Monday, November 23, 2020

Staying Busy At Home

    Staying home during the pandemic hasn't been much of a hardship for us at the sanctuary, not when we have so many cute kitties here who need us! Because Flower Feline Sanctuary has limited space for permanent residents, we've tried to make a greater impact by fostering cats who can go on to be adopted. Perhaps no population of felines is as marginalized as ferals, or"community cats." By trapping feral cats, having them altered, vaccinated, and ear tipped, they can go back to their outdoor homes and live their lives with much less stress and strife. Most folks appreciate them for their ability to keep rodent populations down, and they can certainly do a better job when they aren't fighting for territory, mating, and producing kittens. Any kittens small enough to be socialized to humans can go on to live as domestic cats.

     In the early spring, I trapped around 15 ferals on private property and had them all sterilized. The caretakers wanted the feral cats back but were overwhelmed trying to take care of such a large number of unaltered cats. They surrendered an additional 8 teenaged kittens to be placed via Homeward Pet. One gorgeous, declawed calico had been dumped a few years earlier and they were caring for her, but she needed a strictly indoor home since she had flea allergies. They released her to be adopted out by Whole Cat & Kaboodle, after a mini makeover. Looking back, it was miraculous timing since the pandemic hit shortly after that, closing down the low cost or free spay/neuter clinics. During the fall break from "lock downs," the caretakers called to say a new cat had shown up with two kittens. Other rescue folks have been working on getting cats altered in nearby sites, so I was aware that more cats were in the area. This mother cat was young and not fully integrated into the feeding site; she hung back separately from the existing ferals so I was able to trap her was quickly. I trusted the caretakers estimate that the kittens were around 6 wks old - this is the perfect age to trap and socialize because they are eating on their own at that age but still young enough to tame. After two days though, without the mother at the site and no sign of the kittens, I was starting to worry. I went back that morning with snacks and hunkered down in my vehicle, determined to wait for them. Immediately I saw the little kitties come out from the blackberry bushes - they were alive and safe!! I moved the traps a few times and within two hours they both went into one trap - a highly unusual event. I reunited them with their mom in a large kennel for several days. The mom's spay surgery was a ways out because it was challenging getting an appointment. After 3 days I decided it was time to start kitten charm school, meaning the kittens (Holly and Ben) would need to be separated from mama.

    Socializing is a gradual process; yet some days you will see marked progress. This is what makes it such a high for cat people! First the kittens are confined to a roomy cage with something comfy to hide in. Very spicy kittens need to touched with a wooden spoon until they accept human hands on them. Baby food on a plastic spoon is magical. Mostly, kittens will try to stay tucked into their hiding spot but they need to be pushed just a little to interact. The kittens are graduated to roomier lodging as their social skills expand. 

    Joey was another kitten we socialized, although his life up until being trapped will always be a mystery. My theory is that he was dumped after starting life in an accidental litter, so he was handled a lot but then once outside his life depended upon his basic survival skills. He was trapped with a large, intact Tom cat, who was definitely feral. I think he shadowed this big kitty because big kitty knew how to find food, plus he was safer next to an adult cat able and ready to fight. That guy went onto to a barn home since the site had no caretaker (they had been eating garbage). Joey was adopted with another kitten about his age to play with.

    Angelina and her babies, Tessa, Bart, Gabriella and Peanut were a rare treat because they were all completely social. Two other kittens only a week older, Johnny and Jake, tamed very quickly and were integrated into Angelina'a family after monitoring their health. Motherless Johnny was a little insecure and ended up becoming obsessed with Angelina. They were adopted together of course. There were also a liter of 7 older kittens who needed socialization. A few of them remained exceptionally shy but were still adopted by folks with other cats for them to bond with (a cat for their cat basically).

