Mom’s Posts

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With great sadness, we report that our beautiful little tortie girl Samoa went to the Rainbow Bridge on Monday, October 24, after a brief but severe bout of pneumonia. We are still in shock as it seems just yesterday she was bounding up and down the stairs. We greatly appreciate the purrs and purrayers from family and friends.

Samoa came into our life in April of 2015.  She was rescued by a dear friend from Slavic Village, along with her four kittens, whom we named Ginger Snap, Peanut Butter, S’mores, and Thin Mint.  S’mores is the only girl and her tortie markings look just like her Mom Samoa!  Ginger Snap is an orange tabby, Peanut Butter is white with orange tabby markings, and Thin Mint is solid black. This first photo is from our first meeting with Samoa and her 2-day old kittens. The second photo is just a week later, and her kittens have grown so much that they look like they are smothering her tiny 7-pound body.

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In addition to her own litter of four kittens, Samoa cared for four “Cowboy Kittens” (Cassidy, Clementine, Harlee, and Sadie) for a few days until their Mama Mae West was rescued, and could resume her motherly duties. Mae West was particularly elusive, and now resides with a dear friend.

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No sooner than Mae West began nursing her four Cowgirls, than a 2-day-old kitten abandoned by his mother was found in the Waterloo neighborhood. We named this kitten, Snickerdoodle, and he was readily welcomed by Samoa into her little family. Snickerdoodle is mostly white with orange tabby markings, and closely resembles Peanut Butter, so he really looked like part of the family!

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Finally came the “Charlie Angels” kittens.  Although Jaclyn Fluff, Farrah Fluff Major, and Kate Fluffson did not resemble Samoa or her own babies, they were also lovingly accepted by Samoa and treated as her own. The three black and white tuxedo kittens were rescued from the home of dear friends who have their own little feral family in their garden. By rescuing the tuxie girls, the hope was to give them safe and loving indoor homes, so they were rescued as young kittens close to weaning so they would be easier to socialize.

Samoa was a good Mom (and surrogate Mom) to a total of 12 kittens … patient with her kittens’ antics, and training her babies how to be Good Cats.

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While confined to the “back kitten room” (back bedroom), Samoa gradually became comfortable with Sue and would allow Sue to pet her on rare occasions. Samoa would rub against Sue’s legs and was pleased to accept treats. However, Samoa was still easily startled and would hiss loudly when Sue or David moved too quickly or without advance notice.

The orange marking over her left eye made Samoa appear as if she was always raising her left eyebrow at us, as if to ask “What now?”

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Over time, after Samoa raised her babies and they started to get adopted, we let her into Gen Pop (gave her full run of the house) with The Furry Bambinos.  Samoa was still a foster with us, and would hide when we needed to take her to adoption events.  Finally, David stated the obvious as we rode to the third consecutive adoption event without Samoa because we could not catch her.  “We may have just adopted our eighth Bambino.”  Shortly thereafter, we discussed it over dinner and concluded that she was happy here with us.  “Let’s just adopt her.”  And that’s how Samoa officially became a Furry Bambino, in early 2016.

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Samoa (aka “Shmo”) fit in with The Furry Bambinos very easily.  She seemed content to be the low girl on the totem pole of the cat hierarchy.  She stood in the background and didn’t seem to care if she was the last one to be fed treats.  She never started fights, and always used the litter boxes.   She regularly helped the other Bambinos on “Bird Patrol” and “Squirrel Patrol” from her favorite position in one of the “tubes” of the cat furniture.

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She also liked to explore.  A few times a week we could guarantee hearing a loud “thump” coming from the basement.  It was usually Samoa landing on the washing machine after jumping down from exploring the crawl space under the family room. She would emerge with her whiskers covered in cobwebs, then dash off upstairs.

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For a long time, she would only eat breakfast by poking her head out from the chair covers in the dining room.

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But over time, Samoa became more comfortable and would eat out in the open.  During our morning feeding routines, she began to occasionally brush up against David’s legs, and he got so he could stroke Samoa across her head and back after giving her a food dish.

The rest of the time, Samoa usually kept her distance from us.  If we came within more than 24 inches of her, she would abruptly dash off to another part of the house.  She would sniff a hand extended to her, but we had to move slowly, or else risk a loud snake-like hiss of fear before she dashed off. There were a few rare occasions that Samoa would snuggle with Sue on the sofa.

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Samoa made friends with Panda Bear, our friendly tuxedo cat.  All the cats in the house, and especially our fosters and former fosters, love Panda Bear.  Samoa would walk beside him, brush up against him repeatedly, sleep beside him in the front window or on Sue’s legs on the sofa, and eat next to him.

