Saturday, September 7, 2019

Welcome Grace

Our newest kitty, formerly Patsy but now named Grace, is a reminder that animals are all individuals and do not exist for another species' pleasure or profit. It was speculated that perhaps Grace was an abandoned domestic kitty who wandered into the feral site because she was hungry (she's only about 18 months old). But considering how feral Grace is, we now suspect she was born outside and stayed "under the radar" of the person feeding the feral colony. Grace is very quiet and likes and respects other cats, so she would never call attention to herself. She was however visibly pregnant and the experienced rescuer caught that on the wildlife camera photos of Grace, so she was humanely trapped ASAP. It's bittersweet when kittens are aborted using a spay surgery; that is the protocol of many high-volume S/N operations. In Grace's case however, given her small size and high stress level, I highly doubt the kittens would have survived for long. Giving birth and losing the babies one by one would have been even more traumatic. The feeding site sadly must be dismantled because of development in the area, so the rescue operation had to move quickly anyway.

Now Grace has as much nutritious food as she can eat in the hope that she will gain some weight and understand that she is safe and cared for here. She has started gazing at me without terror and we share slow blinks. I often talk to her in a calm manner to reassure her that, "It will be alright." Realistically, it may years before I can touch Grace and I may never be able to pick her up. Only time will tell if she was someone's kitten once, or if she has to start from scratch with trusting humans. Her wariness of strangers, both human and non, probably saved her life while she was on the streets. I strive to have no expectations of her, other than hoping to see her eating, relaxing in the sunshine, and using her litter box. No matter how much I want to pet Grace, it will only happen on her time frame. If we have to visit the veterinarian, she will likely need to be trapped again and that would set us back quite a bit. So we will worry about that if the need arises because right now, Grace has a clean bill of physical health - it is her emotional state we are working on.

A cat like Grace is not considered "adoptable" as a "pet." Indeed, in our culture feral cats make good "barn cats" and are taken in solely to keep rodent populations down for property owners. Some cats probably enjoy that lifestyle, but Grace is highly sensitive and her rescuer didn't think she would like that kind of life at all. Grace is in an individual; unfortunately we have to surmise to our best abilities what she likes or dislikes because she doesn't communicate in a language we readily understand. When I was growing up, our family answered an ad in the newspaper to take Lucy, a beagle whose owner did not want her because she was gun shy and wouldn't hunt with him. The man had no use for Lucy if she could not hunt. He could not recognize that she was individual and only wanted a dog who would help him with his bloodsport.

When we label animals because of the way they look, or their breed, we don't fully see them or know them. When someone purchases a dog or cat because they think XX breed is a status symbol or will make them look good, they are often disappointed to find that the animal has traits they never anticipated and cannot deal with. Each time a Hollywood film comes out with Dalmatians or chihuahuas for instance, these poor dogs end up in shelters in mass quantities months later. When you adopt from an animal shelter or a reputable rescue group, and find you cannot keep the dog or cat, they will take the animal back because they are invested in finding the perfect home for that animal. But how many breeders take an animal back after they have taken your money? If they saw animals as individuals, they wouldn't be breeding MORE animals. They would grasp that 2,000 dogs and cats dying EVERY DAY in animals shelters means 2,000 individuals, each one a unique little being deserving to live. To be clear, shelters are not the bad guys here - it's the folks who purchase an animal because they want a dog or cat with a specific look, never mind that they have no idea what his or her personality will be like. Or they don't want an adult animal, only a puppy or kitten will do.

What can we do, the folks who do care? Keep on adopting and speaking up for the underdogs and undercats. Keep trying to be the change. And think of Grace and all she's been through in her short life and be inspired to do more for kitties like her.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Dinner at the Sanctuary

Our next event: Drink and dine alongside the kitties and garden! Enjoy a sumptuous vegan dinner featuring locally grown, organic produce, delicious desserts and wine. While our property doesn't have a sunset view, you can see a variety of birds and wildlife, in addition to all the kitties. 

Sunday, August 18th, 2019.
Drinks and appetizers at 5 PM, Dinner at 5:30

$65 per person. All money raised will go to 
stocking the kitty food pantry and medical care for sanctuary kitties.

