I first heard about Stormy and Yoda not long after things had settled down with Socks and her four kittens. Earlier that day I had been vacuuming the lounge room when I saw our eleven year old neighbour hovering over the cage with Socks and the kittens out in the garden.
Admittedly I was out of patience with everything and yelled for her to leave them alone. Later that day, still in some kind of black mood, I was checking the kittens with Socks when I heard the voice at the fence.
'Excuse me, excuse me.....we've found some more kittens...'
A kind of helpful sing song happy voice to impart such important news.
I was overwhelmed. Not with joy either.
The kittens on inspeciton, were not even a week old. Their eyes were just beginning to open. One was white and one blue/grey tabby.
'Put them back for the mother!'
'No, she doesn't want them' 'My neighbor found them outside the laundry. He nearly trod on them.'
' Then put them inside again.'
'No, we did and she put them back out! she doesn't want them.'
'Well, let your neighbor look after them then, why do I have to do it all!!!'
'He said he can't take them. He doesn't want them either.'
Sunday afternoon and a second challenge. Their mother did not want them. The neighbor did not want them. I did not want them. I also knew that a mother cat will put kittens out of the 'nest' when they were going to die.
I took them and showed them to Socks. She hissed at them. I rang a local vet to ask for help. I was advised to bathe them to remove the other mother's smell.
Muttering dire threats to all and sundry (not least the neigbors) I set about bathing them, dried them, represented them to Socks.
Although not too happy she did allow them to suckle but afterwards tossed them aside and indicated the end of her responsibility by scraping imaginary soil over them. They squealed a bit so I removed them.
I sat and thought.
Recalling that a mother cat will accept another's kitten if you could somehow get her urine on it I began rolling the kittens in the used litter (without solids ) and rubbed some on them. Socks did some serious forensic sniffing before accepting them.
Her own kittens were around the four and a half week mark at this stage and pretty much getting to be rough little critters. They took the new fellows on by half strangling them to get them to play and all we heard were squeals of protest.
They had them in headlocks, scaring the daylights out of us and making us wonder what on earth we could expect when we got home from work next day. Dead kittens?
We were amazed to find them alive!
They could not go on for much longer living in such small quarters.
I had been ringing everywhere to beg for help but could not find any.
We made a trip to a Sydney shelter to present our problem. No they could not help. Would not? It seemed to me that we received little interest in our situation.
Exiting the shop we saw an ad for a catrun in the window.
I rang the number expecting it to be gone. The description of it and the price they had paid caused me to lose all hope. It was 'big' and had cost over $3,000 to set up. We had very little money to spare.
'We have no cats here now. It was my first partner who had the cats and she left it here. Basically, all I want is for someone to take it away and give it a good home. I only want a couple of hundred for it' said the owner.
ON our way to view it our car broke down. Waiting in the heat for some time before assistance arrived, I began to wonder why everything was so hard for us.
We sent my brother on ahead who gave him our money and sealed the deal.
The catrun eventually became ours but first we had to hire a man to dismantle it and deliver on his truck. It would take some time to configure the bits and pieces but we were so excited to have something at last.
.On that first night of moving in, Stormy, previously an anonymous extra kitten would have a new name after she became lost in a massive storm in the black night.
Below are photos of Stormy and Yoda.
to be continued...
For a few awful moments I had stood there ready to give in. Socks was in a carrier on the counter. She looked from one to the other of us at eye level and at that moment I realised I could not face her if I left her kittens there. To be killed. Euthanised. Put down. Whatever you like to call it.
So I picked up her carrier and that of the kittens and walked out.
It felt like wading in to the ocean when you can't swim. It was not possible to take time off work and now I was doomed. We all were because I would have to watch them sicken, suffer and die.
A full time job and a Sunday taken up by these dramas, leaving many chores undone for the week. Returning home with a tragic situation to face, predicted to end in the severe illness and deaths of the kittens. Should I take them to our vet? what if he supported what I had been told? and where was the money coming from? I vented all the way home with intermittent silences filled with dark thoughts.
