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Saving the Feedmill Ferals

My name is Tina Briggs and I live in Black Earth, WI. I had been taking

food and water over to some feral cats at the feedmill here in town

since the summer of 2012. Well, the mother and two of her female

offspring all had litters last spring, at which point I had no idea how I

was going to deal with this situation (now 12 cats plus two toms

hanging around). So I contacted Angel's Wish in Verona, who helped

me get in contact with Dan Johnson, the spay/neuter coordinator from

Dane County Friends of Ferals. FoF had so many kittens already from

the spring births that it was difficult to get in touch with the necessary

people there so Dan put me in contact with a wonderful woman, Judy

Gregg, here in B.E. who helped me trap the kittens and we have been

taking care of them in our homes since late June, while trying to

find homes for them. We have gotten all three feral mothers spayed at

the vet clinic here in town at our own expense, and have spent

countless hours, money and energy re-homing the kittens, keeping up

with vet bills and caring for all these cats. Dan and Judy have

been tremendously gracious with their time and money toward helping

these cats and kittens. I was also able to convince a neighbor to neuter

her free-roaming male (whom I suspect is the father of many of the

kittens) I have documented the entire story on Facebook with photos

since the beginning. During this labor of love, I adopted 4 of the kittens

and a feral mama who didn't fare well in the terribly cold winter outdoors.

These kitties came into my life as my husky, Timber and my cat, Bam Bam

were both diagnosed with terminal illnesses. It would have been unbearable

to have been in an empty house. So who saved who? Oreo (in photo)

Tyson, Misty, Xena & Echo are my living angels.

Tina Briggs
Black Earth, WI

Our Sweetheart

I received a call from a friend - "There's a puppy in the hoarders house next door. I think she needs help." As soon as we pulled up, I knew the situation was bad. There were three large and untrained German Shepherds fenced into a small area in the backyard. When the woman brought the puppy out, six adult, smaller dogs came with her. The puppy hid under a chair and refused to come out. The woman explained that she had bought the puppy to breed with her two adult German Shepherds, but the adult female wouldn't allow her in the yard without trying to kill her. The puppy was obviously terrified of the humans and the dogs. We paid $400 we didn't really have and drove home with a puppy who shook and peed in my lap the whole way. For days, the puppy refused to eat and peed anytime anyone walked near her but hunger got the best of her and she started eating. The first contact she had with the family willingly was our 9 month old mini Aussie. They bonded and he became her protector. She watched as Hunter played with the humans of the house and eventually realized maybe we weren't so bad. My 10 year old daughter was marveling over what a sweetheart the puppy was when my son let us know that "Schatzi" meant sweetheart in German. So Schatzi she was. Today she is a healthy, happy and gorgeous 1 year old German Shepherd. She outweighs her "protector" by 60 pounds but protect her, he does. Her pack is the most important thing in the world to her. She is still unsure of strangers and usually hides when anyone outside the pack comes in the house but she is learning to socialize outside of the home. She is terrified of trash bags to this day. I don't know what her life was like before she joined our family. I know it wasn't good. But I also know all of our lives improved for the better the day we adopted our sweetheart, Schatzi.

Odessa, TX

Never say never

I always said I'd never have a purebred kitty.. I also said I'd never foster as I knew I'd be a foster failure. Well I was wrong about the first and right about the second. My mortgage broker fostered kitties on the side and specialized in persians. Not long after I bought my home someone in my town had their house raided for suspected animal abuse. This person had already been convicted of same several times.. The police found 11 kitties in a hole carved into the attic wall that was covered with plywood and styrofoam. They were in cages, no food, no water and so much waste some couldn't stand up. The police asked my mortgage broker to care for the survivors during the abusers trial but she was afraid this person might try to steal them back so she was looking for other homes to "hide" them. She asked me if I'd be willing and I agreed. I was given this tortie persian who despite being pregnant and only 4 pounds when found, was actually in the best shape of all of them. She lost her baby due to malnutrition and after she'd healed I brought her home. I never had any intention of keeping her - in fact I had a good home all picked out for her. But the trial took two years (the abuser went to jail). During that time this little kitty just stole my, and everyone who meets her, hearts. She is still obsessed with food - will eat just about anything including McDonald's french fries. She snores and snorts and makes the biggest mess when she eats - hence her name - Piglet. Piglet gives hugs and follows me around like my shadow (she's watching me type this now to make sure I get it right). She has a heart condition - possibly due to the abuse - but is doing great. She loves her turkey baby food treat and will yell at me if I'm late giving it to her. I can't imagine my life without her.

