“Roughneck Homes” – Outdoor Protective Cat Shelter Instructions

What are “Roughneck Homes”?

Roughneck Containers are large Rubbermaid Bins used for storing goods in your home or commercial setting and have become a popular means to providing a safe and secure living environment for stray cats. With a little creativity, these containers can be transformed into adequate shelter to protect against environmental and predatorial dangers. Cold weather insulation and feeding stations are also easy improvements in areas where feline lives are at ever greater risk.

Roughneck Homes are easy to make and a lot of fun. Using the instructions and pictures below, you can construct your feral cat shelter in just 15 minutes. Always use the utmost caution when using a blade or knife to make the entrance/exits of your shelter.

 Simon Smith (age 12) pictured with his shelter and cat - Scratches. Simon is the driving force behind the Roughneck Homes Program


Simon Smith (age 12) pictured with his shelter and cat – Scratches. Simon is the driving force behind the Roughneck Homes Program

Depending on the climate, shelter may actually be more important for survival than even food.  Dry, wind-proof shelter can do a large part in fending off frostbite in the ears and paws from elements such as freezing winds, snow and rain.  While feral cats typically build a thick protective coat for winter, the effectiveness of their fur as insulation is greatly reduced as it becomes wet or frozen and can often times result in hypothermia.

“Roughneck Homes” Shelter - Easy to make home suitable for one to two cats

(1)Rubbermaid Tote - 18 GL Pictured. (2) Styrofoam Cooler. (3) Hay or Straw. (4) Duct Tape. (5) Exacto Knife

(1) Rubbermaid Tote – 18 GL Pictured. (2) Styrofoam Cooler. (3) Hay or Straw. (4) Duct Tape. (5) Exacto Knife

Start by cutting a 6" diameter hole in the tote to act as an entrance or exit. *Always cut away from your body*

Start by cutting a 6″ diameter hole in the tote to act as an entrance or exit. *Always cut away from your body*

Insert your StyroFoam cooler insulation and cut a matching 6" diameter hole to match the tote.

Insert your StyroFoam cooler insulation and cut a matching 6″ diameter hole to match the tote.

Add hay or straw in and around the Styrofoam cooler for added insulation, using as much as possible

Add hay or straw in and around the Styrofoam cooler for added insulation, using as much as possible

Add your Styrofoam lid for added insulation. Secure lid in place with a few pieces of duct tape.

Add your Styrofoam lid for added insulation. Secure lid in place with a few pieces of duct tape.

Complete by adding your lid back onto the tote. You may want to place additional duct tape on the lid as well

Complete by adding your lid back onto the tote. You may want to place additional duct tape on the lid as well

From www.erubbermaid.com/roughneck-home

Concept by Indy Feral. Application by Simon Smith (pictured above)

November 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Hero Dog Awards 2014 – and a fun trip to Los Angeles

Susie winnerMy daughter Heather works for Trupanion, a pet insurance company based in Seattle, WA.  They sponsored one of the finalists of the Hero Dog Awards held in Los Angeles this year and Heather was in charge of making all the arrangements for her company for the event.  Since it fell on her son Declan’s first birthday, she asked if I would go with her so she could take Declan and be with him on his birthday.  What a fun trip it was!

Declans first plane ride

Declans first plane ride

Off we flew to the Beverly Hilton where we were met with a nice bottle of Champaign and a platter of assorted fruit, courtesy of the hotel.

s 013s 014Our first night we met my niece and her husband (who, it just so happened, were honeymooning at the same hotel) and went to the Hotel Bel Air for dinner. (One more check off of my bucket list!)

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The next morning, as Heather was whisked off to an event, Declan and I enjoyed our coffee on the veranda.

s 029We managed to get a few pictures with some of the Hero Dog Award finalists.

Declan with Bretagne, winner of the Search and Rescue catagory

Declan with Bretagne, winner of the Search and Rescue category

Over her long career, Bretagne has made a significant contribution to the search and rescue community through her many deployments including the World Trade Center after 9/11, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and Hurricane Rita in 2005. She now continues as an ambassador for search and rescue dogs as she visits elementary schools where she helps first graders learn to read.

Heather and Declan with Susie, winner of the Therapy Dog category, and Hero Dog Award 2014

Heather and Declan with Susie, winner of the Therapy Dog category, and Hero Dog Award of 2014

A puppy that was set on fire and a woman who suffered a brutal dog attack became a dedicated team that eventually changed North Carolina animal-cruelty laws. Susie the Pit Bull mix began life with terror and pain when she was beaten, burned, and abandoned. Susie and her owner both triumphed over pain and fear to become voices for abused animals that have no voice. They visit hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up.

