Cat Herding

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Year Later...

One year ago today, I started caring for my brother's cats.

My brother, Dick, was hospitalized after I took him to the ER for pain. After tests were run, he was diagnosed with terminal multiple myeloma and died from respiratory complications after a few weeks.

A year ago, I walked into his home and experienced the thunder of frightened cats scattering in many directions. Those that knew me well soon came back up to me and inquired as to the day's menu, while others hid under a bed, an armoire, a sofa, a table, or hid inside cabinets and closets.

When I put the food out, most came to eat or at least investigate, but some waited until I left the area before they darted to the bowls. I had no idea how many cats there were, I didn't know all their names, and I wasn't sure about which ones still needed to be spayed/neutered. I also didn't realize that I was going to be caring for many of them for a long time, and for all of them for months.

Today, all the cats that hadn't been altered are spayed/neutered. Today, some are living in new homes - as family or as guests waiting for adoption with a family. A dozen are living with me and my original cats and dog.

When I touch or simply look at each one by itself, I see a beautiful, fascinating creature. When I look at all of them together, I see a herd of willful critters that have changed the living conditions of my own cats, my dog, and especially me.

Some changes are for the good -- my shelter dog, Honey, has learned to deal quietly and politely with cats instead of gleefully chasing them under the bed and following to see if she could catch them. Now she waits for permission to walk past either of the small grays (Grayling and Midget) who tend to glare and growl at her as often as not. My original cats are learning to live amongst them, although there are still spits and spats as they try to remind "Dick's cats" that this is THEIR home.

I get frustrated, and tired of cleaning/spending money/worrying about adoption/worrying about cat-cat fights and cat/dog fights, etc. But when I have some quiet time and one of "Dick's cats" jumps on my lap, I enjoy the softness of the fur and the tone of the purring, and the pressure of the head butt against my hand or chin. Unless it's Tig who jumps up when someone else is on my lap and bites their neck, or Bunny wants to rub my chin when I'm trying to eat, or Jin squalls for the 10th time for "more food"...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

David and Goliath - the pics

This mouse diced with death when it tucked into the lunch of a hungry leopard.

Seemingly unaware of the beast towering over it, the mischievous rodent grabbed at scraps of meat thrown into the African Leopard's enclosure.

But instead of pouncing on the tiny intruder the 12-year-old leopard, called Sheena, appeared to be afraid of the daring mouse and kept her distance.

At one stage she tried to nudge the mouse away with her nose, but the determined little chap carried on chewing away until he was full

The extraordinary scene was captured by photography student Casey Gutteridge at the Santago Rare Leopard Project in Herfordshire.

The 19-year-old, from Potters Bar, Herfordshire, who was photographing the leopard for a course project, was astounded by the mouse's behaviour.

He said: 'I have no idea where the mouse came from - he just appeared in the enclosure after the keeper had dropped in the meat for the leopard.

'He didn't take any notice of the leopard, just went straight over to the meat and started feeding himself.

'But the leopard was pretty surprised - she bent down and sniffed the mouse and flinched a bit like she was scared.

'In the meantime the mouse just carried on eating like nothing had happened.

...but even a gentle shove does not deter the little creature from getting his fill...

'It was amazing, even the keeper who had thrown the meat into the enclosure was shocked - he said he'd never seen anything like it before.'

Project owner Jackie James added: 'It was so funny to see - Sheena batted the mouse a couple of times to try to get it away from her food.

'But the determined little thing took no notice and just carried on...'

Sheena was brought in to the Santago Rare Leopard Project from a UK zoo when she was just four months old.

She is one of 14 big cats in the private collection started by Jackie's late husband Peter in 1989.

The African Leopard can be found in the continent's forests, grasslands, savannas, and rainforests. the mouse continued to eat the leopard's lunch and show the leopard who was boss.

From an email and a story found here

Monday, August 3, 2009

Taming a Feral / semi-Feral Cat - thoughts

In another 8 days, it will have been one year since my late brother went into the hospital -- not knowing why he was in such pain, and probably not knowing that he would soon die.

