This story started when an un-spayed, female cat was abandoned by her people. They were moving and rather than taking the cat with them or to the shelter, they just left thinking, “someone will care for her.” She wandered around the neighborhood scrounging for water, food and shelter. It was an unusually cold January, and all she wanted was a warm place to sleep. Some neighbors saw her but she was so terrified they couldn’t get close enough to rescue her from the plight of an unowned, outdoor cat. Pretty quickly it was clear that she was pregnant and ultimately gave birth to 3 kittens, 2 of which died upon delivery. She was a great mom for the remaining kitten until the fatal day that she got hit by a speeding car. The driver didn’t even stop to see what he had hit. The neighbor witnessed the whole ordeal and felt terrible that this ex-family pet had to endure such sadness and neglect.
To make the story even worse, a few days later a neighbor was heading to work, and turned her car on when she heard a faint meow coming from the engine. Opening the hood, she found the baby, now about 4 weeks old, caught in her fan belt clearly injured from the starting of the car. Grabbing her cell phone from her purse she called Animal Control in a panic. The Animal Control Officer was around the corner at a different case when he received the call about this injured animal. Five minutes later, the officer had the kitten rescued from the engine and on its way to the shelter. Suffering from some frostbite and dehydration, the kitten was rushed to the veterinary hospital for emergency care. They gave him fluids, warmed him up, and then performed emergency surgery to save his life threatened by a badly broken leg and brain trauma. A second surgery was needed pretty shortly after, ultimately resulting in the amputation of his leg. These surgeries were made possible due to generous donations from the shelter’s Miracle Fund, which provides emergency and needed care to save lives. And, yes, a miracle occurred that day saving the life of this one pound homeless kitten from a fate similar to his mom. The shelter named the kitten Bruce and immediately placed him in a foster home to heal. After a few weeks, he started to eat on his own, moved around without pain, and showed his true, loving personality. His foster mom fell in love with his quirkiness and decided to adopt him, making a promise that she would always care for him. Today, Bruce walks with a strange gait, but he is healthy and always safely indoors.
It is not uncommon for an outdoor cat to have a similar plight as the animals in the story above. Cars, lack of food, predator wildlife, and the cold are all barriers to survival on the street. Consider the following tips if you are allowing your pet outdoors during the winter.
- Cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia in cold weather. Owned cats should be kept indoors whenever possible to keep them warm.
- Outdoor cats regularly curl up in car engines looking for warmth. Before turning on your car in the cold, bang on the hood of your car to ensure there is no animal taking up residence. If one is there, it will leave or often meow to let you know they are there.
- Anti-freeze and other chemicals used around the house and car during the winter can be poisonous to cats if ingested. Clean up any spills to ensure animal’s safety.
- Spaying and neutering your pet is the kindest thing you can do to keep them healthy.
- Consider participating in a trap, neuter, and return program to get community or feral cats cared for and sterilized to help cut-down on unwanted births and injuries to outdoor animals.
- When possible, provide an outdoor shelter for owned or feral cats.
- Call animal control for help for any stray or injured animal; you might just be saving a life.
The Pasadena Humane Society offers low-cost, and no-cost, spaying and neutering for owned and feral cats in the community. Visit www.pasadenahumane.org for more information and to make an appointment.