Cat Project Archives for February 27 thru March 3,
27, 2017 - "The last thing I would accuse a cat of
is innocence." - Edward Paley
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "This is No. 1 on my bucket list."
Mewvie: A day in the life of a cat owner.
Feline Art: "Nashville
by Jonathan Berr
About five years ago, Chicago resident Paul Nickerson turned to a trio
of cats to deal with a rodent infestation after higher-tech pest-control
methods failed. He figured he had nothing to lose.
“It got to the point where my neighbors and I couldn’t walk out of
our back doors to throw the garbage out at night because rats would be running
over our feet,” Nickerson said.
The cats came from a Tree House Humane Society program that places animals
that aren’t suited for life as house pets in places where their
native talents as hunters are needed, such as warehouses and breweries.
In Nickerson’s case, the field of battle was his two-car garage,
where he also stores beekeeping equipment and other gear. His feline
team was led by a calico female he named “Kevorkian -- The Angel
of Death,” in reference to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the late champion
of assisted suicide.
“For about a year, I’d see a dead rat probably on a daily basis,” said
Nickerson, adding that the rats are now gone. In fact, he was so taken with his
cats that he eventually joined Tree House and now runs the shelter’s “Cats
at Work” program.
According to Nickerson, the cost for three working cats, which is a typical
order, is $650, which includes the cost of spaying and neutering and
equipment such as a heated pad. Clients must agree to feed and provide
medical care for the animals. They also need to pass a screening process.
Other shelters around the country have similar programs.
About 100 otherwise unadoptable cats from Philadelphia have found new
homes in barns and stables over the past year, according to Ame Dorminy,
of ACCT Philadephia, an animal rescue group. Some “working cats” even
warmed up to humans once they got situated in their new homes, she said.
Feline mouse eradication specialists are on the job at the Southern California
Flower Market, the country’s largest, in Los Angeles. The Arizona
Humane Society has a waiting list for working cats, according to spokeswoman
Bretta Nelson. Minnesota businessman Jim Trenter is such a fan of the
program that he’s planning to get a new feline to patrol his grass
seed business after someone “catnapped” his Fritz, a working
cat he adopted last March.
Beyond helping people deal with vermin, shelters put cats to work to
generate revenue, which helps ease the burden of caring for the 6 million
to 8 million unwanted pets that wind up in their care every year. According
to Dorminy, working cats take up space that could go to cats who have
a better chance of being adopted.
“Anytime we can move a cat fast, it saves us money,” she said.
The felines also appeal to people leery about using rat poisons favored
by professional exterminators, which charge between $200 and $2,000 to
handle a rodent infestation depending on the size of the property and
damage involved, according to HomeAdvisor.
Working cat programs “are popping up all over the place,” said
Katie Lisnik, director of cat protection and policy at The Humane Society
of the U.S. “Perhaps if the shelter is crowded or the cat is near
another cat, and they get sick, then you have medical concerns -- veterinary
visits, medications -- all of that.”
According to the Humane Society, animal control organizations spend as
much as $1 billion annually to combat such problems. In some regions,
two-thirds of the animals in shelters are cats, and roughly 70 percent
of them are euthanized.
The cats that shelters draft as workers are often closer to the kind
of feline that has long patrolled barns and lived outside than the sort
of cossetted cuties that are daily fodder for YouTube.
Many are feral and afraid of humans, or at least indifferent toward them.
Nickerson said “Kevorkian” and her associates “Morticia,” a
gray-and-white longhair female, and “Eberkanisis,” an orange-and-white
female, remain leery of him.
“For the first couple of years, they would not even stay in the garage
with me,” he said. “They were deathly afraid of me. They’re
not like a house cat where you can sit there and pet them all day.They have a
threshold where they get overstimulated. So you can only pet them a couple of
times, and then they let me know that I have overstepped my welcome.”
28, 2017 - "No one shall deny me my own conclusions,
nor my cat her reflective purr." - Irving Townsend
Gratuitous Kittiness: "It's not what you eat, it's HOW you
Mewvie: "Kitty wants IN!"
Feline Art: "Monmon
by Kazuaki Horitomo.
1, 2017 - "A little drowsing cat is an image of perfect
beatitude." - Jules Champfleury
Art: "Tiger", 19th century Korean portrait.
by Mike Stanfill
Sable stuck her head through my cat door about ten years ago, looked
at me, and decided that I was her new human. I've owned a lot of cats
but this one owned me. Her unbridled affection was such that, had she
been a human woman, I probably would have needed a restraining order.
She promptly took over my home, letting all the other cats know, without
even lifting a paw, that she was in charge now. For their part they all
took it very gracefully, as though they had a choice.
To be honest, I had five cats at the time so I tried, twice, to re-home
her. Each time she hid under the furniture of her new owners, refusing
to come out or even eat, and cried constantly. And so I would retrieved
her, much to the relief of her erstwhile new owners, Sable herself and,
actually, me. After the second attempt I never tried again.
