Friday, June 29, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

In 1999, when I was relatively new to the feral cat “community” and Trap/Neuter/Return I answered a call from a very nice woman who needed help trapping a litter of 8 – 10 week old feral kittens.  She had managed to trap the mother cat and her semi-grown kittens from a previous litter and get them all fixed through Orange County’s CARE program.  In 1999 I had recently become the president of CARE and we did not normally go out and do the trapping.  She was a very sweet woman and desperately worried that the homeowner’s association would call either animal control or critter control and the kittens along with the ones she had already fixed (and bonded with) would be trapped and killed.  I talked at a meeting of the homeowner’s association and convinced them to hold off on trapping, explaining that CARE worked in partnership with Orange County Animal Services to trap, alter and vaccinate cats.  My intention was to trap the kittens and return them “to the wild.”  

I only managed to catch one kitten on my first attempt.  She was absolutely beautiful, but completely wild.  Being a novice I felt she was too old to try to tame/socialize her.  So, once she was spayed and recovered, I returned her.  She died within 2 days, which devastated me.  I decided once I trapped the rest (actually 4 remaining littermates and 2 from the litter of another female), I would make every effort to socialize them and find homes for them, although CARE did not do adoptions.  I felt I had enough contacts in the rescue community that I could easily find a group who would handle the adoptions.  I was ridiculously lucky, trapping all 6 kittens at once, something I never managed to do again in the following 8 years of trapping expeditions.  

After dropping the little ones off at the clinic in the morning, I saw a kitten blithely walking across a normally very busy road as I was driving home.  Of course, I stopped and picked him up and took him home.  He was about the same age as the kittens, but he was the friendliest kitten I had ever seen.  He cuddled on my chest and purred all the way home.  

Within two days of bringing the 6 kittens home, I noticed one of them (Chaz) had a beard of bubbles on his chin.  I called my veterinarian and she told me to come in the next morning with all of the kittens because, at least, Chaz had calicivirus, which was/is highly contagious.  No doubt they had contracted it at the animal services clinic and that is probably what caused their sister’s death.  Charlise, Chaz’ sister was the only one in the 2 litters who got sick, seriously sick.  However, Clark, the sweet boy I picked up off the street, got deathly ill as well, along with one of my adult cats, Catherine.  All were bundled off to the veterinary clinic, where both Charlise and Catherine spent 2 weeks for treatment and force-feeding.  Clark was the sickest and spent a month at the vet’s office before he began eating on his own.  Whew – we had dodged a bullet.  It is always dreadful to lose one of my animals, but losing kittens is the worst by far for me.  As of tonight, Charlise is the last of this little family of kittens/cats.


I lost Cisco suddenly on February 16, 2008.  I had taken him to my vet because the nictitating membranes (third eyelid) in both of his eyes were partially up.  He had no other signs of illness.  He hadn’t lost weight, he was eating, so I didn’t suspect there was anything seriously wrong.  Within 2 or 3 days, he had died.  The vet suspected either liver or pancreatic cancer.  

Darling Clark, the kitten rescued from the 6 lane highway died, after a long wasting, undiagnosed illness, on February 25, 2010.  He had grown into a Velcro cat.  He would leap through the air, almost like a bird, to be in my arms.  He would leap from the floor, from a countertop, the bed or the arm of a chair, flying into my arms without scratching me or digging in with his claws.  Turning my back did not do any good in dissuading him from his goal, so there were many times he would end up on my back, much like a living backpack.  


Chaz first developed plasma cell stomatitis, a common result of having had calicivirus in early 2008.   I had most of his teeth removed in April, 2008.  He was fine for awhile.  By the end of 2010 it was obvious he had a problem with one of his ears.  Cordelia, one of my dogs, would continuously clean Chaz’ ear, while Chaz would lie there seeming to enjoy the cleaning, grooming process.  I took Chaz to my vet and she found that he had a cancerous, inoperable tumor in his ear.  His health deteriorated and I had to have him euthanized on February 12, 2011.  


