Wednesday, July 07, 2010

26 Hours. 44 Cats. The Gorge Marathon.

I took a whirlwind trip to the gorge, to help out a group that needed trapping done. I trapped 44 cats, while there, 42 of them in the first 24 hours. But, it wasn't that big a deal. See, two of the 44 turned out to already be fixed and four of the 44 were actually two tame females I found amongst trailer park residents, that needed fixed, and one of them had two kittens. The rescue/cat fixer hauled them off to be fixed and will haul them back.

I wish could have caught all the cats there, but I didn't. I missed a couple adults and about four or five kittens. That made me disappointed. Some photos from the quick trip follow.

This cat still needs fixed.
So does this one, a little female. The orange tabby in photo above this one and the one above are both owned.

This cat turned out to be already fixed.
So did this one, a brown tabby tux.

I didn't think this muted calico, whom I trapped after taking this photo, was already fixed, but looking at the photo, I think she was already fixed. Looks like an eartip to me. My eyes are bad and this photo was taken from a distance in the dark. I didn't look at it til now. Funny.
Here's the knife I found outside my window at the motel this morning.
Big gray and white male. The rescue woman is going to find him a home.
This cat isn't fixed and still needs to be fixed.
Four of 8 kittens dug out of a junk and trash filled mud room in one trailer.
More deceased kittens in the trashed out meth trailer.
Old fishing platforms along the Columbia River.
The cat spine and skull, eaten, in the meth trailer. We were inside it looking for a couple of kittens. It was really disgusting.
Brothers in the grass.
Bridge over the Columbia River.

Trap bloodied gray tabby.
Two males face off.
One of above males, in a trap.

I longed for a vacation. I wanted to get away. I am very proud of my accomplishment in the vacation that wasn't a vacation over the last two days. I'm old, beat up, and my attitude may be sour, but I get the job done anyhow. And that is what counts.

I thought I'd have off time, and was chomping at the bit, for some off time, when a group in the gorge asked for help with one large cat situation. If I'd come trap for them, they offered to reimburse my gas and food expenses, and provide lodging. I loaded up ten traps and left. Before leaving, I looked up hikes and waterfalls and swimming holes in the gorge, eager for recreation. I was excited and hopeful.

But, my dreams for some recreational time while getting lodging provided for doing work, didn't work out. Instead, I spent two days with almost no sleep, listening to an old woman headed into dementia and deeply self-absorbed talk, and complain like I'm doing now. By this morning, deep into exhaustion, hunger and sleep deprivation, even the sound of her voice, starting up, became unbearable.

I arrived at the location Monday evening and was met at the motel by the couple who had invited me, but whom I would not see again. The motel, sadly, was seedy. I only saw one other car. The place was in disrepair and trash cans were filled with large cheap beer cans. A man, heavily scented in alcohol, was asking if they had a room. The couple had rented the room online and this motel's website did not reflect its reality they said!

It looked to me like a motel where rooms might go for the hour, or where people might live for a week or two at a time.

The young clerk, when finally located, could not produce record of the groups' payment or reservation either, which is a very very bad sign, I think.

So, the couple will seek reimbursement, and they got a room for me down a couple streets. The room was tiny and upstairs, but the bed was comfortable and it seemed much safer. I did not see the room again until after midnight, Monday night.

I was asleep quickly, then just as quickly, awakened by a man traipsing up the stairs with a ladder to change a light bulb in front of my door at that hour. I found this disturbing behavior.

However, that seemed mild by comparison with last night. I awoke startled to some noise just after 5:00 a.m. and only 5 hours after going to bed. I thought nothing of it, and, decided, since up, to check the trailer park traps. We were wrapping up the trapping this morning.

By the time I left the night before I had trapped 42 cats in about 26 hours at a seedy run down trailer park. I had overwhelmed the groups' capacity to fix cats, but also made them happy to have caught so many there. They had asked me to trap and I wanted to do a great job. I was confident I could filter out a situation, figure out the cats there, and get the job done. I did that.

I come back to the motel this morning after catching cat 43, and walk up to my room. It was dark when I had left, but it was light now and 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. I intended to sleep for two more hours. But, there in the middle of the walkway, almost in front of the window to my room, lay an open pocket knife. The blade was only about 3 1/2 inches. But it was an odd discovery, to be laying just outside my window so searly in the morning. I took a photo of it.

I don't know if it was there when I left about 5:30 a.m. or if my waking up to a noise a few minutes before that had anything to do with that knife laying there, outside my window. I thought, momentarily, of taking it. It looked like a nice knife. But then I began to flick through possibilities. What if someone had committed a crime with it? What if someone had been just about to break through my window, using that knife to jimmy it, and I woke to that noise startling them away. So I didn't touch the knife. I buzzed the office door, to tell them about it but there was no answer. So I checked out immediately, despite the early hour. I felt that was the safest decision, considering that knife laying there.

