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Infinite Cat Project Archives for October 19-23, 2015.

Mewsings: October 19, 2015 - "I found out why cats drink out of the toilet. My mother told me it's because the water is cold in there. And I'm like: How did my mother know that?" - Wendy Liebmann

little cat's feet

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Little cat's feet.

Cat Mewvie: Tree-top cat rescue.

cat peeves comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat rings

Surprise Kat Art: Kliban's famous Cat.

winter cat shelter

How to Care for Outdoor Cats in Winter

As the weather gets colder, you may worry about the cats you see around your neighborhood.
They may be pets whose owners let them outside, or they could be community cats, a group that includes ferals (who are afraid of people) and strays (who've been lost or abandoned). No matter how resourceful these outdoor cats are, they need help surviving winter.

If you've got time to help, the kitties will thank you! Follow these tips to help your local outdoor cats during the cold months.

Give outdoor cats shelter from the cold

Yes, their thickened winter coats help feral and stray cats weather winter's chill, but they still need warm, dry, well-insulated and appropriate-sized shelters.

It's cheapest to build your own, and there are many plans and instructions that can help you get started.

How to get help building your outdoor-cat shelter

A shelter-building party can be a fun weekend project! Ask your friends, neighbors and coworkers to join in. Try contacting local youth groups to find out if they will help build shelters as a service project.

Where to find materials

You may find inexpensive or free materials by asking building-supply stores or contractors if they have scrap lumber. Ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for used dog houses, which can be modified to make good shelters. You can even use a storage bin from the local hardware store.

Why size matters with cat shelters

A shelter must trap the cats' body heat to warm its interior. If the shelter is too large, it will be difficult for the cats' body heat to keep the space warm.

What to put in your outdoor cat shelter

Straw allows cats to burrow. Pillowcases loosely stuffed with packing peanuts and shredded newspaper also work.

Keep things clean: Replace straw and newspaper if moist or dirty, and wash and re-stuff pillowcases as needed.

However, if it's really cold where you live and you can't check on the shelters regularly, don’t use the above insulations. Instead, "wallpaper" the shelter's inner walls and floor with Mylar. It reflects back body heat, and it's okay for cats to lie on it.

What NOT to put in your outdoor-cat shelter

Don't use blankets, towels or folded newspaper; they absorb body heat and chill cats who are lying on them. Forego hay, too, which may irritate noses and cause allergic reactions.

Where to place food and water

If you can do so without compromising the privacy and security of the shelter, place food and water near the shelter so the cats won't have to travel far.

One way to protect food and water is to place two shelters—doorways facing each other—two feet apart. Then create a canopy between them by securing a wide board from one roof to the other. Then put the food and water under the canopy.

How to keep outdoor cats' food and water from freezing

What you put food and water in can make a difference. A thick plastic water container that's deep and wide is better-insulated than a thin plastic or ceramic container. A solar-heated water bowl can prevent or delay water and canned food from freezing.

If shelters are well-insulated, you can put bowls of dry or moist food inside them, far from the doorway. Even if the moist food freezes, the cats' body heat will defrost it when they hunker down in their shelter.

Don't put water bowls inside the shelter. Water is easily spilled, and a wet shelter will feel more like a refrigerator than a warm haven. You’ll find suggestions for keeping water from freezing at the Neighborhood Cats website.

To TNR or not to TNR community cats in winter?

People may be concerned about performing trap-neuter-return during winter because they worry about releasing females who have had their stomachs shaved for surgery. But winter trapping has its advantages. There are far fewer pregnant cats, which makes for a less complicated surgery, and you'll prevent the births of many kittens come spring, when the majority are born.

Before you start winter trapping, however, you must ensure that the cats will have adequate shelter when you return them to their territory. If you've followed the directions above, they'll be in good shape.

Mewsings: October 20, 2015 - "A dog will flatter you but you have to flatter the cat."- George Mikes

white lap cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: The essence of lap-cat... and lap.

Cat Mewvie: Luna's song.

cats do not miss us

Today's Kitty Komic

Rocky, by Tracy Butler

Feline Art: "Kittens" by Marion Peck.

Mewsings: October 21, 2015 - "If God created man in his own image, you've got to wonder; in whose image did he create the nobler cat?" - Unknown

fluffy cat on post

Gratuitous Kittiness: Iiiiiiiiiit's post-time!