Heather with Kota, winner of the Law Enforcement Dog catagory

Heather with Kota, winner of the Law Enforcement Dog category

A member of the Winchester, Virginia police force, this dog was injured by an eight-foot fall while responding to a burglary in progress. Undeterred, he helped his fellow officers finish the call, fighting with a severely fractured limb to ensure their safety.

Heather with Xena, winner in the Emerging Hero Dog category along with the owners.  Xena is the dog that Trupanion sponsored.

Heather with Xena, winner in the Emerging Hero Dog category.  Xena is the dog that Trupanion sponsored.

This pit bull was knocking on death’s door when she was brought into a Georgia shelter outside Atlanta. Emaciated and dehydrated, she was given just a one percent chance at survival. Unbelievably, she defied the odds, made a full recovery and was adopted by a family with a little boy with autism. Before, the child had closed himself off to the world, but the arrival of Xena sparked something in the child, and now he went from once silent to constantly singing to and chatting with Xena the Warrior Puppy.

We had some free time to enjoy the beautiful pool

Enjoying my niece and her husbands cabana by the pool!

Enjoying my niece and her husbands cabana by the pool!

We even got to take a stroll along Rodeo Drive!

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Aww yes, the LA life!

Ahh yes, the LA life!

Soon it was time for the Award Ceremony.

Heather on the Red Carpet

Heather on the Red Carpet

There were lots of celebrities attending who support the cause.

Heather with Pauley Perrette (Abby from NCIS).  She is a wonderful supporter of the Hero Dog Awards

Heather with Pauley Perrette (Abby from NCIS). She is a wonderful supporter of the Hero Dog Awards

Our last morning in LA, Heather, Declan and I went to Chateau Marmont for brunch.

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A pretty fancy place for Declan to spend his first birthday

A pretty fancy place for Declan to spend his first birthday

I have to include this picture of Johnny Galecki at Chateau Marmont.  I didn’t actually get to see him but my niece and her husband did who stayed there a few days earlier.  I admit watching The Big Bang Theory is one of my guilty pleasures and I was SO bummed that I missed him :-)

Johnny Galecki (Leonard from Big Bang Theory) at Chateau Marmont

Johnny Galecki (Leonard from Big Bang Theory) at Chateau Marmont

After a busy and exciting few days in Los Angeles, we were on our way back to Seattle.

Too much for Declan!  Fast asleep on the plane ride home.

Too much for Declan! Fast asleep on the plane ride home.

It was a wonderful trip for a wonderful event!  Besides enjoying all the fun and beautiful things in LA, it was so heartwarming to hear all the stories of these very deserving dogs.

November 10, 2014 at 8:28 am Leave a comment

Vets Corner: Harmful Household Items

By: Dr Landorf, Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital

In recent weeks several cases have happened that I would like to share as many people do not know the danger of these items.  We all like to feel that we have “puppy proofed” our home against most dangers.  It is amazing how many things that dogs put into their mouths and usually do not have a concern. Here are three things that I have seen only a few times in over 20 years of practice, but are very common.  One is a food that most of us have that we would never think of as dangerous, another is something considered lucky, and the third is known poison that has changed.

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Sour Grapes

Lyla is a sweet mixed breed dog who decided to eat an entire container of raisins.  For humans grapes and raisins are completely safe except for the occasional upset stomach.  For dogs, for some unknown reason, eating grapes or raisins can cause severe acute kidney failure and in some cases be fatal.

Lyla was presented lethargic, with abdominal pain and vomiting after the owner noticed that she had eaten the raisins.  Blood work confirmed that she was in kidney failure.  She was treated for 3 days in intensive care with intravenous fluids and fortunately responded to treatment.  She was left with no permanent damage.  Unfortunately for Lyla and her parents she has no clue about what made her so sick.  The raisins are now on the top shelf of a closed cupboard!

