Saturday, January 29, 2011

Killing Cats IS NOT the Answer

In a perfect world, all cats would live indoors where they are well cared for.  We don’t, however, live in a perfect world.  People still dump their cats when they no longer want them.  Even well educated people will allow their beloved cats to go outside for at least a few hours a day.  Other people leave their cats outdoors 24 hours a day, with no concerns for their safety nor what the cats might be doing, either to a neighbor’s yard or the local wildlife. 

Cats have been documented as a part of human society since the great Egyptian dynasties.  When Europeans began sailing the world, cats were on board those ships to control the rat populations.  As humans colonized/invaded other lands, the cats (and rats) came with them, and were often left behind.  Humans were the first invasive species, and to this day continue to be the most detrimental of any invasive species to all natural habitats.  We have created a swath of destruction wherever we have gone, and this continues to this day.  Yet, instead of placing the blame for declines in native species on humans, governments and wildlife agencies have chosen to place cats in their crosshairs.  If only they could simply KILL all of the cats, all would be right with the world.  At the very least, this is faulty logic.  At the worst, an unattainable goal has been set. 

The best way to work toward a solution to the concerns of governments and wildlife agencies about cats preying upon threatened and endangered wildlife would be to work with the people who KNOW the domestic cat and cat behavior.  Although a few, and mostly flawed studies have been done about cats and predation, scientists do not consider cats worthy of SERIOUS scientific study.  However, the much maligned, so-called Cat Lovers actually are experts on cat behavior and the issue of community cats. 

Choosing to KILL cats has NEVER worked.  There are plenty of examples to support this fact.  Community animal control agencies have been rounding up “loose” cats for many, many years.  Even so, the number of cats picked up and killed has increased, instead of decreasing over that time.  Government agencies have trapped cats on public lands for many, many years, yet there are still cats to trap.  The “supply” has failed to diminish despite these efforts.  Hundreds of millions of cats and kittens have been killed through these practices, yet estimates say there are still millions of cats out there.  WHY?  It certainly isn’t due to lack of will on the part of government employees – either city, county, state or federal – to kill each and every cat they can catch.  Put simply, it is because the real culprit and cause of this so-called problem has been ignored.  It’s not the cats – it is the humans. 

Our government, on all levels, has taught their lesson to the people well.  Cats, and animals in general, have NO VALUE.  Killing them is okay.  They are easily replaceable.  There are plenty more where those dead ones came from.  So, people continue to move and leave their cat(s) behind, or they drive to the “country” and pitch their cat(s) out of the car and drive away, or they dump them at a “shelter” and absolve themselves of their responsibility. 

Without a shift in our cultural values, there will always be free-roaming cats.  By working together with people who care about and understand cats, a campaign to change attitudes, to attack the problem at its source, a viable plan could be formulated.  Instead of working at odds with, or simply dismissing the concerns of those who are trying to humanely decrease the populations of free-roaming cats, it is time to work together.  

Yes, SOME cats kill wildlife.  SOME cats are more prolific hunters than other cats.  Some habitats cannot tolerate another predator.  But, not all free-roaming cats hunt, not all habitats are seriously impacted by the presence of cats.  There are HUMANE solutions and that is the choice that should be made.  

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed plan, go here: 

To send a quick and easy response, go here:

Thursday, January 27, 2011


This is my old man – Caleb. He became a part of my household in October, 1997. I figure he was born in either 1995 or 1996, which makes him between 15 & 16. Pretty darn old for a german shepherd mix.

He started his life with someone else, someone I never met even though he lived on the other side of my street and a few houses west of me. He was living in a house that had recently been purchased when the used car lot on the corner of my street expanded and bought the adjacent property with 2 houses on it. He worked at the car lot and the owner let him live there with his dog. When his boss found out that he was doing drugs, he fired him and kicked him out of the house. He left the dog behind to fend for himself. He did tell someone in the neighborhood that he would be back to get the dog. He never came.

Before the car lot owner bought the property, and before the last tenant in the front house moved in, the people before him moved out and left their cat and her kittens and their 3 legged dog and her puppies. The dog lost her leg after getting hit by a car. The house was (it’s demolished now) about 5 car lengths off a very busy major road in Orlando. The momma dog was very protective of her pups and all went to animal control. No doubt all were killed there. I took in the momma cat and her 2 remaining kittens – Climber, Chloe and Cleo. All 3 of those girls have passed on.

So, back to Caleb’s story. I started feeding him when he was abandoned. He had no collar, so I couldn’t put a leash on him. He would let me pet him with one hand, but not two. I wasn’t able to slip a collar over his head. If I brought both hands toward his head, he would run off. Every time I put his food bowl down, however, he would lick my face. He was obviously frightened, but friendly. After about 2 weeks, I was despairing that I would never catch him and he would get killed by a car either on the major highway or our street. He took to sleeping under one of those hot dog carts further down our block. Then a friend who did dog rescue came to help. She brought a couple of burgers and a slip noose. She held up the slip noose and held the burger on the other side. Caleb put his head through to get the burger and Voila he was finally caught.

