Jackie Dale–The Catmother/Cat Trapper: Drowning in Kittens, In n’ Out for Cats, Apathetic Cat Owners, Magical Powers

Apr 24, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale, Reedley News

by Jackie Dale


Kitten season has arrived with its usual tsunami of kittens. In addition, a lot of pregnant cats have come my way. I think this is in part due to two things. Number one is the sheer cost of fixing one’s pet is extremely high. Low cost alternatives are sometimes available but often require traveling, which is an obstacle for some people. I realize that if you can’t afford to fix your pet, you should not get one, but unfortunately, many people don’t have that much forethought. The other group of people are the ones that do not believe in spaying and neutering. Ridiculous and erroneous beliefs such as, “It’s against nature,” or “It will make my pet fat and lazy” contribute to the Valley’s overwhelmingly out-of-control pet population.

Shelter kitten

The local shelter is being inundated with kittens even though they are not equipped to handle kittens. They are not even supposed to take cats unless injured, or kittens without a mother. This sometimes leads to people taking kittens from a mother just to be rid of them. Then they lie and say they were abandoned. The shelter is now adding a new, separate shed to house the kittens away from the dogs. There will be heat and A/C. Janice and I hope to educate the shelter about how to care for kittens and how to detect problems such as ringworm. In the meantime, I have been pulling many of the cats and kittens, and housing them at my house.

Rescued mom and babies

They Just Keep Coming…
Right off the bat, the month started with me taking a mom and six kittens from the shelter. The very next day I picked up a single tuxedo that a woman had found at a friend’s home. Its eyes weren’t even open yet. I added the kitten to the mother cat’s brood and she readily accepted the newcomer. Two days later, a man found two newborn kittens at a vacant house next door. They were so newborn, one had the sac still attached. Mom cat took them on, but sadly, they didn’t make it. Then there was another tiny single, found by a woman on the lawn of a vacant house. I asked her to check frequently because there is rarely just one. She did as I requested but no more kittens were found. However, one week later the lady called me again. She had three older kittens. She said a neighbor found them in his garage and was complaining about all the crying. She said, and I quote, “The woman said she was going to put them in a flower pot and put them out on the sidewalk.” HUH?! Realizing that this was the stupidest plan ever, she brought the kittens home. But she lives in an apartment and wasn’t allowed pets so she called me and I picked them up.

Bottle babies

By now I had a total of eight bottle babies of various sizes. I contacted a woman who had displayed an interest in the three kittens I had recently acquired. Turns out she works with a Bay Area rescue that specializes in kittens. They not only took the three healthy kittens, but also my eight bottle babies! They had foster bottle feeders all lined up and ready to go. They even got to take an airplane ride to their destination.

In They Come—Out They Go!

Going to rescue

Lots of transports this month and that makes TheCatMother very happy! My NorCal rescue called asking if I had older kittens. I did not have any of adoptable age, but a friend had several and five kittens went on to a great future. Three days later my other rescue called looking for fixed adults. I sent them two cats who needed rehoming, a friendly stray from Reedley (her caregivers sent along a $100 donation which was sent on to the rescue), and another friendly stray from the local mobile home park. Then my rescue accepted the mother cat and her six kittens, which I had picked up at the shelter along with three older kittens I had recently acquired.

A post on Facebook stating I was overwhelmed, full to the max and not taking in any more cats triggered a call from a lady who works with a well-known rescue in Oregon. They took the now-very-pregnant tortoiseshell, the mom and five kittens born on Easter, two tuxedo boy kittens found abandoned in a field, an adult that needed a new home, as well as the mother cat from the shelter, and a friendly stray from Reedley. (Another airplane ride!) The mother cat’s two tuxedo kittens were already promised to my other rescue in addition to a mother cat and seven kittens that were waiting at the shelter.

Reedley kittens

A couple days later I returned to where the Reedley stray had been cared for to pick up another dumped cat. He was in bad shape, thin and dirty. I took him to the vet for a check-up and a test for Fiv/ Felv. His test was negative but his teeth were in terrible condition. Fortunately it was not stomatitis. He ended up having six teeth removed and hopefully he will feel better. The vet estimates his age around eight years old. I hope to eventually send him to rescue.