Plymouth, MA

An Accidental Adoption

My mother was visiting with her sister-friend three summers ago when one of their scrawny black cats came speeding through the yard, stopping every six feet and then disappeared. That cat was then closely followed by a large, determined german shepherd dog which was gobbling up something right where the cat had stopped. After the initial shock was pushed back, Mama and Friend ran the dog out of the yard and prayed the cat would come back (which she did after about an hour). Mama was wondering why the animals had been stopping when she walked the same path and found two kittens, still inside and attached to their embryonic sacs. She picked them both up, opened the sacs then disposed of them then called me. She said, "Get some warm water and towels ready, I have kittens; we had no idea the mama was even pregnant."

They were at least three weeks premature, if not even longer. We named them Ears and Twitch. As you can imagine, it was hard work to keep them alive. We had everything we needed though. My mother and I took twelve hour shifts with them on our closed-in back porch. My grandmother helped as well. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, sometimes some animals just aren't meant for this world, we lost Ears about 9 days after bringing her home. Twitch, now named Idgey (yes, Idgey, from Fried Green Tomatoes) and she chose to make my mother her human. She shares coffee every morning with my mom and cuddles inside her jacket every winter.

She grew slowly at first, and had a few bumps along the way... But she's the greatest cat I think my family has ever had.

I wish I could post a more recent picture of her so everyone could see how well she has flourished.

In the picture attached, she was two weeks old, had just begun to grow fur, and finally learned how to make some sort of noise to let us know when she was hungry or needed cuddles.

Sarah Partin-Laws
Roanoke, AL

My little Bella

About ten months ago I moved into an apartment with my roommate. My roommate was gone all the time, and my boyfriend moved 3 hours away for school, so I wanted a pet to keep me company. I searched for a few weeks, but I couldn't really find one that stole my heart. Then after browsing through Facebook one day, I found a page for a lady who lived about ten minutes from me and was fostering kittens. She explained on the Facebook page that if they weren't adopted soon she would have to give them to the shelter because her landlord didn't allow her to keep them at the house. I glanced at a few pictures and my heart melted when I came across little Bella. I immediately contacted the lady and we set up a time that I could come see her. I went there and the lady warned me that the cats were feral and were still adapting to being house cats. I entered the room and 6 of the cats running around playing and having a wonderful time, but Bella was no where in sight. Finally, the lady got her out from under the bed and told me that Bella was having the most trouble with adapting. She said that Bella was aggressive and very independent. The kittens were rescued from an abusive household that hoarded cats, and you could tell by their reaction to human interaction. But the moment I picked up Bella, she chose me. She played with me and cuddled, and that was it, she was the one. I picked up Bella two weeks later when she was 6 weeks old. I couldn't stand the idea of her ever ending up in a shelter. And although she is a pest: knocks things over, bites on everything, and tears up toilet paper, she is my pest, and I couldn't imagine a day without my little furball. Besides, the constant cuddles and the sweet bond we share makes up for it all. :)

Pensacola, FL


Chubs was rescued by the humane society from a terrible situation where he was severely malnourished and abused. I knew he would never be adopted because of his health and he was eleven years old. I told them if he wasn't adopted to call me and I would take him. I got his weight back to where it should be and got him neutered and he is the most lovable dog you have ever seen. He loves to play and loves to be cuddled. He gets along great with my other two rescues too!

We wouldn't trade him for the world.

Paula Swartz
Punxsutawney, PA

Chronicals of a Crazy Cat Lady

We were called and told a cat had kittens, but that they looked very sickly and weren't being fed. We went and claimed two little kittens that had yet to open their eyes. We brought them home and purchased kitten formula. From then on every two hours me or my mother would alternate getting up and feeding them the formula with an eye dropper, because they would not drink from a kitten bottle. They now are our "old ladies" at 7 years old. They prefer to go by SweetPea and Smokey.

4years later, a pregnant stray was dropped off on our porch. We gave her food and water and a cat bed with blankets to ensure she was comfortable. Shortly after having the kittens the mother disappeared and we were left with 3 very young babies abandoned on our porch. Similar to SweetPea and Smokey, we brought the kittens into our home and hand raised them with an eye dropper. They're now 3 very spoiled 3year olds; 2boys; Qt, Sky, and our little girl, CC. We still call them the "kittens".