In another 9 days, it will have been one year since I took over the care of his many rescued cats -- some cats who were used to my visits and others who were afraid of any visitor. When Casa de los Gatos offered to help, they said that they could take even the semi-feral, but I figured that most of them should be those that were the most adoptable -- young, healthy, and friendly to those they knew at least, so that meant that I would be left with the old and the scaredy cats.

The old ones are not only friendly, they are demanding of attention -- like any true cat. The young ones who were born around the time of my brother's onset of symptoms, or afterwards, always scrambled to see who could hide first when I came in the door. I really never saw them until I was forced to become their caretaker. I didn't know their names, their gender, or even what they looked like -- there were a "bunch" of solid gray cats, and I had trouble counting them to know how many, let alone which one was which.

I have two of those now - Midget (female)and Grayling (male), and they still avoid me most of the time.But Grayling likes the Furminator, and today he saw me "furminating" one of the old cats, Buddy, and he came over close to me to decide whether it was safe to get a bit of furminating of his own. I firmly believe that cats started associating with humans not just for food (they could get their own food, but ours did look tasty) but for scratching their itchy places.

Many of my cats approach each other and give head bumps and rub their faces against the other's body, but cats don't use their paws and claws to help another cat scratch an itch -- they save it for themselves. When they have that "summer itch" with their fur starting to shed, only a human's fingers (or comb or Furminator) can reach down into the deep recesses of that thick coat, managing to both reach the itch and pull out some of the offending loose fur. My brother's old cats, when they were young, would actually line up next to his patio bench waiting to be the next one to be combed. Now they don't wait in line - they push each other away to be the first and only customer, but they all hang around for their chance.

This behavior has brought the semi-ferals, both the indoor and the two born outdoors, to watch and apparently learn about the pleasures of combing and scratching. Today I furminated several of Dick's old cats and a couple of my cats while Cali, Lil Bit, and both grays watched from a distance. Cali has let me scratch her fur before, but I never know whether she will let me approach or run away. Today SHE did the approach, and before she was through, I had pulled out quite a bit of undercoat and she was pushing her cheeks against my hand to be scratched as well as letting me comb her back and sides. Lil Bit came up and let me comb his back and tail. Even Grayling came up for short session - arching his back while I pulled the furminator through his thick coat. Dilly, one of the "outdoor" ferals, has been rubbing up against me for the last week or so, and really enjoyed having the tines of the furminator to lean into once she felt them go deep into her fur. She was purring and leaning and thoroughly looking like a tame house kitty. Her sister, Taffy, (pictured above) was sleeping, and I decided not to wake her for a session.

Summer is a good time to show a cat why being friendly to people can be satisfying -- getting rid of all that shedding fur is almost as much of a treat as a salmon dinner.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dog Pack attacks alligator

At times nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty, and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty.

The alligator, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator", can still fall victim to implemented 'team work' strategy, made possible due to the tight knit social structure and "survival of the pack mentality" bred into the canines.

See the remarkable photograph below courtesy of Nature Magazine -- Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the gator preventing it from breathing, while another dog has a hold on the tail to keep it from thrashing. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the gator.

Not for the squeamish

scroll down and click on image to make it larger



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The pet gate is down - and this time it wasn't knocked down by accident.

My pet gate had a smaller gate door at the bottom that could be opened for cats to use while the dog, Honey, would have to jump the gate if she didn't want to wait for it to be opened. When I was home for the weekend, I would leave the gate open for hours and things went well, but I didn't want to leave all day for work with it open until I had a good deal of experience seeing their interactions. Well, Honey now acts much like my other dogs always did around the cats -- sneaks bites of yummy noms from their bowls and runs to check on them when she hears yowling/squalling/hissing, and so I unscrewed the fasteners, took the gate down and put it away in a bedroom. I now have one less thing to trip over, and the cats and dog officially live together... except for the closed, locked door that helps retain some of my sanity at night when they willingly traipse into the bedrooms to enjoy their bowls filled with canned food, and I run out and shut the door before they can escape, er.. follow me to the rest of the house. I have to lock the door because Buddy can open any door with a handle-type door opener, and all of mine have handles. (If anyone wants to adopt Buddy, this is "just a joke" -- he's not really a super elusive feline who can open any door, any cabinet...).

