Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Annie Sparkles, Naughtiness with a Cute Face

Annie Sparkles, the face of innocence !!
Annie Sparkles is a little foster kitten we are caring for until she goes to her forever home in a few days.  She arrived Monday August 29th a very frightened kitten who suddenly found herself living in a house after spending the first 12 weeks of her life outdoors.  Annie and her furmom lived on a porch in a residential downtown neighbourhood.  My friend Robin found out about Annie and within two days she was caught, to the vet for deworming, de-fleaing and her first set of shots and then living in a strange house.

Annie adapted quickly to her new surroundings and made friends with Boomer, my 4 year old orange male.  Boomer is remarkably gentle and patient with Annie but when he has had enough he leaves.
We have found a home for Annie Sparkles so she will be leaving us in a few days.  We will miss her but I'm not sure I will miss her naughtiness.

Sooty Annie Sparkles

Annie now has run of the first floor of our house.  Yesterday I was in the kitchen and realized after about 10 minutes that it seemed awfully quiet.  Boomer was sitting looking out the back window but where was Annie.  Glancing to my left I found her sitting inside the fireplace looking at me as if to say, 'I just found this great place to explore'.  She looked very cute but with all that white fur she got a little sooty.  It wasn't too bad though.  I placed her carrier in front of the fireplace screen to keep her from getting in there again.

About 30 minutes later I could hear Annie meowing so off I went to find out what her problem was.  Well that little naughty girl had managed to get inside the fireplace again and was calling me to come see that nothing was keeping her from her great find.  This time she was quite sooty.  I hugged her telling her she was being naughty and then whisked her off to the kitchen to clean her up.  A damp cloth wasn't going to get the soot off her fur but it sure made the light coloured cloth dirty.

Years ago when CiCi, our now 18 year old cat, was much younger she would get in the fireplace by parting the screen which is a mesh curtain that parts in the middle.  We managed to keep her out by using a big clip on the screen and it worked very well.  The clip has long since been removed because CiCi no longer has any interest in exploring the fireplace.  As of last night the clip has been reinstalled.

A mirror under the overhang shows the hole Annie found

Sooty Annie needed a bath so I ran off to the store to get some baby shampoo.  In the 15 or 20 minutes I was gone Annie managed to disappear somewhere in the house.  We had her barricaded in the kitchen with a 4' board across the entrance.  We searched all four floors.  Every nook, every cranny and still no Annie.  We looked everywhere.  We knew she was in the house somewhere.  I also knew that just before I left for the store, she had eaten well and she was showing signs of being tired.  This meant she had found a spot to sleep and it could be hours before she woke up and made an appearance.

Five hours later and shortly after 1:00 a.m. I was in the kitchen when I heard little Annie meows coming from close by.  I started pulling open drawers and cupboards but no Annie.  Thankfully she continued to meow so I knew she was nearby.  I cannot believe what I saw.  Just under the bottom drawers and above the kick plate a little black and white head popped out.  Annie had found the only hole in our kitchen.  We didn't even know it was there.  She wiggled out easily and  ran off to find Boomer.

Annie is not enjoying this one bit

I was too tired to trying giving her a bath at that point so we all went to bed. 

This morning was bath time.  I got everything I could think of all organized in the laundry room.  I've only even bathed a cat once before and he was such a sweet gentle boy.  I got two small basins filled with warm water, one for washing and the other for rinsing.  Annie is no dumby.  As I stood holding her she sensed that she was destined for one of the basins and began to meow.  I put her down in the water which was only about 2" deep and she cried but didn't struggle too much.  Then I reached for the bottle of shampoo only to discover that there is a safety seal on it that I had to remove with one hand and my teeth because the other hand was holding Annie.

Soggy Annie Sparkles

I tried to make the bath go as quickly as possible for the two of us.  Annie cried and cried but she was not trying to claw her way up my arm - that made me happy.  Once I was sure I had rinsed her well and that no soap remained I wrapped her in a dry towel.  A minute later I removed the damp towel and wrapped her in another dry towel.  I went through about 5 towels.  Poor little Annie began to shiver and I knew I needed to get her dry quickly and warm her up. 

Is that a cat or a rat?
 Annie and I went upstairs to the bathroom so I could try the hairdryer on her.  Surprisingly she didn't seem to mind it too much but I was holding it about 4' above her so it wouldn't feel too hot.  I did a little blow drying and then rubbed her with a dry towel.  She was still shivering and putting her inside my shirt didn't seem to be helping her warm up.  Needless to say I was feeling very warm.  I remembered the heating pad and grabbed that turning it on and placing on the floor.  While it warmed up I continued to use the hairdryer as well as rub her with more dry towels.  Annie liked the heating pad and sat on it while licking her fur in a further attempt to dry herself.  And she stopped shivering very quickly.  Once she was completely dry she was allowed to leave the bathroom and return to the main floor of the house.

Annie is biting the binder clip that is holding the screen closed
so she can't get in there again

This afternoon I caught Annie biting the binder clip that was holding the fireplace screen closed.  I think she really thought she was going to try sitting in there again. 

