Tuesday, December 4, 2018

What a Fun Day!

Thanks to everyone who came up to the island for our recent event! While some of the kitties hid because they are only used to their caretakers, others enjoyed the attention. Riley especially loved meeting new people, being admired, and having his picture taken. He is our most outgoing personality here, although he can be somewhat aggressive with people.

It's good for the kitties to see new people so they have less anxiety when they have to see people, such as during a vet visit. Bramwell and Christina likely didn't have adequate handling and socialization when they were kittens but were still around people, so they are shy but not feral. Ellie simply prefers some people over others and to do her thing. Foxy, our newest kitty, is a true feral and is finally allowing me to see her after being here for 6 weeks now. She still lets out a big hiss when I put her food down for her! I know it will be a long time before Foxy lets her guard down and feels comfortable with me being even remotely close by. I realize it literally could be years before she allows me to touch her. Sara, in the senior room of the house, is "letting her hair down" - I caught her playing with a toy when she thought I wasn't looking. So each kitty settles in at their own pace and hopefully, eventually, finds some joy in life. 

Riley is mesmerized by a toy

Ellie with a sanctuary guest

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Next Event at FFS Dec.1st

Flower Feline Sanctuary is hosting a casual chili dinner on December 1st, 11am-4pm
(chili served at noon). $25 suggested donation. Come and meet other kitty lovers, take a tour of the sanctuary, play Cat Trivia, and enjoy a full vegan meal. Lunch will be served inside but if weather permits we will make s'mores outside!

RSVP to diane@kittystarservices.com

Sweet Bramwell

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Sara is out newest resident to Flower Feline Sanctuary. This beautiful seal point Siamese was available for adoption at a large area shelter for several months after being surrendered from the same home our kitty Bunny lived in.  My guess is that the stress of confinement and lack of social engagement made Sara act unfriendly towards people and also given that she's 10 years old, potential adopters passed over her. Sara is clearly traumatized by her change in living situation and spends her days in a cupboard. She even eats her meals in the cupboard, which is fine because she is on a weight loss plan and this allows for strict portion control. At night she comes out to sit in a "safe spot" like the tall kitty condo in the photo above. She will accept treats but will not allow touching (yet). I am confident that taking the slow and steady approach will win Sara's heart eventually and she will tolerate (and enjoy) pets and brushing. I would love to be able to take some more photos of this gorgeous girl too. I will keep you all posted!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Lovely Fall Day

The kitties are enjoying the clear, sunny skies as of late. They are settled in as plans are being made for a few more kitties to join them. Feliway plug-in Comfort Zone and flower remedies help them adjust to newcomers.

What is a typical day like for them at Flower Feline Sanctuary? The day starts with breakfast fairly early. There is no free feeding here so everyone has their own bowl of canned/Rad Cat raw/maybe a few crunches for texture. After breakfast, the humans do the tidying up while the kitties maybe nibble grass. We make sure the bird feeder is filled for them to watch birdies. Bunnies, deer and coyotes also frequently wander through the property. Later during the day we have play time outside if its not too wet. Afterward the kitties get a treat - usually a freeze-dried salmon or chicken piece. Then Riley and I might have a cuddle on the settee. As difficult as Riley can be, he is a very affectionate guy. Dinner is around 5 PM, the same routine, which the kitties appreciate. Some evenings they have a special treat of poached salmon. Depending on the weather, the kitties may hang out outside and catch bugs or go up in their loft if it's chilly. (If they have visitors most of the kitties will retreat to the loft.) I'm happy to report that it's a pretty sweet deal here for these kitties!

Christina in her fall colors

Ellie and Christina

Riley in a rare relaxed moment

Waiting for the toy action...

Yes, Riley is a very large cat!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Meet Riley!

Handsome Riley has come to live at the sanctuary after spending 5 months in a shelter. He is a poor candidate for a barn home because he is an completely domesticated kitty who likely lived a strictly indoor life for his first nine years of life. Riley is a special needs kitty in that he becomes highly charged and gets over exuberant with any social exchanges and with other cats. He will hiss, growl, swat and possibly bite if people do not respect his limits and allow him to control the touching. He will not allow his nails to be trimmed and his veterinary exam (which I was not involved in) had to be undertaken while he was sedated. Sadly, his dominant attitude has not made him any feline friends. 

