Archive for the ‘Feral Cats’ Category

The Crazy Cat Lady Tote Bag

July 22, 2018

Have you noticed that the commercially made tote bags are made from the same fabric as the Friskies cat food bags?

Of course you haven’t. Why would you?

A few years ago I got the bright idea that I would stitch up some tote bags using the cat food bag fabric. It’s like a woven plastic with a sheen, and it slid under the presser foot uncontrollably. I gave it up. It wasn’t meant to be.

This month all the stars and planets came into alignment.

I have been using the empty cat food bags as recycling bags for empty cans and plastic containers. I’ll have to find another storage container for those recyclables because the cat lady tote bag is a happening thing.

The secret was to adjust the tension on the sewing machine. I’m using a basic Brother machine with some zigzag and buttonhole features.

I told over the top of the bag and stitch a double row of straight stitches to secure the hem. I measure from the top down about 20″ and cut there. The bag is already in a stout tube shape so there is no side seam to stitch. Turn the bag inside out and seam across the bottom. Flatten the bag so that the bottom seam touches the imaginary side seam and creates a point. Stitch another seam about 4″ long across the point. Do this also on the other end. Trim off the point.

I like to use the original strip of fabric that was stitched across the top of the bag at the factory to close the bag, and use it to encase the bottom seams. It makes the bag very strong and hold its shape.

I ordered some polyethylene strapping online from an Etsy shop. Cut a length about 20″ long and seal the end by passing the cut end over an open flame like a lit match. One quick pass is enough.

Stitch the ends onto the bag, one strap per side. I know that y’all are smart people, and you can look at another tote you might already have and figure it out.

Now the fun cat pictures.

This was the first bag. The bottom seemed stout, and I hadn’t figured out the seam construction yet, so this 1st bag is a cut off bag with a turned-down stitched top and added straps. This might suit your purposes completely. I’ve used this one for a small load of laundry for the first time and then for groceries.

I studied the construction of a Trader Joe’s bag, courtesy of Sugar’s cousin Liz, and another smaller bag from a rescuer friend Kimberly.

My bag is in the middle. I used the bottom seam, but hadn’t yet improved it with the seam binding.

Moving on. A Beneful bag FROM a coworker turned into a tote FOR a coworker.

I further improved the construction by folding across the bottom, end to end, and stitching next to the fold. This bag stands upright by itself.

I cut my own seam binding from a leftover trimming from the top of the bag. The photo below shows the bag inside-out so that you can see the construction.

I’ve decided that I like the bag to be about 17″ high, and the base to be about 4″ deep. I’m using 1″ wide strapping. Many thanks go to the quality control team of Pop-Up and The Butter. I sent a little message to the Friskies people to show them what I am doing. The owner at the Alvin Ord’s sandwich shop in Beaufort has offered to save her bags for me. (They have a nice resident cat that I wrote about before.) This offer makes me think of all the places that use cat food. Shelters, kennels, businesses, pet owners – all potential sources of bags to be kept out of the landfill. Do you want a bag? Send me a little donation to my paypal at ruthmarierawlsATgmailDOTcom, and email your address to me, and I’ll pop a bag in the mail as soon as I stitch up some more. You people that have already sent a donation, sit tight. Your bag is coming soon!

Mr. Catpurrnip and Mr. Orange

February 10, 2018

Something very odd has happened between those two boys. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Mr. Catpurrnip is the newest cat in the colony. Mr. Orange has been here for several years.

Mr. Catpurrnip is a transplant from Sugar’s place. Mr. Orange is an old, grumpy-faced cat that just showed up here several years ago. It took a year to trap him.

Mr. Orange has never interacted with any of the other cats. He always stayed the farthest away from me.

One evening I arrived home, and Catpurrnip and Orange began acting out a greeting ritual to each other. It was like they were actors in a play solely for me. They stretch and bow to each other and butt foreheads and rub against each other.

They don’t sleep or nest together. They will eat from the same food bowl. They only do this greeting ritual when I am headed to the car to leave or when I have driven in to the driveway. It’s actually bizarre.

The following video shows the intensity of their greeting for each other. By the time I get the camera out to start recording, I have already missed the initial bowing and stretching routine. Apparently I am the trigger that causes this behavior.

Amazing to see that animals can feel such strong attraction and affection for each other. I am guessing that some of the behavior is self-satisfying, much in the same way that cats purr to make themselves feel better. I have seen cats purr in the exam room after being hit and badly damaged by a car. The vet explained that purring releases endorphins.