Which leads me to my next topic -- it's time to get some of these cats adopted into new homes. Taffy and Dilly are the two outdoor semi-feral kittens (born last July), and even they show a lot more confidence. Of course, when I bring out the vacuum, that confidence runs out the door into another room, but all my own cats always did that too. My brother's senior cats, however, were used to Dick's frequent cleaning and hang around while I have to vacuum around them. They aren't ready to have their fur vaccumed while they are wearing it, but they point out the hairbunnies if I miss them. The saying should specify that "Dogs have masters; cats have maids"...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wild cats in the west

When I last wrote about Sarge's cats, I had transported the last one, Midget, from Dick's home, had scheduled her for spaying, and was worried about taming some of the indoor and outdoor “feral-acting” cats. Midget's spaying was completed without major incident, and she was NOT pregnant. I tried to give her a cage to rest in for a few days, but she didn't want to come out of her crate, so I jury-rigged the crate to fit in the door of a cage (with some towels stuffed around the opening to keep her from escaping from the cage). I didn't think it would work, but she was content to stay in her den-crate and went into the cage only to eat/drink/use the litter box. I didn't see her do any of those for several days, but the evidence was visible.

I had put Hassle in a cage the week before and found that he was not only fearful, but aggressive – when I reached for his bowl to add food, he slashed my hand with a
strong blow and made it clear that he was ready to take further action if I tried to reach for the litter box next to him. I don't like to bleed, and was easily convinced to keep his door shut and drop food thru the cage openings..., but how to clean/change his litter box? I had hoped that he would relax after a few days, but he appeared to be growing increasingly tense and angry. I emailed folks on the animal rescue lists and asked for advice, and grudgingly decided to let him out of the cage and hope that he would respond in time – as encouraged by Colene and others. I had gotten him to move from the cage to a crate and was truly almost ready to transport him to the County pound where he would have been euthanized for wild behavior. I feared that I would end up having to do it later – and that I would get bloodied trying to trap him, but I decided he needed to have a chance. I also decided to change his name from “Hassle” to “Fife”, (and now "Barney") – after Mayberry's fearful but steadfast deputy. Photo of Fife relaxing in the cat playpen.

I am amazed to report that Fife now does the “flop, drop, and roll” to get rubbed and although still nervous about new experiences, he's explored places in my home that my own original cats have yet to touch (I hope they never do), and that he's a “sucker for salmon flavored food”. He enjoys a strong backscratching, allows a tummy rub without attacking my hand, and visits every bowl that has salmon catfood placed in it.

Midget has let me touch her, but is still leery of staying in one place and being petted, but her older stepbrother, Grayling, accepts petting once I can touch him – but doesn't always let me near enough to get that first touch.

The outdoor feral kittens are a work in progress – I took one back to Dick's place because she seemed to be very scared, Dilly and the calico, now named Taffy, have adapted to indoor life quite well. Dilly lets me touch her and pet her and plays games with the other cats when I bring out the string toys. Taffy stares at me and still considers me a threat, but a threat with food. She has gone out the door into the backyard at least twice (not my plan, but hers) and surprisingly returned – she considers the house to be her sanctuary even though she lived outside since birth. Of course, a lot of that time she spent inside a storage shed, under Dick's home, and under the roof of his carport – so that likely has helped prepare her for living under a roof. She used the litter box the first time she needed to pee after being brought to live in my home, and she and Dilly have continued to have good bathroom habits.

My dog, Honey, has chased a number of the exploratory cats, and has cornered a few which resulted in scary situations, but her intentions still appear to be playful and the cats are getting more used to her. A number of them lie in front of the pet gate and watch her with our house cats – they appear to be either judging her friendliness with those cats or studying her response time from the kitchen to the pet gate. They've knocked the gate over several times while running away from Honey, and I'm thankful none have broken any bones. That's not what I'm yelling at them when I hear/see the gate go down, though.

I now believe that each of them could live in an adoptive home, given more time to become socialized and given a patient adoptive owner.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dick's house is catless!

