Bradley's Page

Nothing to see here.
Just singing to some goats.

Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no fear.
Those who see all creatures in themselves
And themselves in all creatures know no grief.
How can the multiplicity of life
Delude the one who sees its unity?

--The Isha Upanishad (verses 6-7)

I have a lot of fun pretending to be a shady, cynical bastard here at Million Monkey Theater. It's a great venue for sharing my love of bargain-basement cinema and I get to swear as much as I like, but I have to be honest with you...I'm a bit of a fraud. I'm not particularly cynical, not at all shady and have failed utterly to manifest the curmudgeon and misanthrope I dreamed of becoming in my youth. Not for lack of trying, mind you.

Please join me on a brief tour of my life when I'm not here at MMT being a dick.

Mental Health and Animal Rescue

Arch Street Center. My day job.

Arch Street Center is a non-profit, membership-based day center for adults living with serious mental illness in Lancaster, PA. We provide a community safe space, recreation facilities, daily meals, laundry, locker and shower facilities, planned and spontaneous activities and a sense of community and belonging. We serve a diverse demographic, cutting across boundaries of ethnicity, age and socio-economic backgrounds to provide social, moral and material support to a vulnerable and often marginalized population.

My assistant. He likes to eat.

During Covid lockdown we were unable to provide normal services. We were still available to our members by phone, but we also wanted to help people economically impacted by the pandemic in the community at large. Five days after we closed our doors we began handing out freshly prepared, nutritious carry-out lunches in our parking lot every Monday through Friday to anyone who needed them. At our peak we were feeding between 70 and 95 people daily. Between March 2020 and January 2021, when we reopened our center to our members, we served over 20,000 free meals.

I'm privileged to be a part of this organization and proud to assist in our members' recovery journeys. I encourage you to follow the link above and learn more about the Center and our mission.

"Compassion for all things
is the engine of the universe."

Feral Friends and City Kitties is not really an official thing, it's just what I collectively call my wife and I, a trap, some hutches and about 15 years' worth of rescued cats. Friends or family have occasionally helped with spay/neutering and food costs, but it's mostly just us emptying our piggy banks to do what we can for animals in need.

We care for a clowder of feral and stray kitties in our city neighborhood, feeding them and providing veterinary care as needed. We practice trap-neuter-return, or TNR, a process where cats are spay/neutered, ear-tipped and released back into the area where they were found. This is the most humane way to keep cat populations under control and helps assure that a colony's territory is not depleted of the resources needed to keep them healthy.

We work to socialize our ferals and if they are amenable to becoming pets we find them loving homes. We've either homed or provided lifesaving medical assistance to over 80 cats and kittens over the years, and we've cared for or spay/neutered many more.

Let's meet a few of the friends we've rescued, shall we?

Mr. Hector

Our latest. This guy right here is an absolute gem. He was born in our neighborhood ca. 2011 or 2012. By that point we'd gotten almost all of the other cats in the neighborhood fixed, so without any viable females to keep him around he left our clowder before we could TNR him. I'd see him out and about occasionally, sometimes eight or ten blocks away, often not for months at a time, but he always seemed to remember me when I called him by the name I'd given him when he was a kitten. Once or twice a year he'd come by the house for meals. He was never fearful but he never came within more than about ten feet of me. He was getting more and more ragged and I always told him to come find me if he ever needed help. You may chuckle and think animals don't understand what you tell them, but in June of 2021 he showed up on the porch one morning and walked straight up to me, meowing loudly and asking for that help I'd been promising him. He was a beat-up mess and looked like he'd been through world war three. I fed him two or three times every day for two weeks until I could get him to a doctor. He let me put ointment on his wounds, let me pull burrs and cleavers from his fur, and let me pet him as he ate. Early in July he walked right into a carrier on his own so I could take him to the vet. He had fleas, worms and lice and most of his teeth were broken and had to be removed. He must have been in terrible pain. Unsurprisingly for an older feral he tested positive for FIV, which is similar to HIV in humans. He let us give him a long, luxurious bath. He lives inside with us now and has become a contented housecat, at long last enjoying a peaceful life. I adore him.

