparently the pain meds make her sleepy.

Her nubbin is currently kind of naked, but will be quite adorable when the fur grows back. The stitches are so tiny.

Lenore also had her spay done and has lots of fur to grow back.

I mostly just feel bad about her having to eat and drink while wearing a cone. I help her by heaping her kibble to one side of the bowl.

She's recovering nicely and Annabel Lee has been hanging out by the bathroom door, calling to her buddy inside. In a few days I can get the girls back together but first Lenore needs some healing time.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Lenore's Tail, continued...

The darling Miss Lenore will have her tail amputated on Monday. Dr. Barr at Westchase Veterinary will be performing the procedure and I should be able to pick her up by 9pm on Monday night. By the end of the day, she should have a 2-3 inch stub left with which she may enchant potential adopters.

Until then, I expect she will continue sitting at my desk chair. She's quite the regal kitten and eschews cat lounging spots in favor of human lounging spots. For some reason, this amuses me.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wuthering Heights and the Joys of Foster Kitten Intake

So, intake is not my favorite part of fostering kittens. Many of our kittens come in as strays and from feral colonies, so they are not in pristine condition when they arrive. The reality generally is that you open a carrier to find a bunch of filthy kittens that are infested with fleas, have swollen wormy stomachs and stink of urine and feces. Yay! They are also generally terrified which makes the process of intake even more "exciting".
Last night I did the full intake for the new Wuthering Heights Kittens, thankfully with the help of several friends. Doing an intake by yourself is hard. It is also way more stressful. Having someone you can hand off the kitten to when you finish bathing it is really, really helpful. They can dry the kitten and you can dry yourself.

So, here's a bit about these kittens and then an overview of my intake process for new foster kittens.

On the Naming of Cats: The newest fosters are a litter of three kittens who don't look like they go together. Approximately 7 weeks old the new kittens are:

  • Heathcliff: Orange and white male tabby. Very active. Not food aggressive, but very vocal while eating. Some stray and feral cats growl while they are eating, not as a sign of aggression, but more as a sign of enjoyment. This can really freak people out because they make some crazy sounds. He was hissy and growly at first, but is socializing nicely.
  • Catherine Earnshaw: Brown medium hair tabby female. She's gorgeous and very floofy. Slightly timid at first, but now when I open the sliding glass door to the Kittenarium, she is the first one trying to jam her way inside. She has a very wildcat look about her. 
  • Linton: All black male with some medium length fur. He's the most timid of the bunch but is well mannered and fairly gentle. This kitten is very observant and is very interested in human activity. He currently has a bit of a limp and may have a sprained or strained ankle. If it isn't better in a day or two, he'll get looked at by a professional.

Here's how intake generally goes:
  • Step 1: Get the kitten. Fish a squirming kitten out of a box or carrier without scaring it overmuch and without too many new wounds to yourself. Do not smell the kitten.
  • Step 2: Triage. Give the kitten a brief triage style exam, looking for obvious problems. Mostly, I call it checking the holes- checking the status of all openings that are supposed to be there and looking for openings that at not supposed to be there.
  • Step 3: Make a plan. Based on triage, what does the kitten need.
  • Step 4: Bath time. Bathing a kitten that has just been received is a process that can be rewarding in the end, but is often pretty revolting and stressful. There will be a lot of stuff on the kitten that shouldn't be there and needs to be washed off. The kitten is not down with water. I usually recommend having a human buddy for the first bath. I try to keep my goals simple: don't drown the kitten, rinse until the water runs clear, use water temps that won't cause hypothermia or scalding, try to keep the kitten in the sink, try to get soap on most of the kitten and try to get soap off all of the kitten when you are done. Additionally, keep flicking fleas that are climbing onto the kitten's head to avoid water into the drain. 
  • Step 5: Dry kitten and administer forcible loving. Wrap that kitten like a burrito or swaddle it like the Christ child. Keep all legs inside the towel. Rub gently, snuggle often. Aim for purring and a mostly dry kitten.
  • Step 6: Medicate. Apply flea treatment and dose with Tape Tabs, Pyratel for worming and Marquis Paste to prevent Coccidia (protozoa that causes diarrhea).
  • Step 7: Naptime. Put the kitten into a nice clean place with a litter box, food, water and a den for sleeping and hiding. The kitten will likely partake in all of those activities immediately.
Paint me like one of your French kittens

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Oh, Lenore.

