“Feral” cats seen at your workplace?
It is astounding how many times our rescuers have heard from people who saw “feral” cats at their workplace – can you do something? Yes, YOU can!
On a busy day at work, getting ready for a large crowd in an annual, all weekend long event, *Ali and her coworkers heard kitten sounds in the warehouse. A search finally turned up a dirty cardboard box (and rat droppings
) with EIGHT newborn kittens! And a brief glimpse of a gray cat identified the probable mom scampering away.
What to do? The instinct is to gather up babies when you find them, but obviously these kittens had a mom, and more often now people are becoming aware the best chance of survival for kittens is staying with mom until old enough to wean. The kittens seemed cool to touch – but they had seen mom, should they leave them? They decided to put some warm bedding in the bare cardboard box and leave them be, hoping mom would return. But at the end of the workday, a check on the kittens found they were getting cold, not moving as much, and no sign mom had been around or eaten any of the food put out. The decision was made for one of the coworkers with animal experience to take them home to bottle feed, and work on trapping mom to reunite.
This happened on a Wednesday, during a cold snap and during a busy, hectic time at the workplace. The kittens were placed with a vet tech, and determined to be premature and underweight. There was no further sign of mom, no food disappearing, and no way to adequately place the kittens safely to try to lure her to them; the trap was baited with food AND some soiled bedding from the kittens, plus kitten sounds were played to no avail. All kittens survived for 5 days, then began to die – and rescuers know it is incredibly hard to keep newborns alive without mom (one survived). Even with mom, these babies didn’t have a great chance. But with no mom seen for 5 days, do you keep trapping?
Happily, in spite of the boss being told “not to bother trapping her as she was probably long gone from the area”, she encouraged and allowed the employees to continue trapping after other rescuers said don’t give up – she’s out there. And… she was. Exactly one week later, mom went in the trap! A mom cat who, when examined, turned out to be not only friendly – but just over 4 lbs, and the vet said this cat was so malnourished she had not been able to produce milk, that the babies would not have survived with her. She also had a recent gash to her leg and an old hip injury, possibly an old fracture. He said she was too sick to care for her kittens. Within a few weeks, with a warm room and a heated bed, lots of food and lots of love, this beautiful little cat was up to 6 lbs and choosing attention over food
All in all, there were 10-12 people involved in working to care for the kittens and trap mom. While the original intent was to TNR a feral mom cat, this “feral” girl is heading for a life of luxury. After a really rough start, she won’t have to worry about being homeless again.
This story is an excellent example of so many things –
• making sure ALL kittens are spay/neutered before adoption, so they never end up being dumped and reproducing in the wild…
• working to trap mom when you find kittens – don’t give up, don’t listen to the naysayers. She’s out there, and she needs help.
• reaching out for advice when you are not sure what to do.
• working WITH your teammates – or neighbors, others in the community - to help the cats you see.
• And one more thing to consider – when you are seeing homeless cats and think you should not spay a pregnant cat, remember this little one. As Ali said “it really is heartbreaking, and could have all been prevented”. No one likes to think of spaying a pregnant cat, but is it kinder, more humane, to have them go through these kinds of scenarios? Sadly, it is more often than not the ending for many.
A HUGE thank you to *Ali and all her coworkers, those who never gave up, those who cared. You are the inspiration we all need – you are appreciated!