Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beatrice Update!

I'm running late for something, as per usual (aaaaarg! It's too hot to be running around like a madwoman!) but I simply had to share these pictures. Beatrice visited with her Forever Mommy again yesterday and got to play and explore and completely wear herself out. Eventually she fell asleep in her mommy's arms, in the silliest position! She wasn't back to her usual crazy energetic self until this morning!!

More pictures available at the Baby Kitten Set! I tried to have even more pictures, but it wasn't until she started to get tired that I could get more than a blur, or a fast enough shot to get her in the frame before she dashed off to explore something new!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Update #6- Last one for the Night.

Caught another cat here at Chez Project-Cat. Yup, a repeat visitor, this time Aloysius. ::sigh:: I let him go, then went to check the other traps. Two were empty. The third was also empty, but somehow the plate of food had gotten blown to the side. In my attempt to fix it, I was again viciously attacked by EVIL !@#$!@#$ ANTS OF DOOM. My pinkie finger is now swollen. I am, perhaps understandably, cranky.

There are two traps, currently EVIL ANT free, in secluded areas, still set (and covered.) I'll get up early to check them. If they're empty, (or if they have already altered cats in them) then tonight's Cat Napping will have been a complete failure.


Oh, but I did shine a flashlight down into the tunnel with the kittens and saw them playing. That made me a little bit happy (but anxious because I need to trap them asap. Turns out the guideline is that up to 12 weeks they're tame-able, but after that it's questionable. Guesstimate puts these two and Beatrice at 8weeks.)

Update #5-- OW!

Why did no one TELL me that we have ANTS here that BITE and HURT and leave you ITCHING but leave no mark so you can't even look piteously at someone and show off your war wounds, gotten while failing to catch cats?!

Meh. While cleaning up the drop trap, I picked up the kibble plate and was immediately in pain all on my hand and wrist presumably from the !@$ ants that were swarming on the plate. Fine, fine, it goes well with the rest of the unsuccessful evening. :(

The perfect cap almost happened. I was checking the other dishes for ants (free so far) and the sprinklers came on. Thankfully they didn't come on where I was standing. It would have been miserably perfect if they had, though. On the bright side, it did tell me that they come on at night and that I ought to move all the traps that were in the grass before going in.

All four regular traps are still out there, but covered and away from sprinklers. I, on the other hand, am not out there. I am in here, nursing my ouchies and my itchies and having just enjoyed a marvelous shower. (Before which I found that Beatrice has learned to climb up to the top of the toilet-- it'll just be a day or so 'til she's on top of the sink. Evidently, however, in her climb she had flushed the toilet. I could tell because it was running, as it is wont to do when the handle gets stuck, but I always check the handle. So this was vaguely amusing.) I felt better, too, upon picking up Beatrice and immediately being given many, many kisses. She's a sweetie.

I will check the traps several more times tonight, so there may or may not be more updates. Maybe my computer scared the cats away and now they will venture into the traps.

Update #4-- New friends, but no cats

Many, many mosquitoes have decided that I am tasty. :P

Three people (so far) have stopped to inquire about the drop-trap. I had planned that if anyone asked what I was doing, to answer "Grading papers" because it was true, but they all just asked what the trap was, and for that I had no witty answer but the truth.

The first person who stopped was a woman from Romania (she lives here now) and her 3 year old son. She stopped and we talked for a really long time, which was really nice (she's quite cool) but it probably didn't help the cat-catching cause. But actually, since the last post there really hasn't been any interest in the traps at all.

Another hour, then I guess I'll refresh the traps and go in for the night. (Which means dismantling the drop-trap/restaurant.)

I'm very disappointed. I felt certain we'd at least catch Barnaby as he was around a lot this evening. He got close to one trap but then wandered off.

It's completely dark now, except for a few orange-glow lights and my computer screen, but peopole are still tramping about and scaring the fuzzies. ::Sigh::

Frequently Asked Questions

I've always wanted to write a FAQ and now seems like the time to do it.

