Weekend Cat Blogging 264: Cats in Santa Cruz

Last weekend I made a brief visit to Santa Cruz (where as many readers know I lived for several years). While walking around with a friend, I was reminded of how many cats are around, in front yards and on sidewalks. Here are a few of them:

This cat appears to be enjoying the plants in this garden, or perhaps something hidden amongst the plants:

Cats are a rarity on my walks around downtown San Francisco, though I occasionally encounter them in the Mission district and in industrial areas.

Weekend Cat Blogging #264 is being hosted by Nikita Cat at Meowings of an Opinionated Pussycat. His dad often takes photos of cats he sees on walks.

The Carnival of the Cats will be up this Sunday at One Cats Nip.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Weekend Cat Blogging and more: The Storm

California was hit by a nasty set of winter storms this weekend, and our soon-to-be-former home in
Santa Cruz was certainly in the middle of that:

Spectacular white-capped waves, heavy rains and high-powered winds battered Santa Cruz County on Friday causing clogged roads, sending trees and power lines into houses and buildings and flooding area roads..

Even from our window, it was obvious this wasn't an ordinary winter storm:

Even more than the rain, the real problem was the wind, well over 60MPH at times. And with wind comes power outages:

There were 46,010 PG&E customers without electricity in Santa Cruz County as of Friday afternoon, said company spokesman Jeff Smith.

We were among those customers, with power out until well into the evening. No lights, no heat, no internet or radio, and only a small amount of phone service. Perfect time for some extra long afternoon naps:

Luna has recently found this black pillow and made it her own.

At some point in the afternoon, I decided to try going out, maybe find a cafe with some electricity, warm drinks, and internet service. But it seemed that the entire town was without power, and most businesses were shuttered. This is what a hurricane must feel like as the storm approaches. A bit disappointed, I returned to the cold, dark house, for at least the warmth of a blanket and “kitty love.”

As afternoon turns to evening, the lack of light becomes more of a problem for humans. But for cats, who have excellent night vision, activities can continue largely uninterrupted:

Indeed, Luna was quite active in the early evening as darkness settled in.

Fortunately for us humans, power was restored to some parts of town by early evening, and I was finally able to go find a cafe for warm drinks and internet service (and to recharge the all important cell phone). The chatter of others and bustle of activity was quite welcome, indeed. But still no power at our house; our block was frustratingly dark even as others started to light up. I was able to spend some time and enjoy a warm meal at a the home of a friend whose power had returned, and by around 9 or 10PM our power was finally back on. As I returned to the house, I could see Luna's face peering out the window, with light in the background…

Weekend Cat Blogging #135 is being hosted by Katie and Puddy of A Byootaful Life. It seems that they are experiencing a rainy weekend as well, and they're inviting everyone to come inside.

The Carnival of the Cats has a new home at The Cat Blogosphere, and they will be celebrating the inaugural edition this Sunday.

The Bad Kitty Cat Festival of Chaos will be hosted by Ammie & Menagerie at Sleeping Mommy. The option theme is “Gotcha Day Stories.” You can read about Luna's Gotcha Day from this anniversary post back in June.

And of course Friday Ark #172 is at the modulator.

Santa Cruz spraying begins

After several days of delay, the spraying of our home town has begun. We could hear the plans overhead last night. From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

After four straight nights of no-show due to fog, planes took to the skies over Santa Cruz County and sprayed a pesticide in residential areas in an attempt to wipe out the light brown apple moth, a crop-eating bug that's capable of causing millions of dollars in damage to California's agricultural industry.

And of course, that's what this was all about: the California agriculture industry. From other reports I have read or heard, the issue was California produce being embargoed by other states/countries rather than actual reported damage.

“I just wish people would come out and say it, that this moth isn't really causing any problems but it's all a matter of protecting California and international trade,” said the owner of Central Coast Wilds Nursery in Santa Cruz. “Because so far this moth hasn't caused the slightest bit of damage anywhere.”

Another question in my mind is about one of our local prides, the monarch butterflies (featured in this week's Wordless Wednesday). Pheromones are generally specific to a species, so should not disrupt the butterflies, but the fact that the product being sprayed is a mystery makes it difficult to say for sure – the same reason it makes us uneasy about its affect on humans and other animals.

