Sunday, February 16, 2020

Spay is the Way/Neuter is Cuter!

February is Spay/Neuter Awareness month. No doubt your kitties at home are already spayed or neutered, but what about the cats you see outside sometimes or the ones you feed at your workplace? many kind-hearted folks feed community cats and free-roaming cats, but taking the time to humanely trap a kitty to sterilize him or her can make a real impact on feline overpopulation. 
Did you know that upwards of 70% of cats who end up in shelters do not make it out alive? They may be perfectly socialized but get started and bite a staff person and then they are labeled aggressive. They may get depressed, stop eating and shut down or develop a chronic stress condition to the point that they are euthanized because they are "sick." They may sit in the shelter for months, until the shelter gets too full (kitten season for instance) and then their time is up. Many underage neonate kittens are killed in shelters that do not have volunteers trained and willing to bottle feed. Some shelters in parts of the country don't even foster programs. Of course feral cats often don't even stay the length of a stray hold because they are a "danger to the staff," unless they have an ear tip and a microchip and a colony caretaker come in to claim them.

Obviously keeping cats out of shelters is the best solution. This means that any community cats or barn cats must remain where they live but that the colony doesn't grow. Even if you live in a city or town with a great, no-kill shelter it doesn't cut you slack to let your cat breed. The shelters doing such a good job with adoption and fostering often take in animals from shelters in areas where animal overpopulation is still a huge concern. So if you take a liter of kittens to your local shelter which is no-kill, that prevents the facility from taking a cat or litter of kittens off the "red" list from Eastern Washington, California, or another area that is drowning in cats and dogs. Most of these shelters are trying to implement life-saving programs but the day-today reality is that they have very limited resources and so many animals coming in. No one goes to work and feels happy about killing beautiful cats and dogs. We need to help these people help more animals, and transport programs are a great first step.

George at 5 mos. old. He was trapped and neutered but could not stay in his original location because it was unsafe and the caretaker was no longer able to feed the cats. George now lives at Flower Feline Sanctuary with his mom and
three siblings.
If you purchase a cat or dog from a breeder, the result is that in essence a cat or dog at a shelter dies. "What harm can buying one cute, little Labrador puppy or a precious Maine Coon kitten cause?," you might be thinking. It's a free country and you can spend your money on whatever you like, right? If we think of the greater good and look at the big picture, we realize that every choice we make has a ripple effect. If we all thought our individual actions didn't matter, none of us would bother to vote, or donate money to our favorite charity, or give a homeless person a meal. We all strive to make a difference in the world, whether it's creating inedible art or music, raising thoughtful children, or volunteering at a non-profit charity. It should therefor resonate that the decision to adopt a homeless animal and not financially reward a person breeding their animals, whether accidentally or because they "love the breed" is clear and simple. So speak up and advocate for the animals who really can't stop reproducing without our help. Offer to do some of the work or cover the cost - whatever the person's excuse is doesn't matter, just help. Let feral cats live on your property, feed them and provide shelter, but borrow a trap and visit a free or low cost clinic and stop the cycle first and foremost.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Make Meatless Monday your favorite day of the week!

Looks tasty...

Join us for a fun class on plant based eating and food prep on February 1st, 11AM - 1PM. Cost is $25 and includes lunch/samples and a take home food/recipe guide. If you've been wanting to include more whole foods, seasonal produce, legumes and grains in your diet, this is a great time to find out how. I'll cover easy preparations so you can fill up your fridge and have nutritious and fresh meals ready in minutes. We'll also look at using meat alternatives and how they can offer variety and familiarity when used in home-cooked meals.

Why is Flower Feline Sanctuary hosting a class on vegan eating for people? As founders of an animal sanctuary, we believe all animals deserve a natural lifespan with freedom from harm and suffering (ahimsa). We connect the felines we share our lives with to the animals forced to live and die in animal agriculture. I also posit that as a feminist and environmentalist, it would be contrary of me to support industries which violate female animals in every possible way and foul our waterways with manure lagoons. Does that mean our cats are vegan? I believe that the kitties, unlike humans, require animal flesh to be healthy. Their very instinct is to hunt and eat small creatures (or most of the creature anyway). Some people do feed their dogs and cats vegan food. This class is not a forum to debate the ethics of eating animals or feeding them to our companion animals. Entire books exist which debate these topics and I can certainly recommend some authors if you are interested.

SO, if you are looking for some new ways to "eat your veggies" and fill up on fiber, please RSVP. I promise there won't be any tofu or soy milk!

RSVP via email, text, FB or telephone
Class location: 815 New Morning Rd.
Camano Island WA 98282

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Giving Tuesday

If you are like me, you receive a LOT of emails asking for Giving Tuesday donations. There are so many great organizations doing good things for animals. These groups all need help because most of them don't receive any government money and rely on private grants and/or individuals and corporate matching programs. I started working with feral cats over 20 years ago, when I saw how marginalized and underserved they were. The Feral Cat Spay & Neuter Project hosted only one clinic a month back then so trappers had to seek out any other option they could if they didn't have enough reservations to cover the number of cats they had trapped. In addition to the FCSNP's incredible growth and sustained commitment to providing S/N surgery to all cats, other very low cost options exist now that didn't back then. Feral cats are finally having their day, and large scale trap/neuter/return programs are in effect is so many more communities than they were 20 years ago. Most folks now understand that feral cats have a place as community cats, and removing and killing them is not the solution. 

