Friday, March 30, 2012

Tweets Delivers and the Bette Davis Geneology

Just after Baby had her kittens up at the park (and here), Tweets had hers in our neighborhood.  I could tell when I saw her at Sammy's the other night, that she was sporting a new trim waistline.

A very pregnant Tweets

Tweets now, en guarde
I wasn't sure where she had them until I saw her guarding a gate at the empty lot across the street and a couple of doors down from Sammy's - a lot that at the moment is filled with yellow wild flowers, as it is every year at this time.  The owner sends a bulldozer to bulldoze once a year when it gets overgrown.  I just pray he waits long enough for Tweets to wean her kittens.

The field where Tweets chose to have her kittens

Tweets was Bette's kitten from two summers ago.  I only met her last summer, but I got the story form Sammy's daughter.  Tweets was an adult when I met her, and I was sure she had been spayed, like Amber, by someone else in the neighborhood, because she never got pregnant.  I was dead wrong and was shocked to find her pregnant this year.  We blew that one royally.  But we can't say that, because it's life, and new life at that, and it is a gift, and we will welcome her kittens, and any and all kittens, and and any and all new life, as we welcome the spring flowers.

There was, until recently, another couple renting in our complex who were kind to cats.  We were sure they were the ones to spay Amber, and Tweets, but obviously we were wrong about Tweets.  And the thing is, we could have easily picked up Tweets and taken her straight in, because she is perfectly friendly; there would have been no need for a trap.

When Sammy's daughter comes to Cyprus she feeds the neighborhood cats, which many vacationers in Cyprus do, and lets them in her dad's house, which is how they get so friendly.  She asked me last summer, when she left, to look after Bette Davis, Bette's last litter, Theo and Minnow, and Bette's past kitten, Tweets.  Simultaneously, Sammy asked me to look after his pool while he was abroad, which is how the feeding station at Sammy's started. 

Meanwhile, back at our house, Amber had called our newly rented garden her own, and the more I got to know Bette and Amber, the more I began to suspect Amber had been one of Bette's kittens, from a litter even earlier than when Bette had Tweets. 

Bette Davis

Amber Davis??

But one day last summer, I went to feed the kittens, Theo and Minnow, at Sammy's, and both had disappeared, along with Bette.  It wasn't until many days later that I saw Minnow drag herself up to the feeding station with a broken leg and bite marks in her tiny neck.  Considering it an emergency, I picked her up and took her to the neighborhood vet, the one who does sheep and goats, and he told me while simultaneously talking on his cell phone, watching television, and examining Minnow on his waiting room coffee table,  that Minnow's leg was not broken.  Well, it was obvious it was!  So we then took her up to Niccosia to our wonderful vets George and Christina who recognized right away she had a broken leg. 

MInnow last summer with her broken leg; George and Christina,  our vets, said she looked like a little soldier coming back from war.  She deserves The Red Badge of Courage!

Minnow now, in an awesome photo taken by Nik.  She is still a very tiny, fragile cat

Here's a drawing I did of Minnow:

Minnow - Too Small to Catch

So that is how Minnow came to live with us.  I was on the lookout for Bette and Theo ever after, and I next saw Bette when she, late one night, dazed, stumbled up to our house drooling profusely and unable to eat, and we thought she had been poisoned.  We took her to an emergency vet in Limassol who told us it was a bad tooth, pulled it, and sent her home with us with a course of antibiotics.  So that is how Bette Davis came to take over the Master Bedroom.  BTW, When we took her in for spaying, we found out that she could be up to 4 years old, an astoundingly old age for a street cat!  Bette doesn't really get along with the other cats in the house, or take kindly to anybody getting on her bed, so we ration her time out of the bedroom.  Ahem.   Here's Bette :)

We had about given up on seeing Theo again when one day he leaped triumphantly over the fence into our yard, put himself under our feet so we constantly tripped over him, and now we are still tripping over him, only in our house.  :)

Theo "Underfoot", as Nik calls him :)  He's a real Mama's boy, but a tough, husky young cat, unlike his sister Minnow.  Theo is short for Thiriou - or strong beast, in Greek
Here is a drawing I did of Theo:

Sweet Theo

So, in review, we see that Tweets current litter, who we have not met yet, are Bette Davis' grand kittens, and Amber is Tweet's Aunt.  We think.  It's the best we can figure.