I still have yet to hear any reports on the safety for pets and other animals. We at CatSynth are of course still worried for outdoor animals, like stray cats and wildlife, and children and adults with health issues. At least we have been keeping the windows closed at night…

Aerial Spraying in Santa Cruz – Yikes!

I was innocently listening to news headlines on Democracy Now this morning (if such a thing is actually possible), when I heard this:

In California, a judge has given the green light to a controversial pesticide spraying in Santa Cruz County. On Thursday, Superior Court judge Paul Burdick rejected the county?s restraining order because he said it could not prove the spraying would harm the public. The chemical, Checkmate LBAM-F, will be used to halt the light brown apple moth. Checkmate?s manufacturer, Oregan-based Suterra, has refused to release the ingredients of the pesticide and petitioned the courts to keep them secret. One hundred residents on the Monterry Peninsula reported respiratory illness after a similar chemical was sprayed there in September.

SPROING! What's up with that? Well, our local paper The Santa Cruz Sentinel confirms it:

A trio of state-owned planes will begin spraying a pesticide next week in Santa Cruz County to halt the spread of the light brown apple moth, an invasive pest the state says is capable of causing millions of dollars in crop damage if it is not stopped soon.

Aerial maps from the California Department of Agriculture confirm that Santa Cruz city and CatSynth HQ are probably in the spray zone, and that spraying will occur overnight starting Sunday November 4 through the following Friday (barring rain or other weather that will cause delays).

So OK, just stay indoors, keep our pets indoors, and don't eat anything off the trees for a couple of days, right? Unfortunately, I cannot find a specific advisory of any sort, just notice of the time and location of spraying. Indeed, the biggest problems here are that the health effects, and even the chemical composition of the pesticides, aren't publicly known:

Since similar spraying began on the Monterey Peninsula in September, residents have opposed the aerial spraying because nobody, not even scientists, knows what kind of health effects the pesticide, CheckMate LBAM-F, is capable of having on people…

Fortunately, Luna is an indoor cat. But what about open windows? And what about outdoor animals (strays, farm animals, wildlife)? Unlike some of the folks on the Sentinel's discussion board, we at CatSynth try not to get hysterical about such things, but we would like answers to a few rational questions. For me, it would simply be enough to have more information on health and safety. A simple advisory to stay indoors, and how to protect animals and children, would have been enough. And if there is no reason for such an advisory, say so, and back it up with some data.

Meanwhile, I guess we'll just take our best reasonable guess and stay inside…

and let's NOT crack open a window!


It's just one of those things when you live in California. You know an earthquake when you feel it, and we at CatSynth definitely felt it tonight. From Associated Press:

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 and struck shortly after 8 p.m., about 9 miles northeast of San Jose, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake was in full force here at CatSynth HQ, with the nasty side-to-side motion and our many glass items shaking quite intensely. But we're fine, no damage, and it sounds like there was little or no damage elsewhere. Luna was a little shaken, though.

Seabright cats, a warm day, and remembering those in harms way

This was an amazingly warm and clear day here on the California coast.

The early part of the day was in the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz, mostly reading and working, but also enjoying wandering the streets and the area by the beach. I got a glimpse of this cat in one of the apartment complexes near the beach.

This photo is actually from a previous encounter with the “Seabright Kitty”, he/she wasn't in the mood to be photographed today…

Someone else, on the other hand, was quite photogenic:

This is Bella, who resides with my friend and colleague Synthia Payne, whom readers may remember from the UCSC DANM exhibition and Ninjam performances.

Luna of course continues to enjoy her favorite indoor activites:

I actually did take Luna outside briefly yesterday on her harness, and all she wanted to do was head back to the door and go inside. I'm not going to argue.

Like I said, it was exceptionally warm today:

Great for us here in Santa Cruz, but it part of the same warm, dry weather in which the fires in Southern California continue to burn out of control. This years fires in San Diego and the areas in and around Los Angeles might be even worse than the devastiing fires in 2003, with so many people and animals evacuating (over half a million so far) and so many more in harms way.

We at CatSynth want to take a few minutes on this Tuesday to send out thoughts to all the humans, cats, and other animals threatened by this disaster, and hope they make it through safely.