Tag Archives: cats

Homeless Companions

From St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 4, 2013. Reposted in honour of US Memorial Day and Harold Palmquist, a US veteran who is biking across the country with his dog to raise money for homeless vets and their pets.

homeless man and dog in phone booth RO_B_new_Bucharest_apartment-photo-Miehs-wikicommonsPlease God, I have never had to beg on the street and I’ve never been homeless.  I don’t know how I’d look after myself, let alone a dog or cat. But people do; they survive on the streets of even the coldest cities, and many do so with a pet.

I have had to carefully parcel out funds so that rent was paid and my cat and I had something to eat. A student promotion credit card was our lifesaver, if a month’s supply of money ran out before the days did. The cat and I ate some odd meals – whatever I could find in the limited food section of Woolworth’s. Grocery stores did not accept credit cards then. Fortunately for us, those times were not frequent.

Amazon link for A Street Cat Named Bob
Click to see on Amazon

For some people and their animals, it’s a more regular occurrence. Today, on CBC Radio’s The Current (sorry, story no longer available), the stories of some people perhaps marginalized by society but not by their companion animals. James Bowen, whose cat helped him out as a busker and now as an author. As he said, thanks to Bob the cat, he now pays income tax. A woman whose cat keeps her off crack. A woman in Edmonton who started a pet food bank, with donation bins in pet stores and a system for getting the food to those who need it. And a University of Colorado sociologist who has talked to homeless pet owners and written a book called My Dog Always Eats First.

Amazon link for My Dog Always Eats First: Homeless people and their animals
Click to see on Amazon

That book’s author, Dr. Leslie Irvine, talks about homelessness being a “master status” in our society. That means that it overrides all other statuses that a person holds. Those may be “ascribed” such as gender or ethnicity or “achieved” such as profession or educational level. Whether a holder of an advanced degree or a high school dropout, a person sleeping in a doorway is seen only as ‘homeless person’. And you’re not likely to even think to ask what else a panhandler is as you drop your change in his or her cup.

But there is another master status, I think, that people ascribe to themselves:  that of “pet owner”. As one, I will go over and talk to a “homeless person” if he or she is accompanied by pet. I see the animal and want to make contact with him or her, and therefore the person as well. This is not to suggest that homeless people should get pets in order to improve their chances on the street.

Accommodating people and their service or pet animals has caused real problems for many shelters trying to be inclusive. Dog fights, fleas, provision for people with allergies and abandonment of animals in the shelter are some that I remember from a radio documentary I heard a few years ago (sorry, can’t find a link).

Dog in animal shelter in Washington, Iowa, Nhandler WikicommonsBut for many of us, homeless and homed, our pets are solace and friendship, providing someone else for us to think about and care for. And every dog, cat or guinea pig living happily with their person on the street is one less unwanted animal needing rescue or dying from neglect.

Cedric and Jamie

Cedric and meThis day, in 1997, I laid my cat and dog in their final resting place. Cedric, the cat, had cancer of the jaw.  Jamie, the dog, had arthritis so bad he could barely walk. Cedric had been with me for fifteen years and Jamie for ten. There was nothing more that could be done for them. I knew I couldn’t go through it twice so decided they’d go together. My vet – and friend – came to my house and did it quickly. I felt like it was Dr. Mengele walking in the door when he arrived with his little bag of needles. It wasn’t painless for me. Afterwards, four of us carried them to their grave. The vet, me and two friends. Cedric was wrapped in a towel and Jamie was in his bed. Four of us cried, one gave a eulogy, then we filled in the grave.

Jamie12Apr97Next day, we made a perennial bed on the top of their grave. Tiger lilies for Cedric, a tortoiseshell, and orange and yellow dahlias for Jamie. The lilies were mottled in colour and sleek, like Cedric. The dahlias looked happy, like Jamie.

A foundling cat and a determined dog

Cedric came to me soon after my boyfriend dumped me. He hadn’t wanted a cat or dog. I had. So the first thing I did when I got my own place was put out the word that I was cat-hunting.

Friends had a very pregnant cat they had found in the woods. Their own cat terrorized her and they feared what would happen when the kittens were born. I took her. I feared she was going to give birth cedric mousepad photo d stewarton the drive home. But it was a week before the kittens came. I was much more nervous than she was, and she was pretty nervous. I had my landlady come help because she was a registered nurse.

