Wednesday, March 23, 2016

To Rescue a Cat, You Have to be Smart & Creative like a Cat

This injured feral cat with no mobility in hind legs could drag himself with upper body and legs
but here he is losing strength and would not take the bait in the box trap. Time for another solution.

Rescuing an injured cat can pose unique challenges never encountered before. With each rescue we learn new lessons and create or buy tools for the next rescue. To rescue a cat, you have to be smart like a cat and come up with creative spontaneous solutions!

Today I received a call from a friend that his brother found a cat lying in middle of the road unable to move his hind legs. This occurred late night. Then at sunrise the cat had dragged itself to nearby safety, the garden of my friend's apartment complex.  The cat was still alive, breathing, but his hind legs were immobile and twitching intermittently.

Injured feral cat dragged himself to safety during the night.

Fortunately I had purchased a new collapsible drop trap for difficult-to-trap cats.  This orange cat was definitely feral.  Immobile but fierce as his head spun around, fangs glaring, hissing wildly, and front claws ejecting like missiles.  Yes, the drop trap was needed when he showed no signs of taking the bait for the regular drop trap.

Interesting enough, Laurent and I were able to place the drop trap over the cat without a fight. That was easy! But the next part, normally the easy part, proved more difficult.

Normally with a stick we gently provoke the cat to go into the adjoining box trap to transport him. Herein was the problem.  He had no intention of moving.  Perhaps the stress of recent events exhausted him, his energy and will to fight were waning.  We tried to lift the trap and thought perhaps we could push him into box trap. The cat said NO! Fangs, claws, hissing were activated.

Drop trap great solution for difficult cats and animals to catch or trap
A drop trap was placed over this feral cat that could not move his hind legs

I turned to social media in hopes other rescue groups could offer suggestions.  But at 2pm on a weekday, most people were at work and activity was low on Facebook.  Then Laurent came up with a logical solution.  A pole with noose used to control rabid stray dogs might work here. A medical firefighter crew were arriving to help a distressed resident. We asked if they had this noose. They said no and suggested we call Animal Control. So I did but it would take two hours for them to arrive. Two hours is an eternity when an animal is in pain and suffering.  I turned to Laurent and suggested he must have items around his apartment to make one.  As Laurent went inside, I continued to provide updates and answer PMs and comments on Facebook. Word was circulating. But no one had solutions to our dilemma.  Sure enough Laurent returned with a pole, a computer cable, wire hanger, duct tape and pliers.  In less than ten minutes he created the noose.  But would it work?

Homemade contraption- resizeable noose

Old cleaning rod, computer cable, metal hangar and duct tape

Opening the slant end of the box trop, Laurent reached down the trap, into the drop trap and in one attempt gently wrapped the noose around the cat.  His claws clenching to the ground, he did not, could not fight back. Laurent gently tightened the noose enough to slowly drag the cat a few inches into the drop trap. IT WORKED! Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Two heads are better than one sexy cat lady's head!

Cat holds onto cage with claws after being dragged into trap.

The cat readily ate the moist Friskies chicken and salmon with gravy. Poor kitty was hungry.

Poor cat was hungry. Notice he doesn't even use his front legs to position his mouth over the can.
His energy and strength are declining.

To learn more about what happened to the cat at the vet, read the continuation by clicking here.

So now my emergency cat lady rescue kit continues to grow.  My next purchase is a fishing net. As I walk around my neighborhood I am discovering other animals that need help. Including ducks. Yes in downtown Miami, the heart of the city, we have a jungle--chickens, hens, roosters, iguanas, raccoon, ducks...A fishing net is definitely useful for catching kittens, and now for birds and ducks. So one of these days I'll drive outside of the city to a sportmans store. I envision Tim the Toolman greeting me at the door.  Field trip!

If you ever get a call or see an injured animal, look around your home for these items so you are fully prepared to help the animal or pet to delay the suffering. The collapsible trap is great for all kinds of animals--cats, kittens, small dogs, birds, ducks, raccoons...