Tonight I transported the last cat out of Dick's house - she (Midget) is scheduled for a spay appointment tomorrow morning at the MASH unit in Apache Junction. I had set three traps in the empty hall bedroom (with no bathroom access or other doors to escape through) after finally closing both Midget and Lil Bit in that bedroom. Midget has been very leery of me over the last few weeks as I crated and trapped cats for transport to my home, and she has avoided each of the traps that I set - one by one, the traps caught the "under the sink" cat, Midget's brother or step-brother, but NOT Midget. I caught the last of the outdoor kittens and got them spayed last week, but NOT Midget. Even tonight, things did not go as hoped -- after I took Lil Bit in his trap out of the house, I hoped that Midget would come out and seek food, walk into one of the two remaining traps and await me when I returned. Instead, she was still curled up in a corner of the closet - I touched her, but she growled and looked frantic, and I was not willing to risk being attacked in fear. I guided her out of the closet and herded her from several hiding places, hoping she would head for one of the traps, but instead she went into a small crate! I would have been overjoyed except for the fear that the vet staff will find it difficult to handle her and get her out of the crate. I placed the crate in the trap door, and she ran into the trap, but ran back into the crate - so I thankfully accepted that she was finally captured and took her home. I hope the vet clinic will be able to handle her and get her spayed tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spay Day USA

Today is Spay Day USA (designated by HSUS and Doris Day League), and last night I set traps for the two remaining unaltered females living in Dick's carport, and for Midget, the one remaining female (hopefully) living in Dick's home. I set the three traps on loan from AZ Cats (Altered Tails) and my new Havahart trap. I had hoped to corral Midget (with or without her brother, Grayling, in Mark's old bedroom, but she still doesn't trust me after last week's attempt to trap her (when I was able to trap one of the carport torties after I gave up on ever catching Midget), so I just baited the traps in the bedroom, baited the traps in the carport and traveled back and forth between the two areas to see if I could increase the probability of success. Midget's brother was trapped by the Havahart first, and then the dark tortie got trapped. Dilly, the dilute tortie went in a trap 3 times to lick the drippings I had used for bait, and 3 times she evaded setting off the trap. I had almost given up and then she stepped ONE MORE STEP forward the 4th time and the door shut. I left for the night after moving the two trapped torties inside Dick's house for the night. When I arrived this morning (hoping to see Midget in the final trap, I saw instead -- Hissy or Hassle, the bi-color "under the sink cat" -- hissing and flopping end over end when he saw me come in the bedroom door.

Soooo, today I had appointments at AZ Cats for 3 cats, and I took 3 (of the 4 trapped cats) to AAWL Arizona Animal Welfare League. First time I had used this location, and it worked out very well since I volunteer today (Tuesdays each week) at the Eastside shelter from 9 to 11:30am and the clinic appt. was for "between 8 and 9 am" with pickup around noon. Jan, from AAWL was very friendly, capable, and efficient, and filled out the forms (instead of me having to do it as usual) and helped me carry the traps out to the car after the operation. We talked about adoption of feral/semi-feral cats, and her experience is that the ferals kept acting feral even when adopted at a young age (8 weeks)-- I'm concerned about this since I am wondering what to do with the July kittens in the carport, and this includes two of those I got altered today. BTW, one of the torties was PREGNANT -- with 6 babies!!! The other was not. Now I'm even more concerned about Midget, because the tortie hadn't acted pregnant while Midget has been giving some signs -- I have got to trap her ASAP!!!!

Hissy/Hassle and the 2 torties came to my home (where the tortie with white or calico is also recuperating (she was spayed last Thursday at the MASH unit). I'm still thinking about whether to buy more cages and try to socialize them or put them back - except if I put Hissy/Hassle back in Dick's house, it'll be even harder to ever catch him again. Same with Grayling.... and Midget -- IF I can ever catch her the FIRST time!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Purchased a Havahart trap - not thrilled with it, but it will be helpful to have one when I need one rather than trying to borrow one. It's sitting in a room where they eat and play, and Midget and others were very interested in it when I put it down on the floor. I used the laser light to intrigue them more by shining it inside the trap with the doors shut - they act like they would like to get inside. I hope it will be like that when I try to trap Midget...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cats and Valentines

I've noticed that Midget, one of the gray cats that won't let me get too close, is acting awfully friendly with the guy cats (I'm pretty sure she's female) - most of whom are neutered, but not all of them. Remember, some of them won't let me catch them or even get a really good look to see if they are male/female. I drove Dick to the spay/neuter clinic with each of the cats that we did get spayed/neutered, so I'm pretty sure that there are still two or three that aren't done besides Midget. I still have 3 of the outside girl kittens to get spayed, and set up an appointment with AZ Cats to get them done on Tuesday Feb. 24th (if I can trap them).