My initial plan was to get him checked out with the vet and then turn him over to one of the area rescue groups to find him a home. Unfortunately, Caleb turned out to be very frightened. It was obvious that he had been beaten, smacked and probably kicked by his worthless previous owner. If I laughed too loud at something on TV, he would cower. If I raised my hands for anything, he would shake and cower. He wouldn’t let anyone walk behind him or touch anywhere near his tail or back legs. He just wouldn’t have been able to find a home because of how timid he was. The sad thing is the abuse I suspected isn’t the only thing that happened to him before I took him in.

About 5 years ago, his back legs went lame. He couldn’t stand up and his hind legs would get twisted when I tried lifting him to his feet. I took him to my vet, who took an x-ray. I took a look at it before the vet came in and was puzzled. There were spots all over the x-ray. I thought there was something wrong with the film. I was wrong. When I asked the vet about it, he told me that those spots were buckshot. Someone had shot Caleb with a shotgun and his body was peppered with the buckshot. The x-ray also showed that Caleb has degenerative disc disease. He was put on aspirin and prednisone. The vet wasn’t hopeful it would work, but within less than a week, Caleb was running through my backyard and acting like a puppy. He was obviously glad to be feeling so much better. He has had a couple of recurrences since that time, most recently this past weekend. Back on the pills, a muscle relaxant along with the prednisone, and getting his nails trimmed and he’s back to being his old self. At his age, he is nearly blind and totally deaf. He can’t hear the other dogs bark, thunder or firecrackers. At least the deafness is a blessing in disguise for him. He would always shiver in fear when we had a bad storm or someone nearby was shooting off firecrackers.

I thought I was going to lose him for sure in December, 2009. He had a tumor in his lower intestine and needed to have surgery. With his back problems, the location of the tumor and his age, I doubted he would pull through. He spent the night at the surgical specialists, following the surgery. I picked him up the next day, and you would think he was coming home from a spa visit. He not only pulled through, but did it like it was no big deal. The ability of animals to, so often, bounce back from surgery never fails to amaze me.

I don’t know how much longer Caleb will be with me, but he certainly has a strong spirit and desire to live. He’s come through so much and is such a sweet guy. Us humans could learn something from him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Critter Herd

I’ve gotten a request to post pictures of my cats.  Unfortunately, I am not that proud of the quality of the photos and most of the photos are a couple of years old.  However, I shall proceed despite these shortcomings.

I thought I would do this in short, descriptive narratives on different groups of cats. Most came in together and so I’m going to do their “stories”.

My oldest cat is Cissy. 
I was already running out of “C” names when she and Carly came into my life.  Diane Jones, my mentor in the cat world & battling the Powers That Be (Orange County government in 1990 was when it began), asked me to take 2 kittens from her.  When I first saw Cissy, Diane had flea treated her with Vaseline, so the poor little kitten looked like a punk cat, with spiked hair.  Pitiful looking tiny thing.  

I wasn’t good about keeping records back then and, to the best of my knowledge, it was around 1995 that I brought home both Cissy and Carly.  Here is Carly: 

The two of them became “bedroom cats” because Chloe, one of my older cats, would constantly pick on them.  The kittens took to hiding behind the entertainment center and wouldn’t leave even to use the litter box.  Once moved into the bedroom and away from Chloe, there were no more problems.  Carly unexpectedly became sick one day and by the time we got to the vet, she was in such bad shape that I had no other option but to have her euthanized.  That was in May, 2008.  She was always such a sweet and loving cat.

Cissy is quite talkative and will answer you with a meow when you call her name.  When she wants attention, she won’t take no for an answer.  Pet her or suffer the consequences, trust me.  Her worst trait:  she LOVES to lick my nose and occasionally bite it.  She hasn’t drawn blood yet, probably because I do my best to keep my nose away from her!  She isn’t particularly patient about being brushed or having mats removed.  I found the greatest tool for mat removal at my vet’s office.  One evening, I was thinking that something similar to those compact, fits in your palm, plastic letter openers with an embedded razor blade would be great for removing mats.  Within a week I was at my vet’s office and THERE IT WAS!  It looks like a letter opener with a handle.  Cissy will tolerate longer sessions with this than anything else that I’ve tried and I don’t have to worry about accidentally cutting her or stabbing her with scissors.  It’s called Mat Magician, which it most certainly is!  Here is a link to their website:

Cissy still resides in the bedroom with many other cats now.  Most of them come rushing out when I go in to scoop litter boxes, vacuum, change the bed and feed them.  Tapping the cans together as I go back with food causes a stampede, with everyone (most of time) answering the “dinner bell” and diving into their canned cat food. 

Stay tuned for further ramblings on the rest of the herd……………….