Lenore, a 7-8 week old brown tabby was found as a lone kitten in a feral colony. She was collected by a local concerned neighbor and turned in to St Francis. When she arrived in the transport box, she had made herself about as small as she could manage. Since she was going to be paired with Annabel Lee as a roomie, I picked another Poe name for her: Lenore. When I picked her up and held her against me, the purring began.

Once the lady who delivered Lenore left, I started a general exam to get an overview of her condition.First, she was really, really dirty and gritty and second, she had the single worst ear mite infestation I have ever seen in my life. When I gently lifted her ears, there was a solid mass of black. Ear mite frass, wax, debris... in short, a mess. I could not see any of her ear canal on either ear. She was probably just about deaf from the blockage. And, we were off to the sink.

I spend the next hour cleaning her ears. Using swabs, tweezers, warm water and an irrigation bulb I worked away at layer after layer of black muck. I am certain this was uncomfortable. I gave Lenore lots of breaks and allowed her to shake her head between sections of the cleaning. This allows the cat to get some of the liquid out of their ears but has the secondary helpful yet gross effect of helping to eject ear funk. I worked to the point that the major plugs had been cleared from her ear canals. Half a box of cotton swabs and an hour and a half later, I was pretty sure she needed to be done with bathing for the night. 
What I discovered under all the grit and dirt was a rather pretty brown tabby. After the shockingly long bath session, I burrito rolled her in a towel and held her for the next hour and a half as she dried off and warmed up. She purred the entire time. 

When she had finally reached a state of dry-ish, it was off to the Kittenarium for the evening. During the bath I had noticed that her tail was at an odd angle and when she was finally clean and dry I could get a better look. Now that Lenore had decided I was not going to murder her or drown her in the sink, she seemed to think I was pretty ok and let me get some decent pictures.

So, yeah, tails aren't supposed to have right angles. That was a problem. I handled the tail carefully but she didn't seem to be in any pain. I concluded that her caudal vertebra were completely dis-articulated, meaning parts of her tail were no longer internally attached to her spine. That's a problem. When a piece of a body receives that level of trauma, not only are bones broken, buy often nerves and blood supply are affected too. A tail without a blood supply can become necrotic, which is not only fascinatingly stinky, but also super dangerous.

After careful inspection, I found that the tail had no open wounds but appeared to be damaged in three places. Two obvious breaks at the end of the tail, covered in scabs, and above that another section of scabbing with matted fur. Lenore carefully kept her tail underneath her while walking.

On the next morning, Friday, I contacted the charity that for which I foster and received approval to make a vet visit for Lenore. I called the vet and explained the situation and got us an appointment for 3pm on Sunday. Hooray, right?

Then I got home from work and went to check on my charges. Annabel and Lenore both wanted attention so I picked up Lenore and held her against my chest as Annabel curled up in my lap. Yay, happiness and purring. Then I felt a warm and moist feeling seeping through my shirt. I figured I had been peed on and lifted Lenore off of me. Nope, not pee. Urine would have been less alarming. One of Lenore's scabs had cracked open. I could see inside her tail.

Still holding Lenore I called the vet and had our appointment moved up to the next morning. After the call I took a close look at the tail wound and found that, yes, the caudal vertebra was internally severed. Everything below the wound was no longer connected to the spine or musculature. Basically, the tail was attached with skin, scabs and fur. Awesome...