So enjoy some more weirdness happening here at the Cat-Catching and Head-Butting Facility.

Mr. Tickles

October 14, 2017

An orange and white cat showed up at work. He was a handsome, affectionate male. He started out by sitting on one of the cars, asking for attention. This is generally not a good way to elicit empathy, what with the love affair that most people have with their cars. He only did it once, and then moved on to more direct tactics.

He would wind himself in and out between my legs as I walked to the feeding station. Then when I would leave the car’s hatch open and sit on the edge and dangle my legs over, he would use mind control.

Something had to be done about his business. Sugar made an appointment at the spay neuter clinic, and of course Mr. Testicles did not show up in a timely fashion. He stopped showing up at all, and the worry was that he was out catting around, getting into trouble of one sort or the other.

Recently he reappeared, two days before the next tentative neuter appointment. I raced to PetSmart at lunchtime to get a crate, stuffed him into said crate that evening, transported him home where I kept him in a big kennel,  then later the next night I transferred him into a trap for transport.

The next morning, Sugar dropped him off for Tickles’s brain surgery.

The day after surgery, I transported him back to work.

He disappeared for a few days. Perhaps he was visiting his lady friends to show off his surgical scars, or hanging out with the guys, showing off his tattoo.

He’s back now, none the worse for wear.

Welcome to the ‘hood, Mr. Tickles!

Of Cats and Raccoons

June 25, 2017


A while back, Sugar installed a feeding shelf for the two girl cats at work. We thought that it would make an excellent feeding station or perch or safe place for them. Mostly, we were worried that it was a long time from when I fed them on a Friday evening until I returned on a Monday morning, and we knew that ants would get in the food.

We had a plan to put yummy canned food on the shelf to lure them up and to show them that the shelf as a good thing. They refused.

Sugar had a further great plan with which I disagreed.

He went to PetSmart and bought a self-feeder. I use the very same feeding system at every cat station I’ve ever made, but these girls were different and difficult. I didn’t think they would get on the shelf and that the raccoons would drag the feeder off. If they won’t use the feeding shelf for canned food, they are just not going to use it for dry.

Sugar:  I got a feeder for the girls.

YoursTruly:  They’re not going to use it.

Sugar:  But I bought it for them.

YoursTruly:  Take it back.

Sugar:  But I made a special trip to PetSmart, and it cost $21.

YoursTruly:  They are not going to use it. Get your money back.

Sugar:  But I got the special smaller size to fit on the shelf. There was a larger one for only a few dollars more, but I got this one because it’s the right size, even though it cost $21, and I’m not planning another trip to PetSmart.

YoursTruly:  Then I’ll take it back. Do you have the receipt?

Sugar: I really want them to use it.

YoursTruly:  The raccoons dragged off the other bowls I put on the shelf, and they’ll drag the whole frickin’ feeder off into the canal.

Sugar:  (silence)

YoursTruly:  ALRIGHT! Give me the damn feeder.

I set up the precious little self-feeder on the shelf on a Friday evening. When I returned on Monday morning, the feeder was in two pieces off in the nearby canal in the woods.

The next week, Sugar removed the shelf, and I went back to feeding them in containers on the ground.

Then I tried feeding them extra heavily in the evening.  Keep in mind that I also feed them at breakfast and lunch.

Then one evening I fed the girls, and sat in the car while I checked my messages on the iPhone, skimmed over FaceBook, and glanced at the email. When I looked up, the girls were no longer at their bowl. They were lying in the grass in front of my car, lounging and looking at the woods.

I cannot win this game. I have been out-smarted.

Another Treehouse

May 21, 2017

Sugar decided to make another cat perch for the cats that live in the woods next to where I work. 

I’ve been approached two times in the past week by interested people who have seen the cats hanging around in the morning waiting to be fed. No one had a problem with it, and they were surprised that I had trapped them for spaying and vaccinations. Apparently ordinary people don’t realize that other ordinary people can be agents for change. 

Like Sugar is an agent for change. 

He brought two different boards to choose from. 

Next he checked the brackets that he mounted directly onto the tree trunks. 

He screwed the bigger board to the brackets, and, quick as you please, he’s done. 

Little Miss Sassy Pants and her sister stayed well away. The sister is so far away that I couldn’t get a clear photo, even with the zoom lens. 

The platform is big enough for an ant deterrent system, which consists of a large shallow bowl of water with a smaller bowl of food set into it. The water creates a barrier that the ants can’t cross. 

We’ll see tomorrow if the system worked. 

The Welcoming Committee

April 21, 2017

The two feral girls that I trapped, neutered, and released a month ago have finally shown themselves. 

