Saturday, July 15, 2023

Cats and scorched Earth

July's illustration from the 2023 calendar featuring the work of popular Dutch artist Franciens Katten (website, Facebook page). I learned of her amazing work via her daughter, who I met through a Postcrossing exchange; we've been pen pals for several years now.
A Robin Jacques illustration from Ruth Manning-Sanders' A Book of Cats and Creatures (1981).

I got up at my standard hour of 5:30 this morning to check on the outdoor feral cats and start the indoor cat chores. Things are a bit less stressful on the weekends, because I'm not also juggling the start of my remote-work day with the Lancaster newspaper.

In these summer months, it's a bit more urgent to get the feral cats fed during the first couple of hours of light, because soon the temperatures will become brutal and they'll be off to the shadiest spot they can find to wait out the most scorching 12 hours of the day. Some of them start returning between 6-7 p.m.

This morning I had Cirque, Creamy, Fjord, Big Boi and Stubby at the door. Stubby is one of Cirque's five kittens, and it's the only one that comes here for food, to my knowledge. I spot the others in the neighbor's tree or atop the wall that divides our properties. I think Cirque (pictured) is still their main source of nutrition, so I try to make sure she gets access to as much extra food as possible. 

But, yeah, the weather is not really conducive to surviving outdoors at the moment, unless you're a saguaro. Phoenix and the southwestern United States have been making national headlines for this heat wave. These are from The Washington Post in recent days:

The current Phoenix forecast is for 117° F both days this weekend, though other forecasts have predicted that 120° F is possible, especially on Sunday. We tend to run a few degrees "cooler" here in Florence. We're looking a mere 114° F this weekend. One of the other worst parts is that the night-time temperature rarely drops below 90° F anymore. In some areas, it remains as high at 95° F. 

Monsoon season has been late in arriving. I don't believe we've had any measurable rain here in Florence since mid-March. There is some fingers-crossed hope that we'll get some rain within the next week. Maybe the temperature will even drop a few degrees. One can hope.

Anyway, we're in an existential climate crisis. So this is just another tiny dispatch from that crisis, written from the privilege of my air-conditioned house. If you're interested in reading more, Jeff Goodell has just published the very timely book The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet.
I'm going to go check on the cats, indoor and outdoor, now. I can't do much to save the planet, but I can dole out some care and compassion in this tiny corner of the baking desert.
Dec. 26, 2023, caption for the above photo: That's Stubby, left, and Big Boi, pictured in July when they were feral cats. We trapped Stubby, son of Cirque, in late August and brought him inside with two of his siblings (Venus, Mercury) so they could be spayed/neutered and socialized for adoption. They are currently listed for adoption but haven't yet found their forever homes. Big Boi, meanwhile, was trapped by a neighbor in October and neutered. He's now been with us for about a week. The neighbor didn't think he was well enough to be put back outside. We're still assessing him as of this writing. He sleeps a lot and is very sweet.

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