Archive for March, 2010

Cat Explosion – Fun Facts to Know & Tell

March 31, 2010
An unspayed female cat, her mate and all of their offspring,

producing 2 litters per year,

with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter can total:

 

1 year 12
2 years: 67
3 years: 376
4 years: 2,107
5 years: 11,801
6 years: 66,088
7 years: 370,092
8 years: 2,072,514
9 years: 11,606,077

 *This information is provided by one of our medical suppliers.  I don’t just make this stuff up.

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A Stinky Ending

March 29, 2010

I have mixed emotions about the springtime. Spring weather is wonderful here in the sLow Country. Just today we had a warm morning with a breeze, and a light shower in the afternoon. The door is open now, and the temperature is that perfect, elusive number that is not too hot and not too cold, like Baby Bear’s porridge. Sylvia spent the morning lounging in the lounge chair in the sun-dappled shadows under the trees.

It’s also the time of year when a very bad thing happened. Well, two very bad things happened one year apart. The first was our move here in 2001 from our home in NC, a place where I’d lived since 1978. It was a hard move. Then one year later almost to the day, Mr. X announced that he didn’t love me any more, and he was leaving now, goodbye. The following years were like being sucker-punched every day. I’ve heard it said that it takes a year of recovery for every five years of marriage. That meant I had five years of recovery. Awesome. Check please.

But recover I did. Even so, this is a difficult time of year. So. My life is now my life, and my path going forward is one of my choosing, as good or bad or smelly as it might be.  It’s mine.  I own it.

*****

Mr. Stinky has been missing for a few weeks. I’ve been hoping somehow, if something had happened to him, that I would be able to know. Mr. Stinky and Lou traveled together sometimes. Lou is much more feral than Stinky, and her coloring blends in with the woods, so she’s harder to spot, but I could always see Stinky.  He lounged around the cat station within reach, and his coloring was easier to spot than Lou’s. I had put a doghouse near the cat station and filled it with hay for the wintertime. Sometimes in the cold morning when I went to the cat station, Lou and Stinky would come out of the doghouse where they had spent the night, warm and cozy in the hay.

A few days ago, I was returning from the cat station in the evening after work. I glanced at the dog house and noticed a dark shadow deep in the back of the doghouse. I went to the door’s opening and spoke into the house. The shadow did not move. I reached out, and stroked his head, and found the notch in his right ear. It was Stinky, and he was deceased. He didn’t have any marks from fighting on his body. He was just gone. We had a little burial for him at the Swamped! Plantation and Cemetery, and he sleeps under the trees near the cat station at the place he called home and where he returned to die.

Mr. Stinky, Rest In Peace

Got Cat Food?

March 28, 2010

Yes, sir, yes, sir, eight bags full

Meow, meow, ruth rawls,

Have you any food,

Yes, sir, yes ma’am,

Eight bags full.

*****

Cat people are crazy.  Ask anyone. 

They also have the biggest hearts when it coming to sharing and showing the love.  You need help, ask a cat person.  Karen at Maranatha asked me once where I got my cat food.  I told her that I buy it, Sugar buys it, I get donations of food, and since then, CrazyCatLadyLinda sends money for food supplies.  Karen gets donations of food for her rescue group and sometimes she gets cat food.  Last week, she called me to ask if I wanted 150 pounds of cat food.  My heart, be still. 

I almost couldn’t get it all in the car.  She also gave me a bonus of cardboard tubes for Jopty Gerbil.  Jopty’s heart, be still. 

I know people who have one or two cats and they complain about how much it costs to feed them.  I just roll my eyes at them and say, Only one? or Only two?  Hard to feel sorry for you.  You’re talking to the wrong girl. 

But I’m not really complaining.  It’s just a management tool.  Somehow there is always money for cat and dog food, and the generous donations really help.  It seems that there is always room for one more here at the Cat Rehabilitation Center and CrazyHouse.  It’s a matter of mental manipulation.  I don’t own any of the cats except Sylvia.  She was my first cat commitment, and I can’t imagine her living anywhere else.  The rest of them are just members of Club Cat, even our girl chopped liver Georgia.

Georgia: "I tell you, Jopty, it's just awful. They treat me like chopped liver. I have to eat Whiskas, for Pete's sake! I deserve caviar, not donated food!"

Jopty: "It's hard for me to feel sorry for Chopped Liver. I get cardboard!

