Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LIC Feral Colony post-Sandy

This storm has been disastrous for many, and for feral cats, it was devastating.
I got out of the house as soon as I felt I'd be safe today and went to check on some colonies.
My bakery colony looked fine. The warehouse where some live did not seem affected structurally, and there are plenty of places high up for the cats to stay if it flooded at all. The cats that live in the production area seem to have been spared the harshest of the weather, the ground under the overhang/partially enclosed area was completely dry - unbelievable. 
So I headed over to LIC. Greasy Paws seemed OK, no sign of flooding and locals confirmed, but I did not see Beetle or Hexbit. Later in the day, a feeder there sent me this! He said he found him on top of a car and he came right over to eat. Atta-boy Beetle!!! No sign of Hexbit, but that's pretty normal, she's super feral and skittish.
Then I went to a colony on the water (location information not specific as this information can sometimes end up in the wrong hands). I don't manage this colony and haven't been over there since the day after Irene, but I was scared of what I might see, and rightfully so. Look at the water level, it is still in the parking lot on the other side of this fence.
This colony is on the water in Long Island City, Queens. I did not even think about them until I saw the LIC flooding pictures last night. Then it hit me, OH GOD, THE --- COLONY! I don't manage this colony, so it just didn't occur to me until it was too late. Half way down the block, not even at the colony yet, I saw a cat in the road who had met a tragic end. 
As I got closer I saw a black cat run off - THANK GOODNESS!
Then, I made my way closer to the colony, and this is what I saw. This area was completely under water by several feet. Massive objects were moved around and debris from the receding waves was all over.
Water was still very high, scary high. As I looked around, I saw another cat, a gray and white cat! So that's two! He ran off before I could get his picture.
 This feeding station was broken and about 100 yards away from its previous location.
Styrofoam cat shelters were strewn about the area upside-down and sideways, full of water, no straw remaining.
Insulation, lids and straw from plastic shelters completely removed.
Shelters buried under debris.
The water was still right up to the dock and I worried about further flooding tonight at high tide, but when we returned later the water level had gone down significantly.
So, realizing I was completely unprepared for this, I did what I could in the interim. I had packed my bike basket with a carrier, towels, a warm snuggle safe disk, some karo syrup, and that kind of thing assuming I might find an injured cat or abandoned kittens. I certainly did not have bales of straw and other supplies I needed. So I gathered some of the shelters, dumped the water out and set them up under the old feeding station, which was moved and a bit mangled but still sturdy, and planned to return with straw to re-fill them so they will be warm, safe and dry.

Here are a couple more, I put them under this plywood.
Then I made my way out, observing all the chaotic aftermath as I passed.
 The water is right there.
And I got a pleasant surprise on my way out. One more cat was seen assessing the situation under a truck. So that's 3 cats alive. Let's all hope there are more still hiding out and playing it safe.  
  So I rode my bike home, tears in my eyes and wind knocking me around and reached out to my friends. Immediately, Eva jumped in an ordered a zip car and said I'm coming to get you at 2 p.m. and Lisa is joining us - Yay North Brooklyn Cats! Shawn and Dolores both donated straw for the shelters (hard to come by in a pinch). I popped in to pick up the straw from Muddy Paws and when they heard what we were up to they handed us a bag of food and wished us luck. Things were looking up - at least for the survivors. Eva and Lisa picked me up at 2 and off we went!
Please note, the following pictures from here on were taken by Eva Prokop, anyone using these pictures should credit her and link to her Flickr site.
We found a box and removed the remains of the one from the street so he could rest peacefully with dignity. Then back to the disaster area.
Time to get to work.
We saw a black bag around a box, which made us all uneasy luckily it was empty.
First things first, we got food out asap!
Lisa found Mary laying on the ground and found her a nice place in a tree to rest.
Then we went searching for more shelters. We knew there were more, just had to find them. Lisa found this one, put it back together, filled it with straw and bagged it.
Eva went to work on this one.
She filled it with straw (no, we don't know what happened to the insulation) and weighed it down with a sandbag we found.
Lisa found another shelter, but the lid was nowhere to be found, we figured we may have to improvise.
Then we kept searching, not just for shelters and the lid to the blue shelter, but for anything that helped us understand what all went down over there. 
We are all happy to report we did not find anything we hoped not to find.
Then...epic find by Lisa! The lid to the blue shelter! SCORE!
Now we were just putting it all together. We used plywood to cover and weigh down these shelters. 
Then over to the old feeding station where I put the shelters I found earlier in the day.
We filled them up with straw.
Then we arranged them around the food and water and made sure the doors pointed in so wind and water entry would be minimal.
Then we leaned some plywood against it to provide more shelter from bad weather.
And there we go! Safe, dry and warm shelter with plenty of food for the survivors.
And here is a sneak peak inside:)
We lost many of our feral friends last night, all over the North East. If you want to help please donate to local TNR rescuers and groups, get certified with Neighborhood Cats to perform TNR-Spay/Neuter, foster, adopt, pledge to spay/neuter 5 cats next year, volunteer...there are many ways to lend a helping hand. My friends and I are not a group, we're not an organization, we don't have any funding, we just go out and do what we can to help, and you can too. You don't need special skills to do TNR, all you need is a desire to help. 
Thank you for reading and please share your own stories with us of your colonies and TNR efforts.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

There he is! Hey Desmond, you handsome devil!

