Saturday, March 30, 2013

Heartbreak - Losing King in Neverland

"To love would be an awfully big adventure." — J.M. Barrie

King passed away last Sunday at the vets.  Others were trying valiantly to help me find a home for him in the UK with another FIV+ cat, or no cat at all, but the process was too slow, involving more tests, money raising, and middle men.  I think he would have been better off in a home, but I can't say how much longer he would have lived; I don't know. I am not very fond of leaving a sick cat at the vets to overnight and often argue with them about it.  But I have lost too many cats that way.  I know of no vet here that has an overnight staff.

I prefer to take them in and out as needed, and even if they are on a drip to bring them home.  There is nothing like love to help a sick cat, there is no medicine in the world that can compare. Even if the cat will die anyway, at least you know he wasn't alone.

But with King I had to weigh the risks and it didn't seem prudent to me to keep him here amongst all the other cats, even if I kept him in a carrier.  I just don't have the facilities for isolating cats.  I would like to have them one day, though.


I will always remember the day I first saw him, the way he walked up to me so majestically and eyed me,  and he was so regal in his demeanor I gasped.  I think back now on how at one point I noticed he was unusually docile for a Tom  when the females were in season, and how I had wondered if he were losing weight. It is possible he was starting to get sick then; it is possible that made it easier for him to be hit by the car.  These are things I will never know though.

One thing to remember about Cyprus if you ever come here is it is a bit of a never never land.  Bad news is not often communicated.  If you have cancer for instance, the doctors may tell your family and not tell you.  And your family might not tell you.  There is a need here for people to smooth things over, to say everything is going to be OK, even when it is not. I don't agree with this but it is the culture I have had to adapt to living in.  I remember reading A Very Easy Death in college. I was horrified.  To not tell someone the truth, or to minimize a grim prognosis, no matter how difficult, is to take away their self-determination.  It's a robbery of sorts, and it violates our most basic God given freedom to choose our lives.  Perhaps this is why God hates lies so much. 

I will always remember the questioning way King looked at me and how much he enjoyed his last meal at the park.  Godspeed King.  I love you and thank you. 

Thank you.

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it."
— J.M. Barrie

Thursday, March 21, 2013

PETA in the Not So Good News

Here's the Link:
PETA killed more than 1,600 cats and dogs at its Virginia headquarters last year - almost 90% of the animals handed over to the charity's American shelter

Read more:

Pray Unceasingly - Moonpie is Loved by a Mysterious Stranger and Astro Returns

“You know that kind of quiver that trembles around through you when you are seeing something so strange and enchanting and wonderful that it is just a fearful joy to be alive and look at it; and you know how you gaze, and your lips turn dry and your breath comes short, but you wouldn't be anywhere but there, not for the world.”
― Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories

Moonpie from the park

Every day I pray for the cats, not only the cats of Cyprus, but all the cats of the world with an addendum for all the creatures of the world, including messy and fallen man. 

For the cats of Cyprus I pray that the people of this country will open up their hearts and their homes and their wallets to these cats and provide for them food, water, shelter, protection, love, friendship, healthcare, plenty of safe space, and a soft place to sleep.  I pray that they will take pride in the cats and see them as a national treasure. 

If the Cypriots were very clever they could turn these cats to their advantage by being the first Mediterranean country to create beautiful cat sanctuaries all over the island, and make them a drawing point for tourists, like Hemingway House.  Cyprus, like Greece,  is dependent upon tourism for their economy.  They could lead the way and begin to take pride in their national treasure and put themselves on the map as a kind country and a leader, especially in all the things the Orthodox Church should be leading in.  

Idealism?  Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe it is faith and it is the most practical idea of all. 

Yesterday morning at the park, when I was walking from the grotto, (where I fill the kibble bowl), to the plastic table, (where Sose was perched),  I saw out of the corner of my eye a cat who looked strangely familiar and yet mysteriously transformed:

What is this I see?  Moonpie in a new black flea collar.

It was Moonpie in  a collar.  A black flea collar.  Someone put a black flea collar on Moonpie.  I did not have my camera, so I have drawn a collar on in the above picture for you to see how it looked.

I was so tickled, I exclaimed out loud my delight to Moonpie and began praising him with all kinds of cooing endearments.  He rolled around in front of me, displaying his new collar, so pleased, so pleased with himself it seemed.  So pleased with himself and his new collar, it was as though he felt he had finally arrived on the radar of the heart of a human as a pet, and it was a well deserved and long awaited thing.  He was transformed.  He was an altered cat. 

It was such a delightful thing to see after having such a hard day at the vets the day before, going there with yet another emergency (Theo), and while I was there, getting the news about King, and being chastised over my bill. 

