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Archive for the ‘helping’ Category

A Fishtown Winter – One more Stray Found Cat (and a dog too!) pt 1

Posted by smallspark on February 24, 2009

Sick Kitty warming up

Sick Kitty warming up

As usual in Fishtown it’s stray kitty time. One found me last week and is currently holed up in my bathroom. I only took some quick snaps and they don’t show him at his best but isn’t he an absolute cutey! I haven’t come up with a name yet – the closest I have come is “Magical Forest Creature.”  His coloring and long fur,  and tiny tiny size has just charmed me. He looks like he’s from another world.

Not sure if he’s staying or going, but please let me know if you want to adopt him.

I checked the lost cat postings on every site I know of and found nothing. I posted a found ad on craigslist and on  So far, I haven’t found  the owners. But soon I’ll have posters out, and maybe they will turn up. Or maybe not.

First things first – I talked to Laura at FlatironWildcats  – one of the people who got me straw for my winter cat shelters  – and made an appointment at the feral/stray cat clinic at the PSPCA on Saturday for neutering, flv/fiv testing, rabies and felv vaccinations. I highly recommend them!

Day 1 (wed): So MFC or “Mags” came to my attention at 3 AM by his long, drawn out cries. I could hear him way before I could see him. They were the kind of cries you hate to hear from anything or anyone – total pure terror. I grabbed a bowl of food and ran outside. As soon as I got outside, he rounded the corned across the street and kept on running as fast as he could go – and that was pretty fast! I started shaking the cat food and saying hey Hey! c’mere c’mere and that got his attention. He did a 180 and ran full tilt, still wailing, over to me and my bowl of food.  He started gobbling and didn’t seem to care if I petted him or not so, after a minute of panic – what on earth will I do with him?! – I decided I’d figure it out as I went along and picked him up with the bowl of food.  He didn’t even struggle, and in we went.

All my cats came over and wanted to do their sniff thing but that’s a big no-no with a strange animal so we bypassed the hulabaloo and went right to the bathroom – one of the only enclosed spaces that would work. I got him food and water and and then started poking around my house for a box I could use for litter. It’s not a large bathroom, and it’s my only one, so it’s going to be interesting to have a cat there. That box ended up in my shower stall and then it was time to find him bedding.  Mags didn’t care, and wasn’t bothered by my coming or going; he was busy eating.

I grabbed a kitty bed heating pad and wrapped it in a towel, and put it near the window. Then I opened the window a bit because after Mags finished eating some food, he was starting to freak out a bit about being inside, with new smells and with other cat smells around him.   I can’t imagine the scents of my cats would have been comforting. Some petting of him had revealed fight scars – and by the amount of scarring, he hadn’t fared well. He didn’t smell that great when he got here, so neither did the bathroom. It quickly started smelling like Mags.  The fresh air calmed him down and aired out the place.

Although I have cats, they were all neutered quickly. I had no idea that Mags was unnuetered and scenting his area as his territory.  I expected him to relax and cuddle, as my other cats did, especially after his horrific evening, but he didn’t. He started kneading my tummy with his paws, which my cats do as well. No problem we’re just getting to know each other. I had just fed him and saved him from whatever freaked him out so that self-comforting move wasn’t unexpected. What I didn’t expect was the FOUR paw knead and the endless circles. To my mind, he couldn’t seem to get comfortable or feel balanced. This was the very weirdest kneading ever! I just let him go on circling- totally not understanding.

Comprehension dawned when i noticed my t-shirt was damp. ew and oops. Won’t miss that move again. ever. So apparently, he likes me and I’ve been christened. ok! Explains why all my cats avoided me afterward. lol.  Feliway and Rescue Remedy were immediately brought into the room and it seems to calm him down.

Mags hasn’t done it since then. I’m hopeful that it was because of extreme stress.  If I can keep him stress-less until he gets neutered, I feel more comfortable that it will  not become a habit.  From what I read neutering solves 87% of all spraying issues unless they are habitual, and sometimes even then.

Mags - Day 1

Mags - Day 1

Day 2 (thurs) : It was obvious Mags was once a housecat. He just knew the drill with no prompting. It was also obvious he was not well. Within a day of arriving at my house, his eye began to swell, it seemed like he had a UTI, and the poor thing was sneezing and snorting to clear his nose. I don’t think he slept, just dozed.  He was friendly, and welcoming to me but he wasn’t interested in playing or cuddling or even being petted much. All he really wanted was food, and water, and dim light. Bright lights seemed to bother him – the dark did as well. Until I put a nightlight in the bathroom, he cried.

