Adventures in Caregiving: Kitten in a Storm Drain
It had been raining for hours. Everything was soaked. The whole area was a grey, cold, mess. As I was making a dash for the car after feeding my feral cat colony, my heart caught in my throat as I heard the unmistakable plaintive mew of a cat in trouble. I followed the sound to the large storm drain at the end of the parking lot. There, perched above the grate was a soaked, skinny, and very young mother cat mewing and pacing. She ran when I approached but did not go far. She was not a cat I had seen before. I peered into the torrent of leaves and mud rushing into the drain. There, on the concrete culvert below was a tiny days- old kitten, half drowned, and still as death. I was horrified and knew I had to get to it. There was a large opening at the edge of the grate created by erosion. I could not get through it nor could I lift the heavy grate. I was as frantic as the thin little mom cat watching me from the wet bushes. Though dressed for work (and late) I lay across the grate and shoved my arm into the hole as far as I could, terrified I would knock the little wet furry ball into the water. But, against all hope, I could just snag the tiny back quarters and lifted the little cold bundle out of the drain. It was alive but just barely. Running to my car I held the kitten in my hands and warmed it under the car heater willing it to live. The miserable little mother cat watched my every move from the bushes. After a few minutes the kitten moved and mewed a little. Taking a trap (doesn’t everybody carry a trap in their car?) from the trunk, I placed the warmer kitten inside, covered the trap with my coat and set it near the bushes. Holding my breath, I watched as the mom cat creep over and sniff her baby through the wire. Against instinct and caution she decided to brave the trap. As the trap slammed shut behind her I felt so much relief. I was not able to find any other kittens so took the mother and her surviving baby home to recover. A few weeks later, the little mom cat was spayed and relocated to my colony. The baby took some time to recover from her ordeal but eventually grew into a fat little happy kitten. Once spayed and vaccinated, little Stormy went to a wonderful loving new home. I mourn for the all the little ones who will never know warmth and love and all the mom-cats who will have litter after litter to become feral cats because of human insensitivity. It is our responsibility to help them. After all, it is because of humans that feral cats exist.
Cats On The Rocks : The Story Behind the Design by Sharon Harmon
Perhaps you have seen a Friends of Felines volunteer wearing our white tee or sweat shirt with the colorful design of a cat sitting on some rocks before an ocean sunrise. Maybe you even have one of the tee or sweat shirts yourself purchased from volunteers at local events. They are also available via our websitegift.html Tee shirts are $15 and sweat shirts are $25. Did you ever wonder what the design represents?
About 16 years ago, while driving to the ferry at Fort Fisher, I spotted a three-legged little black cat scurrying across the busy road and into a parking lot overlooking a large pile of rocks at the shoreline. It broke my heart to see the little one trying to scramble up the rocks to reach a pile of food being doled out by an elderly couple. Missing a back leg made it difficult for the little cat to climb as fast as the others. I watched as several cats gingerly climbed out of the rubble to feast on the food and water provided them. I had no idea there were so many. The couple fed them for years until traffic and people caused the demise of the little colony. I never found out the fate of the little three legged cat.
That encounter lead me to a group that was forming to care for the forgotten ones, now called Friends of Felines. The artwork I designed for the shirts represents the Cats On The Rocks of that colony long gone. Your purchase of our shirts will help provide for feral cats. They make great gifts!
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My Brother’s Keeper: Rudy and Prince: A True Story by Their Caregiver -SJC
Eleven years ago, an adorable but very thin black cat with white paws and tummy showed up at the golf course where I worked. He was sitting on the hood of a worker ' s truck . The cat had a pink nose with a very noticeab l e whi t e triangle on his face. He was so cute.
When I asked about the cat, I was told no one fed the cat because the owners wanted it to leave. The wor k ers thought the cat hung around because the truck smelled of the f i sh market where the driver had a second job . I asked i f the cat could stay if I had him neutered and fed him everyday , rationalizing a cat would help keep the ra t s and mice away from the golf course grass seed.
