Skip to content


Protected: Email to a friend.

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Posted in Uncategorized.


Workshop Notes.

This past weekend, I attended two workshops in Toronto sponsored by Petco Foundation. The hosts were Toronto Feral Cat ProjectUrban Cat Relief – www.ucrcats.comNew York City Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.  Not only was it great to be at the workshop, but I also got to see and meet some fellow Toronto Cat Rescue volunteers and other cat advocates from all over Ontario. 

The first workshop was “Taming Feral Kittens for Adoption”. The workshop description was “Using film footage of successful techniques, combined with insights into the biological development of kittens, we will provide attendees with information on how to tame and socialize feral kittens quickly and efficiently so they can be adopted into indoor homes.” The speaker was Mike Phillips, LVT – Director of Community Outreach, Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals; Co-Founder, Urban Cat League

Workshop #2 was titled “Neighbourhood Relations for Feral Cat Caretakers” with the description “Attendees will be provided with tips on how to improve communication with neighbours, including ways to help them understand the needs of community cats and benefits of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Advice for turning around hostile situations will also be included.”

I learned A LOT. More than I can get down in one blog post, anyway! I’m pretty familiar with most tricks about taming ferals, but it was nice to see Mike explain it in ‘steps’ – for example, not expecting them to crawl into your lap right away, but by gaining trust slowly – first by licking food off your finger, then letting them touch/pet them while eating, then short ‘lifts’ and belly-holding while eating, progressing to holding while NOT eating. There were tips about interactive play, which can distract them so much you can pet them while playing or actually direct them to climb/play ON you, tips about the proper ‘cooling off period’ environment and many other taming/socializing tips and ideas.

(One VERY helpful tip was the food Mike used to ‘bribe’ the cats – he said it was ‘Gerber chicken baby food’, but I don’t have a link for it yet. (In Canada, Gerber is owned by Nestle, and I can’t find a link to that specific food on the Canadian site, and the American site is blocked for Canada. )

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I’m just going to send you to Mike’s website: Urban Cat League – there are LOTS of tips and videos, and a Feral Cat FAQ.  Also recommended were the books Cat Sense and Domestic Cat (which I will try to find a link for, I will update when I have the correct book).

There were some definite ‘light bulb’ moments for me. I’d love to hear what YOUR light bulb moment was in the comments below!

The second workshop was started off with a wonderful talk by Sheila Massey. (If you google her, there are lots of news articles about her TNR efforts in New York). Her talk contained lots of ideas and strategies for dealing with the public, especially the ones who are maybe not so ‘cat-friendly’.

If you are helping feed a colony, sometimes there is no place to ‘hide’ a feeding station, but that’s ok! A benefit to visible feeding stations in feral colonies shows TNR in action, and this is an opportunity to speak to anyone who may question your actions or be curious about what you are doing. Do NOT be defensive or rude, you never know WHO this person may be, and once you give a quick overview of what you are doing, you may find you have another ally.

 I jotted some quick notes down, some of the things that really stuck with me are:

  • Be a PEOPLE advocate, not a CAT advocate.
  • If people see you caretaking a colony and they ask you what you are doing, keep your answer short. “I am with (name of program or rescue group). We are trapping cats to spay/neuter them and vaccinate them, and then we return them here and provide food for them.” 
  • Speak calmly to inform and educate, not judge or argue. 
  • Take cat complaints (from the public) seriously. Don’t defend the cats, OFFER SOLUTIONS.
  • Keep your points to ones that benefit the community (not the cats). Manage the conversation in a positive ways. Find common ground.
Sheila recommends this book to help learn negotiation techniques  – Getting to Yes.
One of the many benefits of TNR is that fixing them means no more yowling when mating, no foul smell from marking, less fighting over food, and NO MORE KITTENS.  Keeping cats at the same location lets the ‘unadoptable’ ones live out their lives in peace, keep the rodent control down, and no more new cats will come in (cats will keep their own numbers in check – only allowing for newcomers if the food source allows).
There was LOTS more, and I’ll add to this with more links and copies of some handouts when I can.  I just wanted to get some ideas down while they were fresh.
For those of you that also attended, PLEASE leave some notes in the comments detailing what you learned, as I’m sure we all absorbed different information, depending on what we needed to learn.   If by chance you don’t want to share in the comments, or if I’ve messed something up and corrections need to be made, please email me at impromptuzoo @ gmail.com (remove the spaces).
=^.^=

Posted in Feral, Information.


