Friday, August 24, 2012

Heartbreak - Losing Zing and Raisin

I don't have any pictures of Zing and her single kitten Raisin.  They just showed up at the park mornings about a month ago.  It was then I began to see them at the top of the park under the hedges when I would slip the kibble plates up under there.  This is the area where Blabby and Greyboy hang out.

A view from the road of the hedge at the upper level of the park

Blabby up under the hedge

Zing looked a lot like Angie.  She was slight, petite, fine boned and orange.  She was young to be a mom.  She was very shy and submissive, but she would let me touch her while she ate.  Her kitten Raisin was just the opposite, very confident and friendly, and she would strut out from under the hedge before her mother.  Raisin looked like Arsinoe in coloring, but she was a rounder cat.  She was petite like her mom, Zing, but built more like Sophie - a small strong package, and also super silky like Sophie.  I wondered had Raisin been Sophie's littermate, and Zing her mom, and somehow Sophie had gotten away from them.

Raisin had the same coloring as Arsinoe pictured here

But Raisin was shaped more like Sophie pictured here, small and strong

Zing looked so much like Angie that I wondered if she was Angie, it had been so long since I had seen Angie, and Raisin's age looked about right for the time since Angie gave birth .  But when I went back to look at the pictures of Angie, I realized that Zing had white markings on her paws and under her chin that Angie didn't have; it wasn't her. 

Angie was solid orange - I haven't seen her in a long, long time

 Angie just before she gave birth

I had started bringing an extra pouch of kitten food for them to share up top under the hedge before I went down to feed the other cats at the feeding table, and a little premium kibble.  They gratefully ate it up together, but it was a difficult maneuver, because I am always struggling against the clock and daylight at the park, and often this summer I have been running late.  Mostly due to sheer tiredness, a lot of that due to the huge number of cats that have been showing up to eat at the park, the more hours I am spending there, the number of cats at our house, the heat, and so on. 

It's better if I can get to the park before sunrise
Just a fraction of the unprecedented number of cats who have been coming to the park to eat this summer

Also, it was difficult because I had to steer away the other hungry, waiting (sometimes not so patiently) cats from Zing and Raisin's special plate.  I had to police the the whole meal by standing guard over them or Blabby, Strike, and Baby would bat Zing and Raisin away and steal their food.  Zing and Raisin were clearly the new not yet completely welcome outsiders.  But Zing and Raisin never pressed it, being two of the most courteous cats I have ever known. 

At the end of last week, about Thursday, Raisin disappeared.  Because of their not completely welcome stature at the park I knew Zing and Raisin were crossing the street regularly to the empty field where they felt more secure.  The street is not far from the hedge.  I put the food there because it is one of the only places I can hide it up at the top level of the park.  I had seen them with my own eyes on the other side of the road opposite the park when driving by.  It made me shiver. 

The road in front of the park, the lower park is just over and below that brown railing

A view of the railing from inside the park, down this grassy slope is the lower level

I kept hoping that Raisin would reappear.  I told myself that she was so friendly, maybe one of the visitors to the park or diners at the concession had fallen in love with her and picked her up to take her home.  I hoped so. 

The park concession seen here, sleepy over the winter, now teems with people

The cars parked this summer for the concession

So Zing was now alone. The last couple of times I saw her, because Raisin wasn't there, and I was running late, I only put some premium kibble down for her, and then dashed off to the lower level to feed the others.  It is rare I do this, but sometimes I do.  I always try to tell myself that this may be the last time I ever see any one of the cats, and always to treat it as such.  But these last two times with Zing I didn't, and I regret it. 

Regret is a bitter pill.  The last time I saw Zing alive was Sunday morning.  Sunday late afternoon Nik and I went grocery shopping and passed by the park.  I always hold my breath when we pass by the park because I never know if I am going to see one of the cats we care for dead in the road.  I always try to to be mindful of this possibility, so I am not caught off guard, so I can beef up and put my armor on.  This time Nik and I were talking and I was feeling a little carefree - a foolish feeling if there ever was one - and I was late to get a hold on myself, because as soon as I began to be aware of my forgetfulness, I saw Zing lying lifeless on the field side of the road, and it was too late.  We pulled over.  I broke down.  I cursed.  Then I pulled myself together and picked her up, kissed her, and place her inside a shrub where we would come back later to pick her up on our way home from the market, take her home and bury her.  We buried her in our front garden next to Zsa Zsa, Aurora, Fortune, and Tweets.

