What I Do Every Day.

This post is meant for a couple of people in particular, so if you are reading this after visiting my site regularly, that’s okay, just remember that it isn’t a “regular” WeirdCrest post.  But this post is to explain my animal care operations, and why  can’t travel, keep regular job hours, and..well, why money is always so tight!

This is an example, I hope, of someone busting their tail for animals. Maybe that would make me worthy of meeting..I don’t know..I hope maybe it would.

So sit back and take in the crazy story of my day. Maybe you will be impressed, maybe you’ll think I’m nuts, or perhaps a little bit of both. I didn’t put this on our rescue page, The Pet Shelter, Inc., just simply because it might show places around town where I operate and I really don’t want those known. You’ll see. Anyway, here we go!

First, my husband and I are up between five and six. While he’s getting other things done, I am busily opening several dozen cans of cat food:

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These are  for the special needs kitties that live upstairs with us. Well, actually four are special needs, and the others just happened to be lucky enough to be brought in upstairs.
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These are special feeds I fix for the kitties in the cat room downstairs. These bowls are for cats that have to stay in pens overnight because I need to monitor their food intake, or they don’t get along well with others , or other various reasons. The consolation prize for having to stay put up overnight is you get your own bowl of canned food AM and PM. The clear bowl of what looks like dry food is actually a bowl of treats that will be distributed among the gang.
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Then I start fixing the food for the feral cats I feed in two different towns. I used the plastic bowls on the left to transport the canned food to each location. Also, coffee for me.

 

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Food ready in “transport bowls” for seven of my eight feeding stations. Incidentally, I collect Halloween, monsters, and black cats, so that decor there is up all year round. 🙂

This process of fixing all this food takes about an hour(I am also putting laundry in the wash, washing dishes, and soaking the previous days’ transport bowls and washing them. I also have to scoop out the litter boxes upstairs and sweep the floors around them(litter boxes are in the master bathroom).By this time, Steve has gone down to the cat room and started scooping litter boxes, sweeping the floor, etc. I go down and join him.

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This is our larger of our two cat rooms–both rooms have windows plus shelves, and I keep fleece blankets and towels on the shelves. I usually change the bedding every few days or as it gets dirty. The floors are sealed–thank god!
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Behind me here are what we call the “tall pens”. These house several kitties that just don’t get along well with others, and we put them up at night to give everyone else a break.
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You can see into the smaller of our two rooms back behind me—in there are a few more tall pens, and the “wall o’ carriers”. On my shoulders are Wilkie Wilkerson (gray/white) and Boris (black). I am leaning against two large black cages on wheels that I not only use, but I loan out to friends who are introducing a new cat to a household, are moving and need to confine their cats, and other reasons. One friend of mine lost her house and had to move in with parents who had large dogs who were not used to cats. By using one of these cages, she was able to keep her cats confined and safe in her room while she looked for a new place.
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Some of our gang..I had fun making a Black Cat Collage at Halloween.

 

Work in the cat room continues for about an hour to an hour and a half. The amount of work—-scooping or dumping litter boxes, putting out dry food, changing water bowls, sweeping the floor, cleaning up accidents—often varies according to how early we get downstairs. If we get down there early, they haven’t had too much time to trash the place. Get down there too  late, and it’s insane sometimes. Then there’s things like barf n’ hairballs and misfires around the litter boxes and all that good stuff. But, we get it reasonably clean, take out the trash to the garbage cans outside, feed the backyard birds,and head upstairs.

Usually by now it’s in the 7:30 range, and I get my husband sent off to work at eight. Then I finish getting ready and head out. Where am I headed? Unless I have to take someone to the vet(which seems to be every week), I head out to  feed the feral cats.

Now, if you don’t quite know what that means, I feed the cats that you might see behind shopping centers, restaurants, etc. They are often wild, as “feral” means. Some of them may actually be “stray” cats, which are cats that once belonged to someone, and either got out and away, were dumped out, or wandered away from home and got lost. When these cats are not spayed or neutered, they then find each other, reproduce, and those offspring are feral cats. Like many feral cat feeders, I practice TNR, which means “trap, neuter,release”. That means I trap many of these cats, get them spayed or neutered, and return them to their outdoor home because they are too wild to become pets. Some, however, get so used to me that I have ended up taking some home. But most of them live out their lives being cared for by me in their little territories back in the woods behind various buildings in two separate towns where I operate. I make houses for them out of plastic storage tubs, and I keep these filled with fresh straw for warmth. Most of them have “feeding stations” that are also made from storage tubs, in order to keep food from getting rained on. Let’s have a look, shall we?

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This is feeder 5, where someone left a little doghouse many years ago. It is getting old and dilapidated, but still holds off the rain okay. it functions as a quick shelter from the rain, and I feed the ten cats that live here around and inside it.