Ceddie and I had a good life in many homes. Jamie joined us when he decided he preferred our house to his own. He lived nearby, at the end of a long country lane. A very social dog, he preferred life in the village.

Jamie was a self-sufficient dog. Didn’t have a lot of dog friends but a wide circle of people friends. He’d do his visiting rounds every few days. When he got older, if he was too tired to walk home, someone would drive him or phone me to come get him. He made friends with a couple neighbour dogs. They’d come visit him or he’d go to their place. He walked along beside you, but I don’t Jamie eating a chicken pot piethink anyone ever trained him. He’d run in the woods after rabbits. Never caught one, and never lost track of you.

Neither Cedric nor Jamie were ever my ‘fur-babies’. They were my friends and, especially Cedric, my advisors.

New pets move in

Less than a month after they died, a young stray tabby and white cat turned up at my house. I wasn’t ready for a new cat, but no one claimed her. Elsie moved in and is still with me. After a year, a German Shepherd pup needed a home. So Jack joined Elsie and me.

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog on April 13, 2011. Now, twenty years later, Elsie and Jack are also gone.

The Miracle of Birth

A while ago, I met a man, his son and their two dogs.  I was making a fuss over the dogs, and the boy said “she’s going to have babies”.  The Kylie & Pups St. Louisdad confirmed it.  She was purebred, he said, as was the father of the pups.  So I figured daddy dog wasn’t their other dog, an unneutered male, but not the same breed.  Both dogs were about 2 years old, and after the puppies were born, the man said, they’d have both dogs neutered.  But they wanted her to have one litter of puppies – for her sake, for the kids to see.

“A Good Dog”

I didn’t say much about it, other than asking if they were breeders.  “Oh no, just she’s a good dog and we know people who’d like one of her pups.”  I agreed that neutering them was certainly a good idea.  They seemed like nice people.  They had got the female from a breeder they know who enters his dogs in field trials (she was a hound).  This guy wants to hunt with her.  She clearly was a beloved pet, both dogs were. Her people knew and appreciated her lineage even though they weren’t into dog showing or competitions.  Probably those pups will get good homes.

But what I wanted to say – scream even – was why?  why?  why? You’re not breeding her at the request of her breeder, so that her pups can add to the prestige of his kennel.  You’re not, fortunately, breeding her so you can make some extra money off selling them on Kijiji.  You are doing it so she has the experience of having puppies and so your children can watch the miracle of birth.  Nice, family-oriented ideals – but why?

Why, at age 2 with no breeding plans in his future, was the male not Penny & foster pupsalready neutered?  Why do people think it’s necessary for a dog’s fulfillment to have puppies?  And why is deliberately letting a dog (or cat) get pregnant the only way to let your children witness the giving of birth?

A dog adjusts very quickly to being neutered.  At least, it’s quick if he’s young.  When older, when used to being “Mr. Testosterone”, the adjustment can be harder.  Still, the adjustment he has to undergo is preferable to the fights he’ll get in, the roaming he’ll feel compelled to do, and the unwanted puppies he’ll create given half a chance if he is not neutered.  A female dog does not feel she’s missing out on something if she never has puppies.  There is no health benefit for her in having puppies.

Foster Pups

If it’s important to you that your children witness birth and the first weeks of animals’ lives, there are other ways of doing it.  There are always irresponsible people who let their dogs or cats get pregnant, then don’t want to be bothered with them.  Those pregnant animals end up in shelters or wandering the streets until they get picked up by the dog catcher.  In every city and town, there are animal pounds and rescue groups looking for foster homes for pregnant dogs and cats.

You can take the mother in and look after her, experience the miracle of birth and help her look after the newborns.  When they are old enough to leave their mother, the babies and mother will go into the foster/adoption system.  You can have the joy of nurturing a mother and her babies and you have a support system finding homes St. Thomas, Ontario, Aug 2010 pound sign no cats acceptedfor them.  You’ve got what you wanted for yourself or your kids. You’ve helped animals in need, and you haven’t contributed to the problem of too many pets and not enough homes.

