Monday, July 31, 2006

Rikki’s Refuge needs a plumber who knows how to work on well equipment

Being in the middle of 367 acres, Rikki's Refuge obviously does not use city water. We have a well. A big hole in the ground from which an unlimited supply of water pours forth. Usually everything runs smoothly and there are no problems. Turn on a faucet and water appears. But now we have a big problem.

Late yesterday evening I went to wash my hands, . . . nothing. Not even a drip. I went to investigate and discovered that the pressure switch has been disassembled. Now I don't know a whole lot about this, but there's the well pump, lines that go down the well, the jet pump at the bottom of the well, and the pressure tank.

About a month ago we had to replace the pressure tank because it was leaking. That was the last piece in the well house that was still there when we came to Rikki’s. Over the years we had replaced all the rest. Well obviously, someone had decided something was going on yesterday afternoon, disassembled parts, and just left it there. So if you know how to work on well equipment, please, please, please come out and help us today.

Nobody's going to die from lack of water. We keep a two-day supply of water on hand. That's why I ask you to give me all your leftover 2 1/2 gallon jugs from clumping cat litter. Each one holds 2 1/2 gallons of water! So it will only take 160 of those to fill water up for all the animals today! And we keep over 300 on hand. And when we run out, it means loading them up in the truck, driving down the road, and filling up at Rags and Relics or the Retreat. A lot more hot work for the humans, but the animals will still have plenty of cool water to drink.

The animals at Rikki's Refuge drink 400 gallons of water a day! That averages out to only about half a gallon each. But some take more than their fair share, like the cows, who slurp up 10 gallons in a sitting. But others make up for it. There's not a guinea pig on the planet that could even hold half a gallon! Share and share alike, it all works out in the end.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Did you miss your morning message about the rescued animals at Rikki’s Refuge?

The weekly version of Hairballs, news about what's coming up at Rikki's Refuge, went out today! I got to write it too, because Kerry was just too busy taking care of everybody. If you didn’t get your e-mail subscription, send us an e-mail today at Don’t miss out. And best of all it’s FREE.

Hope you come to visit me soon,
Intergalactic SpokesCat for the Handicapped

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rikki’s Refuge is one of the largest multi-species, no-kill sanctuaries

With 367 acres of land, over 3,700 animals of over 50 species rescued to date, with over 800 daily residents of 19 species of domestic and farm animals, and over 1,500 rehabilitated wildlife critters roaming about, Rikki’s Refuge is the largest multi-species, no-kill sanctuary on the East Coast. And with over 500 felines, we are one of the largest cat sanctuaries on Earth.

WOW. And we've done it in just seven years! I'm preparing the mailing list for our tabloid-sized paper newsletter. It will be going out to 4,213 members, to 4 countries and 6 US military bases overseas, to 1,177 zip codes in 852 cities, and to every state except North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah.

What happened to North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah? Are there no animal lovers out there? Help us complete our membership so that we have a Rikki's Family Member in every state.

Sign up yourself, or a friend, for a one year subscription to our quarterly paper newsletter by making a $45 donation. You can send in a check, or make a donation online with your credit card through out Paypal account. Just go to and sign in. Our ID is (If you don't have a Paypal account, you can set one up for free).

You'll love the exciting pictures of all the animals, and being kept up-to-date on all the news at Rikki's Refuge. The 20-page newsletter hitting the streets tomorrow is jam-packed full of exciting photos. Don't miss your copy!

Want another way to stay in touch? Subscribe to our weekly e-mail newsletter, "Hairballs" (that's what's coming up at Rikki's!) Send an e-mail to and tell us you'd like to subscribe to "Hairballs", be sure to give us your e-mail address. It's free to animal lovers!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

At Rikki’s Refuge, it’s Goats in the Mist

As I wake up in the morning, the first thing I feel is Cat performing acupuncture on my back. She is an outstanding massage therapist and acupuncturist. I roll over and look out towards the East. The sun is barely up, the mist is just beginning to rise. Through the veil of the mist I can see the outline of dozens of goats, standing tall on their hind legs, their front legs tucked back against their chests, stretching and straining their heads up as far as possible, tongues pointed toward the sky, grasping leaves off tall branches. I turned and looked towards the West. There sits beautiful Angel, high on her perch, grooming, her beautiful plume of a tale. Domino races up and down the ladder trying to displace Angel and claim the top position.

