My friend Kathy Kardon often has animals appear on her doorstep in Northwest San Antonio. Somehow, they sense she will help them, if needed.
So, I wasn’t surprised when she told me a feral cat that she had been trying to catch for a while now had suddenly crawled into her lap while she was sitting on the front lawn. Kardon said the cat looked pregnant and she thought the cat might be close to delivering, so she brought her into the house.
A few hours later, the momma cat delivered her first kitten. But as the labor continued, the second kitten was in breech position and stuck in the birth canal. Kardon searched the internet for suggestions on what to do.
“When I tried to help, she put her teeth gently on my arm,” said Kardon. “She knew I was trying to help and was just letting me know she was hurting.”
By the time Kardon got the cat to an emergency clinic, the momma cat had delivered the second kitten who was almost three times the size of the first kitten and stillborn. “It was easy to see why she was struggling,” she said.
When Kardon got home, she put the momma cat and her first kitten together. Perhaps it was the stress of life on the streets, not enough nourishment, or the trauma of a difficult delivery, but the mother cat not only was not interested in her first born, she was also not producing any milk.
Kardon bought formula to feed the kitten. She then sprinkled some of the formula onto his head. The mother cat quickly cleaned the formula off her kitten, which helped trigger some affection for her offspring. Apparently, the momma cat was very hungry and wanted some of the formula, too. Turns out this new mom was still very much a baby herself at just 6 months old.
“I am glad I brought her into the house,” said Kardon. “It haunts me to think of what could have happened to her on the street. The vet said she definitely would have died.”
I am sharing this story because people dump cats every day without a second thought about their life on the streets. Feral and community cats eventually die from starvation, dehydration, illness or injury. Pregnancy, which can happen to a cat several times a year, takes a severe toll on an already weakened body, causing untold suffering for both the cat and her kittens.
So, please don’t dump your cat. Find a home for your feline instead.
And please, sterilize your cats as well as the community cats in your neighborhood. Cats shouldn’t be dying on our streets or in our shelters. Perhaps the only way to end their suffering is for more people to understand how trauma-filled life on the street really is for them.
Send your pet questions, tips, and stories to email@example.com. You can read the Animals Matter blog at http://blog.mysanantonio.com/animals and follow her at @cathymrosenthal.