1. What is this?
A website. More specifically, a blog about a feral colony.

2. So, you, what? Catch cats?
Yes. And get them altered (neutered or spayed as the case may be) and return them to where they came from.

3. Why?
Because there are 350,000+ stray and feral cats in the Phoenix area alone and when they are caught they are euthanized. Why these cats? Because my apartment complex wanted them gone, so I negotiated TNR instead.

4. Can you help me with my feral cat problem?
No, but there are organizations across the country who can. If you're in the Phoenix area, check out Altered Tails. If you're elsewhere, visit Alley Cat Allies.

5. How are you managing this?
Fantastic help from Altered Tails, generous donations from friends, family and utter strangers, hard work and patience.

6. Can I help?
Sure! Click on the 'donation' button on the main page.

7. How do my donations help?
The vast majority goes to Altered Tails for the spaying/neutering of these cats (and others.) The money also goes to pay for food (the colony goes through an 18pound bag of dry food roughly every 2 weeks), for vet bills for any emergencies (such as if I found one of my colony injured), and currently for the care of a foster kitten taken from the colony (and potentially 2more, if I can catch the little buggers!) which includes vet care and food and such.

8. . Why don't you update more often?
Because, alas, this is not all I do.

9. Why don't you find homes for these cats?
See question #3. These are feral cats who, in most cases, could never be tamed. They are distrustful and scared of humans.

10. Why don't you let the Humane Society (or other organization) deal with them?
Because they would kill them. Humanely, I suppose. But they'd still be, y'know, dead. And that seems incredibly unfair and unethical.

11. Aren't the cats messy and smelly and loud?
Sometimes, but aren't you, too? More to the point, they're a lot less messy, smelly and loud after they've been altered. Also, my neighbors' dogs are a lot more messy, smelly and loud. So, it's all relative.

Update #3-- I'm surrounded

Amaranth is across the green from me, staring. Misstoffolees is prowling the rocks. Bessie is nearby. They're in a big semi-circle around me.

And none of them are cats I want to catch tonight! Arg!

Update #2-- Not quite as planned...

DNL talked to me for a while, yes again. And presumed to tell me that the reason the cats weren't going in the traps was because the covers weren't taped down. Yes, I know that doesn't help, DNL, but if you keep talking to me about drowning pigs who got shot (yes, seriously), I can't very well go and fix things, eh? I may have been a bit rude to her, I'm afraid, but she finally left. Geez. (I know, I know, she's just lonely. She's also driving me crazy.)

Anyway, the traps are now all in position, including the drop trap down in the green. While setting it up, I spotted one of the kittens, but I don't expect either of them to leave the tunnel.

It's still early (not quite 7 and not quite dark), so I have hopes for trapping in the hours to come.

However, I seem to be running a restaurant instead of a cat nabbing agency. Apparently Gandolf really was hungry-- I found him in one of the traps, having eaten all the tuna. I let him go, and he went straight for another trap. Sigh. Well, he's had dinner now.

LGG is heading for the drop trap. But of course I don't actually want to catch LGG. I'll let her eat, I guess, then refill the dishes. (Dude, I so could trap her now.) And now Amaranth wants dinner.

Oh crap, now LGG has gotten herself trapped in a regular trap. Welcome to Chez Project-Cat. Today's specials are tuna in oil and dry kibble. I'll be your server.

Kitties, this is not how it's supposed to *go*. (Everyone has been released, and traps refilled and I sit and wait. I'm practicing non-existence. And, y'know, checking my email.)

Good and Bad-- Update #1 of the Cat Nabbing Night

On the bright side, even though I'm really far away from my apartment, my wireless card sort of still connects to my wireless. I'll be moving closer soon, though, so that's no biggie.

The traps are out, but not where I wanted them. As soon as I opened the can of tuna fish (with several hungry cats looking at me, including Barnaby, whom I really want to trap tonight) the sprinklers came on, flooding the area between the tunnels. They've just now shut off, which is a step in the right direction, but the ground is all muddy-gross, so I'm not quite ready to set out the drop-trap. Just before the sprinklers came on, all the cats scattered-- they knew, but I didn't. (The sprinklers used to come on in the afternoon. Evening makes far more sense, but I hadn't known that they'd changed it.)

