2.15.2012

Valentine's Day - my faith in the Human race has been tested

Yesterday was a truly horrible Valentine's Day. Anyone following me on FB already knows the deal, but for those who have missed the saga it goes something like this:

Around noon we started hearing meowing. At first I figured that DS had locked a cat in his room. Checked his room, no cats. All 4 cats were accounted for, but we were still hearing meows. I looked out the windows, but saw no cats outdoors. So I put on shoes and checked the basement. We have an old house with a few additions and a crawl space with a small opening that has only been blocked to the outdoors by a piece of OSB, which has pretty much disintegrated. From the crawl space a small animal could get into our basement (which is accessed by a door outside--house is nearly 100).

Poor, sweet "Valentine"
I went into the basement and called "kitty" and looked around, but saw no cat until I looked near the base of our old pressure tank for our well. I had to turn the light on to really get a good look. Somehow a sweet little kitty (one of the recognizable neighborhood strays/outdoor cats) had gotten her head wedged under one of the pipes. I tried to lift the pipe with my left hand and push her head back out with my right, but I couldn't get the pipe up enough. I ended up calling DH at work (30 minutes away) to come help. He got home and was able to pull up HARD on the pipe while I pushed her head.

As soon as she was free she bolted around the basement, but then quickly calmed-down and let us near her (the basement door to outside was wide open to the outdoors, but she didn't try to escape). She was shaking and terrified, but let us hold her (we had on gloves). We decided instantly that we would not just let her back out, but would get her into a carrier and bring her to the nearest shelter with space (we would have taken her in to be our kitty, but we already have 4 cats and our city limit is 4).

One of my close friends works at the county shelter and said they could take her, so DS (on Winter break...I really wish he'd been at school with all of this went down) and I brought her in. While we were there she had a seizure. My friend brought her to the vet they use and it was decided to put her down.

Because of her symptoms they are testing her brain for rabies. Though I was wearing reasonably thick gloves she bit me and drew blood. Her teeth didn't puncture my glove, but she bit hard (the blood drawn on my knuckle is not a puncture, but more of an abrasion) and because of the risk that saliva could still have infected me I will have to undergo rabies treatments if she tests positive.

We're pretty heartbroken. Today DS learned how animals are tested for rabies (it requires decapitation). If she's not rabid, then the likely cause of her seizures was poisoning (either directly or indirectly from eating a poisoned rodent) or maybe I hurt her when pushing back on her skull to get her out from under the pipe. All of those possibilities suck. People who let their cats roam outdoors suck (there is never a good reason for a pet cat to be outdoors. IMO euthanasia would be so much more humane than allowing an animal to meet the sort of fate that so many outdoor cats meet).

I have now had the experience of a childhood cat losing a leg to a dog outdoors and today had to play a role in the demise of another sweet creature. None of our 4 cats ever go outside for very good reason.

I really loathe Humans. Part of domesticating a species includes ensuring that said species is properly cared for and protected. Whoever she "belonged to" failed. Because of their failure to not be complete white trash, my family had a very upsetting, tear-filled day and our cash-strapped humane society has had to pay for the euthanization and testing of an animal. Her people probably haven't even noticed she's missing...

Folks, seriously...cats do not belong outdoors.  I often see people claim that they let their cat(s) outdoors because it makes the animal so happy.  You know, a lot of kids would be "happy" playing on the interstate or in other dangerous places.  It doesn't mean that we allow them to do so.  Kids and "furkids" aren't really so different.  Ultimately what makes these smaller beings in our care happy is being safe and healthy.  Becoming trapped in someone's basement and suffering a seizure is not a happy scenario, no matter how we slice it.

Outdoor cats do not live nearly as long as their indoor counterparts.  Their health is compromised by parasites and viruses and they are at risk of poisoning and death or injury by car, larger animal, or at the hands of unkind people.  They also become a nuisance to others (this little kitty spent a lot of time around our house, stressing our cats to see a strange cat on their turf, which would cause our largest male to retaliate by spraying in the house).  Outdoor cats hunt songbirds at feeders and regularly defecate in people's food gardens and children's sandboxes.  They spread disease, as this kitty very well could have, if she is confirmed rabid.  What if I had been a child that she bit?  What if a bit child doesn't report the bite?  Rabies is fatal if not treated early.