After receiving permission, I began trying to humanely trap the cat . I named him Rudy. Rudy was shy and untouchable at first though it was obvious he was an abandoned pet . He had been on his own long enough to become very afraid of people. Rudy was thin and smart and wary of the trap. For weeks I tried to ent i ce him into the trap with everything imaginable but he was so thin and desperate for food that I would give in and feed him outside of the trap. One day, after realizing Rudy loved warm mil k above all else, I was able to trap him usin g milk as a bribe . I was so pleased at finally getting Rudy neutered and vaccinated .
Rudy quickly learned his name and was always waiting for his meal . After a year I was finally able to touch him occasionally and even medicate an injury he had on h i s back. But mostly, he kept his distance from me.
Over time , several other cats showed up. I successfully trapped/neutered or spayed! vaccinated and returned t hem to the golf course. Occasionally , 1 would find a new home for a few . Some of the ones that stayed formed a small cat colony.
Rudy was polite to the newcomer kitties but not especially friendly to them. He would let them eat, watching from some distance away. After his meal, Rudy would go off by h i mself, never forming bonds with the other cats.
One day , a mature intact male gray tabby showed up. After he was trapped/neutered/and vacc i nated , he became part of the colony , Prince, the new cat , took a liking to Rudy . He was a very sweet, gentle cat . However , Rudy wanted no part of the new cat , Prince .
P r ince patiently followed Rudy at a distance until, some months later, they started to eat from the same dish . Ove r time , they became inseparable. They walked side by side , rubbed noses in greeting , shared new things to smell , and were always touching. One would not eat without the other . This was true brotherly love and it lasted for eight years .
In September of 2008, Rudy's left paw was bitten by a snake . He would have starved before allowing hi m self to be trapped again so the vet provided me with medicine to put in Rudy ' s food. When Rudy was too sick to come to the food I began asking Prince to take me to Rudy . Prince would take me to where Rudy was hiding and wait patiently for him to eat before going back and having his meal with the rest of the colony. This routine lasted for an entire winter. By the following spring, Rudy's paw, though disfigured, was healed.
Rudy and Prince continued their friendship for another year but Rudy began to show signs that he was failing. I gave him special food and vitamins, always asking Prince to guide me to Rudy . Prince would check to make sure I was following him as he led me down the road to a building or to the woods where Rudy was lying . Prince would patiently wait until Rudy took a bite or two then settle down to eat near his friend . Though Rudy was slowing Prince stayed by his side .
Some days I would come to feed the colony afraid of what 1 would find but Prince and Rudy would show up together though Rudy was very slow . One day , in December 2010, everyone in the colony showed up to eat in c lud i ng Prince. When I asked Prince to "go find Rudy " he just kept on eating . Gentl y 1 a sked Prince to " please find Rudy" but he finished his food and lay down in the road with his eyes turned to the place he and Rudy would often come from. I said, " He ' s gone to sleep, hasn ' t he , Prince? You were the r e and you know w hat happened. Y ou loved him so much. " I started to cry . I said, " 1 am sorry. How I wish you could tell me about it and I could comfort you . I loved him, too. He was so special . I know we will all be together again one day beyond the Rainbow Bridge. I hope the other colony cats will be of some comfort to you". '
I k now Prince understood me because it seems cats have a special way of blinking when they know that we love them and understand what we are saying.
Though Prince is still with the colony today, he has not formed a special bond with another cat . Rudy was h i s brother and their love was unique and strong. Prince was i ndeed , his brother's keeper .
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From Volunteer To Caregiver
My name is Emily Turner and I am a sophomore at UNCW. I started volunteering at the Friends of Felines clinics about two years ago when I started working at College Road Animal Hospital. At that time, Dr. G. Robert Weedon was one of our DVM’s and he recruited me into the Friends of Felines volunteer crew. For those that are not aware about the organization, the FOF volunteers trap feral cats from their communities and bring them to local animal hospitals to be vaccinated as well as sterilized. They are released back into the community where they no longer contribute to the domestic animal overpopulation issue. Prior to my first clinic during my senior year of high school, I had never seen a spay or neuter performed, and was amazed at how knowledgeable the PVMA (Pre-Veterinary Medical Association) volunteers from UNCW were about spays, neuters, surgical preparations, anesthesia, etc. Due to these clinics, I was able to meet and work side by side with the members of the PVMA and was well-informed of the great volunteer opportunities available through this organization. I am now a Secretary for the PVMA, and coordinate the clinics at College Road Animal Hospital. Volunteering at the FOF clinics has been a great experience for me and I have learned an incredible amount from the DVM’s, experienced PVMA volunteers, and of course the FOF volunteers. FOF is a great volunteer program to be involved in and it is always rewarding to help the animals in the community.