A Burning Question

I have lived long enough to realize that there are many things that cannot be explained through logic and/or reason.   I like to understand things, especially the psychology behind behaviors.  My favorite class in college was Ethology.  At the time, it was a brand new field of science.  Over time, it has helped change the way scientists, researchers and average people understand and view the non-human animals on our planet, which is a very good thing IMHO.  Konrad Lorenz was one of the “founders” of ethology, and one of my personal heroes.  We read both King Solomon’s Ring and Man and Dog in the class.  Had I been able to get a Master’s degree in ethology at my university, I would have continued my education.  Oh, well. 

Human behavior, of course, has been studied for a very, very long time.  I’m not certain we are much closer to understanding just what makes people tick any better now than we did a hundred years ago.  I am hoping someone out there in the blogosphere will be able to enlighten me as to one particular practice of humans that completely baffles me. 

Recently, I’ve become much more aware of those dark blobs that seem to be everywhere on parking garage pavement and on sidewalks.  You know what I’m talking about – discarded chewing gum splotches.  After being driven and/or walked over an infinite number of times, they are flattened out and black due to all of the dirt ground into the formerly beige or pink splats.  So WHY do people spit their gum on the ground where some unsuspecting person will step on it?  Have they never stepped in sticky, gooey gum and had it get stuck to the bottom of their shoe?  Have they never tried, unsuccessfully, to remove this nasty stuff from their favorite sneakers or other non-slick sole?  Who, in their right mind, would want to step on something infused with the saliva of another person and then have to try to disengage their shoe from said substance?  Hello – DO UNTO OTHERS YOU SCHMUCK!  If you don’t want your gum, why do you think someone else wants it……….on the bottom of their shoe? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I've become hopelessly addicted to Facebook.  I end up spending more hours on the computer than anything else that I do.  It's not like I don't have anything else to do.  The list, should I write it, would probably take at least 2 days to complete.  And that's without doing anything on the list.

I tried to avoid Facebook starting on Friday.  FAIL!  I did, though, spend less time than I normally do and shared fewer posts from friends.  Yesterday I don't think I spent more than an hour on it and have avoided it all day today.

I simply need to get off my butt, turn off the TV, shut off the computer and get busy.  I epitomize that law of physics:  an object at rest, stays at rest.  I need to get in motion - unfortunately, I don't seem to have the energy to sustain motion for very long.  Too old, too broken down (this old body is simply falling apart) and unable to sustain the motivation to JUST DO IT!  Would a pair of Nike's make it happen?  Doubt it. 

Gratuitous cat photo:  my beautiful, but overweight Chow-Li
I'm off to feed the cats and dogs, wash some dishes, wash my hair and get ready to meet a friend for dinner.  Then later tonight, the Golden Globes  hosted by Ricky Gervais.  He is amazingly funny.  I don't really care who wins (hopefully not Glee or the Temple Grandin biopic) - I just want to see what all the female stars are wearing and watch Ricky be irreverent and make me laugh out loud.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Well, 2011 started off as 2010 ended – still recovering from the surgeries, but able to work part time and still have weekday hyperbaric treatments.  When will this be over?  It’s anybody’s guess.

So, while I recover, the world keeps spinning.  While going through this extended recovery period, it’s harder and harder to look on the bright side. The state of our planet continues to spiral downward and seems to concern only a small percentage of Americans.  More and more species are not only endangered but are going extinct.  Last year was the hottest year recorded and polar bears may die out in the next 20 years.  Big cats throughout the world are still being killed, either because of concerns over protecting livestock or just for the sport of it.  Over 700 manatees died last year, the worst year on record as well.  Millions of unwanted, homeless cats, dogs, puppies and kittens are killed in shelters each and every year.  Children in developing countries are dying in mines, due to pollution, war or lack of clean food and water.  Lack of regulation and strict oversight allows things like the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Virginia mining disaster, yet Florida’s new governor wants government to get out of the way of business.  When will people realize that the one and only thing that business is interested in is PROFITS?  It isn’t about worker safety, it isn’t about creating jobs, it isn’t about providing healthcare for their employees, it isn’t about insuring that generations to come have a healthy planet to live on.  PROFITS, that is the only concern.  Government regulation is the only thing protecting the average citizen and worker.  Without regulation our air, water and food supply would be in even worse shape.  There would be no OSHA overseeing workplace safety. 

Of course, there has been good news as well, both on a personal and world level.  Chaz, who was given not much chance of surviving long back in September, is still with me and hanging in there.  His brother, Charlie, although still way too thin, continues to eat everything that isn’t nailed down.  CARE Feline TNR helped pull 40 cats from Orange County Animal Services and is finding homes for many of them.  Animal rescuers, from the one person to multi-volunteer ones, continue to place cats and dogs in loving homes.  According to the Washington Post, vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming more mainstream.  China is putting large amounts of money into renewable energy and water conservation.  And, for the time being, the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is safe from oil drilling.  Let’s hope 2011 will have more Good News stories than Tragic News stories.