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Jackie Dale: CatMother, Cat Trapper, Cat Broker

IN THE March 9 ISSUE

FROM THE 2019 Articles,
andAnimal Rescue Adventures,
andJackie Dale
SECTIONS

by Jackie Dale

rescue cat

One of 4 kittens gone to rescue

My February started out with a gentleman from Fresno calling me about four newborn kittens. The mother had died after giving birth. I’m not sure how long he waited to ask for help, but by the time I got them, they were weak and cold. Two symptoms that can spell disaster. Cold kittens will not feed, and kittens not fed will be weak. I first attempted to get our in-house nursing mother cat to take them, but they were simply too weak to attempt to latch on. I bottle fed them, but it simply was past the point where I could bring them back. The man mentioned that he had another pregnant cat, but I was still very surprised when he called a week later to tell me that the mother had again died after giving birth. Now I’m suspicious that the mothers were both ill, and that it was likely both serious and contagious. It could be FIP, Feline AIDS or Leukemia. Again the four kittens were brought to me clinging to life. By the end of the day only two were left, another died the next day and the last one, I really thought he had a chance. However, as so often happens in cases like this, after about a week, the kitten took a sudden downturn and was soon gone, too. Had the kitten(s) survived, I would have had one of them tested to find out if they had in fact carried any diseases.

Special Delivery for CatMother!
Every Saturday morning I go the post office in the nearby town of Selma. Selma has a horrible stray cat problem, and the post office is not exempt. The post office has several cats that reside there, and I assumed it was one of those cats. One particular morning I see a black and white kitten on the small lawn, one eye glued shut. I said “Hi” and went inside. Of course, I’m already trying to figure out how to get the kitten. But when I came outside, the kitten was sitting on one the steps, seemingly waiting for me. It looked at me with its one good eye and meowed as though asking for help. Big surprise, I had a crate in my car so I scooped up kitty and took him home. Two weeks later, same scenario as before, only it is an older orange fellow. I had to call a friend to bring a crate, and we got the friendly but nervous fellow into the crate. Once at my home he was sweet and lovable. I named the tuxedo girl, Maylor, and the big orange guy, LetterMan. Both cats were fixed and LetterMan was accepted by a wonderful rescue.

rescue cat

Maylor

Maylor is also going but has a bit of nasal congestion so she will be treated with antibiotics before leaving. There is an adult cat we are desperately trying to catch as it seems very ill. In addition, two older kittens, probably Maylor’s siblings, still need to be trapped and fixed. They are now too old to bring back from the feral side.

The post office doesn’t want them there, but it’s the same old story. We don’t care what happens to them, we just want them gone. Meanwhile I’m thinking to myself, What’s it to you? You just work here. Why do you care if they are hanging around? Actually, to be honest, I often say these things out loud. Or I ask them Do you think I have some magical place where I can take all the stray cats in this town?

rescue cat

Wilma, along with brother Fred, are being socialized

Anyway, I give the usual You can do nothing and get even more cats, or we can trap and fix these and let nature run its natural course speech. But it always ends with them saying, Ok, but we really don’t want them back, can’t you take them somewhere and let them go? Then comes speech #2. First of all, I tell them, Dumping cats is illegal, so I know you aren’t asking me to break the law. (Trapping domestic animals with the intent to do harm is a crime) Secondly, that would be cruel. How about I drive you somewhere far away and unfamiliar and just leave YOU there?

Cat Rescue Can Be Heartbreaking
I got a frantic message from a friend about an injured stray cat. My friend and a couple others spent about a week desperately trying to catch the cat. When they finally caught it, they needed help getting it to a vet. They had been advised to just put the cat down, but we all thought the cat deserved to at least been seen by the vet to determine the extent of the injuries. Sometimes it just looks really bad, but there is still hope. This was not to be the case for the poor fellow I named “Admiral”. His jaw was badly crushed and his leg was lacerated so severely I could see the bone. Most likely hit by a car, the cat was in terrible pain and his prognosis was not good. These are difficult decisions to make, and I never make them lightly. I factor in the vet’s evaluation, the amount of time (the cat would have to have the jaw wired shut and need to be handfed) and money it would require, the likelihood of recovery, and the amount of pain the cat was enduring. Admiral is no longer suffering and was given a dignified burial and resting place. Even though I didn’t have an emotional attachment to this cat, I still cried for him because he only knew a life filled with fear and pain. Over the Rainbow Bridge he runs and plays like a kitten, free and happy.

dog

My beloved Jeffrey, RIP

Speaking of the Rainbow Bridge, I recently lost my beloved dog, Jeffrey. He passed away very unexpectedly. When he didn’t come in for dinner, I went looking for him. I found him under the bushes. I thought he was asleep and didn’t hear me calling him. I think it must have been a heart attack or something. I miss him terribly. Jeffrey was a Lab/Pit mix, and he was a really great dog.