PS  One more thing about this family:  They all have an awesome left hook, claws like fish hooks, and an uncanny ability to get through a door before you can.  I dare anyone to try and beat them!!

Theo and MInnow sleeping together

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Our House, is a Very Very Very Fine House

Come on in!
I thought it was about time we introduced you to the cats living inside our house.  This morning it was full of activity, particularly on the kitchen counter.  Generally anywhere we go where there is a surface, there are cats.  I haven't been to the bathroom alone in a year and a half. 

From left, Solo, Charity, and Bashful - oh yeah, and that's Muji in the forground :)

Here, where there should be a dining table, there are cats - from left Fantasia, Felicity, and Miss Marbles

 When making dinner in this house; you'll have a lot of help

This is Bashful, aka Bashers - Hello Bashers!

 We interrupt this program for a service announcement: Solo wants to say hello.  Hello Solo!
Charity is a Turkish Van.  He can't see with his eyes, but he lets us know what he wants with his paws and his very cute voice, and he wants to say hello, too.  Hello Charity!
So who all's in the background?

This is Fantasia.  She's a Turkish Van like Charity.  Hello Fantasia!  And who's behind her?

 This is Miss Marbles, too bad you can't see her gorgeous green eyes, but she's busy right now.  Hi Marbles!

Here we have Felicity Greyscale, better known as Flissy.  Flissy likes to talk.  Hi Flissy!

And here's Theo, who looks like he stepped out of a Picasso painting.  Hi Theo!

This is Rufus, our eldest, but he's resting right now on Muji's bed.  Hi Rufus!

And now we're upstairs, and here's Minnow, Theo's sister.  Hello Minnow!

And here's Minnow and Theo's mom, Bette Davis. - named thusly because she has a little vinnegar in her personality.  Hi Bette!

And this is Secret on my dresser.  She has a secret, which I can't tell you.  Hi Secret!

Here is Cindy, from the park.  She and Solo have a lot in common.  They are CURIOUS!!  Hi Cindy!

Now, let's see.  Is there anyone we left out?  Oh yeah, our quiet never do anything wrong kitties. 

Swatchee was sleeping and I didn't want to wake him.  Hi Swatchee!  Swatchee is on our welcoming comittee.

And dear little Krystallos in her bobby socks :).  Krystallos loves everyone.  Hi Krystallos!

And don't forget Muji.  We have a dog, too, and he could use some moral support.  Hi Muji!

Yep, that's it. 14 cats and one dog. 

 "Holy smokes!"

You want to play Where's Waldo again?  I love that game.  OK, how many cats and dogs do you see in this picture?

7 cats, 1 dog :)

Thanks for stopping in!  This was just a meet and greet.  We'll get to know everybody better later on.  It's a very fine house. We live with some very fine friends and we like it very much.

PS  Nik pointed out that there are actually 4 dogs in the picture, if you count the 3 in the painting behind the television.  Very clever Nik, see, that is why I married him!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jazzy's Injury

I woke up today to find Jazzy has a new injury, he looks pitiful, and can't eat. Jazzy is a feral cat who you may remember we neutered just recently. He was always a visitor, but he has recently become an outdoor resident, keeping company with Mandy and Morris, and sleeping with Morris in my car.

I woke up to find Jazzy in trouble again, this time a mouth injury

But this morning I noticed his mouth is injured and I don't know what to do. I could try trapping him but he has always proved to be too clever for the trap.  He needs medical attention, particularly because he is not able to eat.  I can see that he wants to, but it must hurt, and so he stops just as he draws close to the food.  I tried milk, too, hoping something softer would help, but he couldn't lap that up either.