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Sunny, Panda Bear and Samoa having a snack.

In Samoa’s last nights with us, we had her sequestered to a large cage in our family room so we could closely monitor her and care for her.  Panda Bear walked into her cage, and even in her weakened state Samoa reached her head over to brush against him.

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Samoa also had become a play friend for little Farrah Fluff (another new Furry Bambino, c. 2016).  Samoa and Fluff would chase each other the length of the house, back and forth, chomp on each other and bunny kick each other’s heads, and then dash off with wild abandon.  They both seemed to enjoy the play time.

On Sunday evening, the night before Samoa passed, Farrah Fluff reached a paw into Samoa’s cage to tap (maybe pet?) Samoa on the head, and then came around from another angle to tap her friend on the side.  Fluff was obviously checking in with her friend to see how she was doing.

We are so happy we chose to adopt Samoa.  We were honored to have been Samoa’s guardians for the relatively short time she was with us. We did our best to keep her well fed, safe, and happy despite her efforts to avoid us.

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We wish we had known earlier that she was ill.  Cats have a way of hiding their illnesses until it’s too late to save them.  It’s so frustrating to know we might have done more for her.  We had her at the veterinarian on Saturday, and by late Monday afternoon she was gone. Sue has the lyrics of the Hall and Oates song “She’s Gone” running on a loop in her head.

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It’s amazing that such a little cat could leave such a big hole in our hearts.  We hope that Samoa will be waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge. When we get too close, she will probably dash off to hide.  So long as we see her there, that’s all that matters.

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Until we meet again, Sweet Samoa.  We love you!

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Greetings, Furriends! Mom here, posting today with permission of The Furry Bambinos.

Today is a melancholy anniversary. Mohawk, One Who Came Before, was adopted 22 years ago this evening. It is also the 11th anniversary of the date Mohawk left us to go to The Rainbow Bridge. Today, I wanted to remember and share with you about Mohawk and his cuddling.

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Mohawk really liked to be close to me. He would snuggle on top of me while I was asleep.

1993 Mohawk pins down Sue

He would snuggle next to me while I napped on the couch.

1993 Sue sleeps with Mohawk

But his specialty in cuddling was jumping on my lap, then pawing at my shirt to indicate that it was time for him to climb inside my clothes with me. He would usually hang out on my lap for about 20 minutes, making me look like I was about 7 months pregnant. Then he would slither out and go about his business.

1991 Mohawk in Sue's shirt

Several of The Furry Bambinos like to do their best Mohawk cuddle homages.

Ms. Floofs (Caramel) likes to sleep next to us on the bed. She also really likes to nap on top of me while I am on the sofa.

Caramel on Mom

Panda Bear cuddles by telling me to lie down if I am still upright. Panda Bear’s bleat sounds very much like Mohawk’s bleat did. Then Panda Bear will purr loudly while kneading the blankets on top of my tummy, spinning slowing in a circle, then returning to face me. His rhythmic purring frequently lulls me to sleep.

This photo shows the maximum number of Bambinos photographed while cuddling. That’s Panda Bear and Cookie on Gizzy Quilts on the back of the sofa, and Sunny and Sky on my legs.

Sofa Time Mom Sunny Sky PB Cookie

Recently, even Meerkat has become a cuddler. She has always been more reserved than her sibling Panda Bear, for which we love and respect her. However, this winter has really brought out Meerkat’s desire to snuggle. She will sometimes climb on top of me and sleep there for hours.

The best cuddle photo we have of Meerkat is this one. Padre and Meerkat are our resident Love Cats. That’s Padre with his protective arm around her.

Meerkat and Padre Cuddle

Thanks for reading today. When one of our fur babies is at The Rainbow Bridge waiting for us, remembering their time with us is important.

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Namaste.

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Mom here. The Furry Bambinos graciously allowed me to post today about Mohawk.

He is One Who Came Before.

You might even call him The Original Furry Bambino.

Today is the Anniversary (#21) of his Gotcha Day, back in 1991. This photo was taken sometime in 1991, which would have been soon after he came to live with me.

Today is also the Anniversary (#10) of the Day Mohawk left us for The Rainbow Bridge.

One date, that is both a happy and a sad reminder of Mohawk’s Magical 11 Years with us.

When we adopted Mohawk from my friend Lynn, she mentioned that “Mohawk likes bread”. She said it almost as an afterthought. What she really meant was:

No bread or pastry will be safe in your home from Mohawk.

When I first understood this translation, I was bringing groceries inside, soon after adopting Mohawk. Before we finished unloading the car, Mohawk had already sniffed out the grocery bag with the bread in it, chewed a hole through the plastic bread bag, and was busy nomming on the bread.