Please RSVP via email, or text by August 15th. Reserve your seat by sending a check made out to Flower Feline Sanctuary via USPS or pay through PayPal on the Flower Feline Sanctuary website. Space is limited.

Ellie and friend

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Paddy & Angel go to the Doctor

Recently we temporarily housed and cared for 8 kitties from an out of state animal shelter. These cats were all different ages and personalities; the one thing they had in common was that they were scheduled for "euthanasia." I dislike using this term in the case of killing healthy and adoptable animals because it is offensive to anyone who has ever had to have their beloved companion euthanized when they are truly suffering and have no hope of recovery. The point here is that these kitties are very much alive!

The youngest kittens got adopted at our adoption event. Other kitties went to be adopted out at Cafe Coco at the Whole Cat & Kaboodle. Four of the cats have landed permanently at Flower Feline Sanctuary, mainly due to their age and level of comfort with new situations. As with any adoption, it will take some time to fully understand the wants and needs of each kitty. This past week, we took both Paddy and Angel in for a comprehensive veterinary exam. (I have been unable to get a photo of Angel because she is so shy.) Angel is probably younger than her estimated 12 years of age whereas Paddy is likely at least 12 years old. Paddy has mild allergy reactions in his eyes and ears, so each day he gets some topical ointment each day. Both kitties are in need of dental surgery, as they have some potentially painful dental issues. As in humans, infections and root abscesses can cause other serious health problems if left unaddressed. Estimates for each kitty run about $500-$1,000; only after x-rays are taken will the doctor know how severe the teeth are diseased and how many need to be removed.

Unfortunately we don't get a discount on veterinary services but do take advantage of purchasing kitty drugs online and administering what we can at home. We have three cats on fluids to sustain their kidney health, two on thyroid medication, as well as appetite stimulant as needed. I believe that feeding very high quality, grain-free food with a good quantity of raw meat supports healthy immune systems and staves off common feline conditions such as urinary blockage, so we don't buy budget kibble. All donations go directly to buying cat food and litter, and paying veterinary bills. 
We do not take any salary and we cover the cost of kitty housing and heating. If you would like to host a fundraiser for FFS kitties we'd love to be part of it. If you would like to contribute to the upcoming dental procedures for Paddy and Angel, any amount is appreciated.

"Spot" in his temporary quarters, just after arriving from CA

Paddy, enjoying a nap in his new home

Friday, May 17, 2019

A New Life in the Pacific Northwest

A friend who has made helping felines her life mission contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if we were up for fostering some kitties from high-kill shelters in California. As a foster parent, we could be part of the rescue chain that gets these kitties into permanent, loving homes. A group of volunteers transports cats who have no hope of making it out of these shelters alive via plane or automobile to our state, where a small group of foster homes wait to help them get healthy and get ready for adoption. Then the cats will go to cat cafes in Redmond or Bellingham to be adopted.

Some people feel that there are plenty of companion animals in Washington who need help, so why help cats form another state? While the Puget Sound area has amazing animal shelters, Eastern Washington shelters could use some help getting their "live release" numbers up. My view is that kitties have no idea what state they live in, or why they are homeless and having litter after litter of kittens they can barely take care of because they are so hungry and barely surviving themselves. They don't understand that they should have a chance at a better life when they arrive at an animal shelter but maybe they won't be so lucky. Maybe they are "too old," "too black," "too sad looking," "too unpredictable..." You get the idea. 

I believe the kitties DO know that once they get into a safe, clean room with comfy beds and delicious, abundant food, that maybe things will be okay. And although we can only help a small fraction of the kitties who need a lifeline, my hope is that we can inspire the shelters to not work harder but smarter. To implement subsidized spay/neuter programs, get out into the community, speak their own language and educate folks on why spay/neuter is important for all cats. Maybe even reward the people who bring in their cats with vouchers for pet food or supplies. To have a van that transports the cats to and from surgeries so that senior, disabled and impoverished folks who can't drive can still get their cats sterilized. To develop a huge foster network so that these homes are ready when "kitten season" hits but that each year the number of kittens actually goes down. To simply sterilize and vaccinate community cats and return them, NOT kill them, which creates a vacuum effect. How much more pleasant for the kitties and the humans who work at these shelters, knowing they don't have make up a "list" and lethally inject cats on a daily basis. Plenty of shelters are getting to that happy place - why are California and Texas lagging so far behind?

