This past Monday evening (just as I was preparing Monday posts) a friend called to say she was watching a kitten who was in a dangerous place just blocks from where each of us lived, and a storm—yet another storm—was on its way. Above, he is safe and sound in a carrier, caught by my friend the next morning. Below was the scene Monday night. Posted on Facebook in our rescue group:
Find the kitten in this picture…the tabby kitten tucked up on the concrete block between the floor joists under the utility shed for the garden at the corner of Mansfield and Campbell’s Run in Carnegie. Little one was seen earlier in the day in the corner near the traffic light and later trying to cross Mansfield, which is five lanes at that spot. I took Karen’s kitten grabber and the net I still have, he started out near the edges of the shed but got up on that block when we tried to force him out the back of the shed. At least he’s dry. We’ll check to see if he’s still there tomorrow. I guess we could start out with a kitten trap but I’m all for chasing him out from under–I don’t want to see him on the road. This kitten has a foster/adopter if we catch.
To explain, there are no houses on this little strip of soil. There is the five-lane road and busy intersection, the community garden, then a row of scrubby trees and a single railroad track. Then there is a tall fence along the busway, two lanes of the busway, and more fence! There are breaks where the fence ends not too distant, but it’s still quite a distance for a kitten to have traveled. We were concerned there might be more kittens, and maybe a mom too.
Then the next morning, my friend called to say she was there with him and he was close enough for her to scruff. I told her I’d be right down, got the same net and kitten grabber, my fencing (you’ll hear more about all these things below), a carrier and drove down, to see Peg standing by the sidewalk with a carrier at her feet!
Kitten is caught! Peg called from the spot just a little bit ago and said she was watching him run in and out from under the and tossing treats for him. He was almost close enough to scruff. I told her I’d be right down with the net and kitten grabber and fence, and in the ten minutes it took me to get everything together and drive it there she caught him! She was standing on the sidewalk where I’d park with a carrier on the ground. She had laid out a line of treats and managed to scruff him and dump him in the carrier. Now to find out where he came from, if there are more like him and if there’s a mom cat who needs to be spayed.
The person who’d seen the kitten on the street the previous afternoon, along with her 12-year-old daughter, was right there to take him home. She named him Solomon—and he does have a wise expression with those stripes on his forehead! She said they’d seen him on the storm grate at the edge of the road, looking as if he was playing or trying to reach something under the grate. He was far enough on the road that an unobservant person could have hit him, so she drove slowly past and told her daughter to open the door and scare him off the road. She also told me she’d talked to the man mentioned above who said he’d seen the kitten the day before at a deck-building business close by in a small scrap wood lot. We will have to check with them, but as yet no sign of other kittens. Happy ending all around!
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Georgie, Dash and Whisper, House Panthers in Training
In the same area where Charm and her kittens were found, Jenn, the woman who had been taking care of the abandoned cats including Charm and Scarlett, had also heard of a mom cat who was moving her kittens around, and after a threat to them decided they needed to be caught.
Jenn was pretty sure the mom was a cat she’d trapped last month when they were trying to trap a few male cats for TNR. She’d never seen this tabby before, and was even more surprised to hear the cat was lactating. She released her and we hoped she’d find her way back to her kittens. When she heard of these and a description it seemed this was the mom cat and the missing litter of kittens.
The kittens showed up one house down from where Charm had had her litter stashed, and Missy, who works in the office building across the street, could see them playing in the morning from her office window, three tiny black fuzzballs. In time, Jenn was able to grab one of them and I took her my big cage we’d used when catching Charm’s kittens and she set him up in her basement. He was lonely and cried and frightened the first night, but by the next morning he was ready for love, and has continued to be a sweet and affectionate kitten. Now to catch his siblings.
The others were elusive. Missy saw them playing between the houses, Jenn staked them out but couldn’t catch them, one obviously the leader and the other following with no meows at all. Jenn, Missy, and another rescuer Kelli who lives in our town set up watch times around a trap, but with no luck. Since kittens are usually the most active at dawn and dusk, Kelli and I wandered around and finally saw the kittens’ ears in the shadows under the porch, set the trap, and set up a perimeter to block off escape under the porch next door, between the houses, and out into the yards. The wire mesh you see below has a space at the bottom large enough for kittens to slide in underneath.
The little one in front is the boss! He looked right at us, and here has his paws up on the wire mesh covering the opening to the porch. Below he and the shy one are just being plain cute.
Ah, he has the head tilt down already. Now just come out and go in that trap, kitty!
Mom was on the other side of the porch, wondering what the heck we were doing to her children. Mom is apparently a totally feral cat with no socialization to humans, especially as we would discover later.
She had hopped over the cardboard I had blocking the way between the houses and tried to lure the kittens out, but was too nervous to stay and hopped back over, sitting a distance away and sending death rays our way. The brave kitten stayed out, and continued to look at us, tauntingly.
He finally went in and got his sibling, and the two explored the changes to their familiar little space.
The lead kitten was very aware of us standing up on the porch and looking down at them over the railing.
We tossed sardines down into the trap hoping they’d find them irresistible, but to no avail, and started making a list of things we’d use the next time, providing we didn’t catch them: string, laser toy, flashlights, more sardines, canned food with gravy.
Mom reappeared in the front yard with laser eyes and called her kittens. The braver kitten took off and actually managed to get out the fencing though the other stayed in.