Thinking of adopting/purchasing a cat or kitten? Read this!

(***This is copied from a Kijiji posting, with permission from the author, who wishes to remain anonymous***)

 

Here’s a list of questions you might want to ask yourself before purchasing/adopting a cat or kitten!

*Disclaimer*

Please blame the people who sent positive replies to my first ad, “Before you purchase/adopt a kitten” for this painfully lengthy revision.

No, I’m not a vet or cat expert but I do make lovely Rice Krispies squares and origami swans in my spare time.  🙂

I haven’t been to an English class for many a year so try not to be horrified by my grammar and spelling!

Buckle in…it’s going to be a long ride!  You may want to use the bathroom first and pack some snacks!

Should I get a cat or kitten?

Everyone loves a little kitten and they sure are cute!  There’s nothing wrong with wanting one.  Just consider that kittens are high energy critters that need plenty of attention and someone (preferably another cat) to play/socialize with.  The first day I took my six month old foster kittens inside they decided to wrestle most of the night…under my bed!  Other nights were spent chasing each other up and down the stairs or across the attic floor.  So, if you’re a light sleeper and/or you have a busy lifestyle and can’t afford a playmate for your kitten then you might want to consider an older cat

Kittens may not be suitable for young children under the age of 5.  Yes, kids can be very gentle and caring but there’s a big size difference between a kitten and a child.  If a thirty pound child falls on a two pound kitten…well, it’s not going to end well.  Kids can have a tough time remembering how to hold cats properly (plus, their hands are tiny), they can be unintentionally rough, and can also be very loud and excitable which can be frightening to a young kitten.  Kittens (or cats) will scratch or bite if they’re scared or unhappy about being held and your child could get hurt.  Remember, kittens are fragile and you can’t supervise them with your children every minute.

Another consideration is personality.  Kittens seem to change identities from week to week.  Bold ones become shy and vice versa.  With an older cat, what you see is generally what you get.  So, if you want a cat that likes to snuggle, or gets along with dogs and children, or loves watching reality shows on the couch with you, that’s what you look for and you can usually find a cat that’s a good fit.  Cats can be older than a year and still be very playful and kittenish if that’s what you want.  Also, a kitten’s adult physical appearance is a mystery but there are some stunningly beautiful adult cats available for forever homes in all sizes and colours.

If you want to improve your karma even more…consider a senior cat.  Most senior cats are lovely pets that just want a comfy spot to call their own for their remaining years.  Unfortunately their owners may have passed away or moved into a retirement facility where they cannot keep their pets.  These poor cats are difficult to place because most people desire younger animals.  It’s sad to think a cat may end its days in a metal cage after being a loving pet in a warm home for so many years.

What age should my kitten be?

It’s very surprising to see how many people are wanting/offering very young kittens (8 weeks or under) on Kijiji.  There are many articles online that outline the difficulties (health, socialization) that can arise when you separate kittens too soon from their mother and litter mates.  Generally speaking, around 12 weeks old is best.

Here is one article I found online but there are many out there.  It’s written by Barbara C. French and was originally printed in CATS magazine in 2000.  It’s a great read.  The link is not clickable so you’ll have to copy and paste it in your browser.

http://www.breedlist.com/faq/young.html

Come on, you can take a few minutes to read an article!  It won’t kill you.

Can I commit to a relationship that may last 12-18 years?

This is a tough question because no one can predict the future (if you can, please send me some winning lottery numbers).  You may have the best intentions in the world but life can throw you a curveball!

Still, it doesn’t hurt to think about a few things…

Are you renting?  Go to Kijiji and see how many people are dumping their cats because they’re moving.  I’m not saying that you can’t own a cat if you rent but you’ll have to be more careful.  What happens if you suddenly have to move and don’t have the time to find a pet friendly new place?  What if you have to move in with family or friends, will they let you bring your cat?  Home owners should think about this as well.  Maybe you’ll get a new job and need to move out of province, who knows?  Ideally, you’ll be in a fairly permanent and stable home before bringing home a new family member.

Are you thinking about having a baby in the future?  Here’s another common cat dumping excuse.  Many people are uncomfortable having cats in the house with a newborn.  Yes, they can co-exist with certain precautions but do your research.  If you decide it’s too much of a hassle or you’re just too fearful, then please do not get a cat.  Goldfish are quite pretty.