 

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These are the houses for Feeder 5’s cats. I make all these from storage tubs.
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These are some of the cats of Feeder 5, leading me in a little parade back to the feeding station.
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This is Feeder 6, behind a doctor’s office, Chik-Fil-A, and a large medical building. The owner of the medical building threw away all the kitty houses and my last feeder when he discovered them, so I had to move much deeper into the woods. I don’t know what the black object is, and I’m not sure I want to look. I have found a lot of beer cans,liquor bottles and gutted stolen purses back in this area, so I feel like I have to watch myself back here.

 

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This is Feeder 7, way back behind a theater. I have caught several cats here that I took home because I could tell they had been pets before. The theater manager is very friendly toward me and the cats and is glad they are there, because his theater,he says, has been completely rat-free. I have had a problem with glue-sniffing teenagers here before, who kept destroying the feeder and leaving glue tubes all around. One day I caught them, however, and ran them off, and I haven’t seen them since.
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One of the houses for Feeder 7.
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Behind a church is Feeder 1. Three cats live here.
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I feed Feeder 1’s cats under this big pile of branches..it works out well as a shelter.
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This one, Feeder 2, has been the worst one to deal with all these years.  Several other people fed these cats with me for years, then they moved away and I was left with it and several others I have mentioned here. Once, paint-huffing teenagers destroyed everything. I consolidated the feeder and their houses to be way, way back in the woods, out of everyone’s sight, but the big box store’s manager is an animal hater and just couldn’t deal with it, so he would have his crew routinely search for my houses and feeder and destroy them. Once on a stormy Christmas Eve I showed up to discover all their houses had been thrown away and the cats were standing around in the rain. Gradually I began trapping these cats and taking them home to safety since I could pet and touch most of them; all but two, who are still unaccounted for here. I don’t know if they are dead or alive; a friend saw one not long ago, but I have no idea if that manager did something to the other one. I still put food out, directly on the ground(you may be able to see the blob of food under the little pile of branches), and I have one tiny, super-camouflaged house for them back in the woods, that no one yet has found,knock on wood.

 

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Damage done by huffers.
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This is Feeder 3, in a rather dangerous location. It is behind an extended stay motel with a lot of crime. Long story short, back here I have discovered meth-addict-looking men and women passed out on the ground, a cache of guns, and a bag full of stolen credit cards(the latter two I called the police about). I have to really watch myself.
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This is Feeder 8, what I call the “guilt” feeder. In March 2017, I spent a hellacious month moving my semi-elderly parents out of their very large home to a new, smaller home. They fed several feral cats around their place, and I was not able to catch any of them before they moved. Out of guilt, I still make a twice-weekly trip over there to put food in this feeder out in the woods near the property, even though someone else lives there now. Haven’t been caught yet!

 

All the above feeders have to be done in the morning. It is suicide to go to these places at night. One of my feral cat-feeder friends naively did hers at night, after work, and was beaten up and mugged. In general, the earlier I go, the less chances I have of dealing with unsavory people.

So after I do all this, usually two or three hours have passed; the two towns I do are about 20 minutes away from each other so even after I finish one, I still have to drive to the other and start again. Then I make a quick trip to the local Target to pee, get a snack, and then I either go to whatever work appointment I might have (I teach small art classes to the elderly in assisted living homes) or I head home to do work at home.

Then about 6:00,I start the evening routine. That’s a matter of fixing many cans of food all over again for our kitty crew at home, and going downstairs and scooping the litter boxes a second time, feeding everyone and corralling those that must be put up for the night. Then, and only then can I rest for the day.

So I think it’s pretty obvious why I can’t travel. We have an extremely competent pet sitter, but even if I travel, there is no one to feed my feral cats, you see. Although I think if I were able to travel a short distance(someplace like Nashville, for instance.) to see a ‘Knobs show, my husband could handle everything at home and the feral cats just for overnight. I think he would do it for me if he knew it were something special like that.
Of course if y’all came to Atlanta, I would just be able to come like normal and go home, and my husband would probably like to join me. THAT would be the absolute ultimate awesome thing.

So, more of my family’s rescued animals:

At my parents’ place are the farm animals and some dogs we have rescued, and once a week I drive out to their place(It’s an hour from Lawrenceville to Bishop) to check on things and see if they need any help with chores or whatnot. My mom has Parkinson’s disease so although her mind is in total working order, she can’t help with the animals at all anymore. My stepdad dutifully takes care of everything.

