Park Cat Rescue

Just a few of the abandoned cats at RiverPark

Beautiful abandoned cat we named the Lion King.
Beautiful abandoned cat we named the Lion King.
Sugar Cat.  She and her 4 siblings have been saved and they are now quite tame.
Sugar Cat. She and her 4 siblings have been saved and they are now quite tame.

Thrown away, abandoned and left behind, the Park Cats have 2 angels

PARK CAT RESCUE

This has been a trying month. My friend, Sherrell, alerted me to the Park cats and their plight. Not wanting to face another situation of animal suffering and neglect, I avoided the cats and the park for several weeks. When Sherrell described the hunger and lack of shelter the cats faced; I wrote letters to the editor of the local newspaper, and researched laws pertaining to animal abandonment. I felt a strong desire to help, but wasn’t ready to actually see it first hand.

MY DEAR FRIEND LEADS ME A"STRAY"

Shortly thereafter, Sherrell and I went out for lunch and, on the way back to town, she said she wanted to check on the park cats. I did not want to deal with it but I also was not about to tell her, “no, I can’t do this..” We turned off the main street, onto the road leading to the entry to the Park.

She drove up to a small parking area next to a grassy, rolling expanse which was surrounded with flowering shrubs, iris, and other foliage, large trees and a meandering stream. The place was so pretty and inviting.

As we exited the car, Sherrell began calling out to the cats while shaking a bag of dry cat kibble. She also had several cans of cat food along with a container to serve the cats their meal.

Upon hearing her voice, cats started appearing from north, south, east and west. Gingerly they approached at first, but as she spoke, they ran up to an area where she had been leaving food. There were old males, young males, older females and kittens of all sizes and colors. I counted 15 the first visit.

CATS! CATS! EVERYWHERE....BUT NOT A BITE TO EAT

My first reaction was delight as they magically began emerging from bushes, behind rocks, out of hallowed, hardened logs and beneath the old wooden walkway that spans a meandering spring which is fed by seasonal rains. Much like the opening scene in the play CATS; these stealth felines approached. Soon, however, my mind began to race; the weather is cold; freezing at times, and the kittens were so young….there was no shelter from ice and freezing rain and howling wind.

How could this be? In the middle of the beautiful park were well over a dozen cats.

As I looked closer I saw that several of the grown males were injured with wounds most likely gotten through territorial fighting and the desire to dominate lesser males when an available female had come into season. The condition of one big guy, in particular, was alarming; his right ear a mangled, oozing, festering sore. Sherrell had told me of him and her attempts to apply some kind of antibiotic ointment to the ear. She was successful... once.

Another, a gorgeous long haired all white male had lost most of his fur and was limping noticeably.

There were several females of varying ages . I could not bear the thought of more kittens being born into such an unsafe and uncertain environment. Though on the surface the scene was idyllic; just below that surface was potential harm; unchecked illness, unwanted kittens, injury, disease, exposure to inclement weather and possibly a long, suffering death. And, it was very difficult to understand how people could witness without acting; the pending catastrophe of even more cats being born in the park as well as the injury and illness which seemed, to me, to be so obvious.

SERIOUSLY, NOW...WE MUST FIND A WAY TO HELP

Sherrell and I devised a plan. We’d use her Hav-a-Hart humane trap and begin to catch one cat at a time. We both took our own cats to the same Veterinarian Hospital so, we decided we’d take each cat, upon capture, to be tested, vaccinated and spayed or neutered with the intent to return the cat(s) to the park. She was preparing for a move out of state and Al and I have far too many kitties, already. We’d start a capture, spay/neuter & release program; the first of it’s kind here.

As it turns out, we were successful in nabbing a cat a day, practically. We’d call our local Animal Hospital with the announcement that we had another cat. They were and are very open to our bringing in these strays without much notice or prior appointment. One by one, each cat we were able to grab - safely and with no harm done to the kitty - we hoped to save if nothing unexpected came up. 6 lives out of 10 were savable. The two older, injured males were beyond our help. The cat’s infected ear was actually an advanced case of cancer which had spread to many areas and he also tested positive for Feline HIV-Aids. The beautiful white guy was also Aids positive and had an aggressive skin disease which caused his fur to fall out. Both cats were quite feral so, there was no way we could give them the necessary antibiotics and interferon plus they were highly contagious and could spread the diseases readily. Considering all this, the difficult decision was made for humane euthanasia as, any efforts on our part to prolong life would only be short lived, at best. Feline Aids destroys the immune system, leaving the victim subject to all kinds of infection and illness. One pretty female was quite old, though pregnant, but with a horrible debilitating disease which was about to erupt full scale . (We trusted then, and continue to rely on our compassionate Veterinarian 100%). When she told us the loving decision was to end the suffering, we knew she had tried everything possible to avoid this but, in the end; it was the most humane decision. She, too, could not be saved. The 4th loss was a big, burly black male who also had Aids and had been beaten up so badly that there was no hope for him, either. Though heartbreaking, we had no other loving choice. (Their bodies rest beneath huge cedar trees on my farm).

