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Feb 12, 2006
Another day has come and is now fading into night.  It has been a good day, so far - but our work is just starting.  A new group of volunteers have joined our ranks, despite it still being cold and rainy here.  I welcome the help, and those bright, gung-ho faces!  By this time next week, I know I'll be lucky to have a third of them still coming back.  Not everything they will find along the way, tending to the dozen-plus feral colonies will be pleasant.  Being winter, there is a dark, negative side that almost ended my own involvement two years ago. 

Yes, we do get greated by anywhere from a handful to about 30 feral cats at each stop.  They always put a smile on my face, and yes, I have my favorites.  With raw recruits along, they will be more stand-offish than if it were just me or one of our veteran volunteers doling out the evenings grub.  "Leeza" still prances nearby, with her trademark, noiseless open-mouth hiss, welcoming and warning us at the same time.  She's forgiven me for capturing her and getting her spayed, then spending an extra week with her during her recovery to try to socialize her.  Weeks went by before she'd come near me after that, but when she did, she not only came close enough to sniff my fingers, she actually gave me a "Kitty-Kiss" on my fingertip.  I knew we were friends again that night.

But the loss of "Molly" two years ago is still fresh in my mind and heart.  She was so sweet, so loving.  I could have easily captured her, without a trap and even without our kevlar and deerskin "rescue/capture" gloves.  A good grooming, worming, shots and of course spaying, and she could have found a home.  That was the winter the tsunami hit.  Our funds were depleted - we barely had enough money to feed the colonies, with most of it coming out of my own pocket.  I told many of our donors, and potential donors, "People's needs must come first."  I had turned away many donations, asking instead they give to the victims of the tsunami and the hurricanes in Florida.  One of my greatest flaws:  I'm a terrible fund-raiser.

That winter, Molly paid the ultimate price.  She was less than a year old when she got pregnant, and she died in the cold giving birth.  Neither she or her kittens survived, and the day I found their remains was one of the hardest days of my life.  Now, I prayed our new recruits to the Spots and Stripes family wouldn't come across any "Molly's" especially on their first day.  Feeding was fun.  Trying to make friends with a wild feral cat was fun.  Cleaning up after a feeding, not so fun, but a vital part of caring for the colonies and not leaving behind a mess.  Finding a deceased cat, in any form, can be shocking and devastating, especially to a new recruit.  Part of the "job", though, is to remove them for a proper "funeral" to prevent disease in the rest of the colony. 

Tonight, no "Mollys."  Everyone was happy and relatively happy.  A few no-shows, but that's not unusual.  A little extra is left hidden under a tree or shrub for them to find later.  Field training over for today - at least it didn't rain, and we found no "dumped" cats or kittens anywhere.  This batch of volunteers got off to a good start.  Time will tell. 

Here's where I make my plea:  Visit our new website.  It is still under construction since our recent move, so bookmark it and come back often:  We have been using PayPal to process credit card donations, or a check can be mailed to:  Spots and Stripes Inc., 10903 - 56th Ave Ct E, #M-204, Puyallup, WA  98373.  All donations go to the cats, big and small.  No wages, salaries, or reimbursements are paid to ANYONE, as written with the help of the IRS agent overseeing our 501(c)(3) application (granted to us in 2004) in our Articles of Incorporation.  If you don't specify "Feral", "Big Cat", or "Building Fund", or "Angel Fund", your donations will go to the neediest project.  Thank you for any and all assistance you can give.

David L.
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Posted: Feb 12, 2006 6:08pm


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David Lemke
, 2, 1 child
Puyallup, WA, USA
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