Cat Mewvie: Motorcyclist saves a kitten..

star trek hearts kittens

Today's Kitty Komic

the cat couch

Surprise Kitty Art: (See the video about the kitten rescue, above.)

mama cat finds her kittens

Mama cat finds her kittens.

A mother cat with a strong maternal instinct has surprised staff at a Whangarei vet clinic, turning up at the doors after she was separated from her kittens.

Julie Wills, a vet at Mill Road Vet Clinic, says she and her colleagues arrived at work last Wednesday to find a cardboard box with four kittens between the ages of three to four weeks old.

Assuming they had been dumped there by their owners, staff took the kittens in and got them set up in incubators for the day, feeding them as needed.

Due to their infancy, at end of the work day, the kittens were taken home and fed overnight by one of the clinic's staff and brought back the next day.

It was early that morning when staff noticed a tabby cat trying to bustle its way through the clinic doors.

Ms Wills said immediately she and her colleagues knew something was not quite right.
"Cats don't usually bring themselves to the vet," Ms Wills said.

When they picked up the cat, it immediately became apparent she was a nursing mother, and she was taken to the incubator with the kittens.

"We introduced her to the kittens and it was just immediately evident that she was their mum. She climbed in and all the kittens just latched on straight away."

Ms Wills said it was likely the mother cat had been in the same box as the kittens, but was capable of getting out. She said the mother could have been waiting for 24 hours outside the clinic, after she saw her family get taken inside.

A family member of one of the vets is now looking after the kittens and their mum.
According to Ms Wills, the cats are domesticated and it is likely they have had a family at some point.

"The mum is the absolute sweetest cat imaginable. She is really, really good with children, and so my guess is that she has come from a family, which is a bit tragic. The kittens are pretty young, so it is a bit hard to tell, but they are definitely not wild kittens."

Ms Wills says, although they don't see much in the way of animal dumping it does happen, and sometimes it is because the owners can't pay for the ongoing veterinary costs.

"It's rare. We do get a few more people coming in and talking to us, usually because something has gone wrong with their animal and they realise there is going to be a lot of expense with fixing them."

The kittens and mother should be available for adoption in a few weeks. (This story is from New Zealand so don't get your hopes up.)

Mewsings: October 22, 2015 - "Actually, cats do this to protect you from gnomes who come and steal your breath while you sleep." - John Dobbin

cat shelter, Eustis, Florida

Gratuitous Kittiness: Cat shelter in Eustis Florida."

Cat Mewvie: Belgian cat parade. (See: Kattenstoet)

dog employee comic

Today's Kitty Komic

Felix Vallotton

The Feline Arts: The Cat Bus, she is REAL!

Mewsings: October 23, 2015 - "A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not." - Ernest Hemingway

cat with beers

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Man, it's been a LONNNNNNNG day."

Cat Mewvie: Monkey oversees the dish-washing.

cat pounce control comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat petting chart

Surprise Kat Art: Cut, Print, n' Save.

lost Sheba

Finding Sheba, a long-distance detective story.
by Dianne de Guzman

It was 6:30 p.m., and Sheba was nowhere to be seen.

The indoor-outdoor cat was known for being punctual for her dinner. Sheba's caretaker, Riley McDermid, wasn't immediately concerned, but when the food remained untouched the next day, it seemed that Sheba was missing.

McDermid checked shelters for the microchipped cat and asked neighbors through NextDoor -- a residential social media app that connects neighbors to each other -- about whether they had seen Sheba. McDermid searched for the friendly, black cat in the neighborhood, but to no avail.

A week later, after talking with a neighbor, it became apparent that maybe -- just maybe --the cat had taken a 1,600 mile trip.

To Omaha, Neb.


McDermid's neighbor had recently passed away and his adult children had come into town from Omaha to move out items -- including his three cats --from his apartment. On Sept. 19, the day the family had packed their U-Haul for Nebraska, the three cats had gotten out and the neighbor's son and daughter searched for the felines, including a black cat named Lucy.

Another neighbor told McDermid that they had seen the siblings leave town with a cat carrier.

" Sheba's not skittish and not wild," McDermid said of her cat. "She probably went up to them and they weren't familiar (with their dad's cats) and they had thought it was just one of the cats that had gone back (to his home). ... I briefly hoped that they had the cat."

