Jackie Dale—TheCatMother/Cat Trapper: Always Busy

Oct 22, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale, Pets, Reedley News

by Jackie Dale

This past month has been busy, of course, when am I not busy? LOL. Kittens and cats are messy when kept in cages and maintaining a high level of cleanliness takes time. So, what’s been happening at the cat ranch?

The tabby sibling of the Siamese group never showed an iota of progress so he was returned to the Clovis business. It’s a nice, decent place to be a stray. Not a lot of traffic and regular feedings. The three siblings are being a challenge. If not for the fact that they are gorgeous, blue-eyed, polydactyl Siamese, I wouldn’t be trying so hard. Two are showing significant progress, while the third, not so much. Reality is telling me that I will probably have to release that one cat in my yard. I already told the business that the Siamese would not be returning, and I’ll keep my word.

Chica got into rescue!

The kitten from the golf course, River, was doing well when he suddenly stopped eating and died less than forty-eight hours later. Some vets call this “drop dead syndrome”, when a seemingly healthy kitten suddenly dies. I equate it somewhat to SIDS in humans. There is just no real explanation. Obviously, my budget doesn’t allow for the extensive testing that would be needed to determine an exact cause of death. We always have to suspect panleukopenia, aka feline distemper. That is why I always keep all my groups separated. Sometimes I feel bad that a single kitten/cat has to be alone in the cage, but in the long run, it’s the only way to reduce the risk of infecting other cats or kittens. It’s not just panluke, cats can have a myriad of other infectious maladies. Ringworm is the scourge of cat rescuers, and the majority of cat people will black light all incoming cats. That tell-tale green glow can be contained if caught and dealt with quickly.

Speaking of Ringworm
I got a call one evening from a lady who said there was a sick kitten laying on her lawn. She said it couldn’t walk. I said okay, put it in a box, and I’ll come first thing in the morning. Then I started to wonder if she was going to feed the kitten, so I drove over and picked it up that night. Well, the fluffy orange little guy had perked up quite a bit by the time I got there. Based on how she described the kitten, I expected no trouble. The kitten acted feral, squirming desperately in its efforts to escape. I hadn’t brought a carrier, I thought a box would work. Not so. Fortuitously, I had a trap in my trunk and deposited the kitten inside. Then comes the bad part. Once I got the kitten home, the black light revealed the kitten had a massive case of ringworm. The kitten was taken to the vet and started on a course of antibiotics and oral ringworm medication. I gave him a fungal bath and blow dried him. Then one morning, I discovered he had passed during the night. Sometimes that is the way it goes. Animal rescue is not for the faint of heart.

Sick abandoned kitten doing better now

There is a second part to this story. While I was at the vet with the orange kitten, a young woman walked in with a tiny black kitten. I knew right away what was up. I could just feel it. And I was right. She had found the kitten sitting in the middle of the road, its eyes crusted shut. She said she just couldn’t leave it there, but she didn’t know what to do. She wanted to surrender it at the vet but was told that they don’t accept strays. I knew this was my cue, this was meant to be. Plus the young woman looked like she was about to cry. I walked out of the exam room, walked over to the woman, and said: “I’ll take the kitten”. “Really?” she said. “God Bless You!” The tiny kitten is so thin it is painfully obvious that he was starving to death. The vet determined that one eyeball had ruptured and was gone but that the other eye looked really good. He is now on the road to recovery in a warm bed with medication, lots of yummy food, and of course, love.

Bottle baby

Fortunately, the rescue was able to take some cats from me. Over the course of the month, a total of fifteen cats and kittens left which gave The CatMother a chance to breathe. This total included four tiny babies that the local shelter asked me to bottle feed. Bottle babies need constant attention, and having them leave was a huge relief! In addition, I also sent a kitten that animal control had picked up the previous week. I had the kitten fixed immediately, so it was ready when the call came. The kitten was over-the-top friendly and had a tail that once been broken and had healed in the shape of a question mark. (The vet said tail was A-OK)

Kitten with a question mark

But outgoing always seems to balance the scales with incoming. One of my foster people called to say that a mother cat and her older kitten had been dumped or just appeared in her apartment complex. The mother cat was no longer allowing the kitten to nurse and other adult cats in the area were bullying the kitten. I asked her to bring the kitten in until I could get there the next day. The kitten is super cute and extremely friendly. The mother is also pretty friendly. She will be fixed and, if friendly enough, sent to rescue. Unfortunately, I don’t have space for another adult. I’m housing a cat temporarily, and it should be leaving any day. Then I will have a spot for mommy cat.

We have had four dumped cats show up at my feral refuge. One is an adorable, fluffy kitten that was obviously someone’s pet. It would not have survived long at the refuge. One of the feral alpha males would most likely kill the kitten. People who drop off house pets at feral colonies fail to realize that these pets are either killed or kept at bay from the food source. These former pets must either leave or they end up starving to death.

Two of the other dumpees are adults. They seem to be somewhat friendly and once a space opens up, they will come here for evaluation and, if deemed feasible, socialization. I always say I don’t do, as I call it, “cat rehab”. Socialization is time consuming and some cats never come around. I just don’t have the time or room to house cats for the time necessary to socialize them. However, if I get a sense that the cat will come around quickly, I will put in the effort.

We recently had a bit of a scare at the refuge. The area is heavily wooded with lots of trees and brush. I was horrified to see on Facebook that there was a fire near the refuge. Huge plumes of smoke could be seen in that direction. I immediately called the caretaker. She said she would check it out right away, but there was little, if anything, we could actually do. She assured me that the cats would evacuate themselves. There had been a fire there before, and the cats all returned later. I realized she was right. It is not like we can round up 35-40 feral cats in a few minutes. Fortunately the fire was on the other side of the water source, and the cats were in no real danger. And yes, I’m being deliberately vague about the location of the refuge. I don’t want to give any clues as to its location. Obviously enough people already know. Once a person from a nearby town visited the location, noticed the cats and posted pictures on Facebook saying “Look at all these cats to come pick out a cat!” Just to be clear, most of the cats are behind a fenced area although they are free to wander where ever they want. A few cats do wander an adjacent parking area. Anyhow, I immediately contacted the admin of the Facebook page. Turns out I knew the person, a fellow rescuer, and the post was taken down right away. In addition, I messaged the person who posted and politely explained the situation.

The vet has returned and the temperatures have finally dropped below triple digits so I will soon be resuming my TNR projects. I have a list already, so I will be very busy for the next couple of months.


I can’t operate without them. If you would like to make a donation, 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.

You can check out more animal rescue articles in KRL’s animal rescue section! Join our Pets Facebook group to help keep up with our pet articles.

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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