Hey what happened to the opening to
my secret napping spot????

About an hour or so later I caught her investigating the spot where the hole is in the kitchen.  Earlier I glued two small pieces of cardboard over the opening and wedged a few things in place to hold the cardboard until the glue was dried.  Annie was very disappointed that she wasn't able to climb up into her secret sleeping space and walked away looking for some other source of entertainment.
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Over the years I have fostered many kittens and have always let them run and play in the kitchen because they cannot get under or behind any of the applicances.  There isn't any place they can get into trouble, or so I thought until Annie showed me the small opening under the base of the cupboards last night.  When I think about it, Annie is the oldest and biggest of all the kittens I have fostered and she managed to fit inside that opening. 

I can hardly wait to find out what Annie is going to discover tomorrow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Recently a friend of mine, Kim,  asked if I would feed her kitties while she and her family were on vacation.  This is the story of Greta, a former street urchin turned indoor kitty. 

I met Greta 4 years ago when I received a phone call from another friend about a feral kitty and her kitten.  Could I come and catch the kitten so she could be socialized and a home found.  Off I went and within a short time I had the little black and white kitten that we judged to be about 7 or 8 weeks old.  Much to my delight I found a home for that little kitten very quickly.
Greta,the mom kitty, continued to live outside under someones front porch through three more winters.  During that time she was trapped and taken to a vet for spaying and then returned to her outdoor life.

Last November Kim phoned me to ask if she could borrow my "kitten cage".  She was going to try bringing Greta inside to live.  For a few weeks Greta lived in the kitten cage in the master bedroom and it wasn't long before she was allowed out and had the entire bedroom as her space.

I got to meet Greta again in late June when I went to Kim's to learn the routine.  Greta was still living in the master bedroom because Puck, the resident handsome boy kitteh was not too thrilled with Greta living in his house and was a bit aggressive towards her.  Kim wasn't sure how she would respond to a stranger, but she was fine.  She allowed me to pet her and we even played with one of her toys.

During the three weeks of feeding and caring for the kitties, I grew very attached to Greta.  She is so loving and friendly and sweet.  I think she must have been someone's pet at one time because she loves attention.  I find it hard to believe this dear little cat lived outside for goodness knows how long and then in a short time with lots of TLC from Kim became a sweet laid back little cat.

A few days ago it became evident that Puck was very sick with no chance of recovery and he gently crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  It was very sad because the week before while I was caring for him he was an energetic 9 year old kitty that loved chasing the lazer beam.  On the bright side, Greta is now allowed free run of the entire house and I dare say is loving the indoor life even more now.  I love you sweet Greta and I am so happy you have a home to call your own.  You're a little gem.  Hug hug hug

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Yesterday we got a lot of snow but not nearly as much as was originally forecast. Thank goodness. My biggest concern was my dear little ferals. When I arrived to feed the Logan Gang I expected to find the shelter buried in snow drifts but it wasn't so bad. I called for Tess and Jazz to come for food and after about five or so minutes Tess made an attempt to get from the sleeping shelters to the feeding station but she gave up because the snow was so deep and it was too difficult.

The sleeping shelters are located in an empty lot and the feeding station is just outside the fence. I tramped down a path from the feeding station to the hole in the fence the kitties use but I could see that the snow on the other side of the fence was about 12" - 15" deep. Getting inside the fenced lot used to be difficult but someone has cut a huge hole in the fence which I discovered a few months ago. Using this big hole in the fence and armed with my shovel I walked over to the small hole in the fence that the cats use and began clearing a path back to the sleeping shelters. I knew Tess and Jazz were inside the shelters and I didn't want to scare them so as I got closer to them I stopped shovelling and just walked back and forth a few times between the shovelled path and close to the shelter entrance.

Today when I arrived to feed the sun was shining brightly and both Tess and Jazz used the path to get to the feeding station. A much easier trip for them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meet Valentine - Colony Matriach

It was a few days before Valentines Day in 2003 when I first met the beautiful brown tabby I decided to call Valentine. And she was pregnant. I was concerned for her and the arrival of her babies because it was mid February and it was cold. I called a local cat rescue group for some advice and I have to say I was somewhat disappointed in the response I got. They assured me Valentine could not be pregnant at this time of the year - it was too early in the season. Well she did have kittens. I'm not sure where or when she delivered but I could tell when she was no longer pregnant.

In early April Valentine came out from the lumberyard with the other cats from the colony to have breakfast. She ate and then wondered off and a few minutes later returned with 3 adorable wee kittens. She was weaning them and teaching them where to come for food. I was mezmerized. There was a little brown tabby that looked exactly like Valentine and two black kittens. I was so impressed with the way Valentine sat quietly as the kittens bounced around. They came for a bite of food but the slightest move from me and they dashed back behind the chainlink fence and the "safety" of the lumberyard. I named the shorthair black kitty Jet, the longhaired black F.J. which stood for Fluffy Jet but changed to Frances Jane when I learned she was a girl. The little tabby kitten disappeared shortly after I first saw her.