Our first two foster cats include a boy, estimated to be 8 YO and recently neutered. He's affectionate but would likely do well as an only cat or with safe, outdoor access. Also, a darling little girl barely a year old. She apparently has flea dermatitis, which is an allergy to flea bites. She should be an indoor only kitty. They are both coincidentally tuxedo kitties!

Former Tom cat, waiting for just the right name


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Want to help us give Kitties their best life?

Now that the weather is warm and it's beautiful on Camano Island, please consider volunteering at Flower Feline Sanctuary. 

Here are our current volunteer needs:
  • Help socialize our shy cabin kitties: simply sit and chat with the kitties, pet them when they are ready, be non-threatening, and give them a treat at the end of the session. Read to them if you like! 
  • Weed kitty cabin area (in and around outside), shovel and load wheelbarrow with wood chips to replenish the enclosure chips.
  • Help with FB, social media
  • Know lots of cat people? Host a fund raiser at your home or business. 
  • Foster a kitty who will go on to be adopted at one of our rescue partners. 


Spring Rummage Sale at a public site on Camano
Date TBD but we will give you plenty of notice.

  • Start collecting donations from your friends and relatives and deliver donations to my garage for storage anytime. We will accept household items, books, pet items, tools, antiques, clothing only if in very good condition. No furniture or TVs please. WE ARE ACCEPTING DONATIONS NOW. 
  • Volunteer the morning of to move goods to the location of sale (amount 2 miles from our home, just off the main road). This is for early risers! 
  • Volunteer the day of, shifts TBD. 
  • Load up your vehicle and deliver unsold goods to thrift store at your convenience (nothing can remain at the blue building at the end of the day as we only have the building for a set number of hours). 
  • Help us publicize the event through social media and by posting fliers on Camano a few weeks before the event.
Crafting for Kitties/ Arts and craft fair and sale at a public site on Camano 
Date TBD but we will give you plenty of notice.

  • If you are an artist or crafter, start making items to sell (no fee to participate, donate 50—100% of profit to Flower Feline Sanctuary plus a raffle item of your choice). Plan to be there to staff your table and sell your products. Items must be hand made or finished by hand; ie. dishtowels that you buy but then embroider on to "finish", birdhouses that you buy assembled but then paint by hand.
  • Volunteer the day of, shifts TBD.
  • There is a kitchen in the building, we may offer cake and tea for sale and would need a few volunteers to run the snack bar.
  • Help us publicize the event through social media and by posting fliers on Camano a few weeks before the event.

See something you want to help with? Just let us know!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Next Open House

Spring Sit 'n' Sip on Sat., May 4th, 1-5 PM. 

You can see our catios, chat with fellow kitty lovers, and meet our adorable sanctuary residents (some will be hiding from"strangers" but don't take it personally). We'll have hot and cold drinks, and vegan snacks. Fingers crossed for a lovely spring day.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sara, the kitty with violet eyes

Sara, a "chocolate" seal point Siamese, is now quite friendly with me! She loves being petted and with her bunny-soft fur, I love petting her. I haven't weighed Sara but I believe she has lost a little of the extra weight she came with because her skin seems looser. She simply doesn't have the slender body type some Siamese kitties have and will always be a curvy girl. 

The kitties mostly favor raw meat and along with canned foods, get a higher protein/high moisture diet that kibble cannot provide. When kitties come in to the sanctuary, they often have dull coats from eating mainly kibble and low muscle tone because they can't run and jump in conventional shelter settings. I understand that cost and convenience matter in shelters dealing with high numbers of cats, and hopefully these shelters are just temporary housing for most of the resident cats. (Anyone who has read books, blogs or the website of Nathan Winograd can marvel at the amazing work shelters and rescue groups are doing these days, compared to 50, 30, or even 15 years ago, while still aiming for a truly No-Kill nation.) Flower Feline Sanctuary is not sheltering a great number of cats. We are providing a loving home to a small number of kitties, albeit more kitties than most people have in their home. Sara is blossoming because we are a small sanctuary and able to address all of the kitties' individual needs. We won't grow past that point or we would be doing a disservice to the kitties.