This is an update on our foster cat Wally (aka “Wally G”, “Supper G”, and “The Cannon Ball”).  Brief recap:  this boy is from a hoarder.  He is very much of two minds of people:  part of him is wary of people and part of him loves to be pet by people.  Other cats from this site became supper affectionate but Wally remains mixed.  Other cats from this site also had good litter box habits but Wally:  mixed.

While his buddies from the site were here we kept the whole group together downstairs over night.  Wally spent a lot of time by him self but he also spent some time snuggled with his buddies.

Wally liked to sleep with his site-mates.

Wally liked to sleep with his site-mates.

Since the two ladies have been adopted we integrated Wally entirely – he how comes upstairs with our two resident cats.

Wally has presented us with some challenges.  He is wary of being touched.  I (Tom) put him in carriers several times and lost all his petting privileges.  He can get restive and somewhat noisy, particularly before meal times.  But worst of all: occasionally he pees on furniture.  There can be weeks between incidents but then he goes and does it again.  We don’t know why and are not experts on dealing with inappropriate elimination.

On the other hand he is a darling boy deserving of a good life.  I love Wally.  What a dear, beautiful cat.  He has the energy of a somewhat nerdy, awkward boy who does not know how to interact and make friends but has a good heart.  He is a happy and gentle boy who’s biggest offense is not knowing what to do.  Where he grew up he never learned not to pee on the couch, never learned to fully trust people, and somehow never learned to skillfully greet other cats.  With other cats he has two modes.  He either does an enthusiastic head-butt and body rub or cautiously shies away.  He does not seem able to distinguish another cat soliciting play vs intimidating him.


He got adopted once and returned 2 days latter.  His main offense was peeing on the bed but he also complained loudly about being shut in his “sanctuary” room.

Since that time we have not posted him for adoption.  We don’t know what to do with him.  We think he wants to live with other cats – but they have to be gentle cats.  We would like to place him as a companion animal but know it will be difficult to find adopters who will take a cat who is known to pee on furniture and have patience to socialize him.  He might do well in a shop home…

On one hand he is making great progress.  He lets us pet him more often.  He is very playful and often seems quite relaxed.  In just the past couple nights he has joined us on the bed and cuddled with our resident cat Annabelle.  He loves this and has purred louder than I have ever heard him purr.

Annabelle and Wally snuggling

Annabelle and Wally snuggling

On the other hand he is an un-repentant pee-er.  I have video of him peeing in a cat bed which he was just sleeping in.  My best understanding of this is that he never learned to pee ONLY in litter boxes.  He will use them in general but if another soft surface presents then he will use that.

We are not sure what to do with this boy.

November of 2012 the Seattle Animal Shelter received a number of cats from a hoarder.  We got the 5 most likely candidates for socialization:  4 adults and a kitten.  We set the adults up in carrires in cages in the basement.  Initially they were too shy to come out of their carriers but 3 clearly loved to be pet.  All were undernourished, had URI, and needed time to recover and get healthy.  After a while we moved them to an upstairs room where they all hid under the bed.  Now they have full run of the house and are some of the sweetest, quirkiest cats we have fostered.

Lucy (left) and Lily were too shy to come out of their carrier at first

Lucy (left) and Lily were too shy to come out of their carrier at first


Lily relaxed by me on the couch.

Lily relaxed by me on the couch.

Lily shared a cage with Lucy and the two would sit at the door of their carrier with little tortious shell faces looking out.  I could reach in and they would both head butt and crowd up to my hand for pets but they were too shy to come out.  After a couple days they got bold enough to come out for their meals.  I would sit by and pet them while they were eating.  At first this was too much and they would scurry back into their carrier but then they could stay out to eat while being pet.  Lily was the first to come out to greet me and seemed interested in exploring outside of the cage.  We called her “Ms Adventure” because she was the boldest of the two ladies.

Now that she has run of the house she has shown a unique blend of shyness and boldness.  She hides inside a livingroom chair most of the day and is the hardest to approach.  But, in the evenings when we settle she is the first to jump into our laps for pets.

Lily has a very soft, down, medium length tortious shell fur – just a delight to pet.


Lucy always has a serious, shocked expression.

Lucy always has a serious, shocked expression.

Lucy is my particular favorate.  She supper loved head rubs but was more wary coming out than Lily was.  Now that she is upstairs she is the one who is most likely to approach me for pets and the one who will sleep on the bed with me.

Lucy has not one tooth in her head – we speculate an effect of in-breeding that happened in the hoarders.  She has a tendency to wheeze and snort – we think related to the structure of her mouth and nasal passage.  Her purr is a charming cooing snort.  Lack of teeth, however, does not much impair her abiltiy to eat.  We generally feed her pate which she gums down with gusto.  She is the thinnest of the honeys but slowly putting on weight.