Another time, I learned that Mohawk also had a taste for fancy Greek pastries. There is an annual Greek Festival held at a local Greek Orthodox church, and we make a point of visiting their bakery for baklava, spanakopita, and other delicious pastries. We brought the pastries home to our apartment in the white cardboard bakery box, and left it closed up on the kitchen counter overnight. Big mistake! The next morning, the box was on the kitchen floor, and the pastries were strewn about and nommed upon.

For dinner tonight, we had Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, one of Mohawk’s all-time favorite people foods.

Well, not the noodles so much, but the yummy cheese sauce! It was tradition to give Mohawk our bowls for clean-up. The hard part was convincing Mohawk to wait until we were done eating before starting to clean up. In this photo, you can even see Mohawk’s stripe! It grew out by the time he was one year old. (Please ignore the hideous 80’s style glasses. Admit it, you wore them that big too.)

Sunny, Sky, and Padre share Mohawk’s love of cheddar cheese.

Mohawk enjoyed Cheetos, too. (Great, now I’m craving Cheetos.)

We miss you, Mo. Love you always.

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Mom here. The Furry Bambinos have graciously allowed me to borrow their blog to tell you the story of trapping a colony of 15 feral cats in a local neighborhood. When I left off last time, all 15 cats had been trapped, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated.

The first night we trapped 7 cats on Sunday May 15. They had surgery on Monday, May 16, and recovered overnight in my friend Diane’s Mom’s garage. That night, Monday, May 16, we trapped 5 more cats. Their surgery was on Tuesday, May 17. The last three cats were trapped on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning.

To make things “less complicated”, Diane’s Mom wanted to trap all the cats before releasing any of them so we wouldn’t have to figure out who was who. The problem with this plan was that the feral cats were returned after surgery in cat carriers, with the idea of being released very soon, not in a day or two. So Diane’s Mom cleaned the cat carriers and transferred the cats from a used carrier to a clean one.

One of the feral cats got loose in the garage during one of the transfers.

On Wednesday night, instead of releasing the first 12 cats back into their home territory, we had 11. Believe me, we tried to convince the missing cat to join his brethren for the Big Return. We searched all over the garage (which I have to say, is the CLEANEST garage I have ever seen), but there was no sign of him. So I suggested that he *might* be inside Diane’s sister’s car which was parked in the garage.

Sure enough, there he was, sitting on the engine block. He was so startled to see us, and we were so startled to see him, that we all froze for an instant. Before I could scruff him, he disappeared down into the engine. I donned a pair of gardening gloves, and reached in, trying to scruff the guy. He was so bony and at a weird angle, that all I could feel was his shoulder blades.

And then I felt his teeth, when he turned around and bit me.

OK then. Plan Q: we would set a trap for him and hope he would be hungry enough to get trapped again so we could return him back home. We waited around awhile, but he was not budging from the innards of the car.

We loaded up the other 11 cats in our cars and headed back to their home. Of course, it was cold, windy, and it started raining as soon as we stepped out of the cars with the cats. We carried the cats into the back yard (squish squish squish through the muddy grass), and set the carriers down on the patio.

We unlatched the doors, and swung them wide open.

Free at last!

Free at last!

All but one of the cats shot out and took off headed back to safety of their thicket of shrubs. David carried that carrier closer to the thicket and then the cat sped out and joined his buds. Diane’s Mom returned the other four kittehs to their home a few days later, including Engine Kitty, who did get trapped overnight inside the garage.

Despite all the logistics, the cold, the rain, the dark, and the exhaustion, it felt so good to know that these cats will not be reproducing. They will be healthier, and will no longer contribute to the population of cats in the area.

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Mom here, again. The Furry Bambinos graciously allowed me to borrow their blog to tell you this story. When I left off last time, what we had been told were “six or eight friendly kittens” turned out to be at least eleven adult feral cats in need of TNR before they started reproducing. TNR stands for “Trap Neuter Return” which is the best solution to manage the population of a colony of feral cats.

After much discussion regarding logistics, we borrowed eight humane traps from the Cleveland APL, and returned the following Sunday evening at 6:00 with more Stinky Goodness. It was raining, windy, and cold. The newspapers we used to line the traps kept getting blown around, and some of the traps were so sensitive that just picking them up would trigger them to close. Not optimal trapping conditions, to say the least. We set out the traps, and returned to our cars to wait. Nothing. So we left to grab dinner, dejected that we would catch any cats that night.

We returned an hour later to find four cats in traps! Woo-hoo!

