Jackie Dale, The Cat Mother: TNR, Refuge, and More Kittens

Nov 16, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale

by Jackie Dale

The big news this month is…drumroll please…I received a $500 donation from a very generous woman! I have to say I was very shocked. I am so unbelievably grateful for this donation. This will pay for the Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) of a lot of cats. I am humbled by her generosity and her trust that I will use this money to reduce the over-population of cats in the Valley. Every cent will be spent on TNR. Since the recent discovery of a rabid cat in our area, I now try to give the cats a rabies shot. This used to be cost-prohibitive, but with some vets offering low-cost rabies shots, I am able to get this vaccination for more cats.

On the side of Jackie’s car

This has been a pretty decent month for donations. Forty dollars here, $20 there, several large bags of cat food, pee pads…it all adds up and it all helps. I have spent an astounding amount of money this year, mainly on the foster kitties. Food, vet bills, medicines, etc. for the 80+ kittens we’ve taken in this past year can get pretty expensive. Plus, don’t forget about the refuge. The dry food is provided by a local business, but I give the caretaker $150 a month to provide a few cans of wet food, cleaning, and feeding supplies (bowls etc.). I’m a strong believer in “what goes around, comes around.” You know: Karma. I always say, “It all evens up in the end.”

A peek at the area by the refuge.

As I was finishing up last month’s column, I received a call from a young woman I know about a kitten. The kitten was inside the engine compartment of a car parked at a local Dollar General Store. Repeated attempts to coax the kitten out proved to be futile. The owner of the car was growing impatient and she wanted to just drive away with the kitten still inside the engine. My friend persuaded her to wait a bit longer, then she lay on her back and scooted underneath the car, eventually rescuing the kitten. The long-haired, white kitten was dirty but otherwise unharmed. I agreed to take the kitten as the woman lived in an apartment and already had several foster kittens she rescued from the complex. And honestly, long-haired, white kittens are very popular; they are always adopted quickly. I was very fortunate that The Cat House on the Kings agreed to accept the little beauty. They were pretty full but had one open space.

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White kitten rescued at Dollar General

Also, shortly after finishing my last column, Egypt was chosen to go to rescue along with a seven-year-old cat that a friend had been looking to place. The poor thing had been living in a small kennel for some time, and now has a second chance for a home of her own. I know Egypt will be adopted quickly, as she is a gorgeous Abyssinian with a stellar personality.

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Chubby Cubby is still here and doing well. He has been joined by a black Tabby kitten I named Cliff. (Black tabbies are fairly rare.) He was found alone in the yard of a cat-hater who, thankfully, lived near a cat lover. The kitten needed bottle feeding so I agreed to take him. Then a few days later, a friend called, she found a small black kitten where she feeds some stray cats in town. It was small enough so that it had not yet gone feral, so Cindy Lou joined the party. There was also an orange kitten there, but it has since gone missing so we hopefully assume someone picked it up. The mother cat is already on the list to be trapped and fixed ASAP.

Sometimes the cats and kittens I get already have names, otherwise I choose a name that helps me remember where the cat came from. It really gets confusing and hard to remember where every cat comes from. I try to maintain a log/notebook but it is pretty hit and miss. Thankfully, going over texts and phone logs helps me to pinpoint down dates, etc. Getting a simple binder now helps me keep track of the paperwork for each cat instead of a big pile on my desk.

I have started trapping behind the stores of a local strip mall. I only caught two of my three intended targets. Both were female, one older gal and, I believe, one of her children. There are still quite a few to go, including two large males who engaged in a loud, raucous fight while I was there. I will need to make some adjustments with the time change. It is now dark early, and trapping in the dark behind stores is just scary. This past trapping, an unkempt-looking fellow kept walking back and forth. I stayed in my car when he was close but at one point I flat out said “Please do not mess with the traps.” I’ve had traps stolen before and it is $50 a pop for the decent ones (Havahart).

I made the error of forgetting to tell the vet to tip the ears. (For those who don’t know what it means to tip their ears, they take off the tip of one of the cat’s ears after feral cats are fixed so anyone doing TNR knows) I told them I was trapping, and that the cats were in traps, but they should have tipped them or called me to verify. They were very busy that day and no one called me. As I was picking them up, I realized my error, but it was too late. It was kind of weird because at the very same moment, another lady was picking up her ferals in traps and she says, ”Oh my goodness, I forgot to tell them to tip the ears too!” All the cats were already awake. They offered to do them anyway but we both declined. I don’t like to do it when they are awake. I took pictures of each cat and will just have to remember that they are already fixed. The trapping will continue until all the cats have been trapped. Then I will move onto other areas in town until the money is all gone.cat rescue

As I’m writing this column, I am sending four, six-month-old kittens to rescue. The rescues are finally starting to stock up for the holiday season. The rescue we work with a lot likes to maintain a variety of ages, which really works for us. Once they arrive at the rescue they must pass a battery of tests, including a thorough physical inspection, a Fiv/Felv test, and a ringworm test. I black-light all my cats on a regular basis to check for ringworm. The rescue has an expensive black-light machine that could find ringworm on a flea. They were impressed that I use a $10 black-light flashlight I bought on Amazon. I also clean my kitten room, the equipment, and even the cats themselves with apple cider vinegar, a known anti-fungal. I wipe down the cats with a vinegar-dampened wash cloth. Another plus is that vinegar absorbs odors so it keeps the room fresher and once it dries, there is no vinegar odor. Just make sure to get the real apple cider vinegar, not the flavored kind.cat rescue

Once the room is cleared out, the worn wood floors will be replaced. I will probably switch my kitten room to my other bedroom. There is no closet in that room (we use a portable one). The current room has a closet with deep recesses which can make it difficult to get the timid ones out. They hide way in the back and I don’t really enjoy dragging cats out of spaces. The cats just hate it too! I have been bitten before, and that is something I truly try to avoid.

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.

You can check out more animal rescue articles in KRL’s animal rescue section!

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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