DEAR JOAN: For nearly 60 years, Lindsay Wildlife Museum has connected generations of people with California's native animals, inspiring respect for our natural world. Last year our wildlife hospital took in 5,500 injured wild creatures including foxes and opossums; eagles and hawks injured by wind generators; and birds injured by cats. In the past five years, Lindsay has cared for more than 27,500 animals; the next time you hear a songbird, you might be listening to one of our former patients.

Our hospital alone costs $498,430 yearly to operate, and is facing rising costs. Many people think that we are supported largely through government grants, but this is not true. It is primarily the donations of individuals that make it possible for us to operate, and we are not just an animal hospital.

First graders from Livermore’s Rancho Las Positas Elementary School observe a bald eagle during their visit to the Alexander Lindsay Wildlife Museum
First graders from Livermore's Rancho Las Positas Elementary School observe a bald eagle during their visit to the Alexander Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek. The museum's mission is to care for injured wildlife and educate the public. (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)

Each time a person finds an injured animal and brings it to us, we also are seizing a critical educational opportunity by helping thousands of children and adults learn to protect and value our natural environment. Our museum also provides unique learning experiences with our live animal ambassadors -- more than 80,000 people visit the museum annually, and we provide educational programs to more than 40,000 school children each year.

We can't do any of this without the support of our community. We need your help to continue our vital work. We hope you will agree that teaching our children about our natural world and caring for our California wildlife is worth supporting. We hope to raise $100,000 -- 20 percent of our hospital costs -- with a holiday letter. Donations can be made to Lindsay Wildlife Museum, 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek, CA 94597 or online at www.wildlife-museum.org (just click on "support").

Marilyn Fowler

Lindsay Wildlife Museum president

DEAR MARILYN: I'm happy to support your wonderful organization. I don't know anyone who has not heard of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, but I'm sure most of us aren't aware of where your funding comes from and what is needed to keep it operational.

As we head into the giving season, I ask my readers to consider the Lindsay, all of the animals that have gotten a second chance at life through its care and devotion, and the untold thousands who have learned more about wildlife and how to protect it.

DEAR JOAN: A neighbor's cat often urinates near the front door of my apartment. Can you offer any suggestions on how to deal with the problem?

Ben Klein

Bay Area

DEAR BEN: First clean the area well using a mixture of 15 ounces hydrogen peroxide, two tablespoons of baking soda and two squirts of dishwashing soap.

You can use other cleaners; just avoid any that have ammonia, which can entice cats to spray.

Next take one part white vinegar and two parts warm water, mix them together in a spray bottle and spray the area around your door. You may need to do it daily for a few days until the cat gets the message.

Other possible deterrents include citronella, lavender, lemon, orange and eucalyptus.

Bird bath cleaners

Birders tell me that even diluted bleach isn't recommended for cleaning bird baths. They suggest using vinegar.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/AskJoanMorris.