Cat Tales

Stories about volunteer efforts and cat rescues that highlight Habitat's programs...

Jullian- A jewel in the rough
Deaf Kittens - Casper & Cotton
Trapped Cats Rescued by Volunteers

Jullian - A Jewel in the Rough

Julian was found battered and worn, living at a local industrial park. His fur was matted and dirty, his ear was mangled and bloody and there were wounds on his head. He was one pathetic looking cat that needed help desperately. I brought Julian to my foster home. On his first night, I watched him for a bit and realized underneath the grime and wounds, a very handsome cat was waiting to emerge - a jewel in the rough. Even better, he wasn't feral - just very scared. I took him out of the cage and held him on my lap. His purr was very loud although it sounded kind of rusty, like he hadn't used it for quite some time. I wondered if Julian realized how much his life was about to change. First, he was taken to Animal Associates, a Spay/Neuter Clinic, to be neutered and tested for leukemia. He did very well and even in that environment he was
super friendly to all he came in contact with. His next visit was to Pet Partners Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic, where they operated on his ear. He had a hematoma that needed to be fixed, and they also gave him a new buzz  cut. After days of trying to clean and brush out his matted fur, I had come to the conclusion it was hopeless, so we would just have to shave it all off and start again.What a sorry sight he was. He had 4 stitches in his ear and had to wear a protective collar for two weeks so he wouldn't scratch them out. The collar, in addition to his new haircut, made him a bit odd looking. However, Julian s personality shone through and as soon as we got home from the vet s office he was purring and happy to be held. Not wanting to leave Julian home by himself, I decided he should come to work with me. Julian has made himself right at
home in my office. His favorite place to sleep is on whatever paperwork I m trying to work on. He has also learned that if he backs up and sits down on my hands while I m at my keyboard, I have to stop typing and move (thus pet) him. He is a smart cat. He now spends his days in my office and has become the official greeter. Everyone who comes into the office stops by to pet him and wish him a quick recovery. Quite a few times, I ve retuned to my office to find co-workers camped out on the floor giving Julian much deserved pets. He loves all of the attention, and he has a pretty big fan club. His ear has healed from surgery and his fur has grown back to a shiny, fluffy white. Each day I see more and more of what a great personality Julian has. He is a special cat who I think is very grateful for this chance at a better life..

Deaf Kittens Touch Our Hearts - Casper & Cotton

During the first snowfall of last winter, Habitat volunteers rescued five kittens from a barn overpopulated with cats and kittens. My first crew of foster kittens had left a week before and I was very excited to have some cute new faces arriving at my foster home again. Who knew how cute they would be and how much they would melt my heart. Casper and Cotton, two tiny white balls of fur with bright blue eyes and pink ears were the youngest of the five kittens. At 6 weeks old, their bellies were still swollen, they smelled of hay and their fur was dirty. What a goofy looking pair.
Casper and Cotton made themselves right at home. They were very playful and not scared to try anything new. But within a few days, I noticed that they weren t reacting to noises or to me when I came into the room. They remained sound asleep while the other kittens would wake right up. To see if my hunch was correct, I tested their hearing by shaking bell toys around their ears- they didn t flinch. Medical research states that there s a 60-80% chance that cats with white fur and blue eyes will be deaf. The vet eventually confirmed my suspicions, but Casper & Cotton certainly didn t know they were any different!

The next few months proved to be quite a health journey for Casper and Cotton and an ordeal of dedication and patience for me. One of the kittens contracted pneumonia and both had minor colds off and on for 2 months. They were treated with various antibiotics, medications, therapies and countless visits to the vet. No matter how sick they felt or appeared, their purrs could still be heard throughout the house. It was a difficult time, full of worry for the kitten s health and I wondered if the day would ever come when they would be well enough to be adopted. Finally, after 3 months, that day came. By now, the kittens were running around the house and discovering new things each day. They really enjoyed watching TV and video games on the computer. This appeared to stimulate the hearing sense they were missing. Casper & Cotton were growing into beautiful white angels and I had to let them go.

The kittens were bonded and dependent on each other because of their deafness, so it was decided to adopt them as a pair. Their photos and descriptions were placed on adoption web site. Within one day, emails came streaming into People from New Jersey, all parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, wanted to meet them. The kittens  photos on the internet were viewed more than 200 times per week. Casper and Cotton also graced the front page of the Taunton Daily Gazette in an article featuring Special Needs Felines  for adoption through Habitat for Cats. The requests to adopt them were more than we could handle. Casper & Cotton s story had touched the heart of so many people, how could we choose one family?

After many interviews and phonecalls, a family from Hanover, MA was invited to meet the kittens and I felt very excited that they were the right ones for my babies . When they met the kittens, it was a perfect match - the kittens loved them and they loved the kittens.

This was indeed a great day for Casper and Cotton, but a very hard one for me. Although I knew the kittens were going to a great home, my heart ached. I would miss their sweet faces, loud purrs and the many laughs I had watching them grow and play over the 3 ½ months they graced me with their lives. Deep down I realize it was my role to care for them so they could have a forever home  and that is what I achieved. They will always leave a soft spot in my heart.

Casper and Cotton have adjusted wonderfully to their new home. On the ride home, they enjoyed watching Cat in the Hat  on the car DVD player. Once at home, they pranced right up the stairs and made it their own. Their new big kitty sister is adjusting to the cute little muffins  and they are enjoying watch-ing cartoons with the family s two young children. Their new mommy said that they couldn t have asked for anything more.

Trapped Cats Rescued by Volunteers

The voice on the answering machine pleaded, They bulldozed the field, the cats are trapped in the crawl space. Please help me get them out or they ll die! 

The field was an abandoned lumber mill and home to 10 cats that lived among the shrubs and construction debris. Now it was being cleared.
In the chaos of the bulldozing, the cats ran into an opening leading to the crawl space of the old buildings to hide and stay safe. The property owner boarded up the entrance to the crawl space and the cats had no way to get out.

It was the middle of the night when Habitat for Cats volunteers met Maria, the colony caretaker and feeder at the lumber mill. We heard the faint meows and cries of the cats trapped in the building crawl space. The Animal Control Officer and the Police Department were notified, but no one responded. We knew we had to try to get the cats out of there or they would die of starvation. The crawl space was covered with heavy plywood which was screwed into the cement foundation. Using a crowbar, we were able to pry open the bottom corner of the wooden barricade to get just enough space for a cat to get out. A large rock was used to hold the barricade open. Hopefully, in the quiet and light of the early morning some of the cats would be able to escape.

We went back early the next morning to put the plywood back in its place, but the property owner had already noticed the barricade had been tampered with he secured the opening with even more screws. Maria told him that there were cats trapped inside the crawl space, but he didn t care and didn t want to try to let them out.

Late that day, we returned. We called out to the cats and soon saw the orange and white nose of a cat poking out the bottom of the barricade. He was
meowing pitifully while digging the dirt at the bottom of the plywood, but he couldn t dig his way out because of roots and rocks. We called the Police and the Animal Control Officer several times again, but there was still no response.

It was getting darker, so we decided to unscrew the entire barricade to get into the crawl space to look for the cats. We had to drag ourselves on our belly along the dirt and rocky floor to search the space. One volunteer stood outside shining flashlights in the crawl space because it was so dark inside. The space was only 2-3 feet high. The floor rafters and foundation holes provided plenty of hiding spots for the terrified cats.

We heard them moving but we couldn t see them right away. Finally, the flashlight caught the reflection of his eyes and we saw a big orange & white cat hiding on a floor rafter. He was frightened and ran from us at first. With some coaxing and food, he finally came down close enough for Maria to grab him. He was scared but co-operated as Maria held him and crawled back out and placed him safely in a pet carrier. We were certain that there was at least one more cat in the space so we left a humane trap with food inside the crawl space and boarded up the entrance again. The next day a black & white cat was found in the trap and brought to safety. We repeated this process for the next 3 days and trapped 1 more cat on the fourth day.

Nothing has been built on the cleared field yet and all but 4 of the colony cats have disappeared since then. Hopefully they ve moved to another location.
The orange and white cat, named Bobby, turned out to be a tame cat and was placed in foster care. Bobby has a neurological condition, perhaps from an old injury which meant he would not be easily adopted, so his foster mom kept him. He is a sweet, unassuming cat that seems so grateful for his new home. The other cat, Archer, is living in the Habitat Sanctuary.

This rescue story resulted in a happy ending for Bobby and Archer, due in great part to the colony s feeder, Maria. Sadly, Maria passed away this fall due to a long illness. She had devoted over 10 years to feeding feral cat colonies throughout the city. Her devotion and love for these cats was undeniable and the animal community has lost a dear friend. This story is dedicated to her memory. Maria died September 17, 2003.

Epiloque - Bobby passed away April 2009, due to congestion heart failure. Although his life was short, he lived the majority of it in a loving home. He will be remembered for many things - enjoying a spot in the sun, drooling as he purred, and for his cute wobble. (A. Correia)

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