Keeping Feral Cats Warm: The Saga of “Fish Tank Cat”

Dear Readers,

While I haven’t written extensively about it yet, I have set up a feral cat sanctuary in my little city barn. It’s old, it has windows I can leave open yet secure, and with its loft space and lots of hiding places, I figured it would be ideal for cats. I had two come live with me, one of which found another spot to hang out down the block and is only here part time (See: Calliope) and another that found my couch (See: Senor Pantalones)

The lazy quitter.

The hard worker still doing her job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During winter prep of the backyard, I moved the yard furniture into the barn and rearranged a few things. I have an old fishtank in there that got left behind. Since it was doing nothing, I opened up the lid and stuffed in a blanket in case Calliope wanted to nap. Recently, I came into the barn and, upon looking into the fish tank, noted a pair of yellow eyes looking back at me. It seems that another cat picked up on the scent of “Cats Welcome” emanating from the barn and, during the extremely low temps we’ve had the last few weeks here in Chicago, decided to seek warmth in the fish tank. He is now known as “Fish Tank Cat.”

While fish tanks are not known as the best of feral cat shelters, I figured that it would be easier to amend his current situation rather than oust him entirely if that’s what he liked. There are feral shelters in the barn but he seemed to gravitate toward the fish tank, clearly because cats love fish (or so they would have us believe).

A home only a cat could love. Look REALLY close and you’ll see Fish Tank Cat in the window.

I noticed, upon further inspection while he was away, that his little breath was creating an icy fog on the inside of the tank. In order to help him stay warm in the negative temps, I ordered some emergency mylar blankets from Amazon. Sadly, they did not arrive quick enough to thwart the ever dropping temps, so I improvised. I found some mylar shiny wrapping paper in the attic and lined the tank with that. Festive, crinkly, warm. Next, I stuffed his comforter back in and lined the sides with additional bed sheets I have set aside for needy cats (as opposed to the self-made cats who have it all). Finally, I put a thick rug over the top halfway to help him keep in some heat yet let him enter and exit with ease. Voila: A makeshift cat shelter.

Now, if you want to actually make a cat shelter, you can get one of those thick Rubbermaid Tubs with a lid. Line that bad boy with some foam board insulation from the hardware store and stuff it with straw (not hay) and, after cutting a door on the front, you now have a cozy feral home. Alley Cat Allies also shows you a variety of homes, both purchased and homemade here.

One of my feral tubs. TOASTY!

Fish Tank Cat comes and goes like a wraith. He only allows me to approach on my knees, bearing the gifts of water and wet food. I can’t get a good look at him because he prefers to wait outside the window while his waitstaff services his accommodations, so he may need some TNR in the future. For now, I’ll just keep him warm and fed.

 

Love,

Alana.

 

Win Some Imperial Cat Scratch N’Bits for Your Favorite Rescue!

You Guys!

Serious business today, so I dressed for the occasion.

It's business time.

It’s business time.

Imperial Cat, a company known for their eco-friendly scratchers, contacted me to let me know about this program they’re doing. I agreed to share it with you if they were willing to give away one of their Scratch N’Bits packages to one winner’s favorite shelter or rescue! Here are the deets:

They have put together four packages of goodies for kitties, including scratchers of different sizes. The scratchers can be placed inside cages for adoptables to get their scratch on. You go to their site, choose your gift, and they’ll deliver it to your favorite rescue. The packages are between $25 – $30 and include free shipping in the continental US (sorry, Hawaii.) For Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat-Month, Imperial Cat has also introduced a box of catnip goodies for $30 to help shelter kitties get their nip on while they wait.

So here’s what we’re going to do!  You leave me a comment below telling me which rescue you’d like to see get a prize, and I will draw one (1) lucky name using Random.org whose rescue will receive the Small Scratch n’Bits package that includes 20-24 scratchers of various small styles. Hurray!

The Prize.

The Prize.

Entries start now and will run through Saturday, June 21, 2014 11:59 pm. I’ll draw a winner and announce it on Monday, June 23rd! Leave a comment to help your favorite shelter get their scratch on!

Love,

Crepes.

 

***FTC Disclaimer: We were not compensated for this post, except for the giveaway to a rescue. All opinions are our own.***

 

Meet Save-A-Pet Illinois!