Feral and semi-feral cats still "fall through the cracks" sometimes, in that they are not adoptable in traditional shelter settings and many barn cat placement programs are overfull with available cats. (Please do not adopt friendly cats and certainly not kittens to employ as mousers in your barn - take in cats with no other options!) Cats who would have been perfectly fine to live out their lives in their manages colony find themselves displaced due to development, or new owners purchasing property with existing feline residents. Many of these kitties will never be lap cats, or even cats who can be petted. But they can and do have high quality lives of their own design. We value these kitties as individuals.

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men. – Alice Walker 

Chase, truly equipped to live outside. He was trapped but not returned to his site as there was no caretaker.
Tiny Sasha when she first arrived. At 5 lbs, she had a litter of kittens who didn't survive. She came from
an overcrowded hoarding situation where none of the kitties were altered.
Grace, as viewed through the window. Her colony site is under development.
Eva, a gentle "semi-feral." Her colony site is in peril and the kind person who cared for the
kitties was forced to leave because he was homeless.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Party at the Sanctuary

Party at the Sanctuary on Saturday, December 14th, 2019, Noon-4 PM
815 New Morning Rd. Camano Island 98282

Enjoy some cake (there will definitely be chocolate!) and a beverage, tour the sanctuary, and purchase organic catnip pillows and handmade greeting cards to support FFS kitties. 

Please bring canned cat food to donate to the Bella's Voice pet food bank.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Join Us Nov. 18th 5-9PM

Here’s an easy way to help support Flower Feline Sanctuary and have a relaxing evening with friends or have a "date night:"

Visit Tapped Camano on November 18th and Flower Feline Sanctuary will receive a 20% donation! Enjoy a meal or small bite, beer on tap, wine or locally made cider. Plus there will be seasonal specials focusing on plant based foods! This is a kid and dog friendly establishment. Sorry, no kitties will be present. They will all be home cuddled in their beds after a delicious non-plant based dinner.

Tapped Camano
848 N. Sunrise Blvd., Camano Island 98282
November 18th 5-9PM

* You must show your server this event listing, or blog/FB post from Flower Feline Sanctuary on your phone or tablet (or print out a copy to take with you) for FFS to receive the funds.

How can your dollars help? Flower Feline Sanctuary is all volunteer run, meaning that all donations go directly to buy kitty food, litter, and pay for vet care. Most of our kitties have had a rough go of it before coming to the sanctuary. They sat in a kennel for weeks on end with undetermined fates, faced "euthanasia," or simply had no place to go back to.

Chase is a feral boy who was trapped in Eastern WA and wasn't part of a managed colony, meaning there was no one was feeding the cats and providing shelter. Chase was not neutered and is FIV+, so if he was taken to a typical animal control facility he would be killed within a day. As a very small sanctuary, we cannot save them all. However we like to think that perhaps we inspire other to care and consider that feral cats, and other who do not fit the cute, "adoptable" mold still deserve to live out their lives. Traditional animal shelters cannot accomplish helping every companion animal in need - that requires the community and individuals make up a community. Individuals can go out and trap/neuter/return feral cats, or do foster care, or host a fund raiser, or volunteer with their favorite organization. The kitties thank you!


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mending Hearts

In the few months Lottie has lived with us, her expressiveness, sensitivity and funny quirks have completely charmed me. Upon arrival from California, Lottie was frozen in fear for over a week. She barely ate and stayed hidden in a box with a blanket most of the time. After she started coming out to explore, she discovered freeze dried chicken treats and entertained us with her Chatty Cathy video debut. (I later realized she has only a few teeth and now crumble the treats, my bad.) There is so little we know about this precious kitty's former life. The shelter intake form said that she was an owner surrender, no reason given. We know she was shot with BBs at some point in her life. We know that she has cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that causes her heart to skip beats every so often. Lottie takes a beta-blocker and we hope it will not develop into anything more serious, however she will need regular echocardiograms to monitor her condition. 

It's true that the adult cats we've given a home to have nearly all had some medical issues, some requiring dental surgeries and visits to veterinary specialists. Elgie has a hole in her heart and is on two medications twice a day. The cardiologist who saw Elgie was amazed by the size of the hole and that Elgie was doing so well otherwise. She is around 11 years old and has no there health issues. He commented about how resilient cats are and that dogs with this condition tend to faint. Cats hide their deficiencies, an innate trait based on surviving as a prey species for larger animals. But if we pay attention, we can tell if a kitty isn't feeling well by their body language and unusual behaviors that are not their normal. For instance, some cats like to nap in a cozy,  tucked away spot. Bootsie literally tunnels under covers and cat beds rather than sleep in them. But Elgie and Lottie both nap in "public" areas, where we can clearly see them; if they were hiding for a day then we would know that something is amiss. Neither girls run or play much, probably because they know they are slightly limited by their heart condition and they conserve their energy for important things like digestion. 

With both of these heart conditions, sudden death is a possibility. In fact, I read that dogs with cardiomyopathy frequently go undiagnosed until they suddenly die. Certain dog breeds are more prone to this condition than others. Like most veterinary medicine, cardiomyopathy and its treatment is much more studied for dogs than for cats. It's reasonable to speculate that more dogs visit cardiologists than cats do, therefor there are more case studies. And of course some cats simply aren't candidates for visiting a cardiologist or ophthalmologist, because they are too far on the feral spectrum. We treat every cat as an individual and weigh the cost with the benefits. Thankfully both Elgie and Lottie are eating their pill pockets and not minding getting medication one bit.

The many moods of Lottie

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.