Tag Archives: TNR

My Final Message- originally posted 10-31-2013

My Disciples,

If you are reading this, I have departed. Let us first just acknowledge the weight of that. Our journey together was not nearly as long as I hoped it would be, but please know that it has been an honor to have met so many wonderful people, furred and non-furred, and to have shared the trials and triumphs of My life with you.

Otis Honored

It has been an honor.

I know that during My long convalescence many of you were hoping and praying for a miracle to happen that would save My life, and it may seem like that miracle didn’t happen. But I need you to understand something. That miracle did happen. It did happen, and it did save My life, but it happened at the beginning, not the end.

Otis in the wilderness

The miracle happened at the beginning, not the end.

The miracle that saved My life happened seven years ago when two humans looked out into their yard and saw a desperate, starving kitten looking back at them.  They didn’t know who I was or where I had come from. They didn’t know what potential lay within Me, or the cat that I could become. They only knew that I needed their help. The miracle happened when they made the choice to rescue Me.

Otis's miracle

This was the miracle.

Had the Guardians not made that one, simple choice, I might have slipped into The Shadows forever. I would not have experienced seven blissful years filled with love and happiness in their care. I would never have met The Brothers, or Thomas, or Mama Cat. You would not know Me, or even know that I ever existed. There would be no Cult of Otis because there would be no Otis. In My darkest hour I needed a miracle and I got it, and the life I lived afterward was better than I could have ever imagined.

Otis living the good life

I loved my life.

As all lives must, My life has come to an end. I know that, due to My young age, My end may seem tragically premature, but a life should be judged by its quality, not its length. I had a rich, full life, and all of you helped make it even more so. For that you have My everlasting gratitude.

Otis thanks

Thank you all for enriching My life.

But now I must finally say it, My Disciples, the hardest word of all.


Although My spirit has departed, a part of Me will remain. When you look out into the world without walls and see a cat in need looking back at you, I will be there by your side. You will feel My soft breath on your cheek and My purrs of encouragement in your ear. Listen closely, and through the purrs you will hear My final commandment come to you in a whisper.

Be the miracle.

So Sayeth Otis

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Abe and Olive

Disciples of Otis,

Brother Oliver here.

First off, let me just say that Brother Henry is still recovering from his mouth surgery. He’s had several “ouchy” moments in recent days which we are all hoping is just because he is not yet healed, and not because his original problem is still bothering him. It’s too soon to tell at this point, but please keep him in your thoughts and purrs. Now, on to today’s business.

Limbo kitty Abe was making steady progress toward trusting the Guardians. They set up a little lean-to Toastitron on the front porch to keep him close, and he was using it all the time.

Abe waiting for food

This photo was taken before the Toastinator was added, but this is what Abe’s lean-to Toastitron looks like.

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The Fifth Commandment of Otis

My Disciples,

Today I bring you My fifth commandment.  In some circles this commandment is considered controversial.  But after wandering alone in the wilderness Myself, and seeing the fate of so many other cats that did the same, I am strongly convinced that this is an important commandment to follow to ensure that we are protecting kitties from undue suffering.  The fifth commandment is:

Thou shalt not TNR feral cats unless they are being “returned” to safe, enclosed environments.  If no safe, enclosed environments are available, thou shalt trap feral cats and take them to a shelter or veterinarian for humane euthanasia.

TNR is short for “Trap, Neuter, Return.”  It is the practice of capturing feral cats, surgically sterilizing them and then returning them to where they were found.  In most cases the cats also have a portion of their ear cut off so that they will be identifiable in the future, and feeding stations are often maintained in areas where the cats are living.  The practice is intended to reduce the number of feral and free-roaming cats by reducing their reproductive capacity, but it neglects to address the suffering that these animals experience while in an unprotected, free-living state.

An orange tabby cat sits in a field in Seattle's Discovery Park.  His left ear is notched.

This presumably feral cat was spotted in Seattle's Discovery Park. His left ear is notched, indicating that he was part of a TNR program.

The wild world is no place for a domestic cat, whether feral or tame.  Fear and suffering is all that world has to offer.  Humans should strive to end the unnecessary suffering of domestic cats whenever and wherever they are able.  Please do not let feral cats that you encounter continue to wander alone in the shadows, and if you capture them, please do not make them undergo surgery and then cast them back into the shadows to continue their suffering.  If possible, let them live out their lives in the safe confines of an enclosure.  If that is not possible, please give them gift of a humane release from their suffering through euthanasia.