The ducks and geese are strolling about, squawking and quacking their morning news. The dogs are still sound asleep. The pigs haven't yet started to roll and grunt. This must've been how our great ancestors felt, before the world got so hectic, paved over with asphalt, and covered with little human habitats. If nothing else, this feeling of freedom, of living with nature as it was meant to be, is more than enough to make it all worthwhile, living here at Rikki's Refuge, caring for over 800 critters of 17 species.

Or perhaps this is simply a rosy view of the past. Perhaps Cat would've been a saber tooth tiger ready to have me for breakfast. The goats would've been Tyrannosauruses just waiting for a fresh meal. And instead of Angel simply being a psychotic feline, she would have been a pterodactyl. Instead of feeling like a part of nature, I might have been a part of the food chain.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rescuing a duck from the chimney at seven a.m. must be an omen of birds to come

Because that turned out to be the best event of the day. As soon as the duck was happily splashing about in a ducky pond, contained in a pen, with a roof (no more accidents ‘till those chimneys get covered), I checked phone messages, “Hi there. I've got several boxes of baby birds here, they're half dead, do you want them?” This wasn't the first time Rikki's Refuge has gotten such a call, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Many things are left behind at shipping docks, and sometimes they are alive. Lena and I rushed off on the great bird rescue ....

Check back be continued...

Friday, July 21, 2006

It began as an uneventful day

Lena and I had finished medical rounds, treated the critical patients, and examined everyone else for updates for the day. I was sitting quietly at my desk, updating the medical log for the day. no serious emergencies, all the pigs were in their pen, everyone was behaving. Behind me, I heard the strangest sound. Scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch. Then silence. Wait a minute? Did I really hear something? Maybe it was just a cat scratching its ears and bumping something?

I recalled hearing the sound two nights ago, and not being able to figure out where it came from. I'd searched and searched, and finally given up. And here it was again, it sounded like an animal stuck in the fireplace. The fireplace in the office is boarded over, because bad and evil cats like to climb up the chimney. This is an unapproved activity.

We'd recently had to replace the covering on the fireplace, could we possibly have locked something inside? We done a head count, and tried to pear up the chimney as far as we could, before screwing the new board in the place.

I tapped on the board. Silence. Now if somebody was in there trying to get out, don't you think they would scratch, meow, or do something to let me know they needed help?

I was probably wasting my time, but I found a screwdriver, and I began to remove the fireplace cover. Soon as I had it opened a crack, I could see something black flapping about. Oh great! A vampire bat at seven o'clock in the morning! Just what I needed for the day.

I took a closer look, and low and behold, it was the flying duck. If you recall, several months ago, someone in a little red car dumped a cardboard box full of ducks. One of my ducks adopted them, raised them, and now they roam about the farm. We never have figured out what kind of ducks they are, they look like they must be a mix between something domestic and something wild. And some of them can fly.

One bad black guy in particular, loves to fly to the top of the electric poles, to the top of the chimneys, to the top of trees. Why just a few days ago, we noticed him sitting on the top of the chimney, sticking his head down, and we had commented, "need to add that to the to-do list, cover the chimneys before the duck goes down". And at that time I had all kinds of visions of how one would remove a duck stuck halfway down the chimney. Dear god, please don't let it happen until I have time to get the chimney covered.

Well, I guess our boy shoved his head down, slipped and went all the way down the chimney. We brushed him clean of soot, and plopped him into a ducky swimming pool, where he drank down gallons of water, and then proceeded to bathe and preen. No worse for wear.

But he is staying in a pen, until the chimneys are covered!

Want to play handyman today?

Seriously, if you can come out and help us with this problem today, give me a holler at 540-854-0870. Thanks, Kerry

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A big thank you to Healthway Natural Foods

Elizabeth Dick, owner and founder of Healthway Natural Foods, has been a supporter of the animals at Rikki's Refuge from day one -- and she has just made a major contribution to the cats of our 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center.

The Fredericksburg Healthway store kindly gives us their leftover produce for our pigs and rabbits (and what they call "left over" is better than what you can buy in regular grocery stores). This week they donated 400 pounds of super high quality Pet Guard Cat Food. We designated this food to the cats of our 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center since they are older and have the most health problems. It would be wonderful if we could feed this to all our cats, but we go through 65 pounds of cat food each day, and it's just not practical yet.