John had further upset my equilibrium by responding to my raving by saying that he thought the fellow was quite good in how he handled the situation, that he tried to be fair in what he said, that he could see I was very upset and there was no easy answer and that he must know what he is talking about.
So then I felt as if I had behaved unfairly and had revealed myself to be 'difficult.' There seemed to be nothing going right that day.
We stopped at the chemist to buy some infant Pentavite. A desperate measure if ever there was one. The chemist woman questioned me on who I was using it for and I said 'kittens..' Ha ha what kind of nut case was I?
Oh no, she said, I don't think you can give this to kittens. Yes I said, I have used it before. A doubtful expression and some kind of self preservation intervened and she let me have it.
At home we emptied the family into the rabbit hutch. I bathed the muck from their eyes and gave them a dose of Pentavite and waited for the end to come.; waited for the sneezing, the lethargy, the temperature. It did not come that day. Nor the next or the one after that. I still did not know what to expect but within a week their eyes were clear and they seemed happy and dared I believe? healthy?
The only method I had was to bathe their eyes two to three times a day and dose them with Pentavite in that first week.
Being summer when this occurred, we used to take the hutch out into the garden in the afternoon and all day on the weekends so they could have fresh air and a change of scenery.
All was going well until two more kittens turned up, not quite a week old, having been abandoned by their mother. And of course it was a Sunday afternoon once more.
I can still hear that little eleven year old girls voice....
'Excuse me, excuse me, we found two more kittens.'
To be continued....
The birth of Catmint Cottage began in 2004 after coming home from a night out with a friend. Four kittens scampered across the dark road in front of our car as we turned into our street.
That was the beginning but of course we did not know it then.
Our story began to write itself. Those four kittens eventually became ours after the neighbors stopped feeding them. Nobody owned them. There were three females and a male. Celia, Missie, Mia and Cod. Missie died last year and Cod the year before that. Mia and Celia are still with us, both fifteen this year. At the height of the problem there were thirty cats and kittens colonising the yards of nearby houses and the street. Not an auspicious beginning at all.
The four kittens gravitated to neighbors who were home all day. For some months the situation seemed to stabilise but it could not last. They were not fully visible while being fed by them until in his wisdom, the patriarch decreed that his wife had to stop.
Our lives were busy with full time work and my elderly parents needs on weekends, that being circus enough. I really did not want this on my radar. Now they were half grown and starving and their breeding capacity was soon to be an issue. The females were over represented at three to one.
Conversations with our granny flat neighbor advised that a rental house behind them was the origin when the residents left a mother cat and four kittens behind after moving out. The mother cat took her family to Jungle Jim's yard, an elderly recluse whose premises were filled with trees and bushes. He felt sorry for them and threw them some food. 'But you couldn't catch them' he later told us
I had a soft spot for Missie who used to follow me about the garden. When she ate a bowl of cooked lentils it became obvious she was not getting food anywhere else so I began to feed all of them with designs to somehow catch and desex them.
That was when another four cats turned up. So now there were eight and I heard a voice in my own head that had a tinge of terror in it.
There is no learning curve in rescue, rather it is a steep incline. They could not be caught, we knew nothing of traps. We didn’t have much money, finances being quite constrained. We were working from behind right at the start.
Ignorance, they say, is always bliss. We began to ‘educate’ the kittens to come in to the house while I cooked aromatic food that would make them drool .
We booked two of them in to surgery for desexing. Arriving home on the designated day we proceeded to rehearse our usual routine, two or more entered the house but proved to be uncatchable. One disappeared into John’s library, a room with wall to wall bookshelves and vanished. The other became invisible.
Our son Andrew took his magnifying glass and began to put it behind the books to reveal anyone breathing on it. I think I laughed with a trace of hysteria. The hidden cat made a run for it before he could prove his theory and charged up the hallway into the lounge room whereupon she ran straight up a book case to land on top. John began to hyperventilate at the idea of his books being damaged and we began to think opening the front door a better idea.
We discussed theories on how to go from there. Actually we didn’t really have any. In the absence of any sound ideas to work on we fell back on the ‘try the carrier’ idea. John stood on a chair and opened the lid, put the carrier on its side and proceeded to cat whisper her in to it to our shocked disbelief. Obviously a man of hidden talents!