Lucy’s coat is a little coarser than Lily’s but has a beautiful mahogany color and is a pleasure to pet.  She has a of a disheveled, serious look, but is always ready for a head rub.  If my attention lags she will tap our arm with her paw to pull our attention back to petting her.  (Lucy and Lily have since been adopted together.)


Wally at a cat adoption event.

Wally at a cat adoption event.

Wally is a black boy, shaped like a cannon ball.  He had a big appetite so got a cage by himself.  He would sit head out the door and hiss at us when approached.  If we just held our hand above him Wally would give it a moment consideration then headbutt us and purr.  He would come out for his food then notice that he was out and shoot back into his carrier.  He would then notice that there is food and come out to eat.

Once we gave them free run of the house he immediatly adopted the space under our dining room table as his safe spot.  He can watch the world go by but has protection of all the chair legs.

While all the honeys are playful, Wally is the most.  A toy pulled across the livingroom floor will always lure him out.  He must never have had a chance to chase a toy as his first attempts were clumbsy.


Charles cleaned up by Chip

Charles cleaned up by Chip

Charles is a beautiful long legged grey boy.  He was the most shutdown of the adults and got his own cage as he was reluctant to eat.  For the first several days he gave no response to any pets and I considered him the most at risk.  Then I made a point of spending some extra time with him, petting him regardless.  Some switch seemed to flip and soon he was head butting and rolling around with the pleasure of being pet.

Chip, who came over to spend time with the crew, took a particular liking to Charles and spent extra time with him.  Upstairs he was always the first to come out and would come right up to us for pets.  When Chip became a SAS foster parent we transferred Charles to her.  Charle’s now has his own web page to facilitate his adoption.  (And has since been adopted.)


Shadow soon after arriving

Shadow soon after arriving

We put the kitten in his own room.  Shadow clearly had no idea how to live inside and was scared and shutdown.  Marie spent a lot of time with him, showed him how to use the litter box and how to receive pets from people.  When we first let him roam the house he hid in and under things but always came out for play and meals.  Over several weeks he shifted dramatically and was soon out and confident all the time.  Shadow revealed a delightful, balanced personality.  He could play by himself, he could play with people, and he could play with other cats.  He could sleep by himself, he could snuggle with us on the bed, and he could snuggle with other cats.

Shadow became good playbudies with another foster, Bubbles. Bubbles was somewhat dominate toward the other cats but always very affectionate and tollerant of Shadow.

These two have been adopted together.

We are often asked:  “How can you give so much care to foster cats and then give them away?”

At first we could not.  We adopted the first two of our foster cats.  But then we learned two things:

  • We can’t keep adopting cats.  
  • Sending cats to good homes makes us happy.

If we adopted too many cats it would limit our ability to help others.  Two (mostly) cat friendly residents is a good number.  This gives us time and space to help other cats.

We do put a lot of care into the foster cats, come to love them, and want them to be happy.  When we find a good home for them we think:

This cat will now have a great home.  They will have people to love it and protect it.  We could not have done that for this cat.  We have now helped one more cat through the re-homing process.

We just sent Bubbles and Shadow to a good home.  Bubble’s came to us first, a Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) foster chosen to be companion to Mustache, another young cat we were fostering.  (Mustache later went to the Feral Cat Sanctuary.) Shadow came later, one of 5 at-risk cats, removed from a very unpleasant hoarding situation, who came to us for evaluation. Shadow and Bubbles soon bonded.

Bubbles, not the most affectionate cat, and prone to picking on other cats in our house, showed great patience and tenderness toward Shadow.  Shadow went from a shut down, confused little kitten, to a confident great companion to us and to Bubbles.

Shadow sleeping in my arms.

Shadow sleeping in my arms.





Shadow cuddling with our resident Annabelle

Shadow cuddling with our resident Annabelle

Bubbles grooming Shadow

Bubbles even cleans the bottom of Shadow’s paws!




They were adopted to a nice man who really appreciated cats.  Sending cats away with adopters is bitter-sweet.  Bitter for them because we know it will upset them to be uprooted and sent away from a home to which they have grown accustomed, and bitter for us to say good-by.  Sweet when we hear news of them in their new home.  The next day we go this photo and note:

Bubbles and Shadow taking claim of the bed. Very playful and active :)

Bubbles and Shadow taking claim of the bed. Very playful and active 🙂

Feeding Cinder


Cinder is a Seattle Animal Shelter foster cat.  We took her because she was loosing weight and her foster parent had too many kittens to track Cinder’s eating.  When she first came to us we integrated her with some semi-feral kittens from another site.

Cinder and the feral boys

They proved to be too old for an easy turn around so we sent them back (where some patient site care takers are working with them).  We took Cinder on our weekend get-away to a Whidbey island cottage.  After several rounds of feeding a/d food with extra water her appitite kicked in.

