to the second edition of Whisker Whispers, the annual newsletter
of the Stanford Cat Network. We hope you will enjoy this collection
of educational articles and heart-warming stories!
Cat Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for
the homeless cats who live on Stanford University property. The
Network is comprised of Stanford staff, students, faculty and community
with the University, the Stanford Cat Network is responsible for
the care of all free-roaming cats on campus. A registry of the Stanford
cats and established feeding stations and schedules enable caregivers
to monitor the health and well-being of the cats and identify hungry
newcomers, before they are assimilated into the Campus population
Provided by SCN:
Confidential pet-related support
Feeding, monitoring, spay/neuter, vaccinations
and emergency vet care for all homeless cats on campus
Pet behavior consultation and advice
Lost and Found Pet listings, advice and help looking
for lost pets on campus
Assistance to Stanford community members who need
to find a new home for their pet
Humane education program
Adoption program for tame or tamable cats and kittens
cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and released
back into their Campus territory, where they are fed and monitored
daily by Network volunteers. Every effort is made to find the owners
of stray tame cats. Unclaimed tame strays and any kittens are boarded
or fostered, until adoptive homes are found. No cats are euthanized,
except as warranted by a veterinarian to relieve suffering.
have proven that trap-spay/neuter-vaccinate-release is the single
most successful method of stabilizing and maintaining healthy feral
cat colonies with the least possible cost to local governments and
residents, while providing the best life for the animals themselves.
Do Not Abandon,
Do Not Adopt Campaigns
Due to the
transitory nature of University life, students are generally not
in a good position to take on the 20 year responsibility of caring
for a cat. The Network encourages students to carefully consider
the long-term commitment required before adopting a pet, and as
a rule SCN does not adopt cats to students.
Pets are frequently
left behind as their owners move away and do not make arrangements
for the animal they took responsibility for. Many people assume
their animals will survive when they move away and leave them behind.
Often they believe that their cat will be able to hunt and support
herself, or that someone else will find her and care for her.
popular belief, domestic animals do not automatically return to
their natural instincts and cannot fend for themselves.
Humans have bred domestic companion animals and they have become
dependent upon us for survival. Many abandoned cats die from starvation,
disease, abuse, or as food to a predator.
the Stanford community and public on these issues is of principal
importance to the Network. Counselling and care by example are provided
by Network volunteers.
George on the job
abandoned on convocation weekend in the late spring of 2001. Apparently,
some graduating student no longer wanted him and had not thought
ahead to make plans for a new home. Perhaps the owner hoped someone
else would rescue their pet and find him a home, or maybe they mistakenly
thought he could take care of himself outside, hunting for food.
Lucky for George, he found a Stanford Cat Network feeding station
where he met a volunteer putting food out for the feral cats.
ate some food, and then wound his way around the feeders ankles
and asked for attention. He was scooped up and transported to a
local veterinary clinic, and after a week with no owner to claim
him, George was put up for adoption. Since he is a very handsome
and friendly cat, we did not anticipate having George for long!
He was extremely outgoing and friendly, got along well with other
animals, and seemed to take everything in his stride. But as the
summer wore on, and the rescued kittens came in, no one had interest
in an adult cat.
until September did Georges chance come along. An unusual
request turned out to be a dream career for George. Kelli Danielsen
is in charge of puppy socialization with Guide Dogs for the Blind,
a non-profit organization that provides guide dogs for visually
impaired people. Kellis job is to make sure the puppies entering
the guide dog training program have been exposed to a wide variety
of situations and learn how to act appropriately. Most of us have
seen guide dog puppies wearing their little green jackets as they
walk in malls and public places with their foster families.
that is always tempting to a puppy is to bark at or chase a cat,
and that would not be safe behavior for a guide dog. So the puppies
need to get used to being around cats in a controlled environment,
like the Guide Dog campus. For this job a very outgoing, calm and
friendly cat would be a necessity a brave cat who would tolerate
puppies sniffing and playing with him. The cat would also need to
be friendly to the volunteers and supporters who come in and out
of the offices throughout the day. When Kelli contacted us in search
of such a cat, we knew we had the perfect candidate in George! Not
only did he possess all the necessary personality traits, but he
also boasted a Stanford education, although his major was undeclared.