Riley is physically healthy, has no special diet requirements and is very affectionate in his own way. Even though the mission of Flower Feline Sanctuary is not to rehome cats, I would love to place him in a "real" home if the right person or family appeared. He would need to be an only pet, not be allowed to freely roam outside, and not be around kids or anyone who cannot accurately read his behavior and appreciate his extreme sensitivity. Most people who understand cats to this extent already have multiple cats or a cat who needs to be an "only," so finding this fantasy home is probably like winning the lottery. But I am positing the possibility to the universe because truthfully, he creates some tension for the other cats. Riley can act like a jerk but he is also lovable and adorable. One person has speculated that Riley was probably raised as an only kitten and didn't develop proper feline social skills. He may have been abused or treated roughly. All we really know is that his guardian shrugged off responsibility and deposited him at a shelter, which fortunately is a no-kill facility. Every cat has a history we cannot know; all we can give them is some autonomy to be who they are (while being safe) while providing comfort and reassurance that we will always be there for them.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Happily Ever Esther, Two Men, A Wonder Pig, and their Life-Changing Mission to Give Animals a Home is a darling story that made me both cry and laugh. The authors, Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, move from a small house in the city to a dilapidated farm in the country to give Esther more space and also start a sanctuary for other farmed animals. I moved from my small house in the city to acreage in the county to start a cat sanctuary and experienced many of the same "challenges" my first year in. Snowed in with a stuck car on a hill and no AWD? Check! Freezing temps and a broken furnace? Check! No pizza delivery within miles? Check! "People often think about giving it all up and just moving to a farm. It's an old cliche. Everything will be wonderful, they think. And in theory, sure - it sounds great... The realities of actually closing up shop on the life you've always known and moving to a farm - when, by the way, you have actually never been a farmer - are frantic, crazy, and potentially insane," the authors point out. So true.

Since I am not a big social media user, I wasn't aware of Esther's fame and how wildly popular she is. This is an interesting phenomena given that many people in the U.S. still eat pigs. (Over 100 million pigs are killed for food in this country each year; see Humane Society of the United States.) Only nine states have legislation regarding sow crates, which completely inhibit movement of mother pigs while they have nursing piglets. None of these nine states are the high pork production states and not all of the states have phased in the industry changes yet. In contrast, the European Union phased out sow crates, routine tail docking, tethering and sought to improve floor surfaces over a period of years by 2013. Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, like most sanctuaries for animals traditionally farmed for food, allows Esther to act as a diplomat for her species to help people see these animals as individuals. While some folks say that developing a relationship with their dog or cat forced them to evaluate their relationships with other animals (those they eat, hunt, or support the exploitation of at a zoo or circus for example), others feel a shift after meeting a famed animal.

The mission of Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary is simple: To inspire kindness and compassion for farmed animals everywhere. This is such a lovely goal to work towards while also literally saving animal lives. Even if you can't pack up and move to devote your life to the daily care taking of animals, hopefully you can make choices that make a difference and inspire others around you to care as well.
Happy pigs at Pigs Peace Sanctuary in Arlington, WA

Monday, September 10, 2018

Welcome to Flower Feline Sanctuary’s very first blog post! 

We  took in our first kitty this past August; Ellie, the darling Maine Coon, holds this distinction. She was at the end of her stray hold in a municipal shelter and the shelter staff was at the end of their patience with her aggressive behavior. This sassy little girl is not a feral cat at all but was furious by day ten in a small cage. Ellie had been brought in as a stray but calls to the numbers on her microchip went unanswered and no one claimed her. Did she leave on her own and her guardians said “good riddance,” or was she deliberately dumped somewhere she could never find her way home from? Only a few years old, Ellie has a ball chasing bugs at twilight. She’s not much for being cuddled or held but she is not shy and always greets us.

Ellie in a ray of sunshine
Christina (wood chips are planned to cover the dirt)

“Barn cats” Bramwell and Christina sat for weeks waiting for a home where they could do their own thing and not be expected to perform too many social duties. With so many kittens in the shelter these two were getting passed up and were growing depressed. Bramwell (the medium haired tabby/white) is far too pretty and gentle to be a working cat. He’s polite and respectful to the ladies he rooms with; an all-around lovely kitty. Christina is a knock-out  with her classic calico colors and polydactyl “mittens.” I often call her Queen Christina after the Greta Garbo character because she often wants to be left alone. She’s the least likely one you might see if you came for a visit but she does enjoy playing with interactive toys (which is how I got these great pictures!).

Bunny is a dear soul. She’s at least 14 years old, probably older given her arthritis. She was part of a large group of cats who were surrendered by a family member when an older person passed away. Bunny obviously had a lot of human contact and was well loved. So not only did she lose her special person but her home as well. (Please have a documented plan for your pets no matter your age or health.) Because we need to get Bunny’s weight up with frequent snacks and because she has no interest in being outside, even on a catio, she lives in the main house with a few other senior kitties. She loves to sit with us and be petted. 

One question we frequently hear is, “How many cats will you be able to help?” This will depend on how the cats all get along, their individual needs, and the cost of managing their medical issues as they arise. Our kitties whom we brought with us to Camano also play a huge role in our lives and we want to be fully available for them as well. Right now we are taking kitties mainly from one large animal control facility and are one of many smaller groups they work with to save cats whom the general public isn’t interested in. Most folks work, have families and simply want a “normal” pet they can feed, play with, and have plenty of years ahead without large vet bills. That’s understandable but sadly plenty of animals get dropped off at a shelter when they become unhealthy, or too messy or expensive. All we can do to alleviate the hopelessness and sense of abandonment that these kitties have suffered is to provide a permanent, stable home where they can expect delicious meals, affection regularly, and the opportunity to feel joy again. We can help a very small number of cats in the grand scheme but I like to think that we are challenging cultural norms that animals are disposable. Every time we speak up for animals and insist that each animal matters, we help society evolve to include all non-human, sentient creatures. 

Stay tuned - one more kitty is on his way soon!