If you haven't let your cats try Pet Guard Cat Food, stop by and pick some up today. You'll have a lot happy cats! When you visit, please leave a donation in one of Rikki's Refuge's collection cans, and let your cashier know that the cats of Rikki's Refuge sent you!

If you can't visit, send them a thank you note from the cats of Rikki's Refuge to let them know that we all appreciate their care and giving to the animals here.

Healthway Natural Foods carries delicious, natural, organic food for you, and your pets, as well as an outstanding selection of homeopathic and other natural remedies, and a vast selection of very high quality vitamins, minerals and supplements. Ten Healthway stores are located throughout Virgina, Maryland and West Virginia:

  • Alexandria, VA 22307, 703-660-8603, 1610 Belle View Blvd

  • Annandale, VA 22003, 703-354-7782, 4113 John Mar Drive

  • Bowie, MD 20715, 301-805-8255, 6856 Race Track Road

  • Fairfax, VA 22030, 703-569-3533, 10360 Lee Highway

  • Fredericksburg, VA 22407, 540-786-4844, 4211 Plank Rd, Route 3

  • Manassas, VA 20109, 703-361-1883, 10778 Sudley Manor Dr, Bull Run Center

  • Martinsburg, WV 25401, 304-263-7728, 740 Foxcroft Avenue

  • Purcellville, VA 20132, 160 W Main Street

  • Springfield, VA 22150, 703-569-3533, 6402-4 Springfield Plaza

  • Sterling VA 20164, 703-430-4430, 46900 Cedar Lakes Plaza, Shops at Cedar Lakes

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Still tinkering . . .

Those of you viewing our blog with the free Firefox browser are seeing our blog layed out just fine -- no matter what font size you're using. (For those of you Firefox users who don't know what I'm talking about, go to your menu under VIEW > TEXT SIZE > INCREASE).

It's the darned Internet Explorer that refuses to cooperate!

We're still tinkering. We'll get it right soon.

Want to download the lovely Firefox browser? Get info and download here. Get it! You really want it!

Tinkering with our style

If you visited our blog before, you'll notice we changed our template. We think the "Minima" Blogger template more suits us, and we are tinkering with it to come up with a look we like.

We have also added a link to the Orange County Animal Shelter adoptable pets in the LINKS column to the right. (If you don't see a column to the right, scroll down -- it will be at the bottom of the posts. That's part of the tinkering we are working on.)

If you have comments on things we should change or add, please let us know.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Animal cellphone ringtones

Recently, a woman on a commuter train left her bag in a seat and walked away. Almost immediately, a cat started crying. Startled passengers looked everywhere for the cat, only to find that the woman had a cat ringtone on her phone.

What would Rikki's Refuge ringtones sound like? Wouldn't it be fun and hilarious to find out?

A little searching brought up a step-by-step guide to making ringtones with free "Audacity" software. The instructions can be found at this site:

The free, open source, cross-platform, "Audacity" sound editing software can be downloaded at this site: (You gotta love the wonderful people who make free, open source software available to the world!).

We need to find a volunteer to walk around the sanctuary recording the animals to create the initial sound files, but this is a very cool project and surely someone will step up soon.

Any votes on which animals we should start with first?

If anybody has actually created their own ringtones before and knows of a better way, we would love to hear about it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Caring for disabled pets

Visitors to the refuge know me as a personable guy. I'm full of life and get into everything. I've been a surrogate father to orphaned kittens and I have many daily responsibilities as a mascot cat.

Awhile back I was in an accident that left me with only 3 legs. That was bad enough, but after the accident I couldn't control where I relieved myself -- in other words, litterboxes have no meaning to me.

I usually get one of two reactions: the first group of people are afraid of me and steer clear, while the second group wants to pity me. These people frustrate me a lot. But every now and then a volunteer or visitor will see through my physical limitations and get to know ME. I think these people are the best thing since tuna fish.

Living with a special needs pet requires some adjustment. (I know, I was sent to be euthanized when my former family didn't want to make the adjustments). We've found some useful websites to help families with pets who are deaf, blind, paralyzed, missing limbs, or dealing with OCD.

