As I was following the momcat around and looking for where she may have led her kittens on my Friday adventure, I captured this photo of her.
It’s a little ironic since the place she chose to have her kittens is a very nice house with a large brick garage behind that was likely once a palatial carriage house before the age of cars. This nice house also has a very nice human who has cats indoors, and eagerly chose to help this mama kitty and her kittens. She’s been working with the Pittsburgh Feral Cat Movement to capture the kittens and had this kitty spayed, even while she was still nursing kittens, so she won’t conceive more kittens, and she’ll be feeding this kitty for as long as she stays around. And no doubt if this kitty ever decides to come indoors, she will be more than welcome in this house.
But for now this kitty is young and distrustful of humans. The petite and sleek black cat likely was once someone’s pet with just enough experience with humans that she feels okay to be near them and grateful for food and care, but with enough bad experiences to fear too much contact.
Seeing her on this dim and misty evening through the clouded glass of this old window with one broken pane, looking back at me on the inside, she symbolizes many things about these cats who’ve found themselves homeless, especially young females with kittens. She’s doing the best she can with what she’s been given, and she’s only asking for patience until she can get a little distance from the bad experiences she’s had.
She may have ended up outdoors on her own power, gone into heat and raced off to meet her destiny and not made it back home. It’s more likely, judging by statistics, that she was intentionally placed outside and abandoned, either when she went into heat and the person who’d adopted her couldn’t or wouldn’t afford her spay, or when she was found to be pregnant. Either way, she was just about to start a new cycle of homeless cats in this neighborhood but she’d found the right house, and a person who cared about the cat who was crying at her door.
Today, Sunday, October 6, the Homeless Cat Management Team is hosting its annual Free for Ferals spay and neuter clinic in honor of Feral Cat Day, which is October 16, in conjunction with the Fund for Ferals. Dozens of have people spent the past couple of days trapping dozens of cats for this clinic, nine on one farm and six in another suburban neighborhood, five in a city neighborhood and more numbers reported over the past two days, adding up to about 80 cats.
The cats who arrive at this clinic will have much the same treatment and opportunities as the mother cat above and her kittens. The kittens will be pulled into foster, socialized, vetted and found a home, not having to spend one more night on the streets. Female cats will be spayed, given a rabies vaccine and the tip of their left ear will be snipped off to indicate they’d been cared for in a clinic such as this, and although they lived outside there was a person responsible for them; males are neutered and get the rest of the package. Adults are returned to the area they’d been trapped in unless one was very friendly and a home presented itself.
Feral or stray, living outdoors without benefit of spay or neuter, they would have continued the cycle of overpopulation, but with the intervention of these caring people they can just live their lives inside or out, and hopefully someday there will be fewer to rescue.
The people trapping cats are completely volunteer and in some areas are in no small danger to themselves while they trap and rescue these cats—cats often choose abandoned buildings or isolated places, not the best place for a human with a humane trap at night. These rescuers often do the whole procedure on their own, and the the organization gives them some support and the clinics to use for the cats they’re caring for.
This is a huge part of the solution to pet overpopulation, and the humane solution to caring for cats who’ve been abandoned outdoors. They have a long Sunday ahead of them, but the results make it all worthwhile.
After all, kittens are much cuter like this…
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