Since our family all has February birthdays we have never really observed Valentine's day.  In the future we have decided that we will honor the holiday by helping a local shelter in some way...either through donation of money or supplies or with our time.  It's the least we can do in remembrance of the little kitty we dubbed "Valentine."  RIP, sweet, fuzzy angel.

2.11.2012

Thinking Spring!

And with that comes our plans to do some major rearranging of rooms and renovations to get our house ready to sell in the next couple of years. DH is really tired of his 30 minute work commute, each way, and we can't be as involved with DS's school as we would like, as he attends a Montessori charter school near DH's work. We also would love to be closer to our favorite bike shop to get in on more group rides without spending 2 hours in the car to do so. We're also not fond of the local school district--it's a football program with a school--so we'd like to be in the area of 2 very good districts before DS enters HS.

A big part of our plans include fixing up the larger of the 2 small rooms upstairs for DS to use. We're finally working through the boxes of stuff upstairs (a good decade after we should have done so) and purging things that we have no use for. Things like old Natl. Geos, college notebooks and folders, and DS's giant box of old shoes (they are crunchy!). Getting rid of stupid wedding gifts like silverplated picture frames, cutesy ceramic figurines, and cut glass bowls. Those gifts always say to me "I don't know anything about you or your tastes, so I'm going to buy you a cheap, useless gift and eat free food at your reception" (those items will go to Goodwill for someone to regift as a tacky gift at someone else's wedding, ha!). We'll easily be able to consolidate all of our boxed stuff into the smaller of the 2 rooms.
No football, baseball, basketball,
or soccer for our sporty kid!

We've already got a theme picked out for DS's room and have purchased a few items. We got him the cyclocross road sign for his birthday, the drapes, and the storage ottoman. Also a green table lamp--I think he's most excited about that and having a room with big windows and lots of daylight for reading in bed. Other stuff we'll get later (like the green and blue Ikea duvet cover.  There's a red and orange one that I wish came in a king size).

The room we plan to fix up is ~10x10' (the other room is at least 20 sq. ft smaller--like a prison cell with windows!), but has only a 6.5' ceiling and sloped walls and no closet, so we have to get creative with storage. We're planning to make a trip to Ikea in Detroit with a couple of friends and a big truck. The plan is to get several shorter wardrobes (the ceiling height in most of the rooms of our house really limits our choices), bed frames/headboards, and other storage items. 

DH and I are going to yank up the carpet in DS's current room (the largest room in the house and in desperate need of toy-downsizing) and repaint, then move our bedroom into this room. 

The hideous pink carpet in the room DS will be moving into will be removed, as well as layers of pink floral wallpaper pulled down and random cracks and small holes in the ceiling will be patched. In most of the upstairs we will be laying down plywood and painting that (there are some really neat painted plywood projects online...we'd probably go with opaque porch paint, though a clear polyurethane coat may be an option, too, depending upon the look of the plywood.  If it's attractive on its own we may not wan to conceal it), which will be a nice flooring surface that the next owners can easily use as subflooring for laminate or carpet.

Our current bedroom (downstairs) will become the living room (and offer more room for using the sofa AND the bikes indoors at the same time), the living room will become the dining room, and the current "dining room" will get a few bookshelves and the futon and become a library space (our current dining room is really a glorified hallway that connects 4 rooms and the upstairs stairwell, so having even our small table in the middle is a royal hassle).

We've also realized (after I took some measurements) that we should be able to enclose an area at the top of the stairs into a real closet with bi-fold doors. So we will be able to DOUBLE the closet space in this house to TWO whole closets, ha!  We will still plan to pick up Ikea wardrobes for our room and one near the front door, since we currently have no hall/coat closet.

All of these projects will update the house, make the space more useable, and hopefully make the house more sellable.  I think I've finally lit a fire under DH's butt to get the kitchen finished (we've been living without cabinet doors or drawer fronts for at least 5 years--not stock sizes, so we can't go out and just buy existing stuff.  I REALLY wish I would have pushed harder for stock cabinetry when he got it in his head that he wanted to do extreme DIY kitchen remodeling!), as well as the floors, too.  Years ago we laid down unfinished pine planks and have discovered that they are quite brittle and lead to slivers.  We need to sand and finish them properly.

Now if only my dream house would still be available once we sell this place...