CatRescue 901 is a small team of volunteers who are dedicated to helping cats in need in pounds and the community. We do not receive any funding and are only able to continue our vital rescue work thanks to the generosity of the community. Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Thank you for your support.
Our wonderful carer, Sam, shares a story how she came to be involved in fostering with us, and then went on to TNR (trap, neuter, release) some local community cats. Sam has gone on to save many cat and kitten lives and is a mum to two of her own adopted fur babies. Even though Sam was only around 21 when she started fostering for us, it became clear very quickly that Sam was a talented foster carer and very awesome young person.
My name is Sam and I’ve been volunteering with CatRescue 901 for much of my adult life. I have always had a passion for animals and have fond memories of my various rescues as a child. From baby birds that had fallen out of their nests, to orphaned possums. As soon as I finished university and moved into my own apartment, I began looking for a local cat rescue organisation to volunteer with. I found CatRescue 901 and wrote an email expressing my interest.
Even ten years later, I still remember my first phone call with Jenny. She had two kittens that needed a foster carer. I was so excited! We met the next day.
I often think about those first two ginger kittens that I fostered. I remember their little faces so clearly. One was extremely fluffy and the other, a short haired ginger and white kitten. I had so much fun with them. They both slept in my bed and I became so attached. I was heartbroken when a potential forever home had been found and wondered if I could really give them up.
When the potential adopters came to meet us, my heartache turned into sheer joy. This beautiful family of four had two little boys around the ages of five and seven. These little boys were smitten, and I knew the kittens would have such a happy life.
About four years ago − six years into my fostering journey − my partner and I moved into our first apartment; a lovely, sundrenched two-bedroom apartment. One week after moving in, I was sitting on the balcony looking over to the park. I saw a beautiful black and white cat, and being the curious cat lover that I am, I ventured down to take a look at her.
As I got closer, I realised she was pregnant. She was timid and immediately disappeared into some shrubbery. I continued to explore the small area and noticed that there were a few cats around. They looked like strays and I couldn’t get very close to any of them.
I was so worried about this pregnant cat that I did some door knocking to find out if anyone owned her. I discovered that she “was a stray who lived with the other cats in the park”.
I found out that some neighbours were feeding the colony of about 20 – 25 cats in total which were living in the park. We were just entering Spring − kitten season. I too began feeding the cats and advising others about TNR for the colony.
In October 2017, I saw a little boy, around 12 years old, frantically looking around for someone in the park. I went down there and asked him if he was okay − he pointed out four newborn kittens huddled in the open under the biggest tree in the park. He told me that the mother cat was ill and showed me to a shrub which was hiding a panting mother cat with one baby half stuck inside of her.
Immediately, I called Jenny. She asked me to place the babies in a trap and see if we could lure mum in so that we could get them to a vet. I waited hours for mum to go inside, with no luck.
By this time, the babies needed a feed. I took them upstairs and they had their first feed. I had hand-raised a single newborn kitten once when I was 16 years old. Unfortunately, anyone who has hand-raised kittens knows the harsh reality of the situation. Without mum kittens have only a small chance of survival.
We lost our first kitten within 24 hours, and the second within 72 hours. It took us three days to catch mum, who by that time was so ill that we were able to pick her up and place her in the carrier. CatRescue 901 paid for her to go to one of their vets but sadly she was too far gone to save. I still remember the horrible smell that came from the kitten stuck inside of her. I was distraught for days. Four lives gone just like that. Thankfully two of the kittens survived and were adopted out to a beautiful lady and her son. I still receive photos of them three years later.
We began TNR on the remaining colony cats immediately. This was my goal for the next year and a half. It was a slow, costly process that required so much patience. The park is surrounded by four apartment blocks, so I did a letter box drop asking for any assistance in trapping, transporting, feeding, fostering, adoption and donations for the desexing costs.
The response from the community was overwhelming. Around 10 people came together to help stop a vicious cycle of life and death on the streets. We desexed, vaccinated, microchipped and successfully adopted out between 20 to 30 friendly cats and kittens born to mums that had not yet been desexed. I adopted two beautiful cats myself from the colony, and I’m happy to say that by January 2019, all cats still in the colony had been desexed.
There are still a number of us that feed and care for the colony cats: There are eleven left. I advocate for the importance of TNR. I am so content knowing that we have saved thousands of lives simply by desexing around 50 cats. I know that there will not be any more suffering in that colony like the poor mother cat whose babies I tried to do my best for.
There are so many cat colonies where the cats need desexing. Perhaps you know about one and there is something you can do! Research TNR. Reach out to your local community and devise a plan. I guarantee all your hard work will pay off when you end a silent suffering of life and death on the streets. Thanks for reading my story.
Whilst rescue groups may be able to give you some information and possibly even lend traps, they do not have resources to TNR themselves mostly. Most volunteers in rescue groups are members of the public just like you who work full time. You need to get a group of people together who can pool resources to make a TNR project work. Rescue groups may be able to help with rescue rates for the desexing. Alley Cat Allies in USA are a great resource for TNR information.
image credit: Maxwell Hamilton. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mualphachi/6315967462 [edited]