A little mix of good and bad news here, but he is well and has made some friends. Mildred, bless her, called me and told me the cat I had described to her to look out for was turning up where she feeds. I grabbed my sneakers and was out the door. Sure enough, its Desmond. I don't know why he is going over there to eat when I set up a feeding station and shelter where I relocated him. Maybe he is uncomfortable there or maybe he just likes the new spot he has chosen for himself around the corner. Who knows, one of the girls from the outside area of the Bakery likes hanging out over there and the bodega kids hang there too, maybe it's better. What is upsetting is that he is crossing the street to go eat. But, like I said, he's well and looks good. He's in good shape, healthy and had made some friends. I'll be investigating to find out exactly where he is spending the majority of his time and hope to move a shelter and feeding station there to keep him from crossing the street. So when I went to see him where Mildred feeds, he was hanging out with some new friends, an orange guy, a tortie and a calico (I didn't get a pic of her, but she's a beauty).

Desmond's new friend, I forget his name, but he's a typical fun and charming, orange guy.
And this is Ghost-Kitty, named by someone on the block, no, I don't know why. She's a hoot and a big old fatty girl! 
And over where Desmond seems to be spending his time are a couple of bodega cats you may remember, Bibi and Bo Dega! 
Here's Bibi, spayed January 2012 when someone from the neighborhood was moving and "couldn't take her" so the bodega owner took her in.
And here's Bo, neutered in May of 2011 after the former kitty, sadly was hit by a car who I had spayed back in 2009. (She was Beauty and Beast's sister, Shannon's litter)

So Des has made some friends and I really hope they are showing him the ropes over there where he can stay safe and warm. I'll be working on getting him set up, but it will take some more work. Hang in there Des, please.

Meanwhile, around the corner at the bakery, the girls are still doing very well and I see them every weekend. This is Hitch's routine:                  WHO IS IT?                                                  It's me Hitch.
OH, IT'S YOU, PUT THE WET FOOD DOWN AND BACK AWAY.                                      OK Hitch.
A LITTLE FURTHER PLEASE...                    OK Hitchy, just a second, but be nice to Grommet please. 

Then as Hitch eats like she's been starving to death (despite the CONSTANT supply of food), Grommet shows up all stealth-like and cute:) She waits somewhat patiently while Hitch eats because Hitch will just slap her around if she goes to eat before Hitch is done. I don't get it, there's plenty for everyone. Cats! On a good note, these two were not well before relocating, now both have good weight on them and Grommet has stopped wheezing!!! 
I ran past the Greasy Paws lots today and saw Beetle sun-bathing. He looks great, nice and full and healthy. Perhaps its easier to get a full meal now that it's just him and Hexbit and the drama of the summer has ended. The feeding area is now kept very clean, that is really nice to see considering it was one of the big points of contention. The other point was the cats eliminating on the lots, I see both lots are still utilizing the litter boxes I made for them, so I hope that is helping too.

On my way back home I passed by again and ran into the feeders that feed at the lot every day. It was so nice to see them. They tell me that Lucky, formerly Beep, who they took in from the lot is very happy in their home and LOVES his toys. I really enjoyed hearing how he was doing and all his fun stories of what he likes and dislikes. 

They say things have calmed down a bit over at the lots. The lot that worked with me on this project, he has not had any interaction with since the relocation. The guy at the other lot, who was trapping and dumping the cats in an unknown park and still denies it, still gives him some dirty looks, but the confrontations have ceased. We talked about some concern about winter now that the shed is closed off, but I hope these guys do OK. If anyone has any room for properly and safely relocating the last two, please feel free to contact me. I'll never forget about them and hope to do some outreach next summer when I am out of school to try to find them a place but for now they seem to be doing ok and I hope that with the small number, 2, there will be more tolerance and they can all coexist in a peaceful and compassionate manner.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Grommet Emerges

I had released Grommet, and for a couple of weeks saw no sign of her, until...
Needless to say, I was thrilled! I was so happy to see her and know she was safe and sound. She lives over in this corner with Hitch. It seems they are working out their new living arrangement...Hitch is still her sassy and nasty self! But Grommet must be OK with that because she chooses to stay over in that area with her despite the enormous size of the warehouse with unlimited hiding and nesting areas. I now see them both every Sunday when I go to refill all the water and dry food. And they come running fast when I pop the top of the Fancy Feast! Yay!

Now Hitch's attitude...well, we'll just have to see how it all unfolds. She comes pretty darn close to me now, so her comfort level is improving. Hitch used to be a sweet, carefree little girl, but something changed over Greasy Paws, we don't know what happened and she has been skittish with people and hostile to the other cats since. I hope she and Grommet can become friends again like they were when they were younger. Especially now that they have a safe indoor home with a constant supply of food & water and no worries about anyone trying to hurt them. I hope this reduces their stress levels so Hitch can chill out  a bit and Grommet's respiratory issues can calm down. By the way, Hitch is putting on weight:) She had been in pretty bad shape when first removed from Greasy Paws. Grommet's breathing seems less labored and her weight looks good.
As for Desmond, aka Piston, who was released across the street at the production area, I have not seen him yet. The workers over there tell me they have seen him and he is eating at this feeding station I left. Stay tuned for an experiment in automatic photography...
That just leaves Beep, who was taken in by one of the Greasy Paws feeders. We hear he is still doing well...and may even be getting a little friend! A kitten friend!

I went by the lot yesterday and see there is still food and water out for Beetle and Hexbit. I do hope they are well. Maybe one day we can go back for them if we find a place for them to go.

For Hood, Muffler, Honk, and Turbo, who were trapped by one of the lot owners and dumped in some park, we hope you have found food and shelter and are well. (This person has not admitted to this, so we do not know where these cats were released. Our source, a friend of this person, told us he removed 4 and released them at a park far enough away they would not be able to find their way home)

For those who we think we have lost over the years; Hemi, Axle, Winch, Bolt, Torque and the new guy who never got a name, we hope you are resting in peace.

The original Greasy Paws: A Proper Introduction

How the Greasy Paws found themselves in trouble: What is Happening at Greasy Paws