Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Remember this little kitten? 

Mikey's Sibling - One of the Missing Kittens

This was Mikey's once missing sibling who we found and were feeding up under a pile of lumber at the maisonettes.

Soon after we started feeding him, I was able to pick him up and place him in a carrier before he knew what happened, and bring him home to reunite him with Mikey Tyson. It was a glorious day.  We were so relieved because we were really worried about him. 

We thought he was a girl for a long time, and named him Orangini - oops - which we shortened to Gini - now that we know he's a guy, we still call him Gini. 

Here is Gini now:


Gini loves to play in this laundry basket from IKEA

Cute, round Gini -wini

Gini is in front, brother Mikey is behind

a little muffin

Actually, he's grown quite a bit since these pictures, and so has Mikey.  Thay are fabulous playmates and the best of friends.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hundreds of Felines Take Over Park

Here is a link to a story on Fox News where a cat population at a park in the USA is getting out of hand.  I commend the volunteers in Hawaii who are working very hard out of pocket to manage the population and solve the problem humanely.  I also commend the patience of the community who are not particularly happy about the problem.

Here also is a story of another community in the United States who has come together to solve a similar problem.  The kudos here go to KittyFixers and the wonderful residents of community of Southfield, Michigan.

We need people to come together like this in Cyprus, and we need to educate our communities and ask for their help in solving and managing the problem.  I know there are isolated individuals doing what they can in their villages, but we need to come together in a more coordinated manner with manpower and a vision all over the island so we garner more support, both on the ground and financially .  Nik and I are quite overwhelmed at the moment and estimate we are feeding about 100 cats daily.  We are in desperate need of funds for spaying and neutering and veterinarians who will help us with reduced rates, or we could easily end up with a similar situation at our own park.

many of the new young cats
at the park are nearing adulthood

some of the cats from
 our park feeding station

Wanda, an unaltered female from the park

If you have any ideas, and/or can offer help please contact us. If you live in our area and would like to offer help on the ground, please contact us. If you would like to donate food, cans and kibble, please contact us. If you know of any veterinarians who can help us with reduced rates, please contact us. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Please Move the Deer Crossing - Road Ecology

I was attacked by a deer once.  I was volunteering at a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center which was very understaffed.  It relied on volunteers, and, well, the lady who ran it wasn't very nice, and she would run the volunteers off.  So the problem was there were tons of animals and very few volunteers.  She had wild animals not just on her acres and acres of land, but also running around in her house.  There was a young lion in there.  And some other really cute miniature deer-like creature that she kept crated like a dog when she was out.  He looked like a Min Pin with antlers. 

So sometimes the animals hadn't been fed regularly, and they would be really hungry.  There was an enormous deer pen in the woods that we would have to enter to feed the deer, and one very hungry buck could not wait for me to pour out the bucket of food.  So he reared up on his hind legs and gave me quite a beating with his hooves.  His blows landed on the back of one arm and shoulder, and I am really lucky he didn't hit my head.

Bambi he was not.  I got a lecture the next time I saw my vet about wild animals, but after my beating I needed no convincing.  They can be dangerous.  I drove home from my beating that day and for the first time I saw a hunter's deer tied to the back of his car and I didn't get all mushy.  I thought, "Dang, I know now you were no Bambi. "

Anyway, this audio is kind of funny, but it's kind of not. It's a phonecall to a North Dakota radio show where the woman calling was under the impression that the deer crossing signs on the interstates and highways were there for the deer and not the drivers:

I'm posting it because it is kind of humorous, but also because I believe animals and people being killed by cars in the roads is a problem we can find a solution for, and I just want to send out a little inspiration. Who knows? Maybe you know somebody who designs cars, or designs roads, and you can get them to thinking. I would at least like to get the conversation started. I believe people are endlessly creative and I don't believe we have to settle for solutions that only benefit animals or only benefit people. I think we can come up with something that can benefit us both. Call me an idealist.

I had a friend back in Art School who used to say we should make cars out of nerf ball material (NERF = Non-Expanding Recreational Foam). Then we could just bounce off eachother when we collided. I thought that was a pretty cool idea. Nerf Balls came out when I was a kid and they were designed with the idea that kids could throw a ball in their Mom's house without worry of breaking her valuables, or outside without worry of breaking your neighbor's window.

But I think the real problems for small animals is the tires.

Yesterday, walking Muji, I saw two cats who had been killed by cars. And these were on dirt roads back in the farmland behind our house. One was just a kitten. These were not busy roads, but sometimes that is even more dangerous for the cats, because they will sit in the middle of them with a false sense of safety, not realizing a speeding farmer may come barrelling down them. So check this out. I did a search for "making roads safer for animals and people" and this came up. Road Ecology: Making Roads Safer for Animals and Humans.

Road Ecology?  Who knew?

Check this out:

"Banff wildlife ecologist Tony Clevenger sees the high cost of wildlife crossings as a design problem and initiated the ARC Competition as a response. His colleagues at the Western Transportation Institute, together with the Woodcock Foundation, invited interdisciplinary teams to design wildlife overpasses for West Vail Pass, which is along a stretch of I-70 passing through the Rockies 100 miles west of Denver, and to compete for a $40,000 honorarium. The crossings would serve populations of black bear, bighorn sheep, lynx, bobcat, elk, coyote and deer inhabiting the national forests divided by the freeway. Five finalist teams — chosen from a pool of 36 — developed solutions that were not only materially and functionally innovative, but also cost-effective."

Well, it looks as though the conversation has already started.  Maybe you could keep it going in your area. 

