by Jackie Dale
Kitten season is in full swing and the work is non-stop. The calls, texts and messages come in every single day. Sometimes I can help, but as I have been saying as of late, “I’m only one person!” I just can’t save them all. It is hard to say “no” but I only have so much room and time.
The hissy kittens from the Reedley J St apartment complex were selected to go to a local well-known rescue who flew them to Oregon. I was ecstatic to be so lucky. I did a little happy dance! Then the rescue I work with called asking if I had any friendly adults. I had just that very day picked up a gorgeous Siamese cat who was an owner surrender. Toby was a very nice cat but things were not meshing with the other resident cats. The owners selflessly wanted a better scenario for him.
The rescue got Toby, Steven, the trapped feral who turned out not to be feral at all, and Spock, a Reedley stray taken in by a kind person. However, kind person lived in an apartment and already had two cats. The rescue was very happy with the group. My partner-in-cat-crime, Janice, drove the group as I was busy finishing up the TNR at the home of the cheap guy.
I fixed the final two boys as well as deworming the entire group. There is still one cat left, quite feral, female and with a wonky eye. He promised to keep trying to catch her. When I arrived to drop off the last two boys after neutering them, I saw that there had been quite a party the night before. Lots and lots of liquor and beer bottles scattered about. This sort of thing really grinds my gears. People have enough money for alcohol, cigarettes, tattoos, fancy nails, ridiculously expensive tennis shoes, all manner of gaming equipment and ginormous TV’s, but can’t seem to find the money to get their pet fixed. All they seem to have an inexhaustible supply of, is excuses. And I have heard them all. All of them.
One person had a kitten for one day, ONE DAY, before posting that they needed to find it a new home because they didn’t realize how much work it would be. While I applaud their honesty, part of me is thinking, “This person doesn’t really know the meaning of hard work.” I currently have 15 kittens, a mom with seven kittens, and six adults, so pardon me if your claim of “hard work” falls on less than sympathetic ears.
This entire week in April was busy and interesting. I saw a Facebook post about a woman needing help feeding her cat. She had been staying in a Reedley hotel but had health issues and was admitted to the hospital. She needed someone to feed her cats. I volunteered to go and instructed her to call the hotel and give permission for me to enter the room. She did and I went in with my supplies. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that when I walked in, I was taken aback. It was a tad disorganized. But my job was to feed the cats and clean the box. First of all, I was distressed to find only one cat, the other appeared to have escaped. Probably when the paramedics took the woman away. The cat that was there appeared fine. Not knowing when the woman would return, I filled a very large tray with enough dry food for about a week as well as three bowls of water. The litter box was beyond full. I cleaned it and added fresh litter. Fortunately the box was very large so would be fine for a few days for only one cat. I was further perturbed by what I saw when I went to dispose of the used litter in the dumpster. Where there were obviously supposed to be two dumpsters, there was only one. It was full and the empty space for the second dumpster was filled by a giant pile of garbage consisting, it seemed, largely of liquor and beer bottles. I thought to myself that the manager had a lot of nerve commenting on the condition of the room when she had allowed this disgusting mess to happen. Then she asked me if I could help with the stray cats at the hotel. I explained the TNR process but of course she just wanted them gone. And I have not heard anything from her since.
The good news is that when the woman returned to her room, her missing cat reappeared! Yay!
And They Just Kept Coming…and Going
Another trip to the rescue, this time we got a volunteer to drive. We sent the cat that had the dental work (now named Mannix), Cubby (the cat who almost got his people evicted) and Gandolf, a gorgeous Russian Blue who needed rehoming. (Honestly, can’t remember why, LOL) All were accepted without issue.
The week continued to be busy. I had an adoption of two sisters to a lovely family. Rockford’s test for leukemia and FIV was negative and the vet could not determine the source of his rear leg limp. He was found to be cryptorchid, with one undescended testicle. His surgery was uneventful and he is fine although a bit annoyed by having to live in my spare bathroom. My plan is to get him to a groomer so the rescue will want him. His fur is just a mess and he needs some sprucing up!
