Wednesday, 8 January 2014

deep freeze

An awful lot of North America has been stuck in a deep freeze and Nova Scotia is no exception.  Sure, we had one really mild day when it rained and some snow melted but twenty-four hours later, winter came back with a vengeance. Nothin' but snow and ice around here now.  Snow, ice and freezing temperatures.

At times like these, I worry about all the kitties livin' outside without homes. Having been born feral myself, I fully understand the dangers of being outside when the temperatures drop.  We cats may have fur coats but we are most definitely not impervious to the cold.

I was super lucky 'cause although born feral, I was born in mid-April and managed to get myself a home by the end of my first summer.  I know all about the cold but most of my knowledge has come from lookin' out at the snowy land that is Canada from the inside of a warm, comfy house.  Of course, I do go out in the snow now and then.  A cat like me has explorin' to do, you know.  I regularly venture outside to check out some stuff here and there in my yard but I always make sure I'm back inside before my tootsies get too chilly.

Once inside, after an outing in the cold temperatures, I do the heat transfer thing.  Ever do that?  It's really fun.  Immediately upon your return, go over to a peep and get them to pick you up.  Pick a peep with bare skin, visible.  Bare arms work best but the skin around the neckline will do in a pinch. Then place your cold paws on the peep's bare skin.  The heat from their skin transfers to your paws and warms them right up.  Now I'll warn you that usually the peep will complain about the cold of your paws cooling their skin down but just ignore those complaints.  I just tune 'em out.  Easily enough done.

Anywho...  all this cold weather got me thinkin' about two little kitties I once knew long, long ago.  Their names were Alexander and Josephine.  I don't talk about them much 'cause my Peep #1 gets super sad when she thinks about them and how we, as a family, failed little Alex and Josie.

Alex and Josie were my younger brother and sister.  Alex was a tuxedo like my mama and Josie, inherited some orange from my dad and was therefore, a calico.  They were two cuties, for sure.

It was a very confusing time, the summer of 2003.  Peep #1 was doin' her best to get my sibs and me inside, along with my mama and dad.  I won't go into a lot of details 'cause I just know you're all gonna want to read about my rescue when it's published in the rescue anthology to which I alluded in an earlier post.  Bottom line is, before the peeps could get their act together and catch my mama and dad, mama got preggers again.  The result was that little Alex and Josie were born in early September, about four-and-a-half months after me.  Unfortunately, they were born outside.

Shortly after Alex and Josie were born, my mama was ready to come in but her babies were too scared.  Peep #1 had a really tough time gaining their trust.  It took her months and some of those months were super cold.

The winter of 2003 and 2004 was a cold one.  It started early and left, late.  There were sub-zero temperatures for long periods of time.  Very sub-zero temperatures.  I, of course, was enjoyin' the comforts of a home by then but my younger siblings were still outside.

The peeps built a little shelter on the veranda.  Actually, they built two.  The first one was a big wooden box they hired a friend to build. That didn't work out so well.  All cats avoided it like the plague.  Then Peep #1 got to work and bought a big, thick sheet of Styrofoam.  She laid that down in the inside corner of the veranda and put cement blocks along the edge for weight and to make somethin' similar to walls.  Then she spread thick blankets over the Styrofoam and the cement blocks.  It worked like a charm.  Alex and Josie loved it. Every night, they would come and cosy up in their winter bedding.

Sometimes snow would drift in and the blankets would have to be changed, quite often.  Ol' Peepers changed the bedding on a daily basis to keep it clean and dry.

That winter was so cold, food and cat milk would freeze and even though the shelter had blankies, it was chilly.

So the peep developed a system involving multiple food dishes, hot water bottles, towels and an alarm clock.  Every night for weeks, the peep would use the alarm clock to wake up every ninety minutes.  Every ninety minutes, she would get up out of bed, warm up some cat milk on the stove and put that out on the veranda for Alex and Josie along with a fresh plate of soft food.  She would also fill up two hot water bottles, wrap them in towels and place them in the the home-made shelter. She would then bring inside the older dishes and hot water bottles, allowin' them to thaw out before bein' used at the next changin', an hour and a half later.

The peep found that Alex and Josie would allow her to bring out the food and hot water bottles and get quite close to them as long as she never tried to touch 'em.  She was way too scary for them to allow that.  And I can imagine that the peep was scary.  Sleep deprived, cold and cranky, Ol' Peepers must have seemed like a monster to my little brother and sister.

Eventually, the peep did gain the kittens' trust and Alexander was the first to venture inside.  He came in the front door, immediately hiding in the front closet.  Now I happen to know that that closet has a radiator in it.  Alex must have discovered this because he came out of the closet while the peeps were watchin' and they saw a look in his eyes that they just knew was the look of his realisation of how warm and cosy that closet was and then he turned and headed right back in.  He was an indoor kitty after that night.

Josephine took a little while longer to come in so there were a few more nights of changing hot water bottles and warming up bowls of cat milk in store for Ol' Peepers.  Once in, she never really trusted the peeps.  She was always nervous...  always scared.