Since every day I pray that the people of Cyprus will open up their hearts and homes and wallets to these cats and begin to treat them as God's creation and not some mistake, when I saw Moonpie in his handsome collar, I felt this was a beginning of an answer to my prayer.

I say felt, because I don't know, and we must never be presumptuous as far as God is concerned.  This a great Orthodox tenent.

But I hoped.

After I saw Moonpie in his collar, I came home to tend to things here.  As I was feeding the outdoor cats, I heard a furious meowing over near Muji's dog yard.  As I glimpsed a black and white cat, I prayed it was Astro. Astro is a highly verbal cat.  He disappeared about a week ago.  I prayed all week he would make it home if he had been hurt.   I looked closely at the patchwork of black and white that was in front of me.  It was Astro.  He was clearly injured.  Hit by a car?  It looked that way.  Hurt, but home. He is back, and I rejoice over this.

Astro, my chatter box, is home - DOXA TO THEO!

I will never be presumptous and assume God is answering my prayers, but I will continue to pray and hope and give glory to Him when I feel like he is, and even when I feel like he is not, because I never know what He is up to.  No matter what happens, all glory belongs to God.

We should never give up praying.  It is tempting when don't get what we want, but even then we have to perservere.  What if prayer turns out to be the most important thing we do?

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Roman 12:12

Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Please join me in praying for the cats of Cyprus daily, and the all the cats of the world, and all the the creatures of the world, including our fallen selves.  May God save His creatures and our souls.  May all things work acording to His will, for His glory and for all of creation's benefit. 

PS  Who put the collar on Moonpie?  I don't know.  But he has another friend besides me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taking King to the Emergency Clinic and a Blind Cat at Sandra's

I had to take King back to the emergency clinic Friday night because his diarrhea came back and very bad it was.  He stopped eating and drinking water.  I would put my hand in his cage, and he would lay his head in my hand.  I scratched his neck.  He loved it. 

He is still there now, and he is doing a lot better, but they did tests on him and he tested positive for feline AIDS or FIV.

I don't know what to do.  I can't bring him back here, and I can't release him back at the park.  Unless someone with no cat or another cat with FIV takes him in, I will have to have him euthanized, because the vet is pressuring me.  It is not the doctors, they are kind, but the lady who owns the emergency clinic. I don't think people who aren't doctors should run vet clinics.  They don't understand.  They are not service people, they are business people. 

I have been tending the feeding station at Sandra's which Nik usually does.  I saw what I believe was a completely blind adult cat back there.  I remember him from a while back and so I speculate he has gone blind slowly.  It was perhaps the saddest thing I have ever seen.  I want to go back and try to trap him to help him and to get him off the streets.  Is it the right thing to do?  I don't know.  I never know if what I am doing is the right thing, because it is never the perfect solution I wish for.  I do the best I can when making judgements. 

Sandra said she would help me and stand watch in case any of the tenants object to my being back there or to what I am doing.

This is an old picture Nik took at Sandras, it is this cat all grown up who is the blind one I saw.  You can see from the picture he already has an issue with his eyes. 

this feral cat is now fully blind

It's been a scary and sad week.

Thanks to my friend Alma who went with me to take King to the vet in the middle of the night.

Our vet bills are increasing and outstanding.  As you may have heard, Cyprus is in deep financial trouble.  We need help, please. Will you please consider a monthy donation?  However small?  I don't know how I am going to be able to continue this work without donations. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Indoor Feeding at Our House - Indulging the Ones You Love

An indoor feeding at our house of soft and juicy canned food:
We don't do this every day!  For the cats at our house, the regular diet is a mix of good quality kibble.   But, oh how they love this treat.  Nik and I keep talking about recording the mewing and carrying on that goes on before these events.  

The outdoor cats and the cats at the park and the other feeding stations get a lot more soft food then our indoor friends, because I take pity on them for living without the comforts of shelter, a soft bed, and human protection. 
In fact I would say the cats at the park are a lot fatter than our cats at home because of this.  Also I never know what may befall the cats on the streets, or, because of this, if after a feeding, I will ever see them again.  I compensate for this constant concern with lots of canned food. 

Swatchee prefers yogurt, so he usually skips these feedings, and Bette Davis will only indulge in certain flavors.  Rufus gets a special diet for kidney problems.  There are other cats missing from this feeding as well: Flissy, Twiddles, Pegs, Bashful, Astro, Galaxy, Krystallo, Miss Marbles, Theo, and more of the older cats who were probably outside at the time, or waiting in line outside the door for the feeding frenzy to calm down.  They are no fools!

