Thursday, 12 April 2012

Adoption Profile: Achilles **ADOPTED!**

Hello kittens,

Yes yes, I know, it's been a while, but time flies when you're interning at the Niagara Falls Humane Society. Yes, that's right -  my co-workers are cats. I can feel your jealousy seeping through the screen. It really is the purrrrfect setup for a katzendame: my "office" is a couch in the Meow Mansion, where I sit with my laptop and the resident cats up for adoption. They rub and play and sleep around me, inhibiting my work and making my life that much sweeter than yours.

*Sigh* I sure will miss this place once my time here is up. It's not all Fancy Feast and belly rubs though. Spending every weekday with these cats naturally creates an immense bond between us, so seeing them go is tough, but clearly the objective of the shelter. They would all be happier in forever homes. Which is why I think it's time for another adoption profile. This week:

Achillies the Shy Guy

I feel compelled to write about Achilles because he has had a rough time in the last little while. He came from a loving home with an elderly man who passed away. He was adopted once, but because he was severely attacked by the resident cat of that house, he was brought back here. He's been recovering emotionally ever since. According to the other volunteers, Achilles used to be very outgoing, and didn't scare as easily as he does now. He's such a sweet sweet boy and we know that he has it in him to be trusting again. When everyone else is asleep, I see his head poking out of his little house. I motion for him to sneak over my way, and he comes and fluffs and dances around while I scratch his back lightly. He has such a sweet soft meow, barely existent. And his little pink lips tend to smile now and then -  I wish I saw it more. I know he craves attention, but is nervous when the other cats are around. His self esteem has been a bit deflated by everything that's gone on, but all he needs is a loving family to pump him up and make him feel special again.

If you'd like to come visit Achilles and me, come to the shelter at 6025 Chippawa Parkway in Niagara Falls. I'll give him a nice brushing and make sure he's ready for you.

Until next time, purr on kittens.


Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Cat Man of Parliment Hill

Hello Kittens,

A certain wabbit informed me of this lovely man he met in Ottawa a few years ago. After a quick Google search, I realised that others have taken notice of the Cat Man. Have a gander at this article written about him in 2008 in the Ottawa Metro:

It’s a sunny afternoon at the western edge of Parliament Hill and René Chartrand is swinging a curly-haired toddler through the air. The boy and his father came here to look at the dozen cats who live in view of our nation’s capitol buildings.

They’re finding out the so-called Cat Man is possibly more entertaining than his feline charges.

Chartrand, although 86 years old, finds the energy to take a 10-minute bus ride most days to feed the cats, do maintenance on their homes and both chat and play with the hundreds of visitors who stop by every day. He arrives at two in the afternoon and stays until past five.

He rarely misses a day, although snow sometimes keeps him from leaving his downtown apartment, where he has seven cats of his own. “I cannot live without a cat,” he says. “I’ve always loved them.”

The descendants of the cat colony worked inside the Parliament Buildings doing natural pest control until chemicals took over their job in the 1950s. Put outside, they were cared for by various hill staff until, in the 1970s, a local woman named Irene Desormeaux gave them food and some boxes to live in. Chartrand began helping out.

In 1987, Desormeaux died and Chartrand took over. The former lumber mill worker and house painter, who is originally from nearby Hull, took his volunteer duties seriously. He built condos out of wood for the cats, got them vet care and lavished them with attention.

Chartrand set up a donation box, which helps offset — but doesn’t always fully cover —the $6,000 it costs to care for these cats every year. Donated cat food and vet care (they get a check-up and shots every year) help, too.
File:Canadian Parliamentary Cats - Rene Chartrand.jpg
In recent years, a group of eight local residents has begun helping Chartrand. They come early in the morning with food and when he arrives at two, he feeds them again (if he doesn’t make it, everyone knows they’ve eaten for sure). They help with things like the shoveling.

They’re also consciously letting the cat colony peter out. A few years ago, there were 28 cats, now just a dozen remain. When people drop kittens on the hill or a new stray comes into the group, they bring it to the local Humane Society for adoption (or take it in themselves — everyone involved in this project has a couple felines at home).