HOPE AND A NEW HOME FOR THE LUCKY ONES

One small, pale yellow male was disease free and so, he was quickly vaccinated and neutered. Four females also tested negative and were given their shots and spayed.

All 6 “saved kitties” now live on the farm with Al, me and our other kitties. The 4 female kittens and small pale yellow male are litter mates; the fifth girl, who is extremely shy, has no ’relatives’ but is secure and well cared for, living in our large downstairs bathroom. Though I did not intend to keep the kitties; I could not imagine returning them to the park without a definite, established program designed to keep them safe, well fed and from having more kittens. They are: Kiwi, Rascal, Sugar, Spice, Little Boy and Heidi.

WHAT TO DO NEXT...STEPS TO SAVE ABANDONED CATS

I decided to write a letter to all the Veterinarians in the area as well as the City Commissioners, Mayor, Park Manager, local animal shelter, several individuals whom I knew would be interested and the organization that monitors the animals at the Park which also hosts a zoo. Their emphasis is on the zoo animals ( I must interject here that I do not support zoos. I do support aiding and saving endangered species but, not in the typical zoo "carnival like" atmosphere) but, I thought, why not include the park cats in their program? My detailed plan outlined how many clubs and organizations could work together to help the park cats while avoiding total responsibility to fall on any one group. This seemed the most manageable and acceptable after having accrued a sizable Veterinarian tab due to my personal responsibility towards the cats.

Following the letter, I made an appointment to speak before the Commissioners at their weekly meeting. I explained how many citizens would gladly volunteer to build an attractive shelter at the park, how children and adults, alike, enjoyed the capers and behavior of the cats and that, under no circumstances, should these animals be harmed or ‘eradicated’ in any way as they did not choose to be abandoned in the park. I continued w/a list of things which could be done to stop animal dumping in the park, citing a Kansas statute which carries a stiff $2,500 fine and up to a year in prison . I suggested the city post signs at key points as well as high tech surveillance equipment and 24 hour park personnel presence to supervise activities. Since the park has had an escalating problem of graffiti, garden destruction, window breaking, drinking and drug use; I felt a multifold purpose could be served by installing sophisticated equipment. Further, I invited all interested parties to participate, so that the onus would not fall on one entity and there would always be enough concerned individuals to maintain the safety and welfare of the park cats. I also assured wildlife enthusiasts that a well fed cat is a sated cat is a ‘cat who does not hunt.’ I stressed spaying and neutering as a preventative measure, along w/vaccinations for all cats seen in the park, as long as no harm comes to them in efforts to capture them. I offered my help at every step of the process.

I await further information. After speaking w/the Commissioners who, by the way, were very attentive and non judgmental; I look forward to hearing from several of the groups to which I pled for the cats’ wellbeing.

I hope the information here will help others who are trying to save animals and who may find many hurdles along the way. Sometimes, it takes approaching the issue from various angles; using all avenues available to achieve your goal. Don't give up the good fight.

I will keep everyone updated on these efforts. In the meantime, we continue to feed and attempt to nab the remaining cats we’re aware of who reside at the park in SE Kansas.


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Comments 17 comments

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

You are a true animal lover-cats in particular are blessed to have you as their spokesperson! I live in Bishop, California, at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I know there are feral cats here, but they usually stay in the foothills. I think! I'll have to look into that further.

This is a marvelous hub, LC! Thank you.

PS: Your photos are lovely-Lion King and Sugar Cat are gorgeous felines, indeed!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

......yes I must echo the sentiments of 'lorlie 6' - you are truly God's gift to the animal kingdom and we all should be proud of what you are trying to do.

And your writing rocks too - you have a good grasp of the English language and know how to write it down in words.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Love your support, E man!


