It started with two little kittens that greeted the tenants of my apartment complex every morning in the summer of 1998. When I started to feed them, that was my only intention initially - I never dreamed of the project that would ensue or that I would take in a second cat, their mother. They were so small. I started to feed them because I didn't think they would survive otherwise. They were very bold, but still afraid of being approached. After a few days of feeding them, the kittens (a male and a female) were very comfortable accepting my food. I noticed their mother watching from under the cars. She was still looking after them. Soon after the father cat showed up. I contacted AFOC for help. Using AFOC's advice, my goal was to get them all, so that they wouldn't get run over by a car in my busy complex or get lost and have to survive winter outdoors. And, perhaps I thought, they might even all get a home. AFOC Director said she would take the kittens. She armed me with a trap and extra carriers and instructed me what type of food to use to catch the cats. Doing as instructed, I managed to get both of them in my carrier. The male kitten was too fast for me, and he escaped. I retrieved my own pet's carrier; put more food in there; and that little cutie went right in. That time I succeeded, but unfortunately the mother was watching and wouldn't come out from under the car. I felt good about catching the kittens until that night my neighbor told me the mother looked lost searching for her babies. I felt terrible, but by now it was August, and I told myself it was best we caught the kittens before the cold weather came. The mother cat (or "mama" as I affectionately began to call her) took my food, but would not get into my trap or carrier. I wouldn't have imagined that the mother cat could have been pregnant again. She did look a little fat, and sure enough, after disappearing for a few days, I found her under my neighbor's porch with four more little kittens. These little kittens received much attention from the kids in our complex, keeping them entrenched under the porch and leery of all people. With the aid of my neighbor Jenny we fed her and tried to keep the onlookers at bay. AFOC advised me to wait six weeks to pursue any capture in case we couldn't catch the mother. Four weeks into this, I went to feed them one day and they were gone! That night mama greeted me when I came home from work. She was looking for food and looked very undernourished, even with me giving her two cans a day plus dry food. The nursing of and hunting for her babies was tiring her. Within a few days, the kittens and mama were back. By week's end, Jenny and I caught mama and the first kitten, then she watched the rest that day until we were able to enlist the aid of two college students in our complex to catch the other three. It was urgent I catch them all! Later I found out that mama almost died from severe dehydration the night I brought her in, so I felt a little better about choosing to take mama in without all her babies. Though there were some points that weren't fun throughout this ordeal, such as the many times up and down the stairs to check on them, the hours of sleep lost, the rabies shot I had to get when one kitten bit me and the smell of diarrhea on Mama from being so nervous, my only regret is that I did not catch "papa." He also stopped coming around, so he either didn't make it, or impregnated another cat. I guess I set my sites too high on that one. I now realize how many times people must see animals, and not thinking about the dangers that they face alone in the outdoors and little bit of woods that there is today. It was November before all this was said and done and mama became one of my "babies." Though my other baby "jewell" (a nine-year-old calico cat) is taking much time to adjust to her , every time I look at her I am so happy she made it. I now call her my "pearl." She has mostly pearly white fur with black spots. It's hard to believe she's been through so much - she's just a baby herself, only about two years old.


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