As Chaz was going through his illness, his brother Charlie, another sweet, extremely affectionate boy began losing weight much like Clark   He would lose weight, and then seem to recover and start putting some of the weight back on he had lost for a period, and then start losing weight again.  I took him to the vet on numerous occasions, had tests run again and again to no avail  X-rays, blood tests, nothing revealed what was causing the weight loss.  I had to force feed him from time to time, as well as give him sub-cutaneous fluids to keep him hydrated.  Finally, it became obvious that he wasn’t going to recover and his weight loss was decimating him.   I had often brought him to work with me, and everyone on staff fell in love with him.  He was happiest in someone’s arms.  I let him go and had him put down on June 14th, 2011.  

At that point, I had only 3 cats of the original 6 remaining.  Of those one had never become tame, Chandler.  Over the years, I had only managed to get a quick “pet” of him while he was eating.  Generally, If I got within about 3 feet of him, he would hiss and take off.  Courtney, one of Chaz’ and Charlie’s sisters who was among the three, had remained feral for the first year after joining my herd of cats.  Then, surprisingly, she lay on the edge of the bed, rolled onto her back and looked up at me, asking for a belly rub.  At the top of my can’t resist list is a kitty tummy.  Regardless of the potential danger, the soft fur of a kitty tummy is totally irresistible to me. From that moment on, I could pet her and love on her and she never failed to offer me her tummy for a rub.  


Courtney developed a snuffing noise during the time I was dealing with other seriously ill cats.  I assumed it was an upper respiratory problem, so I used a vaporizer to try to clear it up.  I tried a nebulizer, but neither did any good.  I took her to the vet, who insisted it was, in fact, an upper respiratory illness despite my insistence that wasn’t the problem.  In late 2011 she spent a week at the vet’s office, but she continued snuffling when I took her home.  I did some research on the internet, the vet did x-rays because I was certain she had a nasal tumor.  I ended up taking her to the area veterinary specialists, where they did a CAT scan.  Unfortunately, I was right.  She has nasopharyngeal carcinoma.   It was an inoperable, fatal condition.  She was fine for a while, but one morning she started having seizures.  I rushed her to the vet and had her euthanized.  That was on January 12, 2012.  

About a month or two after losing Courtney, Chandler began losing weight, much like Clark and Charlie had done.  After visiting two different vets, both of whom failed to diagnose either Clark’s or Charlie’s conditions, I saw no need to go through the frustration and enormous costs just to be told either “don’t know” or “can’t treat”. Chandler continued to eat, quite a bit, being the first cat with his head in a bowl of food.  As he continued to lose weight, I called my vet’s office to alert them that I would be dropping him off, explaining he was feral and would have to be sedated to be examined.  The problem?  I couldn’t catch him.  After making several attempts, I gave up.  Then one day, to my great surprise, he allowed me to pet him.  Within a week or two, he allowed me to pick him up, and even carry him around.  I took him into the vet and she postulated, due to feeling a mass in his abdominal region that he either had a kidney tumor or one in his spleen.  By this time he had lost a considerable amount of weight and certainly could not withstand a major surgery.  


I refuse to sanction surgeries to remove tumors, especially internal ones.  Every time I’ve had that done to other dogs or cats, the cancer spread like wild fire throughout their bodies.  I had put Cricket through 5 surgeries for mammary cancer, many years before.  After the 5th surgery, the tumors returned within 2 days.  The vet suggested subcutaneous fluids daily for Chandler after giving him an antibiotic injection. He lasted 2 weeks.  Although he ate a small amount yesterday morning before I left for work, and the fact that I knew his remaining time was very limited, I chose not to take him to the vet on Thursday to have him euthanized.  I wasn’t ready to give up and he didn’t seem to be ready either.  However, when I got home from work, it was obvious that it was time. He’d spent the day in a carrier.  When I first looked at him, lying with his head in a awkward, unnatural position, I feared he had died while I was at work.  He was alive but terribly weak, so I arranged to bring him to the vet in the morning.  It became obvious within the hour that he probably wouldn’t last the night.  He was uncomfortable and probably in pain. I took him to the nearest emergency clinic and had him euthanized.  At least, after 13 years of longing to touch him, pet him and hold him, I had the opportunity to do that for the final weeks of his life.  It was a special gift he gave me in the end that I will always treasure.  To hear him purr for me when I petted him and hold him was a reward that I shall always cherish.  