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One Little Colony Makes A Big Impression
by Donna Bloomer
When I was asked to help with a small colony of cats off Market Street in Wilmington I didn’t know that this one little group of cats would have big results for me and for others helping them. I only knew the location had some kittens and pregnant female cats, and the situation was critical. Shortly before Easter I met some of the workers and residents at the colony’s home--an assisted living apartment complex for adults with disabilities. I was welcomed by Paige, a social worker and friend of the community; Betty, a long-time manager who had placed the urgent call to FOF and Devin, the resident ‘cat-whisperer.’
We immediately began trapping near the cats’ feeding station, on the front porch of one of the apartments. The cats were used to people coming and going but ran when anyone directly approached them. Devin told me he had worked with the cats, and it was obvious that the cats trusted him. With his help I got two pregnant female cats and one young male to a clinic after the first evening of trapping. In short order all the identified female cats and all but one of the males had been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear tipped and returned to their homes. Two little tuxedo kittens from the colony, named ‘Betty and Devin’ after their human friends, were tamed and found great homes thanks to Adopt an Angel.
The team effort for the little colony has had a number of positive results; Paige and Devin have volunteered at a FOF clinic, where they were able to see firsthand how the cats from their community were cared for. Through many onsite visits and conversations, the residents have been made aware of the importance of spaying and neutering of cats. Community management and staff are pleased that the cats are altered and vaccinated. The cats are no longer in danger of being trapped and removed, thanks to Friends of Felines volunteers. They are free to visit and reduce stress among their human neighbors.
Adventures in Cat Rescue: A Remarkable Cat
No one knows exactly when Miss Kitty (aka Mama Girl) came to live at The Cotton Exchange. However, everyone who knew her agrees that by 2000 she was a daily ghostly gray shadow gliding through t he breezeway. She was so beautiful and independent that several merchants began to place bits of food behind the courtyard lattice work for he r . Soon she was coming by every day at about the same time.
In the early years, Miss Kitty had kittens under an old house across the street . Knowing her babies would be safe and have a food source, she brought them across Front Street one by one and placed them behind the lattice. There they played and were taught survival lessons by the ir good mother cat . We found homes for the kittens and got Miss Kitty fixed.
Even after Miss Kitty was spayed, she never lost her nurturing personality. One evening she brought to the food bowl a litter of b aby opossums . Day after day she shared her food and taught them how to stay safe . She was their new mom and continued her relationship with the opossums long after they were grown.
Miss Kit t y spent hours watching the many visitors t o The Cotton Exchange from the rooftops and from a nearby brick wall. She was aloof and regal and made children and adults smile. She seemed to l ove rock music as it was played in the courtyard but would l eave for t he day when the bagpipes were brought out .
Miss Kitty was never one to be cuddly but if the invit i ng hand was placed just so at the lattice, she may rub gently against it as if to show thanks for the food, water, or conversation.
Surviving heat, cold, hurricane winds, traffic, and the threat of disease, Miss Kitty never made a mess or caused problems. Over the years she peacefully shared the courtyard and rooftops with a variety of othe r animals. She belonged to herself, never wanting or needing to belong to anyone person.
Then in January 2012, Miss Kitty was found with a life t hreatening injury. A concerned caregiver contacted Friends of Felines. Miss Kl t ty was provided with medical care through the Friends of Felines medical fund and a donation. She recovered and returned home. However, a few months later she fell victim to inoperable cancer. She is buried in the courtyard where she lived, played, and raised all her children. We miss her, but know she is watching down on us from the rooftops. Her spiri t lives on through those who loved her .
Contributed by L . Eddy Flem i ng