The trapping I did was in and around an old woman's trailer and the other trailers in a trailer park. There were kittens everywhere, all blotchy in ringworm. There were unfixed abandoned house cats, like a nice chocolate point Siamese, skinny, sad, left behind. At one end, lived two brothers in their twenties, in a trashy trailer. Their mother, a meth head, started the cat problem there, I was told.

She had cats, never cared for them, let them breed, never got them fixed. I got 8 kittens in their "mud room", which is a room full of trash, waist high, broken windows and junk. Their poor old dog, itching and always tied on a dirty rope tries to live in that junk or on the rotting garbage strewn deck, or under it, when its hot. The dog is barely ever looked at, and a neighbor tries to feed and water it.

The kittens slept with the dog, just as unnoticed, unfed and unloved and unwanted. The boys wouldn't feed them, said that was the mother cats' job. One mother cat was pregnant again and the other in heat and skinny as a rail. All 8 kittens were skinny except for the big worm bellies. Those boys, now men, learned nothing decent from their meth mom, I will guess, and repeat the cycle. Got ten fixed there. The Gorge cat groups will not return a single kitten from that park back to the park. The woman who runs that was working herself to death, like me it seemed, taking care of all the cats, transporting them to various clinics, picking them up, assessing them, for possible adoption. She's amazing.

Yay! that no kitten will return.

Then there was a group of five kittens I found in berry vines, eating on another tenants porch. I trapped the five, then both their moms, then two more males he was feeding. Nine from there.

Around the old woman's dwelling were most of the rest of the unfixed cats roaming in, abandoned by various local meth heads. As tiring as she was, she likely was a good and hard working woman all her life. Brains get old. They repeat things, they rant on through old mouths and hearts hungry for love again, and warmth and friendship and someone to talk to. It wasn't her fault. I was too tired to deal with the cats, the heat, the no sleep and her. I couldn't do it all. I tried. I wanted to be nice and understanding but I went past a barrier I could handle in the end, and became irritible.

She thought I was there for her, to listen to her, to entertain her, to eagerly eat fried spam sandwiches, which she loves. And I wouldn't eat fried spam. I wanted to vomit at the sound of the words. By then I just plain wanted to vomit.

The weather turned, you see. It turned scorching hot. I had nowhere to get out of the searing heat except inside the old woman's trailer, where nonstop yabbering and complaining met my exhausted ears.

She'd offer her couch, for me to nap on, then kick me awake, because I wasn't there to trap the cats. No. I had been whored out to be her friend for two days. I think that is how she felt. She had no sympathy for my exhaustion, even as I begged for her to understand how tired out I was, that I came here to clean up a cat problem (I didn't add, "not listen to your stories").

Her stories were never ending. She asked if I'd ever been in a forest fire and I knew she wanted to tell me some story about a forest fire and that was her opening line. She told me about her father getting his fancy fringed glove caught in machinery then losing his hand, and how he did this or that with his stump arm.

No neighbor was good enough. There was the even older woman, the cat hater, the cop calling complainer. She told me about each and every neighbor. There was the single middle aged man, formerly a drunk and addict, for whom now she has a fondness, just as a friend, and he stops in all the time. She said the guys ex wife calls her "his old lady whore" and I thought "Boy trailer park drama is the best!"

The family, a man, wife, spoiled rotten daughter (according to the old woman) and daughter's single pregnant friend, also inhabit the scandalous park. I got the dish on everything going on, even in city hall. This morning the old woman marched back in to proclaim "I've made myself an enemy." I didn't doubt it. I saw the two girls come back, and watched the old woman follow them to the door of their trailer.

I asked "What'd you tell them?" She said "I told them they ought not to dress like that, with that pregnant belly bare and hanging out. And," she continued, "I told them they better sure as hell write the owner if that pregnant friend is going to live here and have that baby here because they don't have permission."

Oh boy. I didn't react.

I badly wanted gone this morning. I wanted gone so badly I asked her not to talk, that I was so tired I couldn't take talking. So she began talking baby talk to her young poodle who would slip out the door and run for it many times each day. I was enlisted three times to chase her down, then I declined involvement and would say, "I'm a cat person" as an excuse.

The old woman refused to keep her own cats in while I trapped and saw no reason I couldn't just release them if they were caught. It was no good trying to explain the extra added work to her. She didn't care.

Periodically, she would wave a BB pistol, and proclaim she was going to shoot all the cats and maybe she wouldn't stop with the cats. There were no BB's in the gun and I saw none around. It was just for drama. She takes good care of the cats. All of her own are fixed. These are caste out cats of others, and their offspring.