Anyone willing to foster a pregnant animal for a couple of months can witness the miracle of birth.  Unfortunately, the supply of unwanted and/or unneutered pets so far seems inexhaustible, so finding a needy animal to foster isn’t likely to be a problem.

Contact a local shelter

If you can foster a pregnant dog or cat, contact All Breed Canine Rescue, St. Thomas Animal Control, Animal Aide or Pets/Friends 4 Life.  The miracle of birth will be just as miraculous and moving.

The dog and her 12 puppies in the top photo is Kylie.  An elderly feral dog, she was rescued by Stray Rescue of St. Louis in Missouri while pregnant for the umpteenth time.  The middle photo is of Penny who, after weaning her own puppies, nursed a litter of abandoned pups.  She, and they, were at Save a Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue in East Sparta, Ohio.  The third photo speaks for itself.  What happens to the cats and dogs when there’s no room at the pound?

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 14, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Don’t give a dog as a Christmas present.  At least not as a spur of the moment gift.  But if you are planning to get a dog anyway, why not?  If you are aware that your “present” is alive and, with luck, will live many years, you will give an enormous gift to the dog as well.  A home – permanent and loving.

Home for the Holidays "No one came, now I'm gone" dog

Adopt

The St. Thomas Animal Shelter gives you a $75 spay/neuter rebate when you adopt an eligible pet.  Wherever you live, if you can give a dog or cat a home, please do.

Adopting from a rescue group or pound rather than a pet store or off Kijiji or Craig’s List means you also are not supporting puppy mills or backyard breeders. Support “No-Kill” shelters, but adopt from any shelter or pound.  Don’t let more pets be killed just because they couldn’t get adopted in 3 or 7 days.

Donate

If you can’t have a pet, give to an animal shelter or rescue group.  Money is always welcome, or ask what is needed.  They always have a wish list of goods they need most.

Sponsor/Volunteer

If you’d like a connection with a specific dog but can’t have one, sponsor a shelter dog.  You give a monthly donation in the name of that dog and you’re welcome to spend time with “your” dog.  If your shelter doesn’t have such a programme, you can do it unofficially.  Shelters generally always welcome volunteers who will play with dogs, walk them and clean kennels.  That’s a way you can spend time with your special dog and help all of them.

Foster

If you could have a dog but can’t commit for the long term, consider fostering. You’ll have to give him or her up when a permanent home is found, but you’ll have the fun of canine companionship until then.  It’s work too.  You have to properly socialize the dog, but you’ll learn as much as the dog does.  If you’re a post-secondary student and wish you could have a Puppy (or Kitty) Room at home, talk to an animal shelter near you. Some are happy to have students foster dogs and cats.

Transport

If you like driving, volunteer with a group such as Open Arms Pound Rescue.  They need people to drive animals to new homes or to shelters where there’s a better chance of finding homes.  If you’re a pilot and love excuses to go flying, check out Pilots N Paws (US or Canada) or talk to your buddies about setting up something similar in conjunction with a rescue group or shelter.

Everything above also applies to cats, horses and other domestic animals.  There are rescue groups for all of them across the country.  Give an animal somewhere a very happy holiday season.  It will make you happy too.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 10, 2012, minus information on adoption events specific to that time. (Below and right are Amazon links to some Christmas dog stories that look guaranteed to make you cry happy tears.)

 

Barn Cats

Frank Moore, a farmer north of Belmont who my parents knew, always had lots of barn cats.  He said one year, years before, there had been an explosion of cats – so many that 3 barn cats on stepsall the farms were overrun.  So that year he, like the other farmers, got rid of many of them. “Then the next couple years, it just seemed like there weren’t any cats.  Some died, some just disappeared, kittens didn’t live.  The mice and rats were everywhere, and you couldn’t find a good mouser in the whole county.  I never got rid of another cat after that.  They come here, they’re all welcome.”

His barn and house cats were well-treated.  They drank milk straight from the cow, all lined up in a semi-circle, waiting, at milking time.  He’d shoot milk out toward them, and they’d lap it up then lick off their faces.

Being a barn cat, in a good barn, is a pretty good life.  You can chase all the mice you want.  You’ve got cozy places to sleep.  There’s always something to do.  Barn cats have to learn to navigate around animals much larger than themselves.  Some don’t, so there are always some losses.  Most horses like cats and take care stepping around them.  Cats sometimes will sleep right in a stall beside a horse or cow.