Update, October 2021: We recently adopted 7 month-old cutie Ms. Butterbean, who decided Hector needed to be her best friend. Hector agreed.

Ms. Heidikins

Ms. Heidi currently lives on our porch and is about as sweet, friendly and affectionate as a housecat. She sometimes wants to come inside but she's also happy to have her freedom and has some friends out in the colony. We don't really have room for another, but if she needed to come in we'd have her in a heartbeat.

Ms. Madeline Violet

We brought Ms. Maddie inside in the summer of 2020 just to wean her three kittens during their last couple of weeks nursing as they needed twice daily applications of eye ointment, which would have been impossible to manage if we'd left them outside. The plan was to spay and release Maddie after they'd been adopted. Once we had her inside, however we realized she had a bite wound on her behind, and when we took her to the vet we discovered it was badly infected to the point of requiring surgery. The wound had to be left open and needed to be sprayed regularly with a granulating compound to properly heal over, so she had to wear a cone and needed to be in a kennel for the six weeks or so the process would take. Long story short: the three kittens were quickly adopted (one by my mother-in-law, two by my sister-in-law!) and li'l spitfire Maddie never left. She's still working out her relationships with the other cats but she loves being a pampered housecat.

Ms. Cleopatra & Kittens

We trapped Ms. Cleo to get her spayed in October, 2020 but it turns out she was very pregnant! We decided she should have the kittens in the house so I built a heated birthing crate and connected a couple of big kennels together for her. Three weeks after we brought her inside she had six gorgeous kittens, and over the course of the nine weeks between birth and full weaning we managed to line up homes for all of them. [Update 8/21: One of the kittens came back to live with us due to a non-life threatening condition requiring some special care.] It was honestly one of the greatest, most life-affirming experiences I've ever had. Cleo seemed amenable, so we decided to adopt her ourselves. We knew that after her three years outside it would take a lot of patience and care to help her adjust to domesticity and not everyone has the experience to see that through. We adore her, she loves and trusts us, has made some friends and loves to play. I'm immensely proud of how hard she's worked to accept her new life. Ferals will only successfully transition to being pets if they decide that they want to. Once a cat makes that decision they will find a way to let you know...then the real work begins for both of you.

Mr. Gooseberry

As demonstrated by Mr. Gooseberry and his magnificent buttocks, this internally heated cherry wood hutch is more spacious and comfortable than my first apartment. Goose lived on our property his whole life, and passed away in 2020 after a brief illness. We were proud that he considered us his people even if he remained feral throughout his life.

Ms. Penelopeeps

We had Ms. Penelopeeps and her brother Mr. Gooseberry were spay/neutered at the same time and she spent her entire life living mainly on our front porch. Like her brother she did not wish to be a pet, but enjoyed spending time with us outside. She passed away from a congenital heart condition, but had eight happy years with us, well fed and well-loved. Another brother from this litter, Mr. Ferdinand, chose a domestic life and still lives inside with us.

Princess Fatty Bumbalatty

Princess Fatty was a friendly fixture on our porch for almost 15 years, and neighbors say she had been living in the area for a couple of years before we even moved in. We had to take her to the vet for an infected wound when we'd been in the house just a year or so, and to thank us she adopted us as her humans. She would often wait on our doormat for us to return from work in the evenings and enjoyed rolling around and spending time with us on the porch. Sometimes she'd even let us pet her, but she always made it clear it was only because she knew we wanted to, not because she wanted us to. She passed away last year and is buried in her favorite spot in our front garden.

Ms. Eloise

Ms. Eloise used to sit on my lap each morning as I sipped my coffee before work. Now she lives as a spoiled domestic kitty a few blocks away from us.

Mr. Leopardo

Little Mr. Leo showed up as kitten just a few houses down from us and within a day of taking him in my sister and law and her family adopted him. My nieces make sure he gets lots of attention.

I've seen some stunning transformations from miserable, skinny and terrified animals to happy, healthy and joyful pets. We've helped some desperate creatures who had completely given up on life learn to thrive and we've even snatched a few kitties from the jaws of death.