Little, petite Charlise, stunted by her early illness, remains the last of the group of kittens saved from a shorter, more difficult life on their own.  May she live many, many more years.  


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Religion vs Science, or Faith vs Reality

No matter where you get your news these days, radio, television, newspapers or online, at least one of the headlines has something to do with religion.  I am an agnostic, but I was raised in a non-dogmatic, Christian home.  My kindergarten was a Bible school, I attended Sunday School from 1st grade through my confirmation, when I then attended church.  I took lessons (Bible study classes) every Saturday for 2 years in preparation for confirmation in our church.  

Growing up, I questioned much of what I read in and was taught about the Bible.  One thing, however, stood out for me.  I don’t remember what grade I was in, but we were studying Greek mythology.  I was fascinated by it and the stories.  I remember some kids making fun of it, which bothered me.  I didn’t like the fact that they were ridiculing early Greek religion.  How would they feel if someone ridiculed their religion?  These weren’t Grimm’s Fairy Tales, they were the religious beliefs of a highly educated culture.  It was how the Greeks explained the unknown, which IMHO is just what religion is.  Scientific knowledge at the time of the Greeks’ golden age was limited.  

Another curriculum item that fascinated me was Science.  Learning about dinosaurs, the planets, the universe, atoms, electrons, neutrons – what’s not to love?  Explaining and understanding the world around me, science unlocked those doors and revealed the secrets to so many mysteries.  My love of science continues to this day because it better fulfills my need for knowledge and an understanding of the realities of life.  I learned early on that death is inevitable and often comes unexpectedly, so LIFE became much more precious.  

Needless to say the news about climate change denial, anti-contraception protests and laws, creationism vs. evolution, just to name a few is disconcerting, at the very least, and maddening at the worst.  Instead of adequately funding our public school system we spend billions on military spending and war.  Lawmakers and local school boards are trying to turn our public education over to for profit businesses using vouchers and by funding charter schools.  These groups are replacing text books teaching FACTS with text books filled with misrepresentations and outright lies.  High quality education is the bedrock of any country, civilization.  It reminds me of the Dark Ages when most of the world's population didn't go to school and couldn't read or write.  How better to dominate and exert control over the populace? 

I have no problem with the teaching of religious studies classes in schools; classes which teach students about all of the world’s religions.  However, religious beliefs don’t belong in science classes.  Most, if not all, religions have a creation story.  Yes, religion of all cultures strives to explain the world to its followers, but it is based on faith – NOT ON FACT AND NOT ON REALITY.  Since religious beliefs cannot be proven, nor can they be replicated (anyone bumped into a talking, burning bush lately or has James Dobson descended from the mountain top with a new set of commandments?).  Science is based on experiments, where results can be replicated.  Science is based on FACT.  Science is based on REALITY.  Sadly,  less than half of all Americans BELIEVE in evolution.  How can they if they aren’t taught about evolution and Darwin’s trip around the world where he saw the different sub-species of finches on each of the Galapagos Islands?  How can they if they don’t learn about carbon dating, which allows scientists to determine just how old the dinosaur bones they discover are?  Science decodes the mystery and magic that exists in the world around us.  It fosters not only a better understanding of the natural world, it fosters respect for the wonders of the natural world and why we must learn to live in harmony with all life on this planet.  Personally, I would rather protect the only home we and future generations have than bet there is a happily ever after in some mythical Heaven or Nirvana and that I will be granted permission to enter.  

For a much more eloquent and “enlightening” take on this subject, check out this piece from Common Dreams (  John Atcheson sees a return of the Dark Ages in this article.  And yes, I have feared a return to the Dark Ages for some time.  I’ve told many friends that I have long anticipated being burned at the stake.  Most of those persecuted as witches during the Inquisition and Dark Ages were older women who had cats and dared to be a bit more than contrary.  If that doesn’t describe me, I don’t know what does. 

And you can find more on The Burning Times here:

There is a reason that America's constitution clearly outlines a separation of Church and State, and does not permit the government to "endorse" or favor a national religion. Feel free to practice your personal religion and let me have my freedom from religion.  How about the believers practicing what they preach?  DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Another Cross-posting from Sky Dancing

I don't know how other bloggers out there put up daily posts, or even post a couple of times a week.  It takes me hours upon hours to find links for my post and then more hours to put it all together.  It's akin to writing a term paper on which I hope to get an A.  Old habits die hard, don't they?