None of them sees themselves as Chartrand’s successor in this job: He’s the one who knows both official languages and who effortlessly acts as cat ambassador as well as cat lover. “Taking care of these cats is all I have to do. I’m in love with them.”

Apparently, the Cat Man retired in 2009, but his legacy in the Parliment Cats lives on through a team of devoted volunteers. I can only hope to someday be in a position where I can do exactly what this man has done with his life. Wake up with some cats, go help some cats, come home to some cats. How wonderful...

Sleep tight, kittens,


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Avalanche Cats... you heard me

Hello kittens,

I'd like to take time to discuss something very near and dear to my heart.

Cats. (obviously)

And avalanches. (wtf?)

They are unpredictable, devastating, and claim over 150 lives a year worldwide. (avalanches, not cats!)

Just another day on the job
But if any of you are planning a ski trip to the back country of Fernie, British Columbia, you need not fear these snow waves  of destruction, for CARCA is ever vigilant and adorable.

What is CARCA, you ask?

Why, not only the world's first Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cat Association!

Yes you heard right, cat's are now joining the hunt for buried avalanche victims, proving once again that anything dogs can do, cats can do better. (Kidding puppies I love you too.)

If you'd like to learn more about the amazing work these kitties do, check out the CARCA documentary, available on the site along with snazzy t-shirts.

You can also apply to have your cat become part of this growing group. To open a chapter in your area, check out the applications page on the CARCA site.

So, if you're heading into deep powder in avalanche country, I suggest filling your pockets with Fancy Feast.

Avalanche Danger: Moderate         Vigilance: High to Extreme
Just sayin'.

Till next time, purr on kittens.


***Thanks to Allison for telling me about these wicked cats!***

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Mime & the Queen

Royal Cat
While trolling the internet for cat news (as I frequently do), I came across this lovely little article from The SUN entitled "HUNGRY cat Mime snubs Chinese grub for posh nosh — by gatecrashing WINDSOR CASTLE for lunch".

Every day, the cheeky black and white moggy walks the 50 yards across the cobbled street from the restaurant where she lives.

She then strolls past armed cops and guardsmen to the Queen's apartments, where staff feed her along with the royal corgis.

Mime's owner, restaurant boss Kevin Lam, 69, said: "She won't eat any of our leftovers.

"She's been going for about four years.
"A courtier told me the corgis used to fight with her at first, but after lots of barking and some hissing they came to a sort of truce."

He added: "On the Queen's birthday the Army locked the Henry VIII gates but the security guys opened one to let Mime through.
"After she's fed she wanders back and goes to sleep in front of the fire."

A castle source said: "Mime's part of the furniture. Everyone looks forward to her visits." (The SUN)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Adoption Profile: Lionheart **ADOPTED!!**

 When I entered the Niagara Falls Humane Society's Adoption Centre in Niagara Square, it was difficult to not get lost in the mews and purrs of a dozen or so lovely and unique felines. But I was on a mission.
I approached one of the volunteers and told them I was looking for a very specific cat. "Please show me the cat that has been here the longest," I asked, "the one who deserves a home so much but just hasn't caught a break."
The woman caught eyes with another volunteer and smiled.

"Lionheart" they both said in unison.
I was lead to an area known as the "Scaredy Cat" room, where cats go to escape their shelter-mates and have some peace and quiet. There, on a recycled ottoman, an orange cat lay sleeping.
"Lionheart" the woman called softly.

The orange mound shook and cooed and rolled over, revealing a handsome groggy smile.

I could hardly keep myself from snatching him up, but the "no picking up the cats" policy forced me to simply have a seat on the floor beside him and squeal.

"Don't be fooled by his being in this room" said the woman, "he's no scaredy-cat. He just likes the ottoman."

Lionheart wiggled around, eventually getting to his feet. It was then I realized how round and tubby he was, and let loose another squeal. I LOVE fat cats. There we sat smiling at each other until he lunged forward and butt my face with his. How lovely.

We sat for a good long while, just rubbing faces, while the volunteer told me what little they knew about this sweet old man-cat. Lionheart came from the streets some time in November, and has become fat and happy while waiting for someone to take him home. I found it so boggling that this cat had been at the shelter for nearly 4 months and not been adopted. His temperament was absolutely heart-melting.

