Empty Cages Collective – Got the Jimmy Legs

Empty Cages Collective

She's gonna love me in my Chevy van

Lucy makes sure nothing happens to the cat food

You people with cars won't understand this, but sometimes we sit around and discuss all the things we could do if we had one. How we could go to Ikea, to Costco, to the Catskills (I don't know why we bring that up, neither of us knows anything about the Catskills). The idea that we could have something to not only transport us around but also hold heavy items so that we may bring them to our door, well, let's just say we understand the allure.

Eventually these conversation descend into all the reasons we SHOULDN'T ever have a car: the costs, the worries about theft, the moving from one side of the street to the other all the time. So we end feeling pleased we are still reliant on mass transit. But this weekend we were able to tool around and block the box like all those SOBs who act like they don't see me jaywalking on 23rd St.

Empty Cages had put out a request for a washing machine, and a woman offered up her washer and dryer for free. Someone would need to go get them, but nearly every member of the group was working an adoption event scheduled for the same day. They needed a Transporter.

I saw this not only as an opportunity to help out the group but to turn the whole thing to my selfish advantage and take the van out shopping after my chores were done. So I picked up the van at my favorite Uhaul spot in East New York where the receptionist calls everybody "Honey" and your transactions are constantly interrupted by people buying bags of ice (their other business) and people yelling at each other loudly. I got the van and an appliance dolly and started up to the BQE. Before getting on the highway, I stopped off at a friend's house to finally pick up the air conditioner she said I could have months before. Originally I intended to use this AC myself, but somehow I promised it to Empty Cages along the way (maybe it's a cult). With the AC stowed, I was off to Bay Ridge.

I got there way faster than I thought (thank you Robert Moses), located the apartment and found the donators ready for me. The woman's burly son, along with his burly friend, were ready with the washer/dryer. These things were huge, front-loading machines, the washing machine itself weighing almost 250 pounds. With effort we got them into the van with millimeters to spare.

As I headed up to the shelter space, I was already doing the math: 2 Burly Guys + Me = Barely got it into the van, therefore me + [UNKNOWN] = spinal injury. I got up to the space and amassed a few people to help move them. It didn't look good, unfortunately it appears that cat rescue attracts few really muscular people. But lucky for us, some truly tough guys were right down the block.

There's been a big bus on the block for a while now, all painted and graffiti-covered, and big dudes are always around working on it. It's one of those biodiesel conversions, which is better for the environment (even better for it is the fact that it hasn't moved in weeks). We asked a couple of the guys if they would help and they agreed.

We tried to pitch in but they basically did all the work, strapping the machines to the dolly and lugging it up the narrow stairs. Their only remuneration: they wanted to meet the roosters (liberated from cockfighting dens in the Bronx). They said they hear them crowing all the time and had wondered where it came from. The rooster complied loudly.

With the machines dropped off, the job was essentially over. This gave me the perfect excuse to commandeer the van and use it to my own nefarious purposes. I drove home, picked up Jeannie and we drove to the Sunset Park Costco.

I haven't been in a wholesale store in years and Jeannie had never been. It's pretty overwhelming at first. We got memberships and ID card and waded through the enormous crowds with our oversize cart. We knew we wanted cat supplies but we didn't have a list or even a clear idea of what Costco carried. I was convinced they would have 'everything' from kitty litter to furniture, while Jeannie thought it would be far more limited. The truth was somewhere in the middle, an odd collection of stuff with no discernible theme. You could buy 20-packs of bar soap, but they didn't carry Ivory. You could select from a huge variety in brands of laundry detergent but no one brand had the oil-drum size I was searching for. However in some areas they had exactly what we were looking for.

I had been told by Lisacat that Costco carried a decent-quality cat food, and indeed, it is higher quality that it has any need to be. It's all chicken and rice, no wheat and no meat by-products. It's sold in 25-lb. bags, of which we bought 5. They also had cases of canned Friskies which we also picked up. But there wasn't much else in the way of cat supplies, just some Iams and 40-lb. buckets of Scoop Away litter (we bought one even though I find Scoop Away overly perfumey). I still can't figure out why the cat food was so premium when they don't appear to have much interest in cats beyond these few supplies, but I'll take it.

After getting that, everything else was gravy. The place is huge; at first I thought it was merely big until I realized there was a whole other floor to the place. We bought as much stuff as we could justify and by the time we got to the check-out, we both had to push the cart, it was so heavy. We lucked with a short check-out line and got back to the van in plenty of time (and oh yeah, we stopped at the liquor store next door and bought a couple of huge bottles of Jim Beam, just in case we need several gallons of whiskey soon).

We got the stuff home and dumped it off (the cats were very excited to see the cat food so it had to be stowed in the bathroom until we could deal with it). We got the van back before the office closed, so we didn't have to worry about getting up in the morning to return it. I can't believe it all went down without any mishaps, usually these vehicle encounters always result in some injury, however small. But I managed to drive without running into anything/anybody, and near as I can figure the equipment we transported suffered no real damage. Mission Accomplished.

So it was fun having an excuse to drive around and do stuff in a car, but by the end of the day I was happy to return it and walk away. There's just too many things to worry about when you own a car, and I got enough stuff to obsess over these days. But maybe I will sign up for that Zipcar thing, although I'm not sure it's worth it when the Uhaul van is closer and cheaper. And really, is there anything cooler than driving a cargo van that tells everyone how cheap you are?