He didn’t eat, he kept on gobbling! And the lessons for me on how to take care of a sick cat kept coming – lol.  I fed him every couple of hours, some dry some wet – unkowingly creating the pefect internal storm. Apparently Hills Science Diet brand dry and Wellness brand wet is rich food, and rich food and that – plus as much water as he could get –  into an empty empty tummy will take awhile to pass through but when it does, it really does – oh my!

Well, I didn’t want that again, so a quick google search I found that boiled chicken is the way to go for poor sensitive tummy’s.  MUCH better, as it turns out. And it must have helped settle him down because when I came in a couple of time to check on him after feeding that cat was so deeply asleep he didn’t even hear me come in.  Not a blink or a whisker twitch. That cat was OUT. This was most of day 2. Eat to deep sleep.

Day 3 (fri): Kitty’s Friday was a repeat of day 2 with a little less sleeping and a little more sitting, looking out the window. He’s calm and ok with being inside and warm.  His eye is a problem and it looks like it hurt, so I kept wiping it, and twice wrapped him in towels and rinsed his eye with saline. He didn’t like that – ya think?!-  but it seemed to make his eye better, if only for a short while.  He just wants to be quiet and his new diet is working for him. Good.  Phew.

Buddy is his name-o!

Buddy is his name-o!

And just to make my busy days, busier – I guess it’s stray week for me. A nice dog whose real name is Buddy, which coincidentally was what I was calling him.  He must have been very confused on why I didn’t just take him home if I knew his name. Buddy was so cold and lost he was shaking, poor thing.  He didn’t have a collar, so a nice passing bicicylist  lent me a cord and then helped me get him home.  I even brought him inside to get warm which resulted in a lot of kitty puffy tails and arched backs but fortunately for all of us, the dog was not interested in cats at all.

He is a big dog but the sweetest sweetest thing and very well trained to boot.  Understood sit, stay and give me your paw. Endless paw shaking – how do you do? Truly a love.  Buddy thought he was a lap dog and just wanted to curl up next to me or on me on the couch.  I love dogs.  They just plop down and breathe on you.  My neighbot Kristen lent me a collar so we could go for walks more safely.  I met a lot of my neighbors on Friday! I love dogs for that too.  They just make everyone more social and pleasant.  Buddy was happy to be taken care of but whining go home and we walked around the neighborhood a couple of different times to try to find them. And at the end of the day, we found them – for me, regretfully –  I now miss the big guy!  But it was really nice to know he was home and safe and loved.

The cats were very glad once they came out of hiding and realized he was gone;  watching kitty’s peeking around corners and slowly come out of hiding is very cute. Surprisingly, during all of this, Callie was the bravest cat in the house – she just made sure she was out of reach of him but let herself be seen.

Day 4 (sat): Time to get the kitty fixed! Or not, as it turns out.I took a cab to PSPCA, and found the feral cat clinic. Ohmygod. Mahem. They had 35 cats there that day, I found out later. I walked in and not really surprisingly, got upset.  As a rule, I avoid shelters and I even avoid pet stores.  Animals in cages, especially those whose life is threatened by space constraints, completely and totally horrify me because I can’t help them, nor take them all and have to leave them to their fate.  This location – the pspca – had all of the above plus about 40 people in a small space with cats being operated on.  Unbelieveably, there were Roosters, yes Roosters, fighting roosters awaiting a trial,  crowing crowing crowing in the background.  wow. It was awful (to me) and it hits you like a brick when you walk in. (and then, later, when I came back, it wasn’t so awful, and I was able to see the positive things.) So I gulped, and filled my paperwork,  knowing I was doing the right thing,  and left kitty there to wait his turn to get looked at. He was #28.  I didn’t go far – just around the corner and worked on my computer for awhile. I didn’t stay away long, either. After about an hour I was bored/unable to concentrate so I came back to see how things were going.

Someone said why don’t you stick around and started me on doing the release and rabies certificate paperwork. That’s fine, I liked having something useful to do, rather than get upset watching. I put my back to all the animals lying on the tables and all the cages, got busy and just started listening to all the different people talk, and all that was going on. It was definitely still mayhem, but the people there are good at what they do and have a really direct sense of humor too.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of the jokes and commentary.  How amazing their attitude is. I was glad I came back. Seeing and meeting all these people who work so hard for all these animals (plus being around to help my kitty out when he latched himself to the cage) helped calm me down about being in  a shelter environment with trapped animals.  I could see how much people were trying to make it be about life – not death. I even think I would like to go back and help, once my scooter is useable. I think.