It used to be that few barn cats were neutered.  With a high attrition rate, due to large hooves and farm machinery, the farmer wanted to be sure he always had enough mousers.  barn cats looking at henBut many farmers now get their barn cats fixed.  There are generally cats available if you need more.  Usually more than enough. So each farm does not have to be a “cat factory,” producing its own supply of cats.

The bane of most farmers are people who dump off their unwanted pets at their gates, assuming they’ll be taken in by the nice farmer.  Then the “nice farmer” has to pay for the spaying and neutering of these additions or look for other homes for them.

St. Thomas Barn Cats project

The City of St. Thomas has started seeking farm homes for some cats at the Animal Control Centre.  The idea is to neuter suitable cats and adopt them out as barn cats.  It’s an innovative way to decrease the number in the pound without euthanasia and, especially for semi-feral cats, provide a well-matched home.

Some cats prefer a life more or less on their own; they don’t want to be housecats kept indoors.  They want to mouse and explore.  It’s always saddened me, seeing those ones in shelters.  Looking out a window if they can get to one, or sitting sullen in the back of a cage.  You know they would rather be outside living life according to their own rules.  And that’s what barn cats do.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Jan. 27/11

 

Happy Hallowe’en

Mouse batteries dead in my usual computer, and not a new battery in the house.  But pets in costumes German Shepherd pixieluckily I have pets in costumes pics on my laptop. As if there aren’t always ‘stupid pet pics’ on any computer of mine!  So in case you need some inspiration to dress up your dog, cat, kid or self on this eve of All Saints’ Day, here you go.

Three dogs and one cat, for your viewing pleasure, present:

Pets in Costumes

Cat with clown hat 

dogs dressed up on front porch    dog with bows in hair and around neck   Elvis costume and poodle in purple and leopard skin outfit    tricked out Shepherd pixie lying on floor

And at the end of the day you can only hope you get enough treats and not too many tricks.

For those feeling the full power of Hurricane Sandy and whatever else is happening with weather patterns right now, we are all thinking of you.

Elsie 1997-2011

Elsie Rose died yesterday, Sept. 1st, peacefully with her family beside her. She is buried at Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery in Eden. She is mourned.  This was written last Sunday.

Elsie in car, Sept 1/11I’m writing this when I’ve realized Elsie is in pain. It’s time to phone the vet, time for her to go peacefully. She wants to, I think, but I don’t want her to.

She arrived around my house in May fourteen years ago, a month after my old cat had died. I wasn’t looking for another one. But there she was, still kittenish, but past the fluffball stage. About 5 months old, the age of coming into first heat. And she did, in my back yard. Every tom in the area camped out there too.

She wouldn’t come near me, but one night she was in the narrow lane between houses and I caught her. She had a flea collar on, so she belonged somewhere. But no response to posters I put up. I’d been planning to leave Newfoundland. One new cat was more than enough. Kittens?  No. So a quick trip to the vet.

Elsie hanging out Outer Battery house window, St. John's 1998Another cat, Spam, spent a lot of time at my house and hated her. Twice her size, he attacked and beat her unmercifully. My vet said let them sort it out.  Interfering will just make it worse. So I tried.  It didn’t get any better. Even my next-door neighbour who did not like cats came over one day to try to save poor Elsie.

I knew why he hated other cats: my previous cat Cedric had made his life a living hell when he was a kitten. So he learned from her to hate other cats. Cedric, in her turn, had been found wandering and, in her first new home, their cat bullied and terrorized her. The cycle of violence perpetuates itself, and I thought for sure it would with Elsie after what she endured from Spam.

Accepting, adaptable Elsie

But in Elsie, nature overcame nurture. She is willing to accept any person or animal – even cats. Never did she let bad experiences with an individual affect her treatment of others. She likes and dislikes based on the individual alone, not her preconceptions of them. That, in my experience, is almost as rare in a cat as it is in a person.

I stayed another year in St. John’s after getting Elsie and acquired a pup in need of a home. She was fine with him. She told him at the outset to mind his manners, and he did.