I found the other cat hiding in a box at the end of the hallway. When she bolted we let her out. Sometimes you need to quit when you are ahead.
The first cat was Missie, the escapee was Celia.
Arriving at the surgery with Missie, I failed to impart the true meaning of the situation very well. The vet looked extremely tired so I assumed that was why he misunderstood. He opened the carrier, took her out by the scruff and proceeded to examine her whilst we stood gaping. Since she did not immediately react, a thought came into my head that he knew exactly what he was doing.
She bolted off the table and ran crazily through to the waiting room and up the window as if it were merely a tree! I took a towel and tried to grab her, she bit my finger hard, I let go. The vet and nurse ran in with a bird net and managed to recapture her while I bled everywhere.
Safely back in the carrier and the carrier inside a cage we went home, not exactly thrilled at our ineptitude.
My finger began to throb painfully and by next day it had swollen to twice its size. I had difficulty working and colleagues on hearing the story had the bad manners to laugh. A visit to the Dr. resulted in strong antibiotics and a series of tetanus injections. In light of recent information and experiences with bites it turned out I I was very lucky.
Stay tuned for further instalments.
We could not keep up with the way things were going. The cats were breeding faster than we could act. They preferred to live in Jungle Jim's place but arrived for dinner at ours They would jump the old paling fence and cut through next door's driveway to ours. Or some, like Dennis, would walk along the fence to end up at our house, run up the driveway and arrive to take his spot at the table (read plate).
Early on as a half grown kitten he would be at the front door asking for food several times a day. So he became....Dennis the Menace.
Certainly there were more cats there and not too far away either. I had regular reports by the young girl next door. She would say Jungle Jim would ask her 'and where is this cat or that cat?' and she would reply back to him but failed to mention how insane we were starting to look. He would nod happily. We must have been a Godsend to him.
Socks was one of this new generation, a very shy and timid black and white female, too frightened to push in for food with the others. So I coaxed her into having hers half way under the car while the others were busy eating. She seemed very young but was probably around eight months or more and it soon became obvious that she was actually pregnant.
There was also Mona, a sad, dreary and hopeless looking girl that I found hiding in the shrubbery looking emaciated and sick. I was not at all pleased. I told her she should not be there and I was beginning to feel as desperate as she looked.
Socks grew bigger and bigger and finally when she came for the food one day she was all of a sudden slim. The young girl next door came to tell me that she knew where Socks' kittens were, they were in the woodpile over their back fence in the jungle yard. I said leave them there but when the time is right we are going to have to catch them and I might need your help.
At one stage she was talking about the kittens and mimed one shut eye. Her English was not great and so I did not understand.
Then one Sunday, Socks kept appearing at the front door and I scolded her to go and look after her kittens.
I soon discovered that the girl and her parents had visitors and both she and her cousins had these little kittens and were walking around with them in their hands and in their pockets. The kittens were around three weeks old.
I was furious when I found out what was happening. The kids ran away from me and I was so upset and went knocking on the neighbor's door to babble that the kittens would die if the kids didn't put them back for the mother. The lady was busy asking me to sit and have a coffee and she smiled since she did not understand the import of the situation. The children were ordered to give the kittens to me and horrified, I saw they all had weepy eyes full of pus and mostly closed shut!
So I took the kittens and then ordered them to go inside and wash their hands thoroughly.
I put them in a cage we'd bought for Missie when she was desexed. We put the cage inside our front door with the lid to the hutch open and tried to entice Socks inside.
Socks was distraught. She tried to swipe them out of the cage but it wasn't possible. She kept running out the door. Desperate to catch her I tied twine to the handle of the screen door and sat around the corner of the wall waiting for her to come back in. When she did I pulled it shut tight. John arrived just in time to grab the carrier. . Socks urinated in fright while hanging onto the wire, whilst I hung on to that twine as hard as I could to keep the door shut and we somehow scooped her into said carrier and managed to close it in time. then sat there panting and shaking. All three of us.