Also, I've already run into the DNL. It was a relatively innocuous conversation, which makes a nice change. She actually offered help if I needed it. She did, however, go on and on about how "the big yellow male" looked at her so piteously for food, and he's clearly starving as you can see the bones of his ribs and legs. Well, I'm sure he's hungry, but two days of not eating did not make him that skinny-- she must be talking about Gandolf who has always looked that skinny. I've seen both Bozo and Creamsicle in the past two days and they looked fine.

So, hopefully that'll be my only run-in with DNL.

I see a cat making her way across the soggy ground, so I'm off to check things out. More later.

Testing, testing!

I am in the process of preparing for the Big Night-- getting supplies together, finding the can opener, that sort of thing. But, while the computer is charging I thought I'd best check and see if Blogger is working-- it didn't seem to be earlier.

I have fresh batteries for the camera (although it won't be long before it's too dark for my camera to do any good), paper towels, tuna, can-opener, newspaper, traps (the Volunteer brought them to me this morning. Hurrah!), caffeine, chocolate (the latter two for *me* not the cats), my phone and lots of hope. ...Here goes!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fingers crossed!

Tomorrow I try again to catch the remaining unaltered feral cats, so cross your fingers for me. (Sponsors, perhaps you should try telepathically to tell your kitties to go in the traps.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

More on the Kittens

So, sitting out in the terrible heat proved worthwhile. To see the fruits of my labor (57 pictures, 27 of them usable and uploaded) simply visit my new Flickr Set: Wild Kittens.

I stayed quiet and as out of sight as possible by reading what Stephen Greenblatt has to say about Macbeth (just in case you were curious.) Apparently this did the trick because after a while the whole family (Little Grey Girl, the Fluffy Dark Kitten and the Calico Kitten) tumbled out of the tunnel. (LGG didn't really tumble.) LGG stood and let the kittens nurse for a minute, then went off in search of food. She never went real far, perhaps 30 feet away, but certainly left the kittens on their own, knowing full well that I was about 8 feet away. (I considered making a grab for them but I know that you're not supposed to catch cats that way, and besides, they were far closer to the tunnel than I was to them.)

At one point the Calico Kitten got very brave and started up the hill towards the sidewalk but a gust of wind blew a plastic bag at her, and she scurried back down. LGG returned to them within a few minutes, and they started playing with her tail and feet.

The kittens never get more than a foot away from the tunnel, and are clearly still nursing. I do not know how to lure them into a trap. But I want to catch them as soon as possible so that they can be tamed. ::crosses fingers::

Am off to the store-- I need more batteries for cat photographing. :)

Live Blogging- Testing

So, since I'm all on my own Wednesday night, for Cat Nabbing Part 2 (or 3, depending on how one counts), I thought I'd take my computer out with me and live-blog the whole thing. Okay, actually I just got that idea while I was sitting out here on a blanket, (im)patiently trying to get pictures of the kittens.

...Well, crap. There goes that idea for a while. A strange little truck-thing just drove by and shot water at the bushes around the buildings. Great for the bushes, I guess, but the noise scared the kittens and LGG back into the tunnel. Well, I'll keep sitting here. (I did spy both the Calico an dthe Fluffy Grey. They're sticking to that one tunnel, which is great because it means they're predictable. Ish.)

Frankly I'm surprised at how far my wireless network reaches. Neato-keen!

Dude, here comes the truck again. That's one of the strangest jobs I've ever seen. It only occurred to me as he was driving away (again) that I could get a picture, so I did, but like my cat pictures, probably not the best photo you've ever seen. :) It's too bad I can't set up a Donate To Get Project-Cat a Better Camera fund, heh.