Are you looking for love?  Okay, this one is a little extreme but what will you do if Mr or Ms Right shows up and they don’t like cats or they have an allergy (or maybe their kids do).  It’s never too soon to have a backup plan in case you do have to rehome your cat…for any reason, not just a love connection.  Or perhaps you bought a cat with your partner…what happens if your relationship ends?  Who gets Fluffy?

Is anyone allergic to cats in my home?

Drag yourself, your kids, anyone who will live with this adorable furball to the house of a cat owning friend.  Or hit a local humane society and get some physical contact with some kitties.  Another thing to consider…do any of your regular visitors have cat allergies?  If you babysit your grandkids you’ll want to make sure they’ll be comfortable in your home.  If the allergies aren’t too severe then you may have options.  Google is your friend!

Can I afford a cat? 

This can be a tricky question.  I certainly don’t want to suggest that people with lower incomes can’t have a cat. However, you have to be prepared (as much as you can be) for unexpected expenses.  Food, litter, vaccinations, spaying/neutering and micro-chipping can be budgeted for.  It’s the vet bills for illness that’ll bite you in the…uh…rear.  Recently I took a sick foster cat to the animal hospital and overheard the vet telling the rescue director that she was looking at a $400 to $600 medical bill (and that’s with the rescue discount!).  Yowsers!  You should consider having an emergency fund and/or pet insurance if that kind of expense will give you a small heart attack.  If you plan to euthanize or dump a cat if it requires veterinary care, you really shouldn’t get one.

Do I love my immaculate home and priceless antique furniture?

Okay, this question is for almost every kind of pet owner.  Litter boxes can be messy, cats can scratch things you don’t want scratched (wallpaper, furniture, wood trim, curtains/blinds), leave hair everywhere, get sick and vomit on your floors or have diarrhea, cough up a lovely hairball on your bed, rub their moist cat food mouth on your leg or couch, rip up paper products and can do much, much more.  It might not be that bad but neat freaks should be prepared!  LOL

Do I have other animals already in the home?

Dogs and cats can live together but you may need to do a careful introduction.  There are articles online that detail how to do so.  If you’re introducing a second cat, you should be careful of any age extremes.  Your 10 year old cat might not be too thrilled with a 12 week old kitten bouncing off his/her back and wanting to play all night!  You might also want to be careful with rodents and birds.  My current foster cat is a hunter extraordinaire and that would not be a good mix!  Good for someone who wants a mouser…bad for someone who loves their budgie!

Do I have time for a cat?

“I just don’t have the time to give my cat the attention that he/she deserves.”  That one pops up a lot on Kijiji.  I tend to be a bit sceptical of that excuse because, in my experience, cats are one of the most low maintenance pets around.  They’re perfect for the working stiff because they snooze all day and you only need a few minutes to feed them and scoop their litter.  Add a dash of ear rubbing, a lap in front of the tv and some space at the foot of your bed at night and you have a contented cat.  Kittens definitely need a bit more time but you can solve that problem by adopting two!  Same goes for adult cats.  If you’re really worried that your cat is home alone too much…adopt a bonded pair!  Many rescues have cats that can’t be split up and they’d be thrilled if you’d give them a new home. There are also plenty of kitties that must be the only cat in the house (they don’t get along with their own kind) so you can adopt just one cat guilt-free.

Should I get my cat from a rescue?     

As a cat rescue foster parent don’t expect an unbiased opinion here!  Yes, you have to pay more money upfront. Most rescues have their cats/kittens vet checked, vaccinated, de-wormed, treated for fleas, spayed and neutered if age appropriate and some even do micro-chipping.  There’s usually some short term free pet insurance thrown in as well.  Prices can range from $100 to $185 depending on the rescue.  Cats come in all ages and colours, domestics and exotics, mixed and purebreds.  Rescues are generally anti-declawing but they do occasionally have declawed cats come into the program if that’s your preference.

Every cat/kitten adopted means another one can be rescued from the streets or animal control shelter.  Please support organizations that stop the cycle of breeding unwanted cats and not irresponsible cat owners that don’t fix their pets.  Seriously, do you want to encourage these people that let their cats breed indiscriminately?  Their unfixed cats get out and come home pregnant…they think Fluffy will be unfulfilled if she doesn’t have at least one litter…they want their kids to experience a litter being born in the house…etc.

