So by now everyone knows we’re deeply embroiled in a cat rescue that just set up this week. And the rescue is up and running at a dead run. Construction volunteers have come in from other states, and we’re getting a Purr Box set up for kittens, plus individual little apartments (cages) for cats waiting on adoption or transportation to another rescue. And fielding a lot of requests from irresponsible pet owners and responsible caring people who have picked up strays, and figuring out which is which.
Smartest thing we did as a group was put the two hardnosed people in charge of cat intake. Otherwise we’d be up to 100 cats instead of the 53 we currently have.
So on Monday, a small group was working on constructing a Purr Box – an 8×8 cube suited to holding about a dozen kittens at once – when we got a call from our shelter coordinator. Time was up for three moms with nursing kittens, and three individual kittens. Pull, or else. There was a silence as we all looked around the construction-materials-laden room.
If it had been a movie, the spunky little volunteer with the drill in her hand would have leaped to the top of a carrier and shouted, “We trained for this people! Let’s go!”
Except we never trained for this. We’re learning to run the rescue as we run it. Fortunately we have some excellent help from other rescues and a vet who knows infection control forwards, backwards, and sideways.
So the shelter cats went to our volunteer vet who fecal tested and slapped quarantine tags on some, clear to cage on others. Fellow volunteer Michele and I showed up with 17 moms and kittens to the haven, with instructions to Pyrantel all the moms and flea bathe all the kittens.
“Right!” I said to the college educated adults volunteering their time for love of cats. “How many of you have experience bathing kittens?”
People looked at the floor, shuffled their feet, stared into corners. Finally Valerie took off her construction gloves and said, in a small voice, “I gave a puppy a bath once.”
We formed a dubious assembly line: Michele flea combing, Valerie at the utility sink with her husband Alan ferrying cats between. Donald (Michele’s husband) and I held towels, ready to dry.
It didn’t go too badly, even though we started with the most feral group. As the kitties went from spitting terror to being bundled into towels and cuddled, they calmed, and a few even decided they liked the experience, snuggling into their dryer’s chests and giving faint, sleepy purrs.
Of course, with 14 kitties to bathe, everyone was soon pressed into service holding a purrito (a kitten wrapped in a blanket or towel or anything we could find as they just kept coming) and people figured out that this was the fun part of the job. Finally, with three cats to go, I looked around and found all the volunteers were sitting on various surfaces, a purrito in the crook of each arm, cooing. Nobody left to wash the last three: Pear, Plum, and little Kiwi – a six inch fluffball of purrsonality.
David and I found paper towels and sacrificed t-shirts to get the fruits finished, and we started caging kittens with moms or in the Purr Box.
“Where’s the other one for this mama?” I asked, as the volunteers reluctantly surrendered their purritos, each trying to be the last one to cage their babies.
The volunteers looked up. Blinked. Stared. Wordlessly they stood, and began walking about the haven, peering into corners, looking for all the world like wet zombies clutching purring kittens. Finally the errant waif was discovered climbing a cat tree in the Purr Box, all the cages had clean boxes, food, water and toys, and we cleaned up and turned out the lights.
As everyone stood a moment in the darkness, Michele asked, “Should we sing them a lullaby before we go?”
We’re figuring it out.
BTW if you want to help us a get a heavy-duty washing machine, you can donate using Paypal via Donald Leech at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re setting up our bank account next week so he’s holding the money meanwhile. And we didn’t have a plan for all those wet towels….