Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Life - Rescue 911

So things have been slow on the bike front for the last couple days. I can think of a number of reasons for this, but one really stands out.

The first one is the cold weather - ice on my car in the morning, "ICY" warnings from the car computer, and slipping and sliding "summer" (or "turns into wood when it's cold") tires. I drive with the seat heaters and defrosters on, if you can believe that, and my summer bug wash windshield wiper fluid was frozen solid on a couple mornings.

The second is the distinct lack of time in my schedule when I work 8-5 on Saturdays. Usually the remainder of Saturday ends up spent doing other Saturday things, and I end up getting to bed exhausted, leaving just Sunday to do things like outlining 4 or 5 blog posts (which I haven't been doing like I normally do), doing a lot of riding (another negative), doing stuff around the house (currently a major priority with overnight guests arriving in two weeks - and we just got their bed today, but the living room is completely clogged with boxes and books and stuff).

Finally, late last week, another four or five distractions popped up.

Now I've always known we had some feral cats at the hardware store. With 10 or 20 or 30 tons of feed in the back, there's a lot of reason for cats to hang out around the place. Plus, with a 200 foot long crawl space, there are lots of places to camp out for the winter.

But it was last week when one of the guys walked in and announced that there were some kittens sunning themselves behind the building.

Kittens are my weak point. Case in point: Tiger.

Anyway, I called the missus, explained the dire situation to her, and we decided that we'd rescue the kittens, give them up for adoption (kittens are readily adopted), catch and spay the mom, re-release her to the wild crawl space (she's feral and probably wouldn't make a good pet), and go from there.

The first day of hunting netted me nothing. I got my gloves on them but little else, and I found some of their standard escape routes. I filed this away - strategy and tactics doesn't apply just to bike racing.

The next day, properly armed with gloves, a cap, and a bit of mission focus (so as to ignore the creepy crawly bugs, frogs - one actually jumped on me, and other horrific wildlife coexisting with the kitties), I set out to capture the kittens.

There were three - two white, one grey striped one. I went to their standard sunning spot, saw them, and approached rapidly. The two white ones quickly ducked down under the closest pallet. The grey formed a rear guard and gave the two white twins a chance to escape. I reached down between the slats and grabbed the bravely (but inaudibly) hissing kitten.

One down.

I found the pallet the two white ones liked to hide under, a couple removed from the sunning spot. I uncovered most of it, waited a bit (i.e. went back to work), then came back to the sunning spot after an hour or so. Predictably the two white kittens ducked down under the close by pallet and disappeared. Shortly after they appeared under their favorite hiding pallet. Since I "happened" to be standing there, I reached down and plucked one up.

Two down.

A quick return trip netted me the third one - I think s/he was lost without his/her twin and was sort of shocked into a frozen, not-good-for-getting-away state of mind.

Three down.

The kittens ended up in a nice clean grey bin, a perfect tool for holding kittens unable to jump more than, well, off the ground. Some electrical supplies gave up their box to the litter box cause, and a couple coffee cups ended up chopped down to create two tiny feeding bowls.

A large HavAHart trap went out for the mom shortly afterwards, with a nice big can of food as bait.

However, a minor problem popped up - a fourth kitten, this larger than the others.

The mom duly trapped herself and quickly polished off the can of food - hungry she was, as Yoda would say. She was frantic to get out, slamming into the sides of the cage, but eventually, in the office, she tired of smashing her head into the cage.

I took the mom, the missus took the kitties, and we met at our local vet. The mom would stay to get spayed, the kitties were given a couple weeks of freedom before having to return for tests and shots.

Naturally, we had to house the kitties overnight, bathing and feeding them, picking off fleas, rubbing their butts until they pee'd or pooped, stuff like that.

The aforementioned Tiger, extremely suspicious about what peed in this miniature litterbox. With various diseases potentially hosted by the kittens, this is as close as he got to them. He still hissed and popped every now and then.

As a sense of scale, that's a men's Timex watch. The kittens weigh less than a pound each (14 ounces or so). The grey one is distinctly smaller than the other two.

The kittens in the grey bin after we turned it on its side and put nice comfy towels inside (the kitten bed got washed).

We hadn't gotten, or forgotten, the fourth kitten. Being much more agile and much more street savy, this one would dart under a pallet and sit there, watching me, trembling. His back up pallet literally had a ton of mulch on it, and I couldn't readily uncover it to grab him. I gave up trying to catch it and decided I'd have to trap it too.

The next day, I set out the very large trap again, this time baited with a smaller, more kitten like can of food. A couple false starts worried me (little nibbles of food gone from the can, but no "trip"), but my last check netted me one very worried looking kitten, glaring at me, but this time from inside an unforgiving steel cage. She, too, rammed the cage with her head, but once in the office calmed down a bunch. A quick vet visit checked her out and the doc recommended introducing her to the other kittens, since, realistically, they were hanging out together beforehand.

So, the missus and I introduced the big kitten to the others. It went well except the three little ones all hissed at everything in sight, at least until they got food. Then they just hissed when they remembered that's what they're supposed to do.

Hissing is hard work. Carpet indicates it's Day Two (Day One was in a tile bathroom). The twins are male and female, and I don't remember which is which. I think the male is in front ("M" pattern on his head).

The final catch was this behemoth at 1 pound, 14 ounces. Fresh out of the cage, chowing down.

Old lady winter, with that beard and that glaring look. It is a she.

The HavAHart trap, with the little grey kitten eating (it's a she too).

All together, it gives a sense of scale as to the size of the little kittens. The big kitten is 1 pound, 14 ounces, and the bed is one made for kittens.

After eating numerous times, bellies bloated like little water balloons, the kittens settled down. We left a night light with them to keep them company and closed the door.

Tomorrow is Interbike East, for me at least. I hope to ride a bike or two, and if things go well, maybe I'll even stay dry. My goals will be to see if there are any aero road bikes, and if so, how stiff they are. I also want to check out power meters, helmet cams, and check out the SRAM technical seminar.

We'll see how that goes.


Unknown said...

wow, they're adorable, I better not let my wife see...!

How long until they're old enough for adoption? We're going to be looking for a cat after the new year..

knitseashore said...

Those kitties are so lucky to have you and the missus. What a wonderful thing you are doing for them.

If only we could take one; I am very partial to tabbies, sigh. :)

Anonymous said...

Aki...was looking at another blog and saw someone on a cannondale liqi team issue...riding with Big George...was that you? Big smile!

oh sorry..... kittens are way to cute makes us miss ours when they were young


Aki said...

The kittens are tiny, cute, and suck up way too much time. As far as adoption, they are available almost immediately (well, if 5 weeks is almost immediately), as long as you promise to spay/neuter + vaccinate + not declaw + indoor cat.

Oh, wait, they need to get tested first. We also need some other stuff, like (your) vet name etc. If we can visit the kitties that would be a bonus.

The mom got tested and is healthy so she'll be fixed in the next day or two, and then re-released where we got her.

We enjoy taking care of them but if we do it for too much longer we'll have a 6 cat household, not a 2 cat one.

Oh, the white pair go together. The other two can be independent. Ideally the trio would stay together but that may not be realistic.

Re: the Big George ride - one of the team guys stumbled upon George, Richard, and some others in Westport, CT. One of them was riding a P-R Trek with rear suspension. But, alas, the one in the pics is not me.

Giles said...

yay for kitties!

Anonymous said...

Hey Aki,
Great job on the Kittens. I have 3 that i rescued at home with me.(peanut,frankie,and littleman)Let us know how the placements go.

Mike Mcginley