So, I worked on the current post at Sky Dancing ( beginning Friday night and into Saturday, gathering links.  For you regular readers, you know the stories that interest me are a bit far flung.  This new post is no different.  Of course, it's primarily environment based along with posts about determined women and women who are being victimized by our patriarchal society.

I would be grateful if you would follow the link (again, this time directly to my morning post and check out the many stories that I've highlighted.  You can read the full stories at the words/phrases that appear in blue and are not underlined.

Hope to hear from ya'll with your thoughts on the stories that caught your interest.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Animal Matters

I'm going to save myself some time and energy.  I've spent a couple of hours last night and several this AM working on a new post for the Sky Dancing blog.  Let me just give you a link to that post and you can read it there.  It has gorillas, Elsa the lioness, African elephants, Leatherback sea turtles, and Dr. Sylvia Earle.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin Recall Election – My Take on it

My anticipation about Tuesday’s election was high.  My information about the how, why, when and what of this recall election came from the Left side of politics.  I generally avoid the blogs and the radio and television shows of the Right.  

I am pro-union because I am pro-worker.  No business can operate without employees, no business can succeed without employees.  Employees are a vital part of any business and are, all too often, dismissed or ignored when the success of owners and CEOs are applauded.  And unions give employees a voice in working conditions, employee safety, wages, health care and pensions.  Within large companies and/or corporations individual employees have relatively no chance to ensure their health and welfare, along with what they are paid.  That isn’t saying that employee versus employer is a good guy versus bad guy situation.  It is more like one person, with no weapons, facing another armed with guns, ample ammunitions, tanks, missiles and more.  Or even going into a poker game where one person is dealt a single card while the other has six cards.  It simply isn’t a level playing field.  

Regardless of what news outlet you follow, there have been a wide variety of speculations, theories and hypotheses about why the election turned out as it did.  Personally, I don’t think the outcome can be narrowed down to one single reason that Walker won the election or that Barrett lost. 
Walker is only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall.  The other two both lost and were recalled.  Each of the political pundits is feverishly competing to come up with the definitive explanation for this outcome.  Personally I think the bigger story is the solidification of the division between the opposing sides and the repercussions which will follow for, not only, the state of Wisconsin but the rest of the country as well.  Families and friendships have broken apart because of this battle.  For me it seems our  increasingly  contentious political system is becoming as toxic as the lead up to the Civil War and the animosity between those who supported slavery and the abolitionists.  

Initially, I felt certain that the imbalance of money in the election would be the determining factor in the election (Walker is estimated to have outspent Barrett 7 to 1).  After reading some of the post election coverage, I am not so sure that the enormous amount of money spent (estimated at $60 million) really had much impact on how people voted.  In one post ( it was pointed out that the vote split in the recall almost matched the initial faceoff between Walker and Barrett.  Basically the people of Wisconsin voted this time the way they voted in the governor’s race in 2010.  The undecided voters only amounted to about 8%, with new voters accounting for around 13%.  To me that means that those 8% were the only ones who might have been influenced by “the money” issue.  The article goes on to say that Walker managed to turn out a higher percentage of his original supporters than did Barrett.  

Recall elections are few and far between in the U.S., as evidenced by my earlier point that Walker is only the third governor in our history to face a recall election.  Several sources, including the one I’ve cited above, have put forth that about a third of people polled don’t support recall elections unless the politician has done something egregious, like committing a crime.  Their political affiliation doesn’t matter.  The seriousness of the offense is the concern of to the voting public regardless of political party.  What that says to me is that most voters believe in democracy, meaning the voters have chosen and the person with the most votes, whether or not you voted for him/her, is the winner.  Shut up, bite the bullet and let the winner serve out their term.  (NOTE:  I am not saying that I believe we actually live in a democracy, but that the general public believes in democracy and that our American system is a democracy……..because that is what they have been told.  The formerly and currently disenfranchised probably have a different perspective).   