Dogs for the Blind is a nonprofit, charitable organization
with a mission to provide Guide Dogs and training in their
use to visually impaired people throughout the United
States and Canada. Our dogs and services are free to those
we serve, thanks to the generosity of donors and support
of volunteers. We are devoted to promoting the human/animal
through our adoption screening process as any other potential adopter
would, and during her meetings with George she brought her young
and active Boston Terrier to see Georges reaction. George
passed the test and was adopted as the puppy socialization cat for
Guide Dogs for the Blind. On the San Rafael campus, George enjoys
comfy quarters in a large office suite with plenty of attention
from Kelli and the puppy socialization volunteers throughout the
day. He doesnt mind at all his daytime canine visitors, who
sniff him and follow him all over until they lose interest in him.
And he gets to do his part in bringing freedom and happiness to
the lives of the visually impaired by helping in the Guide Dog training
process. What a career!
The facts on Feline Immune-deficiency Virus speak for
FIV cats most often live long, healthy, and relatively
normal lives with no symptoms at all.
FIV is a cat-only disease and cannot be spread to humans
or other non-felines.
The Feline Immune-deficiency Virus is a slow virus that
affects a cats immune system over a period of
FIV is not easily passed between cats. It cannot be
spread casually like in litter boxes, water and
food bowls, or when snuggling and playing. It is rarely
spread from a mother to her kittens.
The virus can be spread through blood transfusions,
badly infected gums, or serious, penetrating bite wounds.
(Bite wounds of this kind are extremely rare, except
in free-roaming, unneutered tomcats.)
A neutered cat, in a home, is extremely unlikely to
infect other cats, if properly introduced.
Many vets are not educated about FIV since the virus
was only discovered 15 years ago.
FIV-positive cats should be kept as healthy as possible.
Keep them indoors and free from stress, feed them a
high-quality diet, and treat any secondary problems
as soon as they arise.
So I cant
quite tell you how I found myself in the situation I did, but I
can tell you it wasnt a good one to be in. I was wandering
the Stanford Campus, hanging out mainly in the French Quarter, hadnt
eaten in ages, my ribs were showing and I had been in one too many
cat fights that I somehow managed to lose (its tough to win
when you are weak and starving you know!) I wasnt a pretty
sight and I wasnt enjoying life too much, to say the least.
I just couldnt figure out what it was I had done to deserve
this life. Id been good. Id been nice. I was a handsome
fella in my days gone by. Why me???, I asked myself
as a stranger approached...
maybe I was going to get lucky and this person might give me a morsel
of food product, something, anything would have been fine with me.
Instead, I found myself scooped up and taken away in this little
cage like thing and I have to admit I was thinking to myself just
when I thought it couldnt get ANY worse! I bounced around
in the crate, tried communicating with my most sympathetic cry to
no avail, and finally landed at a strange place where there were
TONS of fellows like me all kept in small cubicles. It was like
out of a SciFi novel or something!
to this strange place (which I later heard referred to as Doctor
Mells) was that I got to eat! And my space, although
small, was kept clean! I wouldnt go as far to call it heaven
or anything but for a kid from the streets like me it definitely
was a step up in life.
come by daily. Theyd say nice things about me. Many would
pick me up and pet me and Id do my damnedest to put on a good
show for them, purring, rubbing, whatever they wanted I did it!
I heard many of them say, this one is perfect if it wasnt
for the FIV!, and back in the cage Id go. Now, I was
a Stanford graduate and all, but I had no clue what this FIV stuff
was. One by one I would see my neighbors leave with people never
to be seen again, and I questioned when it would be my time.
like a long time had gone by. I was feeling a lot better. The folks
that I saw daily were pretty darn nice, and then this guy came in
and I could tell he fell for me. I dont know.
We had some sort of bond from the moment we met. Once again I heard
the dread FIV mentioned, knowing that it meant I wouldnt
be seeing this fellow again. But instead, I heard him say something
like, well, thats perfect, Ive got AIDS.
What these people were talking about I hadnt a clue. But next
thing you know I was back in one of those cage like things, bouncing
around, and taken to this new place, with this new fella.
It was heaven right off the bat. There was a big soft couch and
I jumped right on it and immediately took a nap (since I didnt
know when Id get the chance to do such a thing again I HAD
to take advantage of it!)
When I woke
up the fella was still there. And so was I. Another dream??