As near as I could tell she was a curious breed of cat known as a Nebelung,
a forest cat from Norway. Of course, she also could simply have been
a fuzzy gray cat.
At night she slept by my side and in the morning she awakened me by standing
on my chest and shoving every one of her extravagantly long whiskers
against my nose. It was one of her charms.
She also 'sang', loudly and often, but not after finding the perfect
reflective surface to amplify the sound. She would then unloose, for
a minute or two, a sound that belied her tiny size. I never understood
what it was all about.
The vets had no idea how old she really was but, as the years went by,
her bony hips revealed an undeniable truth. She was always a slender
cat but near the end her appetite waned. Finally she stopped eating altogether.
This morning, while laying in her favorite box, she peacefully passed
on. Soon I'll usher her into the arms of the earth under the big tree
in my back yard, where she'll spend eternity among her friends that went
Thank you, Sable, for finding me. Enjoy the ride.
2, 2017 - "A cat's name may tell you more about its
owners than it does about the cat."
- Linda W. Lewis
Gratuitous Kittiness: All tucked in.
Mewvie: Snowball fights with kitty.
Feline Art: "Funky Blue Cat" by Mike Lawrence.
3, 2017 - "Cats are rather delicate creatures and
they are subject to a lot of ailments, but I never heard
of one who suffered from insomnia." - Joseph Wood
Gratuitous Kittiness: Lazy, hazy, crazy cats of winter.
Mewvie: Why does your cat's tongue feel like sandpaper?
Feline Art: Cat locket in your pocket.
comes together to save cat's life.
by Amie Knowles
MARTINSVILLE – A local family rushed their wounded cat, Oreo, to
not one local veterinarian, but several last Thursday. The black and
white feline was in need of serious medical attention after having been
attacked by a neighborhood dog.
With its back left leg severely injured, Oreo’s owners faced two
options: euthanasia or an $800 amputation.
A decision no pet parent wants to make, the choices seemed grim. The
family didn’t have almost an extra $1,000 laying around, but they
wanted Oreo to live a long and healthy life.
Out of options, the family contacted the SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County
and asked for the organization’s help.
Catherine Gupton, director of development and executive assistant at
the SPCA, said that staff requested the family visit one more vet’s
office before making an ultimate decision – Dr. Eric Lorens’ Pet
Clinic, less than a mile away. There, professionals determined that Oreo
could have a shot at life, but only if they amputated her injured leg.
“From what I understand, the injury was so severe, it was the only option,” Gupton
The family was faced with a difficult decision. Legally, in order for
the SPCA to be of assistance, an owner must sign over their pet to the
organization. Without medical attention, Oreo would be euthanized.
Selflessly, the family surrendered Oreo to the no-kill shelter, a choice
that saved the cat’s life.
However, the SPCA, which spends over $2,000 each day to care for animals,
didn’t have a third of their daily budget hanging around. In faith,
they asked Dr. Lorens to perform the surgery, hoping that the community
would help raise the money needed to cover the operation.
Once Oreo’s story hit Facebook, it didn’t take long for locals
to give the money needed to completely fund the surgery and recovery
“It actually took about 24 hours,” Gupton said. “It’s
one of the most successful campaigns we’ve ever had.”
With a goal of $800, Gupton revealed the community gave over $1,000.
The excess money went to the shelter’s critical care fund.
The critical care fund helps “other animals in need within the
shelter that need care above and beyond standard vet care, like vaccines,” Gupton
said. “If we take in dogs that are heartworm positive or animals
with injuries,” the SPCA uses money from the critical care fund
to help pay the circumstantial medical bills.
“It’s a really, really important fund within our budget,” Gupton
said. “It takes care of special needs cases that we can’t help.”
Used in oftentimes dire situations, the critical care fund allows the
SPCA to continue with its necessary functions without impacting the shelter’s
“If we take money to treat a certain animal, it’s money we have to
take from somewhere else,” Gupton said. “We might not be able to
take one from the pound or from the community, so having that fund really helps
While stories like Oreo’s bring attention to the critical care
fund, the shelter accepts donations to the emergency medical care account
“We have a designated fund on the website,” Gutpon said, speaking
of spcamhc.org/form/donate. “They can click and have it go to the critical
While money from the fund helped Oreo, she now has a few specific needs
of which potential owners should be aware.
“She really needs to be an indoor cat,” Gupton said. “If you
have higher places to put food up, she’ll need help getting up there, like
Living indoors will help ensure the safety of the feline from potential
“It’s a little bit safer because they can’t flee as easily
with three legs,” Gupton said.
While Gupton said the previous owners are welcome to submit an adoption
application for Oreo, others in the community have offered to open their
homes to the cat.
A happy ending for the black and white feline, Gupton expressed her appreciation
to the community for the funds they raised to save the cat’s life.
“We just always want to thank the community so much,” Gupton said. “The
support they’ve given has just been amazing.”