In late July Valentine delivered 5 more kittens. These wee babies were discovered by one of the workers in the lumberyard and thankfully he was a kind hearted man. He told one of the women employees about the kittens which set off a series of phone calls. The kittens were removed and Valentine was caught in a humane trap. Arrangements had been made with a vet who would allow Valentine to care for her brood until they could be weaned. Afterwards she would be spayed and homes would be found for her family.

Valentine returned to the colony about the middle of September. I was concerned she would be shunned by the others in the colony after her absence but she marched right back into their midst and resumed her roll as the matriach.

I'm not sure when it happened but eventually Valentine allowed me to pet her, and even groom her. She loves to rub up against my legs when I arrive with the food. In the 8 years I have been feeding this colony, I think Valentine has only missed about three meals. She loves her food.

Sometimes Valentine plays and runs and carrys on like a young cat but I think she is at least ten, maybe even a bit older. She loves catnip. When she finishes rolling around in the little pile I give her she will walk over to another kitty and take over their catnip. Valentine just has to look at any of the other cats and they move off.

The past few days she has been particularly affectionate. She has made a point of rubbing against my legs so that I will stop and scratch behind her ears. She is a sweetie but when she has had enough she is swift with the paw.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The East Side Gang's Winter Shelters

In late January 2007 the weather was getting very cold because of the constant wind chill and I realized that the cats, particularly Doodle and Ollie, were shivering. I was beside myself trying to come up with a solution for them. I ended up running to my computer and I Googled "winter cats shelters" and was instantly linked with a list of potential websites. The site I focused on was because they had a few suggestions that seemed doable. The design that caught my eye was one made from 2" pink insulating styrofoam.

My husband, being as soft in the head as I am about cats, took me by the hand and off we went to our local home building supplier. We purchased the necessary supplies then returned home to begin construction. We don't have a real basement in our house so we have to work in our driveway when it requires the tablesaw and other messy tools. So there we were in the freezing cold cutting the stryrofoam into the appropriate sized pieces to make two sleeping shelters for my ferals.

We assembled the shelters on the dining room table with help from Teika

It took about 24 hours for the caulking to dry but once it was I took the shelters to my ferals. The instructions suggest painting the exterior of the shelters so they blend in with the surroundings but it was more important to me to get the shelters in place for the cats. Fortunately at that location the shelters were also out of site so I wasn't too concerned about the bright pink styrofoam being seen by anyone.
It took the kitties no time at all to start using the two shelters so I immediately got two more shelters made and put in place. I am so glad I made the effort because right after I got shelter #3 and #4 in place, we were hit with a snow storm.
I had a little Kitty City. I had four sleeping shelters, which could accommodate 6 to 8 cats, depending on their size and how buddy-buddy they are with other members of the colony. I also had three feeding shelters, one of which was a wonderful heavy wooden doghouse I had found at the side of the road a few years prior.

In the summer of 2008 after using the shelters for two winters, the shelters were discovered and removed. The land between the two commercial buildings was so overgrown it was perfect for the cats and nothing could be seen until one was right at Kitty City. All the overgrowth was cut down and removed which forced me to yet again move the colony.

Now the shelters are all located in a little alcove further back so again they are not visible to anyone unless they walk way to the back. I rebuilt two feeding shelters and this time because I was not in such a panic, I constructed four shelters and painted the exterior. I had a bit of leftover paint from another project and it was a good colour. So the kitchen counter was were I did the assembly, this time with the help of Boomer
And the painting was done in the living room. When the paint was dry I put the tops on all the shelters and filled the them with wood shavings used for hamsters and guinea pig cages.
My sister lives on a farm so I made a quick trip out to her place to pick up some mouldy bales of hay which she was quite happy to get rid of. I used the hay as ground cover for the shelters as well as putting around and on top of the shelters to help make them even warmer.

The current location of the shelters is a good one because they are tucked up against a building on one side, a very high wooden fence on another side and a chain link fence on the third side.
This past fall I checked the shelters for damage and then added fresh bales of straw and lots of leaves from my yard at home to give the cats added protection. I made a few changes so that there are two entrances/exits into the four sleeping shelters and used some pine boughs to help keep wind and blowing snow from getting inside.

A few days after making these changes I arrived to find Spirit had tucked himself into the pile of leaves. As the days passed, he burrowed deeper and deeper into his leaf cave. The only way I can tell if Spirit is in residence is if he opens his eyes to look at me. He seems very content to sleep away the day in his little leaf cave. His cave is the black hole in the leaves near bottom right of photo.

If you visit the website you will find a full set of instructions, along with a materials list for these shelters. They are easy to make and easy to transport but they do need to be secured so they don't blow away.

Our weather usually comes in from the north and west so ideally the shelter entrance should be on the south side. However because of the location I was only able to have the entrance on the north side.

Also keep in mind that it is not a good idea to feed the cats too close to their sleeping shelters unless all left over food is removed daily before dark. The food will attrack other animals. One of these days I will do a post about Mr. Stinky, the skunk who took up residence beside the feeding shelter two years ago. He has left but it was a very uncomfortable winter for me knowing he was right there.