TNR Update
To update you on the A & W TNR project. I recently caught numbers thirteen through sixteen, all four were boys. That leaves about ten more to go. I am fairly certain that some people in the adjacent neighborhood got their cats fixed for free, and I hope they appreciate it. In reality, they probably have no clue whatsoever their cat has been fixed, they are just saying, “What the heck happened to my cat’s ear?” In a colony this large, I tip every cat I catch, whether it is fixed or not. Otherwise, how would I be able to tell one from another? Some of the cats look very similar. I can’t afford, either with money or time, to trap and anesthetize a cat multiple times only to find it is already fixed. I wish all vets would make the tiny tattoo on the girls because the only way to know if they are fixed is to open them up. If there was a tattoo, they would stop after shaving off the hair. Normally, this isn’t an issue, but since this colony is next to a row of homes, there will be some cats trapped who aren’t really feral. “Que sera, sera?”

Speaking of TNR, and I pretty much always am, I actually got a paid gig! The first cat was easy, the other three, not so much. After two weeks, I decided the drop trap was the next step. A drop trap is like a big, old fashioned rabbit trap. It drops down, I attach a transfer cage and (hopefully) the cat goes inside. Except I got two cats, a little trickier, but experience and reasonably calm cats made things easier.

rescue cat

Max

Well, to sum up the past month. I have signed up a new foster (Always need people willing to foster) and was able to help several people find homes for cats. One named Max, is a big ginger boy, left behind in an apartment complex when his people moved. A neighbor cared for him but said the other strays were beating him up. He was already fixed, so off to rescue.

Another cat, Oreo, very sweet girl, showed up at a woman’s home. I agreed to take her only to find out she had a large wound on her hind end and was limping. The rescue had to pass on her, and she is currently recuperating at my home. For reasons like this, I now do home visits or ask for a video before I accept a cat from someone I don’t know. I’ve learned that people will lie like a rug to get you to take a cat. My first question is always, “If I come to your house and walk up to this cat, will it let me pick it up?” If they say no, that’s a deal breaker. Cats must be, as I call them, “stranger friendly.”

rescue cat

Oreo and Max both are/were strays who needed rescue

One lady was set to relinquish a cat she said she HAD to rehome. Gorgeous cat, got it accepted at a rescue. She backed out at the eleventh hour saying her daughter literally was admitted to the hospital with anxiety over having to give up the cat. It happens, people sometimes don’t realize how much they really love their pets. Sometimes people really don’t have a choice. I’ve had people cry as they handed over a cat. I don’t judge, I give them a hug and assure them the cat will be just fine.

Then there are those like the lady who called saying if I didn’t come get two “stray” cats who were smacking around her small dogs, she was taking them to the pound. She said she had no legs (and she doesn’t) in order to try and garner my sympathy, but I could tell by what she was saying that she was a master manipulator. And what do you know, when I tell my friend about her, I find out that I am right. The woman even got banned from the local food pantry (that hands out pet food, too) for getting other people to stand in line for pet food and then give it to her. It really takes all kinds. We still, however, removed the two cats and sent them off to rescue.

And the best call of the month was an elderly couple who had a few cats hanging around that needed fixing, nothing serious. I noticed what I know to be “vermin shreds” near their piano. Turns out they have a rat living in their piano. Probably too scared to go outside where the cats are. So, I have expanded my repertoire into..rat trapping and hopefully I’ll catch that “varmint” soon!

If you would like to donate to help fund TNR projects, support the feral refuge, or any aspect of my cat-related work, it would be greatly appreciated. I have a GoFundMe account under my name. Or you can send donations via mail to Jackie Dale, P O Box 1859, Reedley, CA 93654. Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com

Check out more animal rescue & pet related articles and columns in our Pet Perspective section and remember that if you buy an ad in KRL you can designate 10% of the ad price to go to one of several animal rescues or to Jackie’s TNR and rescue efforts. Join our Pets Facebook group to keep up with all of our pet articles.

Jackie Dale is a freelance writer who lives in Reedley with her husband of 27 years, Frank, and their 2 children. A former ballerina, Jackie now teaches yoga and fitness classes privately and at local area gyms in addition to her cat related duties.

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