With 2013 coming to an end, I find myself thinking back on our activities over this past year. One rescue in particular, comes to mind.
This is the story of Tripod and her kittens: Einstein, Shorty, Marigold, Daisy and Blossom. In early May, one of our volunteers was contacted by a neighbor regarding a feral cat and her newborn kittens who had taken up residence behind the shed in her backyard. The little feline family was welcome to remain in the yard until the kittens were old enough to be taken in.
Unfortunately, at end of May, tragedy struck.
The young mother cat seemed to have disappeared for a few days, leaving her kittens to fend for themselves. Our volunteer and the neighbor put out food and water and the two-and-a-half to three-week old kittens came out from their shelter to eat and drink. They were shy, scared and defenceless but so hungry and thirsty that they braved the world.
Temporarily having no mother to defend them, the kittens were vulnerable to raccoons who would stalk them as prey. A decision was made: the kittens had to be brought in and cared for by an experienced foster home if they were to survive. As we are a small group with a handful of foster homes, I was the best option.
On the first weekend of June, as we were making the arrangements to get the kittens, the mother cat was seen returning. Our volunteer had spotted her earlier hopping rather than running across the street. We do not know what happened, but she was missing most of her left hind leg. Somehow she survived this ordeal and returned to her kittens. She was probably in a lot of pain, but she did her best to protect her babies from the predatory raccoons and us. However, it was soon obvious the she was not able to feed them.
So the plans to bring in the kittens proceeded. The five kittens were caught and I took them home to begin caring for them. This included treating infected eyes, undernourishment and various other health issues. Sadly, Blossom, the weakest of the five didn’t survive.
The other four grew, adopted my dog Bailey as their surrogate mum and although small in size, are almost grown-up kitties now. Einstein, as his name suggests, is the smartest of them all and at three weeks old trained himself to use a litter box without having to be shown. Later, he taught his brother and two sisters. He was adopted into a wonderful home in August and is doing very well with his new brother and sisters.
The three-legged mother was taken in by the volunteer who first notified us of the young family. Inevitably named Tripod, the mother turned out to be very young herself; the litter was likely her first. Surgery was necessary to address the shattered bones in what was left of her stump. Once recovered and freed of pain, Tripod proved to be an agile and active cat. In foster care, she has discovered the pleasures of chin scratches, canned food and an abundance of toys.
The feline family’s saga encapsulates why we do what we do. There may be challenges and heartache, but the sound of a feral rescue purring while being petted or the sight of a spunky little kitten finding his place in the world are just a couple of the countless rewards of being an animal rescue volunteer. May 2014 bring more happy stories like this one. Season’s greetings to you all!