Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fostering furry babies

It has been a long time since my past post ... am back with a resolution to be more regular. One thing (or rather five!) that has been taking center stage at home is this litter of five kittens that we have been fostering for a month now. Austin Pets Alive rescues dogs and cats, including those in line for euthanasia at the shelter, and tries to get them adopted over time. In order to make room for more animals, they send little baby animals to fosters who care for them until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and offered for adoption.

These babies came to us when they were 2 weeks old. Three black kittens, all female, and two tuxedo kittens, one male and one female. All five of the same litter.

At two weeks they had to be bottle fed every couple of hours. They all lived in our cat carrier, sleeping in a tight bundle of arms, legs, tails and whiskers over a heated pad and towels. They would start squealing as soon as we entered the room, and would tumble out of the carrier, groping wildly for the bottle.

Once they finished eating, they had to be "stimulated", since they didn't know how to go to the bathroom on their own. Small wet wipes wiping their rear would feel like mom licking them to teach them how to do it, and all of them would deposit the required treasures on cue.

They also had to be weighed to make sure they were growing at the correct rate. This was easier said than done. They refused to sit in the container, and would fall out as soon as we placed them on the scale. What worked in the end was a small cardboard box into which we would pack the kitten for a few seconds while we weighed them. They all weighed around 200-250 gms when they arrived.

Now they are close to 950 gms, and are boisterous little rascals. They live in the bathroom upstairs, and are constantly at work, demolishing what they can of what ever is in there. They come out to another room several times a day to play, and flit about with extremely short attention spans, play-fighting, chewing everything in sight, and running around at top speed.

Don't be fooled by these innocent little faces. They are naughty little devils that will entertain you for hours together, as long as you keep your arms and legs out of line or their razor sharp claws will slice you open. :)

This is Annie, the runt of the litter. She was always a fussy eater, and needs special attention because she doesn't believe in wasting time eating. She is super active though, and if there is a tussle going on, she is sure to be in the center of it.

Andy is the lone boy in this litter, and has a hard time keeping up with his five bratty sisters. He is growing bigger now, and is also very active and playful. He is always ready for a cuddle though, and will lie on his side quietly if you start to pet him.

Amelia is the only long-haired kitten in this litter, and is adorable and soft. She is extemely playful, and it's hard to put her down because she is so easy to fall in love with. She goes on and on like an energizer bunny, but when she's tired, she will lie down and fall asleep in the middle of the action.

Allie is the other tuxedo kitten. She has the prettiest pink lips ever, so we call her sweet lips. She is a little scared of loud noises and sudden movements, but has to keep up with her rowdy siblings to survive. She is the prettiest kitten in this litter, and is sure to find a family soon.

Addie is a little quieter than her siblings and loves to be cuddled, and will attach herself to you if she knows you might pet her.

We are hoping these sweet kittens find adoptive families soon and go to good, loving homes. But for now, they are our therapy kittens, for just a few minutes sitting with them drains away all the stress of the day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Peacocks in Austin's Rescue Zoo

I don't usually like to go to zoos, but the Austin zoo is an exception. That is because it is a rescue zoo and sanctuary.

Last weekend while we were there, I was totally captivated by the peacocks and peahens that wander about freely within the zoo, hopping in and out of other enclosures at will.

I have seen several peacocks in India and here in the US, but I am always still awed by the extreme ostentatiousness of their plumage. How complex the combination of colors are! I wonder if they know how striking their appearance is.

They must be pretty used to the attention they get, because they pretty much ignored me as I stalked them with my camera.

As the sun started to go down, many of them suddenly launched into this cacophony of screams and calls ...

... and fanned out their feathers as they walked about with heads held high.

Of course, the lady looked pretty unimpressed. I wish she hadn't been sitting against those trees, or I could've got a better picture of her.

I had a collection of peacock feathers as a kid in India, and remember well how soft and silky the shiny feathers are.

The weather is turning warm here, but the wildflowers still linger. Spring has taken its time here this year. Wishing you a colorful week, until next time ...

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's wildflower season in Austin!

It's been almost three months since my last post, and I've been trying to get motivated to start blogging again. And spring in Austin brought me the motivation I was looking for! It's been a very wet winter here, with lots and lots of rain. Maybe as a result, the roadsides are completely bursting with color now - it's wildflower season in Austin!

Carpeting the grassy slopes on the sides of the road is the Texas state flower - the blue bonnet. Dotting the fresh green foliage everywhere are its striking blue petals with pearl-like white tips. To add to the splash of color, there is the bright orange Texas paintbrush - its flower is actually small and yellow, but more prominent are its flame-orange bracts.

This highway runs outside our subdivision and I've been seeing this vision along the roadside all week as I've driven by. Today, finally, I took my camera, got off the road and took some pictures.

Sitting amongst the flowers, I noticed hundreds of tinier flowers, in yellow, magenta and pink, in addition to the blue bonnets and paintbrush that are visible from a distance. The fragrance there was out of this world. I really didn't want to leave.

Spring is so fleeting in Austin ... all this will melt away soon and the dreaded Texas heat will soon be in place. I guess such is life ... But for now, I am breathing deeply and savoring this beautiful season in Austin.