Mama Cat Gets Spayed & Reunited With Her Baby
For the past few years, In Defense of Animals staff member, Anita Carswell has lived with her partner, Brendan, and their rescued cats on the top floor of a four-story apartment in a very large apartment complex in Richmond, California, where she often enjoys watching the wild birds outside on the rooftop deck which looks out into a vibrant wall of nature formed by a line of tall thin pine trees. A homeless cat got added to the picture.
One day right before Halloween of 2022, a talkative crow couple was spotted through the window on the opposite side of the apartment out front in the high branches of a tree above the wide strip of ceramic tile making up the outside of the third-story roof. While they decided against trying the peanuts put out for them, a warbler did not and enjoyed some of them instead. Quite a bit later, a cat, who’s now called Mama, was suddenly spotted on the roof as she started eating the remaining peanuts. At this point, Anita assumed the cat was very hungry (not that she especially liked peanuts), and she put out cat food in the same place for the hungry cat. It was only a short time before a food and water station was set up for her in the front breezeway.
Eventually, while Mama initially liked walking around on the back deck, she learned it made the humans feeding her unhappy if she hung out there and happiest if she left the birds on the back deck alone and ate the cat food left out front for her instead.
Near the end of December, she started appearing with a pair of kittens in tow. She, her two kittens, and her mostly black with a bit of white partner, now named Papa, seemed to be living under the building in an air shaft with their kittens. The kittens were assumed to be from different litters as one was so much smaller, despite almost identical gray with white coloration.
During the heavy rains and biting cold December weather, Mama’s smaller kitten became sick and asked for help. One day, she made her move. She repeatedly showed up on the back deck, checked out the inside cats through the sliding glass door, then ran off only to appear by the front door. When Anita set a cat carrier out near the food and water station and tried to pick her up, she went into the carrier and did not try to leave as the door was very slowly closed.
She warmed up and ate and a couple of days later Anita took her to see a vet and got her upper respiratory infection and eye infection cleaned up with daily doses of medicine. She was also diagnosed with a heart murmur and stunted growth, but despite all those issues, she is now very healthy and happy with Anita and Brendan and her adopted feline family and has become the Smudge to her adopted sister, Smidge. Her birthday is thought to be just a few days after Halloween, which is a very rare time for kittens to be born as the shortened days of fall and winter usually prevent female cats from going into heat and becoming impregnated by unneutered male cats.
Mama and her other baby continued to come by to eat, as occasionally did Papa, plus a few other assorted cats. Meanwhile, Anita decided to try trapping Mama to at least get her spayed to begin with and asked her friend, Aubrey Perry, a cat-trapping wonder woman with more than 120 sterilized cats under her belt for help. Aubrey offered a cat trap and a much-coveted spay/neuter appointment.
The day before the appointment, Mama and her baby were located and photographed together. In the evening, a dry run of setting the trap was attempted. It seemed easy enough until after setting up the trap under the perfectly sized bench outside the door, three cats were calmly cleaning their faces of canned food and the trap was unsprung. The trap had not been set correctly. So, embarrassing as it was to pull the trap out from under the bench in front of a mildly amused cat audience, that was what had to happen. They weren’t confident enough to run right into the exposed trap, however, so Anita brought it inside, reloaded it, and put it back out under the bench.
It was a mere few moments later when the trap closed on Mama and she was brought inside with a towel covering the trap to keep her calm. She was given water, which she promptly knocked over. At midnight, the remaining food was removed. Early the next morning, Anita dropped her off at The Animal Fix Clinic in Richmond, formerly known as Fix Our Ferals.
Late that afternoon, and only $45 later, which In Defense of Animals was able to cover thanks to the kind generosity of our supporters, she was picked up, having been spayed, treated for parasites, vaccinated, ear-tipped so people know at a glance that she has been sterilized, and microchipped. She was not pregnant or in heat at the time of her spaying. Anita gave her food and water and kept her inside for observation the whole next day and night. Finally, it was time for her to be released and reunited with her feline family outside.
On the big day of her release, it took quite a while for Mama to exit the trap. She was very nervous and not sure what to do. However, once she cleared the trap, she felt immediately better and slowed to a trot as she went down the front stairs.
Slowly, Mama went back to becoming more trusting and she was seen more and more often around again, joining her bigger kitten in getting food out front and joining Papa too. At night, she and her kitten, now informally called Sibling, sometimes show up to visit Smudge through the sliding glass door of the patio. Little Smudge also gets brought out front to say hello to them too but seems to sometimes be a little worried she is about to join them outside.
All is good with outdoor Mama, Papa, and Sibling, and indoor Smudge and the next steps will be to sterilize Sibling and Papa and perhaps some others. There was one other one trapped, but he’s a story for another day. Stay tuned for more!
If you suspect cats are beginning to multiply in your area, please look into trapping and sterilizing them. It will help the cats already around escape notice, prosecution, and death if their numbers stay down. Many nonprofits and government agencies are around to help in many areas despite being frequently overwhelmed. They loan traps and connect people with low cost sterilization. Start with an online search. It may be easier than you think.
Learn more about what In Defense of Animals does for Community Cats.