Hey, you want to experience raising teeny tiny kittens?  Okay, here’s the answer.  Contact your local cat rescue and tell them you’re interested in fostering a pregnant cat or a mother cat with newborns.  If you have an extra room or quiet corner of your house, that would be great.  You’ll be helping a cat in need and maybe you’ll decide to adopt a kitten or two (or the mommy cat).  Being a cat foster parent is a wonderful and easy way to give something back to your community.  It is volunteer work that you can do at home…you can’t beat that!  🙂

Another thing to consider…is that online poster being truthful about why he/she is getting rid of Fluffy?  Rescues do their best to find a good cat/kitten for your family.  I’m not saying foster parents can’t be a bit blind to the faults of their charges but we don’t want adopters to be unhappy with their new friend or with the rescue.  A rescue does not want a reputation as an organization that dumps problem cats on unsuspecting people.  Now you may take your new cat home and find out (after a natural adjustment period) that it’s not going to work.   The rescue may be able to exchange that cat for one that would be a better fit.  These cats have unknown histories so we can only tell you what we see while the cats are in our care.  Now, if you get a cat from John Doe off the internet and things don’t work out, you could be stuck.  You might be in for an unpleasant surprise when it turns out Fluffy (who was described as the sweetest cat in the world) loves to wake you up by attaching himself to your face and doing his best to dig the eyeballs out of your skull.  Strangely enough, John Doe won’t answer your calls.  Hmm…and Fluffy also prefers to pee on the floor instead of in the litter box.  Odd, since John Doe said he was only giving away his much beloved cat because he was moving, had allergies, couldn’t afford the cat and didn’t have the time to love him the way he deserved to be loved.

Do I have to keep my cat indoors?

Rescues usually require that any adopted cat is strictly an indoor cat.  Outdoor cats can be injured by cars, other animals, suffer from exposure, pick up some nasty diseases and the list of dangers goes on.  Plus, depending on your municipality there may be a by-law that states your cat cannot roam free.  Letting your cat wander outdoors can make it very difficult for caring citizens to differentiate between lost cats, strays and an owned cat that lives one street over.  You want to get strays (quite likely unfixed) off the street but you don’t want to drop a cat off at animal control only to have its owner knock on your door three days later asking if you’ve seen Fluffy.  Oops! Stray/abandoned unfixed animals equal disposable cats and kittens.  Just take a peek on the dog/puppy side of Kijiji.  If someone accidentally ends up with puppies they’ll be usually sold at a minimum of $150.  That’s for a mixed breed that has never seen a vet! Dogs are not allowed to roam so unwanted pregnancies are less likely (at least in the city).  It’s a case of supply and demand and I can only dream of a future where all cats are fixed (except in the case of registered breeders) and micro-chipped.  Then if they do end up on the street they won’t be able to breed and we can hopefully locate their owners.  Plus, I don’t like telling my kids they can’t play on the grass in the backyard because it’s covered in cat poop!  Okay, end of rant!

Can I buy a cat/kitten as a gift?

No.

Okay, that’s a little short.  Noooooooooo!  That’s much better! 🙂

Yes, you know the gift receiver is a wonderful person who has owned 6 cats that all lived 103 years and you know exactly what kind of cat she wants and she has all the cat stuff and told you how much she wanted a new pet and how she would love to find a friend under the ol’ Christmas tree, blah, blah, blah.  Humane societies, rescues, and decent breeders don’t allow this.  You must let the cat owner choose their own pet and make a conscious decision to take on that responsibility.  As much as a single person may bemoan their aloneness, a good friend won’t just show up with a husband or baby and say, “Surprise!”

Create a lovely coupon that says something like, “This coupon entitles you to a free furry companion!”  Stick it on a plush, toy cat or a litter box full of cat accessories and let your “someone special” unwrap that.  Then you can drive them to a humane society, cat adoptathon or local pet store that has rescued cats and kittens available.  Or you can snuggle in front of your laptop and look at all the kitties online at the various rescues.  She may have always declared her desire for a longhaired orange tabby but she may lock eyes with a gorgeous adult black cat and “Wham!”…love at first sight.  I’ve seen it happen.

It’s great that you want to pay for a companion for someone, but let her experience the joy of finding the right furry friend to love for years and years.

The bonus round!  Otherwise known as, “When will this article ever end?!”