I probably will need a trap for Midget -- I might be able to catch her in a cat crate, but the vet would probably have a hard time with her if she's not in a feral trap to let them anesthetize her. She lets me get so close - she'll swat my hand (no claws), but I can't quite get close enough to grab her, and IF I did - she might be a handful. She will chase the laser light into a crate, and hopefully, she'll chase one into a trap if I leave one out for her to get used to for a couple of days before I need to actually trap her.

Friday, February 6, 2009

An Update from the Casa de los Gatos

I received an email today from Sheryl, one of the angels who cares for the cats at the Casa de los Gatos, and specifically, one the of the angels who cares for those of Sarge's cats who were re-homed there. I knew that leaving them there would be extremely upsetting for them, but I could not afford to keep paying the mortgage where they were living since Sarge's death. Any move would have been upsetting, but they needed to go somewhere that they would be cared for and given the chance for adoption into new homes - the Casa was a wonderful opportunity for them -- but they might not agree. Well, it seems that most of them have begun to delight in the advantages of their new temporary home, and the staff who cater to their needs.

The email:

We wanted you to know that the cats are doing well. They are still pretty shy, but most of them are coming to us for attention now. Socks, Smokey and Prissy are the ring leaders and all pile into my lap at once, then the others come to see if they can fit in too!
I brought them a Drinkwell water fountain yesterday since some of them like to drink from the sink faucet, I thought they would like it. Sure enough Prissy made a beeline to it, and several others gave it a shot. Henry walks way around it though- it just seems too strange to him! Mittens is the only one who remains very unsure about us, but I did get a couple of pets in on him yesterday, he hissed to let me know he is still not sure if I am OK or not!
Alex and Patches are vey sweet and will let me carry them around, ( Smokey insists on being carried!), Markie, Angel, Henry, Marmalade, Inky, Missy and Pepper loosen up after I give them some gentle petting, they will relax and act like they are enjoying the attention! Joey and Jack snuggle together in the bottom of the climber, they are so cute together, Joey likes to have one arm extended out of the side hole of their little cubby. Sunshine and Lucky have taken ownership of the top of the storage cabinet, they have the best view from up there! They start purring when we come in to give them their breakfast in the mornings. Lucky will come down from his perch to eat, but Sunshine likes "room service" he wants his food served up to him in bed! They are all getting quite used to having wet food in the mornings. They are eating well, and from the mess in the house every morning they are quite active at night! Most of the covers are strewn about the room, food bowls tipped over, they party hard at night!
Anytime you want to visit please do. We are at the house every day from morning till early (sometimes late!) afternoon. I know it is a long drive, but if you need to come this way just give me a call and let ne know you are on the way.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thank You, Casa de los Gatos

Last Friday, on what would have been my brother's 70th birthday, I rented a minivan and transported 10 of his indoor cats to Tucson's Casa de los Gatos. One was already chosen for adoption, and the others were part of the group accepted by the Casa for placement in their rescue program. Yesterday, eight more were transported to make a total of 18 cats that they accepted for placement.

I will add to this post, but I wanted to publish it as an update to the story of Sarge's cats so that folks would know that many of them have been given a new chance to find permanent homes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Simon's Cat - "Let Me In !"

I love this artist's renditions of Simon, and love to post it wherever I can.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weather cat?

Watch at the bottom of the tv screen -- going from left to right...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Feral Cats FAQ - from the ASPCA

I love cats - big cats like the cougar of the southwestern U. S., the tiger of India, the African lion; I love the wild smaller varieties -- the cerval, ocelot, margay; I am most appreciative of the smaller varieties that share the beauty of the big cats, but not their appetite. Most of my cats have been strays that may have been lost from someone's home, evicted and abandoned, or possibly born outside. The outdoor cats that I'm presently feeding were born outside and are not tame, but they are used to me (as they were used to my brother when he started feeding them), and allow me to enjoy their beauty and personality close up -- just not TOO close.

