by Jackie Dale
In the winter, the kitten season is generally over. Not completely, of course, because of California’s temperate climate, mating can continue all year long. Areas with much snow, for example, have an extremely low kitten rate in the winter. And in addition, the survival rate for those kittens that are born is very low. But the Central Valley cats do not have the challenge of snow and below freezing temperatures. However, I have managed to clear out all my foster parents so that they can have a break before the next wave of kittens this spring. Of course, ironically, the rescues I work with are now all asking for young kittens. I did recently take in a beautiful young mother cat, a Russian Blue, and her three babies. The very next day I received a message asking if I knew of anyone with a lactating mother for four kittens whose mother had disappeared. “Well,” I thought, “What are the chances?” The young mom readily accepted the newcomers who will remain there until they are weaned.TNR is plodding along, slowly but surely. At the Dinuba A&W, twelve cats have been fixed thus far. The two kittens I removed are slowly but surely coming around to the tame side. I tried to tame an older Siamese kitten, but it wasn’t happening. She got loose in my house three times, pooping everywhere despite multiple boxes available. I finally captured her and returned her to the colony where I’m sure she is happier. Still working on CVS, three have been fixed and returned. Maybe four more to go. Took on a private TNR and I didn’t catch any of my intended targets. They would not go in the traps. I did however catch a large boy who weighed about twenty pounds. The neighborhood stud, he had been a wanderer for about three years. I put the name “Stud” on his neuter form, and the vet said that name was most appropriate because Stud had the biggest “man parts” he’s ever seen. When released, he shot out of his trap like a launched rocket. From “Stud” to “Dud!”
From Stray to First Class Passenger
Youth is Our Hope for the Future
Speaking of donations, I was remiss in thanking a young friend for a donation he made to me at Christmas time. A friend of mine had contacted me and said that her grandson had something for me. We met up at a local Starbucks. The young man’s mother and grandmother and I have been friends for a very long time. So after a few minutes of catching up, my friend, Sharon, told me that this year she had decided to do things differently for Christmas. She would buy each of her grandkids a nice gift, and then each child would also choose a charity that they would like to give a donation. I was so humbled, so honored, and so very touched when her grandson, Jonathon, elected to donate to help the homeless cats. He loves his own cat so much that his big heart wanted to help some kitties not quite as fortunate as his cat. Generous, selfless acts like this give me faith that the world is not as rotten as it sometimes appears to be. There are many good, kind-hearted people in the world who will look out and care for those poor creatures who can’t help themselves. They depend on us to do the right things (spay, neuter, vaccinate) for them.
Grace Under Pressure-It’s Really Hard!
I just can’t believe it when people tell me (Yes, they actually tell me) that what I’m doing is wrong, that fixing cats is against nature. I don’t even bother trying to argue with some who thinks that way. I’d just be spinning my wheels and wasting my breath. I actually find it a tiny bit amusing that some people can be so deluded. I may be smiling and nodding politely, but in my head I’m thinking “crazy as a loon!” You really need to maintain a sense of humor in rescue work or you surely will lose your mind. And even if the person is the stupidest person on the face of the earth, you won’t accomplish anything by telling them that. In order to achieve your goal/mission of helping cats, you must endure extreme amounts of stupidity along with plain and simple ignorance. A good friend once told me that educating someone is a nobler goal, and you will accomplish much more than you ever would by telling them what an idiot they are. It is stellar advice that has served me well.
As I write this column, I was trying to help a woman desperate to re-home several cats. I spent nearly an entire day setting up an adoption for one of her feral cats at a really nice horse ranch. Then she fails to get back to me till late, fails to get the cat into a carrier, and she responds to my polite query with a very rude and uncalled for response. My initial reaction is to tell her off, but for the sake of the cat, I held my tongue. She then later apologizes and makes lame excuses. Says she will get the cat. She does not. She is rude again. More lame excuses coupled with a defensive attitude. She claims to be stressed. Claims the cat is stressed. What I wanted to say, but didn’t, “that’s what happens when you wait till the last minute to do things, like move and rehome pets.”
Sometimes I get calls that warm my heart to the core. About twice a year, I get a call from an elderly gentleman who adopted two cats from me. He wanted a couple cats to hang around his metal shop and help kill mice. He calls and lets me know that the cats are doing great and how much he enjoys their company. He gives me the lowdown on each cat and thanks me. I have received a few calls from a guy in Santa Cruz who adopted a cat from me. He had recently moved from Italy and despite his very thick Italian accent, he relayed that he wanted to give a nice home to a cat that needed help. I had a perfect candidate for him. A stray had been living on the roof of a rural home, and the residents wanted her gone. She kept having kittens and pooping on the roof. She lived up their due to the homeowner’s dogs and coyotes. To their credit, the residents did feed the poor girl. They paid to have her fixed and gave a huge donation for me to take her away. Although she clearly did not belong there, she stayed at the feral area for several months before this adoption opportunity came up. She is healthy and happy in her home. One of my yoga clients adopted a kitten from me and she tells me all the time what a wonderful cat he is and how much she loves him.
The Feral Refuge – A Well-Known Secret
The feral refuge has about 30-40 cats, all fixed. In 2012 I spent eight weeks trapping and fixing thirty-five cats which was paid for by The Cat House on the Kings. We maintain the highest secrecy possible even though most of the town knows about it. We don’t want people dropping off their unwanted cats, something which happens frequently. If it is apparent the cats are house pets, we find homes for them. Otherwise, they are trapped, fixed, and often remain there. The problem has abated quite a bit since the city allowed us to move behind a locked, fenced area. Now it is not so visible to anyone driving by, and it is safer for the cats. I have one of the most dedicated volunteers ever. She goes to the refuge every single day. Rain or shine, holidays, even if she is sick, the cats are fed without fail. Her dedication is inspiring. Some of the dry food is donated by a local business person. The colony has grown since the donation started, but the food donation amount remains the same. My jobs are to raise money to offset the shortfall plus supply money for incidentals like paper towels, bleach, and the additional food, find homes for the cats and/or kittens that get dumped there, find/provide medical assistance for cats as needed, and liaison with officials and sources of help.
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.