Kelli went into the yard where mom and kittens were waiting for the second kitten to show up. Mom got upset, Kelli wasn’t sure what to do, kitten came back into the enclosure but got tangled in the fence. I slowly folded the fence around him, crouching in the area in front in the photo below, Kelli came back, and got a carrier ready in case we could get him into it. We just might have if he hadn’t begun mewing and upset his mom, who was on the other side of that hedge, on the pile of bricks, puffing herself up and growling, then beginning to snarl as her kitten mewed loudly. I let him go back into the enclosure rather than risk an attack by mom. The kittens ran back under the porch and mom took off after making sure they were okay, and after nearly five hours on kitten watch Kelli and I made plans to come back Saturday night.
I asked expert cat catcher Karen Sable if she could loan us a net or other tools we could use to catch the kittens, and she promised a net and a kitten grabber, kind of like the tool given to people who can’t bend or reach that has a handle at one end and opens and closes at the other, in a size to fit a kitten. She got another net and joined us.
I have no photos of trying to find the kittens, chasing and catching them because we were just too busy, it was raining and getting dark, and there were raspberry and rose thorns and poison ivy, but we got them! The photo below is from the end of the evening, after all the fun.
The kittens did not seem to be under the porch so we began to search, walking around three houses. In a few minutes, back out front, looking up the narrow area between the houses I could see the mom and two dark shapes in the shadows flitting around near her. I was looking end on to a wooden privacy fence and knew there was a little wall it was built upon, and sections and vertical boards that were loose, big enough for her and her kittens to run back and forth through, and in fact they had the habit of doing that. The area was stacked with leftover wood old and new, tarps, buckets and such, and there were raspberries and roses growing where they were.
Over the next half hour as the evening grew darker and rain fell, we searched the back yards and the area, unable to find where they’d gone when we went to the area. I covered the openings in the fence to keep them from running back and forth but I found them, finally, behind all the brambles in a little alcove between two fence posts, hidden in the shadows except for their eyes in that black fur. The bolder one was upright, the shy one crouching behind.
In about 15 minutes Karen and Kelly managed to chase the bolder one down between the houses where Jenn almost had a grip on him, he rab back up and under a concrete porch but Karen put the net behind him and forced him out into the net. They got him into a carrier, but we’d lost sight of the shy one. Karen had to leave, so Kelly and I went poking and prodding all over both yards as it grew darker, and hoping mom wasn’t hidden there somewhere and wouldn’t remember we were the ones who tried to kill her kitten (so she’d think) before.
Finally I saw him, tucked into the same spot he’d been with his brother, with his head tucked behind one of the posts. I’m sure he thought we couldn’t see him, and he’d wait there for his mom or his brother. I had the net and the grabber, Kelli had the carrier, and while the net kept getting tangled in brambles I managed to reach in and get him with the grabber. But I kept grabbing branches too and he got free three times, finally running under the same concrete porch. Kelli and I tried to force him out and into the net but he was settled in there. Thanks to one of two guys who were just finishing up painting the house who came down, reached in and got the kitten with his bare hands—he said they were totally callused because he was a roofer—they got the kitten into the carrier. It was just about 9:00 and still a little light outside.
Jenn is fostering these three in the cage in her basement, and she had named the first one she caught George, which became Georgie, and then the bolder kitten Dash and the shy one Whisper. We are hoping the other two kittens grow more friendly with Georgie as an influence, and Dash is getting used to being touched, though Whisper still hisses and moves back into the box in the cage. But there is time, and they are the perfect age for socialization. And won’t someone like three little house panthers? I think Jenn mentioned that Whisper is female, and the other two are boys.
And below, Jenn’s neighbor Talia with Georgie, who has no choice but to become sweeter every day he is handled so much.
As always, you know you’ll be seeing more of these three! I’m glad to help save the lives of these four kittens, and also prevent the births of more if they’d been left out on the street to inevitably reproduce.
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We are overloaded with cute little kittens, but don’t forget the older kittens and adults!
Amazon Wish Lists
Many rescuers pay out of pocket for veterinary care and food but the costs of raising even the average litter of four healthy kittens is more than many people have, and many rescues have greater needs. Pittsburgh CAT has a number of wish lists that include foods for feeding neo-natal kittens like KMR, and other lists that include the best kitten foods, adult cat foods, food and materials for feral cats, and preferred toys and litter.
Pittsburgh CAT Wish List: http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/2IUQ0FQOL2I51
2015 Foster Cat/Kitten Wish List: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1A1HUNQ7J3DL/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Winter Kitten Wish List! http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3CZ6IYCKS2A7N/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Fall Wishlist for Fosters/Ferals! http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2TD3TQBOEMT1E/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Food For Foster Kittens: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/OJQIYGC91289/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Our Groups Foster Kittens! http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1D226142CCGZX/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?
Can’t adopt? Foster! Can’t foster? Donate or volunteer.
There are so many ways you can help cats who need homes and care. You may not have room to adopt another cat, but can foster a cat or kitten for a few weeks. If not that, you can volunteer at a shelter or with a rescue, or donate. You do this because you love your cat, and by doing so you help all cats. No matter which of these actions you take, you help to save a life, and make life better for all cats.
- Adopt one of the cats I’ve posted here, or from any shelter or rescue near you, or from Petfinder, to open up a space for another cat to be rescued and fostered.
- Offer to foster cats or kittens for a shelter or rescue near you.
- Volunteer at a shelter or rescue.
- Find a group of volunteers who work with homeless cats and help them with their efforts.
- Donate to a shelter or rescue near you.
If you can foster kittens or adults cats to help prepare them for a forever home, please run to your nearest shelter and find a cat who needs you! Anyone can help with this effort at any level, even if all you do is donate to a shelter or rescue so they can help to pay for the food or medications needed for their foster, or the spay/neuter/veterinary care during a clinic.
Need to know more? Read Fostering for Your Shelter and Fostering Saves Lives
Browse some rescued cats and kittens—browse here or visit PittsburghCAT!
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!