"...The number of feral cats in the U.S. is estimated to be in the tens of millions. Sadly, many communities still opt to control populations via outdated methods, including lethal elimination or relocation. Not only are some of these methods horribly cruel, they are also highly ineffective. It’s time to focus on feral cats in the fight to end animal cruelty...." -- from the ASPCA

Feral Cats FAQ from the ASPCA

Uh, oh!

This looks like my brother's group...

The caption says "All we need iz a crazy laydee".

(I haven't figured out yet how to fix the width of the columns to allow full viewing.)

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's your favorite litter?

I've been doing a lot of litter box duty for the last few months, and I have come up with a recipe for a mixture of cat litters that I like. The rule for number of litter boxes is "one for each cat PLUS one", so for my brother's 40 cats, we would have needed 41 boxes. That wouldn't have left much room in his home for walking around, so he only had about 6 boxes - one being a large bin. When you have a lot of cats using only a few boxes, clay litter can get H*A*R*D pretty fast. I added a couple of boxes, but decided that I needed to try other litters. I like World's Best litter (corn based), but it is expensive, and at first I thought that it would cost too much to use for such a large group. Since I've found that it can be used longer than clay, I decided to give it a try, and found that the expense was not as high since I didn't need to refill it as often. Then I decided to add some Nature's Miracle litter to see if it would further reduce the odor after many uses. I really liked the fluffiness that the Nature's Miracle added, and believe it is a really good combination -- the corn granules form nice tight balls around the urine, while the fluffiness of the Nature's Miracle helps make the scooping easier (no cement blocks to try to dig thru) as well as keeping any messes from sticking to the sides of the box.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Do You have a Boomerang Cat?

"...You put kitty down, she returns right back to the point of origin – YOU! So, you gently put kitty down again, she’s right back on you. Cat put down, cat immediately back. Cat down; cat back. And so it continues . . . boomerang-style..."

Article after the jump -- Boomerang Cats

iVillage - Petside - by Sandra Toney

I have had a number of "boomerang" cats in my lifetime, and have one, Pepper, who is very persistent about getting attention except when she wants food even more. If she's hungry, I can get her to get down off the computer or my lap and go to her dish for something yummy. Of course, as soon as she's done eating, she may very well boomerang right back to me....

Trapping Cats for TNR: How to Trap an Entire Colony


I've only had a small group of outdoor cats to trap (plus some indoor shy cats). Watching this video helped, as well as reading tips on the Alley Cat Allies website, and my local groups - A.L.F, and Altered Tails/AZ Cats. I trapped "my limit" the first time, and missed one the last time I tried because the two outdoor kittens that I had just released after their spaying/neutering kept walking into the traps to get the food. They either set off the trapdoor, scaring the other kittens away, or I scared them away by shooshing the altered kittens away from the door. I then tried luring the kittens into the trap with a laser light pen, but that didn't quite work either. But I did get the mama cat, so she won't have to deal with those rover boys this spring. I still have 3 kittens to catch/spay, and I hope to get them before their first mating.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Video - Maru the Cat (he likes to put himself into things)

Okay, so not all posts are exactly informational...

Zoey -- an ongoing happy story

Resources available - discounted prices for spay/neuter, Leukemia/FIV testing, vaccinations

When my brother, Dick, and I started trying to get his cats spayed/neutered, I checked the internet for discounted prices and found AZ Cats and Scottsdale Strays, but we really needed even more of a discount due to the large number of cats he needed to alter, and I found the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control website offered a FREE voucher program called the "Big Fix" for "low-income residents" to get their pets spayed/neutered (see link under "Cat Info Links"). The website mentioned AHCSS eligibility, but the form asked for information about why the applicant was requesting assistance. Since Dick was living on an Army pension plus a small VA disability payment and Social Security and working only part-time at Petsmart for retail wages, I ventured to apply for him and was happily surprised when the vouchers came in the mail for him. The vouchers covered the total cost of a spay or neuter for each of the cats we applied for; it did not cover the cost of pain meds for the females which we covered.