But everybody gets one of their favorite treats from time to time.  What is life if you can't indulge the ones you love?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cleaning the Litterboxes - The Art of the Deal

The litter boxes

Donald Trump, I am not.  But I have learned a few things about negotiating after two years of sharing responsibility for so many cats with Nik.  Luckily, the number of chores over which negotiation is needed is but one, but the chore itself is tremedous: cleaning the litter boxes. 

Until we reached a mutually satisfying deal, our conversations went something like this - (the players are interchangeable):

"Have you done the litter boxes yet?"

"No.  Has Muji been walked?" (Muji is our dog - notice the passive verb usage here)

"No.  OK, I'll walk Muji if you do the litter boxes."

"OK. Or, I can walk Muji and clean the water bowls, if you do the litter boxes."

"Or, I can walk Muji, clean the waterbowls, give X his medicine, and vaccuum, if you will do the litter boxes."

"I will vacuum the floors, mop, walk Muji, do the dishes, change the waterbowls, give X and Y their medicine, if you will do the litter boxes."

"I will go to the grocery store, clean the windows, walk Muji, vaccum the floors, mop, change the water bowls, give X, Y, and Z their medicine, sweep outside, do the dishes, and clean the bathrooms if you will do the litter boxes."

And in my mind I am thinking:

"I will plow the field, build the pyramids, prune the olive trees, climb Mt. Everest, and do all those others things if you will do the litter boxes."

So it goes, so uncoveted a job is cleaning the litter boxes! 

Butting Heads, 2012

Since we have moved, we have made a deal.  In exchange for Nik taking the litter boxes outside and, using the hose, giving them the full cleaning, disinfecting, and refreshing of cat litter when needed, (no small job since we have seven covered litterboxes), I alone scoop them now.  I am the sole scooper!  Nik's job, emptying them, washing them, drying them, refilling them, and passing them through the window can take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on if there are traps, carriers, and food bins to be washed, too, and there usually are.

other stuff needs to be washed, too

Nik cleaning the litter boxes, carriers, and food bins

I now have one bedroom of the house dedicated solely to litter boxes. This has made the task easier and more pleasant.

Scooping is an art form to me.  We use a fine clumping cat litter and I use two scoopers to clean it, one big scoop, and one finer scoop for the tiny clumps.  I have a mop center set up in the ensuite bathroom, and a vaccum that permanently stays in that room.  I have paper towels, disinfectant, air freshioner, baking soda, and a broom and dustpan.  I have a garden pad for my knees, which are getting old.

the scoop drawer

extra mophead and other stuff

 the cat litter

the mop station

My knee pad

What I have learned about cleaning the litter boxes is it can be enjoyable if you make it an art, and this requires having everything you need easily at hand and setting up your own challenging, but comfortable routine. 

What I have learned about the art of the the deal is if you can find something the other person really wants or doesn't want, and something you really want or don't want, you can make a mutually beneficial deal...

...even if it means scooping the litter boxes.


There is still something yuckier to you, that you won't have to do. 


Thanks, Nik!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Serpent, the King, the Tiger... UPDATE on King

King's ten days restricted to the carrier are up!  What now?  I don't know!  We will have to take it one day at a time.

King yesterday, after ten days restricted to a carrier

If you are just tuning in, we picked up a feral cat recently at our local park who had been hit by a car. His hip was broken and so we have had to keep him as sendentary as possible for ten days so the hip could begin to heal. 

He has made great strides.  It has been a trying ten days for him.  His appetite has been good, and I am so thankful for that.

It's also been a challenging ten days for us.  As he has gotten better, and more alert, it's been like having a tiger wake up. 

Another challenge has been keeping his carrier clean, because he can't use a litter box yet.  Our solution has been to put a puppy pad under him in the carrier.

Everyday we have changed his carrier twice a day, sometimes more.  We have more than one large dog carrier, so while he is in still in one,  we are able to clean and prepare the other.  Taking the tops off both,  we place them side by side.  Then, using heavy garden gloves, we gently place a towel over King, and pick him up from the soiled carrier with the towel covering him, and  place him on the fresh puppy pad in the clean, prepared carrier.  It worked well, until we ran out of intestinal food and he got diarrhea. 

Feeding him the intestinal diet was a happy accident.  The second day here he wouldn't eat. I was very concerned and trying everything we had in the house to peak his interest.  On a fluke I tried some intestinal food we had bought for Charity a while back.  King loved it.  But, once we ran out, he was willing to eat the gourmet I offered him, so I began giving him that, and what a mistake that was.  Can I just say, I highly recommend if you ever have a feral cat you have to keep restrained for some time in a small space, give him an intestinal diet.  Lesson learned. We have a box of the sachets now.