EDIT TO ADD: Apparently one should not test one's live-blogging skillz while Blogger is undergoing maintenance. D'oh! But here are the pictures that were supposed to be in this post (2), and now I'm off to see what I got in the batch of 57 (!!) which I took of the kittens. (More about this later, as well as soliciting advice on *how* to trap them.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

General (Brief) Colony Update

I think I managed to see most of the members of the colony today-- amazing what going outside despite the heat will do. Just now, while refilling their food dish, I spotted 8 of the adults: 2 moo-cows, LGG, Amaranth, Daphne, Gremlin, Pigpen and an Orange (either Gandolf or Walsingham). (In the dark I couldn't tell more specifics about the orange or the moo-cows.) Sadly it's too dark to take pictures.

Earlier today I saw Mr Mistoffoloees, Barnaby and a different orange (probably Creamsicle.) So, the cats are doing well thanks to your donations and the help of Altered Tails!

But wait! There's more!

While I was out putting up signs regarding the feeding of the Colony Cats, I saw a movement down in one of the drainage tunnels. Curious to see which cat it was, I was rather surprised to discover it wasn't one I recognized.

At all.

In fact, it was a tiny little calico face, with a dark colored nose (a marking quite like Cyrano's). A face, I might suggest, that was roughly the same size as Beatrice's.

A kitten.

Little Grey Girl appeared, then, from the drainage tunnel beside the one I was so intently peering into, and nonchalantly sat down in front of the calico-kitten, blocking her from my view. I, however, was patient, and eventually LGG moved inside the tunnel, revealing not only the Calico-Kitten but a Fluffy Grey Tabby Kitten as well. (Fluffy Grey looks like Beatrice, but, well, fluffier.)

Crap. Don't get me wrong-- I'm really glad that the rest of the litter survived (at least in part.) But this does mean more work for me, if I can catch them. (And, flat out, more work in trying to catch them!)

I couldn't get any pictures of the Fluffy Grey Kitten, but you can see her eyes glowing in the background of the Calico Kitten pictures. (Frankly, there aren't any great pictures of the kitten here. My camera just isn't good enough.) You can see their pictures, and a few more of Little Grey Girl (who posed like crazy for me today!), as well as one of Barnaby and one of Mr Mistoffolees, here at the Project-Cat Flickr Set (part 2.)

I've read that after 8 weeks you really can't tame feral kittens. Is this true? I hope not-- these kittens are probably about 7 or 8 weeks already (if they are, indeed, from the same litter as Beatrice.)

The Trapping Continues

With four cats scheduled for alteration on Thursday (the 26th), it's time to shift into high gear here at Project-Cat. Today I've made announcements for the apartments around mine, just notices about when to not feed the cats due to trapping. I'm not exactly looking forward to traipsing up and down stairs to *post* these notices, but c'est la vie. (The cats won't be fed after tomorrow, so that they're hungry enough to go into traps on Wednesday night, hopefully.)

I have to admit to be more wary about this trapping than the first. On the first night (and second, since 12 cats were on my balcony) at least we knew that every cat we caught was going to the vet (well, with the exception, as it turned out, of one who'd already been altered- Amaranth.) This time, though, with 19 cats in the colony, I'm only trying to catch a specific 4... It seems more daunting somehow...

As for the Beatrice, she continues to become more and more of a handful! She seems so much bigger now (although she's still tiny), and she has so! much! energy! And teeth. She seems to have an inordinate amount of teeth. (I'm kidding-- her teeth are normal. They just seem inordinate when they're constantly gnawing on you!)

Yesterday she was very good and let me trim her claws! This is good because her new favorite game is to take a running jump at me and grab onto my leg. This is not a problem when I am wearing jeans. It is a problem when I am wearing cotton pajamas, or a skirt. She's actually gotten very good at jean-climbing, having managed to get all the way to my waist while I was brushing my teeth. I know that this isn't behavior one should encourage, but I can't help but enjoy what a strong and brave girl she is! Two more weeks of separation for Beatrice before we can head to the vet for FIV and Feline Leukemia tests.

I'll try to get some more pictures today, of both Colony Cats and of Beatrice. :)