Then we moved to Ontario. She traveled easily, just zoned out in a Zen state in her carrier. She adjusted to new surroundings and to Elsie's 10th birthday notice 2007 St Thomas TJbecoming an indoor only cat. My dad, not a cat person, loved her. He played yoyo with her for hours – dangling the string for her to bat and chase. When she’d escape outside, he could get her in with the yoyo string. She fell for it every time.

She is my last living connection with St. John’s. Jack has been gone three and a half years and now it’s her turn. My lady cat, Elsie Rose.

 

Dear Cat Dumper

To the person who dumped a grey tiger and white male neutered cat at Waterworks Parks on or before July 4, 2011:

cat dumper - Poster for found catHe’s doing well, considering.  He misses you and his own bed and routine.  He spends a lot of time in the garage.  It’s where he feels safest, I guess.  It was where he stayed that first night with us, a place to let him adjust.

At the time, I thought it would be only a day or two of strangeness for him.  I thought you’d contact us as soon as you saw the ads and posters.  A well-looked-after cat like him must have people missing him, I thought.  A couple people did call, hoping he was their lost cat.  But he wasn’t.

He’s been dewormed and vaccinated.  He probably already was, but we couldn’t risk it.  His vet bill is $191 and he needs booster shots.  Thank heavens you had him neutered.

Wally on chair in kitchenHe’s a funny cat, loves to bat cat toys around.  Loves catnip. He has no fear of dogs or of people he doesn’t know. He’s very well adjusted, pretty much the perfect cat.

He prefers canned food.  When we found him at the park, he happily chowed down the cat kibble we had with us.  Then, belly full, he went “mmpff” to kibble and demanded canned food.  So that’s what he gets.

The vet thinks he lost a lot of weight fast.  His skin is loose, as if it used to cover a larger body.  And he’s terrified of the sound of rain.  Those things make me think he was wandering on his own for longer than I’d thought.

Wally lying on stairsHis name is Wally now and he answers to it.  Maybe you or your kids called him Tigger or Sox for his white feet.  He loves to sprawl across laps and hug up close in your arms – but I guess you already know that.

So he’s ours now.  Just one request:  please don’t replace him with another kitten or puppy until you’re prepared to make a commitment that lasts as long as that animal’s life.  I can’t take another of your pets when you don’t want them anymore.

The next one I find will make a quick trip to the vet to be euthanized if I can’t find another home quickly.  I won’t take him or her to the pound or shelters.  Why?  There aren’t enough homes for all the cats Wally on couch in front of laptopand kittens, dogs and puppies dumped and produced by irresponsible people.

Caring for your pet in the pound costs a lot of money.  City employees get good wages and benefits to scoop litter boxes and put out kibble.  Rescue volunteers do it for free.  But how much labour and money are they expected to give to look after pets that people like you can’t be bothered with anymore?

I too do it for free.  But I’ve reached my limit so, remember, the next dumped animal I find gets a one-way trip to the vet.  It’s a kinder death than the starvation you consigned Wally to.

If you think he is your missing cat, please accept my apologies and contact me!

(From my St. Thomas Dog Blog. See Waterworks Cat for his backstory.)

Waterworks Cat

I’d planned to write something about this past week’s national birthdays but I’ve been Waterworks cat Wally rolling on floor, July 4thbusy – dealing with someone else’s problem, I think.  We have a new cat.  We didn’t seek him out, didn’t want a new cat.  But he’s here and my hope that he will return to his real home is fading fast.

Monday evening he was wandering the parking lot at Waterworks Park, meowing.   People said he’d been there for an hour or so.  He came right up to us, purr-purr and headrubs. Dark was coming, what are you going to do?

Put him in the car, stopped at a nearby variety store.  Nope, he didn’t look familiar and nobody asking about him.  So he’s been in our garage, slowly venturing into the house.  Our nasty cat hisses and spits at him.

Posters up in Waterworks area

Wally on stairwayPosters are up, ads are placed.  If someone has lost their pet, I hope they find us.  And he definitely is a pet cat.  He’s neutered, he’s not starving, he looks healthy, and he loves cuddling on laps and being petted.

But he’s been here two whole days now.  If I lost my cat, I’d be beating the bushes, going door to door – I’d call in the police if I thought I could.  Maybe someone is doing that and just hasn’t found us yet,  so please accept my apology for what I am about to say.