Now this might sound like a happy ending for my younger siblings and really, it should have been but things don't always work out as planned.  The peeps were gettin' ready to take Alexander and Josephine in to be neutered and spayed.  They had wanted Josie to be a little more trusting of them before doin' so but it was early March and they could wait no longer.  They couldn't risk Josie gettin' preggers.  But days before their planned operations, Josie became ill.  Shortly after that, so did Alex. They weren't with us for much longer after that.

You see, livin' outside, in the cold, takes a toll on kitties.  Alex and Josie had both been exposed to Feline Leukaemia from a cat livin' two streets over, when quite young.  The peep found out about this cat a few months later but that's another story for another blog post.  Alexander's and Josephine's immune systems weren't strong and then bein' exposed to all those cold nights...  it was too much for their little bodies to handle.

I'm very thankful that when Alex and Josie left for Heaven, they were in a warm home, surrounded by love and comfort.  That's important, I think.  I'm sad though that they weren't with us for longer.

The peep says she failed Josie and Alex.  Had she managed to trap my mama before they were born, they would have been born inside a warm house and would still be with us.  But she was still tryin' to get me in, at that time and was so close to doin' so.  That's why...  that's why she didn't use a trap.  I wish she had used one.  So does she.  In hindsight, one often has perfect vision but by then it may be too late.

But if there is one thing to be learned from this experience, it is that kitties livin' outside in this terrible cold need our help. If you think there are kitties without homes livin' near you, please build a shelter for them.  Put out food on a regular basis, too, 'cause I assure you that mousin' is terribly difficult at this time of year.  The mice are all inside!  And most importantly, if you can get the outdoor kitties in, please make that a priority.

Please...  Please help any kitties livin' outside in this cold.  Lives are at stake.  BEAUTIFUL, PRECIOUS LIVES.

33 comments:

  1. Ontario has been horrid for this deep freeze also! I think everywhere has!
    There is a stray kitty I have been caring for, for a while now. We built him an insolated kitty house for when he is out in the day time, and we bring him in and put him in a bedroom with a litter box, food and water at night. It is just to cold to leave him out and our no kill shelter is full to the brim right now.I am considering adopting him...I already have 3 cats and 2 huskies which is why he has to be in a bedroom at night, he is not fixed and would spray. So as far as adoption goes he will have to get his shots and then neutered before that's possible, but I am working on it!
    Wow long comment, sorry! Just think this topic is very important!
    ((Husky hugz))
    "Love is being owned by a husky"

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    1. No need to apologize, my friend. It IS an important topic. A VERY important topic, indeed. purrs

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  2. You speak true. MomFOD saw a kitty the other day. She took DadFOD to go look for it with a carrier and some food, but they couldn't it, and MomFOD was unable to get it at the time because it was running across the wrong side of the street while she was driving. We hope he's ok. We hope it warms up soon, too. Thank you for your thoughtful post. -Crepes.

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  3. Nerissa, from all the kitties that have been saved so far from TEAM TNR and THE ARC, quite a story you have there. We do our best to help as many as we can as soon as we can. Thank you for asking others to help if they can also. Ever wonder how much nip your brother and sister get where they are,,,,,, just saying LOL.

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  4. Hmmm guess I must remember to sign in first before I send comment. Nerissa, that is quite a story you have there. The Kitties here at TEAM TNR and THE ARC want you to know that we do what we can when we can to save as many as we can, glad you asked others to help, hope some do. Hmmmm have you ever wondered just how much nip your brother and sister have where they are, wonder if there is a limit,,,,,, Just saying LOL.

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    1. Hey there Sue! Not too worry. I have comment moderation on. That's why comments don't appear right away. I feel I have to use comment moderation 'cause of my stalker. You know... Mr. Anonymous Spam. MOUSES!

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  5. No need for your mom to feel bad. She did the best she could do for your siblings.

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  6. Nissy, I would say your peeps, even though they can be grouchy when woken up every 90 minutes, are THE BEST!! They could have done no more for Alex and Josie. I would swap them for mine any day ..... okay, that's not true. Just kidding mum!!! We've been seeing about your dreadful weather. When it gets to us it's turned into rain and rain and more rain!! Stay warm, buddy! xox

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  7. We have 2 outsiders at the moment that Dad feeds nightly. He tried the shelter thing and they had nothing to do with it. We are not sure if they are really feral or just Inside/Outside cats, but, will keep the food coming just in case.
    Cannot wait to read your full story Nissy
    Timmy

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  8. I don't think your human failed Josie and Alex at all - she went way beyond what most humans would do to help them and their mother. Sometimes there are limitations as to what someone can do at any one time...

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  9. As we live in a tropical country, the ferals and strays do not need to worry about snow. They do need to be careful during the rainy monsoon season (they can get washed away if they fall in the drains) though.
    We're sorry Alex and Josie ran off to the Bridge at such a tender age but we are glad they were in a safe environment and experienced love before they did.