Penny_xray-2_123154

Unlucky Penny

Another case we have recently seen involved a Shih Tzu puppy named Murphy.  Unknown to his owners, Murphy had ingested a penny.   Who would think that something so small and insignificant could cause a problem?  Many children swallow coins including pennies with no ill effects and they pass right through.  For some reason dogs retain them in their stomach allowing the stomach acid to dissolve them.  This releases zinc which is absorbed into the blood stream.  Zinc poisoning in dogs causes a severe anemia in which the red blood cells burst in the blood vessels.  In this puppy an X-ray showed the presence of the penny.  Note how the center of the penny has been eaten away by the stomach acid.  Endoscopy was performed to retrieve the penny.  Unfortunately after removal of the penny and a blood transfusion Murphy passed away.

rat poison

Mouse Bait (and switch)

Ingestion of rodenticides (Mouse and rat poison) are probably the most common toxicity that we see and has been for as long as I remember.  The poison is made to taste good for the rodent to eat, but also tastes good to our best friends.  The vast majority of these poisons have used an active ingredient that prevents blood from clotting and causes the animal to bleed to death internally.  Many years ago they included warfarin which is a short acting anticoagulant.  In recent decades the companies switched to a longer acting anticoagulant which required only one ingestion to cause death.  The substance remains active in the body for about a month.  The good thing about anticoagulant rodenticides was that they took a few days to cause illness and Vitamin K could be used as an antidote.

In the past year companies have changed the active ingredient in an effort to eliminate anticoagulant resistant rats.  The most common anticoagulant in recent years was named brodifacoum.  The new rodenticides include a toxin called Bromethalin.  Bromethalin poisons the central nervous system and can cause tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and death.  There is no antidote.  The treatment involves inducing vomiting if symptoms are not too severe, activated charcoal to prevent absorption, and supportive therapy with IV fluids to flush the pesticide out of the body.  The packaging and material looks exactly the same and there is no test for bromethalin, so it is critical if a pet in your care is exposed to rodenticide to find the packaging if at all possible and look for the active ingredient.

With exposure to any substance that might cause illness it is important to immediately contact the pets’ veterinarian or emergency clinic.  It is an excellent idea to have the number for the ASPCA poison control hotline in your phone.  They can give immediate life saving information over the phone. (There is a charge for this service)  The number is 888-426-4435.

November 8, 2014 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

Dog that went missing in New York found 2 years later in Florida

Nika 03

A dog that went missing in New York more than two years ago turned up alive and well this week — in Florida.
According to Giuseppe DiBella, his 6-month-old toy fox terrier, Nika, vanished from the backyard of his Newburgh, New York, home in May 2012.
“It was one of the most horrible days of my life,” DiBella told New York’s CBS 2.
DiBella spent a year searching animal shelters and distributing missing-dog posters, but he eventually all but gave up hope, buying another dog to replace his beloved pooch.
Last week, he got a phone call from police in Ocala, Florida, informing him that Nika had been found on the doorstep of local home.

nika_the_dog_0916
“I said, ‘All right, I’m coming,’” DiBella said. “‘Where are you?’ They said, ‘We are in Marion County.’ I said, ‘Where in Marion County?’ They said, ‘In Florida.’ I said, ‘I’m in New York!’”
According to Florida animal officials, Nika was identified by her microchip at an Ocala animal shelter.
“I was feeling, like, biblical — when the son comes back to the father, you know, those kind of things,” DiBella said.
DiBella’s family friend in Florida is caring for Nika until the pair can be reunited.
It’s not clear how the 5-pound hound made it from Newburgh to Ocala, roughly 1,090 miles away. DiBella believes Nika was stolen while he was mowing his lawn.
“Nika’s story is a beautiful example of the value of microchips,” Marion County Animal Services director Deborah Horvath said in a press release. “Collars and tags can be removed or lost, but microchips provide a lifelong means of identification. Microchips help reunite countless families, whether the stray animal is one or 1,000 miles away from home. We encourage all pet owners to microchip their pets.”

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According to a 2012 study of animal shelters by the Humane Society, more than half (52 percent) of dogs with microchips were reunited with their owners, while 22 percent without microchips returned home.
By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News

September 18, 2014 at 4:10 am Leave a comment

Cats may be better off eating wet food, vets now say

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By Patty Khuly
khulyp@bellsouth.net

Q: Years ago, I distinctly remember reading that dry food was best for cats. But now our new and very young veterinarian says that wet food is better. I know that new veterinarians are up on all the latest information, but I’m a little unsure what to think, especially since the Internet goes both ways on the subject. What’s the truth?

cats eating canned food 3

 

A: The truth is we’re not sure. Nonetheless, several recent studies seem to point in the wet-is-best direction. Though dry food might still be better for getting some of that tartar off their teeth, veterinary dentists aren’t so sanguine about this approach to getting teeth clean. Relying on crunchy food in lieu of brushing is like expecting an apple a day to keep your dentist away. Upshot: Don’t rely on kibbled food in the dental department.