    Jean Pierre was a kitty who had lived out on the streets for 2 years and had once been hit by a car. Neighbors reported seeing him dragging his back legs yet Jean Pierre's will to live was so strong that he never gave up. Fast forward and he is now quite spoiled in a warm and cozy, indoor home. His new mom doesn't mind at all that he is FIV positive. Holly and Ben have gone onto be adopted into a forever home together. Plans are in process for several kitties in CA to make their way to us for help as well. These are cats who would face "euthanasia" unless a rescue group steps up to guarantee them transport out. We will keep on working around the pandemic difficulties.

    Flower Feline Sanctuary is small but we hope we are making a difference one kitty at a time. We treat each cat as we would our very own while helping them regain their physical and emotional health. It's a labor of love but we always need help. Whether you can help with tech expertise, building skills, socializing kitties, fund raising or donating, we appreciate your support and affirmation that these kitties matter!

Ben and Holly when they were trapped (in one trap!).

Holly (top) and Ben, after weeks of socialization

Ben and Holly receiving love from one of our volunteers

Joey, early on in his socialization

Angelina with her babies

Angelina and Tessa

Angelina and Bart

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Updates at the Sanctuary

Like everyone else, we've been "sheltering in place" during the last several months. And  like many animal people, we've been fostering kitties! Most animal shelters have been operating on a skeleton staff and are only open to the public by appointment. While the resident animals are of course being fed, they are likely not getting the attention and exercise they usually do. Smart shelter staff have placed as many animals in foster care as possible, and many foster folks have committed to fostering for longer periods or even adopting the animals. The only problem is that many spay/neuter clinics had to shut down, or focus only on the animals in their care and could not accept pets who needed a low cost surgery from the public. Fortunately many rescue groups found a way around this by hosting private clinics - where a generous donor funds a mash style S/N day and rescue groups bring in as many cats as the vets can do in one day. This doesn't mean the cats got a "budget operation." On the contrary, since these veterinarians care enough to work for far less money than they would make in a private practice and since they do such a high volume of spay and neuters, the cats might be getting better surgeries than from a private clinic. 

We fostered several litters from Yakima, where trappers actually had access to S/N for feral cats but had run out of rescues and shelters able to socialize, foster and adopt out kittens. One litter came with they mama and were perfectly social already. They were a special treat for us since we usually only get very shy/under socialized kittens. There were also two found under a wood pile at such a young age that they tamed very quickly ( Jake and Johnny pictured immediately below). These six went to our incredibly fun Kitty Yoga class at the historic school house on Camano. Nicole with Blue Monarch Health sponsored the event and led two socially distant class. 

Kitty Yoga was our first fund raiser since Covid 19 shut down most events. We rescheduled the rummage sale, which is now taking place Sept. 26th at the Camano Multi Purpose Building. The new normal is that everyone is required to wear a mask/face covering and the number of shoppers allowed inside will be limited to the governor's current guideline. We have a fabulous array of items - antiques, kitchen equipment/small appliances, books, DVDs, holiday decor, cat themed items and pet supplies, costume jewelry, and other fun stuff. Your purchase will help us continue to foster and provide medical care for these kitties such as Jean Pierre, who would have "fallen through the cracks.

Jean Pierre was a stray cat in Aberdeen for about 2 years. He was "intact." I am guessing he was kept as a pet for perhaps the first year of his life. Someone posted via a FB cat group that this cat needed help badly. This person had been feeding Jean Pierre but couldn't afford any medical. At some point he had been hit by a car and dragged his back legs for a period of time, which many people witnessed. Transportation was arranged and I was able to pick Jean Pierre up in Seattle. This kitty had a terrible combination of lice, fleas, and internal parasites. All his energy was going to scratching and even though he was eating, nothing was being absorbed. I couldn't get into our regular vet clinic and made the grave error of trying the Cat Clinic at Canyon Park because they had immediate openings. This vet not only ignored my wishes and did $200 labs I thought were unnecessary, she literally created wounds on Jean Pierre's scrotum and sedated him unnecessarily. These wounds had to heal up (luckily I had pain meds to give him) before he got neutered at our regular vet, Cats Exclusive in Shoreline, along with a full mouth extraction due to advanced periodontal disease. While he was healing, he developed a staph infection on his back where all the raw skin was from the lice and fleas. JP loves raw food and I had immediately started him on an immune building diet or super high quality raw food with probiotics and digestive enzymes. Eventually JP's body was able to heal (along with antibiotics) and he was playing and feeling like a young cat again. The best part is that a dear friend and supporter of FFS took JP to live with her, so I can visit and hear all about his antics! His voracious appetite slowed down after he built up his body again. Look at the bottom photo and you will see how handsome this guy turned out to be!

