Former street cat Mimi has never told us how old she is. Having been born on the streets and having lived behind shops in a laneway for years, Mimi can be forgiven for wanting to forget her past.
We estimate Mimi to be around ten years of age.
Her existence filtered through to us from time to time over the years: reports of stray cats she knocked around with, one in particular who must have been a relative. Cats living down the laneway with other stray cats., All fed by the kindness of strangers, sometimes well, others not. Mimi and her reported pregnancies: reappearing at times after periods of absence to concerned shop residents as a thin sickly girl with a skin condition.
We can only assume she went away to have her babies or to nurse a bout of flu.
It was during that last period, having been summoned urgently by a shop employee that we made several attempts to trap Mimi to get her in to care. We later found that we were just a number in. a long line of failed rescuers.
Mimi had been keeping company with another black cat, a male. He had the same skin condition and the same rusty colour to his coat as Mimi did. Being hungry and malnourished, he had no issue with the trap. Charlie, as we called him lived with us for the next six or more years until he died around a month ago. Charlie became a big smoochy boy who even gave our vet kisses the day before he died.
Sadly though, we needed to give up on Mimi and leave her in the care of shop keepers to look after.
The worst issues were the continual pregnancies Mimi went through with the untimely demise of her kittens. Kittens removed for being 'wild', kittens taken away from their nest and disposed of. Why would Mimi trust humans? Yet she had to for her own survival.
The photo below was taken by one of the shop keepers. The kittens were not found after she gave birth. We walked up and down that laneway, poking into the garbage of the backs of shops, peering through locked gates into jungles of un mowed grass and junk and Mimi kept us company seemingly perplexed at what we were looking for.
Two years on from the above scene and on top of another loss Mimi was again heavily pregnant. It was Winter, she was tired, cold and hungry and she volunteered to walk into the trap of another rescuer.
Mimi's three kittens were born in care. Semra. our volunteer carer lavished the family with love, and good food. This was an opportunity to teach her own children important values.
The little girl was adopted by her, the boys with others and Mimi came back to us at Catmint Cottage.
Mimi did go out for adoption around eighteen months ago. In her new home she found a superior hiding spot by sliding the wardrobe doors open and setting up a little nesting spot on the carpet on the bottom. It was warm, dark, private and safe. Her new person was kind enough to leave her there and provide food and Mimi was kind enough to come out and use the litter.
Unfortunately not even ten days in, the lady fell down some steps and cracked her hip.
We were summoned and Mimi came back home to us.
We would love to see her find her own person and live out the rest of her life in good care.
Lisa Pitt, pictured here, was having a bad day.
Lisa rescued rabbits from Renbury Pound and although I did not hear the full story it was something about rabbits lost to illness that day and how she saw Poppy at the top of the list, pledged $200.00 for her rescue and gave her a name, telling Rach that she could not die without one. Poppy was terribly ill with flu. The cards were really stacked against her.
Then Lesley Inkson of Purr-fect Match cat adoptions asked if we could take her.
Poppy was so ill that they sent her to the vet overnight.
Poppy survived Renbury Pound top of the kill list on her last day.
She survived Calicivirus, Herpes flu, a heart murmer, extreme anaemia, dehydration, a lower than average temperature, kidney failure, bad liver reading, didn't eat voluntarily for two weeks and was discovered to be aged thirteen.
We picked up a second cat that day. He had the worst cough I had ever heard.
Both of these cats came home to us for short term care. Poppy stayed here because it was deduced that she did not have long to live but the other was a young boy we called Frankie and he went on to have an adoption through Lesley.
We took Poppy to our vet where she had a blood test and I was given a lesson in how to do sub cutaneous fluids. Apparently nobody expected her to live, least of all the vet but I didn't know that then. I battled on for over two weeks, I had a great fear of failure and would be mortified if she died. On a follow up visit I can still hear the vet exclaim in shock that Poppy was still alive.
From time to time Lisa had contacted me to ask if Poppy was still with us. Poppy represented much to Lisa.
She was a symbol of hope, a symbol of how expected consequences can be driven off and how we can win in the face of impossible odds. Poppy was a teacher to us all. In fact that has become our mantra...'making the impossible possible.'
Poppy lived on for two years. She sat in the sun out in the courtyard, slept in her own crate, ate like a trooper, sent the other cats packing with her menacing growl and even ate their food!
Toward the end of the two years Lisa had cause to come up to Sydney.
Days before she arrived a change came over Poppy.