Moreover, it has been clear to veterinarians for years now that cats with specific health concerns, particularly when it comes to urinary tract health, are decidedly better off eating wet foods. Though diets formulated for “urinary tract health” abound, no independent studies exist to prove that most of these foods help treat or prevent urinary tract disease.

The only solid studies we have to go on do, however, demonstrate that wet diets can help manage the symptoms related to urinary tract diseases and even obesity in cats.

On the urinary side, wet diets appear to help manage kidney disease, urinary crystal formation, bladder stones, and feline idiopathic cystitis (the inflammatory condition that causes bloody urine and frequent urination).

cats eating canned food

 

As to obesity: Several recent studies also indicate that feeding wet diets to cats (or even moistened kibble) can help cats lose weight. That’s because cats taking in water along with their solid foods are more active than straight-up kibble eaters.

Wild and feral cats get most of their moisture from the animals they hunt and kill. Consequently, cats drink very little water. And since cats originally evolved in a desert environment, this adaptation to a moist diet makes perfect sense.

cats eating canned food 2

 

Now, why it would make them more active as a result hasn’t been puzzled out yet. In any case, I recommend you consider feeding your cats a wet diet. It may be messier but is probably worth it.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami.

 

August 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

LJ and the Caterpillars

LJ and I have been spending a lot of time recently talking about caterpillars. One day a couple of months ago all of a sudden caterpillars started to appear around the house. He was so excited to see these little fuzzy crawly creatures and just couldn’t get enough of them.

LJ showing Grandpa Louie his caterpillar

LJ showing Grandpa Louie his caterpillar

There's a caterpillar crawling on my arm!

There’s a caterpillar crawling on my arm!


I told LJ the story of the life of a caterpillar. First a caterpillar hatches from an egg. Then the caterpillar is VERY hungry so he eats lots of leaf salad.
Caterpillar eating leaf salad

Caterpillar eating leaf salad


Then the caterpillar’s tummy is so full he makes himself a sleeping bag and falls asleep.
A few caterpillar "sleeping bags" that we found on the deck

A few caterpillar “sleeping bags” that we found on the deck


When he wakes up after a long sleep he turns into a butterfly!
We were SO excited when a butterfly came to say hello on the screen door!

We were SO excited when a butterfly came to say hello on the screen door!


I bought LJ The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
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LJ LOVES the part about the caterpillar turning into a butterfly!

LJ LOVES the part about the caterpillar turning into a butterfly!


We made egg carton caterpillars

We made egg carton caterpillars


We ate caterpillar pancakes

We ate caterpillar pancakes


Then it was time to go to the Butterfly House at the Seattle Science Center.
What a BIG caterpillar!

What a BIG caterpillar!


SO many caterpillar "sleeping bags"!

SO many caterpillar “sleeping bags”!


LJ watching the butterflies eating

LJ watching the butterflies eating


There's more butterflies!

There’s more butterflies!


After a wonderful time at the Butterfly House we walked to the fountain to have our lunch and talk about all the wonders of caterpillars!
My sweet LJ having his lunch at the fountain at Seattle Center

My sweet LJ having his lunch at the fountain at Seattle Center

July 27, 2014 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

Cat Found 500 Miles From Home

Ashley Moore was reunited with her cat Ava, who was found 500 miles from home

Ashley Moore was reunited with her cat Ava, who was found 500 miles from home


Ava, a 2-year-old Tiffany cat, was reunited with her owner, Ashley Moore, in Georgia Saturday. The cat disappeared from Moore’s Brookhaven, Georgia, home last month and was found in Vero Beach, Florida, four days later. The woman who found Ava wandering brought her to the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County, where the staff discovered her microchip. The phone number listed had been disconnected, but they were able to send a letter to Moore’s father saying Ava was safe and staying at the shelter. Moore thinks Ava may have hidden underneath a vehicle or in a U-Haul moving truck for the trip. When Moore’s plans to have the cat transported 500 miles back home fell through, the shelter’s director of animal care stepped in to help, driving Ava to Georgia to be reunited with her owner. “I guess Ava decided to take a vacation in Vero Beach, but I’m so happy she’s finally back with me,” Moore said.
Story courtesy of VetSTREET

July 14, 2014 at 12:56 am 1 comment

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