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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Six Degrees of a Rescue Nation

Once upon a time, an unspayed female cat has six very cute little kittens.  Mama is driven by instinct, and is very good at taking care of those precious babies.  The kittens are helpless, unable to see, hear, or smell on their own.  She feeds them, keeps them in a dry, and gives them comfortable place to call home.  She goes off to hunt for food so she has the stamina, energy, and nutrition to care for those little babies. When ever she is near, they mew until they can feed off of her and fill their little bellies.
When they are two weeks old, the kittens start to make wobbly and somewhat humorous attempts at walking.  Trembling like Bambi on ice, they barely get their distended milk-filled bellies off the ground.  Mama's instincts teach them to stay within their safe place beneath the bush that is their home.

By three weeks old, the kittens recognize their mother by using all of their new senses.  They can see her.  They can hear her.  They can smell her.  They recognize her touch.  They know the taste of her milk.  They know her as well as she knows them.

At three and a half weeks old, they sit quietly and patiently beneath the bush that has been their home since birth, awaiting their mother's return.  They recognize that she is gone much longer than usual. They have been taught not to travel far from their safe place.  They get hungrier as the hours grow long.  They are more willing to venture further from their haven, and begin to use their tiny voices to call out for her. Mama cat does not return.

Down the road, Mama cat lies lifeless.  She was hit by a car.  Fortunately, she did not suffer.  It ended quickly, but the babies don't know why she has not returned.   A human on a walk sees the Mama cat in the road, and sighs at the loss.  As the human continues to walk down the road, the faint cries of the kittens are heard.

1.The human follows the calls and finds six orphaned kittens living beneath a bush.  The kittens are scooped up by hands that are unfamiliar in every sense.  This human has now become a of many.

2. The human takes them to a veterinary clinic who feeds and massages the kittens.  But they are not willing to keep them. 

3. They request help from a rescue group, Agape Fosters, who, like all other rescue groups, is low on funds, high on numbers of homeless animals, and has no opening for the long term care these kittens need because of the usual rush of Spring kittens.  The rescue group puts out a request for help.

4.  Another rescue group, HEART (Hardin Eldora Animal Rescue Team) receives the request, and starts making phone calls.  They too are already overwhelmed with Spring kittens and have no room in their group.  They call upon the South Hamilton Animal Alliance.

5.  The South Hamilton Animal Alliance had agreed to take in a litter of kittens from HEART earlier in the week, but the owner of those kittens decided to keep them.  As fate would have it, the Animal Alliance has room for the sweet babies.  Agape Fosters arranges for volunteer transportation of the kittens from Waterloo, Iowa to Jewell, Iowa, a distance of approximately 83 miles.  Just to give you an idea, the size of the entire state of Rhode Island north to south is 48 miles and east to west is 37 miles.  So these kittens made quite a trip.  Agape generously donates to the kittens' care, as they consider them their babies even though they are not under their immediate care.  HEART also offers a donation.

6. The Animal Alliance provides the sweet kittens foster care with one of their best foster homes, the H Family.  The H family, a family of 6 humane humans, is a foster home that dedicates themselves to the fostering of the pediatric and geriatric animals in our care.  These are two of the most potentially heartbreaking sets of foster groups to have.   The young animals are immunocompromised due to age, and what is a mild cold to an adult cat or dog can easily become fatal to a kitten or puppy.  Older animals are always at risk of developing typical old age diseases that can be deadly such as kidney failure, cancer, etc. They have experienced both losses, survived, and still open their hearts to these risky groups of fosters.

Six kittens.  Six wonderful groups of people. 

When the kittens are old enough, six more groups of people we call families will step up and give these kittens wonderful forever homes after they are spayed and neutered.  The kittens will be tested for leukemia and FIV.  They will be vaccinated for Distemper and Rabies when old enough.  They will be microchipped.  They will be dewormed, deflea-ed and had any medical conditions taken care of at the time at which they present themselves.  In the meantime, the family is feeding them kitten formula and canned cat food.  They are dedicating their time to being a Mama cat, feeding, playing, stimulating, and cleaning up after six messy but adorable little kittens.  The volunteer hours and medical care add up to quite an expense, but the kittens are worth it.  Because they are here.  Because that first person cared enough to activate a chain of events that ends in RESCUE, a six letter word.

My thanks go out to the 6 groups of people that have rescued these kittens, and the 6 members of their foster family, and the 6 families that will become the forever families of these kittens. 

While I am grateful to have these kittens safe and in my care, I cannot help but think of the substantial need they have created. Created just because someone chose not to spay Mama cat.  And someone chose not to spay her Mama, and so on, and so on. 

While these six kittens are safe, there are hundreds out there that are not.  There are millions of healthy, friendly adult cats sitting in shelters throughout our country right now.   There is a dog or cat being euthanized in our country every eight seconds simply because they do not have a home. 

If Mama cat had survived to raise her kittens, the number of cats produced from her offspring alone within 6 years would be over 66,088 cats!  Some of these cats will go to shelters, half of those will die in shelters, others will become feral and have an average life span of only two years

The cycle has to be broken, and only YOU can do it.  Please Spay and Neuter your pets! 

If yours are already done, offer to help a neighbor or a friend who has an intact animal to get theirs done.  Educate them on the benefits of spay and neuter.  If you cannot offer them financial help, offer them your time to transport the animal to and from the veterinarian.  Help them find low cost opportunities for spay and neuter.

You will be helping animals everywhere by helping one near you.

These kittens are available for adoption at


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ameow2002 said...

Thanks Lisa!!!! People need to be made aware of what really goes on. These kittens were the lucky ones, they were rescued. Too many are not and die miserable deaths! The financial, emotional and physical toll on the rescuers is tremendous, but it is the right thing to do.

Marc said...

These kittens were the lucky ones, they were rescued. Too many are not and die miserable deaths!