She became alert, active, enjoying life, she even climbed up to the top of the cages and sat on top. She stood looking out of the veranda at the street. We marvelled at such a thing. We joked that Poppy knew Lisa was coming. And it was a grand meeting. Poppy was not that sociable normally but she amazed us the way she warmed to Lisa.
Not many days later though Poppy started to breathe a little hard. Expecting some minor infection we took her in to the surgery. We sat relaxed chatting while they took her to the other room to examine. When they came back they said she had fluid in the lungs but it was the mass in her liver that was the cause and she needed to be euthanised.
'Oh' I said...'but not today, not yet.'
'Yes it does, it needs to be done today.'
Poppy was fifteen. It was her time to leave.
How bizarre that we are so closely linked. Poppy was kept alive by the fates so that Lisa could meet her. And then she was taken away into that other world and lives on in spirit and forever in our hearts.
Photos below of Poppy and Lisa and Poppy in the courtyard after her recovery. Pictured with another rescue.
If truth be told, 'accidental rescues' have been the base line of our forage into an unintentional zone, where perhaps,. like the song goes..'.Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.'
I was hearing about Tinkerbell long before I met her. Veronica. a friend we had crossed paths with in rescue, was a teacher at a school where the, at that time, unnamed mother cat had been discovered hiding out with her four kittens under the stage area. Tinkerbell was a small grey tabby having problems controlling her kids. Being a first time mum with a lack of experience in these matters, it was ultimately the kids that exposed her hiding space by running, jumping and exploring.
And mum was hungry so the provision of food she did not have to catch was an extra bonus that she traded her former security for. Like all such trades there is most often a trade off. Or to put it more bluntly a compromise. 'an offer she couldn't refuse.' The, as yet unnamed Tinkerbell would also seem to have been deserted by her partner, he of the opportunistic tom cat species was likely having difficulty keeping up with his many wives. Not to mention offspring.
Attempts were immediately underway to entice her kittens into captivity. Tinkerbell was having none of it. She stood her ground and tried to block their escape causing quite a degree of frustration.
When only one kitten was left plus mum, a stalemate ensued and that's when we offered to bring our trap and catch number four. Like all plans made in ignorance, we caught mum instead and there was no way she was being released. She came home with us to wait on a vet appointment.
Meanwhile number four kitten remained at large. One of our members sorted that out by crawling under the deck and catching the last little lone kitty some days later.
The plan was that Tinkerbell would be desexed, vaccinated and returned to live at said school but the first of several complications arose when we had to wait a few days for Tink to get her appointment. After that the situation at the school had changed, the stage was being demolished for rebuilding. It seemed the cards were stacked against Tinkerbell becoming a 'school cat.'
And of course the longer she stayed, the less likely she was to return.
Swiping and hissing were the main parts of her vocabulary. It seemed that she had even picked up a few swear words from her school days and she was keen to use them on me.
Tink, it appeared, was stuck in a plateau. Neither could she move forward nor go back to reclaim her past.
I would often talk to Tinkerbell in the same way I talked to other newcomers while replenishing food and water, cleaning litter, fixing bedding. I remember this day that I sat next to her crate and spoke of how difficult it must have been for her to raise those four kittens on her own and protect them. I talked on for a while, visualising and empathising, a lone young mother cat, so helpless against the world she found herself in. Something in my tone of voice seemed to resonate with her and from that day on she slowly changed.
The advent at a later date of another rescue named Faith began to complicate things. Faith came in with a few days left to live but confounded all and sundry by living for another three years and not least by showing her self as an Alpha Cat. Tinkerbell was fair game and some of the screaming matches we had to intervene forced lock up time share on both of them. Finally we moved Tink to an outside enclosure. losing-faith.html
A chance inquiry from a mid city professional couple wanting to foster a cat with a, view to adoption saw Tinkerbell move into a small apartment for some months. The situation failed however due to Tinkerbell's anxiety on their frequent absences and we brought her back home.
For a time Tink settled in to the downstairs cat run, preferring to be on her own .Later she stopped eating, so, fearing she was sick we brought her upstairs. Once in the land of the living, Tink decided to eat and to stay. Gradually she made inroads to our lounge room and chairs and for a while alternated between us. Tinkerbell is the funniest little cat, she will look in to our faces with her head on one side and meow her little gummy meow which always makes me laugh. Tink has no teeth, they were all removed due to dental disease. Her favourite food? dental biscuits!
Often these days she claims the back of my lounge where she gives me loving head bumps and smooches.
