Posts Tagged ‘Sylvia’

Sylvia’s Dilemma

October 26, 2012

Sylvia is the first cat I’ve ever owned, and it was completely accidental.

Richard from Garnett reported one day, years ago, that there was a pregnant cat hanging out at the liquor store.  There was a bit of a worry that this was not a safe location for an unwanted cat who was going to produce more unwanted cats.

I talked to the lady who owned the liquor store, and offered to have the cat fixed and vaccinated, if she would take the cat back.  No, she did not want the cat back.  It wasn’t her cat, and she already had a cat, and the new cat was eating all the cat food left outside for the resident cat.  The woman also said that some of her customers did not like cats, although I’m guessing that if I needed a drink, and the only thing standing between me and a drink was an old alley cat, I’d get my drink on.

So I had the bright idea that I would find a home for the cat.  Sugar and I set a trap, went off to have lunch in the nearest town about half an hour away, and he twitched all through lunch.  He was worried about the cat.  Maybe she was in the trap, and she was getting hot.  Maybe the sun was shining on her.  Maybe she was upset and thrashing around.  Maybe, maybe. maybe.  Gotta have something to worry about.

So we headed back, and sure enough, the cat was in the trap, sitting quietly, giving us a wise stare.

Back at home, cat and trap in hand, I set up a large dog crate with bedding, food, water, and a litter box, and managed to get the cat from the trap to the crate by just opening the trap door and letting her walk into the crate.  She cooperated beautifully.

Did I mention that I’m afraid, yet fascinated, by feral cats?

This cat was odd.  She had a look that would go right through you.  I attempted to scratch her head with one finger, and she let me.  A few times she, without warning. grabbed my hand with both paws, claws extended, and bit my hand, never breaking the skin, just holding my hand between her teeth.  When she was ready, she let me go, and I learned not to push my luck.

I decided that she was not so feral, just odd, and she graduated to the laundry room in anticipation of having her babies soon.  One day she walked right up to me, and head-butted my hand to be petted.  She started to drool, copious amounts of drool, which was alarming, but I learned that some really happy cats drool when they are really happy.

Fast-forward to this week.  I never pet Sylvia until she asks me to, or she just might rip me up.  She doesn’t want to sit on my lap, but she might sit in the same general area.

Sugar loves Sylvia, but he is too smothery.  He wants to hold her and talk to her in babytalk.  He always says, “Where’s Silly?”, and then he wants to pick her up, and he even says, “I want to hug you.”  I warn him EVERY TIME, and yet, he does it.

Last week, he went through the silly/babytalk/huggy portion of our program, and then put her down.  And then, he. did. it. again.  And I said again, “Don’t do that.  She’s going to rip you.”  Because Sylvia only has so much tolerance, and then she’s done, and she will rip you.  Respect the cat.

When he picked her up again, from behind as usual, because she will not tolerate wasting her gaze on humans, he hugged her to him, and her legs stiffened out straight and her body got stiff, like always when he does the huggy stuff, because she really hates it, even from Sugar.

And she turned in one supersonic instant and grabbed his forearm with teeth and nails, and ripped him, and let go, and walked off, because clearly they are now disengaged.  He looked a bit surprised, and it was hard for me to be sorry for him.


Sylvia: “Maybe next time I’ll sit in Sugar’s lap.”


Sylvia: “Or maybe I’ll simply bite Sugar’s face.”


Sylvia’s not mean.  She’s not cuddly, either.

Respect the cat.

Tying Up Loose Ends

July 13, 2012

Last year I took in 3 cats from the local shelter.  Dennis, Carrie, and Ozzier were their names.  You can read more about them here: left-click-thingy here and here.

A little bit of follow-up is in order.  There’s been a lot that’s happened in the last year.  Jopty the gerbil had a stroke and died.  Alice the indoor cat’s leukemia took its toll, she started to fail, and she was euthanized.  Daisy the Doodle Poodle reached the end of her life, and she was euthanized.   Gladys the Guinea Pig had recurring urinary tract infections, which most probably indicated cancer, which these little rodent types can get if they live long enough, and she was euthanized.  Precious Paisley the Problem Cat was failing, and she was euthanized.  Shenobie’s (Sugar’s dog) bladder cancer was ending his life, and he was euthanized.  And the best sister-in-law in the world was diagnosed with aggressive bone marrow cancer, and in spite of remission, the cancer reared its ugly head and took over.  She went to hospice, and was gone in one week.  One.  Week.  I get a lump in my throat just rereading all this.

