Tuesday, 13 May 2014


1. A miserable failure.

Yesterday afternoon, on my way to pick up my clapped out desktop computer, I called in at our shop and found myself booked to collect a cat and keep it until had been vaccinated against cat flu and transferred to our re-homing centre at Ferry Farm Kennels.

The kindly couple who had arranged it, picked -pause typing to empty a foul smelling freshly soiled litter tray and swear irritatedly at the cat responsible- me up at the appointed time, which was just as well because the location was in South Shields and I'd have had great difficulty finding the place if I'd been driving there. Its elderly owner had died and there was only one relative to clear the (council) house. The cat had spent most of that time locked in a room with minimal cleaning up after it. I'd been warned the house smelled a bit but laughed that off as I live in a house with 7 adult cats and four kittens none of which go outside.

It smelled. Pungently. Very pungently.

The cat had been locked in a room, bare of furniture bar a small set of drawers, and with only a window to look out of for entertainment, also minus a litter tray. Not surprising it wasn't in a good mood and it hissed loudly at me despite my gentle approach. It refused the offer to smell my fingers and jumped down off the window. I kept on making reassuring sounds but to no avail and wouldn't let me get close.

When I did manage to get within grabbing distance, it reacted violently. This happened several times so I picked up a curtain from the floor and made a number of attempts to catch him. When I did the cat reacted like a fiend from hell and I just could not hold him and received several bloody scratches for my efforts despite wearing gardening gloves. 

I finally did manage to get a good grip on him and almost had him in the carrier when he upped his game by a factor of ten and left me with a finger literally pouring with blood.

And I mean pouring. I was given a tea towel to wrap round it but the blood still came through and I left a trail of it all the way downstairs to the kitchen where I shoved my hand under a tap. I dried it with the tea towel and it was still pouring from more than one place so I wrapped it tightly round my hand. I'll be honest, by this time I was in a state of shock. It was one of the two worst cat attacks I've suffered.

I talked it over with the couple who'd brought me to rescue the cat and we came to the same sad conclusion. For several reasons it just wasn't salvageable. I couldn't  deal with it even if I could have got it in the carrier; it was just too wild. It needed someone with more experience of difficult cats than I had and who had both the space and the time to help it; again, neither of which I had. The house had to be completely emptied within two days and any other likely prospects had already declined because they didn't have the space/time/whatever.

The couple were sorry about my injuries. I was sorry because I couldn't help the cat which, because of its temperament, is going to have to be put to sleep.

What can I say? Sometime shit just happens. Despite the title I've given this piece, it wasn't a miserable failure so much as just one of those things. I simply don't have the skills, the experience, or the environment available to have helped the poor thing and there's no-one else.

After typing that I've just had a call from not far away about a stray cat. I said I'd go check it out. Lus my finger is getting stiffer and more painful. If it's no better in the morning I'll have to get it looked at.

2. The nuts and bolts of cat rescuing: computer stuff.

Without computers and the internet, animal rescuing and re-homing would be a lot more difficult than it is. If you're a regular reader of this blog then you know it's just one good example of how it helps. You're also probably familiar with the regularly updated blog post that is a list of all cats and kittens that Animal Krackers has available for re-homing.

Being somewhat deaf, I don't always hear the phone ring, especially if I'm watching TV, which is why email is the most certain way of getting in touch with me. It also means you'll get a considered reply rather than listening to me talking off the top of my head and maybe forgetting important information. I check my Gmail account regularly when I'm in the house and check it frequently on my phone when I'm out. 

In the last couple of minutes I've checked Google Maps for the location of a street where I'm going sometime soon to check out a cat. I do have an A-Z but it's in the car and it's quicker using GMaps.

So, when my computer goes wrong it results in Ian (that's me) being not a happy bunny and this happened over the last few days.

I was happily pottering about on it when a message came up telling me I needed to free up disk space. So I did the stupid thing and ran a duplicate file check. I then paused it and sent a large number of files to the Recycle Bin. And then I did something even more stupid, albeit accidentally. I emptied the Recycle Bin which had the knock on effect of stopping some programs from working. Specifically Picasa which I use to edit and add photos to this blog. And then I was told that I still didn't have spare memory and had to free up more. So, more carefully this time, I sent hundreds of duplicate photos to the Recycle Bin and deliberately emptied it. Despite deleting dozens of Gigabytes  I still needed to free up space. I then tried System Restore in the hopes of reversing my mistakes but couldn't because I didn't have enough free memory, plus I'd accidentally deleted previous restore points so even if it could work it wouldn't make any difference.

So I took it to the local computer repair shop. After spending some time on it, he was of the opinion that the best solution would be to wipe the hard disk clean and reinstall Windows. This would mean a massive loss of data (photos and documents) and software, some free, some paid for -like Microsoft Office (disc lost)- and therefore more expense. Plus I'd lose all my settings like passwords and bookmarked websites. So it would involve a shed-load of expense and a lot of time reinstalling.

I took it home for the weekend when I tried to save as much data (photos and docs) to an external Samsung hard drive.

On Monday morning I dropped it off at the shop and went about the business of cat rescuing. When I picked it up, the computer guy explained that he'd only deleted one of two 1 Terabyte size hard discs on which he'd re-installed Windows, confessing he couldn't understand how I'd managed to fill such enormous sized discs. Neither could I.

I took it home and set about the business of getting it back up and running which I was definitely not looking forward to doing.

Thankfully I was in for a few surprises. I use Dashlane, a password keeping piece of software, and when I logged on to the website (I remembered my password for that), it automatically downloaded itself plus my passwords to my computer. This meant I could access lots of websites without having to get new passwords. In turn, when I signed back on to Google, it remembered all my settings and websites. This saved me a hell of a lot or work and frustration.

I then turned my attention to the second data-filled hard disk. Computer guy hadn't touched it because he had no idea what I wanted to keep. When I looked at it, almost everything on it could be deleted, including documents and photos which I'd already backed up externally. Very little needed to be copied over to the other disc. I also successfully reinstalled said data and photos from the Samsung HD back onto it as well. Once I downloaded Picasa the blog was up and running with lots of new kitten photos.

Of course there was still be problem of having to buy software I used regularly. Like Microsoft Office which was going for nearly a hundred quid on Amazon. I also needed internet security software, again not cheap. While reading reviews for MS Office I came across several mentions of a piece of free and very good (apparently) software called LibreOffice which is widely used so I've downloaded that. Not used it yet but the interface seems clear enough and not dissimilar from MS Office. I put off paying for security software by downloading a free 30-day trial of AVG's in the hopes that I get offered a freebie in the next Amazon Vine list. (In the real world, once a month I get sent a list from Amazon of free stuff to review from which I can pick two items. Some months I don't pick anything, others I get something really good, like the last time I picked up a set of Bose earphones which are the most comfortable I've ever used.) 

I've still got some other stuff to sort out but so far it isn't the major disaster I'd feared and I have got rid of a lot of clutter like dozens of free utilities that I seemed like a good idea at the time but I never used.

Right. I'm off to check out that stray cat.

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