If this cat no longer fits in your plans or if you thought you could help solve a difficulty by dumping him, thanks for giving us your problem.  If you drove him to the park thinking “somebody will take him in and give him a good home”, thanks for disrupting our lives for two days so far.

Yes, we did take him.  A crying cat alone in a public place with no houses near by, almost dark.  What kind of person wouldn’t?  The people there were all concerned about him, and I could see the looks of relief when they realized a sucker was there willing to take him.  Lucky them!

Vet check needed because we don’t know

So he’s now being treated for parasites – no evidence of any, but just as a precaution old cat watches new catbecause I don’t know anything about his history.  If he isn’t claimed soon, he’ll have to get vaccinations.  He might be up to date on them but, again, I don’t know.

So, I have a request for anyone planning to dump their pet for someone else to look after. Spend one last dollar and buy a collar.  Attach a note with information on vaccinations, age and medical history.  If you want me or some “nice person” to clean up your mess, that’s the least you can do.  We’re paying money to do preventive vet care that may not be needed.

Again I apologize if someone is frantically looking for him.  Please contact me if he’s your cat.  We like him, are calling him Wally, but would love to see him reunited with his people.

Here’s a July 29th update on Wally – still with us!

Coronation Street: A (cat) star is born!

Wednesday we saw the new title sequence, done in honour of the show’s 50th anniversary and the move to high-New cat for Coronation Street 50th anniversarydefinition.  There’s a new cat, a new rendition of the theme music, new introductory scene shots.  At first, I found the music jarring – more high pitched and ‘thinner’ than my ears like.  According to internet sites from Canada’s viewing time and from last year in UK viewing time, I wasn’t alone.  ‘I hate the new music’ was quite common.

A few posters, however, said it was more like a version that had been used long ago. It was less orchestrated than the version we’ve heard now for years.  I remembered watching old episodes on the 30th anniversary VHS box set, and being surprised by the difference in the music.  And yes, this new version is reminiscent of it.  On Corrie Canuck, a commenter said the main instrument is a trumpet or “more likely a cornet with a mute”.  According to Wikipedia, Eric Spears’ composition was “a cornet piece”.  Knowing nothing about brass instruments, other than I don’t like them much, I don’t know, but this spare ‘reedy’ version grew on me quickly.

2010 Coronation Street title shotThe photo montage still has the roof tops and tiles, but interspersed are street scenes on the set and throughout Manchester.  They’re all in soft focus, which is odd considering the whole thing was done for the crispness of HD. Aside from the soft focus, it’s more like the American soaps when they all changed their opening sequences maybe 15 years ago to street and set scenes as well as shots of people.  On second viewing and listening, I thought ok, this is different but the new elements are attractive. And it kept enough of the history of past openings in it.  The tiles, chimneys, roof lines and, of course, a cat.  By Friday, I decided I like the new sequence a lot.

New cat and former Street cats

We’ve got an orange tabby cat now, jumping off a roof.  A while ago, when I was looking up images of Trevor’s found kittens, I came across the story of the grey and white tabby cat who graced the Frisky, the Coronation Street opening credits catcredits for many years.  I had a special fondness for him because he looked very much like my cat Elsie.  Apparently, I wasn’t alone.  Frisky had a huge fan following.  He was a regular cat from Leeds whose people decided to try him out when Coronation Street was auditioning cats for new credits in 1990.

He became a celebrity but continued to live a normal cat life with his people, not letting fame go to his head.  A few years after his death in 2000, his people put his cremated ashes up auction.  For the price of £700, some lucky person now has the remains of Frisky on their mantelpiece.  The proceeds were donated to a cat rescue group.

black cat in Coronation Street writer creditElsie and I both missed Frisky when they redid the opening, replacing him with the black cat.  Seen only from the distance, this new cat endeared him or herself to Elsie and me by meowing.  Hope the cat got paid more for having one line.

A cat in the title sequence happened by accident in 1976, when a cat just happened to appear as they were filming.  Audiences noticed and liked the cat. So producers have ensured since then that there is always a cat in the opening credits.  Eric Spear’s theme music tells you the show is about to start. The cat tells you you’re where you’re supposed to be.