Mags turn!  I knew kitty was sick but didn’t realized he was quite as sick as he is. I think the vet was pissed at me until she realized the cat had only been with me for 3 days and I hadn’t created that situation. She calmed down quickly but recomended waiting for his surgery until he got better.  ( I’m glad she got pissed. Kitty’s not being treated well need other people to be pissed. This helps protect them.) They did test him for felv/fiv and he’s negative which is a huge, huge relief. So it’s antibiotics and an eye cream for Mags and he’ll be all better soon! Then I’ll get to meet the real Mags.

Day 6 (Mon): It’s Monday as I write this and I’m beginning to see a little more bounce to kitty’s step.

Late Evening update:  It’s working! In fact – kitty now has his first toy and is playing happily -really happily – at chase the ever-circling-sometimes-hiding mouse.



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Cheap, Warm, Easy-to-Make Outdoor Cat Shelter for less than $30

Posted by smallspark on December 21, 2008

UPDATE – I made a better version of the cat shelter! I did a variation of the CSM winter cat shelter found here, with thicker insulation:

You can see photos of the cat shelters I made here:

Kitty switches between the original shelter and the new shelter. I have them facing in two different directions, and I have leaned plywood over both of the shelters to add more protection from the cold, wet and wind. He’s definitely feral and hisses at me when I refill his food and bring warm water but he doesn’t run as far away now, and has started to come over and watch me when he hears the back door bang open. He knows I bring the goodies. 🙂


It’s COLD outside. I have one little kitty that comes by for food that I’ve been trying to catch for about 2 weeks now. I’m not sure if he’s feral or stray.  I can’t get close to him often. This cat doesn’t want to be caught and I can’t keep on staying awake until 3 AM which, of course, is when he likes to come by.  Unfortunately it’s cold enough the cats can actually freeze to death now, especially if they get wet.  😦    I have heard of this happening already and it was sad.  The reality this actually happens really bothers me.

So, I’m giving this shelter idea a try.  I just made a warm shelter for kitty and just put it outside! It was actually amazingly easy and I had most of the supplies in the house.  Best part? It only took me an hour and it’s actually turns warmer after a moment or two when I stick my hand in. So the mylar is helping.

In the original version of the shelter, I used a variation on the Chicago idea below since I didn’t quite have the right pieces. But since it’s supposed to snow tomorrow it’s much better than nothing. I originally made it for my favorite stray Buddy: Buddy, my favorite feral/stray

To start, I just put a cat litterbox cover on top of a cardboard box. Then I put thick Styrofoam from a sewing machine box inside the cardboard box, wrapped it all in mylar, put a trashbag around it and taped all the garbage bag edges to the piece of cardboard I used to make a small overhang and decrease the size of the entrance.

I then put a piece of mylar inside, on top of the styrofoam base, place paper shreddings on top of that (since I don’t have straw right now) and added straw.   I then placed it on two pieces of wood underneath to lift it off the ground, and put some leaves on top of it for more insulation and for protection. I put it next to my stoop since that’s where I’ve been feeding him, but that is not recommended since it puts the kitty in a vulnerable position.  I’ve since moved the shelter and feeder to my backyard and he found it, I guess by following his scent markers.

If cats outdoors in this weather stresses you out too, and you want to make one, here are some links to outdoor, inexpensive cat shelter ideas. Most are less than $30, if not cheaper. Put the shelters somewhere the kitties will feel safe.  Orient the shelter so it is not facing into the wind, and protect it as much as you can. The shelters help but it is cold out there.  (and if you are able to go above and beyond, get a outdoor heated floor mat, and/or heated water bowl so water won’t freeze. Better yet, get them inside, if they will go.  Another option is to trap them. )

NYC outdoor cat houses using styrofoam

Chicago idea incorporating solar pool covers

NYC outdoor cat styrofoam (in a covered location)
If you don’t want to make your own, buy one here 59.95 + shipping : This company seems to be the most popular and pretty cost effective, however other companies do make them too.

For more information on helping feral/outdoor cats survive the winter check out this article:

Keep them warm and safe!!

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PA Puppy Mill Bill Senate going off course plus Oprah show update TODAY (kz)

Posted by smallspark on September 25, 2008

The Senate today made amendments and is (more or less) nullifying MAJOR parts of the PA HB2525 bill the House passed with flying colors. PLEASE don’t let them.

PLEASE go to and let them know you DO consider this important.

The House got a lot of pressure and knows we care. The Senate hasn’t had as much exposure to people’s opinions. Let’s make them aware their constituents care, and have an opinion, please.

And OPRAH is back on the subject and she is having another puppy mill show on Sept 25th.
Watch the show and understand what the fuss is all about on this issue.

Please pass this on.

Sources: CBS 3
North Penn Puppy Mill Watch
Main Line Animal Rescue

Posted in Dog, helping, legislation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dog Toy causes doggy tongue amputation – do you have it at home?