Jackie, the One-Eyed Gambler

March 27, 2010

JackieInTheBox

I’ve mentioned Jackie before.  She comes to me from Maranatha Farm, an awesome rescue organization in my crappy little county.  Jackie was found as a kitten in a trash can in the park in Savannah.  She appeared to have been tortured from the puncture wounds on her body, and one ear was cut off, and one eye was damaged to the point that it had to be removed surgically.  She was brought back to life and health by Karen at Maranatha, where she has lived for about four years.  Maranatha mostly serves rescue dogs in need of a home, and Jackie was getting bolder and bolder around some of the dogs.  Karen’s fear was that they have several dogs with “prey drive” and Jackie might someday stroll into the wrong place at the wrong time.  She asked if I knew anyone who could foster Jackie, and I volunteered (I’m from Tennessee) the Swamped! Plantation and Cat House. 

Jackie has settled into the shed where she has been for the last month or so.  She likes to get out and about and sit on the perches located in the trees around the shed.  Her latest accomplishment has been to climb onto some shelving units in the shed and get into the loft.  The loss of an eye is not an impediment to most cats, like we humans think it might be.  There are lots of one-eyed cats out there who lead good lives.  Anyway, Jackie doesn’t know any different, and she has learned that the loft in a nice place to have a special can of food away from the others.  I can climb up the ladder and leave this treat for her.

Left ear. Gone.

Right eye. Gone.

Spunk. Not gone.

The above picture was taken at dusk.  This shows the kind of eye effect that you get with cats or other animals in the dusk and dark when light hits their eyes.  I can shine the flashlight over the fence at the cat station and see the reflections of the eyes.  I saw the play “Cats” a few years ago, and now I understand the opening scene much better. 

So Jackie is here to stay until something better comes along.  As if.

Georgia: "Why don't you ever write about me anymore? What do I look like, chopped liver?"

For those of you who don’t know, Georgia and Cali are from upstate New York.  Their former owner says things like, “What about me?  What am I, chopped liver?”  I suppose that could be a regional saying, but I don’t get it.  Maybe someone can fill me in.

In the Spring, a Young One’s Fancy Turns to…

March 24, 2010

To misquote Alfred Lord Tennyson, in the spring, a young one’s fancy turns to roaming and mating.  And I’m exhausted dealing with it.

The past two weeks have been an incredible whirlwind at work, involving broken legs, punctures, fighting, and gunshot wounds.  I’m not even talking about the employees, but the patients.

It started two weeks ago, almost at closing time, with an incoming hysterical phone call about a dog hit by a car.  Our patient showed up about twenty minutes later with her frantic owners and two worried little boys in the vehicle.  Upon examination, the dog’s left foot was basically a torn sock with some splintered bones inside.  We stabilized her, she went to an orthopedic surgeon the next day, and her leg was removed about mid-thigh. 

The next day a cat came in after being hit by a car while out roaming.  Xrays showed a broken pelvis and dislocated hip joint.  We stabilized her, and the owners opted out of surgery, and elected to take her home to see if she would get better.

Another cat came in with injuries sustained when he was attacked by a stray cat who was roaming the neighborhood in search of territory, food, and a mate.

Last week, a un-neutered dog with a broken leg came in, again at closing.  The leg was dangling.  The owners and the vet debated the best course of action, like going to the emergency clinic, or going to the franchise veterinary practice at the big-box pet store that’s open 7 days a week.  They said they would go to the big-box, but didn’t actually go until two days later.  By then, the leg was infected and draining, and the staff at big-box said the dog would have to come back later when the surgery was put on a schedule.  They came back to us a day later, and the leg was xrayed, and a bullet was located.

Baby takes a bullet.

Extensive surgery and splinting was performed, and he might still lose the leg. 

Two days ago, a man came in with a story about a puppy with a broken leg.  He had seen a stray pup out and about in the countryside where he lives.  She had an obvious broken leg, and he wanted to catch her so she could receive medical attention, but he was unemployed with no good way to pay the bill all at once.  I made some phone calls and got some donations, and the man agreed if he could catch her, he would pay $100 a week from his unemployment check until the remainder of the bill was paid. 

He caught her, and xrays revealed a broken femur.  She received surgery, and a pin was inserted, and if you are squeamish, stop reading here.  Pictures follow.  She is wearing an amazing splint that was custom-made by the vet.

Back view of "Girl", maybe 13 weeks old

Still woozy from surgery

And there's the pin inserted at her hip

I’m probably even forgetting to mention some of the other animal drama from the past two weeks.  There’s been so much.  Spring is in the air.

Gopher Hill

March 22, 2010

The famous Gopher Tortoise

This enormous display is at a little park area by the railroad track.  It is a memorial to our famous Gopher Tortoise.  At one time this crappy little town was called Gopher Hill, in honor of the local Gopher Tortoise, which is now endangered.  When the railroad came through, the name Gopher Hill wasn’t elegant enough for a railroad stop, so the name was changed to…

 Crappy Little Town. 

