Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Squirrels' Nests

I've always been curious about squirrels' nests -- those leafy abodes high in the treetops that look far too flimsy to keep their homeowners warm and dry. The nest is called a "drey", and is made from small twigs, leaves and other leaf-like material. The inside is lined fur and other soft material. Apparently, squirrels also build dens inside tree cavities such as old woodpecker holes. If I were a squirrel, I'd go for the den -- seems far more cozy.

I found this information on the Squirrel Rehab Website's fact page. There was also an interesting (and rather frightening) note about just what squirrels might use to build their nests:

Caution: Please use caution as to what you leave laying around your yard. We are getting in more squirrels every year that have their tails tied together with string, twine or fishing line. The mom will find any of these and use them to make the nest with. While growing up the babies usually get their tails tangled up in it and never get free of it. They will fall out of the nest still tied together. So please check around your yard and make sure that you do not have anything they could borrow to use in their nest that would be harmful to the babies.

Something to think about.

Completely unrelated -- we've already had snow here. I'm just not ready for another long, cold winter wrapped in blankets of the white stuff.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Volunteering at the OSPCA

It was a long process involving orientation, interview and training, but I'm finally a full-fledged volunteer at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), York Region Branch. Yesterday was my first day on the "job", and it was amazing.

First, let me give you the lay of the land at the centre: there is only so much room for cats in the adoption area -- I'm guessing 60 or so -- where the public can view and mix with the animals. The other two hundred or more cats are kept in the back until there is room in the public area, or they're okayed for adoption. This is where I was set to work cleaning their cages, litter boxes, bedding and dishes. These large cages are cleaned daily, and many rooms have windows, but I don't think I need to tell you that it's heart-breaking to see these animals waiting for the next step in their lives -- getting into the adoption area so they can find loving families.

[Excuse me while I take a moment to have a bit of a cry. Surprisingly, I didn't cry while I was there -- it seems to be affecting me more now].

Okay, I'm back.

It took four hours for myself and another new volunteer to clean the cages of about 35 cats. I'm sure once we get the hang of it, we'll be able to speed up the process. Eventually, I'd like to take an extra hour or so to socialize with each cat, but there are other cages and rooms needing cleaning -- and there are only so many volunteers and staff to do the job.

It's obvious that the people working at the OSPCA love these animals, and I admire their dedication and hard work. But this is not the life that these cats signed up for -- they need a welcoming home, and room to run and play. Some of the cats in the back have been there for months! Please, if you know someone interested in adopting or buying a pet, steer them to the SPCA. There will always be people to buy the registered purebreds, but there are never enough to adopt from the shelters. These cats (and dogs) are gorgeous, friendly beings who deserve more.

Note: The photo is not of one of the cats.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Feather and Furs

I was at the hair stylist the other day, and browsed through a copy of the fashion magazine, Elle Canada. Had it been closer at hand, I would have grabbed People Magazine (honestly, I only read it when I'm getting my hair done). So ... I'm looking through Elle when I come across a huge spread on the latest "fashions" in fur (article not available online). How disappointing to see page after page of fur scarves, coats, collars and gloves. Surely they looked far better on their original owners!

Shaking my head, I flipped a few more pages until I came upon a another feature -- "Bird call: Fashion Takes Inspiration from Feathers". The subtitle is incredibly heartless: This season, no creature is safe from fashion's greedy grasp - that means you too, cockatoo. It was bad enough that the designers had stripped the skin off unfortunate animals, but then they'd gone and plucked the feathers from a variety of birds -- all in the name of fashion.

I'd thought things had changed -- that we had changed. When did it become politically correct to wear fur again? Why are the designers trying to lull the next, unsuspecting generation into believing that cruelty to animals is okay?

In the 80's, there was a commercial spoof on Saturday Night Live called "Fur: You Deserve It" that showed fur-wearing women being hunted and shot in a park -- a vivid image that's stayed with me for 25 years.

It's obvious we haven't learned anything in all that time.

Friday, October 10, 2008


A few weeks ago, I noticed that my cat, Meeko, had an injury on her cheek -- it was a bit red and looked like it was scabbing over. I couldn't imagine how she'd gotten it, but would keep an eye on it just to make sure it healed properly. A few days later, I spotted this on my kitchen floor. At first, I thought it was a gruesome bug, but discovered it was actually a gruesome chunk of Meeko. She'd obviously scratched the scab out. If you're into skin and fur, you might want to click on the photo to enlarge:

Black cat bald spot
That's one for the scrapbook, isn't it?

So I took Meeko to the vet. She was prescribed antibiotics (which I stopped giving to her because the medication did awful things to her digestive system). Anyway, today, this is the look Meeko is sporting:

Black Cat Bald Spot

It's hard to tell if the fur will grow back. Luckily, she's not the least bit vain.

UPDATE: Meeko's tiny bald spot has grown in quite nicely.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

So Many Things Wrong

Pink Phlox
There are so many things wrong with the world. People starving, economy gone crazy, abused kids, war ... the list goes on and on. I wish I could change all that, but I can't. I can't even manage to put a dent in the amount of horrible things that happen to wildlife and pets, and there's plenty of that:

In Kelowna, British Columbia, the city's parks manager announced there will be a review of its "rabbit culling program". Why? Because an employee of the company contracted to eradicate the rabbits stomped a bunny to death when it didn't die after being shot by an air rifle.

Pesticides. Why do some homeowners believe lawns are more important than the health of our environment, wildlife and children? It's poison, people, and there are alternatives -- like getting down on your hands and knees, and digging out the darn weeds.

In the Northwest Territories, 44 dogs were left unattended by some idiot. They had to be euthanized. I can't even read the entire article, but if you're interested, you can read it here. I found it far too distressing.

I'm sorry for sharing this stuff with you, but I can't help but wonder how people can be so heartless and cruel?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Amazing Products for Pets

I've been spending far too much blog space worrying and writing about stray cats. It's time for some fun, so I thought I'd feature a few of the latest sometimes cool, sometimes useless products for pets:

Umbrellas at Brolliesgalore. One for your dog

I think this is one of those items that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Adult Crazy Cat Lady Costume

(via Snowflake)

The Crazy Cat Lady costume -- just in time for Halloween.


(via Maya-Gabrielle)

Some pets are notorious for gulping down their food only to barf it up a few minutes later. These three posts encourage your pet to dine at a more leisurely pace. Might also frustrate the hell out of them. Note to self: find out if this product is available for humans.

The "click on the bowl to see how it works" doesn't work for me.

Fun Run Outdoor Cat Enclosure

(via Aswan)

This outdoor enclosure is supposed to keep your cat safe from predators and getting lost or run over. But all I can think of when I look at it is:

1) The potential for it to roll down the driveway or lawn, and into the path of an oncoming car.

2) How a large dog might view this as a gigantic toy -- with a live kitty inside! Kind of like a Cracker Jack box for canines.