I asked myself. Well, as it turns out, it wasnt a dream at
all. Now I am fat and happy, living in the great place with this
cool guy that I have a great time playing with and driving crazy,
and for that he feeds me DAILY! and pets me and loves me. It is
a strange thing, but I love it.
still have to wonder who that first person was that scooped me up
from Stanford. If I could, I would thank her. And I still have no
clue what this FIV thing is. All I can tell you for sure is that
I am back to my handsome self (thats what ALL the visitors
say), feel great, have lots of love goin on in my life and
couldnt be happier.
spring, a call came in on the Stanford Cat Network helpline reporting
an injured cat. The caller was a campus resident who has been feeding
a feral cat in her yard. Recently she noticed a deep gash on the
cats neck and realized he needed veterinary attention.
unimpressed with his visit to the vet.
Two SCN volunteers
responded immediately, and were able to catch the cat with their
nets, safari style. They quickly transported the fearful feline
to a local veterinarian, where the staff works closely with the
Stanford Cat Network and is accustomed to handling feral cats.
the cat, the veterinarian was able to examine the injury. He found
that the wound completely encircled the neck, was infected and contained
maggots. Under general anaesthetic, the vet cleaned out the wound
and removed the dead tissue from the area. Deep within the wound,
he found a leather collar - the cause of the cats pain and
injury. Someone had placed a collar on this cat while he was younger,
and as he grew the collar dug deeper into his neck - restricting
his air passage and eventually causing this terrible wound.
collar was removed and the wound cleaned, the area was stitched
up and antibiotic injections given. Although the cat was on the
road to recovery, he certainly looked strange with his shaven neck
and the row of neat stitches encircling his head. In fact, he looked
like hed had his head sewn on and was dubbed Frankenstein
by the clinic staff. Frankie for short! After a 2 week recovery
period, Frankie was released back to his campus territory where
he is fed and monitored daily by Network volunteers.
help, Frankenstein would have gradually succumbed to the wound as
it grew deeper and affected his airways and vital arteries. What
a terrible fate could have awaited him! This near tragedy illustrates
the importance of caution when placing collars on cats. Not only
can the collar grow into the neck and cause injury or discomfort,
it can get caught on something and choke the cat. Loose collars
are just as dangerous as tight collars because they can get caught
on something or the cat could get the collar into his mouth or under
his arm. To avoid causing such suffering, remember these points:
or Semi-feral cats:
Never place a collar on an unsocialized cat. Feral or semi-feral
cats can be identified using a microchip ID and an ear notch.
Unidentified cats are held for a very short time at shelters, so
it is vital that your cat carries ID in case he is lost. Microchips
provide safe and permanent ID and we highly recommend them, but
they are not visible to people who may find your cat. It is a good
idea to also keep a collar and ID tag on your pet cat, but remember:
1. Always use a break-away collar.
2. Use the smallest tag available, or embroider the phone
number right on the collar. Make sure the numbers are visible and
do not fade or wash away.
3. Check the fit of the collar every few weeks, you should
be able to fit 2 fingers between the collar and your cats
neck. Not too tight, not too loose.
4. Do not place collars on young kittens. Kittens can be
micro-chipped at any age.
types of break-away collars are commercially available, the elastic
stretch type and the break-away buckle type. The elastic type should
yield only enough to allow the collar to slip over the cats
head if he becomes caught.
If you chose
the safety release buckle, test the snap to ensure it will come
apart easily enough to release your cat, but not so easily that
the collar will always come off. There is also a safety collar known
as Slip-Purrz which are beaded safety collars, their
coiled construction means they slip off when caught. Slip-Purrz
are available at www.frogprince.bigstep.com
that cats love to climb and scratch with their claws! They also
love to perch up high and survey their domain. What many people
dont realize is that by providing their cat(s) with their
own furniture, they can not only help avoid such socialization
as furniture scratching, they can have a positive impact on their
cats happiness! Many cats who feel insecure on the floor near
the feet of humans will be much friendlier and outgoing when they
are perched up high, closer to our arm level. Cat trees and climbers
also provide wonderful exercise.
many styles of cat furniture available at pet stores, but often
they can be very expensive. For those of you with a smaller budget
and handy with a few simple tools, making your own cat tree is a
fun weekend activity! Your cat will love you for it - once the noise
of the saw and hammer has gone, that is! In this article, I will
describe how to build a very simple cat tree. For more advanced
designs, go to http://www.amby.com/cat_site/
or simply examine some commercial furniture and improvise!
