by Jackie Dale
This past summer was perhaps the busiest one I’ve ever had. Most of my kittens, and a few cats, came from a local (kill) shelter that doesn’t even accept cats. They are only supposed to take injured cats or kittens unable to eat on their own. So that is where I come in because someone needs to be their hope for life. Without the volunteers, the outlook for these cats is pretty bleak. None of the rural towns in this area accept cats so the options for cats are virtually nonexistent. There are just simply too many cats and not enough resources, so everyone who cares is just doing the best they can with what they have. A mandatory spay and neuter law would be nice. It actually was on the ballot a few years back, but was voted down. Why? Because “people didn’t want to be told what to do.” Well, if people did the right things on their own, society would not have to make so many laws and rules. But, nooo, everyone wants to play by their own rules and then whine about the inevitable consequences (kittens or puppies) of their failure to do said right thing.
Sooo Many Kittens…
I haven’t added up the numbers for the year yet, but I’m conservatively estimating around 75-100 cats and kittens came through my house and my little network of foster parents. I have incredible people who are willing to foster kittens for me and without them, many kittens would not have a chance of a decent life with a home of their own. Many would not have life at all. I appreciate my fosters more than they could ever really know. Although the fosters are very important, the people who are able to donate funds are really the lifeblood of any rescue operation. I am not an official charity, so I’m very grateful when people trust me enough to donate for my TNR and rescue efforts. I use the money to pay for spays/neuters, food/supplies, medicine, vet visits, etc. I never charge for my services, although I always say I accept donations. I nearly always end up dipping into my own pocketbook, and I’m pretty sure most people realize that. In addition, the sheer amount of time and effort to maintain a clean and odor-free environment was/is staggering. I never scooped so much cat poop in my life, and Febreeze became my best friend. The stuff really works!
Where, Oh Where, Will My Kitties Go?
The past few months for me have been ones of finding places for my cats to go. It can be time consuming. Phone calls/texts, sending photos, gathering records, updating shots, checking out potential rescues, adoptive people/homes (yes, we do “checks” on potential adopters) and transporting. Fortunately, I’m lucky enough to have a few like-minded individuals on my “team” so to speak. Two people work finding homes for cats/kittens, and I’m basically the supplier, filling often times, very specific orders. Another person does all the legwork contacting various rescues and no-kill shelters to find out who needs cats. Yes, believe it or not, there are places where there are actual shortages of adoptable cats! This is usually because either there is a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance which eventually creates shortages, or it’s an area where civic responsibility is not taken lightly and everyone fixes their pets.
My SoCal person specializes in supplying “natural rodent control.” We have placed many cats, feral, semi-feral and friendlies, in million dollar homes in ritzy gated communities that abut up against rural areas. I like to say that vermin don’t care how much money you have. They are equal opportunity pests. We even placed two cats with a rural high school where vermin were decimating their school garden.
Then there are those people who contribute by driving the cats and kittens to their destinations, often at their own expense. Everyone contributes in the way that they can and it all comes together to form a team of caring individuals doing their part to make their little piece of the world a better place for humans and animals alike.
Now I could tell you about the various resources we utilize to place our cats, but therein lies another issue. Other persons will actually hijack your resources. If that happens, then when we contact that particular facility, we find that they already have enough cats. Ethical rescuers will not do this so I was pretty shocked when it first happened to me. I will go out of my way to help out other rescuers whenever I can, but we work hard to develop and maintain relationships with the organizations who take our cats. It isn’t fair to circumvent and take advantage of someone else’s work.
Bottle BabiesMy three ginger bottle babies were doing well when suddenly two of them died. Fading Kitten Syndrome is similar to SIDS in humans in that the kittens die suddenly with no warning. The kittens inexplicably stop eating and are usually gone within 24 hours. The sole survivor is sweet little Dannie. My family is considering keeping little Daniella so that our blind kitten, Fabio, will have a buddy. Fabio was left at the shelter and languished there, in a cold metal cage surrounded by barking dogs. I took him in and no one seemed interested in the Maine Coon beauty with no eyes, so we will be keeping him. I also just took in two more bottle babies that were turned into the rescue.
New Vet in Reedley
The new vet in Reedley is Dr. Khaira. He bought the practice after Dr. Graves retired. The husband and wife team are really nice, and it’s quite obvious that they truly care about animals and the community. They have agreed to work with The Cat House on the Kings to provide spays and neuters. Dr. Khaira is open AND performs spays and neuters on weekends which is just amazing! That means I have more flexibility in trapping, and cats will spend less time sitting in traps. It also means that more people will avoid the incredibly expensive veterinary ER, not to mention the lengthy drive to either Fresno or Visalia. Dr. Khaira has already coordinated a low-cost vaccination clinic at a nearby town and is even considering having clinic days in the foothills area. (559)-637-7700, Closed on Thursdays
Don’t Waste My Time
You just never know about people. I had one gal contact me about finding a possibly injured cat. I called Lynea at The Cat House, and she agreed to at least evaluate the cat and the lady told me she would take the cat there. But she didn’t take it in, nor did she tell me that. When I asked her about it she said she decided to keep the cat. I kind of chewed her out for wasting my time and efforts on her behalf and then leaving me hanging. This would not be the first time someone asked for my help, then solved the problem themselves. Most don’t even bother to notify me. This can make me look bad when I coordinate with other people/rescuers, and then I have to tell them, “Oh, never mind, the other person flaked.”
Winter is TNR Time
I’m also very busy lining up TNR projects and trying to raise money to fund them. The feeder of a large cat colony in a nearby town moved away, and I organized a group of volunteers to provide daily food and water. Others offered to donate food. A private donor in that town has donated money for the purpose of TNRing the tremendous number of stray and feral cats. Fortunately, the TNR team has my colony on its list. Although two years ago I trapped eighteen cats at this site, (and removed twenty-five kittens), people continue to dump unwanted cats and kittens there so problem continues.
I’m concurrently working on two separate colonies. The larger one has about thirty cats and thus far I’ve trapped seven cats, six girls and one boy, and removed two very hissy kittens. This strip mall is up against a neighborhood, so there may be some people getting their cats fixed for free. On my next round, I plan to distribute flyers to those homes, advising them of the trapping dates. I prefer not to waste my precious resources fixing people’s personal pets, or waste my time trapping an already fixed cat. All cats trapped will be ear-tipped. Unfortunately that is the only logical way to keep track of who is fixed and who is not. The smaller colony has about twelve cats, but at least four are already TNR veterans. Three have been trapped and fixed this week. Trapping will continue as funding allows. We are currently utilizing the $20 grant being offered by The Cat House on the Kings which is such a tremendous deal!
If you would like to donate to help fund TNR projects 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
Jackie used to write the Cat House on the Kings column for KRL, but has now started her own column about her cat rescue adventures. In Jackie’s next article, find out how a stray kitten ends up with a seat on an airplane.
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.