If the right person came along and wanted to meet this beautiful girl, I would consider an adoption again. Tinkerbell needs a home body as a companion. She needs a person with patience, continuity, companionship and affection. Something we could all do with I would say.
I'm fond of quoting a nursery rhyme to Tom.
It goes: Tom, Tom, the Pipers son, stole a pig and away he run.
Tom, the boy in the nursery rhyme, apparently ate the pig! but Wikipedia claims it was maybe a pie! an apple one at that.
Getting back to Tom the cat. He hasn't eaten a pig at all, not that he wouldn't have done so when he first arrived. Tom was in a kind of a state. He was found living in the drain of some friends.
They already had two cats, one of which named 'Fluffy' was the gatekeeper, top security guard for the front and back yards. Their other cat is called Tiger. This always makes me giggle as Tiger is the sweetest cat you could meet. Fluffy had been seen hanging around the front locked gates and then it came to light that Tom had been living in the drain nearest and was sneaking in to find food. Oops! security guard, top cat, saw red.... and black and white! and Tom Tom the Pipers son was sent packing! back to the drain, cold, hungry, confused but knowing his place.
As luck would have it, the friends had security cameras and Tom appeared on their screen, not quite a celebrity, but nevertheless seen slinking under the gate at night like some kind of cat burglar wearing his black mask. Tom knew that both cats got to be put in lockup at that time so he hid under the house where he cried and the sound came in through the floor to the upstairs residents.
After discussing this dilemma, we agreed they should leave him some food and shortly afterwards a trap.
Tom, Tom, the Pipers Son, was duly caught and delivered to us. He was not desexed or chipped and was a fully matured young male who had some war wounds but otherwise was in good condition.
Perhaps he was lost but I suspect he may have been dumped. He was timid, very anxious about food, a little defensive and gave me a nip twice just to let me know not to try any funny business.
We were not sure how he would react to other cats but once released from his crate I saw Simba, that big ginger boofhead, walk up to him, stand in front of him, puffed up to full height and put one giant paw against Tom's chest and push. Kind of like, 'this is my pad, I'm the boss here..' Luckily for Simba, Tom backed off and hid under a small table. I have never seen Simba argue with anyone. Simba is here while his eye issue is sorted. He's a really lovely natured boy.
Yesterday Simba met our new boy Reilly. Under supervision, they tapped noses and then Simba lowered his head to give a small friendly head butt to Reilly and Reilly grabbed him around the neck with his claws. Yeah, Reilly is what you might call a cat with a problem, loves people, expects the other cats to know about his gunslinging reputation in this new town and want to challenge him to a duel. In the exercise yard we call the verandah, Reilly has his constitutional on his own now.
Tom though, is quite affectionate with people and submissive with other cats. They in turn don't mind him at all. He has become fond of the outdoor enclosures and there has been no trouble, even with 'prefects' like Cherie when he ventures out there.
He just calmly waits until she lets him pass her.,
After being brought back recently from a trial adoption due to a sudden interstate employment transfer, Tom will soon be looking for a home of his own. He needs a quiet home, a patient human to provide the stability he has lacked from his unsettled past. Tom Tom the Pipers son wants to settle down.
Below photos are of Reilly (top) and Simba.
Mickey could well have been another sad statistic. Having lived on the streets for years as an undesexed cat he had contracted the FIV virus from fighting for breeding rights with other males.
An affectionate and super friendly boy he was left to carry on as he always had. We don't understand why and Mickey did not know any different.
By the time he came to our attention his health issues were dragging him down. Taken home by a rescuer we work with, Mickey needed two or three stages to his rehabilitation.
Desexing and vaccination, nutritious food, antibiotics for his mouth, steroids to control skin inflammation headed the list..
Next came a dental and foster care. His skin issues were still causing problems so it was back and forth to the vet for more medications. Initially he had had lice as well as fleas. Can you imagine what a difference life as an owned cat is like for him?
Mickey was microchipped and adopted in to a real home of his own. He is here to tell the tale two weeks later!
Left, Mickey when he first came in to care. and before he had his considerable makeover.
Drooling was caused by bad teeth, inflammation and infection in his mouth.
He lost large patches of fur due to skin issues caused by fleas and lice.
Mickey is all set for a peaceful life. He has his own bed, his own dish, his own pot of grass!!!
On that fateful day, Ben was dying. I like to think that those spiritual forces that surround us gathered to watch. They reviewed his life and saw the misery, the lack of love, the sadness. It was not his time so they sent a lady on an errand to the house where strays were left food and she saw him, lying there, already climbing on to that mythical Rainbow Bridge.