SIL was a hospice nurse.  Ironic, no?  One of her patient’s had several cats, and she was worried about what would happen to the cats when she was gone.  The largest one was a black cat, and for some strange reason, black cats and dogs are the last to be adopted.  So SIL took in Big Bubba, who is still living a happy life with SIL’s husband.  This makes me reconsider the old saying that cats have nine lives.  I always thought that meant that a cat can survive a life-threatening injury and recover.  I now think it means, to me in this particular circumstance, that a cat can have a new life with a new situation, like Big Bubba having one owner that died from cancer, then having another owner that died from cancer, then living with my BIL.  Hope my BIL takes good care of himself.

All of this which leads us back to Dennis, Carrie, and Ozzie.

After the initial release, I didn’t see Carrie for three weeks, and I didn’t know that Carrie had made her way down Resurrection Road to a double-wide.  The neighbor sent me a text that there was a cat under her trailer.  When I went to investigate, I was delighted to see that it was Carrie, even though she was emaciated.  I scooped her into a crate and took her back with me.  The next day she was back at the neighbor’s trailer.  While the neighbor agreed that Carrie was a nice cat, she didn’t want a cat, and was worried that Carrie might do some damage under the trailer, like pulling out some insulation, and the landlord would be mighty unhappy.  Plus somehow during the night, Carrie had managed to injure her skin, and had an opening the size of a quarter on her flank.  I opted to take her back to the shelter.  At that time, I had Alice the leukemia positive cat indoors with me, and I couldn’t wouldn’t take Carrie indoors with me.  After all, this is a 31′ RV.  Two cats inside.  I’m a little nuts, but that was even too much for me, exposing an injured cat to a leukemia positive cat, which is probably the subject for another post in greater detail.  Carrie was most probably euthanized, for I didn’t see her posted on after I relinquished her, damaged and unhealthily thin.  Time and care would heal her, but I don’t know if she was afforded that option.

Then there was Ozzie.  He was a tease to the other cats.  It started off mildly enough, but Sylvia was stalked and injured by Ozzie, RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I knew that Ozzie’s days were numbered here at the Swamped! Plantation and Cat-Cussing Facility.  He went to be a barn cat for a vet tech.

And lastly, we have Dennis.  With Ozzie out of the way, Dennis took over the position as head stalker.  He didn’t care who he stalked.  He was the only male in the group of five, and I wonder if he were trying to overthrow the regime.  Needless to say, it didn’t work, and I took him back to the shelter.  The girls were here first, and I needed to preserve their safety.

Occasionally the local shelter can shift animals to other shelters that have room and resources for them.  Today I was looking at to see if Black and Yellow had been listed at the local shelter, then I looked at some of the outlying shelters.  I didn’t find Black and Yellow, but I did find Dennis.

I think Dennis is on Life #5 now.  Good luck in finding Life #6.

There’s a Babe in the Manger

December 25, 2010

There’s a baby living in the woods at the feral cat feeding station.  I first saw her last month, about mid-month, during a cold snap, and I thought that she belonged to the mother cat that I trapped and released before.  That’s the mother that brought her litter to the cat feeding station – click here to see the video. She looks like one of the kittens from that litter. I have since seen the kittens from the litter, and they are much larger than this baby.

This baby is always alone.  I had gotten a donation of cat food from Maranatha Farm, and at the bottom of one bag was a new bag of kitten food and some cans of Fancy Feast cat food.  What a coincidence that I need kitten food, and it appears.  Those of you who prefer to call it divine intervention, feel free.  I’m just grateful for the donation. 