You Guys! Today, we’re going to meet Save-A-Pet Illinois, a no-kill rescue in Grayslake, IL that’s working hard to save lots of animals! Please welcome Dr. Mittens, a 10-year old FIV+ orange mancat who is here to tell us all about Save-A-Pet Illinois. Dr. Mittens himself has a harrowing story of frostbite and rescue.
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Crepes: Welcome, Mittens!
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Mittens: It’s actually Dr. Mittens.
Dr. Mittens, single and searching

Dr. Mittens, single and searching

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Crepes: My apologies. Welcome, Dr. Mittens!
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Dr. Mittens: Oh boy, hmmm hello everyone! I have to say I’m a bit uncomfortable being in the spotlight. I feel like I’m blushing all the way to the tip of my whiskers. Meow, meow…okay a deep purr in and purr out, I’m ready!
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Crepes: You can do it, Dr. M. Tell me a bit about Save-A-Pet IL.
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Dr. M: This may be a bit official, but Save-A-Pet is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and one of the largest no-kill cat and dog rescues in Lake County that operates a full-time adoption center. They provide a safe haven for abused, neglected, injured, or lost pets or animals that have escaped euthanasia. They will never put a limit on the amount of care they will provide for us and they never give up on us. Save-A-Pet offers all of us, rescued dogs and cats, the greatest opportunity for a second chance.
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Crepes: It sounds like you really like this place.
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Dr. M: They have a wonderful and compassionate staff that takes care of us every single day of the year and many volunteers that help out in different ways. They really helped lift my spirit!….shhh, between you and me, I know angels exist because they are right here.
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Crepes: Angels are important. MomFOD tells me I am one, in fact.  Tell me, what are your facilities like?
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Dr. M: It’s a big building, with a whole section for the dogs and separate rooms for the cats. There is a kitten room, the main cat room (all adult cats) and then a special room where all of us, FIV positive cats, live. The last two feline leukemia cats recently found a home so their room is empty.
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CrepesFor those who don’t know, Feline Leukemia can be spread through contact, so they must live in a house with other like kitties or by themselves. So very pleased to hear you find a place for Feline Leukemia patients.
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Dr. M.: How cool is that? There are large bay windows with bushes and trees right outside. The bird feeders attract activity all year around and there is always something going on. That’s a special programming just for us. This keeps us entertained…and we also get to see everyone that comes in looking for their new family member.
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Crepes: This sounds like quite the facility!
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Dr. M: They also have some quarantine rooms, that’s where all of us start our stay. We get all our shots, get tested for feline leukemia and the FIV virus, micro-chipped and have to provide a little “brownie” to make sure we don’t have any intestinal parasite.
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Crepes: Ah yes, a “brownie.” How very clinical of you, Doctor.
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Dr. M: Their staff then schedule our spay/neuter surgery with one of the vets they work with. It goes without saying that any one of us that needs a special surgery or treatment gets an appointment with a specialist vet. We get only the best!
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Crepes: That sounds like an excellent program. Do you have a large foster program?
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Dr. M: The foster program is quite active, especially during “kitten season.” There are various fostering opportunities, something for everyone. Some people foster year round while others may do it based on their availability. Feline foster needs cover everything from bottle-fed kittens, pregnant or nursing moms, kittens not old enough to get fixed, adult cats recuperating from surgery or a special treatment, cats not faring well or in need of some extra socialization, and of course cats that may have a medical condition, such as diabetes or cancer. Training is provided if we need special care, like insulin shots or fluids. I’m telling you they are on top of everything.

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Crepes:  What is your special needs adoption program like? Your website says you offer aid with ongoing medications and needs. Can you expound on that?
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Dr. M: Some cats are available for adoption with incentives so, for example, someone welcoming a diabetic cat into their family would be able to get supplies specifically for that medical condition and Save-A-Pet would still be coordinating the care for his diabetes with their own vet. Each case is different so it is best to check with them. I’m not too much involved in all that process stuff.
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Crepes:  If people want to help Save A Pet IL, what’s the best thing that they could do? What do you need the most?
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Dr. M: Well of course, that green paper stuff always helps, especially with vet bills, but we also always welcome additional volunteers, foster homes and supplies….and of course adopters that wouldn’t mind a special needs cat…maybe even yours truly? I’ll be waiting for you!
"Pick me pick me pick me" - Dr. Mittens

“Pick me pick me pick me” – Dr. Mittens

Crepes: Let’s hope the wait isn’t too long. Thanks, Dr. Mittens for meeting with me. If you’d like to learn more about Save-A-Pet Illinois, visit their website at http://saveapetil.org/   Special Needs pets have a little heart in their profile!

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Dr. Mittens’ Story
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On one of the coldest days in January, a teenage boy heard some loud yowling outside and braved the cold to check it out. There, in the middle of the driveway, was an orange tabby cat, spread out and unable to move. Somehow he had still found just enough strength to meow one more time. The young man quickly got his father. They scooped him up, wrapped him in blankets and immediately took him to a local vet. The cat’s temperature was so low that it didn’t even register on the thermometer. His frostbite wounds were horrible, even the skin of one of his paw pads had peeled off. 24/7 emergency care was provided by the dedicated veterinarians until he was stable enough to come to Save-A-Pet. This sweet and affectionate cat would have died if it hadn’t been for the quick action by his rescuers and for the immediate veterinary care he received. Dr. Mittens, as he has been named, has recovered wonderfully and is now ready for adoption. This handsome FIV positive cat loves attention and is the happiest when he can be in someone’s lap.  To learn more about Dr. Mittens and to apply for adoption, visit his page!
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Thank you to Dominique of Save-A-Pet Illinois for providing access to Mittens and his biography and photos!