1 post 4 in length, either 4X4 lumber or 6 diameter
fence post (cedar or redwood is nice)
1 2X2 square of 1 thick plywood
1 16 X 16 square of 3/4 thick plywood
2 1/4 x 3-1/2 lag bolts
2 flat washers (to fit the bolts)
4 1-1/2 wood screws
1 3 nail
double-sided carpet tape
Exacto knife, drill, hammer
30 3/4 wide-head nails(roofing nails)
3 X 5 scrap of carpet
1 X 4 carpet OR 200 untreated sisal rope for the
Tip: Have wood cut to size at lumber store if you dont have
Drill holes in the base for the bolts. Find the center of the square
and mark it with an X. Drill 2 1/4 holes, each
1 from the x on opposite sides of the x.
Cut a piece
of carpet to 2 8 square. Using an exacto knife, remove
a 4 diameter circle from the center of the carpet for the
post to attach through. Apply double-sided carpet tape to the edges
of the wooden base and center it on your carpet square, with tape
side down. Using the knife, cut away the square of carpet from each
corner of the wood (Fig 1). Fold under the edges of the remaining
flaps and then fold the flaps over onto the bottom of the base.
Secure the flaps to the bottom of the base using the roofing nails
Hold the post
against the carpeted side of the base and use the 3 nail to
secure it in place from the bottom. Drill through the existing holes
in the base into the post, then use the lag bolts to secure the
base to the post. You can recess the bolt heads by drilling with
a special drill bit so they will not touch your floor.
tree upright on its base and secure the 16 square of
lighter plywood to the top of the post using the 4 wood screws.
Flip the tree upside down to carpet the perch. Cut a 24 square
of carpet and follow the same procedure described for carpeting
Now, you may
leave the post bare or cover it as you wish. If you are covering
it, turn the tree on its side. Lay a strip of double-sided carpet
tape down the length of the post on one side. For carpet, stick
one edge of the 1 X 4 carpet piece to the tape and roll
the carpet around the post. Turn the other edge under and crease
it, then secure the edge every 6 with the roofing nails. Pound
them in well so they are sunk into the carpet. Make sure the edges
of the carpet are not accessible for scratching, check at the top
and bottom where the post joins the base or perch. You may want
to melt the edges before you carpet the post.
For a sisal
wrapped post, decide where to start the wrapping and secure the
rope to the post with a roofing nail. Wrap tightly around the post,
the tape will help keep the rope in place as you wrap. Every foot
or so and at the end, add a roofing nail to secure the rope. As
with the carpet, pound the nails hard into the post so they are
sunk deep into the rope.
Give the tree
a final check over to make sure there are no protrusions, unravelling
carpet, etc. Place the tree near a window or favorite hangout of
your cat, and rub it in catnip if desired. Remember to check the
tree frequently for signs of wear and unravelling!
notes for building your own or purchasing a tree:
1. Examine your finished product for sharp edges, protruding nails,
etc. Dont use staples to attach carpet.
2. If you carpet your tree ensure all the edges are melted or turned
under so they cannot unravel - cats will chew and swallow the nylon
strings which can cut them internally!
3. Make sure the base is heavy enough to be stable, your cat will
run up the tree and leap off vigorously!
4. Construct the tree in a garage or area away from your cat. Curious
kitty could be hurt or swallow a screw, etc. Likewise, clean up
carefully when finished!
Feel free to
email us with
any questions or for advice!
Program is a Continued Success
year 2001, the Stanford Cat Network found homes for over 60 cats.
That is about 3 times the number adopted during previous years,
and the success was due in most part to increased exposure to a
wider community through our online adoptions and our partnership
We keep all
tame or tamable cats for as long as it takes to find them a loving,
permanent home. To this end, we carefully screen potential adopters
to ensure the best match for each cat. Since we dont have
a shelter, cats are boarded at a vet clinic or kept in foster homes
while they await adoption. Foster homes are difficult to find and
boarding is very costly, so the adoption program is one of our major
expenses. However, it is also one of the most satisfying endeavours
as we see once neglected and abandoned pets flourish in their new
stay in close contact with our adopters, and usually receive regular
updates by email or letter. We like to share these heart-warming
stories, so we established the Happy Tails gallery on
our website featuring photos and stories of adopted cats. If you
have a story or photos of a cat you adopted from the Stanford Cat
Network, please email or mail it to us, wed love to hear from