Jackie Dale, The Cat Mother: Re-homing, Kittens, and More

Aug 10, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale

by Jackie Dale

The only the thing in July that was more unrelenting than the heat, was the flow of cats and kittens needing help. You have to learn to say “no” if you want to retain any semblance of your sanity. You also have to learn that you just can’t save them all. There just isn’t enough time, money, and room to do that. Well, technically, if more people stepped up we would have enough of all those things. But most of the time, it’s the same old song and dance.

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Abandoned kitten

Here is a summation of how generally goes: “Take this cat/kitten(s) off my hands. I don’t have the time/money/room/inclination to help. However for some reason, I think that you do have unlimited time, a money tree, and tons of space to do so. Therefore, I would like to transfer this problem to you and not contribute in any way, shape or form.” Oh, and my personal favorite, “And by the way, can you come pick it up too?” And let’s not forget the magic place where I take all the unwanted cats. “Oh, you can’t take all these feral cats away?” My general response now is: “Where would you like me to put them?” I actually have people ask me if I could just dump them out in the country somewhere. With no doubt a look of utter disdain on my face, I respond: “No, not only is that ILLEGAL, but it is just wrong. How would you feel if a van drove up, grabbed you, drove you very far away, then just opened the door and shoved you out? You have no idea where you are or how to find food and shelter. How would you like that?” I frequently find myself explaining that animals have feelings, too, although there are many, many people who just do not believe that.

I do a significant number of re-homings of adult cats. Some are friendly strays that were dumped, many are the pets of deceased relatives. At this point I must add that if you care about your pets, you should make provisions for them, on paper, in the event of your death. I can’t begin to tell you the number of people who promise to care for a loved ones pet(s), and the minute they’re gone, that pet is out of there and dumped at the pound. Make inheritances contingent on someone caring for your furbabies.

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One of the adults that went to rescue after owner died. Relatives were just going to let loose.

So the re-homings can be a lot of work. I frequently send adults to a no-kill rescue that likes to maintain a range of ages so that people looking to adopt a cat can choose an age that works for them. A family with kids may want a frisky kitten while a senior may prefer a calm adult who just wants to sit on a lap all day. This often entails a lot of emails and phone calls. There must be an in person visit before any cat is considered. That is because people lie. They will say anything to get you to take a cat. That how I ended up with Maya. The anti-social, “pet me, but don’t pick me up, I’m going to live only in your bedroom” cat. And some people genuinely think their cat is friendly. Because it is….to them. Another standard question I ask, “Is the cat stranger friendly? Can a total stranger walk up to the cat and pick it up?” If they say no, it’s a problem. I can sometimes place the wilder cats in rodent eradication positions, but those opportunities can be hard to find.

The kitten with the bad lip with vets daughter (story further down)

I had a gentleman call me one day to say that he needed to re-home his dead mother’s cat. I asked all the pertinent questions, How old? Boy or girl? Fixed/shots? And the big question….Reason for needing to re-home this cat? He evaded my question three times before I texted him in all capital letters. Finally he said that his wife did not want the “inside-only its whole life” cat, inside her house. He said he lived in the country and was very worried about packs of wild dogs and coyotes. “I don’t think she will survive for long outside,” said the man. I responded that I thought his wife would do just fine outside. Fortunately, the man had a sense of humor. So after networking several days, I got the cat accepted at the rescue. Then the wife changed her mind. Apparently the guilt got to her, and the cat will be staying with them, inside the house. That’s all well and good, I’m thrilled for the cat. But, that was a colossal waste of my time and a ding on my reputation. I submit a cat, the rescue is excited/eager, only to have to call and tell them the cat isn’t coming. This has happened a half dozen times already this year. In fact it happened just last week. Another re-home of an adult. The woman said the cat kept attacking her baby. She said she had really tried to give it plenty of time, but the behavior persisted. She was clearly upset at having to give up her cat. Same scenario, attractive cat, the rescue wanted it. The woman subsequently found a relative willing to take the cat. I only find this out when I called to tell her I found a place for her cat. A heads up would have been the considerate thing to do, and bam, another ding on my reputation. A small ding but a ding nonetheless. In this business reputation is everything. I do not want to be perceived as a wishy-washy flake.