Please do not offer your kitten for free.  It should be vet checked, treated for fleas, dewormed, vaccinated and priced accordingly. It should also be sold with a non-breeding contract.  If it’s over 6 months old, it should be spayed or neutered.  A cat with a price tag is less likely to be purchased on a whim.  It’s sad to say but a free cat is also less likely to be valued.  The owner may not feel it’s worth putting any serious money into a free pet. Yes, there are wonderful people who would take great care of a cat, free or not but there are so many others who will dump that cat when it’s not longer convenient for them to own it.  No money invested…no big loss.  It’s unfortunate but true.

If these kittens are from an unexpected breeding (my cat got out) or maybe you rescued some cats from the street and you can’t afford the vet cost, try contacting a cat rescue.  If you’re willing to provide a temporary foster home for these cats, they might be able to help with not only the medical costs but finding permanent homes for them as well.

There are often people posting ads requesting free kittens and stating that they are unable to pay any fee but promise a good home.  I’ve seen some posters write about the dangers of giving kittens away for free.  They talk about people getting kittens for snake food or dog baiting.  I have no idea how true or prevalent this is but I am extremely doubtful that someone who can’t afford even $20 for a kitten will be able to handle the long term financial responsibility of cat ownership.

In the defense of responsible cat owners, some Kijiji posters are doing the right thing and trying to find a decent new home for their cat.  Something has happened beyond their control and after careful consideration they must get rid of their pet.  I don’t want to suggest that everyone trying to rehome their cat is some kind of monster.  I do suggest that you network your friends, family and co-workers.  Post ads everywhere, online and in the newspaper.  Create some nice posters with a colour photo and see if you can post them at your vet’s office or the local pet food store. Your vet might even know someone who is looking for a kitty friend.  Please screen any new owners carefully and be honest about what kind of environment your cat would be happiest in.  If he/she has any faults, come clean.  If all else fails, you can try a local cat rescue or humane society.  I believe my local SPCA does take owner surrenders if they have room but you do have to pay a surrender fee.  Rescues often only take cats from shelters and the street (cats in imminent danger) and not owner surrenders but you might find one that will advertise your cat on their website.  The key is proving that you’re doing everything you can to find your cat a new home.  Rescues have little patience for lazy, uncaring cat owners.  They’ve had to clean up their messes far too often.

THE END

Thank you for your patience in reading this long post.  If you made it to the end without dozing off or saying, “That’s 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back again!”…I salute you!

Best of luck finding your furry friend for life!

A cat rescue foster parent

P.S.  Please don’t continue reading if you’re offended by crude language.  Look away now!

P.P.S.  If you post an ad where you threaten to euthanize your cat if no one comes forward to take it, you’re a d**khead.  I’m sorry for being so blunt, but it’s true.  The public is not responsible for your pet…you are.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Technical Difficulties.

Aaaand, we’re back!

So, we had some technical difficulties for a bit there. Two out of my three websites (this one included) went *kablooey* and just completely disappeared.  They are both back now, and I’m still waiting to hear from the hosting company about what happened.

I’ve got some updates for you all later today, and some thank-you’s to make, and maybe some photos to share.

Check back soon!

 

Posted in Uncategorized.


Scrubby Update 10

Ok, you have to see this:

(Watch here: http://youtu.be/EQfaMtWsh6g to see the annotated version)

Scrubby has been playing and interacting with the other cats! He’s still shy and gets startled easily, but he’s getting so much more comfortable.  He is still in a cage when we aren’t home, but he LOVES coming out when we get home, and is slowly exploring more and more of our house.

I’m still concerned about his ears, and think another vet visit is in order, but otherwise he seems to be coming along well, and is happy and healthy!

 

Posted in Scrubby.


Scrubby update 9

I know, I know, it’s been a while! Sorry!  Scrubby lives in an extremely busy foster home, so while HE gets all the attention he needs, this blog doesnt’!

He’s coming out of his crate more, although the first few times he left his back legs in, just to be safe. Now he comes out for a bit of love when we sit by his crate, but is a little too timid to go to far, and wanders in and out and in and out.

We have our webcam pointed at him, so I can watch his crate while I am at the computer, and he usually just lies there, like this, and doesn’t go out even if the door is open.

We are hoping he’ll gain the confidence to come out on his own, but if not, we’ll coax him out with some food and help him along.

He’s a very happy boy, very easy-going, not fearful, but still withdrawn, and he doesn’t care at all about the other cats or the dog or person traffic. His ears seem to bother him still, and he doesn’t like to be picked up, but he lets me Furminate him without much complaint.  He’s very food-motivated, so we’re able to use that to coax him and reward him.

 

 

 

Posted in Scrubby.