He struggled and scratched her but she got him in to a carrier and took him straight to the vet and sent me a text.
It was not feasible to save him I was told by the attending vet in a phone call. He was too far gone. His teeth were rotten, his mouth full of ulcers and lesions, he was FIV+ and he fought any attempt to examine him with what little strength he had left. 'How do you expect him to fight this ? she asked.
All due respect to that vet, her experience and the things she sees daily in these difficult times but we had to try.
He was put on a drip, given pain relief, medications, bloods taken.
Later that night his vitals plummeted but the spirit people standing by must have whispered in his ear, keep fighting, things will change.
And he did. By morning he was stabilising.
He spent days in hospital. All his teeth were removed, he was syringe fed by them, given pain relief, antibiotics. His was desexed and vaccinated, his ratty tangled painful fur shaved off while having surgery.
Our vet called me. She wanted him to come home because he was depressed. We had no room, nobody to foster him. We had to leave him there for a few more days until we found someone.
And then we did.
Our foster carer was also a rescuer. She worked with rescue, fostering mainly mum cats and kittens and orphan kittens for others. Ben settled in to eat high quality food. He ate and he ate to begin with, He put weight on his scrawny frame.
There developed a love affair between Ben and his carer but it was not over yet. Ben had breathing difficulties and came back to surgery for more antibiotics and observation.
He needed Entropian surgery for his eyes and came back a third time for that.
Each time it meant a long drive for our volunteer who first found him and later ourselves.
.The love strengthened, at each separation between Ben and his carer.
Until.....Ben is being adopted by his foster carer.
Enormous thanks to Bronwen Stade, Lex Lexy his carer, the staff at Farifield Road Vet Hospital and the people who donated towards his recovery. To enable us to rescue more cats like Ben please see our donation page.
Suffice it to say that some, if not several of the cats, were named after human counterparts. My best friend;s mother was called Mona. At one time when relating stories of her mother's often difficult behavior, she told me that one of the relatives described her mother as being aptly named.
Mona the cat had ample reason to complain about her lot though. Found in the shrubbery of the garden, looking emaciated and sick, I had no idea as to what I was going to do. Money was always short and getting more so in the number of cats that were turning up for food.
Feeding her seemed the only option and it soon appeared to be the solution. She would be waiting on the porch in the morning only to greet me with warning hisses. I would say 'And good morning to you too' only to receive an even louder hiss in response.
Mona was a tortoiseshell My first impression was that of a very elderly cat but as diet improved her health she dropped several years in a short span of time.
That December I had bought a cat bed, a soft fluffy cloud of cushion. On Christmas Eve I left it on the porch for her.. In the morning of Christmas Day, Mona was lying on it with an expression of unbelievable pleasure. What better kind of Christmas present could I have?
Soon though, Mona exhibited an even fuller belly. Mona was pregnant.
I reported to John that the male cats don't seem to care what the females look like. Even if they are ugly like her.
Mona was not ugly, of course. As her pregnancy wore on she blossomed but as she did I became increasingly anxious that she be caught before the kittens were born. Shortly afterwards she seemed to disappear.
Our young neighbor reported with dramatic emphasis :
'Someone is feeding Mona and I don't know who!'
It would seem that Mona had found a caring person to look after her.
After a time of absence Mona reappeared one day at feed time. She stood around watching the other cats eating. then left by the fence into next doors escape route. She came one more time, seemed satisfied about things and never came back. She was not pregnant. She was actually quite beautiful with a glossy dark tortoiseshell coat and clear lovely eyes.
Mona had moved up in the world. We never saw her again.
Unfortunately I was never able to get a photo of Mona. The two cats above were part of her family though, Charlie at back died two years ago of kidney failure and his mate Dennis (below) continued to live with us for the past four years. Sadly we said goodbye just three weeks ago.
During September and October we lost two more of our rescue cats.
Mr. Dickens had been with us since October 2017 and he died around ten pm Thursday 19/9/19. It was a terrible night because Mr. Dickens had turned a corner, was eating by himself and had put on 400 grams that week, graduating from the feeding tube to independence but in just one day he worsened and was gone. The vet visit that day revealed nothing untoward but he had earlier vomited once and was hyperventilating when we came home from the shops. We rushed him to the surgery but by that time he displayed little of what we had witnessed. 'Bring him back tomorrow if he's no better' said our vet. A few hours later I recognised the glazed eyes and the coma like unconsciousness. Mr. Dickens was dying and all we could do was make him comfortable and accept it. All night I saw his face in my dreams, the regret and sorrow we experienced was acute.