After consulting with the Vet we decided that I should bandage our gal up for the night so she wouldn't get any new particulates into the wound (like cat litter) especially because she was nearly dragging her tail behind her, unable to hold it out of the way because it was broken. My friend Troy dropped by to lend me a hand. In short, don't ever try to bandage a wound on an animal without a second pair of hands. It can go sideways pretty quickly. Troy was a champ, and perhaps because he is 6'5" and a big man, Lenore mostly just stared and him and didn't try to take off.

I trimmed off some fur, applied a non-stick pad, wrapped the tail in gauze and then surgical taped the whole thing in place. All during this, Lenore didn't seem to exhibit signs of pain, meaning her nerves to the area are likely damaged and she wasn't feeling any discomfort.

I set Miss Pathetic back in the Kittenasium and we all settled in for the night. She ate, drank and played with Annabel like nothing was wrong. In the morning, we were off to Westchase Veterinary Center & Emergency. This Vet center is a partner for the foster charity. The techs and vet staff are amazing and kind.

We hung out in a room for a bit. Lenore was a champ, purring so much that Dr. Barr could even listen for heart sounds because the kitten was purring too loudly. Dr Barr wanted to take a closer look at the tail and have her ears cleaned some more and we headed to the back. The vet and techs shaved down Lenore's tail and discovered that the end was indeed held in place with scab and matter fur. As they cleaned the area, more of the tail began to detach. By the time they had finished the cleaning, Lenore was about 4 inches shorter.


You have been warned... so, here's Lenore's slightly shorter tail.

The end of Lenore's tail had become necrotic and likely would have fallen off in the next day or two. With the washing and cleaning, we just hastened the process along. The dead tail end stunk to high heaven and I think were all relieved when it fell away.

It was pretty gross, but I knew we were in good hands when all the vet techs were entirely fascinated by the broken off tail end and tail stump. Through the process, Lenore purred. The above picture shows her with ears still up, sporting her new sassy shorty tail stump.

Dr Barr gave Lenore a shot of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication and decided to let that work and knock down the infection before more was done. Another portion of Lenore's tail will be amputated up to a point where there is healthy skin that can be sutured shut over the tail. Right now, she has a stump that is slowly scabbing over. I clean the stump a couple of times daily and Lenore doesn't notice more than that I am keeping her from playing, napping or eating. She's a pretty fly little cat.

She plays, she eats, she naps and she purrs. And she's tough as hell. Someone is going to be a very lucky human when Lenore is done with being broken and heads off to a new home. Someone is going to be very, very lucky indeed. For now, she's clearly doing hard time...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Feline Housemates


Neville sleeping in a basket actually intended as cat bed. 
A miracle.
I was living in the Sewing House with a roommate who had a cat. The cat was very much hers and took joy in the "pet, pet, bite" method acting of pissy housecats. I was very much missing Having a cat that wanted to be with me, and then I had an opportunity.

My friend owns a glass company, and a stray cat had gotten in to his shop and had kittens in the wall. He and the giant teddy bear shop guys chopped through a wall to save the kittens, but mama took off. Well, she turned back up eventually. My friend was about to take her for a spay and realized that her belly was huge and wriggling. Crap. Very, very pregnant. He took the cat home because he's a giant softy and Mama Kitty had a litter of 8 in the bathroom. He and his wife worked to find good homes for all of the kittens, except for the one they kept, Stanley.

I visited the litter of tiny, staggering kittens and one crawled right into my lap. This teeny black kitten yawned like his jaw would unhinge and then passed out on my leg. Yep. I was done for. Mr. Neville got fixed and came home with me, where he has been my shadow ever since.

Named for the "N is for Neville who died of Ennui" sketch from the Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward
Gorey, Neville started as a litter runt. He would roll onto his back or side and sling a paw across his eyes to block out the light when I got up for work in the morning. Pathetic.

Since then he has grown into a massive cat. He's tall and long and broad with a gigantic head. He now weighs just under 17 pounds and when he walks on your bladder in the middle of the night, you know it.

