Friday, November 18, 2005
I can't wait to see who adopts them.We currently offer free feral cat surgeries on a drop in basis at our Oakland spay neuter facility after a referral is received from Fix our Ferals or ICRA. We take in as many as there is space available. This past Wednesdsay, we took in 18! To ensure we are consistent with our clients who trap, and are truly helping feral, unhandleable cats, we have a few requirements to qualify for the free, feral surgery:
- All cats must come in in traps.
- All cats will have their ears notched (this is proof the cat was fixed, so as to not bring it in twice.)
- All cats must be over 4 months.
So, why do we have this requirement? We have it because kittens under that age can usually still be tamed to be nice, sweet pets. Many people don't believe me when I say that. And they don't believe me when they are trying to catch a three-month-old kitten that is hissing and spitting all over the place.
But last week, I got the chance to put my money where my mouth is. A trapper came in with a mama and three kittens. I explained the rules and she paid for the kittens' surgery. But she was also at a complete loss as to what to do with these kittens. After a long conversation, I proposed to her that we take the kittens, tame them and put them up for adoption. I was pleased with myself, until I tried to pick up the kittens. Boy, were they hissy! One got loose and it took three people and a net to get him back.
What had I done? Should these kittens have been re-released with their mama to spend their life as outside feral cats? Did I bite off more than I could chew?
But I held firm. I was confident that we could tame those kittens! We put them in cages, separated from each other to reduce the "pack" mentality. Then, I labeled the cages "DO NOT HANDLE: MANAGER ONLY" so that no unsuspecting volunteers or staff would let them out or try to pick them up. Then I explained to L. the shelter manager what needed to be done: "3 to 4 times a day, pick them up, wrap them in a towel, like a burrito, and hold them tight." Scratching them, talking to them, and singing to them would help. L. was skeptical, but she was up for the challenge.
I checked in with the kittens three days later and the difference was amazing! One was at the front of the cage, purring. The other, after one short hiss, succumbed to belly rubs. They were almost ready, but not quite.
Three more days later, you would have never known that these were the same kittens that eluded a net and three trained technicians. Purring and sweet, cuddling and loving, they were the picture of cuteness. It was great to see.
But it was even more great to see the smile on the L's face. She had taken these kittens from a life on the street and turned them into fabulous pets. She did it and she was proud. And I felt good that my stubborness to prove a point paid off. I can't wait to see who adopts them.