This past year our neighbor approached us with her little son crying; he had discovered a little gray tabby kitten stumbling around his yard. He was desperate to keep the kitten for himself, but they were unable to due to having 2 very large huskies. We refused to see this kitten wonder around on his own, so he became ours. He was older than our other 5 cats when we had taken them in, so he was only fed formula for a week. Two nights into us having Sammy he became very ill and fell unconscious, We rushed him to the vet and they determined he had gone into a coma state due to his body metabolizing food too quickly, so from then on our goal was to keep him extra well fed. Now 10months old, Sammy is spoiled rotten and acts like he's in charge. He is my baby Pictured above.

6cats, SweetPea, Smokey, QT, CC, Sky, and Sammy; Rescued, spoiled rotten, showered in Love, living in harmony

Indiana, PA

Still a Little Feral, But She's Mine

I got a text one morning, "Why is there a cute, black kitten in our garage?" and I immediately thought, "There's a what, what what in our what?!?" I went out to the garage and, sure enough, there was a cute, black kitten in our garage. It was the week before Thanksgiving and it was starting to get cold. And she was small. Knowing that black cats are adopted less often then other cats, I knew I couldn't take her to a shelter and I couldn't let her get out of the garage; I was convinced she would die over the winter. Apparently, I had acquired a FOURTH cat. I already had three cats, a male and female who were 13 years old and a male who was 12.

It was estimated that she was about six weeks old when she had found us. After much disagreement about what to name her, I half jokingly said, “We should just go with the whole superstition thing and name her Thirteen.” It stuck. It took two months before she would let me touch her. After a year and a half, there are still days that she won’t let me touch her and if she does, it’s for a very short period of time. But she has come a very long way.

The most interesting thing is the bond that Thirteen has created with my 12-year-old male cat, Tabby, who was also a stray that I found at three months old. I’ve never seen Tabby bond with any cat like he has with her. Since she wandered into my garage, I’ve lost my two oldest cats. If she hadn’t come into our lives, Tabby would be alone.

A few months ago, I adopted a tabby/Siamese mix named Glacier that’s now almost a year old. Thirteen has another young cat to play with and she’s still maintained her strong bond with Tabby. And balance has been restored in my house.

Amy Guertin
Crest Hill, IL

Dorm Room Joy

Bella came into my life while I was at university. My roommates thought it would be cute to break the rules and get a kitten from the pound, but they quickly lost interest in caring for her. I took over her vet visits and eventually gained full ownership of Bella (their name choice, not mine). Being stuck in a small room together creates a strong bond between human and cat - at least it did for us. It was clear quite quickly that she couldn't stay in the dorm with me so she was relocated to my parents' home and introduced to their cats. I visited home often and received cards "from Bella" while at school. I missed her company, but knew she was in a better situation with more room to run around.

When I graduated and returned home, it was clear that our dorm connection was still strong and that Bella was very much my child. If she wasn't prancing or galloping around the house, she was cuddled up in my arms or on my desk. She has proven to be such a lover - sleeping with me, helping with my reading (she likes sleeping on my books), and just being a comfort at times. Although we hesitated bringing her home to be with our other rescue cats, we are very glad she joined the family. She is a delight for all with her kittenish antics and overall adorableness that no camera can fully capture.

Filer, ID

A Lesson in Patience

In June of 2009, we drove an hour and a half to a small rescue to get a pure-bred golden retriever named Sassy. Sassy didn't live up to her name, as she was so, so sweet and anything but sassy. I was told she'd been a breeder dog and kept in a pen. Another family had tried to give her a home but she kept going under their deck and wouldn't come out. We took her home, stopping for a hamburger because she seemed so scared in the car. She wouldn't touch the burger.

The first 24 hours at home she spent wedged between a chair and the wall. The poor girl was so scared she wouldn't move for anything. For nine long months Sassy rarely wagged her tail or enjoyed just being a dog. We tried to take her on walks but she never wanted to go. Anytime there was a mildly loud sound, she jumped. She wouldn't go outside without being put on a leash and made to. She didn't want to eat or drink. She wasn't sick, but scared to death. We don't think she was ever shown play, exercise, or anything but the inside of a pen.

Eventually, however, she began to get comfortable in her new surroundings. Our other dog, a lab mix, showed her how fun walks were. She eventually came to realize her new family loved her, and she began to love us back. She went from hiding under the bed most of the time to greeting guests when they came to visit. She is the sweetest dog I've ever known. She now loves walks, loves to swim in the lake, and most of all loves to be petted. She will always be scared of storms, but these days she's not scared of much else.

Nixa, MO
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