Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Death

I have been struggling with feelings of uselessness after my self appointed job came to an end.  Sure, it is like a full time job to care for the cats left here.  But I like to get out and see other people, help people, interact, do things that help the world or community.

Most of the volunteer opportunities in this town are religious oriented.  Even the local YMCA and Habitat Restore are fairly religious environments.  I am not religious at all and it isn't easy to find anywhere one can fit in if you aren't around here in a volunteer capacity.

I wish we had a Planet Fitness.  You can join that gym for ten bucks a month.  Even the Y, a nonprofit, here, costs $50 a month, for a single person, which is more than most private gyms cost.

In other words, finding something to do here is not easy.  Especially if you are not religious and don't have money.

So, Sunday, when I went up to Lebanon to have dinner with Lebanon friends, and spotted one of two unfixed male cats they feed, I said "Let's trap him!"   Used to be, this gray long hair would only come around now and then.  Lately, however, he's been hanging out there most of the time, across the street, under the abandoned house.

Red flags were popping up in my mind.  The males, left to grow up unfixed, in that area have been leukemia positive.  The last male to show up there, a big Grumpy Cat lookalike, had no energy and looked bad.  I took him over to Heartland to be neutered, then they were going to adopt him out.  But he didn't even come out of anesthesia well, and when tested, he was positive for leukemia.  He was also a wreck, with a mouth full of tumors and infected teeth.  In the end, he'd hung out close to my friends' place, although unwanted by the other fixed cats, an enigma.  He was sick and wanted comfort, warmth and love.

So was this unfixed gray boy sick and was that why, in breeding season, he wasn't out roaming, and instead hanging out near the food and the mental comfort of my friends place?  I shrugged off the thought and set their trap, across the street, by the abandoned house.

The first cat to spring the trap was the cat abandoned by the people who'd lived there in that now junked house.  He's a black and white male gone slightly wild since he was left.  We took the other cat they left behind up to a Portland rescue.  She got a  home.  So before we released him, I dripped flea treatment on him, so at least he'd have relief from fleas. 

It took a long time for the gray male to show up and even longer then for him to decide to go into the trap, which was another red flag in my mind.  Why wasn't he jumping at a chance for smelly wet food?   He did go in, in the end.

I was ecstatic.  I had trapped a cat, the first in months, and felt warm and good and important and useful again. 

He stayed in my car the night.  I hadn't really thought about where he could be fixed.  I'd had a couple of beers up at my friends place and seeing an unfixed cat, it was like reflex to trap him.

I contacted the Willamette Humane spay neuter clinic, by phone and e-mail.  They would not be open until Tuesday.  Their website proclaimed their free feral fix reservations were full through the end of April.  I was disappointed to read that no appointments would be open, for the boy in my car, but also thrilled they have a free feral fix program.  For the people who help others by trapping the cats they feed to be fixed, this is a blessing.  I think to myself how wonderful and easy that would have been for me, if the program were available in these two counties, Linn and Benton, when I'd been rounding up cats.  The Willamette Humane program is for Polk and Marian counties.

Then a Heartland Humane employee commented on facebook that they were doing surgery the next day, yesterday.   Whoopee.   It does cost $40.  My friends said they would pay.  And for my gas to transport him.

I took him over yesterday morning and arrived to pick him up at 1:00 p.m.  I saw an empty trap as I came in the back door and my heart pounded.  But then I saw him, on the recovery table, breathing steady, out cold and freshly neutered.  But as I moved into the room, Courtney stopped me and said his combo test had just come out positive for leukemia.  My heart sank down into my ankles then drug along behind me on the floor.

I made small talk like I wasn't affected with this person and that person, paid the clerk for his end, the $40, and finally escaped to my car, where I broke down in sobs.  

His mouth too was a stinking reeking painful mess.  It was true he'd been hanging out close to my friends place, like the big Himilayan had, seeking some comfort when very ill.

I killed him, like I did the Himilayan.

I can wallow in self-pity and guilt, but it has nothing to do with reality.  He was fatally ill.  Both of them were.  And now they're not and they're not spreading that horrible disease to other cats either.

When I am ill, without hope for better days, I'd want the same thing for me.

When I was in Corvallis, I took the opportunity to shop at Winco for cat food.   It's no cheaper there than at Walmart but they have a bigger variety.  Going through checkout, I experienced the usual.  The clerk had to say something about all the cat food.  I try to brush it off in my mind each time.  It's usually either the clerk or the customers in line making comments.   I don't know why. It's unacceptable in our society to help stray cats.  You are considered a bizarre and crazy person if you do dare to help stray cats.

 If someone is buying a lot of soda pop or junk food, that does not illicit comments, but if you buy cat food, for some reason, it does.  If you are buying large amounts of alcohol, that's ok too.   Usually they want to know how many you have.  If I'm mad, about being interrogated, I'll say something rude back, like, "Oh, just 200, and none are fixed, they just breed like rabbits, you know."  I might be even ruder and say "they breed like welfare moms, you know,"  since welfare moms are also an accepted target of ridicule, like cat women.

You don't hear Crazy Gun People, about people who have a dozen or two dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammo stored up.  You don't hear Crazy Car People, about people who have five or ten cars, in various states of repair around their place.  You don't hear Crazy Sports Fan, about people wide eye nuts about some sports team, who collect  sports memorabilia and sit around watching games all weekend or who spend thousands on a single parking space for home games over at a parking lot near OSU or on home game season tickets.

But if some woman dares to help cats, then you hear it.  She's a CRAZY CAT LADY.  And it's ok to say that and put her down and make remarks and ask her how many she has and nothing else at all matters about her, if she likes cats and helps a stray cat out.  Then she's nuts and fair game.

So you go to a store to get cat food and you brace for it before you go.

I needed something feel good, to take my mind off everything in the world.  I've started meditation.   I do it now many times a day,  on days if my mind won't stop or when I wake up with nightmares.

I started a batch of Horchata.  I like Horchata.  I don't follow a specific recipe, just a general one in my head.  I use pulverized almonds.  I start with raw almonds, blanch them, remove the skins, toast them, then pulverize them in my coffee grinder.  That coffee grinder!  I love it.  It's also used here to process dried catnip.

I pulverize a cup of uncooked rice too, and join the almonds and rice with cinnamon in a blender, with three cups hot water, then I let it sit a day.  Or so.  Then I blend it again, some, add a couple cups more water and let it sit further.  Finally I strain it, extracting all the fluid from the mash, add a cup of water with a quarter cup sugar dissolved in it, and a couple teaspoons of vanilla.  I stick my finished Horchata in the fridge and drink it on ice.  I make many variations.

Finished Horchata cooling.

I eat the mash too, as a breakfast cereal.

Pulverized almonds and rice, now heating for breakfast.
 My next project, a batch of rice wine.  It's easy to make, also, but won't be ready for about a month.

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