Connecting Kids to Wildlife by Touching & Learning
Back in early February my neighbor told me that there was a group in my community that were going to tackle the stray & feral population problem. I was like, wow, I could donate money to help them because 1) I didn’t know there was a problem and 2) It was a good idea. Somehow, the meeting popped up on my FaceBook notifications and I committed to attend. I went not knowing what to expect or if I could or wanted to help beyond giving a donation. I had another commitment and only stayed an hour, but donated $120. There were 11 of us who attended the first meeting Feb. 14th. That night I read through the information which was handed out and decided that I could only help with the record-keeping which was a task on their “needed” list. I work full-time and have all my exotics to care for along with mom and the house. They were happy for me to help. So, I got organized and gathered all their medical records for the cats they already had fixed & placed in a handy binder. Can you believe that they (a few people) Trapped, Neutered and Returned 25 feral cats in only 4 months? They also rescued 11 kittens, fostered & socialized them for adoption and helped residents with fixing their kittens. This is an awesome rescue group and I’m honored to be a member. So, I typed their meeting minutes and group contacts too. Yet, I didn’t want to stop there.
The group borrowed a drop trap from another TNR group, but feared that it would need to be returned before they were finished with using it. So, I purchased one for them! We are ready for the cats!
I went to work on creating a website because Facebook is okay, but not everyone is on it. At first I thought of going free with WordPress but there are ads and the name WordPress in the URL. I know, I was like that for 10 years here on my website/blog, but we needed a donation page and you can’t do that with free. So, I purchased the website and secured the domain. Our website launched March 19th – https://salemscommunitycats.com/. You have to read about them. The group started with only a couple people who did all the work and then they decided to ask for help from the community. We are up to 15 people now!
My next goal was securing a local hall to present a benefit wildlife program using Max and my exotics. We are scheduled for Saturday, July 25th at 10:00am at the Proudfit Hall in Salem, NY.
Finally, I posted a introductory video on my YouTube channel Wildlife Bernie March 22nd – https://youtu.be/eNnO3R5gQRA in hopes of gathering donations. What I didn’t expect, nor anyone else, would be the Coronavirus Pandemic which has put a hold on our spaying/neutering and receipt of donations. Vets don’t have the protective wear to perform surgeries and people are scared about tomorrow. God has provided me with a roof over my head and good health. Not the best health but it could be far worse. Max is well too and so are my animals. Mom is hanging in there and so if I can send a couple dollars to help my community animal organization, I will. What I found out after posting the video is that many of Max’s followers have rescued cats or support their local shelters. I can’t ask for more than that as helping one’s community is a number one goal. I’m touched at how many people care about cats.
I guess the sad news is that they had been trying to trap a beautiful long-haired Siamese cat but he was so smart to avoid the traps. Then he appeared with an injured back right leg. We saw him limping for a few days and that was two weeks ago. No one has seen him since. We are heartbroken that we weren’t able to get to him. We fear that perhaps he went off and died due to his injury. Here’s a photo of Big Daddy Simon. It’s not the best photo because he wouldn’t let us get too close. I hope that he went peacefully.
Well, 2019 was a heartbreaking and busy year for us. We lost two cats, Teddy in March who had a stomach mass and Spooky in September who we believe had cancer. Both were about 12 years old, obtained the same year (they were dumped) and both had the same eye removed due to health reasons over the years that we had them. They had to have been brothers but different litters and found their way to our house needing to be neutered, of course. Both were between 6 months and a year old.
My sister got married May 11th after 10 years of being together but then he had a stroke and died June 7th. She is still struggling.
And then I lost Willow Ferret in November. She just stopped eating, became lethargic and the vet said she had a heart condition. She was a bit over 4 years old. I have yet to own a Marshall-bred ferret live to 6 years old. I believe they are inbred. December 8th I rescued two adorable little ferrets but they are middle to late in age. Frankie is 3 and Frannie is 2 but I will love them like crazy in the little time that I’ll have them.
Poppy rabbit got a new hutch. Oh boy, that was a chore to put together but it gives her a chance to be on grass and out in fresh air. She loves it. Max loves it too as he can watch her from his enclosure. Enrichment! I have to move the hutch every couple weeks to give her fresh grass.
Lots of improvements were made to Max’s enclosure. I took down the wire roofing which was right under the barn roof. I had to attach it to the sides of the barn beams from the sides of the panels, so the little devil could not leap over the fencing. I never finished two sections but he hasn’t noticed.
May I installed bamboo fencing to give one end a cozy feeling. Of course I had to add Plexiglas behind it to protect the metal panels from rusting when he marks his territory. So, not a cheap improvement. I found a fake boulder online and purchased it. Max loves to hide behind it as if I can’t see him!
In June I created a corner cubby for the boy. It was not fun because the fencing had been delivered in the rain and got warped in their boxes but I managed. I finally got around to painting the shelving and bottom pallet in September.
In November, I hauled a dead tree into the enclosure and balanced a portion of it on the fake boulder. Now, Max loves the big old scratching post! I also built him an elevated walkway for days in the winter when it floods or gets icy. On the ramp, I had to add wooden rungs for Max to steady himself. I haven’t had a chance to post a video of him on YouTube using it but it’s on my to-do list. It took me days to get the posts in and then the shelving all before the snow and frost showed up!
I dialed it down with programs during the year. I presented five and Max was in four of them.
2020, I plan having a loft built under the pole barn on one side. Good friends Christine, Evan & Vinnie the cat have helped financially. I’m not sure when it will be completed but the contractor is good, reliable and says he will get it done.
If it seems I’m posting less and less here is because I am! Life has become hectic which leaves little free time.
2018 – My mother’s health is slowly declining. It’s not critical but I have found she has less energy and her breathing has gotten worse. She turned 80 and has COPD and has a knee issue she refuses to take care of with surgery. I don’t fault her for that because once you get the surgery, you can’t kneel and the recovery can be lengthy. She likes to stay active, as much as possible. We lost two of our beloved cats. We tried everything to keep them healthy but old age took them and we had them put to sleep in July and October. My exotics remained all okay. Improvements were made on Max’s enclosure. In April I put together a cool bench which converts into a table.
In November, I hired a contractor and he put in a pole barn over a portion of Max’s enclosure. Boy, it was not cheap but it looks great and we can sit on our bench without getting wet. It also gives Max a place to be without snow but still out in the area run. You might notice that I also put a pallet in there for him earlier in the summer.
We presented 12 programs in 2018…libraries, youth programs, senior center, and outdoor events. Max Lynx participated in 11 of those programs!
Here it is March and Max has begun the shedding of his luscious 4 inch+ winter fur. We have snow on the ground and the temps are lower than normal but at least the sun was shining today. Max rolled in the snow, rubbed his face over my boots and enjoyed some scratching. I noticed tracks coming and going from his enclosure. One set looked like a cat and they just disappeared behind the garage next to his cage. Wow!
We got about 5 inches of heavy snow on March 2 which damaged Max’s new run’s roofing. Mind you I knew there was a possibility that snow might not fall through the chicken wire but the welded wire was too heavy to install completely over the top. I had to go inside & brush broom the weight off the wire. I ended up with tons of snow on me. Subsequently, the snow damaged six of the connectors which will need to be replaced this summer. I’m contemplating a different set up but have already spent more money than I initially intended with this project. Last year we didn’t get the heavy snow, so no issues.
Today I was investigating the structure of his caging when he got in my face. Love this photo of him.