Maria & Her Family

June 14, 2012

by   ⁄  Make A Comment  ⁄  Filed under Tales of the Tails

It all began one hot, sunny day July 2011.   My dog P.D., returning from a walk with my husband, started sniffing and barking at our bushes that sit up against the front of our house.  Hubby comes into the house to tell me what he & P.D. have discovered – a small, gray tabby mama cat and her kittens, living in our bushes.  I rushed out there to see and sure enough, there she was with these four tiny, newborn kittens.  They were so sweet and so little, not even big enough yet to venture out past their cozy, shady spot in the bushes.  Mama was, of course, very protective so we didn’t disturb them but I knew I had to help them out since they were on their own and I’m sure Mama was scared or nervous now that these humans had discovered her spot where (I’m assuming) she had given birth to these sweet little babies.  As days passed, Mama started getting a little more comfortable and decided to come up and lay on our front porch one rainy morning.  She was SO tiny, probably just a baby herself really.  There was no way she could’ve been more than a year old.  She had these sweet, sleepy eyes that I just fell in love with.

I started putting out food & water for her so she could get regular nourishment and be able to supply those babies with good, nutritious milk.  She began to trust me a little more each day, as I would just sit out there on the front porch, letting her get used to me.  Then finally, one day, she started coming up to me and letting me pet her.  I was on cloud nine that day!  We became fast friends from that point on.  I then put a box with a blanket on the front porch hoping she might bring those sweet kids of hers on up to be more comfy and slowly, she did just that.  And by then the kittens were getting their adventure legs on , hopping around between their safe spot in the bushes, playing on the porch steps and even on up to the porch, nosing around in mama’s food bowl.  By this point, I’d say probably two or three weeks have passed since we first discovered them.  So then, I started putting out wet kitten food for the babies and Mama.  The kittens wanted no part of it while I was out there, even though their mom was trusting and would be up on the porch while I was out there.  But the moment, I’d go back in the house, I would watch out the front door window and here they’d all come to check out what smelled so dang good.  It was SO much fun to watch them.  We developed a little routine every day of them playing and hanging out on the front porch until I’d come out with breakfast or supper and they’d scamper away to the bushes – then I’d go back inside to watch out the front door window to them coming back onto the porch to enjoy the food and water.

In the meantime, I knew how very important it was to get them all spayed/neutered – let alone finding them a place to stay or better yet, a forever home because I knew that even though I was so in love with them all, my house was just too small and we already have 3 dogs & 2 cats of our own.  So I did some checking around and found a place in Mendota (Illinois Valley Cat Taxi) that had a low-cost kitty cat spay/neuter clinic once a month.  So I started working with them via email on helping out this little family to all get the vetting they needed and was lucky enough to have struck up a very reasonable package price for the lot of them, once the kittens were old enough.  They told me I needed to name everyone so for mama, I wanted to name her after the best Mom I could think of, so I named her after my own mom.  And the kittens, I decided that the first thing I thought of when looking at them would be what I named them.  First there was Sundae, who was black with a little bit of white and gold flecks all over.  No one ever got to meet little Sundae because she disappeared after about a month.  We never heard any violent animal sounds like it got attacked so she either wandered off and started a life all on her own or (I like to believe) someone going past our house saw how unbelievably cute she was and just had to have her.   Anyway, we’ll never really know what happened with Sundae.  Second was little Muddy.  She was the smallest of the four.  She was mostly gray tabby with spots of white on her chest, legs and paws with splashes of tan on her face and legs, like she’d been playing in the mud.  That poor sweet little baby is in heaven now.  She ended up getting sick shortly after arriving at the shelter and although the people at the shelter rushed her to the vet, there wasn’t anything they could do.  They said it was basically a ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ type of thing, but for kittens.  I still get a little teary when I think of that sweet Muddy.  Third, we have Sox.  He looked a lot like his sister Muddy but had more white on his feet like he was wearing his socks.  And last but not least is Phantom who is black and white and has a big patch of black over one eye, much like that of the Phantom of the Opera.  He was the biggest of the bunch and the most social although they were all pretty skittish.

 Next, I contacted Janice at Pet Project and explained the whole situation and had asked if I could bring my little friends there, once I got all of their vetting & spay/neutering all squared away and long story short, they gave me the green light.  I was so thrilled that someone was willing to take in this sweet little family, even though there are many other kitties in the same situation all over the place.  But they agreed to take them in, provided I was going to have their vetting and spay/neutering already done.

 Fast forward to spay/neuter day – here comes the “action” portion of our story lol.  We’re supposed to bring each kitty in its own carrier so we got four carriers and had them ready and started our kitten round up, as Maria was easy to get into her carrier with a little food.  But those slippery little kittens were like greased lightening!!  We had NO idea what we were up against because we didn’t start our round up until like an hour before we had to leave for Mendota and it took us a LOT longer than that to finally get them all.  You talk about stressed out!  But even though we knew we were well past the deadline time to be at the vet in Mendota where we had to drop them off, we hit the road anyway in the hopes that there was a small chance someone, anyone would be there to receive Maria & her babies.  We drove like maniacs to get there as fast as we could – me, hubby, step-daughter and four cat carriers with four scared and totally confused kitty cats.  What a car load that was lol.  We finally arrive at the place in Mendota around like 8pm with an empty parking lot and no lights on and of course, a locked door and nobody there.    With the agony of defeat upon us, we headed back to Ottawa tired and more than ready to call it a day.    Now I needed to get a hold of Janice and let her know this horrible turn of events.  She was so so wonderful through all of this, working with me so diligently.  She was a true ally.  Between her and me, we came up with the funds to get everyone vetted at Fox Valley Vet Clinic in Ottawa since they’d missed the boat with Illinois Valley Cat Taxi.  So we decided on a day for hubby and me to bring Maria & Co. to Pet Project and they would take it from there.  They eventually got them all to the vet and all squared away.  Janice was so awesome, constantly keeping me updated on things.   I had a hard time letting them go but I knew I had to so they could eventually go to their forever homes.  Phantom got his forever home first, then mama Maria and finally little Sox who got to stay with his best friend, Pumpkin, that was his buddy at the shelter as the same couple adopted them together!

I’m sooooo happy beyond words that they all have homes now but each time I sit out on my front porch, I still miss them very much.  I look at the spot behind the bushes where my front porch steps meet the house and picture them all huddled together or playing and wrestling or just having quiet feeding time with Mama Maria. 

 This was the first time I had ever fostered any animals and am glad they picked me.  They will always have a special place in my heart forever.

— Camille Lowe

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