My routine, was to set traps, then check them, and set up and monitor the drop trap. I also netted kittens, and searched out other locations and found other small colonies. When I left, there were two adults in the park I had not trapped and five kittens. In addition, there were two owned orange cats, next door, neither fixed. We contacted the owners of one, and he will soon be fixed, I believe. Two of the 44 cats I trapped turned out to be already fixed. The other 42 were not, but are now, except kittens too young and they're being held by the rescue lady who does more than I do, and is far better at adoptions. The other, owned next door, hopefully will be fixed at the same time.

During the day Tuesday, with temps in the 100 degree range, and me tired from getting only 6 hours of sleep, I began to fade. I ate only twice in the entire time I was there. There was one store, and the produce in the store was limited to a small section of very wilted looking fruits and vegetables. I thought, "Where in the world do these people in this town get real food?" If they have no car, they can't! The nearest bigger town was 20 miles away. Virtually the only food available in this town is processed packaged and expensive crap. That's pathetic and sad.

So I didn't eat much in the last two and a half days, which is good for me.

One of the rescue people, who took all the kittens in, walked with me through the disgusting rotting trash of a former drug trailer. We were looking for two desperate wispy gray fluff kittens inside.

We poked through smashed windows, rotting carpets, old chairs mattresses stood on end, with cat crap dried into the fabric, all this junk sitting on two to three feet of just plain trash, comprised of old moldy hardened food, to broken glass, boxes, electronics, and dead kittens. Lots of dead kittens.

This person too is fed up with the big shelters, hogging all the money for their salaries and big fancy buildings, and doing almost nothing to help solve the overpopulation problem. That's left to a handful of unfunded people, doing it on their own time and money. The shelters need to get on track and really help animals by primarly working to solve overpopulation.

The gorge is very very beautiful. You wouldn't know, when admiring a place of such natural beauty, that there exists, hidden from the tourists eye, thankfully, a place humans have created chaos and filth, deliberately and willfully.

The obvious eyesores of the trailer park hide some good hearts. None of those folks planned out their lives to end up there. It happened and many make the best of their situations and even improve them vastly. That's spunk. Nothing is permanent. In a year, that park could be cleaned up and gorgeous!

I'm going to end up like that old woman up there. I'm going to chock full of stories with no soul wanting to listen. I'll be feeding every stray. I'll get me a .22 but it won't be empty or for show like that bb gun of hers. No siree it won't. I'm already thinking the young girls dress like whores so it won't be much of a stretch to go knock on their doors to tell them so, like she does. She's fought her way to her age, and deserves more respect than she got from the likes of me. I should have been alert to her stories, got a third wind and not, in the end, had her throw my purse and other items out her trailer door. She was mad at me, for saying no, when she offered me a bag for garbage. You see, I had one in my hand already. She didn't see, didn't know, is having trouble with her brain and how could I be, I think later, so mean?

I forgive myself. I think I did admirably. Not many would have held up even a quarter of that time. I didn't mean to be irritable at the end, didn't plan it. It's not me. I have a brain too, that messes up when I'm tired. So there, critics out there, who call no one on their faults except me.

One day, I'd like to see the Columbia Gorge through the eyes of a tourist. I'd like to hike some of the hundreds of trails to beautiful waterfalls and views, to enjoy the Columbia River itself and explore places like Eagle Creek with Punch Bowl falls.

I didn't see much this time except another seedy trailer park over run with cats who are victims of humans frailties and weaknesses.

I am worn out and thin. I found a reply from the apartment complex management company I had e-mailed about Holly Square, to find out what they did with the cats there, after a former tenant told me that they trapped the cats there. I wanted to find out what they did with them, if they killed them or found them homes or just what, since those were probably some of the cats I got fixed. I don't like to think I wasted my time and Poppa's money on doomed cats and beyond that, I think animal cruelty sucks and there's way too much of it going on. And beyond that even, on a far deeper level, I suffer tremendously when I think cats I have helped, have been killed deliberately or dumped out somewhere. I see their eyes, and feel what they have gone through. I get nightmares and wake up screaming, running, trying to stop someone from committing a horrible atrocity, the likes which are very very common.

The management, I guess it was, claimed, in the e-mail, that it was the former manager who had some woman trap them and that the woman took them out to some farm and that they are pet friendly apartments and how dare I make false claims that certainly are not true, and pets are only indoor there and on and on about how wonderful they are and how evil I am to suggest the cats who are in fact gone, are not wonderfully happy and alive somewhere. They may be and that's all I want to know. That was the gist of it. There was no name attached to the e-mail.

Doesn't quite make sense. If it was former management, how would new management know anything about it, I can't figure out.