The park with giant chairs and a giant tortoise

Jopty Gerbil & Sylvia

March 21, 2010

Sylvia, the famous former feral, is very interested in Jopty Gerbil.  She could easily knock over his cage and play with him.  So I don’t leave her unsupervised.  I’ve caught her looking at him before with a twinkle in her eye.

Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon.  The temperature was in the seventies with no rain.  After I arrived home after my Saturday classes, I decided to visit the cat station in the woods, and because it was such a nice afternoon, I left the door of the RV open to air out, forgetting about Sylvia…

After tidying up and filling the feeders at the cat station, I went into the shed to feed the animals.  There’s a new cat living in the shed.  She comes to me from a rescue organization called “Maranatha Farm”; you can read about Maranatha Farm here.  Her name is Jackie, for the one-eyed Jack, because she was found at the bottom of a trash can in the park in Savannah, having been stabbed, tortured, and maimed, namely one ear cut off and one eye gouged, when she was a kitten.  So.  Anyway, Jackie is shy and sweet, and I haven’t seen her for several days, although I know that she is okay, she’s just hiding in the shed.  So I’m in the shed, and I hear a “meaow” that I don’t recognize.  I can see Georgia, and Cali, but neither of them are talking.  Could it be?  So I meow back and get an answer.  Several times.  Yes, it’s a good thing I don’t have close neighbors.  Anyway, I’m looking around for the source of the meowing, and I realize that it’s over my head.  And there sitting in the loft is Jackie.  I drag the ladder over to the loft and climb up to greet her.  She never hides, not even with the commotion of the ladder-dragging, and lets me pet her.  I give her a can of food, and leave her to her own devices, and pat myself on the back for my good fortune as I head back to the RV.

Then I spot her.  Sylvia is on the couch next to Jopty Gerbil. 

Sylvia: "How do you feel about mixed relationships?"

Jopty: "Beam me up, Scotty!"

He can run but he can't hide. He's on the left under the shelf.

Sylvia: "Hey, Jopty, can you come out and play?"

Sylvia: "I'm a vegetarian. Honest."

Sylvia: "Look into my eyes. You're getting verrrry sleepy..."

Sylvia: "What?? You've never seen a gerbil before? It's not such a big deal."

Just Call Me Slick

March 16, 2010

Last year about this time, The Sugar had a car accident.  He didn’t just have an accident.  He totaled his car. 

It was a Sunday morning, and he had gone to work off-the-clock to tidy up some issues at his job.  When he got there, he realized that he had forgotten his key to get in the building.  Now becoming agitated, he drove home to get his key, knowing that he had just shot a huge chunk of his day.  By his own admission, his vehicle was traveling at an excessive rate of speed.  It was shortly after this that my phone rang.

Here we pause with some need-to-know information.  It had rained the entire day and night before.  There was no standing water by the time he left home on Sunday morning.  But the conditions were perfect for the “Hydroplane” to take off.

So.  My phone rang, I answered and he announced that he had just been involved in a car accident, and he believed it was rather bad.  I asked where he was, he said near home, and then the phone went dead.  The phone, not the caller. 

I hustled up and gathered some things to take, like damp towels, washcloths, the cellphone, my purse.  The phone rang again, and The Sugar announced that he had just been involved in a car accident, and that he believed it was rather bad. 

This wasn’t sounding good.  He was delusional.

I headed out not far from his house, and saw him up ahead standing on the side of the road next to his broken car.  My cell phone rang, and he said, “Where are you?  Are you coming?”  I said, “I’m right here.  I can see you.”

I pulled into a driveway and parked my car.  I could see he was standing with another unidentified man, who turned out to be a fellow who lived in one of the houses nearby who came to help.  The Sugar was dirty and disheveled.  He was shaking from the cool air and the shock of smashing his car.  I gave him my jacket and made him sit in my car while I took pictures. 

These pictures begin with a survey of the crash scene from left to right.  He was traveling, that’s correct, from left to right, so keep that in mind when you see where his car ended up.

Absolutely amazing that he lived through that.  The nice EMS people came along and treated him, he refused to go to the hospital, we followed the wrecker to the junk yard, and he went home to a hot bath.  He never did make it to work.

Not his beer can in the ditch. Just happened to be there.

Has anyone seen the moon roof?

Oh, there it is.

The trunk popped open during the commotion.

The air bag never deployed, because...

He never hit head on. He only spun around and rolled a few times.