The first day that I put out a can of cat food, I could see the baby further out in the woods.  I spotted the mother cat even further out, and she came first to the canned food.  The baby approached it, and the mother cat hissed at her.  I had recorded wildlife videos of this mother with her litter, and she would stand guard on the feeding station while her babies ate.  She never pushed them out of the way, or got in a stand-off with them over food.  It seems clear that this is not her baby.

Sylvia the former feral and current wildlife ambassador has been spending a lot of time at the feral cat feeding station.  Some mornings when I go into the woods, Sylvia is off in the underbrush just outside the gate, or she’s already at the feeding station.  It’s cold – what is she doing out there?  The wildlife camera showed the answer.  There was one night in particular when she’s on the feeding station every few hours.  To the left of the feeding station is a small A-frame that used to serve as the watering station until the raccoons started to throw the automatic waterer off the station to the ground.  I put the waterer on the ground but left the station there as shelter and also as a step-up for smaller animals that couldn’t jump to the table. 

The wildlife camera showed the baby is on or around the A-frame.  Sylvia was hanging out with her, perhaps watching over her.

This morning, I went to visit the station to fill the feeders, and there’s the baby, in the manger, if you will.

This is a shot from the back side of the station. I blocked up one of the openings where the dog was getting in. That's what the pallet and cat trap stacked on top are about. In the foreground, Sylvia celebrates a crisp Christmas morning by taking a bath in the woods after her breakfast. See the dark spot under the A-frame, there to the left? That's our baby.


I bought a bed for the cat station. It's made of indoor-outdoor fabric and stuffed with a removable pillow filled with styrofoam, so it shouldn't hold moisture. See the baby under the A-frame? Where's her mommy?


This shot is the back of the A-frame. See the baby?


And another shot from the back of the A-frame. I can't get within 4 feet of the baby. She's mostly wild.


Last month, I decided when I started naming cats again, I’ll choose names alphabetically.  The last cat was “Alice”.  So this cat must be “Baby”. 

It’s a scientific method.

Mr. Wildlife Camera

July 22, 2010

Our friend Mr. Wildlife Camera, hanging out in the woods.

Typical guy, just hanging out, waiting for some action, hoping to video some “Cats Gone Wild”. 

Sylvia: "If he wants to pick up some cats at this watering hole, he needs to show up with a wallet full of cash, a personality, and some cat chow."

Wildlife Camera, Night Seven, Video Starring Sylvia

July 21, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, I reset the camera from still shot to video.  The camera recorded 3 videos of cats feeding during the daytime.  Then last night the camera recorded at least 10 videos.  I was not able to put any of them on the blog because I will need to purchase a video upgrade, which got me to thinking, maybe I can upload a video to and link them to the blog that way.

Well, I am pleased to report that it takes a long time to upload even one video to youtube.  But I did it.  And now I will attempt to provide the first ever nighttime video of the cat house in the hood.  It’s really not much to see, but it represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I can learn to do. 

And right now I’m attempting to upload Rocky Raccoon to youtube, and boy, is it a slow go.  Perhaps more of that later, but now, I’m. Gonna. Be. Late. For. Work. Again.

The Wildlife Camera at the Cat Station

July 15, 2010

I’m a lot of talk.  I’ve been talking about getting a wildlife camera for a long time. 

I’ve looked at cameras at Wal-Mart. 

I’ve looked at cameras online at Cabelas.

I’ve emailed the Old Curmudgeon, and asked his opinion.

I’ve talked to other people who’ve bought wildlife cameras.

I’ve mulled over all this information, and finally made a decision.  At Bass Pro Shop, Sugar and I looked at the seemingly dozens of choices, and weighed out all the options.  This one has 5 megapixels.  That one is cheap.  This other one can take an SD card.  Another one is infrared.  The one over there has accessories.  And another one, video capable.  Dear Lord, help me. 

I bought one of the most expensive.  Eight megapixels!  Daytime, nighttime, still-shot, video-capable, infrared!  And a “Bonus!”  (that’s the word that reeled me in.)  Universal battery charger and 6 volt rechargeable battery!  Love me some batteries.