If you're interested visiting this gentle giant, pop over to the Adoption Center at Niagara Square, located at 7555 Montrose Rd in Niagara Falls. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Auto litter boxes: helpful or hostile?

Hello Kittens,
This week, I’m doing something a little different. My mother’s birthday is coming up, and seeing as she is a major Katzendame like me, I’m considering a cat-related gift.
Upon searching, I came across a self-cleaning litterbox. Now, I don’t know if any of you have ever seen one of these things in action, but it’s a pretty neat concept. There seem to be a few different models, each baring a different pricetag. 

Cat Genie - $250 to $340
Litter Robot - $280 to $340
Scoop Free - $130 to $180 ($60 manual model as well)
Simply Clean -  $99
Smart Scoop - $129
Litter Maid - $99 to $200
Litterloo - Still in demo process

In a purrrrrfect world, this mechanical miracle would do exactly what it claims and leave you with one less chore to do, right?

Potentially yes... or, you could encounter something like this.

But aside from the fact that there seem to be homemade videos of each of these models failing miserably, my concern is more to do with the cats themselves. In my search for truth and knowledge of these robo-rakers, I came across multiple videos of cats freaking out over these intruders.

I find the idea of making my cat uncomfortable far more troublesome than the price tag on these things, but in understand that many people are squeamish and would do practically anything to eliminate the whole procedure from their lives. My questions is this though: should we invest so much money in a thing that has our cats on edge, just because we want one less thing to do? Or should we accept that scooping is part of the responsibility of having a cat, and allow them to continue pooping freely without the fear of their litter box eating them? I understand that some cats warm up to the box and it is not an issue, but why should we even put them through that process? Cats don't ask for much in this world, just food in the bowl and litter in the box and a trip to the vet should they require it, and after all the love and joy they bring to our lives, isn't scooping a little poop the least we can do?

I'm curious to know your thoughts!

Until next time, purr on kittens.


Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Bunna Came Back

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” – Elisabeth Foley

This is Bunnalinkyla.

She is our 16-year-old Siamese, and as far as anyone is concerned, a mean old biddy.

Her deep-blue eyes are frosted with cataracts and her graceful and agile dance has deteriorated to a clumsy, cautious shuffle. She bumps into walls, howls at the ceiling fan, and generally bumbles about with the dexterity of a newborn.

But Bunna was once the boss.

She’s always done exactly what she wanted. Why, about 10 years ago, Bunna decided she didn’t want to live with us and our (at the time) 7 other cats. Who could blame her? A feline as regal as she deserved the attention and praise of a thousand humans, just as her Egyptian predecessors had. So, one day, Bunna moved down the road to live with Fritz, an elderly German bachelor with a modest peach orchard and a penchant for loose cigarettes. For a decade, these two unlikely friends were inseparable. Even into his 90’s Fritz could be seen tending to his land, Bunna somewhere within earshot, howling freely. At night, Fritz would sit smoking his cigarettes and watching his shows, and Bunna would be perched on his lap in a cloud of smoke, smiling through her spider-leg whiskers.

When Fritz died, a good friend of his showed up at our door, asking if we`d like our cat back. “He’d always said to just put her down when he passed- I mean, who wants a loud-mouthed, mostly-blind senior Siamese cat?”

So, needless to say, Bunna is back.

Older, grayer, and a little less graceful, but in so many ways, exactly as I remember her.

Now, you may be saying, "Yah yah, you got your geriatric cat back, lucky you. What's your point?"

I drove past Fritz’s farm house nearly every day, and I would always slow down and watch for Bunna, even call for her sometimes. Despite how I missed her, I was not intending to snatch her up and take her back home. I knew she and Fritz needed each other, and I would never want to rob them of happiness. My intention was just to make sure she was alright, and give her anything she needed.

Always have an open door for your loved ones. Be open, be supportive, and live with a sincere wish in your heart that the ones you love will find their place, even if it's not with you. They may travel far, (or perhaps just down the lane), and they may be gone for a long time. They may return old and gray, weathered and downtrodden, blind and cranky. But, the ones you love should always feel they have a place in your life, no matter where their’s may lead them. 

Open the door, Kittens.

And until next time, purr on.

- Katzendame