Nik burying Zing Sunday night

Monday morning I saw the remainder of the premium kibble I had put down for her.  I wondered if she had been crossing the street back to the field after going to the park to eat.  I wondered if a similar fate had beset Raisin, and that was why she disappeared.  I wondered if maybe Raisin was still alive somewhere, maybe somewhere near the park. and she would show back up one day.  I looked for her all week but I haven't seen her. 

It's true last weekend was the high weekend of the summer for Cypriots to visit the seaside.  August 15th marks the day of feasting at the end of a two week fast for the Dormition of the Theotokos, or The Falling Asleep of the Mother of God, and the beginning of a Cyprus week long holiday when nearly everything closes down.  August 15th this year was on a Wednesday.  The following weekend there was more traffic, more cars, and more visitors to the concession at the park by the sea here in our village than ever.  It didn't go unnoticed by us that this was the weekend Zing died. 

Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos

Friday, August 10, 2012

Trapping Hamlet

We were able to trap Hamlet last night, which is good because we could get him into the doctor today to see to his health problems, and hopefully take care of his infection.

We trapped sick Hamlet last night

The hardest part of trapping Hamlet wasn't getting him to go into the trap, it was getting him to go into the trap alone. 

Hamlet in our neighbor's garden

Because there has been a adorable new young cat - really, an older kitten - that has been coming to our garden for the last week.  Here she is - we've named her Slipper:

Here little Slipper is peering into our garden from our neighbor's garden.  :)

She is particularly friendly with Hamlet, which is odd, because he is quite a bit older than her, and we are pretty sure she is too young to be in heat.  Whenever she is here, and he is here, she goes to rub up against him and is very affectionate with him.  Well, as we were trying to trap Hamlet, he would go into the trap, but Slipper kept going into the trap with him, so that was a bit of a problem.

Alone at last

But it finally worked out, and we got him alone. Nik took Hamlet up to Nicosia today on his way to work, and dropped him off with our vets, George and Christina, to be tended to. 

This morning Hamlet was off to see the vets

Slipper didn't get to go

Hamlet did

The good thing was when he finally settled down after initially being trapped, he finished off the food in the trap.  :)  That's a good sign because he still has his appetite. 

"Wish me well."

We wish you well, Hamlet. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Hamlet is a cat that originates from over at the maisonettes.  Nik got this photo just before Hamlet  started showing up at our house.  He thought this might have been Mikey's Mom, but when I took a good look at the picture, I was pretty sure this was a Tomcat.  There is a possibility he is Mikey's Dad though.

Hamlet is from the maisonettes

 The maisonettes are circled in red

Could Hamlet be Mikey's Dad? 
For a Tomcat in the summer season, he was awfully nice to the other cats who come to our garden to eat, which is highly unusual.  When we coupled that with how poorly he looked, we started thinking he might be sick.

Our friend Ron, who helped us build our balcony pet enclosure, told us about a friendly Tomcat he and his wife Ann named Tiger, who started coming to his house and was very sick.  When he got Tiger to the vet, they found he had feline pneumonia.  From the way Ron described Tiger's symptoms to us, they sound a lot like Hamlet's.

Hamlet is quite ill
We are going to try and trap Hamlet so we can get him to a vet and get him some medicine.  He is eating (he loves full fat yogurt), but it is a struggle for him because of his labored breathing, and he is awfully thin.  We are concerned about him, because feline pneumonia is a life threatening disease that can progress quickly.  We had hoped to trap him this morning but he didn't show up, so we will try again tonight. 

Please keep Hamlet in your prayers.  He is terrified of us, quite ill, and probably quite young.

Thank you. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In the Absence of Ideal Solutions, We Take Rosie and Fuzz to the Shelter

We decided to take Rosie and Fuzz to the shelter at the end of last week. 

Fuzz and Rosie in the carrier before their journey to the shelter

It was a hard decision, and we are not entirely comfortable it it.  It came down to weighing up the options, though none of them presently available was ideal. 

Rosie and Fuzz came from the Park

It would be nice if we were weighing up between good and better.  But in the absence of people willing to step forward and offer homes to these cats, and because we do not have the appropriate land for a sanctuary yet, and because our house is full, it seems always to come down to weighing up between bad and worse. 

Taking them to the shelter is not what we wanted

I had started picking Rosie and Fuzz up and putting them on the table to feed in the mornings, because I wanted them to get used to being handled, so they could be adoptable.  They weren't thrilled with the idea of being picked up at first, but it wasn't long at all before they both warmed up to the idea, seeing as how it meant they would get special delicious kitten food that they wouldn't have to fight for, and they no longer had to worry about being pushed away from their plates by Baby's older kittens (who seem to have bottomless stomachs). 

