Jackie Dale-The CatMother/Cat Trapper: Strays & Kittens

Mar 21, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale

by Jackie Dale

It has been a brisk month for The CatMother. I currently have two bottle babies, Chuck and Lola. Their mother had four kittens on someone’s lawn and then she got up and walked away. By the time I was contacted, only two remained. So far they are doing well, and I’m hopeful. However tiny newborns are quite fragile and things can go downhill quickly and suddenly. Keeping them warm and well-fed is the key and that is all we can really do. Mother Nature plays a big part in the equation and we all know you can’t fight Mother Nature. She can be quite cruel and extremely unfair. If you are not able to accept these realities of life, then rescue work will quickly burn you out. Burn-out is a very real phenomenon in the rescue world. You have to learn what your limits are and try not to surpass them. You have to learn when to say “No,” because you can’t help everyone.

I made several visits to one woman’s home as she was convinced that a cat was trapped under her house. I looked and looked, including hanging upside-down from her crawl space trap door to see underneath the house. All I saw was lots of cat poop. I told her she must resolve this situation ASAP and seal up all openings as it was not a healthy state of affairs . It was my opinion that the cat was not trapped. If it were, I told her, it would surely be dead by now. I eventually advised her to call a plumber, who might have a snake with a camera on it. She did, he did, and he also felt that the cat was not trapped. However, the homeowner wanted to be certain so the plumber crawled under the house to verify that the cat was indeed, coming and going freely.

Fluffy was a stray being cared for by a neighbor

So far this year I have not been bringing in many kittens in due to my son’s increasing medical needs. Kittens that have come in have gone into foster homes. We currently have a very pregnant mom ready to give birth any day. I also am holding a spot for a pregnant feral should she finally be trapped. I personally don’t want to terminate when mom is full-term. Keeping her in a cage until the kittens are old enough to leave her is a real hassle, but it is doable. In some instances, we like to keep a docile mom around in order to use her to nurse any incoming newborns. That is a tremendous boost for them as there is nothing better than mom’s actual milk. It is also a ton less work for the fosterers!

“May We Have Some More Please?”
We have had a pretty steady stream of cats going to rescue over the past month. We are beyond pleased when the rescue starts calling us asking for cats! As I have mentioned in previous columns, my rescue likes to have cats of all ages. There are tons of kittens out there, but they like friendly adults. Fixed cats are a plus but they can take a few unfixed as the rescue has its own spay and neuter clinic. Virtually all of the cats I have provided to them are adopted within two weeks. They have an amazing adoption rate and that is due no doubt in part to my team providing them with quality cats. My liaison works tirelessly to keep the relationship beneficial to all. She sends the photos and videos, and promotes the cats. We take turns driving the cats, with an occasional volunteer offering to drive them. It’s not just a drop-off and leave. The most anxiety-ridden part is the intake process. The must pass the FIV, leukemia, ringworm, and temperament tests. If they fail any one, they come back. While we have a 100% no-questions-asked return policy, we are fortunate that our return rate is almost nil.

Baby was a stray

They need cats, we have cats who need homes, they have people who want to adopt cats, and we are thrilled to deliver cats to them. It’s a win-win all around. I have actually begun to search out potential candidates. This usually involves an in-person visit. If I am unable to make that visit, I will ask a nearby friend to visit the cat to evaluate friendliness, or I ask for a short video. Unfortunately, people will lie like a rug to get you to take their cat.

Stray kitten

Non-Cat Rescues, Too!

Rescued chicken

I will rescue any animal I see that needs help. I have rescued many a turtle from the road and helped it go towards its intended goal. I rescue lizards from my cats. I drive around the black widows when they begin their seasonal march looking for a mate. I once stopped traffic to assist a rather large gopher snake cross the road. So many people don’t seem to care, so what if it’s a snake. Gopher snakes are beneficial, and judging by its size, it was a mature snake. What a shame it would be to have it killed while it is simply trying to cross a road. Anyhow, that being said, I rescued a chicken this week. I was driving and I saw this white chicken crouched on the road narrowly being missed by cars. I turned around and got out to investigate. It continued to sit there and when I tried to pick it up it made a fuss. I know very little about chickens. I didn’t want it to run in the road, nor did I want to get pecked, so I got out my net and netted it. I happened to have a cat carrier in my car and was able to maneuver the chicken into the carrier.

Rescued dogs

I continued on to my line dance rehearsal after posting the chicken on Facebook asking for someone to take the bird. I was very pleased when someone did offer to come and get the chicken and take care of it. Turns out they have a couple of young dogs to re-home. Sigh. I told them I would forward the pictures to dog rescue friends.
Speaking of dogs, someone abandoned four dogs just down the road from my home. I noticed the post on Facebook that two ladies were going to attempt to get the friendly, but very scared dogs. People who abandon their pets never realize that the pet is so often traumatized, and so frightened by being abandoned, they often resist any attempts to rescue them. They die, alone and afraid, from any number of unpleasant causes. By the time we assembled to begin the rescue, only two dogs remained. No one knows what became of the other two dogs. The remaining dogs came close, but wouldn’t come to us. We made several attempts to catch them with no success. Finally we decided to try my drop trap. We caught one of the dogs within just a few minutes. However, now the other dog was having nothing to do with us. Time was passing and the decision was made to set and leave a trap out there, concealed among the trees. I locked it to a tree and the plan was for me to check on it every hour since I was just down the street. When I checked it an hour later, the second dog was in the trap. The dogs were put into foster care, and have turned out to be very nice dogs.


Branco, a stray who went to rescue

The cat from the apartment complex who insisted on being rescued, was sent to our rescue and has been adopted. The feral cat with the crippled leg was fixed, tested for disease, and evaluated. The leg is a birth defect and needed no further intervention. However, the cat was extremely feral. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was very fortunate to find a safe sanctuary where the cat will be able spend the remainder of its life free to roam, but safe from all harm. The Foster Freeze project has one more phase to trap the remaining four cats. I already have begun a list of TNR projects that need to be performed soon. The owner of the auto mall where I TNR’ed several cats wants the cats removed. No one complained, they have caused no issues or damage, the owner simply doesn’t like cats. I told the caller that I had no place to put feral cats. He found a place for them to go and now I have been asked to go back and try to re-trap them. That should be fun.

Stray kitten

The kitten season is starting and soon the flood of kittens will begin. If you would like donate towards any aspect of my TNR/Rescue work, I would be most grateful. I often use my own funds to pay when there is no one else to pay, as in the case of strays, etc. I already have a full list of TNR projects and I still support the 45-feral refuge with $150 monthly out of my own pocket. The dry food is donated by a local businessman but that is it. I pay for all other supplies, occasional canned food, bleach, paper towels, meds, etc. I sometimes joke that I basically teach yoga classes to pay for unreimbursed feline expenses.

I have a GoFundMe account under my name, my husband has a PayPal account that I use (steamodale@gmail[dot]com), or I have a box: PO Box 1859, Reedley, CA 93654.

You can check out more animal rescue articles in KRL’s animal rescue section!

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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