This time Mama Kitty got fixed and is now living the good life as the official shop cat at my friend's business. Many of the guys have cat treats in their desks and boxes with blankets for when Mama Kitty decides to visit them. It's not a hard life to be loved by a bunch of giant men-folk.


A few years ago, my friend Jennie, her boyfriend Brian and I decided to start working with a colony of feral cats at their condo complex. We started trapping the adults for TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return) and then found ourselves with a clutch of kittens that were young enough to be socialized. Most of the kittens turned out pretty normal, except for one.

Kitler is cottony soft on the underside 
but only I know that.

So, this fellow started off life under a dumpster and squelching in the mud. When he was trapped, we could not tell he was partially white until we bathed him. His paws were packed with mud to the point that he could not close his toes together, also he had Notoedric mange on his face and ears, leaving him patchy and pathetic..

This kitten had evaded notice and capture, and thus spent an entire week alone under the dumpster during the rainy season. Turns out, this is basically a recipe for a terror cat. Add to his fear of all humans the handsome Reichstache, and this fellow was the least adoptable of the dumpster kittens.

He ran from all potential adopters, and looked like a mass-murdering dictator. What do you do with that? Well, you give it some food, some space and some time, and eventually he comes and sits with you on the couch and creeps into bed late at night. Now, each morning her greets me when I rise, demanding petting along with Mr. Neville.

She prefers to hold paws while napping.

Scully is a marble tabby lady that I foster failed. Foster failing is when you are supposed to be fostering an animal and it is entirely adoptable, but you fall in love and just keep it instead.

Scully sleeps on my pillow, often with a paw on my head. She likes to hold paws when we sit on the couch to watch tv (she watches too when she isn't napping). When I paint, she perches on the back of my chair and watches me, with one paw delicately placed on my shoulder.

After Kitler, it's nice to have a cat that greets you by running straight at you, tail straight in the air with happy chirps that sound a great deal like a squeaky dog toy. Her names comes from the marble tabby swirl on her side that looks like a fingerprint... it called for a good investigative name. I always loved the X-Files and she seemed like a good Scully. And so she was named.

Fetch me the air pump, the cats have all deflated.


Baby Kitler. 
Wiry hair, reichsctache, healing mange and fear.
My cat Kitler has terrible luck. He was born under a dumpster. He contracted mange, was missed during the trapping of his siblings and left to fend for himself for about 7 days. Alone while encrusted in mud and dumpster drippings, I finally nabbed him in a trap and forced him into the easy life of a housecat.

He also has a penchant for falling out of windows. This cat loves cat TV (also known as a window) and when he lays in a window, he fully commits. Kitler sprawls and luxuriates to the point that he has now popped two window screens out and fallen out of two first floor windows.

Thus began meowschpringe.

The first meowschpringe occurred while I was living in Zephyrhills. While living in the house I call Angel Blue, in the pretty adorable downtown area, Kitler dislodged a 1940s screen panel and tumbled outside. The drop was about 5 feet and no doubt he landed on his feet. What followed was three weeks of him creeping around, never actually leaving the property, yet hiding in terror because the world is big. He was sighted almost daily and after a few weeks he just walked back into the house because kibble in the bowl and a couch beats the hell out of Florida in the rainy season.

After that, Kitler was a good deal more appreciative and seemed to love life on the inside.

Then we moved to the Pitch Pine Condo. Apparently the 1980's window screens had lost a bit of tension, so in the middle of the night, Kit fell out of another window. This time I was worried. We were no longer living in Angel Blue, surrounded by fenced yards and unbusy streets, we were living in an urban area with a major street a few hundred yards away.

Kitler, again, was terrified of the gigantic world and wouldn't come home when called, even though he really seemed to want to come home. Meowschpringe II was much more brief, as I was very, very worried. There was a nearby colony of feral cats, all of whom could give Kitler a beat down. With treats and soft words, I coaxed him out from under a bridge over a small pond. Yes, Kitler had resorted to life as a bridge troll.

