Jackie Dale—TheCatMother/Cat Trapper: So Many Cats, So Happy for Transports, So Very Busy

Jan 23, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale, Reedley News

by Jackie Dale


This time last month I was up to my eyeballs in cats and kittens. Noodles, Klinger, and Vivienne were no longer containable in the bathtub, and my husband, though extremely tolerant of sharing the bathroom, was growing weary of their antics. There was the usual unrolling of the toilet paper, scattering of cat litter on the floor, and the emptying of the waste basket onto the floor, but when they started jumping on the legs of the unlucky seated person, things got serious. I clipped all their sharp little claws, but they were still inflicting scratches on those brave enough to enter. We have two bathrooms, but the second one is small and also had a cat in it.


Besides the three tiny terrors in my bathroom, my cat room was full, too. Along with Otis Redding and Butterscotch from the local mobile home park, I had Portman, stray from an apartment complex, and Panda, an overly friendly kitten found foraging for food behind a Panda Express. Kitty was black and white so the name was perfect. And the three kittens from the mobile home park.

Then, like a shining beacon of light and trumpets from the heavens, one of my rescues called looking for kittens! They took the bathroom trio, the three kittens from the mobile home park on whom I’d spent considerable time calming down, Panda, Portman, and Sapphire, a stunning adult Siamese. Sapphire had abandoned in a supermarket shopping cart as a kitten. So nine felines left, and I was able to take a breather.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Shy but coming along!

On New Year’s Eve I was brought another kitten trapped at the mobile home park. The tuxedo is around four months old now, and I’m working daily to calm the nervous fellow. He is making good progress, and I’m hopeful he’ll soon be adoptable.

Then came a flurry of calls. A yoga client of mine called to tell me he had trapped a kitten and could I help. I said “sure,” and he brought the kitten to my house. “Kitten” turned out to be a full grown, pretty large, orange male cat, and he was really, really mad. I released him in my second bathroom and set him up with a heater and a bed, etc. He wasn’t happy at all. I was able to briefly pet him, but his ears always remained flat and he would hiss and growl. I had to trap him in the bathroom, so I could fix him and later released him at a small colony I manage. This colony currently has no alpha male, so he should do fine there. It’s a very safe spot, so I’m confident he will be okay.

Then a friend called saying a sick kitten had been dumped on the lawn of the home they were moving out of at that very moment. “The moving trucks are literally outside right now,” she said. She needed someone to take the kitten to the vet the next day. I was busy but made arrangements for the kitten to be transported to the vet. The kitten stayed with me for a few more days till the move was complete. My friend returned for the kitten and gave me a very generous donation. I told her if she elected not to keep the kitten, they already have several cats, I would definitely be able to send it to rescue when it is healthy.

Sick kitten in a hammock

Then I get a call from two ladies in Selma who do a lot of TNR. They had trapped two young cats in one trap, and they had to be separated before taking in to be fixed. So I went there with my trap separators and showed them how it’s done. It is a bit tricky, but like with anything new, the more you do it, the easier it gets. The trapped cats were gorgeous Siamese cats, it was a shame they were feral.

I received a call from a man who manages a chicken ranch for a well-known poultry brand. They have a colony of cats, and someone had given them my number. They need a cat trapper to trap and fix the cats and could I help. I told them it all depends on what he wanted for the cats after they were fixed. He seemed surprised that there was nowhere for twenty feral cats to go. I explained the vacuum effect of the colony. How the existing colony will naturally keep out most newcomers and how removing the colony is usually a practice in futility as other cats will simply move in to occupy the space. He seemed receptive to the cats being returned to the facility after fixing. He inquired about my rates. I said I normally do trapping as a public service and rely on donations. However I also told him that, if it is a business, I do expect some compensation for my time and gas. I normally get $10 and $20 per cat. That includes trapping, transporting to and from my house, and the appointment, and care before and after the appointment. I think that is a bargain. He said he will get back to me. We will see!

More Transports!

