Tag Archives: cat rescue

Cat-mint Juleps on the Screened-in Veranda

Hazel House, the sojourning spot for rescued cats awaiting furrever homes, is getting its porch screened in this week. Yeah, I know, that sounds soooooo sexy and interesting, but this means the house will have three fully operational rooms for cats without the danger of them slipping out the door as we bring in fellow sojourners. And that the kitties can sip cat-mint juleps on the screened-in veranda.

Thanks to the kindness of friends (Jon and Beth and Cheryl, specifically) it is also beginning to look downright snazzy. The neighbors like the updo, and no one has complained about the hammering or creative swearing emanating from the property. We have a pileated woodpecker to the south and a retired miner to the north, both of whom have been very pleasant.

So here are the photos of the team, gettin’ er done, along with a few of the fuzzballs for whom we do  it.

Marla loads yard sale stuff. Come out to the Little Bookstore of Big Stone on March 31 and April 1 to snag some bargains!

I’ve always liked Jack’s bum.

Again, that bum thing…. oh, but doesn’t the porch look good?!

Maeve is adoptable, and has four equally adorable siblings also available.

Insert screwing joke here….

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, home improvements, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Peace, Love, Cat Videos

I’m working on my book about cat rescue, and one of the recurring themes is “Why do people rescue cats?” (Or dogs, but the undercurrent is, why do people “bother” to help animals at all?)15134332_1371938282817232_41046199_n-copy

And I guess there’s a cynical answer, and a real answer – I’m just not sure which is which.

On the one hand, Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” For those who reject Eastern wisdom, from the Bible it sounds like “What you do for the least of these my brethren you do for me” except some people will tell you Jesus was only talking about humans. You can also quote Martin Luther King, Jr: “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” In other words, do it because the powerless need defending, and because in defending the powerless we become blessed/empowered/alive/real.

That’s one answer. The other is, when everything around you is sliding out of control, if you only have something small in front of you that you can do to alleviate suffering, you should do it. Whatever it is. I can call DC and register my concerns, but I can’t single-handedly stop anything. Most of any “social justice activism” lifestyle comes down to adding our voices to a larger pot, not being a soloist hero.

When a cat is in front of you, and it’s sick or pregnant or cold, you can pick it up and take it to the vet. (Yeah yeah, nobody has any money; there’s more than one way to pay for a cat.) And it won’t suffer needlessly.

The world is going crazy. Kids have cancer. People hate each other. So I’m rescuing cats while Rome burns. Yeah. Okay. I’ll take it. It’s what’s in front of me, and I know how to do it. It makes a difference to the cat and the cat’s new family; if that’s all the good that comes of this action, fair enough.

That said, petting a cat lowers your blood pressure (assuming you are not allergic, of course) so it’s not all about giving. Watching cats play is better than watching TV. Especially these days.

I’m not an ostrich with my head in the sand; nor am I numb. I’m making those phone calls and keeping up with relevant news. But the biggest small changes I can effect these days are fur-bearing. I’m downy with that.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized

The Washing of Cats is a Difficult Matter

purrito3 So by now everyone knows we’re deeply embroiled in a cat rescue that just set up this week. And the rescue is up and running at a dead run. Construction volunteers have come in from other states, and we’re getting a Purr Box set up for kittens, plus individual little apartments (cages) for cats waiting on adoption or transportation to another rescue. And fielding a lot of requests from irresponsible pet owners and responsible caring people who have picked up strays, and figuring out which is which.

Smartest thing we did as a group was put the two hardnosed people in charge of cat intake. Otherwise we’d be up to 100 cats instead of the 53 we currently have.

So on Monday, a small group was working on constructing a Purr Box – an 8×8 cube suited to holding about a dozen kittens at once – when we got a call from our shelter coordinator. Time was up for three moms with nursing kittens, and three individual kittens. Pull, or else. There was a silence as we all looked around the construction-materials-laden room.purrito

If it had been a movie, the spunky little volunteer with the drill in her hand would have leaped to the top of a carrier and shouted, “We trained for this people! Let’s go!”

Except we never trained for this. We’re learning to run the rescue as we run it. Fortunately we have some excellent help from other rescues and a vet who knows infection control forwards, backwards, and sideways.

So the shelter cats went to our volunteer vet who fecal tested and slapped quarantine tags on some, clear to cage on others. Fellow volunteer Michele and I showed up with 17 moms and kittens to the haven, with instructions to Pyrantel all the moms and flea bathe all the kittens.

club med“Right!” I said to the college educated adults volunteering their time for love of cats. “How many of you have experience bathing kittens?”