Messy Beast has info on disabled cats:

Deaf Dog Education Action Fund (info for deaf, blind and visually impaired dogs, dogs with OCD and more):

HopperHome: Disabled Rabbits --

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cats want fresh treats too, so here's a recipe

It's always "monkey see, monkey do" at Rikki's. What one group has, the other group wants. Wait . . . it's that way with people, too.

The cats outnumber all other animal groups at Rikki's Refuge sanctuary, so they usually claw their way to the top of every "wish list" we create. If the horses are getting fresh-baked treats, the cats want them too.

We found one recipe for homemade cat treats at Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen. These treats don't sound as yummy as the horse treats, but the cats might like them. Does anybody want to make a batch so the Rikki cats can try them out?

Does anybody have favorite links to pet treat recipes -- recipes that you have actually tested?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Horses want baked treats -- here is recipe

The dogs and cats get all the attention from the volunteers, and the pigs and fowl get to do what they please. Some days it seems like our horses, mules and donkeys are second class citizens! (Well, sometimes people bring them apples . . . )

We found a few recipes for horse treats! Could you make some and bring them out? We don't know how long they will stay fresh, so don't make them more than a few days before coming out, and don't make a huge supply.

Most of the recipes here sound delicious (but we don't want the ones with peanut butter) :

Here's another one:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Adopt Virginia county shelter animals

County animal shelters are always packed with wonderful animals looking for a chance at a forever home. Many of the dogs and cats living at Rikki's can be adopted, but we encourage you to start your search with animals in county shelters -- the Orange County shelter is just down the road from us.

You can find a list of Virginia county shelters at:

Many county shelters will do same day adoptions, but call before you drive out to find out what their exact adoption requirements are.

If you are looking for a cat or kitten, consider adopting two at the same time(especially bonded pairs or cats from the same family). Most cats really enjoy the company of other cats, and two cats are not harder to take care of than one cat alone.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rikki animal photo necklaces

Rikki's Refuge has many crafty volunteers, so we thought we would ask a question: Who can volunteer to make photo pendants of our animals that we can sell at fairs and adoption days?

We have several cds of photos that can be used, or you can come out and take the shots you want. Interested? Email Kathy for images.

Pet photo pendants:

FYI: The link above goes to an amazing crafting website. If you don't want to work on photo pendants you're sure to find other ideas.

Monday, July 10, 2006

College scholarships for vegetarians

Dozens of student volunteers come to Rikki's Refuge to help care for the animals. Many of them are preparing for college. We just found out about a great scholarship being offered by the Vegetarian Resource Group.

If you are graduating from high school in spring 2007 and have promoted vegetarianism in your school and/or community, you could win a $5,000 scholarship. Two winners will be chosen.

Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment in promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle. (Full application info).

Deadline is February 20, 2007. That seems like a long way off, but why not start your essay now during your summer break?

Need inspiration? Come on out and spend the day working among the pigs, cows, and chickens.

Friday, July 07, 2006

On Beauty

Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Have you ever wondered who determines what is beautiful in our society -- and who gave them the power to decide?

Anyone who spends time surrounded by animals and nature can tell you that real beauty is all around us. If who don't think our emu model is absolutely stunning, you need to come out and spend some time at the farm.

Motivational poster made with fd's Flicker Toys.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Video blogging cats

Vlog cats --- that is, a video blog of cats. What are we talking about? Check out Josh Leo's Vlog Cat Clips at

Scoll down to the "Medicating a Cat" post -- uhmmm... yeah ... it's that easy!

Now that we have moved our website to we, too, can make and upload little video movies to our site. We can have a whole series of video clips on "medicating cats" -- of course ours are feral, crazy, or turn wild the instant a human even THINKS of medicating them.

Who wants to volunteer to be in the first video?

Update: July 13, 2006: We set up our free video hosting account with YouTube, so come out and shoot some little video clips for us to post. Our user name is rikkisrefuge.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Alien cats invade Rikki's Refuge

Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Rikki's Refuge cat population has been infiltrated with aliens! They look like regular cats. They act like regular cats -- but see how their eyes glow!

We have taken a number of photographs of these alien cats and will share them via our Flickr account soon. Scary!
The website has been moved from Burlee/Interland to

The website became inaccessible while on Burlee/Interland, and they never responded to a technial support request. Can't run a website that way, bro!