I haven’t been doing any trapping due to the horrible heat wave. It makes TNR just miserable for all concerned. That coupled with the fact that appointments are almost two months out due to the $10 spay/neuter special currently being offered by the Cat House. It’s a curious thing. When the special was $20, lots of people took advantage, but there was no shortage of appointments available. Lower the price to $10, and the whole world is getting their cat fixed. Now while I’m not complaining about that, why does $10 make such a significant difference in the number of people fixing their cats? I’m only irked because getting appointments is so difficult. And there seems to be a trend of not wanting to spay before four months of age. AlleyCat.org gives complete and up to date information on the benefits and safety of early age spay and neuter. Cats can become pregnant at four months, so this can pose a problem. In addition, holding onto feral kittens for that long isn’t really feasible. Eight weeks and two pounds is the generally recognized safe zone to fix kittens.

The kitten brought in with its lower lip bitten off by a dog has a new lease on life. A special needs rescue agreed to take the kitten, and she was flown to their vets for reconstructive surgery. The surgery was a success and the vet’s daughter adopted the kitten!

Before and after for kitten with the injured lip

Despite July being the deadest month of the year for adoptions, we managed to send out several adult cats (Six this week alone!) and a handful of kittens, who either went to rescue or were adopted. One of my adults tested positive for leukemia and was returned. There are four levels of leukemia, and my cat was a low-level positive. That means, although she has the disease, her chances of infecting other cats is low. Still I couldn’t allow her to come back. It just broke my heart, too. Fortunately someone offered to take her in , and I cried in relief. I had all the cats she had been living with tested and everyone came back negative. Whew!

We had one gorgeous little girl who we thought might be part Bengal due to her extremely unusual markings. I posted her for adoption, and within an hour, a woman I know called to say she also had a part Bengal that could be our kitten’s twin. She wanted a playmate for her boy, Benny, and it turned out to be a match made in heaven. Now my friend has a matching pair of cats, Ben and Gerri. She is so thrilled with the kitten she gave me double the fee and a little gift, too.

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This beauty was adopted in record time

The Russian Blue found in an apartment complex dumpster was snatched up quickly by a rescue. The abscess had resolved itself nicely, and the super friendly kitten was adopted almost immediately upon its arrival.

Two gorgeous Siamese cats, one male and one female, were dumped down by the river near where a large feral colony lives. In addition, the previous week, we found a teensy kitten in the same area. Sub-humans sometimes dump their unwanted animals by the river. Dumping friendly cats/kittens is never a good thing as the existing colony generally will not allow in newcomers. That is exactly why we tell people that removing an existing colony rarely solves their problem as new cats will simply come in and take over. It’s called the “vacuum effect,” and it is a well-documented phenomenon.

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Cats dumped by the river. Most abandoned cats meet tragic ends

We were very fortunate (THANK YOU!) that The Cat House on the Kings, despite being absolutely filled to the brim, agreed to take the two adults and one tiny kitten. The Siamese will probably be sent to a rescue that specializes in Siamese cats.

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Saved from the needle, 3 chubby polydactyl furballs

I’ve accepted quite a few kittens that were headed for the needle. I just can’t save them all, but I sometimes can take the ones I know will move fast. These include Siamese, white cats, Manx cats, and my personal favorite, polydactyl kittens. I took in a litter of three ginger kittens, all polydactyls. Normally, cats have five toes in front and four in back. All three kittens have an extra toe on each foot. One is already spoken for, and we may keep one as we recently lost our own polydactyl kitten due to a tragic accident.

Donations have been stagnant, and I spend a lot of my own money on my operations. Any donations are always greatly appreciated. Brother can you spare a dime? 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 you can send donations via mail to Jackie Dale, P O Box 1859, Reedley, CA 93654. Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com

Check out more animal rescue & pet related articles and columns in our Pet Perspective section and remember that if you buy an ad in KRL you can designate 10% of the ad price to go to one of several animal rescues or to Jackie’s TNR and rescue efforts. Join our Pets Facebook group to keep up with all of our pet articles.

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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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