People looked at the floor, shuffled their feet, stared into corners. Finally Valerie took off her construction gloves and said, in a small voice, “I gave a puppy a bath once.”

We formed a dubious assembly line: Michele flea combing, Valerie at the utility sink with her husband Alan ferrying cats between. Donald (Michele’s husband) and I held towels, ready to dry.

purrito 1It didn’t go too badly, even though we started with the most feral group. As the kitties went from spitting terror to being bundled into towels and cuddled, they calmed, and a few even decided they liked the experience, snuggling into their dryer’s chests and giving faint, sleepy purrs.purrito valerie

Of course, with 14 kitties to bathe, everyone was soon pressed into service holding a purrito (a kitten wrapped in a blanket or towel or anything we could find as they just kept coming) and people figured out that this was the fun part of the job. Finally, with three cats to go, I looked around and found all the volunteers were sitting on various surfaces, a purrito in the crook of each arm, cooing. Nobody left to wash the last three: Pear, Plum, and little Kiwi – a six inch fluffball of purrsonality.

David and I found paper towels and sacrificed t-shirts to get the fruits finished, and we started caging kittens with moms or in the Purr Box.

“Where’s the other one for this mama?” I asked, as the volunteers reluctantly surrendered their purritos, each trying to be the last one to cage their babies.

purrito AlanThe volunteers looked up. Blinked. Stared. Wordlessly they stood, and began walking about the haven, peering into corners, looking for all the world like wet zombies clutching purring kittens. Finally the errant waif was discovered climbing a cat tree in the Purr Box, all the cages had clean boxes, food, water and toys, and we cleaned up and turned out the lights.

As everyone stood a moment in the darkness, Michele asked, “Should we sing them a lullaby before we go?”

Guinevere wonders WTH we are doing to her kittens.

Guinevere, wondering WTH we are doing to her kittens

We’re figuring it out.

BTW if you want to help us a get a heavy-duty washing machine, you can donate using Paypal via Donald Leech at dl4fh@uvawise.edu. We’re setting up our bank account next week so he’s holding the money meanwhile. And we didn’t have a plan for all those wet towels….

 

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, home improvements, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Lend me your ears – –

 

Jacks’ Wednesday guest blog post

There we were, on our way home on Monday night from the annual volunteers’ appreciation banquet at the prison where I visit every month. I’d noticed that Wendy had been busy on her phone for the last half hour and that usually means cats.

I should explain that I generally try to be the sensible one in these situations, trying to remind her that we can’t save them all and that the bookstore can only accommodate a finite amount while still operating in a customer friendly way. So I’m the ‘bad cop’ to Wendy’s ‘good cop’ much of the time.

Thinking this would probably be another clutch of tiny kittens I was gearing up to be my usual grumpy curmudgeonly self. But as we arrived home Wendy announced we were going out straightaway to find a feral cat that was hanging out in an area of town we’re not too familiar with. We had an address and the lady who Wendy had been on the phone with had offered to guide us to the place.

We arrived as it was beginning to get dark and began to search. No luck until Wendy’s phone contact came out and began guiding. In the darkness a very friendly white cat with oddly shaped black ears came straight to us. We had brought food and water and she made straight for them. Purring and most definitely not feral, so we had a closer look. Her ears weren’t naturally black – they were half eaten away and bloody. She was also scrawny but with a bloated belly. So she was injured, mal-nourished and pregnant!

We brought her back but couldn’t risk putting her in the same space as our own cats or the other fosters, so into the garage she went for the night. All this time she was happy to be picked up and carried in a box – as if she knew she’d turned a corner.

Of course the whole episode was being followed on FaceBook by a whole host of friends and fellow animal rescuers. One of them was our good friend Joe, who offered to come round in the morning to take her up to our Sainted Beth the veterinarian who never imagined she’d share so much of her personal and professional life with us.

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DSCN2262

So now we know that Pogo (we called her that because she looked like a possum in the half-light) has melanoma on both ears, is completely flea-ridden and has a belly full of worms (so – not pregnant).

But all of that can be treated, although she may lose a goodly part of both ears in the process. Apparently she is about seven or eight years old and has obviously been a domestic pet. She either ran off and got lost, or was abandoned because of her ear problem. And to my astonishment, as soon as Wendy posted the update the next day showing Pogo relaxing in hospital, people began to offer financial assistance towards her bill. Which we know Beth will keep to the bare necessities, because she is a saint. But hey, saints and their nurses gotta eat too. Powell Valley Animal Hospital should you want to donate to her care. And we thank you from the bottom of Pogo’s sad little ear stubs.