I finally trapped Julio #2, had him fixed, and then took him out to a barn at a friend’s home in the country. I hope he does well out there, I wish him the best.
The trickle continued with me accepting a lonely, single kitten from the shelter. Then a friend brought me a kitten found in the parking lot of a popular Indian casino. I also agreed to take a large fixed male cat from the shelter. He is friendly enough but very traumatized so he will need time.
A friend texted me a photo of four adorable kittens heading to the bad place. I agreed to take them and to my surprise, two of them were polydactyl, aka multiple toes.
By now I am completely overwhelmed with kittens. Then, like a trumpet from the heavens, we got a call from a rescue we have worked with before, but not recently. They agreed to take the four new arrivals, four others that were just starting to eat on their own, a litter of five I had taken from the shelter and six sickly kittens from the shelter. A volunteer drove over this load of felines and they were delivered without incident.
I posted a photo of the two Siamese kittens in my care and a friend’s rescue snapped them up within minutes. There is simply no denying the reality that some cats are more popular than others. Siamese top the list, though in reality they can be high maintenance cats. Other popular cats include white cats, fluffy cats, orange cats and of course, polydactyls.
The next transport was my turn to drive. We pulled six adults and two kittens from Second Chance, as well as a fluffy white cat rescued by a friend. This cat turned out to have, and I quote, “the worst dental health of any cat we’ve see.” He thankfully, didn’t have stomatitis, a horrible, incurable and very painful gum disease. They said they would accept the cat because the rescue is soon opening a new dental unit. We are extremely grateful that they take the not-so-perfect cats too.
And Coming and Going…
A single kitten from a friend and five bottle babies abandoned in a box in front of a business. Three adult boy cats to the vet to be neutered. One of the adults, Geronimo, was sent to our rescue three days later along with two orange kittens that had been with a foster. Another of the kittens was privately adopted out and one was two small to get fixed yet.Then came Vlad, so ferocious! He was heavily infested with fleas, so had to be bathed which was really scary. He also had an injured leg. The vet said it looked like the leg had been crushed and to take a wait and see approach. The leg has already improved substantially.
A local group called Friends of Reedley Felines invited me to a meeting with the Reedley city officials to address the stray/feral cat problems. We discussed the possibility of implementing a TNR program for the city. The officials were very receptive and encouraging. We look forward to a progressive approach to dealing with a problem that was created not by cats, but by people.A fellow rescuer asked for help trapping some kittens at a strip mall where we had previously conducted an extensive TNR. Sadly, it is used as dumping place for unwanted cats. I was told there were two, then three kittens. When I started setting out the traps, more appeared for a total of five kittens. Two Siamese, two orange and one torby. I used tiny rodent traps and caught two in each. I had to reset to trap the final kitten. My friend had to call her foster person to make sure she could take the extra kittens and she could.
As I finish up this column I am once again overwhelmed. I am going to pick up a mom cat and four kittens today and have no idea where I will put them. We recently lost one of our kitten rescue connections when the person decided to retire and that will be a blow to us.We reached out to a rescue in Northern California who agreed to take 20 kittens from us. It is a three-hour drive each way but what can we do? We need to move these kittens and, because they have an onsite vet, they have graciously agreed to take sick kittens. The sick ones (mainly minor URI’s) will be coming from Second Chance, and a few healthy ones from my house, TheCatMother Inn. A generous angel has donated $100 to help pay for the transporters’ fuel.
I have been so very fortunate to have generous, kind people who believe in me and my work. They have been most generous with money, food and supplies so that I can continue to help the cats and kittens who have no one else.
At this time my GoFundMe account is paused. Apparently there was some huge software change last September and somehow I got left behind. They say the only thing for me to do is delete the old page and start over again. I just haven’t been able to find the time to do this. It is definitely on my to-do list. If you would still like to donate I have a PayPal account: steamodale@gmail[dot]com.
You can also send donations via good old snail mail to Jackie Dale, P O Box 1859, Reedley, CA 93654. Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com.