by Jackie Dale
The end of May was both uplifting and encouraging even with a hiccup or two. The day after I finished last month’s column, I stopped to feed my small colony and was perturbed to see a kitten. I had not seen any pregnant cats out there. One kitten turned out to be four kittens. They were scared, but it was clear that they were not feral. If they were born feral, there would be no way I would have been able to grab them by hand. Granted, I did have to crawl through some bushes, but I was not leaving any behind. Plus, they were flea-free, very unusual with cats born in the wild.Then I got a call about three kittens at an apartment complex in Fresno. I don’t normally go that far, but I do make exceptions. So I drove all the way up there. I let the woman know I was leaving to come get the kittens. I texted her when I was ten minutes away. However, when I arrived, she had not secured the kittens. She claimed she just saw them a few minutes earlier. This kind of angered me because I specifically asked her to corral them. Needless to say, the kittens were nowhere to be found. I found out later a neighbor took them inside and refused to give them back. I have no idea what their plans were for the kittens. Not one to waste a trip, I grabbed the mother of the kittens and a male, purported to be the father. Both were promptly fixed. The same woman called me a week later to say she had found a kitten while at the store, so I went and picked up that one, too. When I arrived to pick up the kitten, well, how can I put this? I would say that housekeeping wasn’t this person’s top priority. I was beyond shocked to see the cat’s litter box so overly full; it was mind-boggling. As we stood there talking, I just kept staring at the litter box. I wanted to say something, but I hoped that maybe my staring at the box while we were conversing would be enough to make her do something. It was gross and disgusting.
We Volunteer for the Cats
My friend Janice, who does all the liaison work, had contacted several rescues looking to place out cats. We lucked out and found one in Northern California who was willing to help us out. We took the four kittens I found at my feeding station, Vlad, who had calmed down significantly and his injured leg was vastly improved, and seventeen kittens from 2nd Chance Shelter in Selma. Somehow, though, there was a miscommunication about the number of cats they were expecting to receive, and they were a little upset because we brought too many. We were mortified by the error and apologized profusely. We hope they don’t hold it against us. They did take all the cats we brought, and we are extremely grateful!
A Deluge of Cats and Kittens
A very nice dedication ceremony was held with city officials in attendance. In the back of my mind I knew that this was going to be trouble and mentioned this to Janice. Lo and behold, my worst fears were confirmed. Things quickly began to spiral out of control. The citizens of Selma began to deluge the shelter with cats and kittens. In no time at all, there were forty-eight kittens, filling every available space. Still the calls continued to come. People demanding the shelter come pick up this cat, that cat, and the other. (The shelter doesn’t pick up cats, they must be brought in.) People were not only being unreasonably demanding, they were being rude and disrespectful to the shelter employees. Then people started throwing cats over the fence onto the shelter grounds and leaving them at the gate in carriers or sealed up in boxes.
I contacted a rescue friend who contacted a rescue group located in Oregon. They were so concerned about the kittens that they agreed to drive down that very night! We were hoping to move at least half the kittens out, but to our shock and amazement, they agreed to take every single cat in the shelter!!! Oregon has an extremely progressive attitude concerning the welfare of animals. We really can’t thank them enough!!HOWEVER, fast forward one month, and the shelter is once again at full capacity with about fifty kittens. And people continue to get angry when told there is no room. It is no big secret that a vast number of Selma citizens do not bother to spay or neuter their pets, so it is also no big surprise that Selma is completely and totally overrun with cats. I have been doing TNR in Selma since 2012, and I see very little improvement.
The Storm Before The Inevitable Lull!
Our transport streak continued onward. Our regular rescue said they had room for a few fixed adults. They took Frasier, the cat with stomatitis. Frasier had been with me for about four months while waiting for the rescue’s new dental unit to be up and running. We also sent Jack, a Russian Blue dumped at my feral refuge; Rockford, the dude who needed grooming but the rescue said they would do it; and Ashley, the mom cat from the Fresno apartment complex. The male cat, Getty, would have gone, too, but he has an open sore on the back of his neck that we are treating.