Getting to know Fuzz

Soon after they got accustomed to being handled, they started meeting me up at the top of the park with the other older cats in the morning.  This upper area is a lot closer to the dangerous seafront road.  This development started making us even more nervous than we already were for their safety. 

Many of the cats meet me at the upper level of the park in the morning

How we would have loved to have brought them home with us to live! 

Seeing how quickly they were growing, and knowing the preference of people for kittens over cats, we decided Rosie and Fuzz's best chance to be adopted would be at the Paphiakos Shelter, whose policy is a no kill one for cats - before they get any older. 

The kittens at the park are growing up fast

Fuzz has grown a lot

But being the smallest they often get pushed away from the food plates - that's Rosie in the middle

Soon after we took them to the shelter, two friends told us they would be euthanized there.   There are many rumors about shelters and it is difficult to seperate fact from fiction.  And animal lovers can understandably fear the worst.  But Paphiakos has assured and reassured us they have a no kill policy for cats.  They cannot say the same for dogs. 

We trust that they are telling us the truth at Paphiakos and we trust that Rosie and Fuzz will be safe there, safer than they will be at the park where the cars are a danger, illness is a danger, and poisoning is always a fear.

We are still searching for affordable property in the area for a private sanctuary, and we have found another piece recently that is relatively affordable, but our reservation is it will not be big enough, being only 2.5 skalas as compared to the 5-6 we really need for the number of cats we are intent on relocating. 

We are still looking for agricultural land for a sanctuary for the cats - this one at 5 skala is perfect, but very expensive at about 350,000 USD

But until the day comes we are able to afford and secure an appropriate piece of land, we are unfortunately forced now to decide between bad and worse. 

We have 27 cats in the house at the moment right now, and more living outside

I miss seeing them every morning a lot.  I know Squiggles misses them, too.  I have not been able to get Squiggles to warm up yet to a touch.  If I had we would have kept the three of them together.

Squiggles misses Rosie and Fuzz

Playing at the park

It often adds up like this for us:

WORST:  We could leave them on the streets where they can be killed by cars, poisonings, or cat flu

BETTER:  We could take them to a safe shelter where they have a chance (even if small) of being adopted.  They will be cared for, we trust, for the remainder of their natural life. Kittens will have the best chance of adoption in this situation.

BETTER:  We can still hope for foster homes.

BETTER STILL:  We can go forward and build a sanctuary where we will relocate and look after the cats with appropriate space, also making them available for adoption to qualified homes.  We plan on doing this in any case, God willing.

IDEAL/BEST : We can find suitable, loving, safe, stable and permanent homes for all of the cats.

We ask for your prayers for Fuzz and Rosie that they will be well looked after at the shelter, and will be able to stay together and make many friends, and that a kind and loving person will adopt them both and give them the loving, permanent home they deserve. 

Please pray Rosie and Fuzz will find a good home

It wasn't a happy day to take them to the shelter. It was a sad day.  And we don't feel great about our decision.  But we would feel even worse if something happened to them at the park such as happened to Zsa Zsa or Tweeny or Tweets, or all the others we lost before we started this blog.  For now, that is what it comes down to for us, deciding between two not so hot options.


They are the first of the street cats we care for that we have ever taken to a shelter.

It was a difficult day.

BTW  Paphiakos is collecting cans for recycling to raise money for their shelter.  If you live in Cyprus, please save your cans for them and see their home page for drop off points.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mikey's Sibling - One of the Missing Kittens

The first day we heard Mikey's cries, we heard other siblings crying as well.  One voice originally came from across the dangerous seafront road we live on; one we could hear was farther down the neighborhood, along the same road, but getting smaller and smaller.  We don't know what happened to that kitten.  Then we heard one coming from under my car.  This could have been the same one who we heard across the road, and it crossed the road (whoa!).  Or it could have been a fourth kitten.  We don't know.  But the kitten that was under our car we do know is now living in a lumber pile over at the maisonettes, and though we have seen it, and have been feeding it, we have not been able to catch it. 

The kitten that was under our car

Mikey's sibling now living under a pile of lumber alone

These pictures we took the other night.

This little kitten is awfully young to be on its own and alone for so long.  Little Mikey is so needy, it is hard to imagine how this kitten is coping with all its stress and no comfort of a mother, or the nutrients of its mother's milk. 

Too young to be alone

and likely very afraid

On a more positive note, this kitten has been eating the food we have been putting out for it and that is good. The other positive thing is that it is staying put and not wandering around in dangerous places like the road, also enabling us to know where to put the food.   (Also please know, I am referring to the kitten as "it" because we have no idea at this point if it is a he or a she, not because we think of it as an it.)