Back home she was doing great so we picked up another solo kitten from the shelter.  When this little gal arrived she spent the first 7 hours running madly around the room.  We thought it was excitement to be out of the cage but it turned out to be her natural waking energy level.  We named her Bolt!


After 3 days of watching each other at a distance Cinder and Bolt! began to play and sleep together.

Cinder and Bolt sleeping near each other

They ate well and gained weight.

Bold and our cat ambassador Annabelle

Cinder and Bolt together before going to SAS for surgery and adoption

Sammy and Maggie have been at St Francis house for 2 1/2 months and had free run of the place for 1 1/2 months.  People don’t see much of Sammy but Maggie hangs out upstairs in their room during the day and can be found in the front rooms at other times.

To understand what the pair were doing I let them a trail camera which was placed in the cat’s room.  The building is occupied from 9am to 3pm M-F.  Looks like Sammy joins Maggie soon after people leave, the eat, groom, nap, and wrestle until sometime in the evening.  They show up again early in the morning.  Overnight I assume they are playing, patrolling, and sleeping throughout the rest of St Francis house.

This pair were difficult to place.  They really liked each other, Maggie kind of liked people, and Sammy preferred to not be around people (though he could come to like being pet).  St Francis house is a great home for them.


Since we started working with cats we have fostered quite a few kittens

Maxwell was the first. Marie went to the shelter and saw this frightened, hissy kitten. With in a couple of hours at home she had him purring in her lap.

To keep Max company we then got Blanka and Sabine, two out of several kittens languishing in the shelter. Within two weeks they were adopted together.

Max was with us for about a month more, became good buddies with our adult cats, before being adopted as a companion for an energetic girl cat.

In the fall we started fostering semi-feral kittens for Alley Cat Project, starting Biscuit and Ginger:

Brother and Sister. Biscuit was adopted fairly quickly as companion for another cat. We then got another little tabby. He was so very scared when he came to us. Within a month he was totally relaxed, bonded with Ginger, and one of the friendliest cats we ever met.

The two were adopted together.

About a day latter Deb brought us three semi-feral kittens. These were from a colony that produced very social cats.

This is soon after they arrived and they are looking wary. Greyling, a girl, was adopted as a solo kitten (something I’ll never do again) and the boys went together where they were reported to like laps.

Once they left we got Odel and Winnie. These were slightly older kittens and took a long time to socialize.

They were also very special cats with exceptional personalities. Odel got adopted to a couple in Everette where he has a great life and companion cat.

We briefly fostered this solo bottle baby until he could be moved to another foster with a solo cat. He was one of the cutest kits I’ve ever seen.

Winnie stayed with us a couple more months. I was just resigning myself to his not being adopted when he went to a home in West Seattle where he goes on walks on the beach.

In June 2011 ACP trapped a feral mom with kittens who we housed in our garage:

Pumpkin had an abcess and had to get antibiotics.

Deb had another mother with 4 kittens. We took that family when she went on vacation.

And they all got integrated.

A couple other kittens came through about this time.

Saami, a beautiful lynx point, got socialize and integrated into the clan.

It took us till September to a) raise them to an adoptable age then b) find homes for all of them.

While we were fostering them we had several kittens come through our garage facility.

Georgina was one of 3 grey kittens as playful and friendly as the summer days were long. They got adopted quickly.

The Burr brothers (there were three) were a wild bunch. They went to the Seattle Animal Shelter for socialization and adoption.

Huck and his two siblings went to PAWS. Sadly, they were euthanized a week later for Panleukopenia. (No other cat we housed concurrently got sick so we don’t think it came from us. None the less, we cleaned thoroughly.)

Sara was sweet but shy. Hard to get much sense of her personality in the garage. However, it did not take her long to get adopted and word back was that she became a playful, happy kitten.

In November, soon after finding a new home for our boy Nelson, we picked up two families from the Seattle Animal Shelter who were languishing there because the mothers were reported to be feral. Together they had 4 kittens. The kittens were adopted through the shelter but we continued to foster the mothers through adoption as there were shy and would show best in a foster home. Both were only about a year old.

That closed out the 2011 kittens. In March Alley Cat Project started to see pregnant females and on March 14th one gave birth to 4 kittens before we could get her to the clinic. A week ago we took them. The mother is feral with us but very attentive to her little kittens:

So it begins again…


Baby came from FCSNP clinic with a very bad upper respratory infection.  I set him up in the basement and began to explore how much handling he would tolerate.  If he was very feral there would not be much I could do.

He liked to hide in his carrier. I found that if I disconnect the top of the carrier from the bottom I can lift the top up just enough to reach in and can often handle semi-feral cats while they are in their safe place. I start cautiously with stick, then a golved hand, then my bare hands. Baby was a little squirrley but did let me handle him. Later he got wise to my taking the carrier apart and he would hide behind it. I would just move it then reach back and pull him forward a little.

