Last weekend I accompanied my sister as she was checking on job applications. Our first stop (which ended up being our only stop) was the ice cream joint down the road from our house. As we drove into the parking lot I noticed several cats hanging out on an old trailer at one end of the lot.
“That’s a lot of cats,” I astutely observed. It wasn’t a surprise to see five or six feral cats in our neighborhood. There are enough abandoned houses and patches of forest for them to hide in and not many people care to do anything about it. After a moments pause I added in my most dignified high pitched fangirl voice, “Oh my gosh there are babies!”
Thus the adventure began. Joanna inquired at the ice cream shop if anyone was laying claim to these cats and, now well informed that they were feral with no human caretakers, we set out to catch them. We could’ve saved ourselves a lot of trouble if we had taken the time to sit down and figure out a plan of attack. Because an hour and a half later we were both covered in mud, grass stains, and what was left of our dignity after grabbing for, coaxing out, and diving after three kittens. We caught two. One escaped.
With one kitten in our grubby mitts and the other two hiding under a shed and the sun sinking lo
w on the horizon we broke for the night, hoping that the mama cat wouldn’t move them by the next morning. We wondered if mama cat was missing her baby that night.
The next morning brought hope as we found that mama cat had not moved the kittens and they were in basically the same spot. This time we easily grabbed the two remaining kittens (they were probably still exhausted from running around the previous night). So now we had the whole litter. Mama cat didn’t do anything to stop us although she did come and eat the salmon we had put out as a lure. There were two other young cats that were hanging out and we think they were part of a previous litter.
The kittens tamed down in a few days. They didn’t fight back a lot to begin with but stopped hissing at us entirely after a couple days. After a week they’re pretty much normal house-cats. They seem to like it in here where the belly rubs are a lot more than outside huddling under an abandoned trailer. Although the pulling of ticks off their faces was not their favorite thing (I had to pull, collectively, eight ticks off them because my family is made up of wusses who wouldn’t do it). But they’re adjusted and adorable.
We can’t keep them though.
Which is where the title comes in.
As we searched for a rescue to take them we very quickly realized that although there exists many dog rescues in our area, there are few places to take cats and fewer to drop off kittens. We made phone calls, sent out emails, and asked around but not much came back to us positive. I now understand why there are so many feral and stray cats in our area. There is a Humane Society not terribly far away so I think we’ll end up there when we can. We’d like to wait a couple more weeks before dropping them off anywhere.
Thinking about giving up these kittens though, is hard. I already don’t trust people in general and now I’m going to hand off living, innocent creatures to complete strangers and just hope they care for them. I don’t know how animal rescues do it. Obviously they have a process to weed out the downright horrible owners but in the end, there’s no absolute guarantee that the person won’t abandon the animal on the side of the road one day.
I’ve always loved animals and I don’t want any to go hungry or homeless (especially cats, I love cats). The reality is that too many will. I’m really glad that we could save these three kittens from a feral life. But the fact that there isn’t a cat rescue in an area with such a high feral/stray cat population makes me want to start one.
I have fantasized about running a rescue. SAVE ALL THE ANIMALS would be our motto and we would rescue everything from dogs to goldfish. But when I really think about it, running a rescue also means making a lot of really hard calls and you have to see animals in really bad situations. It’s amazing to bring them out but not if you have to bring them straight to euthanization. My oldest sister is part of a dog rescue and I think instead of getting really sad for the animals she gets really pissed off at the people responsible. Which seems like an okay coping mechanism if you ask me.
While I don’t need any more reasons to hate humans, I think that running a rescue would give me a lot. And I don’t think I’m ready to pull ticks out of kittens full time. And I’m not ready to figure out how I would pay for vet bills. Also these kittens are a crazy amount of work. They poop everywhere (even in the litterbox sometimes), they have to be watched all the time, and when they cry all your logic leaves you and you have to do something about it immediately. I’m bonding with these little monsters and I don’t think I can let them go to strangers. I can let them go to a shelter and trust that the process
will be better than one I could come up with but I don’t trust myself to find a good home with my own means. Maybe someday I’ll start a rescue. I could see myself doing it one day. Or at least volunteering and fostering. For now though, once these kittens are out of here, I’ll leave the rescuing to the professionals. (Unless baby cats are dropped in my lap again.)