Mr. Blackburn

Mr. Blackburn was in the hutch and near death when I found him during a record-setting blizzard in 2016. After an initial vet visit where we were told to make him comfortable and prepare for the worst, we were snowed in and couldn't leave the house for three days. He took a bad turn and I had to manually unblock an obstruction in his bowels to save him. Now he sleeps in my arms every night.

Mr. Tizwin

Mr. Tizwin was so weak he could barely move when we found him. His eyes were swollen shut with infection and his face was encrusted with dried mucous. He couldn't even meow. He grew healthy and strong and became the center of our cat family for many years, but sadly he developed cancer and passed away in the summer of 2021. We were inseparable, attached at the hip and the heart. I miss him terribly.

Sir Wooden Zebulon Zachariah Bear

When I first saw Mr. Woody in our yard he was already a feral adult. He was the saddest creature I'd ever encountered. He walked as if each step carried the weight of every cruelty the world could inflict. After about three months of patiently working with him outside he joined us in the house. We had no idea how old he was, and when we took him to the vet we learned that he had FIV, a feline variant of HIV. He was declared safe to be around other cats, however and became a kitty soul mate, giving me seven beautiful years of absolute joy. I still miss him every day.

Poor Li'l Bird

It's not always cats who need help. This little fellow had gotten some twine wrapped around his neck and was suffocating, fluttering helplessly against a wire fence. I managed to remove it and revive him.

Ms. Archibelle

I found Ms. Archie just off the parking lot at work and rescued her when her mother died. She had the worst flea infestation I've ever seen, so bad she would have died from anaemia if we hadn't taken her in. The flea removal was an hours-long process involving an herbal deterrent (chemical flea treatments are toxic to young kittens), Dawn dishwashing liquid (gentle and safe for baths) lots of warm water and a pair of tweezers. There were hundreds of them, absolutely sucking her dry. She required bottle feeding for two weeks before being weaned onto solid food, after which one of my coworkers adopted her.

So Many Possums

We see a lot of these little friends, attracted by the dry cat food that's always out for our guests. Occasionally they get stuck somplace (like in a trash can!) and need a little help, but mostly they just eat, hang out for a few weeks and move on. They're free spirits and don't want to be tied down, man. Most feral cats are willing to share their space with them, though sometimes only grudgingly. Possums often get a bad rap, but they're completely harmless. They can't get rabies due to their low blood temperature and they consume fleas and ticks by the hundreds per day. I also happen to find them adorable.

Ms. Theodora Von Hissyhosen

Some kitties are ready for love immediately. Ms. Theodora was part of a feral litter in the alley behind our house and actually walked up to me in my yard and demanded I pick her up and take her inside. We found a home for her within 48 hours and she had such a strong, friendly personality she just waltzed right in and took over.

Mr. Wonka

Some kitties wait years for a forever home. Sweet Mr. Wonka was part of another colony in our city looked after by a friend. We cared for him whenever she traveled and I just fell in love with him. When she had to move to another city for work I knew we needed to find him a home. He was about four years old, and although he was a friendly and loving we knew the transition would be a challenge for him. Thankfully we found a family willing to be patient with him and he's now a fat, happy, spoiled housecat.

It's been a long, bumpy road running an unofficial, unfunded, impromptu rescue. There are moments of triumph and moments of pain, but you learn to persevere and continue to do what's best for the animals who need you. Each animal you save adds a little bit of love into the world and eases a little bit of suffering, and that's perhaps the best use a life can be put to.

I value the relationships I've developed with my own cats, my feral friends and the many other dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, pigs, rats and goats my wife and I care for in our other business as dog walkers and pet sitters. Animals have rich and complex emotions and their individual livrs have value and meaning. They want to be safe and fed, of course, but what they crave most is to be loved.

When you strip away all the layers of social artifice we humans use to protect ourselves from the unpredictable caprices of the world isn't that what we all crave, too?

For more information on trap-neuter-return and cat rescue in general visit Alleycat Allies. They're a great resource and a stellar organization.

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