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  10. Oh Nissy, Your peep did the very best possible for Alex and Josephine and should never think she failed them. Like you said, they got to know a nice warm home and love before they had to go to the RB. In a purrfect world, they would be with you now, but we all know our world is not purrfect. We all do the best we can. We don't know of any homeless kitties in our area. Thank COD. Try to stay warm. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

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  11. Well pal, your peeps didn't really fail Alex and Josie - they were trying everything possible to help them and had they tried to catch them when you think they should have, it might not have worked out anyway. Someone might have gotten hurt. It's sad, but it was meant to be this way. I know your peeps have helped many animals since then and probably will always be helping animals. Good for them - they are wonderful peeps Nissy, and you are so lucky to be in their family.

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  12. Your peeps didn't fail at all, on the contrary they did the best possible for Alex and Josie. You are lucky to have such a pawsome family. Purrs

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  13. Mummy Janey says that we all do what we can do,the fact that we care enough to try is important even though we can't save them all.
    The REAL Maple Syrup Mob xxxxx

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  14. dood....veree well said....nothing shuld bee out in this crazed weather....knot even...N we canna bee leeve we iz gonna say thiz....knot even burds......it bee like 87 thousand bee low zee row....just plane vishuz for everee thing.....

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  15. Thank you so much for sharing this, I cant see straight as my eyes are a little leaky right now. We always are our harshest critics and hindsight is crystal clear but your peep is an awesome dedicated one and has nothing to reproach herself for. This story is a lovely example of why the world is made a better place by those who care for animals and have a good spirit. My love to all of you.

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  16. We got down to 6F and it hasn't been that cold her since 1904. Fortunately our 2 full-time resident ferals made it through. We had a heated 2story house for them plus other shelters out n' about. Yes, please help the outside kitties, they so deserve it.

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  17. Nissy! What a sad story about Alex and Josie, but it points out how weather - especially cold weather can affect feral cats! Kudos to your Mom person! Running outside every 90 minutes in a typical Canadian winter is above and beyond what most peoples will do!
    Kisses (especially for your Mom person)
    Nellie

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  18. Please tell your mom not to feel bad, Nissy. She did everything she could for Alex and Josie. She did NOT fail them at all.

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  19. Nissy, there's been 2 cats hanging around our dad-guy's business for a few months. The workers have been feeding them and then this winter, they built a shelter for them. About a month ago, the mom trapped both of them and got them fixed and vaccinated. But these last few days when it's been so bitterly cold, we've been worrying about those 2 kitties. They have access to a garage area but it's not heated. The dad-guy has been taking care of them, but we really worry about them being out in the cold. We're hoping they become a little friendlier and maybe we can find them homes. That would be nice.

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  20. Oh Nissy ,your Peep didn't fail them, it was just one of those things,it wasn't meant to be,Snuggle SPeedy

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  21. Excellent post Nissy my friend.....tomorrow on my bloggy I'm going to share a photo of the super nice waterproof heated shelter my parents bought for our feral friend.....she doesn't want to be inside my house but we wanted her to have something better than the little padded cube she's used in the past to shelter on our front porch.....last night she used it for the first time and she LOVED IT!!!! We feel better about her now. Much. Your Mom did the best she could and went to great lengths for your little sibs back in their kitten days Nissy...I know you've told her that before - but please give her a hug from me too.....we "formerly ferals" know that sometimes things are out of control for us even in spite of help from humans.

    Hugs for you and your Mom,
    Sammy

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  22. Nissy, yes, we've been worried about our Porch Panther, Oliver, these last few days here in North Carolina, but he's come through alright as he seems to do each year. He grows a REALLY REALLY thick, plushy coat every winter and MomKatt makes 100% sure he's got food & water constantly on the porch in case he comes by, which he usually does like clockwork in the mornings & evenings each day. We've been caring for him for several years - he's one tough hombre, as MomKatt says.

    Hope you are well my furriend!

    Purrz!
    Selina

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  23. How can your mum think she has failed - she set an alarm to get up every 90 minutes and didn't want to risk loosing you. She did not fail, she went above and beyond!!

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  24. Nerrisa, I've nominated you for 7 awards. Please drop by to pick them up. http://moggiepurrs.wordpress.com. Congratulations!

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  25. Gosh how awful. Reminds me I must get my kitty in from the cold. She's got a cat flap but she wants the attention of me opening the door!

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  26. Oh Nerissa, you folks have been having crazy weather for sure and we sure send purrs your way that it starts letting up for you. It is very sad that Alex and Josie passed away but we think that your Peep is really an awesome Human for what she did for them and how caring she was. Hey, we like that heat transfer thingy, very cool! And Happy New Year to you all...may 2014 bring you health, joy, love, prosperity, peace and possibility!

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  27. It sure is important to think of our pals outside, you've got that right! We haven't seen any outdoor cats around here but lots of other little friends that we put food outside for. Stay warm!

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  28. Oh and tell your mom not to feel bad, she didn't fail them!!

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  29. What a sad story. Your peeps have hearts of gold. Our Mickey Mouser was born outside. We set a trap and caught him at 12 weeks old but we never got his brother or Mother. That was August. In a few months Winter set in hard here in Connecticut. I would like to think that someone else rescued them...

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I love hearin' from my pals. I absolutely LOVE it! Just saying...