Or should it be entitled “when a kitten adopts you”…???? Well, it all started when my son mentioned that there were stray cats near his friend’s car dealership in the Bronx… So, I would give him food to take to the mom and 6 kittens, two of which he informed me, had serious eye problems, all were skinny, and quite pitiful. I have read how they are looking to make it illegal to feed stray cats in some states which is rather sad, for their once owners probably left them alone to fend for themselves, or their cat had become lost, and so the cycle started through no fault of theirs.
There is a NYC program called the TOBY Project which enables cats and dogs to be spayed and neutered at low cost in those areas that contribute mostly to the shelters, and where unfortunately approximately 60 dogs and cats a day are killed. The TOBY Project originated by Dr. Andrew Kaplan who saved the life of a dog named Toby who was considered incorrectly as being un-adoptable, was about to be put to sleep, and it made Dr. Kaplan realize that so many dogs and cats faced euthanasia on a daily basis in the shelters and the real problem was overpopulation in the community. So, thanks to Dr. Kaplan, mobile spay and neuter vans go in search of these poor stray animals in the hope of controlling the pet population, or kindly Vets who are connected with the program also spay and neuter and then release the cats back to their stray colonies or find them homes whilst they are at the shelters. My son contacted the TOBY program after he and his friend had caught 3 of these little kittens, one was then blind from an eye infection, one blinded in one eye, and the Veterinarian placed a bell on a collar onto the one kitten so the blind kitten could follow, and they were adopted by a kind person. From the original 6 kittens in the litter, they only caught 3, 3 disappearing, and they saw mom one day being carried out from a nearby yard dead. So that left the one little, scared kitten who the Vet asked my son to ‘watch’ for a few days before letting her back out onto the streets. The program clips one of the ears so they can be easily seen as having been spayed or neutered.
My son brought the kitten who we named “Ashley” home last July 4th weekend…She was approximately 2 months old, all black, hissing, smelled awful from being in a metal cage with sopping wet newspapers beneath her, and she ate everything we gave to her – but we were never allowed near her. She would hiss and attack, and it became a struggle getting her in and out of the cage to clean each day, as she would try and run through the windows, walls, anywhere but be with us, and after a week, we moved her into an enclosed sunroom where she could run and hide from us at will and that became her home for the next few months. We had no wish to keep her, having 2 cats already, one being very sick and who died that same July 4th weekend, and our hearts could not consider caring for another cat as much as or as soon as losing one of the family, our loving calico, Chaos.
Ashley would climb the sliding door trim, my husband called her wild and wanted her out, and so I approached the local pet rescue program in Larchmont (914) 834-6955 where they have been saving abandoned cats and dogs since 1982 and finding them homes. I sent in a few photos and a short description about Ashley, and we waited, and waited, and waited. For whatever reason, black cats are seemingly the least popular.
Meanwhile, Ashley graduated from the sunroom to the kitchen and surrounding rooms, all the time being kept away from my other cat, Valentine – who is no Valentine. She would hiss and growl at little Ashley each time we tried to socialize the two together, and so we kept them separate which became difficult. Some three months later, Ashley started to climb on our laps, and would love to be petted for long periods of time. She was starved for love, and loved the attention. Just allowing her to slowly accept us, on her terms, she had also gradually become the loving kitten one would want. She loves her pet skunks with rattles, and if you throw them, she will run and fetch it back to start the process again and again.
We were becoming attached.
We finally allowed the cats to mingle to see what would happen, and it was interesting. Valentine, like most bullies are actually scared, and little Ashley would chase her to play, and Valentine would run…so we felt that nothing bad was going to happen after all. That was 3 months ago! We finally received a phone call from a family wishing to adopt a stray kitten…I had promised my husband we were only looking after her for a short period of time, and in living up to that promise, I reluctantly prepared her for the family, packing food, toys, her papers, etc. When the time came, she sensed something untoward, would not go near the family, and ran under the bed crying…I asked my sons to help me, but they would not help, and it then became apparent that they didn’t want her to leave either. My husband acknowledged that we had ‘tried’ to have her adopted, and now accepts her as part of the family too. She chose us.
She is not my Chaos, has a totally different personality but she is so loving and sweet, and like a dog, will bring her favorite toy onto the bed (at 5 in the morning – but waits patiently for us to wake up), waiting for me to play. We also have to work on her climbing the screens of the windows…but with kindness, it will happen (or we buy new screens). She also lost part of her voice being born a stray and has a rattle sometimes rather than a purr. We made sure she has all of her shots of course, and that was another reason we first kept her away from the other cat, but she is healthy and fine.
She is full of life, and is simply adorable. It was a long process, but one that ended well. My one fear is that she looks longingly outside, and so I ring a little bell at meal times so Ashley knows it means food and to come. I had also trained my other cats this way, and when they did finally go outside, I would ring the bell, and they would come sauntering in a little later. It always worked and it was a great way of making sure Valentine (my hellion) was not out at night. I am hoping that should Ashley get out, the same process will work for our little bundle of energy.
So, no real ending to this story other than to praise the local Pet Rescue Program in Larchmont, and the TOBY project in Manhattan. My next door neighbor fosters dogs from the Pet Rescue program, and so I can see firsthand what a worthwhile and wonderful program it is, and how dedicated the volunteers are. I must also mention MY Vet… Dr. Carol Lockhart of the Community Veterinary Hospital located in Mamaroneck (914) 698-1111 who is such a caring, warm person that you feel so confident in taking your pet to visit her.
Larchmont and New Rochelle are GREAT!