What Happens When You Get Cats and Don’t Fix Them
Then the Selma TNR project began. A man had approximately twelve cats roaming about. Let’s see, there were three visibly pregnant, one limping and one with an injured, no longer functional eye. Most were not feral but very leery. We immediately removed the three pregnant ladies and brought them to my house. I will digress for a moment because as I was heading home to prepare for the arrival of the pregnant ladies, I saw a very sad sight. Standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere was a very emaciated dog. Of course, I pulled over, opened my door and the unfixed male pitty just got in. I took him home and put him in my dog’s kennel. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, but with all my cats, and dogs of my own I couldn’t take any chances. I called animal control but it was the weekend so he stayed with me until Monday.

Selma TNR

Then I made arrangements with the vet so we could begin the TNR. The man was very cooperative about getting the cats and bringing them to the appointed spot on time. I said to bring any females first. The first two he brought were pregnant; it wasn’t obvious but I still had to pay more. The next two were a boy and a (not pregnant) girl. Most will be returned to the man’s property.

Pregnant cat went to rescue

Of the three pregnant moms, two were quite friendly but one was very feral. One of the friendly moms delivered five healthy kittens on Easter. Three days later, the feral mom gave birth to three kittens. Things seemed to be going well until the third day, I walked in to find one of the kittens outside of the cage. I inspected the mom cat and was horrified to realize that the umbilical cord was attached to two of the kittens and was wrapped around her paw. I was forced to further traumatize her by forcing her into a carrier and rushing her to the vet. He cut the now dried cord from her foot which was pretty swollen. One kitten was already dead and the other one passed on shortly thereafter. I bottle fed the remaining kitten for three days before returning it to the mom. I kept a close watch on her and things seemed to be going fine. One morning I went in to check on them and the kitten was gone. There is no delicate way to say this: she consumed the kitten. I was so grossed out, so repelled by this act, I had the cat spayed immediately and returned to her home after a 48-hour recovery period.

Shelter cat goes to rescue

I think there are three more cats to go. The bad news—the man, who as far as I can see, owns two modest homes, doesn’t want to pay anything. I had a good month of donations but this project depleted a good portion of that. In addition, the dental work on that one cat was $200. We decided to it would be best to go ahead and finish the project and then try to get him to pony up some cash. We saw no benefit to making the guy mad and having him say to forget the whole thing. My theory is take care of it now, while manageable in six months, this guy will have another 70+ cats. Even if I don’t get a dime out of him, the outcome will be far better than what would inevitably occur if we just did nothing. I’m going to make him do the math. Five pregnant cats, average four kittens each = 20 more cats. If half of those are girls, in six months, another 50 cats.

TheCatMother Works Her Magic
The woman who had heard kittens crying in the bushes at her apartment complex called me again. A month later four kittens had now appeared. I went over to pick them up. One was friendly, the others were not. They were about six weeks old and so ferocious and hissy, I had to throw a towel over them to pick them up. I thought that this was going to be a project bringing these guys over to the friendly side. But, apparently I underestimated myself, lol. Within 24 hours I had them calmed down and by the following day, I was holding and cuddling them. Then the woman called me again. The mother cat had ripped her window screen to shreds attempting to enter the apartment where she thought her kittens were. The woman corralled the cat for me and I took her in to be fixed. She developed mastitis but the caregiver agreed to apply warm compresses so she was returned to her home following standard recovery period.

Shelter cat goes to rescue

The very same day I picked up the four hissy kittens, a good friend who rescues dogs called about kittens at her local shelter. I agreed to accept ten bottle babies that were headed for death row. I was very tempted to just cherry pick out the best ones but ultimately could not do it. It had to be all or nothing. On my way to pick them up, I got a call from another rescue friend. A postal worker had found two chubby kittens in the gutter. I stopped and picked those up too. I thought that if I hadn’t already lost my mind by taking in all these kittens, I surely would soon, trying to feed them all. I got lucky again. A friend trying to clean up the cats in her neighborhood had three nursing mother cats. We were able to get each mom to take three kittens. I kept the largest three to feed myself.

Very Thankful For Donations

I would like to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to everyone who has donated cash, food, litter and supplies to support my work. I could not do this work without this 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 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.


  1. Unable to donate to your GoFund Me page according to that page. You need to straighten that out so we can donate to your cause.

    • Thank you I am attempting to update my page as soon as possible


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