I feel so much for Jazzy, because he has already lost one eye to an eye infection, and he has had such a hard life.  It is hard to believe only last summer he was a fresh new kitten, and then grew into a gorgeous, spunky young cat, because now he looks so tired and beat up and old, and he is only about a year old. 

I saw the trouble starting with his eye, last summer, but we didn't have a trap at the time, and when we finally found someone (Paphiakos Animal Charity Shop in Larnaca - thank you!) who loaned us one, we could not catch him.  So we just helplessly sat back and watched the eye get worse and worse.  It makes you crazy when a feral cat is ill and you can't help them because they don't trust you.  So many cats needlessly die this way, of cat flu, and a whole host of injuries.

Jazzy lost an eye to an infection and we were unable to help him

The cats outdoors are so mean to eachother, it is saddening.  Once they are spayed and neutered they get along well, given a little time, and naturally become friends, but once a new cat shows up that is not spayed or neutered, and is over confident, the trouble starts.  Yesterday, Surprise was attacking Amber, attacking Mandy, and attacking Morris.  For all I know she did this to Jazzy.  And it is hard to believe because Surprise is the sweetest, most affectionate cat.  But there are male Toms around, too, who only show their face on rare occasions, and every time brave Jazzy meets the challenge.  So it could have been one of them, too, who hurt him. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Looking for Land, a Pipe Dream?

For weeks now we have been looking for the ideal piece of agricultural land in our area to purchase, well off a main road, 

Muji helps me out;  "a road like this is about all me and the cats can handle, Mom"
so we can build a wooden house, and relocate the cats we alter and assist to live there with us.  Most of the cats are in imminent danger of the seafront road, and it would be wonderful to provide them with sanctuary.  This is our dream, anyway, so we have set about to make it come true.
What that will involve, we don't know.  Maybe we will just find the perfect piece of land, build a house on it, bring the homeless and feral cats there, and feed them and look after them.  Maybe it will turn into something more, a charitable foundation, and land and sanctuary we could leave behind in a trust for the animals.  Nik and I don't have children, and whatever we leave behind we would like to leave for the animals and the Church.  We have even thought of turning it into an artist colony as well, where artists from all over the world could come, pay a small lodging charge for a seasonal stay, and help out with the animals.  Artwork is a great way to raise money for charity - and artists are notoriously charitable.  There are many ideas running through our heads, including operating a luxury kennel on part of the land  I owned a pet sitting business in the states, but here kenneling is more in demand, so that's an idea.

the perfect piece of land and not far from the sea, maybe artists would like to come and lodge?

Where we are there is a great deal of agricultural land situated behind us.  This land is less expensive and the build factor is less (only 10%), than land zoned for building plots for houses (25-110%).  You can build a house on agricultural land, but it must be deemed a movable structure.  A wooden house fits that bill.  You can also have animals on specific agricultural land that is zoned for animals.  That fits our bill as well.

it's mostly farmland behind us

one of the agricultural fields behind our complex

So we have spent part of our weekends for the last couple of months looking at land - land for rent and land for sale in and near our village.  As anyone who lives in Cyprus knows, people ask outrageous and unrealistic prices for the land here, just sending out feelers to see what they can get for it, perhaps not even being serious about selling or needing to sell it.  This is a problem when you are looking for properties, because you have no idea what the real prices they have in mind are, and you don't want to pay too much!  In addition, the banks are rather arbitrary in their valuations and possibly open to shenanigans.  And then you have the problem of "Black Money" which is illegal, but many Cypriots require.  There is also the problem of obtaining title deeds to the property, because the seller may not even have them himself!  Lastly, the inspections here are minimal and often nominal.

Cyprus is a country where the natives are land rich, cash poor, and the citizens happily live off credit.  They are really in no need of selling their land.  This compounds the problem for the foreign buyer who usually comes here with no land, little cash, and no desire to run up credit.