Sheba was adopted by the family in February after being rescued from a coal factory in Crockett. The cat played well with McDermid's 2-year-old daughter, Frankie, and got along with their cattle dog, so McDermid felt she had to try and find Sheba.

Finding out the contact info for the son and daughter, McDermid sent Facebook messages and text messages, made phone calls to the two, but did not hear back from them.

Getting no reply, the question remained: What were the chances that Sheba was in Omaha?


Tracking down a cat in another state was out of McDermid's experience as a reporter, but having a strong clue that the cat was in Omaha spurred McDermid to try another avenue: A private investigator.

" I was sure we'd never see her again," McDermid said. "...This was a last ditch effort and if she was anywhere, she'd be with these people."

Looking up private investigators in Omaha, McDermid called around to see who would take a case like this. On her fourth try, she found Mona Kay, who was willing to give it a shot.

Kay's practice, Mona K. Investigations, rarely deals with missing pet cases, but she wanted to try and find Sheba for McDermid's family.

" Deep down in my gut I really thought I would (find Sheba)," Kay said. "I know my determination and I don't give up easily. I really thought if these people still had the cat, I would find it."

Researching the names, Kay came up with four addresses in the Omaha area. At the first house, Kay found Brittany Hulett and, armed with a photo of Sheba, asked if Hulett had seen the cat.
" I introduced myself and told her I was a private investigator and I showed her the picture and said, 'Does this cat look familiar? Have you seen this cat?'" Kay recalled. "... I said, 'I'm here to find this kitty, it belongs to a nice family that loves it and misses it and wants to get their kitty back."

Hulett told Kay that Sheba was inside her house. Kay saw Sheba -- wearing the exact same collar from McDermid's photos that she had sent along -- and knew she had found the right cat.
" They brought the cat out to me," Kay said. "It was much easier than I ever anticipated, which is shocking. I locate people all the time, some take weeks or months and then finding a cat (from) across the country takes three minutes."

Hulett said that it was Kay's surprise visit to her home that made her realize she had brought the wrong cat to Omaha.

" That's what convinced me that maybe it wasn't (my father's cat)," Hulett said on the phone. "Because who would really go to that extreme? That's why I was like, 'Just take it.' It had to have been true."

" What were the odds?" Hulett later added about the mix-up. "Two little black cats, green eyes, same neighborhood."

When asked why she took the case, Kay said she loved animals and if this happened to one of her pets -- the private investigator said she has three cats, fish and frogs -- she, too, would have hired a private investigator.

" I would be so upset if someone took one of my animals," Kay said. "I would do the same exact thing. I know most people wouldn't, but... I wanted to at least give (the case) a try."

" I don't think a lot of private investigators would take the case," Kay later added. "They would have said, 'Oh gosh, I'm not gonna go find a cat. I can't go find a cat, they all look the same.' I can't imagine anyone going to go look for a cat and so I thought she's lucky she found me ... I think a lot of people would have thought it's a wild goose chase."

Sheba had finally been found, after having gone missing for 18 days.


Bringing the cat home with her, Kay called McDermid to give her the good news -- only an hour after the two had first spoken on the phone about Sheba.

" I called her and said, 'Guess who's here at my house' and she said, 'You have my cat!'" Kay said.

" I just started crying," McDermid said of that phone call from Kay. "I couldn't believe it."
Saying she's not a "cat lady," McDermid said that her story got its share of opinions at work, drawing comparisons to "Homeward Bound" and "Milo and Otis."

" Half of my colleagues in the newsroom thought it's a great story, the other half thought I was crazy," McDermid said of her co-workers. "Once I knew where she was, I had to go get her."

" I'm not really a cat person," McDermid later added. "I'm not a big cat lady, I don't like cat memes, but Sheba's just so good with my daughter Frankie that I thought I need to figure out what happened."

McDermid disputes Hulett's account of the situation as a "mix-up," and said the siblings ignored two weeks of messages offering a reward and money to ship the cat back. McDermid had also filed a police report at the time the cat went missing.

Three days after Sheba was found, Kay shipped the cat home on a plane on Oct. 10 to San Francisco Airport. McDermid and her family picked up Sheba shortly after midnight, three weeks after her adventure first started.

And now, every day at 6:30 p.m., Sheba is home for dinner with her family.


The Infinite Cat Project
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