I skipped the line, I paid my dime

In an effort to both clean up this site a little and cross-pollinate my stuff, I edited this home page slightly. I've added a list of cats we have up for adoption, which I assume I'll keep updated as needed. Now, normally we only advertise for cats who are currently under our roof, and several of these cats are not technically residents. But they live right outside among the ferals, but have proven themselves tame and friendly enough to warrant a mention. I've also included longtime holdouts Augie and Marbles; I don't really think they'll get adopted as they are really bad at selling themselves … and we've sort of gotten attached to them in the meantime. But hey, if the right people come along, who knows? So that leaves Spike and Haley as 'classic' adoptable cats, living with us but with every intention to move them out once we find a decent home.

Spike is still with us, we've decided he can only go to a home as an only-cat. He just doesn't get along with other cats well enough. He's a real people-pleaser otherwise. Haley finally got spayed a few days ago, so she's all set. I'm having a hard time describing her personality since most of the time we had her she was in heat. She's very different now that she's not constantly rolling around yowling, holding her butt up in the air and running in place. Time will tell.

You may also note Ainslie on the adoption list, he's a recent TNR guy who just decided to reveal how tame he is as well. I kinda figured he was tame but I thought it would take months to win him over. Naw; just a plate of canned food did it. The number of tame cats around is setting a dangerous precedent (namely, our house full of tame cats) so we're trying to be more aggressive with the adoptions. If we can't find a good home for Spike, we're campaigning to get him in on an Empty Cages Collective Adoption Event, which have a great track record for finding homes. Haley will also get in on this, although there's a waiting list for getting in. How New York.

Empire building

I can't believe how hard a time we're having in finding a home for Spike, the white Angora cat we took in a little while ago. We keep getting weirdos who string us along for weeks and then disappear right at the moment they're supposed to come meet him in person. I keep thinking it's one person who keeps using different email addresses, but unless they're spoofing IP addresses all over the city, it's separate individuals. Super lame. I think people think they will respond to an adoption ad and then, minutes later, go to an undisclosed location to pick up their briefcase full of kitty. Come on, people, we've got to at least attempt to establish some background before handing out cats. Oh well, try, try again.

I wouldn't mind so much but you see, we're all full up with cats. I know I've said it before but summer hasn't even begun and we've got cats everywhere. Two of the back yard cats who were presumed to be feral have turned out to be more tame and friendly than the indoors cats! So we gotta find them homes as well.

And then there's Haley, a young cat we trapped a little while ago. We'd never seen her before the night she turned up in the trap. She also turned out to be very friendly, but was skin and bones and sporting a hugely infected abscess which manifested itself as a big hole on her shoulder. She recovered from her injuries at Empty Cages Collective, and once she was well enough, we brought her back home to finish her convalescence. She still needs to be vaccinated and spayed so she's kept separate from the other cats. It looks like we'll have to wait until the end of the month to get her spayed; we could get fixed sooner but it would require getting her ear tipped. And I don't wanna do that anymore if at all possible, not for tame, adoptable cats.

Meanwhile I have been having a helluva time getting this guy to come out and give me an estimate on replacing our back door, but he finally made it over yesterday (2 hours late). We're also probably putting a fence in, and THAT guy has been giving me the runaround for weeks. This is not even mentioning the first fence guy who came over, duly measured the yard and discussed options, only to never ever call me back with an estimate. What's up with that? So I called Skilled Fencing they are a lot more professional and came out and installed the new fence. In an effort to bridge all my problems, I am in the process of teaching the cats to build a fence and replace a door. Results have been mixed so far, they have a lot of energy but I'm having trouble finding tools small enough for them to hold.

I'll be back when I have something interesting to report!

Evil is his one and only name

I just finished a huge project at work and am loath to do anything else productive today, so let's catch up. We're back on the foster cat wagon, this time with a stray who showed up in the yard recently. We've been calling him Winger but we may change that to something more appropriate as we learn his personality. And that personality is evil.

Well, he's not exactly evil, he can be very sweet. He loves being petted and will roll all around and sit in your lap and let you carry him around at length. But before you get to do this, you'll get the hissing of a lifetime! He hisses more than any tame cat I've ever seen, it's almost like he doesn't know what hissing means. His new thing is to let me pet him for a while and then when I turn to go he hisses viciously and swats at my leg. I understand that maybe he doesn't want me to go, but jeez, learn some manners, buddy!

He has a variety of other behaviors that mystify me, like how he won't eat all of his food at once like all my cats (obviously he's never lived on the street where every meal could be your last). He won't play with the string-on-a-stick toy that has converted even the stodgiest feral cat. He meows with a hoarse, hollow sound not unlike the wail of a ghost.

But I have a new theory that explains nearly everything about him: he's an evil supervillain's cat. It makes perfect sense, evil supervillains love long-haired white cats, and some of their personality is bound to rub off on their pet. Who knows what happened to this guy's evil owner? Dropped down a chimney? Frozen in space? The mind reels. So now the real trick is, where do evil supervillains go to adopt their evil sidekick cats?

Possibly a futuristic, mobile adoption device, hell-bent on the uncompromising, total adoption of every cat in the 5 boros? Yes. It's the North Shore Animal League Mobile Adoption Van, coming to the corner of N. 7th & Bedford in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this Saturday at Noon. Step out of the L train station and see a big-ass bus loaded with mostly Empty Cages Collective cats and kittens. Our man may be there if there's room, but I need to de-evil him a little more to make him tolerant of non-evil adopters.