Apparently I move too slowly for them. 


Catch and Release, Feline Style

March 31, 2017

There’s a sketchy neighborhood near where I work. 

I’ve seen several cats there, and one is a calico, and a calico is generally a female. Another is an orange and white, and I’d like to think that he is a male. 

I started putting out food, and one started waiting for me in the morning. 

Sugar and I hatched a plan. I would trap, and he would drop off at the clinic and pick up after surgery. 

We trapped 2 on two consecutive days. 

The last one was released last week. 

And the others?

Why, they refuse to go in the trap. 

Cats in the Pines: Sugar Makes a Space Station

February 25, 2017

I have been wanting another cat feeding station. The old one in the woods has become dilapidated, almost beyond repair, but more importantly, the wild cats have decided to come inside the fencing and eat at the feeding station on the picnic table. 

Several of the cats have taken to living in the woods next to the driveway. Since I’m feeding cats there now anyway, a feeding platform would be handy. I imagined if I had a platform between two of the pines, then the food and cats wouldn’t be as exposed to ants and stray dogs. 

I explained my plan to Sugar. 

I was driving along one day when I saw a children’s play set, the kind with the ladder to the slide, and the horizontal ladder for children to go across hand over hand. 

What about a horizontal ladder structure connecting the two pines?

I explained I need a ladder between the two pines. He thought I meant a ladder from the ground to a tree. It was getting frustrating: me explaining and him not getting it. The word “ladder” was throwing him off. 

So I drew my example. 

He contrived a ladder from some old 2 x 4s that he split lengthwise. 

A Chinese Fringe shrub provided local color. 

He added a piece of plywood for the dining surface. 

Suddenly it is finished. The Butter demonstrates that form follows function. 

The Butter has some neurological problems which cause him to have a head tilt and a stare that is a bit unordinary. 

The new station is too high for dogs but not for cats. This does not discount a clever, hungry dog. 

Mr. Friendly demonstrates that canned food is welcome here. We will probably add some side rails to keep the dishes from being pushed off. You can see that we have already removed the metal bowl in favor of a dish with a flatter, heavier base. 

In other news, I am worried that I might have a marauding owl. Before the station was built, one morning during the dawn hours, I found Wendy deceased on the driveway. I had arrived home the night before that in the dark, and I fed her by the gate as usual. When I found her body the next morning, some bird high in the trees was screaming at me. Apparently I disturbed his actions. He was very angry at me, and I messaged my cousin the birder scientist. It’s possible that it was a hawk, and I learned the word “crepuscular”. 

Sugar buried her for me where she lived in the woods by the driveway. 

Cats like vertical spaces, and I’m hoping the new space station will give them safer options. 

The Cat on the Picnic Table

June 2, 2016

A new cat was lounging on the picnic table a few weeks ago. I had seen him at a distance before, but on this particular evening, he had made himself at home on the picnic table feeding station. 

When I got a little closer, I saw that where his right eye should have been, there was nothing but a squinted-closed eye. And a little closer, it looked like maybe his eye had been damaged or was missing. There was a dark spot where his eye should have been. No blood, but no eye, either. 

He didn’t bolt away when he saw me, so that was an improvement. Before, he had kept himself protected from my view by keeping barriers between himself and me, like hiding behind trees or staying outside the fence. 


Today, during the evening time when the air is cooling down and the mosquitoes are out, he was lying flat on his side on top of the table. I hoped he wasn’t dead. I approached the table from behind him, and chirruped a welcome. He raised his head, looked at me and meowed. Then he stood up and walked toward me, still on the picnic table, and raised his tail in the air. If you have spent time with cats, or read this blog for more than 15 minutes, you’ll know that a tail in the air is a good thing. 

He let me scritch the top of his head. I opened a large can of food for him, and while he ate, I was able to scritch him on the back. I was able to confirm that he was a boy. His head, face, and shoulders were covered with wounds and scars, old and new. That eye was missing, but I couldn’t be sure if it was because of a wound or a birth defect. 

I supposed that he would become the third one-eyed cat here at the Swamped! Plantation and Cat-Scritching Facility. 

Next stop: catching and testing. Please let him be negative. 

Your Monday Kitten

March 28, 2016

It seems I have added 1/2 pound…

The two orange siblings passed away not long after I got this group one week ago. Their body temperatures never reached a level that was high enough to register on the thermometer. This can mean that their vital organs are impaired and will shut down. 

In the meantime…

This guy can drink from a bowl, which makes my life infinitely simpler.