His death was not without warning. He had been a patient for weeks, at first in hospital with the usual diagnostic blood tests, fluids and syringe feeding, antibiotics, two broken teeth removed (his last). and most recently at home with us in our lounge room where he was quite happy.
This Dickensian boy was urchin enough from his life on the streets back then in 2017. The stress of fighting other cats for territory and rights, finding enough food to survive on, hiding from humans in drains and lying under cars in the dark of night had taken its toll. Mr. Dickens was scrawny, dirty and one of the unfriendliest cats we had so far known. His fear of humans was paramount.
Once caught he was taken to our vet for a blood test, desexing and vaccination. He was very malnourished, and FIV+ He could not go back there to that life so we brought him home and concentrated on building up his immune system.
A year ago he had most of his teeth out, sailed through that and was back to his usual self.
Although he accepted me brushing him with the wand we never came close to touching him until his last illness.
Mr. Dickens was admitted to hospital this time with a temperature of 33 degrees, he was cold, lethargic, dying. I did not expect him to survive that day. A drip, antibiotics, a heat pad, syringe feeding, pain relief and pre-emptive strikes to any vet nurse who thought she could make him more comfortable! until a few days later when his whole demeanour changed and our vet said Mr. Dickens is friendly now!! He stayed in hospital for nine days.
We visited him as often as possible and he listened quietly as we spoke to him. He wasn't eating much but we asked if he could come home. He settled into a crate in our lounge room where he ate voluntarily at first but soon had difficulty with a mouth infection and so we opted for a feeding tube. Back home it was one constant round of feeding until he turned the corner and began to eat on his own. We could pat him, we could nurse him, we could even bathe him.
We miss you so much Mr. Dickens.
The above photo was taken around a year after he came to us. When Sandy (below) came in late last year they shared an enclosure and became mates.
Sandy lived in the street, slept under cars, lay in the middle of the road refusing to move for traffic. He had a lot in common with Mr. Dickens. . Luckily it was a quiet street with a dead end and he had some ladies looking out for him. They gave him food which he ate once they were a safe distance away. He sired quite a few families and we wondered where he found the strength! Sandy was infested with fleas and worms, his teeth were the worst our vet had ever seen and every broken blackened remnant was removed. He was anaemic, FIV+ and in a debilitated state. So he came back to us at Catmint Cottage. Sandy is still living with us but misses Mr. Dickens.
Sandy has fattened up and his coat is thick. He has beautiful eyes and always a mucky face from putting his snout in his food. He has an enclosure of his own and an aerial tunnel that he frequents as shown above. Moves are afoot to integrate him with some of the other cats.
Dash (above) came to us almost three years ago.. He died 11th October 2019. When he came in to care he was roughly two years of age and extremely timid. He was already FIV+ and never hurt a soul yet he was the focus of some nasty people who threatened to kill him. He resided in the garden and on the porch of the lady who was looking out for him. She fed him and had him desexed and vaccinated but when she needed to move urgently Dash had nowhere to go. I had shared his plight on facebook for months in trying to help. We could not take more in, his carer begged me over and over until I relented and offered him a few months of safety until she could work something out. He was such a good and humble boy that he was never a minute's trouble.
Dash could not be touched at the time so his education started here. He was such a shy, timid gentle boy, a thinker, a companion to other quiet cats and came to seek my lap too.
During the time of looking after Mr. Dickens I became aware that Dash did not look well. One morning I watched him drinking a long draught of water. We took him to our vet that same day. I thought perhaps a urinary tract infection as he had been urinating in places I was not happy about.
His kidneys were very enlarged. He was admitted for tests and found to have a condition he was born with., Polycystic Kidney Disease. He was FIV+ which did not help his immune system and also had a heart murmer. Some treatments were recommended, Renal food, daily fluids but this was after he came home from hospital and several days on the drip.
After Mr. Dickens died I thought Dash needed some kind of intervention as his kidneys seemed badly swollen. He was not eating much, did not like me giving him sub cutaneous fluids. Our vet was shocked when she saw him and said it was a case of euthanasia. I could not accept it that day. I cried when she left the room to get something. She did some things to make him more comfortable and gave us pain relief to give him. Two days later we took him back and I held his head in my hands and told him what a good boy he had always been.
The glass may never have been full for these cats and others that we have saved but it was never half empty once they came here. I know that much.
Assistance to carry on this work is badly needed. Please donate if you can.