I may try to lose Wendy’s phone, but she’d just get another one – bless her heart – – –

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Filed under animal rescue, bookstore management, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Prospero Pontificates on Luck and Weather

DSCN1019Hi. My name is Prospero. That’s me on the left, doing a mind meld with my foster brother, Stephen Pinkerton. We’re not related, just sharing a room at the orphanage until our forever families find us. Stephen’s cool; he used to be a stray and tells lots of street stories.

I was a shelter baby. My sisters and I went there with my mom because her family took us when we were about four weeks old. I don’t remember much, except it was cold. A few days later a nice lady named Tammy came and said, “Give me the cats” and the five of us and a guy named Eisneberg and a calico named Ave Marie, we left with her. It was nice all going together. The shelter lady (who was nice) said that didn’t happen very often, and we were lucky.

But it didn’t feel lucky, because we all went to a hospital, ’cause we were sick. Ave just kept getting sicker, but my three sisters got better fast: Dori, Morella and Madelyn–although Morella had a really bad eye problem for awhile. It made her look ugly; well, uglier than usual. Then a nice lady named Kim came and took my sisters out of the hospital, and they all got forever families, which was nice for them.

Me, I was getting nosebleeds a lot, ’cause while we were in the shelter we got these sores in our mouth and ears and noses. Nobody wants a cat who can’t keep his nose clean, so I figured the jig was up and I’d go back to the shelter. But then another lady took me to a big place full of books. It had four other cats in it, all boys. And guess what! Mom was there!!!! She recognized me and gave me a big lick. ‘Course, the other guys teased me about that, but hey, a boy’s best friend is his mom, y’know?

The people here gave me medicine and my nose cleared up. I like it at the bookstore: there’s a big cat castle, lots of toys, and plenty to eat all the time. People come in and pet us and carry us around and say nice things about how handsome we are. In the morning we get wet breakfast and you have to move fast or Patrick Wilson, the youngest guy, he’ll steal it right from under your nose. DSCN1076

There’s a big cat who lives here named Owen. He says soon people are gonna take us to a forever home. He says homes are all different; some are real and some can be fake forevers, but the people who run the bookstore will help us choose good humans.

I want a human who will make sure I never have kids, after what happened to Mom. And play with me and let me sit on their lap and maybe ride on their shoulder. It’s fun to do that. It would be nice to have a home with other cats, but I really hope my forever home has a dog in it, ’cause the bookstore has two. I like to snuggle into their fur and rub noses, and they like me a lot. Which is nice. It kinda makes up for feeling like nobody wanted us, when we went to the shelter.

So DSCN1013me and my new brothers, we’re hanging out waiting for the right people who smell reliable to come get us. It’s nice to be inside where it’s warm, with the weather getting cold and all. I think about the other cats out there who must be looking for places to stay and enough to eat, and I know how lucky I am that lady walked into the shelter and said, “Give me the cats.”

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, humor, Hunger Games, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Wendy Welch

Beulah and Me, by David Hamrick

beulahShopsitter David tells of his relationship with a special lady….

I first met Beulah a little over two years ago at the Big Stone Celtic Festival. It was a beautiful late September day with the sun shining and a light breeze just moving the leaves on the trees in town. I had just sat down to eat lunch on a park bench after watching a friend perform for the Celtic festival.

Beulah sat down beside me on the park bench and asked if she could have a chip. Knowing that Beulah’s father was from Scotland and that her mother had lived in Scotland after her marriage, I knew that Beulah was asking for a French fry out of my bag.

I told her yes of course never being one to shy away from eating with a lady. Beulah helped herself to a few chips and we chatted about her life, family, and Big Stone Gap.

Beulah had been born in Florida and moved to Big Stone Gap 8 years earlier when her mother accepted a position at the local university. Beulah really enjoyed speaking about her town and all of the people she knew. I’ve discovered a lot from talking to Beulah. She keeps many secrets about the bookstore and the town. I think that’s why she gets anything she wants to eat; she knows too much.david

Beulah likes being a bookstore cat but she is very reserved around other cats and keeps to herself. She prefers the company of one other human, preferably in his or her lap.

Little did I know that this would be the start of a great friendship. Over the past two years, Beulah and I have become close friends and she often refers to me as the “guy who shares chips.”