It is so different in the United States.  It is difficult if not impossible to overprice a piece of land, because for one thing, no agent there will waste his time trying to sell an overpriced piece of land.  They have too many other pieces to sell, and they do indeed work for their money there, (unlike here where you are lucky if an agent even calls you back).  And, also, no bank is foolish enough to value a piece of land at more than it is worth, for their own safety.  And, thirdly, you have something called "comparables" or "comps" you can rely on to know if the property you are interested in is fairly priced, and so you have a firm hope that when you sell your house you will get your money back.    So there are many fail-safes in the United States.  The problems experienced in the housing market there recently originated from a different problem; that is, loaning people more money than they could afford to pay back, enabling them to buy houses they could not afford.

To give you some idea of the discrepancy in prices of agricultural land we have found in our village alone, we have been given prices which vary from 18,000 per skala to 80, 000 per skala.

6 skala atop this hill are for sale, but he is asking 80,000 Euro per skala

This piece is 5 skala and he is asking 60,000 Euro per skala, and it has water

this 10 skala piece is a little further out, has water, but no electricity, and he is asking 18,000 per

Another option is renting a field; we have been offered one 5 year lease and one 10 year lease on two plots of land and the rent is cheap.  Our biggest expenses would be building the house and supplying water and electricity to the property, which is expensive for land which is not an investment, but still not as expensive as some of these properties for sale.  And then we would have to either leave the house behind when the lease was up and forfeit it, find a way to take it apart and take it with us, or work out a deal with the property owner to leave him the house in exchange for a discount on our rent.

One other very important thing to consider when shopping for fields is whether hunting is allowed in the area.  Even where it is not, you will often find hunters shooting unchecked by the local authorities.  We do not want to be in a hunting area.

Muji says no to a hunting area
So, these are our options at the moment.  We have gone far beyond the land for sale signs, which ususally indicate a high sell price, to talking to a local farming goods supplier;  he knows the farmers well, and hears first of who wants to sell.  He has been a great help to us.  It seems word of mouth is the way to go when looking for property in Cyprus.

Any thoughts? Opinions? Advice? Experience?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Releasing Bugsy and Mustafa and a Stop at Sammy's

We released Bugsy and Mustafa just a little while ago.  It is the first time I remember us having to coax the cats out of the cages.

Bugsy was scared and didn't want to come out

As soon as I walked around the back of the cage, though, he shot out - so fast we couldn't even get a picture.  But it was very worrying because he ran across the parking lot into the street.  We tried to let him go in an area we knew he was familiar with, but it was our fault for not taking him farther down into the park.  We learned a big lesson tonight. 

Mustafa as well was reluctant to come out:
Nik tries to get Mustafa to come out

When he finally did, he disappeared into this brush faster than we could catch it. 

Sonata was near by

We are not sure which of the black cats we feed this is - it could be Mystery, or it could be Braveheart
Because Mustafa bolted, these two cats ended up getting his treat
On the way home we stopped at Sammy's to fill the food bowls and change the water, and we ran into Amber.  Amber has been living in the neighborhood for at least a couple of years.  She was spayed by somebody, not us, before we met her.  She had taken up residence at our house last summer until the last months when mating season started and so many new cats started coming to our house to feed, and then she was scared off.  Since then she has been feeding mostly at Sammy's, but she is not happy about it.  She used to sleep with Sylvia in my car, and they became great chums; I know she misses that.  She's lost a lot of weight since then and has been showing a lot of insecurity.  I worry about her.  I worry about all the cats.

Here she is at Sammy's tonight:
Amber at Sammy's looking at the biggest slug either of us has ever seen.

 Sylvia, Amber's friend

 Amber and Sylvia together last summer in our garden

So we made some mistakes tonight, and it is disheartening.  We will know in the future what to do differently.  We have never had difficulties with release before, and we weren't prepared for what happened.