Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kittens Galore

The Mama of Dulce, Oreo, Coco, and Nieve was pregnant and had more kittens. At the time they were born I still didn't have many contacts here in Puerto Rico, and I didn't really know how to catch feral cats. I thought the best I could do was to watch out for Mama's kittens and when they were of age I would try to catch them. I had no idea where she'd had them. I tried to watch where she'd come from when I brought food, but I never saw them. Diaz Martin came home one day and said he'd seen them. And then finally I did.

I saw that they were on the abandoned lot, born in a large cement planter where there was an overgrowth of a palm or fan type tree, so they were fairly protected on the property, as much as they could be - or so I thought they were protected. Diaz Martin and I had walked the property before looking for them, but they were well hidden. Finally I brought in some food and sat on some steps and watched as they all creeped out of the protective tree and gobbled down the first dry food they'd ever had - all 6 of them. I resolved to go back the next day to catch them all.

Unfortunately later that day as I went to feed the older cats I saw that one kitten was lying dead on the sidewalk with puncture wounds in its neck. I think I figured it must have wandered out and gotten attacked by a roaming dog. I wasn't worried about the other kittens because no dog could really fit through the gate that closed off the lot. The next morning I went to the lot to feed the kittens in the same spot. I sat on the steps and waited, sure they were about to come out any minute, but none ever came. I waited at least 15 minutes and finally got up to leave. When I started collecting my things I noticed a couple dead kittens. And when I walked around the back of the property, I noticed the rest of the kittens. All (but one, it turned out) were killed systematically by a dog.

I was sure that there must have been a person behind the dog, that someone had to have let that dog on the property. The bars were too small for any dog to fit through. I talked to a couple people and sunk into a nice depression for two weeks, wondering if I had somehow unknowingly encouraged the end of their days. One perceptive thing I did say to myself was that I might not know what happened to those kittens, but I was pretty sure what happened to them would be revealed in time. And I was right. While walking with friends to the beach one day I noticed this skinny dog enter through the bars on the abandoned lot and chase my stray cats. It was at that moment that I knew what happened to those kittens. And even though there was no person letting the dog onto that property, the owner of that dog lets the dog roam free in the neighborhood, and it has come to pass that the same dog has attacked my cat Midnight (nearly killing her - I managed to get her away from him), and he also killed a neighbor's cat.

Dulce

Dulce is the female sibling to Oreo. She is also black and white and is also sibling to Coco and Nieve. Dulce was the runt of the litter. She was always so tiny. But she had these beautiful sparkly green eyes. She always ate last when I fed the cats. I finally started to feed her separately because she was so small and skinny. I would have liked to keep Dulce and try and find her a home, but when we actually caught her and had her spayed it was clear that she could not be an indoor cat. She'd already spent too much time outdoors and spent the time that I did keep her inside scaling a tile wall and trying to jump out a high window.

Today Ducle is almost the size of Oreo. She's very long and lanky. You'd never guess that she was a runt. I get to see Dulce every day and her eyes are still as sparkly green as ever. I'll try and get a new picture of her and post it soon

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oreo



This is Oreo after many months of being fed. Oreo is sibling to both Coco and Nieve. In the previous post you can see just how small Oreo was by looking at the picture of Coco when Coco was in his earlier youth. I love the pictures above of Oreo because they show just how much dignity he has. Unfortunately for him, I was hungry when I named him.

It is obvious to me that Oreo was the first born. Oreo has always been leader of the pack. His sibling are Coco, Nieve and Dulce, and he has always watched out for the others. And has continued to do so as a few litters have come and gone. But that's jumping ahead.

Oreo is just a wise cat. And he was/still is the only male amongst all the females on the lot. Again, we are jumping ahead, because most of those females have now been fixed. Oreo has remained one of the only cats that we haven't been able to lure into our traps. He's just too smart for us. Maybe he's thinking, "Change my name, and we'll talk!"

Coco & Nieve

Coco and Nieve were the first of the "lot" cats that Myrna and I were able to catch. And I managed to catch them both by hand. Coco was by far the friendliest of all the cats, and the one who actively made like a shark and would pass between your legs and swipe you with his tail. I think it was just his way of flirting. Nieve was much more shy. In retrospect, I don't even know how I managed to catch her. I think she just didn't put up much of a fight, but she sure was scared.

Once we caught them both, through Myrna's generosity, we got them to the vet for all their vaccinations and got them fixed. Both Coco and Nieve now live with Myrna just down the street from me. On occassion I get to see them, and they are a far cry from the kittens they were when they lived on the abandoned lot. Both of them have grown into these big and beautiful cats. They are both pure white. And Myrna says they come and sleep with her every night.

Since rescuing Coco and Nieve we came to realize that we would have to search for other options as far as what to do about adopting out the cats. Neither of us had a streamlined way to accomplish this. And it was clear that some of these cats were much to feral for adoption. We agreed that some would have to be vaccinated and fixed and released back to the lot, and that any kittens that showed up to the lot we would rescue. But first we had to figure out a way to catch the more than 4 female cats that were living on the lot. Thankfullfy a couple of the females were much too young to have kittens, which bought us some time. But one or two cats were pregnant, if not on their way to being pregnant.

Photo: What Coco looked like at the beginning, when I'd just moved into the neighborhood and started to feed him, compared to what he looked like a few months later. Pretty drastic difference, right? You should see him now!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Abandoned Lot - The Beginning of Project Blu












In June of 2005 I moved into the urbanization of Ocean Park in Puerto Rico, and the abandoned lot two doors down from my house is where "Project Blu" all began.

When I moved into the neighborhood I noticed lots of little stray cats running around and feeding out of the garbage cans from the apartment complex across the street. I didn't have money to do anything but feed these cats, and even that was a stretch. But I began to feed them just behind the locked gate on the abandoned property across the street from the garbage cans.

Every now and again I would meet a nice person who wanted to contribute to the cats by giving me food or $20. I was grateful. I wanted to do more, but had to learn to be ok with just feeding them for awhile.

Eventually a woman drove by and saw me feeding the cats. She rolled down her window and I told her a little bit about the cats, and she immediately gave me her name and number and told me to call her later that night. Her name was Myrna Casas. Myrna Casas is a famous Puerto Rican playwright, director, actress, teacher - you name it - and big time cat lover. She told me that she could help with the spaying, neutering and feeding of the cats on the abandoned lot. I thought I'd just met an angel. I was right.