Beulah, I just want to tell you that you are one of the best friends that person can have. Next time I’m there, we have to get our picture taken together!

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, reading, Scotland, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized

The Naming of Cats is a Difficult Matter…….

For your pleasure and edification, this weekend’s blog is word for word an online conversation between Our Good Chef Kelley, Saint Beth the Vet, and me. Here’s the background: Our Good Chef Kelley likes to name some of the foster cats, and we told her next time they came around, she could do so. After being foster-free for 12 hours, we agreed to take in kittens from three different rescuers – a momma and three babies from the shelter immediately, and two sets of three feral kittens from two rescuers trying to trap them, as and when they managed to. Plus one male cat from a lady who was getting drop-offs at her house and couldn’t afford to neuter him amongst all her girl cat pets (not spayed). All of them were to go to Dr. Beth before coming here, to get checked out.

You can guess what happened, can’t you? No sooner had the shelter cats arrived than the feral trappers informed me they’d caught the kitties and the lady with the drop off dropped him off. Beth went from 0 to 9 Bookstore cats in the space of an hour. We can pick up the thread from there as Beth tries to talk Kelley through the naming process.

  • Beth (2:38 pm): We have a Female torrid and Black male Grey who thinks he is badass

     That is tortie not torrid
     and an orange long hair male

    Then we have the sickly ones. Grey female Orange make and tortie female

    All need names

    And the little sick runt Erin has, that Wendy took this afternoon.

    Kelley (2:42 pm): Mom = Berenice Dilute tortie = Morella Orange male = Prospero Gray tabby = Montressor

    It is Edgar Allan Poe time smile emoticon

    I don’t wanna name the sick one till I know he is gonna make it

     Beth (2:43 pm): That’s the one I’m not sure of sex either

     baby 2

    Kelley (2:45 pm): Wait hang on. There is a black male too?

    Beth (2:45 pm): Yes

    Kelley (2:45 pm): So mama and five kittens?

    Beth : 6

    Kelley (2:46 pm): One mama, six kittens?

    Beth (2:46 pm): Plus the sick one

    Kelley (2:46 pm): So plus the sick one, 1 mama and seven babies?

    Beth (2:46 pm): Yes

     And orange boy

    baby 1Kelley (2;54): 1. Mom 2. Black male 3. Orange male 4. Dilute tortie 5. Gray male tabby 6. Gray male? tabby with Erin 7. ? 8. ?

  • Beth (2;55 pm): Another tortie kitten and adult male orange and grey male solid

Kelley (2:55 pm): Ok so all of these do not belong to the mama?

  • Beth (2:56 pm) : Nope

    Kelley (3:10 pm) : I’m so confused. Sorry. Are there 9 total?

    Beth (3:11 pm) : Yes if u count Erin’s

    I’m not helping. I’m brain dead

    Kelley (3:12 pm) : Ok gotcha

    Is OK Wendy didn’t tell me about all of the others

    Mom = Berenice Dilute tortie = Morella Orange male = Prospero Gray tabby = Montressor Black male = Pluto Tortie 2 = Annabel

    Who am I missing?

    Other than the sick one. I am missing 2

    Beth (3:15 pm) : Adult orange male and kitten orange male

     So which one is prospero

    Kelley (3:16 pm) : Is there a sickly orange kitten and a well orange kitten?

    Beth (3:17 pm) : Sick orange and healthy adult

    And grey bad assbaby 3

  • Kelley (3:34 pm):

    Confused again. I named an orange kitten Prospero. Is there another orange kitten or just an adult orange?

    Beth (3:35 pm): Adult

    Kelley (3:36 pm) : Healthy adult orange = Luchesi (loo-kasey)

    Ok so that is everyone but badass gray?

    Is the solid gray male the badass?

    Beth (3:37 pm) : He certainly thinks so

    Kelley (3:38 pm): The only one I haven’t named is the solid gray

    Let’s call the badass Montressor and the tabby boy can be Valdemar

    And that should be everyone except sick baby. Right?

    Wendy (3:40 pm): Y’all are so cute

    Kelley (3:40 pm) : Ok cool. ROFL. Wendy I didn’t know there were so many! Hehehe

  • Wendy (3:41 pm): Neither does Jack.

    They’re coming in groups of 3

    The rest are hanging with Auntie Beth awhile

     He’ll never know how many there are if they come in clumps.
    So now you know, gentle readers: neither the life nor the online presence of a rescuer is ever dull.
    baby 4

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Filed under animal rescue, bad writing, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, shopsitting, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch