Common Questions: Where Do Our Cats Come From?

Blog author: 
Anne Zabolio

This is the second most frequently asked question when people find out my occupation. We have taken them out of Town Lake Animal Center and other "kill" shelters. We have taken them from people who can no longer keep their cats. Some have walked up the driveway. Once I was driving down Mopac and saw a cat sitting atop the concrete barrier by the side of the freeway, speeding cars on one side and a fifty foot drop on the other. It was a harrowing rescue, but he let me pick him up. However, the main way we get cats now is through our volunteers.

Volunteer Annie Stuhr, who shows up every weekday morning at 8 a.m. to scoop all the litter boxes, feed and water everyone, and do myriad other things for Thundering Paws, arrived one day with a black and white ragamuffin kitten whom she had found wandering down Ranch Road 12, which has a 60 mile an hour speed limit. We put her in a cage and took her to the vet later that day. The vet tech said to me, "You'd better be careful of these lesions. They look like ringworm to me." But I have a fully operating denial system and, stupidly, I ignored her. I didn't let Stella inside, but I did put her with Amber and her kittens, and Benjamin, and Jake, and Daniel. They ALL came down with ringworm.

We have amazing volunteers without whom we could not survive. Jeanne Van Antwerp offered her wonderful gazebo to house the ringworm kitties until they got well. Jeanne also bathed them and applied medication to their lesions. They are all now ready for adoption.

Except Stella. Annie Stuhr could not bring herself to let Stella stay with the others. She took her home and kept her in an upstairs bathroom, bathed her, medicated her, took her to the vet, loved her and by that time, Annie was hooked. Her wonderful husband, Billy, loves Stella, and all the kitties Annie has acquired, as much as his wife does.

Volunteer Scott Haywood was visiting a city park in Kerrville, Texas, when he came upon a petrified orange and white kitten in a trap. He put a towel over the trap to calm the baby, gave him some food and water, and left a note on the trap saying where he was camped and that he wanted the cat. He called me for advice.

All night the kitten waited in the trap. Early the next morning. Scott visited him again, with more food and water. Not wanting to take someone's trap, he went back several more times. It became evident that no one was checking this trap. I advised him to "liberate" cat and trap. In my opinion, a person who does not check his traps two or three times a day, especially in a Texas summer, should not own a trap. Scott brought Angel to Thundering Paws.

Angel is not tame but he is free inside here. He is the most playful kitten I have ever met. He plays with balls, crocheted mice, other cats, even string on a stick that a human is brandishing at him. If you sneak up on him at the right angle, you can get in 2 or so pets before he bolts. I think he has potential. We know feral cats who one day just give it up and invite petting. I believe Angel will be one of these kitties some day.

Volunteer Pattie Overstreet called me with a problem. Her nephew, Rich, was at his girlfriend's apartment and saw a mom cat and four kittens darting into a drainage ditch. Pattie, who had had no previous experience in trapping, went over there armed with a trap and got three of the babies. She brought the three to us. Five week old fluffballs, these two boys and one girl do not seem feral as much as simply frightened. Demetri is a dark gray tabby with white feet. Dylan is an orange tabby with white feet. And Kimberley is a brown/gray tabby. Demetri already runs toward humans and Dylan is starting to realize that's a good idea. Kimberley has an inkling that humans won't kill her. Pattie continues to try to trap the mom and the fourth kitten.

Volunteer Trish Mihal was visiting friends close by Thundering Paws. As she left their home and walked down the sidewalk, she came upon a kitten, umbilical cord attached, who appeared to be one day old! She picked him up and went back to the house. A thorough search of the yard produced no mom, and no other kittens. Trish brought him to Thundering Paws.

She knew, of course, that I would only hand her KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement formula) and a tiny bottle. She is one of our best kitten raisers. She took the baby and, having just quit her job so she could get ready to go to college in Washington State, had plenty of time to bottle feed, express bladder and bowel, bathe, snuggle, cuddle, love and pamper the kitten, named Roy.

The next day, her friends called. They had found another one. A miniature of her brother, Dale is a pistol packed in a very small package. Both are screamers when they want food, they want it NOW! And they ate and grew at an alarming rate. Of course, Trish couldn't see how much they were growing because she fed them every four house, often in her sleep.

Roy and Dale

If you are a mom cat, two kittens are not much more trouble than one. If you are a human mom, the trouble multiplies exponentially with each additional kitten. Not only do both have to be fed separately (moms feed them all together, and often in their sleep), but each must have his or her bowels and bladder expressed after each meal; must be bathed, at least partially, after each expressing; and often have to be bathed again when, not having pooped or peed while being physically encouraged by the human, they eliminate in their bed, and often on their siblings. Tiny kittens are a mess!

On the day they turned four weeks, I took Trish some canned kitten food. Neither kitten appeared interested, until I opened Dale's mouth and shoved some food inside. That got her attention and she began gobbling the soft food and visibly expanding. Roy had to be offered the food more than once, but he finally figured it out, too. Trish was ecstatic. When Trish goes to Washington on September 15th, Roy and Dale are going to need another foster parent.

Anyone interested? They eat, drink, poop and pee on their own now.

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