Add to this that the opinion of unions, unlike in the mid 20th century, is mostly negative.  After about 50 years of chipping away at the number of American workers who belong to a union or have a union member in the family, the number of union workers has declined substantially.  Where once both union and non-union workers banded together in solidarity, it has become a mostly contentious relationship, where union workers are seen as greedy, lazy and recipients of unfair pay scales, benefits and pensions.  Big business has succeeded in demonizing the collective power of unions who were responsible for the 5 day 40 hours work week, minimum wage, paid sick time and the formation of OSHA to protect the safety of workers on their job.  For me, that is the story, not the fact that Walker successfully kept his job.  It’s the workers and employees of America  that are the losers in this race.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Well, well, well, young ladies, you have stepped over the line one too many times.  My previous scoldings, tongue lashings and hand slappings obviously haven’t worked.  From hence forth you shall only speak when spoken to.  When you do speak, you will utter only the words I tell you to speak.  You will only participate in activities that I have sanctioned.  You will associate only with people and groups who I have previously approved.  Everything you do, say and THINK will be monitored by my hand-picked lady-sitter.  You will learn to behave like the proper ladies I expect you to be.  You will LEARN YOUR PLACE in the world and you will REMAIN IN YOUR PLACE under threat of eternal damnation.  Why?  By what authority do I declare this mandate?  Because I am your Father, my authority comes directly from God, I AM IL PAPA, The Pope!

You are held to a standard set by God.  As a woman, you are born of Man as was Eve born from Adam’s rib.  You are not fully human.  Humanity applies only to men.  We were the first and we wield a mighty wand.  God put man on earth to control your uncontrollable, base nature.  Without our guidance you would sow destruction upon our earth.  Only through our beneficence can you possibly know God and do God’s work.  Only we know God’s mind, only we are inherently able to determine Right from Wrong, Good from Evil.  We are always on the side of Right and Good.  Only we have the God given ability to lead the world and keep people on the path of both Right and Good.  We are God’s perfect examples of how to live a Godly, Devout life…………………..unless, of course we see a lovely young boy and, occasionally, a particularly charming young girl.  Then it is incumbent upon us to share God’s love with them.  With young children, we can demonstrate the ecstasy of God’s love.  We can teach young boys the power that resides within the wand with which God gifted them.  


The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) have been roundly reprimanded by The Vatican, i.e. Pope Benedict for what he and Bishop Leonard Blair have determined that the Leadership:
“had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”  And these heretical women have focused too much of their time and efforts on the issue of poverty. 

You can read the full article here:

Apparently the pervasive perversion of pedophilic priests and the conspiracy by higher ranking authorities within the church (including the current Pope before he was “elected” to his position) weren’t horrendous, hypocritical nor outrageous enough for Catholics around the world to flee this faith.  I shouldn’t need to detail these crimes committed by priests against children, as well as those committed against church followers.  How these criminally perverted hypocrites could continue to preach to their parishioners about morality, values and purity of mind and body is beyond my understanding.  Certainly, it is the epitome of “Do as I say, not as I do.”  To stand in judgment, take confession of the people who looked to them for salvation is unconscionable.  For me, worse yet was the fact that church elders were well aware of the perverted activities of the priests and chose to either ignore it, cover it up or transfer the priest to another unwitting parish, where those priests would have a “fresh crop” of innocent children to molest.  There was no outrage, no condemnation of this widespread disease infecting the church.  In most cases the church attacked the victims instead.  However, now that women have dared to minister to the poor, to provide counsel and comfort to those in the LGBT community, to speak up for women’s health rights – this is what the Church finds truly outrageous.  This is something that DEMANDS Public Shaming.  No doubt, if the Church had the power in today’s world, these women would be trotted out into the public square, have their bodices ripped from them, tie them to a stake and whip them for the public to witness.  Alternately, they would probably like to lock them in a pillory so that the public could walk past them and pelt them with eggs, rotten tomatoes or even stones.  

What will it take for those who call themselves Catholic to fully reject this corrupt, evil organization?  The sacrificing of the lives of innocent children apparently wasn’t enough.  Will the public shaming and denunciation of nuns and women of faith who have generously served the physical and moral needs of individual people become the one that opens their eyes? 

UPDATE June 2 6:15 PM Eastern Time: Alternet ( has a lengthy post about this issue.  It's well worth reading, as well as encouraging.  Personally, I can only hope that the nuns will defeat The Vatican in this struggle.  Check it out here: