Kittens are popping up everywhere, literally, out from under the deck and appearing through cracks in walls, and while it sounds cute it’s only early June and foster homes are full already. But kind people request help to capture them and their moms to get them to safety, and if a foster home is available or the cats can go back outside we’ll bring them in, spay and neuter them and give them their beginning vaccines in preparation for a forever home.
I went this evening to visit someone in a community very near me who had contacted the rescue organization about a mother cat and five kittens who were climbing into the basement of her neighbor’s house through a cracked foundation wall which will soon be repaired. She and the home owner and I did not see a single feline but they told me about the little family, I did see the damaged area and we made plans to trap and treat them as necessary.
But people who go out of their way for cats typically have cats of their own as well, and, of course, stories. Because cats know who is a sucker and who will eventually give in, they just sit out on the porch looking into a window with the sad kitty look as if they just don’t understand why these humans are so dense. Then when they do get in they aren’t at all thankful but are ready to be spoiled for the inconvenience of having had to live outdoors and act as if the house and everything in it is theirs by right and privilege. In this case the home owner where the cats are to be rescued did not have cats but cares deeply for the safety of these cats, it was her next-door neighbor who was the one with the connections—and two cats, and stories.
About four years ago the couple went away for just a long weekend. Three days had passed and when they returned a long-haired gray adult cat was sitting on their back porch surprised they’d been gone so long, and ready to come in the door with them. This was not their cat, or a cat they’d ever seen, but the cat would have none of this amnesia by the humans, he obviously belonged in that house.
They attempted to ignore him, but he was always clearly visible from a kitchen window, especially when he hopped up onto the air conditioning unit in the window and looked inside with shock and dismay that he was, indeed, still outdoors.
Only a few days of this brought the husband of this couple outside to offer food to the cat, and soon he was picking the cat up and cuddling him. They began calling him Ratatouille because the cat’s long gray fur was knotted and needed to be groomed and they could not even begin to brush the cat. The man was clearly smitten with this cat, and the cat had no intentions to look elsewhere for a fitting domain after making this much progress.
His wife reminded him that he was the one who had set a limit on two cats in the household, and that limit had been reached. Because the cat now expected to come in the house it was unfair to leave him out, and he was such a nice cat he should be able to find another home if possible. She gave her husband an ultimatum: take the cat to the vet, or to the shelter. Going to the vet obviously meant keeping the cat, to the shelter meant they would not. It was his decision.
Ratatouille went to the vet.
But he was a she! And she was about three years old and not spayed. So they had her spayed, and had her knotted gray tresses shaved so they could start with grooming her when they got her home, and began calling her Touille (Tooey) for short.
And of course she’s a princess, but she never grew accustomed to grooming and so has to be shaved two or three times a year. Her people have decided they are going to start purchasing enough of the proper grooming equipment to do it themselves. What length will we go for our kitties?
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They moved in the house about 25 years ago and the plan, once they had a home of their own, was to go to the shelter and adopt a dog and a cat, and they’d be a complete family. But the husband pointed out their long hours and said it would probably be too difficult for a dog, though a cat would probably be okay with it. His wife said then they would get two cats, it only made perfect sense. Her husband didn’t think it did, but they’d moved in during April and by June she went to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and adopted two kittens. The next year they screened in the front porch so the cats could have a safe place to enjoy the outdoors.
Those two kittens are gone now, and one of the cats adopted after them was a Siamese named Manny who the wife chose though she had had an unpleasant experience with a Siamese cat in the past, but there he was at the Humane Society and she knew she had to take him home. He is very affectionate and playful, not at all like her former experience.
Of the other cats they’ve adopted, including Touille, it seems the husband was the one who was most easily hooked by cats in need. He was not a cat person at first, but after the first adoption of two kittens he was completely on board. When they had lost one of those original kittens about ten years ago a friend told them about a big friendly black cat who was living in a parking lot near her and said they ought to meet him. She packed up the cat and brought him over, and as soon as she let him out of the carrier in the house the husband scooped him up and held him like a baby. The cat purred and nipped him on the cheek. It was “love at first bite”. Minx stayed. He was the heart cat for both of them, very intelligent and sensitive, greeting people at the door, affectionate and demanding. They unexpectedly lost him last summer at age 10, though, and clearly it still hurt. He will be a cat who is not easily forgotten.
Those were some very lucky cats, and some very lucky humans. And from what I’ve heard from others, their experiences are not uncommon, having been adopted by cats.
And let’s hope we can get the little family into a safe place and socialized. Who knows? Someone tonight had her eye on the little black kitten with the white paws.
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About the artwork
I painted “A Nap on the Feed Sacks” in 1994 from a photo a co-worker gave me from her farm. “Cuddled together for comfort, these kittens live on a farm owned by a friend of mine. She passed the picture on to me because she thought I’d like it, which I did immediately. The scene was so simple and quiet that I decided to render it as a quick study, without too much detail, so that I wouldn’t overwork the subjects.” That’s what I had to say about it when I added it to my portfolio book in 1994. I sold it shortly after I painted it to someone who purchased a half dozen small works to auction off for a rescue benefit. Yu can read more about it in A Nap on the Feed Sacks.
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As I’ve said before, this is but one story of many kitten rescues this spring so far, and it’s still only May. Last week we counted 92 kittens of various ages younger than nine weeks in over a dozen foster homes, all rescued over the last three weeks, many of them being treated for serious infections. The season has only just begun. Part of the mission with TNR is to not return the kittens—once we’ve rescued them we socialize them and put them up for adoption through the ARL Foster Finder program or through FosterCat or Frankie’s Friends.
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, like the kittens in this story. If you can help with just one purchase from the kitten wish list on Amazon.com you’d make some kittens and a rescuer very happy.
And if you’d just rather buy a gift card or make a donation, I have a reward for you, below—follow the instructions to make a donation to HCMT or Frankie’s Friends and I’ll send you a gift certificate to my shop.
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.
Read more stories in my weekly Rescue Stories series.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.