We covered each trap with a towel, and instantly the cat inside quieted down. We transferred the trapped cats to our cars to keep warm and dry. After moving the remaining traps to different locations, we were able to trap three more cats before it got too dark to see what we were doing. We were pleased to have caught seven feral cats, but we counted at least five more, including a few clever ones who managed to eat the food without stepping on the trigger.

We brought the cats in the traps back to Diane’s Mom’s house, where we set them in the garage overnight.

Here are photos of the cats we trapped that night. Kitteh #1 is a long-haired orange and white male (I think). Orange cats are usually male.

Kitteh #2 looked to be a Siamese flame point mix.

Kitteh #3 is an orange tabby with some white on his chest.

Kitteh #4 is a long-haired brown tabby with white bib.

Kitteh #5 is a long-hair dilute calico female.

Kitteh #6 is a black, gold, and white calico female. Do you see two other sets of glowing eyes in this photo?

Kitteh #7 is a different orange tabby male.

We returned Monday night, May 16 (Panda Bear and Meerkat’s birthday) with five more traps, and with a nifty Drop Trap as well. Again, it was cold, raining, and windy, making trapping conditions less than optimal. The ground was saturated after weeks of rain, so there was a lot of squish squish squish through muddy grass.

I now have a new definition for Insanity: Standing in the bushes, in the dark, in the rain, holding the pull cord to the Drop Trap, and trying to trap a solid black cat! We gave up trying to trap the black cat in the dark, but did manage to trap five others. But we saw at least three more cats, including “Blackie”, the solid black cat with a noticeable limp.

Diane’s Mom and her friend were able to catch the last (we hope) three cats, and all have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped. Ear tipping is the universal symbol that a feral cat has been neutered and vaccinated. It is done while the cat is under anesthesia. It is done so that if they get trapped again, they won’t go in for surgery because the ear tip will indicate that they have already been neutered and vaccinated.

We were worried that Blackie might be euthanized due to his limp, but the APL did not note anything wrong with the paw. We had implored the APL staff to let Blackie live, since the property is on a quiet dead-end side street. So either Diane’s Mom caught a different black cat (not Blackie with the limp) or Blackie’s limp was not due to a fracture. We’ll never really know.

Next, releasing feral cats back in their home territory!

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Mom here. The Furry Bambinos graciously allowed me to borrow their blog for this post. As regular readers know, my husband and I volunteer for a local animal rescue group called PAWS (Public Animal Welfare Society). We foster kittens, I screen applicants for cat and kitten adoptions, my husband does transports locally taking cats and dogs to and from appointments, etc.

Now, we can also say that we have experience trapping a colony of feral cats.

It all started when my friend and co-worker Diane (name changed to protect the innocent) told me that her Mom was visiting a friend, and that there were “about six or eight friendly kittens” living outside the friend’s house. Diane’s Mom thought the kittens might be 2 to 3 months old. So Diane told her mom about me and PAWS.  I checked with PAWS if it was OK for me to “harvest the kittens” (as we say), and was given the OK and eight appointments for spay/neuter at the Cleveland APL.

On a warm sunny afternoon after work, Diane and I went over to the location to assess the situation. We were armed with the smelliest Stinky Goodness they make (Flaked Fish and Shrimp Feast, in case you were wondering), plates, water, dishes, surrender forms, and cat carriers. We were prepared to collect “friendly kittens” should they present themselves for collecting. We set up on the patio, and as Diane described it, “an army of cats” began appearing from the bushes once we opened the cans of Stinky Goodness.

It’s hard to estimate the age of a cat, especially when you can’t get close enough to hold and examine him or her. By my best guess, the youngest of the felines were in the 10-month age range. And all were skittish and afraid of us – feral. We counted at least eleven – possibly more – adult feral cats.

The difference between a stray cat and a feral cat is how they feel about humans. Stray cats are homeless cats who would make good companion cats for people. They like and trust people, and will let you pet them if you encounter them outside. Feral cats are not homeless – their home is the Great Outdoors, however inclement the weather or climate may be. However, they have not been socialized to trust people, and are therefore afraid of humans.

If a kitten is not socialized with lots of human contact early in life, they will grow up feral. There is debate as to what the critical age is, but from my experience, I would put it at 3 months. Which is not to say that an older feral kitten or cat cannot learn to trust people, but it will take MUCH MUCH longer, and A LOT of work. For more information about feral cats, please see Alley Cat Allies web site.

So, our hopes of harvesting young trusting kittens were scrapped – replaced by a TNR situation to get this cat population under control. It’s Kitten Season, after all, and by the looks of a few of the cats, some might already be pregnant. We needed to move fast to trap these cats before they started reproducing!

Tune in next time to find out if we were able to catch any of the feral cats!