Then off to to the shelter who would take the kittens, medicate and rehome them. They whined in their carrier looking at me with mucky glued shut eyes. My problems would soon be over.
The shelter, not surprisingly in retrospect, were not that impressed however! They could take the kittens but would have to put them down as the attendant said the kittens had catflu and they could not take the risk of spreading it. No I said they don't have catflu, they are not sick, it is just conjunctivitis. No, he said, they are sick. Are you a vet? I asked. No but he had a certificate he said for something indeterminate to me. He said they could take the mother because she looked nice and healthy but would have to put her down because she wasn't friendly.
That seemed to be a convoluted argument!
None of this was going to plan. I wanted them to desex her, we take her back and they take the kittens and rehome them. No.
So what will happen to them I asked. He predicted that they would start sneezing and get very sick and then die.
I remember standing there, very upset, worried about making the right decision. He had qualifications. I did not. Was it time to listen to other voices? Then I looked at Socks who seemed to be looking at the kittens and back at us and knew something serious was going on so I picked up the carrier and said to all at large:
'Well I'm not going to leave them here if you are going to kill them" and we walked out.
Not feeling as brave as we hoped we looked. we drove back home in silence under a black cloud of doubt, fear, panic and something akin to terror was beginning to set in.
To be continued.
What's A Nice Girl LIke You Doing In A Place Like This?
Jedda, unlike some of the other timid/scared cats in care, would be the purr-fect companion to a quiet household. She's pretty, gentle, loves affection (if only she can get it when Josephine's back is turned.)
Jedda has never been a problem. She's not a drama queen and manages to be a peaceful resident, staying out of catty squables and minding her own business.
Jedda would make an ideal office companion for a person or couple who work from home.
She would get on with older caring children. She's happy to live with other cats if needed. She would be an ideal apartment or flat dweller. She would be a companion to your elderly Mum if she lives with you. Or Dad?
Jedda was rescued from Liverpool units with her four kittens. The units were on the Highway and many cats and kittens met dreadful fates. What isn't to like?
Ten dollars a month will help us feed, vet and care for cats like Jedda.
O'Quinn was a good example of the threads of fate that seem to entwine our lives.
One hot Sunday afternoon a call came up about an injured cat in Fairfield. When we finally found where the cat had disappeared to, a crowd was already in place and help at hand.
While there we saw a number of cats in the front of some units. One was heavily pregnant. We spoke to some residents who said there were lots of strays there, coming through the back of the driveway and other units, through a fence or over it. They came and went but this girl stayed close and was being fed. She had a sister too who looked very much like her. We offered to come by and collect the kittens and desex mum afterwards. Several weeks had elapsed before we did so.
On that morning we spoke to people we had not met earlier. They took us in to the courtyard of their front unit and showed us one of the kittens, lying against the fence, broken. Flies were buzzing about and the kitten clearly dead.
Between their language difficulties and our confusion as to what had happened we finally understood. It was with that confronting knowledge that we realized we had to remove the surviving two kittens as quickly as we could.
We would leave a trap for mum and desex her. She could return to them.
Mum was duly trapped, desexed and vaccinated. After recovery we returned her to them. The story was that mum cat had chosen their yard to have her babies in. They had looked after them all until we had come back that fateful day. They said the kittens used to climb the tree onto the fence. It had been bashed to death and thrown over in to their yard. There were other things, warnings, nastiness, things to induce fear and these people were indeed afraid.
Mum did not settle back there and cried loudly. So we brought her back home too.
Her kittens went to an adoption and mum stayed here. What a shy and grateful girl she became to have security, friends, regular nutritious food and above all safety.
There came a day when a young lady came to meet her. Quinn was so shy that she hid inside the cat house but responded to being patted and spoken to while facing the other way.
In due course we delivered her to this young lady. When we arrived she said breathlessly 'I'm so excited!!' We spent some time there that day giving advice, instructions, our young lady taking notes in a book.
Quinn adjusted wonderfully to this new life. We learned new techniques on how to settle a scared cat to a different environment.
O' quinn had her Happy Ever After.