So Sayeth Otis

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True Faces of the Saints: St. Spot

My Disciples,

Today I bring you the true face of Saint Spot, Patron Saint of the Compassionate Act for the Cult of Otis.  May his story bring comfort and strength to all who wish to help end the silent suffering of My feline brothers and sisters that are lost in the shadows.


Saint Spot:  Patron Saint of the Compassionate Act card.

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St. Spot- Patron Saint of the Compassionate Act

Spot was a young, unaltered tom that was likely a second or third generation feral. He was completely terrified of people but could not survive without the food that they offered. If left completely to his own devices he likely would have died of starvation, disease, being hit by a car or some other very unpleasant event. If he had been trapped, neutered and returned he would have had to suffer the terror of capture, the fear associated with being in an unfamiliar, human-dominated environment, the trauma and disorientation of being anesthetized, the confusion of waking up with post-surgery pain, and the shock of being released back out into the world before his surgery site had even healed. Once again abandoned in a world with no protection he would have then suffered the same fate (death by disease, starvation, being hit by a car, or other) that he would have before all of this was done to him. His ability to reproduce would have been eliminated, but his ability to suffer the pain and anguish of his shadowy existence would have still been intact. This was not to be his fate. Spot was captured, taken to a shelter and humanely euthanized. Both his reproductive potential and his potential for suffering were eliminated by a compassionate act.

Saint Spot reminds those that are working to end the tragedy of feral cats that humane euthanasia really is a compassionate course of action for these suffering souls. While we may be able to rationalize releasing cats by saying things like, “anything is better than death…,” this is not necessarily true. All cats will eventually die. Feral cats will most likely die a prolonged or gruesome death that we would never wish on any animal. If they have been trapped, altered and returned, they will likely not go into a trap again. This means that if they are seen to be suffering at some point in the future, you will not have the opportunity to make sure that the suffering does not go on any longer than it has to. But more likely than not, you won’t see their suffering. Like most ferals, they will die alone. If you make the compassionate choice when the animal is first captured, you can ensure that their life ends with dignity, and without prolonged suffering. Saint Spot attempts to give people the strength to make that compassionate, selfless choice in spite of the emotional pain they may feel as a result.

A spotted gray tabby sits among green plants.

The true face of Spot.

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True Faces of the Saints: St. Shadow

My Disciples,

Today I bring you the true face of Saint Shadow, Patron Saint of the Shadow Cats for the Cult of Otis.  May he watch over all feral cats and those that work to end their suffering.

So Sayeth Otis


Saint Shadow: Patron Saint of the Shadow Cats card.

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St. Shadow- Patron Saint of Shadow Cats

As his name suggests, Shadow was usually only seen as a dark figure retreating from the gaze of humans. Like all feral cats, he lived in the shadowy world between wildness and domesticity, doomed to exist in the former but longing for the latter. His life consisted of terrified moments with only brief respite as he rapidly devoured human-supplied food. When he did meet the gaze of a human, there was a moment’s pause in which his painful, torn-between-worlds experience was clearly visible on his face, and then he would run. He would approach no trap, nor would he trust any human hand. A human choice sometime in the past banished him to a lifetime in the shadows.

Shadow watches over all cats that are living in the shadows. He attempts to give them courage to accept the help of those that are attempting to bring them to the light. He also gives courage to all those that attempt to bring feral cats in from the wilderness, shining light on their plight and ensuring that they do not have to suffer any longer than is absolutely necessary.

A long-haired, black cat pauses over a dish of food.

The true face of Shadow as he was partaking of food left out by the Guardians.

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Kitty Power Pose #1: The Serious leader

My Disciples,

As I mentioned a few days ago, I decided to create a new photo series featuring Me in compelling poses.  I wanted the photos to be an inspiration for kitties and guardians alike to try to bring out the best within themselves.  Although the test shoot was a bit of a disaster, I have none-the-less continued to work with the Guardians of Otis to realize my vision.  Today I bring you pose #1 in the Kitty Power series which I call “The Serious Leader.”  I hope it will be suitably inspiring!

So Sayeth Otis

Otis poses in soft light with a very serious look on his face.

The Serious Leader.

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True Faces of the Saints: St. Pumpkin

My Disciples,

Today I bring you the true face of Saint Pumpkin, Patron Saint of the Disappeared for the Cult of Otis.  May her story serve as a reminder of the risks associated with allowing kitties to have unfettered access to the unprotected out-of-doors.

So Sayeth Otis


Saint Pumpkin:  Patron Saint of the Disappeard card.