I got at least 25 cats fixed there. There was another set of notorious apartments off Pacific where I got about 70 or so fixed and where abandonment was a weekly if not more often affair. It was a horrible place and known for trouble making tenants, drugs, crime at that time. Then, and that was three or four years back, one SafeHaven employee, or former employee (do not know if she still work there), told me, when she lived there, while employed at Safehaven, she told me the management paid her a $5 a cat bounty to catch cats and take them to Heartland in Corvallis. This was before Heartland refused to take Linn County cats.

Anyhow, I hope both places have changed. I really really hope that. But both places have been notorious for unfixed cats in the past and Poppa's money has tried to fix the problem caused by tenants. The guy who delivered my new frig lives out there, where I got so many fixed, and said the cat problem is back and said he'd heard management was trapping them there. That too made me want to vomit and to cry. I gave him my card, and told him, due to all the trauma of seeing so much animal neglect and abuse, before when I was out there fixing cats, that I was emotionally incapable of doing it again, but if he wanted to trap some, I'd take them to be fixed. I did not hear from him.

What is so wrong with worrying about the cats who have crossed my path? What is so wrong with not wanting cats to be trapped and killed or trapped and dumped out somewhere, and to be assured they have not been? I don't think anything is wrong with wondering such a thing. I think kindness is a virtue not something one should have to make apologies for.

Was this money, spent fixing Holly Square cats, wasted and cats killed or dumped out, not relocated? Hell if I know. I really don't believe anybody anymore. I wish this world were kind and loving, but it is a viscious jungle and I can't change that. The smoke and mirrors put out by our society, our churches is just that: smoke and mirrors. We are a blood thirsty species, for the most part. Humans are the most violent species in scale to have roamed this planet thus far. Maybe it's stupid to be anti law of the jungle, to save rather than kill.

If there is a god, the greatest evidence of a god may be found in the hearts of us unfortunate souls burdened with saving the animals. But who looks there, for evidence of a god? Certainly not those self righteous among the church people intent on evangelizing the human souls to their brand of religion oft while neglecting lives in their care or suffering beneath their noses.

I saw part of a show on elephant language, which is complex and largely unheard by humans. They communicate on very low frequencies we cannot hear. This certainly does not surprise me. I hear and witness language in cats and even different dialects. We must believe the animals are stupid and without feeling so that we can brutalize and torture them. Doesn't make it true.

When complexes lie to me about their cat policy, I don't go back and waste more money fixing doomed cats. I have nightmares otherwise, also. So I try to find out the truth which is really really hard to do. I don't know what really happened to the cats at Holly Square. However, the nature of their reply to my request for information makes me have dark forebodings about their fates. I've seen too many black hearts.


  1. you have been through so much the past couple months with the trailer park and you went and helped this group. you are unbelievable! i'm speechless. you need a good pampering. is there anything you could think of you'd like? you NEED a massage!! but not sure how much you're down with others touching you?

  2. I appreciate the thought, Kate! No, I don't do massages. The reason, I don't know, just not comfortable with it. Years and years ago, when I was in the mental health system, a woman had gotten a bunch of certificates for her birthdays, Christmas, etc, for massages, and gave me one. I went. It was a woman, who, after finished, was fairly mean about my body. I don't think I could ever be comfortable getting a massage again. The judgemental stuff, when naked, not cool.

  3. You are amazing!!! It's incredibly difficult to constantly be around people who don't have the capacity to care for all life regardless of species. It seems they are missing something in their heads - talking to them is just painful! I just wish you had a way to take a break from those kinds of people. We all need to get away from the pain and frustration or we go crazy! Congrats on the 44 cats, though! That's amazing!!!

  4. yes Jody amazing what you all did for those cats - and knowing those kittens have a chance at a fresh, good life is terrific! Thank God there are others who believe as you do when it comes to the little kittens!
    By the way - top photo of the big white cat? when i first saw it I thought "did she trap a rabbit?" hahaha

  5. What an incredible vacation Jody!! You DO need a real one!! (but knowing you, you would find cats there somehow. (g) ) What about camping - I am not into camping, I will admit but I liked it when I was younger. My brother and family have a trailer and it seems to me they have all the luxuries of home so why bother to camp but that is just my idea. Maybe you could enter a contest. I have some "free" hotel vouchers left over from travel (if you stayed sop often, you were given a so called "free" night tho with the cost of the rooms, I see nothing "free" about it. If you could find some way to go, you can have my vouchers.) I know the gas and eating is also costly though as well. I always try to stay in univ dorms or the Y when on hospital/univ/govt biz since I feel the money - and taxpayers are funding our health care, education etc (It costs we figure $40,000 to educate a doctor and that is just the 4 yrs for a basic MD and does not include the costs incurred by the student, just the univ). Have you ever checked out staying at a univ dorm - it is a great way to travel and they have special rates for alumnae as well as seniors and their defintions of senior varies with the univ.

    Just a thought! Take care! S