[Click here to see my video]
Tomahawk collapsible drop trap (purchased on Amazon) - $115
Tomahawk, double handle box trap
Pet carrier, medium size
Fishing net with handle
Wire cutters (for cutting fencing or barbed wire)
Duct tape
Gloves (I have rubber gloves for grip. Thick Playtex kitchen gloves)
Towels, old ones
Paper towels
Wet wipes
Moist and dry cat food
Paper bowls
Plastic bags (large ones to place under the trap in your car; small ones for trash)

Feel free to ask questions by leaving a comment below!


At Pawsitively Humane/Riverfront Cats we manage and care for a colony of cats. This posting serves to provide education and guidance on how you can help your community. We do not have a facility, only a small group of volunteers to help manage the Riverfront Cats.

 If you need assistance with a stray, feral or injured cat, please search for local groups on Facebook. Many residents form online groups to help one another. Animal control will come out if there is injured or dead animal but most likely the animal will be put to sleep. If you and/or neighbors and concerned residents want to financially contribute to vet costs to determine if injuries are minor or fatal in the event the cat can live, then it's best to jump into action yourself and seek support from neighbors and local residents.

Good Luck!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cosette is Missing--Why Do Community or Feral Cats Disappear?

feral cats community cats Miami cats
Cosette licking her lips after dinner

Another one of our beloved Riverfront Cats is missing. The second one in two months. Cosette.

Presumed dead, we are heartbroken at the disappearance of another cat.  Two weeks later, Sinbad also went missing.  "What is suddenly happening?!" our team asked.

First, it is natural to become attached to cats in a colony that you regularly feed and manage.  These are live creatures, much like our own pets, that we care for on a daily basis. Even though we can not pet some or pick them up, they know and trust us as feeders.We love and nurture them. The bond is real.

community feral cats Miami homeless pets
Cosette eating her dinner


The disappearance of feral or community cats may occur when:
1. They are sick and naturally leave the nest. (Another blog post on this subject coming soon)
2. They are injured and unable to return home.
3. They are killed by speeding automobile, or stray dog or other predator, or by ingesting some food or material that is poisonous/harmful.
4. They are taken by friendly regular or trapped by someone.

Living in the heart of downtown Miami, any number of scenarios could have occurred.
My mind listing a 100 reasons  in 100 seconds.

- snatched by homeless person
- runover by speeding car
- eat chicken bones
- ingest poison
- swallow small pieces of glass from shattered car windows that get embedded in their paws
- fight with raccoons
- slip and fall into drainage
- trapped somewhere
- did a reported stray dog attack her

Riverfront Cats homeless cats missing disappearing cats Miam
Cosette cleaning her paws after dinner

Mama cat was first cat to disappear. She showed no signs of illness, or lethargy or any odd behavior. Mama was friendly and she trusted regular feeders and allowed them to pet her. Perhaps a homeless person fed her in the middle of night (they camped out underneath the S. Miami Avenue bridge near where she resided), and took her? It is possible.  She also rested in the water drainage.  Perhaps with the unseasonably heavy rains this winter, she slipped in trying to jump from her shelf  in the drainage and fell to the bottom of drainage where it is too high for her to jump back up. Mama was also a little hefty.


Did she possibly have internal injuries from chicken bones? A local resident was leaving them chicken bones. Nooo!  One day I happen to be squatting in the corner of Station Two, cleaning the cat water bowls when this resident appeared to leave them more bones. Timing was perfect to educate this kind-hearted person that leaving chicken bones can kill cats. Raw chicken bones are safe for cats and dogs. But cooked chicken bones are dangerous for cats. They are brittle and splinter and can cause choking or internal organ damage.

Kitten eating chicken bones
(Not a Riverfront Cat; published with permission)

Cosette was feral. Only recently was I able to touch her without her hissing. The first time in almost seven years! I started to cry tears of joy as I always do when I gain the trust of a feral cat after passing years. So it is not possible that she was taken by a homeless person.  One volunteer did say that Cosette did not eat much the night before she disappeared.  This tells us she could have been ill.

There was another intact male cat, Muki, that we could never trap. He showed signs of injuries, dried blood, deep scratches, and weight loss. He was clearly sick and dying.  Did Muki pass his illness in fighting with the other cats?
Muki waiting to be served dinner

Employees who park in the empty gravel lot of Station One, leave Styrofoam cartons of discarded people food. Did the cats eat some food that could have been harmful?

