by Jackie Dale
Some of you (hopefully) noticed I did not have a column last month. Unfortunately, my son, who was 28, passed away after a long illness. Frankie had a degenerative brain disease that progressed very slowly, finally ending my sweet boy’s life on what was possibly the worst day of my life. But for at least three people, the worst day of my life was the best day of their life because we decided to donate Frankie’s organs. I won’t lie, it’s a difficult process. We had to keep him on life support while arrangements were made to harvest his organs, and there is lots of paperwork. However, the thought that my son would live on in a small way by giving life to others was a great comfort to our family.
I farmed out as many kittens as I could to my foster people as I was in no state of mind to care for them properly. I would like to thank Lynea at The Cat House on the Kings for taking three kittens so that I was able to focus on my family without neglecting anyone. In addition, a HUGE thank you to Lynea for also accepting the poor kitty with the deformed legs. (Vet had said both legs had been broken and never treated) We had no idea what we were going to do with this poor gal. There was absolutely no way I was allowing this cat to be returned to the feral colony where she was living. Lynea felt the leg would need amputation as it literally pointed backwards. We are extremely grateful that this cat will have the opportunity to have a quality life.
Take My Kittens, Please!
Our rescues which take adults finally has been taking a few cats from us as things begin to open up a bit more. The rescue that takes kittens also called asking for them. In the past two months we have sent them somewhere in the neighborhood of 50+ kittens. We are now on a short hiatus as the rescues works to adopt out the kittens. I delivered 21 kittens on the last trip. This load included 10 kittens from a local shelter. The first group of four were quite sickly and had terrible diarrhea. The rescue contacted me and asked me to pick up six kittens with eye problems that were living under questionable circumstances. The kittens were filthy and riddled with fleas. One kitten appeared to be much larger and was obviously not part of the litter. This cat also had a mild upper respiratory infection so it was separated from the rest of the group. The rest had crusty eyes with the inner eyelid showing on most. I bathed everyone, cleaned their eyes and administered eye ointment. By the time they were scheduled to go to the rescue, they looked so much better. Their eyes had returned to a normal appearance and the kittens were active and playful. It is amazing what a little basic care can accomplish.
Before, I had no time, but I had money. Now I have more time, but not much money. Why now? Because I got a paycheck from In Home Supportive Services for caring for my adult son. I used some of that money to finance my cat rescue. When my son passed, I also lost my income and my health insurance. Thankfully, my husband has a good job and I will be able to get on his insurance. But there is no way we have the extra money to spend on cat rescue in the manner I had been. Fortunately I receive a monthly donation of $100 so I can still support the feral refuge. I used to give the caretaker $150 every month but was forced to reduce that amount. I still get a donation here and there, for which I am so grateful. Sometimes its cash/gift cards, other times it is food, litter, pee pads, etc. Believe me, there is no such thing as a small donation. It all helps. However, now I have to be a bit more aggressive about asking for donations when I help out people with their cat problems. This past month a friend who recently sold her home, gave me a very generous donation of $1,000. When I opened the envelope, I actually cried I was so touched by my friend’s generosity. The money will be well spent, mostly on TNR projects for whom there is no one to pay. I get many calls to take cats/kittens but now I have to be very selective about which cats/kittens I can take because it all costs money. And I always ask if they can donate anything.
Can’t Fix Stupid
Which brings me to the next anecdote. I had a very interesting and disturbing interaction with some people who had a stray cat problem. I had been contacted by a neighbor regarding an elderly man who needed help. I realized I had been to this house the previous year, where the couple insisted there was no cat problem and were unsure why anyone had called. I remember it vividly because, even though I had things to do, they regaled me with tales of their world travels for an hour and a half. So after setting a trap for a rat living inside a piano, I left. Never heard from them again, forgot about my tiny trap.
Fast forward to now. I had already been informed by the neighbor that the lady of the house passed away at about the same time that my son did. I was met at the door by the man and his daughter. I introduced myself and explained why I was there: to assess the situation, tell them what I could do for them and make recommendations. I observed at least two adult females and several older kittens. The cats were clearly skittish as every one ran when they saw us.
I explained I could trap and fix them so that more babies wouldn’t be born. Despite the fact that the man was feeding the cats in his carport, the daughter said; “But they are not his cats.” I told them that if they did nothing, they will only have more and more cats. Then came the fun part. I told them I can trap the cats at no charge, but they would have to pay for the spays. “Well, his wife just died you know.” Now I was starting to get irritated as I could plainly see where this was going. I countered with, “My son also recently passed away and yet here I am!” “He doesn’t have much money” she shot back. “Neither do I, I am recently unemployed.”Then she plays her final hand, “Well, we will just shoot them then, that’s how we do it in Texas.” I stood there for a moment with my mouth agape, finally saying, “Really, wow, just wow!” Then I said, as I was holding my notebook, “Let me make a note to never visit Texas. Now I’m going to say that civilized people don’t just shoot their problems, and I might add that you can’t shoot a gun inside city limits anyway. AND trapping a domestic animal with the intent to do it harm is now a felony in this state.” She started yelling at me that she “didn’t know me from Adam” yada, yada. She attempted to dismiss with me by walking away and a passive-aggressive, “Have a Nice Day”. She did not allow her father to speak at all. The problem will not just go away but I can only do so much in circumstances such as these.
I knew I needed to get on the ball with the cats at a small local shopping center. I had already grabbed one kitten a few weeks earlier, tamed it down and sent it to the rescue. I set three traps hoping for at least one female to fill my remaining spay appointment. Appointments are hard to get right now and I will do anything to avoid leaving a spay appointment unfilled. It was a very hot that day, but I set my traps and waited. In the space of 35 minutes, I caught two adult females and three kittens. Two of the kittens were in one trap and are now hiding in my cat room. It will take some time to see if they have the potential to come around to the tame side. It was dark when I unloaded the cats. The next morning as I was tagging the traps, I lifted the cover to see not only the black mom cat, but one of her black kittens. This meant there was one black kitten out there alone but there was nothing I could do. I tried to catch it the next day but was unsuccessful. Both of the female adults turned out to be pregnant. They have been returned to their home and I will keep attempting to catch the remaining kitten.
I am also helping a lady who feeds cats near the Fresno airport. The cat looks very sick. Not surprising considering there was a bowl of milk there and a bowl of what looked like a fish in tomato sauce. The woman said someone else left those items. The woman wanted to take the cat home but I cautioned her about the risks of bringing a possibly sick cat into a home where she already has a cat. The cat is skittish and would not go in the carrier so it will have to be trapped. I told her we should have the cat tested for FIV and leukemia before spending any money on it. The cat, despite being quite thin, has a distended belly which is concerning as well. In addition, the woman contacted me to say that someone had poured oil on the cat. The woman said she called numerous agencies and no one would help her. She got my email address from someone and was thrilled when I replied that I would help. She has the best intentions but just needs some guidance.
I still have eight bottle babies right now, but they will soon begin the very messy process of transitioning to solid food. I have had quite a few private adoptions these past two months. The small adoption fee helps pay for things. A stray kitten was brought to me by a farmer last night, probably a drop-off as it looked cared for. Another kitten, this one with severe eye issues, is coming in today and will likely use up some funds for vet care. I will also attempt to trap the sick cats by the airport today despite triple digit heat. The feeder will foot the bill for that.
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.
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 my husband has a Paypal account steamodale@gmail[dot]com. You can send 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!