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St. Pumpkin- Patron Saint of the Disappeared

Pumpkin was a petite, light-gray tabby with a bulls-eye pattern. Her story is similar to that of many feral, stray or otherwise outdoor cats. One day she was around, the next she was gone, never to be seen again. Her fate is unknown. She simply disappeared.

Saint Pumpkin gives strength to those who are feeling torn about not letting their cats have unfettered access to the unprotected out-of-doors. She is a reminder of what very commonly happens with uncontained cats. She attempts to comfort the families of cats who have disappeared, while at the same time making sure that they do not forget their pain so they do not make the same mistake with cats under their guardianship in the future.

Pumpkin, a light gray marbled tabby.

The true face of Pumpkin as she pauses next to a bowl of food left out by the Guardians of Otis.

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True Faces of the Saints: St. Mr. Man

My Disciples,

Today I bring you the true face of Saint Mr. Man:  Patron Saint of the FIV Positive for the Cult of Otis.  May he watch over all of My feline brothers and sisters out there that are living with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

So Sayeth Otis


Saint Mr. Man:  Patron Saint of the FIV Positive card.

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St. Mr. Man- Patron Saint of the FIV Positive

Mr. Man was a large, unaltered tom that was constantly fighting with other cats. He was also constantly showing signs of illness, and his health was slowly deteriorating. Fortunately, he entered a live trap and was captured. Completely feral, in poor health and FIV positive, Mr. Man’s suffering was ended through humane euthanasia.

Saint Mr. Man watches over cats who are living with FIV. If they are feral, he attempts to give them the courage to enter a trap so they can find release from their suffering as well as eliminate the chance that they will spread the disease to others. For FIV positive cats with guardians, Saint Mr. Man attempts to help these animals stave off infections and stay in good health.

Mr. Man- A gray, tiger-striped tabby with nicks in his ears and one eye partially shut and infected.

The true face of Mr. Man. The effects of his illness and fighting are clearly visible.

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True Faces of the Saints: St. Marvie

My Disciples,

Today I bring you the true face of Saint Marvie:  Patron Saint of Forgiveness for the Cult of Otis.  She was my sister, and her story, more than any other, is very difficult for the Guardians and Me.  In fact, the pain we felt over her loss is directly responsible for the creation of the Cult of Otis.  Please read and share her story so that it may help other kitties that are lost in the wilderness.

So Sayeth Otis

Saint Marvie:  Patron Saint of Forgiveness card.

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St. Marvie- Patron Saint of Forgiveness

Marvie was believed to have been Otis’s sister. That knowledge makes her story an even more difficult one to tell. At some point in Marvie’s first or second year of life, she was live-trapped, spayed, the tip of her right ear was cut off and she was abandoned back into the outdoors. It is questionable whether or not the person responsible for this even provided food for her after the fact as Marvie was frequently spotted in Otis’s backyard, hungry and in need of a meal. Understandably, she was extremely distrustful of people and would not go near a live trap. Eventually, when the rest of Otis’s flock had either been captured or disappeared, Marvie began to warm to the Guardians of Otis. Through 6 months of patient work, she progressed all the way to the point where she would allow herself to be pet for short periods of time. Just as it looked as if she would be able to make the transition to living indoors with Otis and his family, she disappeared. She reappeared a week later with signs of a severe respiratory infection. In her weakened state she was again terrified of people and could not be approached or captured to accept aid. She slowly wasted away for 5 days until she was weak enough to be captured. By then the only help that she could be given was a humane release from her suffering.

Saint Marvie’s eventual trust of the Guardians of Otis demonstrated the enormous capacity she had for forgiveness. She had been badly betrayed by humans in her past, but in time she was able to face her fears and lower her guard enough to make a connection with people who cared deeply about her. It is very likely that, had she been worked with earlier in her life when she was first trapped, Marvie could have made the transition to life in a loving family just as Otis had. Even in spite of the pain of her past, she was well on her way to making that transition when disease took her. Saint Marvie watches over cats who have been wrongly identified as ferals and trapped, altered and released. She tries to give them the courage to face their fears and seek out humans who will recognize their plight and bring them in from the shadows. She also gives strength and patience to humans that are trying to reach these cats, and she attempts to give them comfort if they are unable to reach them or if they lose them.

Marvie, a medium-haired gray tabby sits in a box and faces the camera.  Her right ear is missing about a half-inch at the tip.

The true face of Marvie. Her right ear tip has been cut off, indicating that someone trapped her, spayed her and put her back out in the wilderness.


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