Raccoons have appeared in the neighborhood. Did the raccoons get into a fight with Cosette or Sinbad who were more feisty?  Not likely but possible. Or worse, both Cosette and Sinbad crossed SW 3rd Street in the past. Although lately they stayed on the lot of feeding station, safely hidden in the bushes, did they seek refuge elsewhere with heavy rains? Or did they resume crossing 3rd street with increasing traffic, perhaps fascinated by the growing number of chickens in the area? Yes, community chickens were multiplying! In downtown Miami. A subject for another blog post.

Raccoons are breeding and have learned where to find cat food on a nightly basis

I scoured their area, crawling on my hands and knees in bushes to see if they were possibly injured and unable to move. Nothing. I walked around the neighborhood calling them, knowing they would not appear due to fear but I had hope they heard my voice and would muster the strength to return later in the evening.


This is exactly what happened with Leroy. A friendly black cat.  He was missing for four days. Then one night, while feeding the other cats, we walked around the feeding area, and sure enough the volunteer found Leroy nestled in the grass, with two swollen and bloody paws. He was unable to move. He fought his way back to home base for food.  We scooped him up and rushed him to the vet next day. Fortunately one leg was saved, but the other leg was amputated.  The friendly cat that he is, Leroy adjusted to indoor life and was adopted by Sabrina, a long-time volunteer. He lives the good life with his siblings and sleeps with Sabrina every night. A silver-lining to a painful incident.

Leroy, a three-legged kitty, now loves his indoor home--no gravel, no fleas, no rain, no extreme weather

The list of possible reasons for the cats disappearing is endless.  These cats are also approaching seven  years of age, the average age limit for community colony cats exposed to various dangers and elements.

We still pray for a miracle that the cats will reappear. While rare, it is known to happen even after several months have passed. We love these cats and want to ensure they are not quietly suffering, dying somewhere.

Speaking of miracles, Sinbad did reappear after three weeks.  He looks well, maybe a little thinner. But sadly he's now missing for three days again.  If only we could put tracking devices on them. Now that would certainly provide the world of cat science with great insight as to their habits and patterns and behavior.

Sinbad licking his lips after dinner
(Oct 2015)

We welcome your stories and experiences with disappearing colony cats.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Cat Lady Attempts to Persuade her Husband to Attend Pet Conference #BlogPawsorBust

Scenario: Cat Lady & Pet Blogger Christine Michaels is on a mission named #BlogPawsorBust. She and her husband Jean Pierre, are sitting on the balcony on a picture perfect evening, watching the sunset. Stroking the back of his neck, Christine attempts to persuade him to go to the BlogPaws conference this June in Phoenix, Arizona.

Oh by the way, her husband is A CAT!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Christine: Jean Pierre honey wouldn't you like to go to Phoenix for a romantic getaway?

Jean Pierre (with a suspicious and quizzical look): Pourquoi Phoenix?

Christine: Well for starters we will stay at the luxurious Sheraton Wild Pass Hotel Resort & Spa and Phoenix has beautiful cactus trees, horseback riding, serene rivers, cumulus clouds, stunning sunsets...

cactus tree Phoenix Arizona pink sunset
Arizona sunset

Jean Pierre: But we have palm trees in Miami, sparkling water bays, rivers and oceans-the beach! And gorgeous sunsets here too. Why do we need to go to Phoenix? What are you not telling me ma cherie? What's in Phoenix? Who's in Phoenix?

Miami sunset palm trees
Miami Sunset

Christine: Well mon cherie, you know I attend the BlogPaws conference every year and this year fortunately it's in hot Phoenix.  (Battling her eyelashes) It's bathing suit weather. 

Jean Pierre: I knew it! You just want to see your lovers, those other orange flames. That Waffles from Glogirly, or Russell or...

Waffles-Orange Cat with Orange Tie--so dapper!

Christine (smiling sweetly and blowing kisses): But honey, I'm asking you to join me this time. All the more reason to show off my handsome husband, my one true love. It's Blog Paws or bust baby?

Makes me melt.

Jean Pierre: So Blog Paws or Bust? I choose your bust! Hahaha!