Having over 20 years in rescue and natural cat care experience, I have strong opinions on what cats should eat. When a vet tries to sell you kibble designed for IBD for a cat with such severe dental disease he will need all his teeth out - RUN! I hear many stories about vets who appear to be practicing medicine the same way they did at the beginning of their career 50 years ago. They do not listen to people who love their kitties and do research on their own. They do not want to admit that people may have some innate knowledge and intuition about caring for the animals they live with, that may be opposed to what the vet was taught in school. We know when we have a funny feeling something isn't right but sadly we often ignore this, trying to be practical. Don't go to a vet simply because they are close to your house, or other people you know use that vet. You have to feel good about the doctor working with you to create vibrant health for your cat. Healing is about so many things beside just medication.
Hope to see you at our rummage sale - take care!


3 of our many foster kittens - Peanut, Tessa and Gabrielle.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

FFS and the Pandemic

Odin sleeps on the bed any way he wants to and enjoys the quiet of country living.

Things are not much different around the sanctuary for the kitties right now, other than less visitors and more time with the mommy figure. Living on an island, we are always prepared for some sort of disaster which may force us to stay in place and carry on. Having enough kitty supplies is our top priority, as the cats wouldn't be interested in the lentils and grains in my pantry! Unfortunately all upcoming FFS events are postponed until further notice. We are still collecting rummage sale items, as we wait to book another date. I truly hope that by the time gorgeous, warm weather rolls around, we can host some additional events at the sanctuary.

On the larger view, this pandemic is greatly impacting humane shelters and adoptions. Folks likely don't want to adopt if their economic situation is questionable and may even be surrendering their animals if the shut-downs drag on. Fostering animals currently in shelters is the best way you can help animals right now. Foster cats only need a spare bedroom or bathroom (with a window preferably) and your resident animals don't need to interact with them. Kittens are already springing up, so possibly fostering and socializing wee ones is more your thing. If fostering is impossible, then donating food for feral cat color caretakers, directly to rescues and shelters and to food banks, is the next best action.

Public spay/neuter clinics are facing closures and limited hours, so sadly we could see an increase in litters born. Please keep an eye and ear out for abandoned cats and kittens when you go for walks. Never remove a litter without waiting hours for the mom to return. If she is a community cat then she needs to be trapped and spayed as soon as her kittens can eat food on their own (about 4 weeks). Nursing cats can be altered, as well as pregnant cats. Getting kittens before 6 weeks of age is imperative in order for them to be properly socialized and "adoptable" by regular folks. Be cautious about taking underage into a shelter - not all shelters have foster homes in place able to handle neonate kits and they may end up killing them. Fortunately there are many excellent feline resources in Western WA, where the kitties will be safely cared for until they can be altered.

In "hard times," animals and especially cats, often experience the trickle down of peoples' woes. People feel overwhelmed, so they throw their animals overboard so to speak. Our companion animals depend on us ESPECIALLY in hard times. They are there for us all the time, not just when we have "enough" money, or are in perfect health. Let's change this cultural norm and use this crisis to really grasp what's important in our lives - our commitments to those who depend on us every day. Those cute, silly, sometimes naughty and annoying, fuzzy little beings we need too.

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 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!