While we were sleeping

Winter had hid and I just wasn’t enjoying shivering in the cold waiting for my traps to go off while the bait froze to the trip plate.  I decided it was a good time to take a break, clean my room and take some time for myself.  I was going to Oregon for the holidays and didn’t want to leave Vlad with a room full of kittens to care for again.  That was the plan, but it didn’t really work.  Things didn’t work out as planned, the preverbal inn was full in the adoption program.  As we were driving to the airport I got an email that space had opened up and Tomato, Meatloaf, and Casper could join the program.  A few days later Vlad took them for their interviews and they passed!  Our kitten room was once again empty and we were starting off the new year with a fresh start.

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The first day of January I got a call from our vet’s office, worried something had happened to one of our beloved dogs I answered the phone.  Much to my surprise it was a very different story I was met with.  A nice woman driving home from work, near the Bay Parkway F train stop, spotted a cat with its head stuck in a can. She looked around and realized no one else was going to do anything to help the cat who was trapped in a life and death situation. She took the cat to our vet’s office @bensonhurstvetcare where they helped free the kitty from the can. The woman wasn’t able to take the cat home with her and didn’t know what to do.  A storm was approaching and they were quite sure if the cat was put back where it had been found it would be dead by the next morning.  Not knowing if the cat could be socialized we said we would take it and if it turned out to be completely feral we could still get it fixed and keep it safe until the storm passed.  Enter Doughnut the cat.

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 We worked with him harder than we had ever worked with a kitten to make sure we gave him every opportunity to become a friendly.  With Oscar’s help, acting as a Manny, Doughnut came out of his shell and turned into a shy sweetheart with a weakness for kitty treats.

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Not long after we got the call about Doughnut we got another call from a woman in our neighborhood who had come construction workers catch a kitten she had seen playing in the area.  While the woman meant well she was completely overwhelmed once the kitten was caught and had no idea what the next step was.  We asked that she take the online TNR certification call, just to be sure she knew what everything was about, and then we offered to socialize the kitten for her.  We named it J’y Jette, got her fixed vaccinated, and tested.  Once she was fully socialized she went in for her interview for the ASPCA adoption program and passed!
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Yet another call came in from some Russian women who were friends with our neighbor downstairs.  A friendly cat had joined a colony this woman cared for and the new cat wasn’t doing well.  The caretaker wanted help finding the cat a home. The next day was the Community Cats Podcast Online Cat Conference; I attended the Lost and Found workshop and realized I needed to treat the cat as lost to start with rather than assuming the cat had been abandoned or was simply a friendly cat from another colony.
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We took the cat to our vet, Bensonhurst Veterinary Care, where they scanned him and were excited to find a chip. They called the chip company for us and were even more excited to find he had a person attached to the chip. Soon they were leaving a message for the person who lived four city blocks away from the colony site where the cat, named Taco, had been living for months. Fifteen minutes later we were on the phone with the owner who was overjoyed to hear we had located Taco. Apparently he got out one night when the mother had come home late and they had been searching for him since October. The owner picked Taco up from us that evening after having scheduled a check up with our vet to make sure Taco was okay after his long adventure. I honestly think I would have moved straight to the forever home search without the information from the Lost and Found workshop.  It was real learning experience for me to make sure the cat didn’t already have a home before I tried to find him one.
Still on our time off period we received another call, I know . . . a pattern is developing.  Another Russian friend of our neighbors downstairs was in a pickle.  Their friend in the Far Rockaways had been feeding an outdoor cat, but the friend had passed away.  Her friends in the building didn’t think the cat belonged outside, it was far toon friendly and was always trying to get into the building.  They banded together to get the cat, Tiger, fixed, vaccinated, and tested before they reached out to us to see if we knew what to do next.  They weren’t really comfortable finding the cat a home and wanted our help.  We were truly lucky that the ASPCA adoption program had space for Tiger and he passed his interview with flying colors!
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Now we could get back to our supposed break, right?  Not really.  After being so helpful with Tiger we started getting more and more calls of various natures, all about cats though, from our new Russian network.  Vlad and I had to sit down and really talk through what our goals are as an organization.  We were both on the same page, we wanted to do targeted TNR in Bensonhurst, we didn’t want to be a conduit for homeless cats from all neighborhoods to get into adoption programs.  With that cleared up we were able to present a united front to the Russian women and the cats the help, letting them know if they wanted to get TNR certified we were more than happy to point them in the right direction, or if they wanted to learn more about the various shelters we could help them translate if needed, but we couldn’t save every cat and were focusing our efforts and funds on our neighborhood.  I’m not sure if they completely believed us, but I guess time will tell.