Jackie Dale: The Cat Mother

by Jackie Dale

Jackie writes a monthly column for us about her cat rescue adventures. You can find more of her columns on Kings River Life.

During the kitten season, the mornings at The CatMother Inn are always the same. No more relaxing with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. First thing to do is to open the doors and air out the house. That is because with 26—yes, I said 26—kittens, it is not as fresh as one would like. It’s also not as bad as one might think. That is because I scoop first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I also prepare the morning’s bottles the night before to save time. Then I have to get my disabled adult son ready to go to his adult day program. Three mornings a week I teach an early yoga class so I get up an extra half hour early to get everyone fed and cleaned up.
White kittens are always adopted quickly

I fix the food for those who can eat on their own and warm the bottles for the rest. As they eat I scoop their boxes. Then I feed the bottle babies. Some of the older ones also still require supplemental feeding with the bottle. Then the older kittens go into outside playpens on the lawn while I clean and sanitize their areas. I use pee pads to minimize the mess and I have gone through a 100-pad box in five days! I clean thoroughly, so the bulk of my day is spent feeding the kittens and cleaning up after them. They seemingly like to roll in their poop as well as swim through their food, so I also spend a good bit of time bathing and blow drying. I jokingly say that I feel like I run a kitten beauty salon. “Just a wash and a blow dry please!”

I also have, oh, maybe 25 or so kittens with two foster ladies. I’m over my limit and won’t be able to accept any more unless some leave. It’s becoming harder to find places for them to go as the deluge of kittens is happening everywhere.

It’s Not Rocket Science

Why, oh why, is the concept of spaying and neutering such a difficult concept to grasp? A recent post on Facebook had a local woman “looking for a free kitten for her son.” That sentence alone is the kiss of death for adopting from me. A kitten is not a toy to be given to a child. It is a living, breathing creature who has feelings and needs, and should not be treated as a whim. Thanks to the multitudes of irresponsible cat owners, the woman obtained not one, but three free kittens. She then changed her story and said she needed them for mouse control and intended to let them breed so she would have a steady supply of cats. I was so flabbergasted by her lies and incredibly stupid “logic” that I could no longer hold my tongue. I asked her “Are you really that dense?” And because I was pretty certain that she was in fact “that dense”, I explained it to her.
Bottle babies are fragile and labor intensive

Considering the circumstances, I felt I was fairly polite. She said I was mean and judgmental. I did not respond further because I do not debate that which, to me, is not a debatable issue. She can think of me what she will, makes little difference to me. And bear in mind that I also lay some of the blame at the feet of the people who stupidly provided this person with the three kittens, because they obviously have unfixed cats too. But, if you say anything to these people, suddenly you are the devil incarnate. Excuse me that you forced me to lay out the unpleasant truth. It’s not my problem if, as Jack Nicholson so eloquently put, “You (apparently) can’t handle the truth!”

Repeat To Self: “It’s For the Cats, It’s For the Cats”

I had another woman call me asking for help with stray cats, some of whom were pregnant. She was adamant about the cats being removed. With a sigh, I explained the options, or rather, the lack of options, for cats in Fresno County. I explained, as I have done many times before, about “the vacuum effect.” People think that simply removing the cats will solve their problem. However, when an area is overrun with cats, removing an existing colony will only allow others to move in and take their place. Cats are very territorial, and the existing colony will usually resist the attempts of other cats to join.

The woman said there were a mom with three kittens, a very pregnant one, and two young ones she suspected were pregnant. The pregnant mom will have her litter, and then I will help when the kittens are weaned. The other two cats will be trapped and fixed, as will the mother of the three kittens. I asked the woman to remove the kittens before they went feral. She did, and then took them to the local shelter, telling them that the mother was dead. I was very upset and asked her why she did that. She said she didn’t want to take care of them, and she said the shelter staff told her they had a foster who would care for them. I asked her if she could guess who was the foster? Sigh. You’d think my tone would have been a clue, but no, I had to tell her: I’m the foster! She apologized for lying.
Foster kittens

What could I do? I still need to help her with the other cats, so I assisted her in setting up appointments at the vets and I will be helping her trap the cats. I do it for the cats. I can’t let the cats suffer because people are not willing to do anything. There are too many people who are either lazy or simply don’t care. Sometimes both. People don’t want to be inconvenienced. But they have absolutely no reservations about inconveniencing other people.

I have heard every single excuse in the book, but I have found that “I can’t” usually means, “I don’t want too” Why? Because “it’s too hard,” “I don’t have time,” “I’m too busy,” “I work,” “I have kids,” and on and on. It’s amazing though, that they think other people have the time, energy, money, etc. to rescue all these cats and kittens. Yet they often somehow manage the time and money for vacations, fancy nails, tattoos, and nights out on the town.

And I get it. “It’s not my cat(s).” It costs money to feed them. Their behaviors/habits can be annoying. The fighting, the spraying, the smell. All of which can be alleviated or eliminated by fixing the cats. I tell the people that you may not be able to get rid of the cats but you can mitigate the annoying aspects and you can at least stop the multiplication. I get a little tired of explaining to people that I can’t remove the cats. Now I just ask, “Where would you like me to put them?” It’s the same old song and dance. I have several versions of the following that I say A LOT to people these days. “Maybe, just maybe, you could make the difference you want to see in the world instead of expecting everyone else to do the dirty work while you just enjoy the spoils.” As is so often the case, there are always the same few people doing the work of many. There are many ways to help, to be a good person and a good steward of the planet. Foster, donate, provide food and water for the strays, report abuse/neglect. Do something, anything to help the innocents who can’t help themselves and to further advance the good in mankind.

Donations Would Be Nice

This rescue work is very expensive. There is food, formula, pee pads, and the very pricey visits to the vets, vaccinations, etc. I get an occasional donation on my GoFundMe account, I get a little cash here and there, maybe a donation of food or pee pads. But the bulk of the expense comes out of my own (and my husband’s) pocket. I have two friends who also rescue cats and kittens, who have obtained their 501 charity status in order to deduct expenses and get tax deductible donations. I am afraid if I do that I will be locked into doing this forever, and I don’t know if that is how I want to spend my golden years.

So, please donate if you can. If your donation is dependent on a tax deduction, please contact me for options. I’m considering a Facebook page so people can follow my exploits in the world of fostering kittens.

If you would like to donate to help fund TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) projects, support the feral refuge, or any aspect of my cat-related work, it would be greatly appreciated. My GoFundMe account is under my name. Or you can send donations via mail to Jackie Dale, P O Box 1859, Reedley, CA 93654. Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com.

Check out more animal rescue & pet related articles and columns in our Pet Perspective section and remember that if you buy an ad in KRL you can designate 10% of the ad price to go to one of several animal rescues or to Jackie's TNR and rescue efforts. Join our Pets Facebook group to keep up with all of our pet articles.

We also have a brand new pets newsletter that will be going out once a month letting our readers know about all of the pet and animal rescue related articles that went up that month so you never miss a thing. We hope to send the first one out in May. We also hope to provide some additional content and maybe even some pet related giveaways. You can use this box to subscribe!

powered by TinyLetter

Jackie Dale is a freelance writer who lives in Reedley with her husband of 27 years, Frank, and their 2 children. A former ballerina, Jackie now teaches yoga and fitness classes privately and at local area gyms in addition to her cat related duties.