Here are some more links:

Science2.0 - Road Ecology: An Often Overlooked Field Of Conservation Research

Road Ecology Center at UCDavis

Toronto Zoo - Toronto Road Ecology Group

And  here is an example of  "critter crossings" for badgers from The Netherlands.  The article says the crossings have been very successful:

"In fact, badger tunnels in the Netherlands have been so effective it is now standard procedure to consider them for every new highway project."

That's great news.  I am convinced the sad problem of our beloved pets, ferals, and wildlife becoming roadkill can be solved. And I believe we can make cars and roads safer for people, too.

You know, just in case they can't read the signs.

Available at
We need one of those.

PS The safest place for cats is in your home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Movin' On

We've spent the last months cat proofing the house.  We built our balcony pet enclosure so we would have more room for everyone and the indoor cats could get some fresh air.  We also sold some furniture and then replaced it with some that would be easier to clean.

Wood and plastic are our friends.

Glass and wicker, not so much.

Of course when we were just about done, after we had hung our last storage cabinet at a height that the cats would find suitable for perching, we got a call from our landlords that they had sold the house.

Ain't that just the way?  And I predicted this!  I said, "Nik, as soon as we have gotten things just the way we want them, they will sell the house."  And sure enough they did.

This house has been for sale for years.

We were very lucky, very lucky, to almost immediately find another house just a few minutes away.  My greatest concern was being too far away from our feeding stations, but thankfully now we will be close enough.

Movin' on

We have a couple of concerns, but mostly we are looking forward to the move.  The house is a little bigger, we will be away from this horrible road/raceway we are on, and we will be on agricultural land which is a step closer to our goals.  Any Emmylou fans out there?

Well, Emmy, we're movin' on, too.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ants and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails or What Summer Feedings Are Made Of

OK, well, not exactly.  But it rhymed.  Summer feedings are actually made of ants and slugs and puppy dog tails... and hedgehogs.  Winter feedings are made of rain, snails, and more ants.

Ants are people, too, so we don't like to kill them

We used to fight the ants vigorously by trying to outsmart them.  We fought them with particular gusto outside at our house and over at Sammy's (where there is paving) with chalk lines.  They worked for a time, but we had to keep drawing them because the cats unintentionally would wipe them away with their paws.  Being an artist, I eventually ended up drawing elaborate and sometimes seasonal pictures around the bowls.  I graduated to a box of colored chalk and grew in discrimination until I became a connoisseur of different brands of colored chalks.  The best chalks were the softest ones and became stubs quickly.  I bought a lot of chalk, a lot of chalk, but, no worries, chalk, like talk, is cheap and one of the last great deals on earth along with potatoes.

Sylvia with one of my faded chalk masterpieces ;)

But then there was this great revolt.  Suddenly the ants didn't care about our chalk lines anymore.  They started storming right over them.  They were like bacteria that mutated and developed a stubborn resistance to our antibiotics.  It made us crazy. We've tried many things since then: cinnamon, lemons, towels, little towers and moats, and they have overcome them every time.

The slugs are gross and leave their trail over the food and bowl.  They are very determined and not as slow as you think.  We have seen some seriously fat ones.  They will hang out all summer if there is a sprinkler nearby.

That huge thing on the bottom right is a slug.  Even Amber, pictured here over at Sammy's, is grossed out.

Snails are a winter problem.  They are fast little creatures when they know where they are going and think no one is around.  As soon as we go outside after the first fall rain (Cyprus is dry all summer), they will be everywhere.  It will be hard to walk our dog Muji without stepping on one if not fifty if not a hundred.  It's a horrible feeling to step on a snail.  We try to walk around them.

There is no shortage of snails in Cyprus.  This guy will be waking up soon.

Soon the snails will be a mighty force to contend with at the feeding stations.  They will have to be plucked out and un-suctioned off when we are wiping and filling the bowls, and they will hide under the rims where they think we will never find them.

Hedgehogs hibernate in winter but often come to the feeding stations in summer.  They are cute and don't eat very much, and don't come in in armies, so we don't mind them very much - just when they poop in the bowl, because they stand in it when they eat. Sometimes we have to pluck a stunned hedgehog out of a bowl, but that is rare.  More often it is their poop.

Dogs are another matter.  They are a real problem in summer.  There is a surge in stray dogs right after hunting season ends, just before spring, when the hunters dump their no longer needed dogs on the streets and in the mountains.  Some of these stray dogs find our feeding stations.  They eat all the food we leave for the cats and drink all the water we put out.  While we are happy that they get to eat, it can become a big problem as it was this summer at the park where dogs came regularly and scarfed all the food.

Puppy dog tails
 Dogs which we love, can sometimes feel like the enemy when trying to feed street cats

I can always tell when a dog has been at the park because, 1) the cats are not around when I drive up, and 2) the bowls are licked absolutely spotless and are usually a good distance from where they were left (and sometimes they are also mangled).  The cats occasionally do eat all the kibble we leave out, (though we try to make sure we leave enough so they don't), but when they do, they ususally leave traces of kibble, just like they do in our home.  Little bits fall out of their mouths when they are crunching and are unworthy for another go unless there is absolutely no other alternative.  At the very least when cats at the feeding stations eat all the food, there is usually a little kibble dust left.  Not so if a dog has been there. There's nothing but a spotless bowl.

So these are the things summer feeding are made of, and about which we complained to one another all summer like little whiners, along with the unbearable heat and the summer visitors from Nicosia who narrow our feeding hours.  "Winter will be here in no time," we reassured one another.  But soon we will be complaining about rains and soggy kibble, cold weather and cat flu, and of course, snails, and, no doubt, more ants, and we will say to one another, "Summer will be here in no time!" :)