Feral versus Fearful Cats

Nellie 3-2014 Igloo

Our resident cats, Nellie and her daughter Polly, arrived almost two years ago thanks to friends who found a starving, half-dead adolescent cat in their yard. They took her in and nursed her back to health--which included discovering that she was pregnant, helping her raise five kittens and finding them all wonderful homes. No one ever wondered if Nellie had been a feral cat: She walked up to the first person she saw and began rubbing and purring, behavior that she continues to this day. If you came to visit the farm she would behave as if you are the most wonderful thing that has happened to her all week. Nellie, the feline Labrador. That same summer, as some of you may remember, I also had a pregnant cat show up on the farm. She was so secretive that I didn't know she was there until Read More

Response to New Topics Request

class 1 barn 50%

Seek and ye shall find.  What a great list of topics that blog and Facebook readers came up with! There were over 100 topics suggested, many of them addressing excellent questions. For example: What does it mean if a dog greets other dogs with a high head and tail, and yet lets all the other dogs rule the roost? Why do dogs mount other dogs--is it really just about social status? Do dogs learn best through a particular sensory modality, given that people tend to be "visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners?" These topics, along with posts about recent research, videos and case studies, should keep us all happily discussing dogs and their humans for a long time to come. I thought you all might be interested in the topics and had considered listing them for you, but a full list of 100 Read More

MeMe Gets Skunked; Kitten Update


Here's an interesting case for you: A good friend has a lab cross, MeMe, who was badly skunked a few nights ago. This appeared to be a direct hit to the eyes, the poor dog was rolling desperately on the ground, gagging repeatedly and batting at her eyes. MeMe got medical care and appears to have recovered, but here's her owner's question: When Debby found her, she cringed and cowered, "belly nearly scraping the ground, eyes averted and tail down." Debby said she looked like she was afraid she was about to be hit, although that has never, ever happened. (Okay, it's not like I live inside the dog's collar, but I know Debby, and believe me, she'd no more hit a dog than I would.) Debby was not scolding MeMe in anyway, but MeMe still had her head and tail down in the positions that people Read More

Helping Feral Kittens

OJ w: Scott

  Happy Day! The first kitten just went to her new home. OJ, the little orange and white female, is going to a good friend and yoga coach, Scott Anderson and his wife Collette. They both adore cats and have moved heaven and earth for them if the need arises (think the feline version of Willie's surgery and year long rehab). I am still all oxytocin-y about the whole thing. Here's Scott and the little girl right before they went home:   In hopes it is helpful to others, here are some things I've done (so far anyway, this adventure is far from over) and some things I've learned along the way: CAPTURING: It was clear early on that taming the kittens so that they let me catch them in the barn was not going to happen. If you want to start socializing kittens when they Read More

The Cycle of Life: Cats at Redstart Farm

calico 6-27

There's good news, and there's bad news. But the bad news is good news. Sort of. And the good news, well... it remains to be seen how it will be cataloged when the chapter is completed. I'll get the first news out of the way now, because its hard for me to write about. Those of you who know me well know that I love cats. I've had at least one cat ever since I've been an almost adult, for over 46 years. One of the best cats I've ever had is Sushi, the cat I got 11 years ago at the Dane County Humane Society. Sushi is fine, don't worry, I'm not working up to tell you that she's died. As a matter of fact, she's never been happier. She's just not at Redstart Farm. Long story short: I'm allergic to cats. A lot. So much so that when I went to the humane society to look for a cat I held Read More