>> Saturday, November 21, 2009
I had so much fun the past few days learning more about your guys and how they were named. Every comment I read was like an "ah ha" moment for me. Thanks so much for sharing more about the loves of your lives.
Today I want to let a guest author tell you a story about a cat who changed her life. I've introduced you to Jaydee before. It's an honor to know Jaydee and the work she is doing.
Scraggly Bella at Her First Week With Us!
This is the story of how one special kitten named Bella changed our home.
Jim and I moved into our house in east/central Cincinnati in February 2008. It wasn’t long before we noticed our front porch chairs had become sleeping spots for a pair of homeless cats. I would often watch them snatch food from trash bins and dart into a neighbor’s shed in the cold. After a heavy snow that winter, only one of the cats emerged. How terribly sad. I took notice, and occasionally saw other cats around the street, but didn’t know what to do to help them.
In June that year I was taking a walk in the neighborhood with my husband, my sister, her husband, and a puppy they had found. And there she sat – tiny little scrawny mess of a stray kitten – practically waiting for death to come. My brother in law said "well, hello…" and we scooped her up. My sister and I laughed and cried at the same time watching her dive into a dish of food. Bella was only 5 weeks old, starving, dirty, spotted from ringworm, covered in fleas, and happy as ever to have a bed and food and someone to play with. We kept the little grey and white kitty in her own room until she grew healthy, and although we were crazy about her, our two older cats were not thrilled at all. In spite of them she still made her way into our home and hearts, teaching us about the joy of seeing a sick helpless creature recover and thrive. She found her forever home in September when she was adopted by a family member. I was really sad to see her go.
Around the same time that Bella was adopted, the black and white cat that had survived the previous winter presented 5 scrawny little kittens. I discovered them playing under the neighbor’s bushes and started to sneak food dishes over to them. I wanted to catch them but had no idea how to do that. They ran away every time I brought food. I spent days on the phone, calling shelters and vet offices and pet stores, and no one could help me. I had coaxed the mom with food and often found her nursing the babies in the backyard, but they were all still so skinny. I don’t think that poor mom had much to give them. Some days she’d show up with a leftover chicken piece to share with them and they would all fight over it. I wish I had known how to help them. The day after the big wind storm last fall was the last time I saw the kittens. After that the mom sat in our driveway and cried loudly for about two weeks. It broke my heart. Then we never saw her again. I have no idea what happened to those scrawny kittens and their mom.
But I was determined to not let that happen again.
Sure enough, 3 grey kittens and their friendly stray mom made their way to our back porch. I made a bed in a box and planned to just carry the box in with the kittens inside, but the day I was ready to do that they disappeared. Eventually I saw them again, playing across the street. I did some research and found out that kittens could be trapped….so Jim and I set out one evening with a borrowed trap and some twine to pull the door shut from a distance. It was cold and drizzly and we hid behind a tree while the sweet mom hung around our feet. With her so close to us, the kittens soon got brave and came out to check out the canned food treats we left in the trap. One ventured in, and Jim pulled the door shut. We had one! I felt so bad taking it away from the mom but what a good feeling knowing we were saving that kitten from such an awful life. The next week we got another, and we thought the last one was gone until a few weeks later. He was snuggled up in the early winter snow one evening with his mom on our front porch chair. I knew my husband was supportive of all of this when he said "that’s not right"…and snuck out to the chair and grabbed the baby.
I looked up how to tame feral kittens and by Christmas had found homes for all three grey kittens. We found a home for the sweet friendly mom, too. By then we had caught another starving little one, whom we decided to keep. He is a beautiful and affectionate russian blue who happens to be terrified of everyone but us. Yet while he is terrified of most people he happily greets each shy cat or kitten that comes into our home and helps them to adjust.
All winter long there were cats that showed up near our house, since by this time I just left food dishes by the porch all the time. Most of them were feral and most of them had bite marks and frost bitten ears. Such harsh lives. And I still didn’t know how I was going to stop the kittens from coming in the spring. I just knew I couldn’t handle seeing so much suffering. I had found cats hit by cars, and a few of the cats never came around after the winter. It was heart-breaking to think about them dying alone in the cold.
In January of '09 I finally got in touch with a local cat rescue and learned that I was not alone. I got connected with a woman doing some trapping on the west side, and she told me about SCOOP’s voucher program. It is a program designed to assist people like me. Just in time, since spring was right around the corner! One of the cats we had seen for awhile, a grey bobtail, showed up with a bad limp. I was so happy when I caught him on the first try. I felt so hopeful that things on our street could change for the cats.
I continued to use SCOOP vouchers and OAR’s low cost spay/neuter clinic, and could never have done this without the support and encouragement that I found in Barb Wehman of SCOOP and the volunteer staff at OAR. One of them would often have just the right idea or tip to keep me going.
There were still kittens this summer, and some didn’t survive. But I was able to trap or find homes for over 40 cats over the last year. 10 of them were kittens who got a fresh start as family pets. Some were friendly strays that found great new homes, and some were ferals that are now fixed, vaccinated and returned. A couple of them are part of our family now because we couldn’t let them go. ALL are special and beautiful and have their own stories.
Things are different on our street now. Last summer I was literally checking under my car for kittens each time I left the driveway. Now, there are only three feral cats that feed by my house every day. They are healthy and have warm beds and best of all they won’t re-populate the street. It’s sad to think about the ones that suffered but such a good feeling knowing the ones that have better lives now. I always knew that one person could make a difference….but the real difference is made when we work together toward a common goal. I have since found others in the neighborhood that care enough to provide food and have needed help and encouragement to start TNR. I love being a part of the compassionate solution and knowing that we can stop the suffering, one cat at a time.
I still miss little Bella squealing around our house…..but what a difference she made
when she taught us that change was possible for the cats in the neighborhood.
Bella Settled In!
Please visit two of Jaydee's favorite rescue groups!