I gave him:

  • Oral antibiotics by squirting some liquid down his throat
  • Eye antibiotics by squirting some ointment into his eyes
  • Subcutaneous fluids by sticking a needle under the skin on his back and letting fluids drain into him

That was a lot of handling and he was surprisingly calm – as if he knew that it would ultimately help him. I was most impressed that he let me administer ointment to his eyes. This can’t be comfortable. With one hand I scruff him and twist his head to one side. With the other I squeeze out a bit of ointment and then lay that across his eyeball. I then turn his head the other way and do the other eye. If I miss I try to massage it in a little.  Baby allowed all that handling and more.

I was always ready to pull my hands back, especially while giving fluids.  To help cats who are not eating stay hydrated we inject saline solution just under their skin with an IV drip.  As the amount of fluid builds they must feel discomfort or just strange and they start to resist little. Often, once I had the needle out, he would swat but he never got me.

After several days I could see that he was improving.

After several more days I began to rub Baby’s cheek after treatment. Soon after that he began to respond. Each day he was a little more open. Soon he would come out of his carrier and soon he was crawling into my arms. In the end Baby turned out to be just a big Baby.


Baby was promised to a student house in Ravenna as a garage cat to hunt rodents. Since that time his status changed and he clearly wanted to live inside with people. They were happy to have him and gave him plenty of loving. Never the less I stayed in contact to be sure it was right fit. They said that Baby never showed interest in going out side or hunting anything. Ultimately one of the students adopted Baby as his own.

St Francis House

In mid February Alley Cat Project got a call from Julie looking for two “barn cats” for St Francis House.  This is a day shelter that provides people with meals, clothing, and house hold supplies.  They are open 5 days a week and full of volunteers and clients during those times.  Evenings, nights, and weekends they are empty.  The building is full of supplies.  In recent years they have had a growing mouse problem and Julie convinced the board that some resident cats were the best way to control the mice.

We immediately thought of Sammy and Maggie.  This pair came from a feral colony in Shoreline and have been with us for about 5 months.  I felt particularly responsible for them as I made the call to not return Sammy to his colony.  Making decisions about the lives of cats is the most difficult part of this work.  I want all cats to have great lives.  Often we do find very good homes but I always agonized as we wait for the right adopter to show up.  We worked with Sammy and Maggie but they never reached fully adoptable status.  Sammy remained shy.  Maggie would always come to me for pets but was more interested in socializing with our other cats than with us humans.

I took them down to St Francis House on Tuesday.  There is an upstairs room with kitchen and back office that sees little human traffic most times of the day.  They get this as their sanctuary.  Once established there they will have full run of the building and get to choose how much they interact with people.  Though empty on the weekend, during weekdays the building is full of nurturing people.  Among the staff and volunteers there are several excited to have cats coming to live in the building.  Sammy and Maggie will have a large and interesting indoor space to live in, a job to do, and time to develop relationships with the people around them.

The upstairs room with back office at the far end.

It did not take Maggie very long to peek out from the office and start exploring

While Maggie was sitting in the door a mouse ran right in front of her! In the daylight! She got very interested.

Maggie looking for the mouse

Sammy is shyer and it will take him longer to settle into his new environment but ultimately he will be the real mouser of the two.

Sammy on the pedestal

This is a follow-up on my work to socialize Sammy.  During work days I isolated him upstairs with me for about a week.  Other cats could come and go but I made Sammy stay upstairs with me.  There was a pedestal in my office with a view outside and this became a favorite perch of his.  Every morning I would sit right next to this for over an hour to meditate.  He grew more comfortable with me near by and soon let me pet him.  Before long he was making a point of showing up on the pedestal before morning meditation so he could get pets.  Once he even followed me upstairs and jumped on the pedestal.

However, in other context he did not want to be approached by me.  He loved pets on the pedestal but not anywhere else.  I do believe that over time, perhaps a year, he would grow to accept pets in other places.  He is very affectionate with his buddy Maggie and I believe this would transfer to people, eventually.

After about a week I decided that Sammy was a long-term project.  He was not going to have a quick change of mind about comfort with people.  I wanted to prevent him from hiding from us and push his comfort level a little, but not too much.  And I wanted him to have fun.  Cat’s lives are fairly short.  I always want them to have as much enjoyment as possible.  I stopped closing the stairway door but continued to closed off our bedroom so that he could not hide out there away from people.  Sammy could be upstairs in my office or downstairs.  In both places he had to encounter people.  He was about 90% comfortable with this.  He and Maggie spent a lot of time running around our house with their tails up, looking for the next adventure.  And they spent a little time slinking under things to get away from us.

Sammy being pet the pedestal

Sitting on our cat bench

This beautiful young lady is ready for her new home.

A charming young girl


March 14, 2012
Sabrina was adopted by loving couple in Fall City.

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