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This is at their old place, but it was such a good pic of him. This is Dudley, who someone dumped at my mom’s house. He is a complete knucklehead and loves to stand on top of his house and dive off like a circus performer.
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I could not get her to be still for a pic to save my life…this is Sally, another dog dumped at my mom and stepdad’s place. She is a blue heeler,  and would guard me with her life if she had to,I think. But if you start talking to her she gets so excited she starts leaping around and you might as well be trying to capture a photo of a sonic boom because you just can’t do it. 😀
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These are two of our adorable goats, Molly(left), who was pregnant when we rescued her, and her son Andy. My brother was driving down a dark country road one night and all of a sudden saw this goat running down the side of the road. He pulled over to catch her, and to his surprise she jumped in his truck! Molly can come in the house and doesn’t mess up the floor or anything.
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We rescued two more goats after that–we got wind of some goats just put out in a yard to eat weeds and given no shelter or other food, and we got them. Turned out they were pregnant, too. One mother is in the back there, here name is Betty. The other mom, Maggie, had two kids, and this is one of them, Rosie, standing on Trixie, our very patient sheep rescued as a lamb after being a 4-H project.
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Maggie with kid Rosie, at the old house
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Maggie’s other kid, Daisy, with Betty’s kid, Arnie. Lookit the tongue! 

 

And here are our rescued horses! These pics are up to date, taken at my mom and stepdad’s new place out in Bishop, Ga..

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This is Colby, our horse with no eyes. His former owners showed him, and once he began stumbling and falling during shows because he couldn’t see, they simply got rid of him. My parents knew someone who knew the owners,and took him. Many trips to the University of Georgia Large Animal Hospital later, it was discovered that he had equine recurrent uveitis and his eyes finally just had to be removed. We fretted over what to do about him, but once we researched keeping a blind horse, we realized that his having a pasture mate would help him adjust, which it did. He gets along great.
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Our rescued racehorse,Expensive Flower. She was on a truck of other failed racehorses, headed for slaughter, when a rescue group intercepted the truck. My mom at the time knew someone in the rescue group and agreed to take one of the horses. She won a total of $240 in her racing career. Flower is Colby’s constant companion and looks after him.

 

I know the people I have directed to this page are really massive dog people; alas, it’s my brother that has the glut of the dogs in our family, and he’s kind of a hermit and won’t send me any pics. I can, however, show you a pic of a dog I rescued that he took for me, as I simply had nowhere to put him!

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I was driving home one day and was almost to my street when this bully mix dog bounded out in front of my car. I got out and he came right up to me. I gave him some food(which I always have in the car) and he was really hungry. He had no collar or anything, so I begged my stepdad to come bring a dog crate to me.
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We got him in a crate, and a veterinarian friend of ours let us take him to his office as it was a weekend . The dog was previously chipped, and the owners were contacted, and they said they didn’t want him because he “wasn’t a good guard dog”. So, my brother took him to his place in south Georgia where he has a small patch of acreage and a lot of dogs. We called him Simon since I found him on Simonton Road. 🙂 My brother used to take him everywhere with him in the car until people started looking too interested in him, trying to get into my brother’s car to “get a better look at that dawg” and asking how much he costs. Dogfighting is still a big problem over here, and even though Simon is neutered, everyone thinks he is this big badass tough dog and he’s actually a big sweet goofball.

I have a few other animal anecdotes:

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Oh! Here’s a wild one…I rescued a black vulture once. It was at my parents’ old place, and refused to fly. Her flock kept hanging around the house, but she could never join them because she just wouldn’t fly. I started feeding her dog food until I could contact a wildlife rehab place to take her to, and then I caught her and took her there,with my ever-patient husband’s help. There are no pics of the actual rescue, because when I caught her she did what vultures do when threatened–she yakked ALL OVER ME. You cannot imagine the stink of this. Anyway, we got here to AWARE wildlife center, and she never did fly. She now resides in South Carolina at a small zoo for educational demonstrations.

I used to work at a small zoo here at Stone Mountain Park in Northeast Georgia, not far outside of Atlanta. It was called Wildlife Trails. It was my first job(1991–94), and that’s where I got the brunt of my education on animal care, from native Georgia Wildlife to all sorts of  farm animals. I took  care of possums, raccoons, deer, elk, bison, otters,snakes,hawks, owls and cougars, plus cows, sheep, donkeys, llamas, goats and pigs. Alas, I can’t find much of any of my old pics, but one does exist:

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Ah,I was so young and buff! This is me in the reptile house with King Henry, our king snake.

So anyway, I know this was incredibly long, so congratulations if you’ve made it to the end. This is me and my life that revolves around animals. I do other things, as you can see by this website–I’m an artist working mostly in cartoons and animation, and art therapy and puppetry. But my animals, well…they take up a whole lot of my life! But I wouldn’t change it—-my conscience is clear.

I hope maybe you’ll see that I feel like we are kindred spirits in animal welfare and care, and why I can’t travel far to see a show even though if I had the money and ability I would do it in a heartbeat. I am literally begging,pleading, bending on my little rickety knees to get y’all to come out this way, maybe to a venue close to Georgia if not Georgia. I would love to meet y’all so very very much.

Until then, I remain your friend,

Liz Vitale

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