That very same day, another rescue was taking five of my kittens. I had the back seat of my car stacked to the roof. Fortunately, the ride to drop off the kittens at 9 a.m. was only thirty minutes away. The remainder were delivered by noon, and I was home by four o’clock. It was a long day.And the week that followed was insanely cat-busy! In fact, the very next evening I received a call around 9 p.m. from a fellow rescuer. Her daughter works at a local ER and a small kitten was insisting on coming in and following people around. I was really tired, but I went and got the little cutey. He was so friendly and just a bit too needy. He cried whenever I left him alone. They gave me a donation, always a nice way to say, “Thank You!”
The next day, a lady I had promised to take kittens from kept asking me “when” because they were so much work. Preaching to the choir here! But I went to pick them up and four kittens turned out to be six. Two were younger but they were sitting there with their eyes sealed shut so I took them also. Save myself a trip back there. The good news is that five of them are orange and a couple are fluffy. People love orange cats, particularly fluffy ones.Day after that I took delivery of two kittens that I had sort of “reserved” till old enough to leave the mom. The foster was hesitant to let them leave the mom, but I assured her that by eight weeks old the kittens were ready to leave the mom and the mom was probably happy to see them go. It was good we didn’t wait any longer. I was a bit disappointed to see that the kittens were very hissy and one of them tried to go straight up the wall. That is not a good sign. Fortunately we had eleven days until the scheduled transport to calm them down. They made the transport and the foster for the now named Jade and Opal, is in love. A possible “foster fail,” or as I like to call them, a “foster keeper.”
The next day was June 3, the day the Oregon rescue came to clean out 2nd Chance. That same day I helped a lady get six kittens into a rescue via a rescue friend. Six kittens turned out to be five because she neglected to tell me that one of the kittens had died a week earlier. Huh? I help people with their cat problems and all I ask is that I be kept updated on their status. One woman asked me for help with a litter of kittens and I found rescue only to find out she had given them to someone else, but didn’t bother to let me know. I get very upset when this happens. Not only is it a vast waste of my time and energy, it damages my reputation and makes me look flaky.
June 4, my vet called and said an animal control officer had found four kittens about two weeks old. They asked if I would take them because they were so young; they were going to be put down. So I took them. The next day he brought me two more he had found. I took those also but let him know I am full. I could just see that slippery slope coming at me full speed. I’m willing to help, but I keep telling people, “I’m only one person!” One of the two kittens had an eye infection and while cleaning the eye, the lens just popped out. Never seen that before. Obviously the eye is gone, but the kitten has to be older to have surgery.June 6, I offered to take three bottle babies since I had a nursing mother but she didn’t want to feed them. So I had to bottle feed them. Feeding nine bottle babies is crazy as they are all crying at the same time. June 12, I picked up four kittens that I had promised I would take. They are about twelve weeks, very active, and not super social. They are basically wrecking the kitten room. I did have them in a huge cat tent setup on my lawn. However, the Central Valley had one of its infamous hot spells where temperatures reached 109°! So, obviously they had to come in which only further added to the growing lack of space. June 13, I took delivery of a single, blue-eyed ginger kitten someone found in their yard. Those eyes are just stunning, I couldn’t say no.
June 18, Lynea at the Cat House asked if I could help a Reedley citizen with a TNR project. I had these cats on a mental list already. Lynea said the CHOTK will pay for fixing the cats, and I will do the trapping. I also took food as the man was out of work and had no money. He took in a mom cat who recently birthed two kittens. I applaud him doing what he can and reaching out for help.Reedley is a Progressive Town!
I mentioned in my last column a meeting with Reedley city officials and a group called Friends of Reedley Felines. Reedley officials were both receptive and encouraging. We recently were notified that Reedley has rescinded the ordinance that forbids the feeding of feral/stray cats. We are grateful and overjoyed! I, personally, am very proud of my town for taking this position.
Wrapping It Up
This June is like every other June. The kitten season is hitting its peak. The kittens are everywhere and everyone is so full, that no one is taking in kittens. This is the time when I get completely overloaded and overwhelmed. I currently have one mother with seven babies, two adults, and twenty-three kittens of various ages. My two kitten rooms are packed as is the second bathroom. The mom and babies are in a large pop-up enclosure in my living room. Generally, things start to ease up with the extreme heat there tend to be fewer kittens and adoptions usually pick up. Keeping my fingers crossed!
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.