Bonnie, went to rescue

Then came another phone call that caused me great joy. My other rescue, having been shut down again for several weeks, was open and needed some adoptable cats. At the same time I had spotted a nice cat on Facebook that was looking for a new home. He was a neutered stray at a nice mobile home park in Fresno. The caretaker was losing her home and had to find placements for the cats she was caring for. I included the cat’s photo when I submitted my list of candidates, and they liked him. I drove to Fresno to pick up the cat since the woman had no car. “Tuffy” didn’t want to go in the carrier, and it took about thirty minutes to corral him. I got him home and set up for the night. He is one big dude, a whopping seventeen pounds! Fortunately, this particular rescue has a penchant for big cats. Normally the rescue prefers that the cats be already fixed and the only two adults I had were not yet fixed. They made an exception and accepted my two. In addition to my two cats and Tuffy, they also accepted four other adults. Two came from a friend who is planning to sell his property in the future and actually is NOT waiting till the last minute to re-home his many cats. His country ranch is also a sort of hot spot to drop off unwanted cats so he has quite a few. Another two came from a friend in the next town over who also rescues cats. Mostly because her irresponsible neighbors don’t fix their pets. And they frequently move away and leave their pets behind.

That brought the total to seven adult cats. That meant seven individual carriers were needed. My passenger car has a big back seat so it was three across and then I stacked the next three on top, securing the carriers with the seat belts and bungee cords. The seventh carrier held the smallest cat and it fit on the floorboard. It’s a 2-1/2 hour drive so I took a friend for company and while we waited for the cats to be evaluated, we drove another twenty-five minutes to the beach. There we soaked up some positive ions and ate awesome salmon tacos before returning to pick up the carriers. I have a lot of anxiety when I’m waiting for the evaluations. Rejections are rare, but they do happen.

Heathcliff-From dumped in my yard to rescue and a chance for a family of his own

The required tests are for Fiv, leukemia, ringworm, and temperament. The rejections are usually for ringworm. One cat I sent failed the temperament test and was sent back. She hissed too much they said. We tried placing her as an outside cat, but she was pretty insistent on being inside. So she came back to my house where she is doing fine as an inside/outside cat. She doesn’t care much for other cats, but it’s a “you leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” kind of arrangement.

So now The CatMother is having a bit of a vacation! Well, this is the time to clean and disinfect the cat rooms because there will eventually be more cats. I’m not completely out of cats but am down to two at the moment. I am having foot surgery soon, so I am attempting to temporarily limit my work load.

1 of 3 siblings The result of irresponsible cat owners, safe in rescue

I was poised to take in three, absolutely adorable, fluffy kittens. Then I get a text from a friend who works in rescue. They have room for a few healthy kittens! I didn’t even have to bring them home. I picked up the kittens and drove them straight to my friend’s house to meet the transport.

Stuff Going On Right Now
The TNR project on Sylvia Street is nearly complete. The caretaker did all the trapping of the approximately twelve cats/kittens. My part in this scenario was to set everything up. That means we arranged for the feral cats to be fixed and released in a secured area. Yes, I’m deliberately being vague because finding a place for these cats was a unique opportunity. One friendly adult went to rescue and some friendly kittens were removed as well. They even trapped a stray, pregnant Chihuahua!

Found dogs

My kid recently brought home two stray dogs, but we had to turn them over to Fresno Humane. The larger one looked a little too interested in my cats, and not in a good way. I already have Ilsa, the horse dog that I rescued and two small dogs.

I’m currently trying to catch an elusive stray that reportedly has a collar on that is now far too small. Once caught it will be evaluated at the vets and tested for disease.

I’m also experiencing every trapper’s nightmare. Trying to catch the last cat of a colony. All of the eight cats were trapped and fixed when someone dumped two more. Caught one, a pretty Siamese that I was able to tame down and privately adopt out. The remaining holdout is, of course, a female. Trying to catch one of ten cats is really, really hard. I can only keep trying.

I had to say goodbye to my sweet Roweena, sudden illness

And!! We are making a list of candidates for yet another upcoming transport of adult cats!!

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 deeply appreciated. I use my husband’s PayPal account (steamodale@gmail[dot]com) and I have a GoFundMe account under my name. You can also send donations via snail mail to Jackie Dale, P O Box 1859, Reedley, CA 93654. Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com.

You can check out more animal rescue articles in KRL’s animal rescue section! Join our Pets Facebook group to help keep up with 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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