Jackie Dale, The CatMother: Bottle Babies, TNR and More

Sep 14, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale, Reedley News

by Jackie Dale

August proved to be a long, difficult month. It was like moving heaven and earth to get cats and kittens either adopted or into rescue. People are either still vacationing or getting ready to return to school. The unrelenting heat certainly did not help. Throw in a few medical issues and sometimes you just want to throw up your hands and give up. But the cats are depending on us and in reality, if I give up, then I’m stuck with a lot of cats. I have quite a few cats already, but if get left with an unadoptable, they just join my tribe. Fortunately, I live in the country, and my large yard is completely fenced to keep out predators.

Rescued from apt complex where it was being abused

I’m frequently asked to help find homes or rescue for kittens. I always try to help, but my cats and kittens come first. I make a list of people needing help. The ones to do the most for the kittens go to the top of the list. Those who just want me to take on their problem go below them. However, kittens in immediate danger get high priority. An apartment resident called to say she was hiding an older kitten in her apartment after seeing the complex’s children using the cat as a soccer ball. Stellar parenting going on here! This was the same complex where we found the kitten tossed into a dumpster. In fact, I have been to this same complex before. Local animal control has now stepped in and is doing their best to turn this situation around. They even confiscated a crow that had somehow been captured and had its wings clipped. Obviously there is a HUGE need for educating both adults and children alike on animal abuse. Everyone knows that abuse of animals is how every single serial killer got started. If a child has no empathy for animals, how do you suppose that child will treat their fellow human beings? Probably not too well. I see parents who can’t look away from their phones long enough to even see what their children are up to. Let’s try not to raise a generation of unfeeling sociopaths.

Bottle baby

A lot of bottle babies came in this month. We picked up a new bottle baby foster person which took a lot of the pressure off me. Whew! Still I took in my fair share. It is heart breaking when they don’t make it. But when they do thrive, it is so exhilarating to see them get fat and sassy. Most end up at one of our rescues who likes to accept bottle babies because they have the foster people who like the teeny ones. Those are rare people, very rare indeed. I don’t even know them, but I know they are people with very big hearts.

We had a person drive one tiny black kitten up from Bakersfield. It’s hard to believe in all of Bakersfield they couldn’t find a foster for one kitten. But if they were willing to drive it here, how could I say no? I was contacted by a friend who needed help rehoming a cat. The cat was really cute and was readily accepted by one of our rescues. Then another call, a kitten found on a lawn. They drove it to me, boy, it was healthy and chubby. No telling how it came to be on their lawn. It went out to rescue about a week later.


I rescued a large, white, one-eyed dog I found near my home. I’m thinking Husky/Shepard mix. It was eating something dead in the road. I stopped and she got into my car with minimal encouragement (cat food). I had her scanned and evaluated at the vet. She has crinkled down ears due to untreated hematomas. Hematomas are generally caused by ear mites which cause the dog to shake its head violently, breaking the blood vessels which causes extreme swelling. I also put an ad in the local paper and posted her picture on social media. Big surprise, no responses. I was not in the market for a large dog so my intention is to try and get her into rescue. She is well-behaved, sits and shakes so she was obviously once someone’s pet.

cat rescue

Bottle baby

Then, because the adventure never ends, I go into my kitten room to discover the cats have extricated a plastic bag from the garbage and bits and pieces are all over the room. And one of the two adults is coughing. Fearing an ingestion of plastic, off we go to the kitty urgent care. X-rays reveal no plastic in the stomach, just lots of water and gas. Maybe plastic makes you thirsty? Anyway, everyone is okay. In fact, one of the adults, Elvira, left for a new home in the mountains of Santa Cruz. What a lucky girl! The remaining adult, the plastic eater, will likely be one of the ones who stays here forever. Rescued as a feral kitten at five weeks, Hedy Lamar was surviving on her own behind an A & W restaurant. (I have TNRed nineteen cats there!) She never lost “the touch of the feral” as I like to call it. It was months before she came around to let me pet her, and then I had her spayed. She was so traumatized by the whole ordeal, it was another month before she let me touch her again. I don’t think I can put her though that again. Soon she will begin the transition from the kitten room into the general population here.



Then there is Maya, my white beauty. The cat who was supposed to be friendly, but was not. The cat who spent the first six months here hiding behind a bed. Then kittens arrived, and she didn’t like sharing her room so she moved to the other side of the house. My bedroom closet was her choice for her new digs. Now the whole room is hers. She likes to sit in the window and has her own bowls and her litter box in there. The other day, the back door was inadvertently left open, and I was shocked to find Maya outside. Now she goes out for a few minutes here and there and then returns to her room. I can sit and pet her and she enjoys it. Well, it’s only been A YEAR. She had to come around sooner or later.

This fellow needed a new home

I’ve started up with TNR again as I have had several requests. I trapped a twenty pound boy for a neighbor. When she called, I had to remind her that she hadn’t paid for the mom and three kittens I previously trapped for her. She paid the minimum due. People don’t care that I have had the three kittens for months now. They seem to forget that the cats need to eat and need litter, need to be fixed and vaccinated. I honestly can’t figure out who they think pays for all that. Not to mention the not so irrelevant fact that only one of the kittens came around enough to be adopted out. The other two will be here for a while or have to be adopted out as barn cats. Contrary to what some of these people seem to think, I don’t have the time/energy to socially rehabilitate every cat or kitten.

I got a request for TNR from a local auto mall. They simply want the TNR. They know how it works. What a relief to get TNR requests from people who get it. Those people automatically move to the top of the list. They gave me money up front for gas, I’m twenty-five minutes away. First night I caught a large male, an equally large female, and one mad opossum. I actually caught the male before I even finished setting up the traps. There are at least two more to go, but this is a good start. The TNR list is growing. I prefer to do TNR in the fall and winter. Trapping when it is hot is just incredibly unpleasant.


No more babies for the auto mall mama

It’s hard to get donations when you are not an official non-profit. I do get a little here and there, and I’m grateful for even a single dollar or donation of goods. I recently received a large donation of food and litter from a fellow rescuer, and it makes me feel so humbled that someone thought enough of me and my work to help me in that way. Thank you so much!

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, California 93654.

Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com

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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.

1 Comment

  1. If possible, create a way that folks can donate to you through Paypal. If that is possible, let me know. This is a great, yet under-promoted source of donations that many fund raisers ignore or don’t utilize,
    Your time and effort on behalf of the kitties is admirable and your reward will be great in Heaven! Blessings.


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