We chose the Mesa Spay/Neuter Clinic at Southern and Gilbert because we had used it previously (as a discount payment clinic) and had been very satisfied with the results. It is hard sometimes to get through on the phone to make an appointment, and appointments are often scheduled weeks ahead when you do get through, but the staff and doctors are friendly and competent, and their prices are great (even without a free MCACC "Big Fix" voucher). This worked very well for a few months as he crated the appointed cats in the early morning (after restricting them in a separate room to keep them from eating before surgery - this was hard for Dick to do since he felt sorry for them if they cried to get out of the room, but he knew it was necessary). Of course, this meant that I had to get up early also since I was his transportation. He had a pickup truck and we didn't want to transport any of the cats in the back of the pickup, so that meant we needed to use my 4-door Honda and get to the clinic by a little after 7 a.m. -- NOT my favorite time to have to be somewhere. (Even when I work, I don't have to be there until 8 a.m. -- gripe, complain, whine...) We'd fill out the forms for each cat and wait to be called in to the clinic room where they would weigh and check each cat over - if a cat was suffering a respiratory problem, it would be sent home so as not to infect other cats or over-stress its system. They found that a couple of Dick's females were already pregnant again by the appointment time, and if I hadn't been there, Dick probably would have taken them home to wait for more kittens, but I was strict about them being freed from further motherhood.

I have now found another clinic - the M.A.S.H. mobile unit that schedules visits at the Apache Junction Animal Control parking lot as well as visits in Tempe, Glendale, and Pinal County (see link under "Cat Info Links"). You have to make appointments for spay/neuter services, but if you need vaccinations and/or testing for Leukemia/FIV, you can just show up between 9:30 - 11 am and they will provide those services. Prices are a bit higher if you don't have the animal spayed/neutered when you get them vaccinated, but it is still less expensive than using my regular vet -- whom I adore and respect, but cannot afford when I'm trying to get a dozen or more cats served. There are always a number of folks at the MASH unit when I go, and we all agree that it is a great service.

Photos of a few of Sarge's cats

Watching the laser pen's light

Markie - 3 yr. old male

Bandit - old lady cat

Smokey - 3 yr. old female

Two summer kittens - carport

Charley - 3 yr. old male - awaiting dinner

My brother's herd...

My brother died August 31st, 2008. What mattered most to him was being a father and being a soldier... and his cats...the cats he had to leave behind that now need new homes.

Dick was a career soldier in the U.S. Army and retired as a Staff Sgt. in the early '90's. He served in Korea, Germany, Honduras and other duty sites. He was born shortly before the U.S. entered WWII, and knew he always wanted to be a soldier. We grew up in Phoenix and when he retired, he returned to the valley to live. He had always loved cats, and there are many homeless cats living in most neighborhoods. When he lived in Scottsdale, he took in a mother cat nursing 5 kittens - the "kittens" are now about 10 years old. When he moved to Mesa, he took in a male kitten left under a box in a shopping cart in a grocery parking lot -- in the middle of summer! Then he noticed that one of the stray cats he was feeding outdoors was pregnant - in she came and gave him 6 beautiful kittens. Later that year, another outdoor female had a litter, and after gaining their trust, he brought her and her 4 babies indoors. Next he made a major mistake, in my opinion, anyway - he did not get the newest ones spayed/neutered. He was working only part-time and living on his Army retirement, but he still should have gotten them altered. I kept nagging him about it, and when we found that he could qualify for the Maricopa County Animal Care and Controls "Big Fix" Program to get free vouchers to the Spay/Neuter Clinic, we finally started working on getting the appointments and getting them fixed. Almost all were done before he became too ill to catch/crate them, but the total living with him inside was already 37 -- well, that was the number that we came up with when he and I made a list. After a few weeks of caring for the cats, I found a few "new ones" under the sink and in a cabinet - the new count brought it to about 40. Outdoors, there was a mama with two batches of kittens (spring litter of 3 and summer litter of 4) living in the carport, and two tomcats who fuss with each other while eating.