Paddycat profile image

Paddycat 6 years ago

What a huge task you've undertaken. For an animal lover such as yourself to witness this sort of animal neglect, the emotional toll must be unbearable at times. Despite that, you've had the courage to take on the challenge. It is without doubt bravery; so much easier to turn away to protect oneself from the heartache. I am full of admiration for you. Well done, and best of luck to you.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Paddycat...thank you SO MUCH for your kind words of support. I often wish more people were like us in that they had the courage to help ranter than hide from life's harsh realties. Bless you and let's keep in touch via this great forum. Much love, Kathy


tlmcgaa70 profile image

tlmcgaa70 5 years ago from south dakota, usa

great hub, as usual. i see it has been 11 months...how have things gone? voted up and across the board except for funny. blessings...


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Thank you my dear timcgaa70. This was a trial and victory..except I was NEVER able to get all the factions joined in the defense and protection of the park cats...so, we took all of them out of the park and gave them an excellent home. thank you for the visit and kind supportive words. Believe me, I wrote letters to any and all even remotely involved w/animals...I made phone calls and spoke before the Commissioners, Mayor and other groups....no such luck. Very difficult to get people involved..but, at least, we saved about 3 dozen cats form the park. bless you, timcgaa, as always. Kathy


interesting! 4 years ago

very interesting!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

well, thank you interesting~! It was, and is, close to my heart. Appreciate your visit.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Voted up and across the board(except funny). having volunteered for Clarion PAWS, Inc., who has a spay/neuter program for feral cats, I understand completely. I helped in the clinic once, went on a couple of retrievals, but mostly collected soda/beer cans, crushed them and got them ready to be turned in to the metal facility where PAWS was paid for them. Great job!!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hello Aviannovice (I think you are no longer a novice!)...this was quite an undertaking that lasted months and months...I am happy to say that every cat we saw in the park was removed, spay or neutered, vaccinated and given permanent homes. I have many, myself. Thank you for a great comment and your great work in behalf of animals.


Becky Bruce profile image

Becky Bruce 4 years ago from San Diego, CA

You are so amazing! In gratitude of all the animals you save, I thank you! It is incredible that you were able to get the hospital to do all of this, they did it free of charge? Around Disneyland in California there are a lot of stray cats- I have tried to catch one in the past but was unsuccessful. When I told a Disneyland employee he assured me the cats were everywhere- even inside of the park.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

hi Becky Bruce! I haven't visited this hub in a very long while but, it was pivitol in my life in SE Kansas...my friend , Sherrell, and I worked tirelessly to save all the Park Cats...and we were successful. After she left the area (and that just broke my heart as we were such a force to be "reckoned with"), Al and I carried on. Our Veterinarians in SE Kansas are fabulous. They worked w/us all along the way and, to this date, still are so accomodating. My little 10 acre farm there is an animal sanctuary but, I am back in N. California, now. My best friend, Al...stays there w/the animals until we can all be together, again..in California. Our Veterinarians did and do give us a bit of a break in total costs; and they always let us come in when we need to.....it's great and, happily, I have the same relationship here, in CA. w/the Veterinarians I used to see before leaving 5.5 years ago...We love these little beings and have, essentially, turned our lives over to help them. I wouldnt have it any other way; this is what we are meant to do. Cannot think of anything else that means as much. thank you SO MUCH for our kind and caring comment..I have an idea: Have you tried using a HavAHart trap? Humane and cruelty free...I have 3 which have served me well. If not, and you need advice/assistance in how to use the trap; don't hesitate to ask...I'll help you w/a step by step guidance. Kathy


Becky Bruce profile image

Becky Bruce 4 years ago from San Diego, CA

Kathy you are so sweet! Welcome home to California (it's my home too!) although your place in Kansas sounds incredible!! What sorts of animals do you have there... do you ever rescue horses or just the smaller guys?


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hi Becky. In Kansas we have rescued cats and dogs. We also have rabbits, lots of birds and an occasional raccoon. We've had a horse or two, temporarily, until we were able to locate the farm where he belonged (he got out and ran free...right to our front porch.) Here, in California, I have cats, only. I'm in a residential neighborhood so, I can't have all the dogs and other animals . But, I do have a number of deer who eat some of my ornamentals (it's perfectly ok with me). We're working on finding inexpensive property where we can have our dogs and cats. It's going to take time. good luck w/the little kitty you're trying to capture...remember the HavAHart trap. thank you, again, Becky..it's always great to meet others who care about animals. Kathy


Becky Bruce profile image

Becky Bruce 4 years ago from San Diego, CA

Happy to know such a caring person! Thanks Kathy, and I will keep that HavAHart trap in mind :)


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Thank you, Becky; and I wish you luck and success. Kathy

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