Posted by smallspark on August 24, 2008

I somehow was reading this blog about a ball called the Pimple ball by Four Paws which isn’t designed properly and over the years has been causing many dogs to have their tongue amputated or causing horrible pain by getting it caught in the TOY in normal playbut the company hasn’t really responded with anything other than rhetoric and the toys are still on the shelf and being sold – they are not recalled.

So please get rid of this toy if you have it.

For details of what happened – photos and videos – and many many comments on other occurances…please read and share. Click The Chai Story to read.

You can also give it a digg if you want to.

Posted in Dog, helping, products, toy | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

PA HB 2525 – Rep Art Hershey makes bad call

Posted by smallspark on July 4, 2008

For Shame on you, Art Hershey -Chester Countey (R) on submitting PA HB 2525 Ammendment A08348 “…which seeks to add “dishwasher” to the list of unlawful and/or unsuitable housing for a dog in the Commonwealth.” This seemingly pokes “fun” at the PA puppy mill law advocates and certainly won’t help it pass. In fact, the PA puppy mill bill actually may not pass – again…unless people speak up to their reps.

I found myself confused and more than a little pissed when I went to his website and found, front and center, a banner on “Tips to keep your pets healthy this summer” with a cute little doggie on it. Are dogs pets or livestock to you, Rep. Hershey? I hope you re-adjust your wit.

Ammendment A08348 seemingly references an anti-puppy mill billboard put up by Main Line Rescue on how the size of their cage is equitable to the size of a dishwasher.

Main Line Rescue's Anti-Puppy Mill Billboard

Main Line Rescue\

Living in the heart area of this issue, Art Hershey’s response shows exactly why basic standard of animal care needs to be passed into law since he apparently takes the entire concept of respect to animals as a joke and is just playing with our tax dollars.

Way to go, Art for being a shining example of why other people need to step in and stop your district from abusing animals, instead of you taking responsibility for their welfare as you should.

For more information:
‘PA Bill in Danger’ article

PA Puppy Mill Watch for latest updates

Main Line Rescue, Puppy Mills and Oprah

Oprah and Lisa Ling Investigate the Hidden World of Puppy Mills

Info Related to Puppy Mills – PA Cash Crop

Posted in helping, legislation | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

PAWS animals need you short time NOW

Posted by smallspark on July 4, 2008

Hi everyone, Would you pass the message below on to anyone? It’s
about temporarily fostering animals for the animal shelter here in
phila..the numbers are just heartbreaking.

They really need temporary (very temporary for the kittens, anyway)
foster mommy and daddies…. For example: If you pick baby kittens to
care for, it’s simply one extra room in your house or one wire cage
somewhere safe so they can grow old enough to be adopted.

I never knew about fostering animals before I moved to Philly and
that’s why I share this.

It’s hard to contemplate fostering but knowing you are making a short
term accommodation while helping one or more animal live to get to
it’s forever home while at the same time getting so many personal
rewards: affection, exercise, community and more – I more than think
its win-win, I really do know it is.


Below is the email I received from the PAWS mailing list:


This is an urgent plea for your help. PAWS is taking in well over 100
animals every single day — too many to house, and too many to save on
our own. There are many ways you can help:

Please rescue us!Foster kittens: PAWS has more kittens than space.
Yesterday alone, we had 28 litters of kittens by 10 am and were able
to get only four out into foster care. More are coming in all the
time, so every hour is critical. We are especially full with sweet,
wonderfull momma cats that have nursing litters, as well as orphaned
newborns that need to be bottle fed and young orphan kittens who are
eating on their own. They urgently need foster care in order to
survive. Foster care provides a safe place for them to grow to an
adoptable age and find good adoptive homes, and frees up much needed
space at the shelter for other needy animals. If you have a spare room
in your house please consider helping us get these adorable babies and
their mommas out!

Foster a dog: The shelter is packed with dogs — large and small,
young and old — who are desperately waiting for a chance at life. We
cannot house them all, and more are coming in all the time —
approximately 35-40 each and every day. By taking one home
temporarily, you give them the chance at life they deserve and make
room at the shelter for another whose life depends on us having the

I need you! Please rescue me!IF YOU CAN FOSTER AN ANIMAL: Come to the
shelter (111 W. Hunting Park Avenue) immediately. A staff person or
foster care volunteer will be thrilled to help you find the right
animal(s) for you to take into safety. Foster care hours are 11 am to
6 pm every day of the week. To make special arrangements to come at
another time of day, please email Natalie at
(please email only as a last resort; Natalie is inundated. It is best
to just come directly to the shelter.)

Directions to the shelter are available here:

More information about foster care is available here:

Please, Would you help?

Posted in helping, PAWS, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »