It’s been a busy week for one of my favorite shelters, Colony Cats and Dogs.
Monday, they helped to initiate the rescue of a dog trapped underground in a sewer pipe. They speculate that the dog was chasing critters into the pipe and got lost then trapped.
Tuesday led to more underground drama…with another happy ending which is a good thing or I think I would be a mess.
At about 11:30, I saw that the shelter had posted a video of their surveillance footage on their Facebook page. (Follow the link for videos) Around 4 am that morning, someone had left three very spry and curious kittens at the shelter’s door without containment. The kittens jump up to interact with the big cats behind the glass then, according to the volunteers, one stayed behind and the other two set off to the right of what is essentially a strip mall and giant parking lot full of businesses.
For once, for whatever reason, I decided to respond to the call for volunteers who could come search for the two wanderers who had a 7 hour head start. I checked in with a volunteer who was cleaning the still closed shelter. She was a little hesitant as I’m not an official volunteer, but I’m familiar enough with the shelter and have adopted from there plus I was a warm body willing to aimlessly walk around in the rain looking for something the size of a softball.
She showed me the one kitten they had, a hissy little ball of fluff in the back of a giant carrier, and sent me on my way. I decided to walk around even though she suggested driving and said others had been driving around the area stopping at dumpsters, hoping food smells would attract the kittens.
I more or less decided to take a lap around the shopping center, checking out landscaping as I went. This plaza has an open courtyard midway with large hostas and dense shrubs which seemed like a good place to check out. I worked my way along the plant bed, and had success when I bumped into some rain-soaked hostas. Two little bodies shot out from under the hostas, through a clear patch and under a shrub.
Brain went into panic mode. What to do? I pulled up Facebook and called the shelter where, of course, no one answered the phone. I tried a mother cat calling kittens video, but I only got sad little squeaks in return. It was an awkward spot and I was afraid that my flailing attempts to grab them would send one or both of the kittens shooting out into a busy parking lot next to an even busier road.
So I ran. I don’t run. I joke that I only run if bears or killers with chainsaws or bears with chainsaws are chasing me, but that I would eventually give up. Fortunately, the volunteer I had talked to and another woman saw me coming and frantically waving. Yes, I had found the kittens!
I followed them through the back alleyways behind all the shops as a quicker way back to the courtyard where we formed a human perimeter around the shrubs. I could see the little gray and white kitten crouched at the base of a shrub across from me. The volunteer scrambled down, grabbed it, and handed the squalling, soaked kitten to me. I, of course, was ready to go full Lenny, tuck that kitten into my bosom and love it, until they directed me to put it in the carrier. The carrier, that was probably the more responsible route.
Mysteriously the black kitten was no longer there. In a matter of minutes, it had pulled a vanishing act. I was even second guessing what I had seen as people started to question me about finding BOTH the kittens there. But I remembered noticing its mittens as it scurried behind its sibling, an intrepid tuxie. When you’re permanently dressed like James Bond, you tend to also act like him.
Of all the kittens, it had to be least noticeable black one. Of all the weather conditions, it had to be raining wavering back and forth from mild to pouring. As more volunteers arrived, we spent the next two hours repeatedly combing through the same bushes, crawling through mulch and grass, sure that the kitten was hidden in plain sight. (The dead mummified duck in the second set of bushes surprised me every time.)Crawling under larger bushes, dumpsters, and a concrete thing that I don’t know what it was for but there was A LOT of shit, including a cat bed, down in it. A volunteer with a heat sensor showed up and ran it over the dense bushes. We did expanding laps around the shopping center, and reconvened to theorize on kitten logic. Plates of smelly food were put out, live traps were discussed, but no one was really sure how to proceed. The rain made all of the open downspouts in the area an obvious and horrifying possibility as to where the kitten could have gone to in such a short time.
I trudged back around to the shelter with the group feeling like a quitter, but completely unsure of what to do next. I was soaked from shoes to underwear and on the verge of publicly crying if I stood there talking to people much longer. No matter how miserable I felt, that lost, wet, hungry, scared little furball wherever it was hiding was worse.
Home again, I took an extremely hot shower, put on dry clothes and tried to occupy myself while checking the Facebook thread every few minutes. Should I go back? What could I do? I resolved to go back in an hour if nothing had changed. Basically, my mind would be able to only contain one kitten and nothing else for the rest of the day. Then one of the searchers I had talked to, posted that they had heard some meowing in the courtyard area. Yes, I would go back! Except that they were now sure it was coming from a drain pipe. I was among the frantic back seat drivers, commenting and questioning what could be done!
For the second time in two days, a local fire station stepped in with Colony Cats to save a furry life. I watched video from a conveniently dry and unheroic spot in my house as the rescue was made. I am certain I recognized the boots of one of the early searchers who crawled around on the ground with me, and who, I’m pretty sure, said she was supposed to go to work that day. I know she was as soaked as I was when I last saw her; I don’t think she made it in to work.
I’m so grateful to have been able to help a bit and incredibly grateful that this worked out and that Piper, Pearl and Puck who have their own Facebook page now are safe and already have people clamoring to adopt them. Could time and resources have been saved if I had made a grab for two kittens on my own? I can’t know. Could the person who dropped them off have done so more responsibly? Ab-so-frickin-lutely!
Cole and Marmalade posted a story about the kitten rescue and the dog rescue the day before! They’re kind of a big deal in dorky cat obsessing worlds 🙂 If you’ve made it all the way through my picture-less ramblings, reward yourself with their article which has all the adorable rescued kitten pictures and associated videos your heart can handle.