He's been a trooper about it all though.  We have only been bitten and scratched a couple of times. : | We have been hissed at a lot.

Not much to do in there

Giving him his eye medicine has been more challenging.  We haven't been able to give it to him regularly.  Both his eyes have been oozing, so I am concerned about that.

Yesterday I was trying to change him to a clean carrier by myself, and he stood as best he can at the moment, and escaped before I could finish the switch, crawling up under the couch .  He eventually went back in by himself, which was a blessing, but it was a good sign to me he was healing and about ready to be free of it.  Let's see if that is what he wants.  We will play it by ear.  The last few hours I have left the carrier door open and he has remained in there of his own accord.  I have closed it only to keep the other cats from bothering him. 

"I'll stay in for now, thanks."

He is a little less fluffy for wear; he could defintiely use a shower.

"Not quite up to grooming myself just yet."

But one day at a time. :)

The serpent, the king, the tiger, the stinging wasp, the small child, the dog owned by other people, and the fool: these seven ought not to be awakened from sleep.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"And Lilies are Still Lilies...."

“And lilies are still lilies, pulled  by smutty hands, though spotted from their white.”  Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

Lily of the Fields

After I left the park last Friday night, I went to Sammy's and fed the cats there, and when I was finished, rather than going back via the seafront road, I drove home via the fields behind our old house.

The fields behind our old house

Two eyes shined out at me.  I was exhausted, but I thought, "Oh heck, I have gotta leave some food."

It was near our feeding station in the fields, one Nik takes care of in the early mornings. I haven't been there in a long while.  I was so happy and surprised to see it was Lily hiding there in the bushes.  Those were her lovely eyes shining out at me, flagging me down.  She was just as sweet and beautiful as ever.

It's always good to see an old friend and to know they are faring well.  Doubtless the food and water Nik leaves there every day has helped her to survive.

Lily when I first met her

It's good to know, lilies are still lilies. 

Last Friday Night at the Park

I couldn't believe how many cats were at the park last Friday night.  I am concerned about the upcoming summer, what on earth are the people who have summer homes here going to say about all these cats?  Going to do?  Will they be tolerant?  What about the summer concession at the park when it reopens?  How are the cats going to adjust to having people around all the time?  What about when they start bringing in the lawn mowers, the chainsaws, the strimmers, to prepare the park, now overgrown, for summer visitors?

When I arrived at the park Friday night I was met at my car by Strike, Topper, and Blabby:




Then I spotted Clinton, who I don't think I've introduced you to. I don't see him often. He's an unusually polite feral Tomcat. He's nice to the other cats:


Then upon entering the park proper, I saw Greyboy, Petey, Smirkles, Sose, and Fluffy:





 Once I got to the lower level I saw Pookie, Junior, Wanda,...



..Soupy, Templeton, Rex, Mustafa, Shorty, Oranj, Spooky, Mystery, Sunflower, and Milky, a new cat,...










...and who else?  I saw other eyes shining in the darkness, who were they?  I can't be sure. 

It's not all that unusual to have so many cats during the week, they straggle in and straggle out, but it surprised me for a Friday evening to have so many at once.  There are more people in our village on the weekends, and so the cats usually have a few extra people to put food out for them, scraps choicer than my morsels, like left over fish, souvlaki, etc.  So the kibble I leave behind does not get eaten as quickly as during the week. 

And please keep in mind there were some cats missing that often come: Baby, Princess, Sunflower's two sisters, Moonpie, Coral, Newt, Sonata, Soso, to name just a few, so there could have been even more had they all showed.

When I got back up to the top of the park, followed as usual by Strike, Topper, Blabby, Greyboy, Petey and Mustafa, I couldn't believe my eyes, Clinton was still there and there were a bunch of cats I had never seen before, and also some cats I rarely see.  The unpredictable Mrs. Beans was there (so sweet, on our adoption page, now pregnant and busted!).  Phoebe, Sotine, and Bowtie were there, none of them altered.  They are so rarely seen I don't even have pictures of them.

The unpredictable Mrs. Beans
Among the hungry strangers were two young long haired ginger and white cats who look a lot like Oranj, one short haired ginger and white cat (looks totally like a Clinton, Jr. Busted!), and one young brown tabby with white markings.

I thought I was near leaving.  I had to pull out three more cans of food and more kibble!

In total there were at least thirty cats I fed at the park last Friday night.

It was a lot of cats at once.  A whole lot of cats.  It will be interesting to see how many are there tonight.  What will happen when spring and summer arrive is concerning.