So I’ve had this little beauty for a while, still sitting in its packaging, waiting for me to plunge ahead and commit to this next project.  And I knew when I opened the package I would be done for.  I wouldn’t do any homework, and I’d stay up all night experimenting with photographing cats, and I’d be late for work. 

Apparently, I can accurately predict the future.  Guess who was late for work today?

It’s a tricky set-up getting the camera positioned for crazy cat action.  One of the bungee cords broke almost immediately and I came within an ace on “putting my eye out”.  (“Don’t stretch that bungee cord so tight!  You’ll put your eye out!”  Thanks, Mom.)

I set the camera up and went back to the RV until sundown.  Then, about 9 PM, Sylvia and I waited in the woods under the cover of darkness about 15 feet from the cat station.  I could see two sets of eyes reflected in my flashlight’s beam.  One huge cat creeped around the cat station’s fence and stared at me, making me a mite nervous that he might spring out at me, even though I know that feral cats don’t do that.  Sylvia took a nap.  Finally, he went into the fenced enclosure and jumped up onto the feeding station.  And nothing.  The freakin’ camera didn’t flash or take a picture.  I began to wonder if a cat provided enough motion for the camera to work.  Mr. Cat ate, then ran off the feeding station in the direction of the camera, and nothing.  Stinkin’ camera still didn’t work.

This evening when I got home from work, I went into the woods to the camera, checked the display and could see something photographed in the tiny little display.  I pulled out the SD card, went back to the RV, inserted the SC card into the computer, and here’s what I have.  Make of it what you will.

Too much flash

Two! At one time!

I think this is 4 cat speuters ago, but I'm not sure that he's ear-tipped.

Upper right is the sleeve of my scrub top where I'm reaching to open the camera cover.

Can you just stand all this cat excitement?!

The Plantation Broker

June 8, 2010

The contents page. Giving credit where credit is due.

On May 24, 2010, The Sugar and I went on a LibraryFest in Columbia, SC. One of the quests was to find a magazine article about John King Garnett. Sugar struck gold, we copied that little beaut, and now I am perplexed how to share it with you. I’m afraid I’ll have to transcribe the whole stinkin’ thing. In the meantime, here’s the scanned copies. The name of the magazine is “South Carolina Wildlife”, and the article is from November-December 2003, Vol. 50, No. 6.

By John E. Davis.  Photography by Phillip Jones.

Whether a visionary, a scalawag, or simply a man trying to make a living, John King Garnett left a vast legacy of wild lands between the Savannah and Coosawhatchee rivers.


Sylvia, from Garnett, ponders her future as a buyer and seller of large land tracts.

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy, Happy Everything!

April 1, 2010

Sylvia welcomes April by taking a bath in the woods.

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."

More Plantation Stuff

September 24, 2009


Here’s the plantation gate at the Swamped! Plantation and Country Club.  That good-looking pile of gray dirt at the base of the pine tree is a fire ant mound, ever flourishing even in the wintertime.  This picture was taken in January of this year, not too cold, but cold enough when one lives in an aluminum box.  The mailbox post perches on the side of the ditch, also known at the Kitty Highway.  You can see the edge of the black culvert peeking out from under the driveway.  Sylvia has just gone into the culvert.  I waited with camera in hand for her to come back out so I can prove my statement that the cats travel along the ditches like their own personal highway system. 

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Sylvia:  "You maroons, I'm over here!"

Sylvia: "You maroons, I'm over here!"

Where's Georgia going?

Where's Georgia going?

Georgia always walks like she’s mad.  She stomps noiselessly along on little kitty-cat feet.  She acts like a truant officer.  “We’ll just get to the bottom of this!” 

Sylvia pops out the other side

Sylvia pops out the other side

Sylvia surprised me when she appeared on the far side of the culvert.  Of course, she proved my statement, but I had no idea that she would actually travel thru a twenty-foot-long narrow culvert to the other side.  I thought that she would just pop in and out of the same side.

Sylvia:  "Would someone please  bring Georgia's meds?"

Sylvia: "Would someone please bring Georgia's meds?"

Free-range cats are an interesting study in personalities.  I wonder if I can get a little camera to attach to someone’s collar…  Where do they go?  What do they see?