Christine: Very funny my love, very funny.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pet bloggers or aspiring pet bloggers, you don't want to miss the best pet blogging and social media conference in the world!

Whether you are considering starting a blog and are unsure which approach to take; or have started a blog and need guidance and tips on social media to improve traffic; or are a long-time blogger and stumped with how to take your blog to the next level, the answers await you at Blog Paws! And yes you can bring your pet! Your furry child or in my case--my furry husband.


While my specialty is education about stray, feral, community and black cats, the above script was a nice break, a fun post from regular serious, educational postings. The above script is my feeble attempt at using humor to promote the conference. Comic relief may not be my strength. Well thankfully other experienced humor bloggers will be in attendance I can ask for advice. Also this year, the Cat Writer's Association (CWA) is joining BlogPaws.  Writers from all cat genres and publishing mediums will be attending. Even better, CWA encourages mentoring writers! So you can bet I will be seeking input from long-time CWA members. Maybe I have potential for writing screen plays? One never knows where blogging will lead you next!


The best part of the conference is that you never know what surprising lesson or golden nugget you'll discover at a seminar, or story idea that will illuminate or new friendships that will blossom from networking.  Even love affairs. Trust me! You will fall in love...

Christine blowing kisses to Russell the orange cat
at 2015 BlogPaws conference in Nashville

... with cats, dogs, pigs, ferrets, rats...

Speaking of other pets and new discoveries, ten years ago I knew nothing about stray and feral cats. Then in 2009 I started rescuing kittens and trapping cats, then I turned to blogging to raise awareness. Then I created a 501c3 nonprofit organization Pawsitively Humane and Riverfront Cats. Networking, making new connections and attending seminars through BlogPaws have expanded my horizons and ability to elevate little known animal issues. And early tomorrow morning I will be assisting in the rescue of an injured duck that I came across today. My first duck rescue! Again you never know where BlogPaws may lead you.

Maximize Time, Money, Education & Pleasure

If you're on a budget like me, I combine the trip with a mini vacation and arrive a couple of days early to explore the city. I believe it's important to learn and appreciate the various US cities and their unique culture while I have the chance. It also offers a prime opportunity to take original photos for future blog posts.

 I love to travel and used to travel more often.  But circumstances have changed since I left corporate America, and started a small business and a nonprofit for homeless pets, so I simply combine vacation with conferences.  I call it smart planning and budgeting. It works!

Feeling Anxious or Scared to Walk into a Conference?

As a stage performer and public speaker since I was a child, presenting to large crowds came easily. Believe it or not, I was more shy walking into a frat party in college. No one wants to feel out of place.  So when I learned about first-time attendees feeling anxious or scared, the great news is BlogPaws takes the fear out of this new adventure. We can connect on BlogPaws community forum prior to the conference and make arrangements to meet at the conference.  I'll be sure you feel at ease within minutes. You're always welcome to join me at my table in the dining room or any sessions. In making introductions, you'll soon discover that meeting new people at BlogPaws is like reuniting with a close relative. You have a common bond--the love for pets and blogging!

BlogPaws networking social media
Bernard and I met at BlogPaws and instantly clicked.
It's easy to make friends at BlogPaws!

So join us for the BlogPaws 2016 Conference at the gorgeous Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort from June 23 - 25, 2016.

Photos belong to Riverfront Cats or were published with permission from owner.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dasher Got Adopted!

Day 5: Dasher loves his new cat daddy Jason

Great news! Dasher, our Christmas kitten,  was adopted two weeks ago and adjusted rather quickly. In just two days he was meeting and getting along with resident tuxedo cat, Sam.  Dasher also loves his new daddy. It's an all boys club in this household and no fighting. Just respect and all around love.  Another happy ending.

Day 1: Under the bed, naturally

Day 3: Dasher joins the MAN club--sitting next to his new daddy and the remote control!

Day 4: Dasher becomes friends with resident cat, Sam

Day 6: Dasher and Sam napping together
Day 7: Dasher and Sam, best buddies forever
We love these happy endings. It fuels our spirit, keeps us motivated to continue helping these helpless creatures who are grateful for shelter, food, warmth and love.