Vultures, Part 2

March 14, 2010

On Tuesday, August 25, 2009, I was driving home from work.  I’ve talked about my crappy little town before, and the road I take when driving home.  Near my plantation and cat-cussing facility, off to the right on the main road, there are several fields that used to be pinelands.  The trees were cut down for timber in the last few years, and the ground is covered with the type of tree litter left over from the cutting of the limbs and trees.  The ground is low here and the water table is high, and there are areas of standing water.  Over the last year, the fields have become overgrown with weeds, some waist high or more.

This time, when I was almost home, I saw buzzards in the distance circling over an open field.  I counted at least 14, and I knew they were circling over something large.  I parked the car in the driveway, then I sat in my yard in a lounge chair, watching and wondering, and my curiosity got the best of me.  I set out across the road, climbed across the ditch and the barbed wire fence, and walked through several fields to try to get to where the buzzards were.   That was just too many buzzards for something not to be really wrong.  There was something big and dead out there, perhaps like a deer carcass.  Or a person.

I was still wearing my bright pink scrubs from work.  I must have made a sight, clambering along the deadfall, re-charting my course as I came to an obstacle or a low watery place.  But there was no one to see me, except the buzzards who continued to circle further along, then alight in the trees along the edge of the field, then flap silently further along.  I thought I heard a puppy crying in the distance. 

There was one large dead tree in the middle of the second field.  It looked like a scene out of that Disney movie, I think it was the Jungle Book, where the vultures perch and hop along the branches, waiting, waiting.  There were several brush piles around the tree, most piled higher than my head.  I was transfixed, staring at the vulture tree as I made my way around a brush pile when the smell hit me in the face.  It was like walking into an invisible wall of odor that enveloped you and covered you completely.  I didn’t see anything.  I wished I had my camera.  I went around another pile of brush.

It was a large heap of entrails, as big as a small car, rotting in the heat.

Vultures of the Low Country

March 14, 2010

Mr. Stinky has been a loyal feral cat.  I’ve written about him before, and how he ended up in the local shelter.  Normally a feral cat that is trapped and ends up at the shelter is euthanized.  Mr. Stinky has an ear notch that was given to him when he was neutered.  The notch identifies him as a feral cat.  Somehow he ended up at the shelter.  When the shelter workers saw his ear notch, they knew that he was neutered and vaccinated, and they called me to see if he could join my colony. 

Mr. Stinky stayed close to the cat station.  Sometimes I would not see him for several days, but he always returned after a walkabout.  Many times he would come to the side gate and look in, as though he were curious but not curious enough to shimmy under the gate.  One morning I was late for work, and as I backed out of the driveway, I saw Stinky sitting in the ditch looking at me and meowing plaintively.  I parked the car and went to the cat station – work be damned – and, sure enough, Stinky was telling me that the feeders were empty. 

I heard some sounds of a bad cat fight last week coming from the direction of the feeding station one night.  I haven’t seen Stinky since.  A few days after the fight, I saw turkey vultures in the distance from the station, perhaps 20 or more, flying in a smooth, regular formation, like a living  column that circled round and round.  It was a mesmerizing, macabre sight.  A few days ago, I saw a vulture contingency sitting, waiting in the cleared lot across the road.

Across the road

Sylvia goes to inspect

I had to drive closer to them in order to go to work. 

Like they are waiting on a bus

More are in the distance

They seem to be waiting for something hiding in the brush piles

I set a trap at the cat station later that evening to see who I could catch.  Yes, I caught Marcellene.  Again.  I let her out of the trap when I checked it about midnight, and baited the trap again.

The next morning when I went to the cat station, I found a very angry, very vocal male in the trap.  He hissed and struck out at me. 

Let. Me. Out. Now.

The better to eat you with, my dear.

He looked like he was related to Marcellene with those distinctive gray swirl markings on his side.  I covered him back up with the rug and took him to work.

(Insert muffled cat cursing here)

He had surgery and vaccinations later that morning.  His right ear was ear-tipped to show that he is a feral cat.  Sometime when you get the chance, take a look at www.alleycat.org for more info on feral cats. 

Mr. Biggun: "I am heavily medicated but will be mightily angry when I wake up."

After surgery, he was placed back in the trap and transported back to the cat station.  He recuperated in the trap the rest of the day, and then I let him go that evening.  The vet had recommended leaving him in the trap until the following morning, but the rate that he was hissing and spitting at me when I checked him that evening assured me that he was fully awake from the anesthesia and able to manuver safely.

I will continue to believe that Stinky has gone on a long walkabout in the fine spring weather we’re having.