Look how close I am. Haha. Nope, won't come in.

I saw him and his Reichstache nightly, but he just wouldn't come close enough to catch and every attempt to trap just trapped another colony cat. He hung out tantalizingly close, often visible from my back door. It was exhausting and infuriating. I just couldn't catch the damned cat. Walking around the neighborhood, shaking a bag of treats while calling his name... the neighbors were amused.

So, I built a better trap. It was a ridiculous idea that involved stinky wet cat food, cat treats, a ruler with string tied to it, and a door propped open with said ruler.

I sat on the other side of the sliding glass door, thinking myself an idiot. I was holding a string that traveled through a slight opening in the sliding glass door and connected to a ruler that propped open the screen door on the porch. No way this could work, right? Wyle E Coyote never wins. In short, I felt like a very hopeful fool. And then the damned cat started walking straight into my ridiculous trap.

No way! It's working.

Yank string. Door bangs. Cat trapped.

Well, meowschpringe II ended with a bath, a flea treatment and a lot of forcible lovings. Within 24 hours Kitler was cuddled up in bed with me, offering up his cottony soft belly for petting.

The hope is that we can skip meowschpringe III.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Collected Works of Poe

Three skinny and lethargic kittens that smelled like urine.
The Poe Collective came into my life on October 24th, 2015.

The Naming of Cats

Finding homes for stray kittens is hard enough, for black kittens, doubly so. To give these tiny, ink black kittens a chance I decided to capitalize on the combination of black cats, Halloween and my love of literature to find some really good names.

Thus, Annabel Lee, Montresor and Edgar Allan were named.

Edgar Allan and Montresor were an adorable bundle of brother cat that enjoys playing, leaping, pouncing and napping together. As such, I worked to find this bonded pair a home together. Annabel Lee was largely disinterested and mostly just wanted to be where the people were.

Annabel Lee, part kitten, part werewolf?
It was as if someone mixed the DNA of Grover, a wookie, a Scottish Terrier and a housecat.

The challenge of fostering kittens is that they come to you in all kinds of sizes, shapes and conditions. In the case of the Poes, they were malnourished and dehydrated. When I first picked them up all I could feel was rib and spine. Although reported at 5 to 6 weeks old, they weighed in at right around a pound each and were still staggering when walking. Their development and size looked more like that of 3-4 week old kittens. Their mother had been spayed several days before the kittens were turned into the foster group and the kibble they had been given was not for tiny kittens. In short, they were skinny, smelly and hungry.

Another fun part of this story is that the kittens were not litter trained. Their momma had been given access to a litter box in another room. The kittens got to go wherever they should squat. That made for an exciting first couple of days and the Poes answered the call of the wild anywhere they heard it's siren song.

The Fattening

The rescue group provided me with canned kitten food and baby cat kibble. I set up a bowl of the kibble for free feeding along with two water stations. Three times daily the kittens were given the canned kitten food with KMR mixed. Kitten Milk Replacement is essentially powdered milk for cats that contains the right amount of fats and proteins that kittens would obtain from normal mother's milk.

When given the wet food / cat milk mix, the Poes would set upon it like wild things. Their faces were so buried in the bowl that they would emerge with faces dotted with gobbets of food, providing a fun snack for postprandial grooming. Yum. Squishy food and kitten fur together.

All three kittens began to rapidly gain weight and started to look like healthy and tumbly kittens in about 6 days.

Exit, two kittens

Edgar Allan and Montresor were adopted as a pair on November 4th, 2015. The brothers went off to live with a pair of sisters. Apparently, the slightly timid but loving Edgar Allan went to the girl just like him, and the ever exploring and exuberant Montresor was paired with a young lady just like him.

Annabel Lee is still running around my home, but has become a close companion to a kitten in need named Lenore.

On their last day with me, Edgar Allan and Montresor went to work with me. In addition to providing my desk with a brief infestation of kittens, they also brought kitten therapy to my coworkers.