For Trudy and Her Kittens

I heard a meow as I was about to toss a chunk of hay to my horse. 'What's up, Jimmy?' I answered. I looked in the direction of the sound and a little face that wasn't Jimmy's peered at me from behind a bale. Surprised, I said, 'Hi there, who are you?' and she climbed up over a bale and told me all about it. I could see this little stranger had a problem - she was large-bellied and bony-backed, but bright-eyed and talkative, and obviously homeless. She meowed at me some more as if to say, 'Can you please help me?' She was very friendly and liked being petted and held. I told her that I would help her, and I explained the possible things that might soon happen, not being sure of her condition.

I immediately thought of our neighboring farmer who has, to put it mildly, an over-abundance of cats, none of them spayed or neutered, but most somewhat tame. His reply to my questioning about the situation was, 'Oh, the cars and distemper keep the numbers down,' and he was not interested in talking about it any further. So my first assumption was that this poor little obviously-pregnant and likely-worm-laden kitten must have wandered over to our farm to escape that existence (it had happened before). But I wasn't sure, so I decided to take the kitten over there, ask if she belonged to them, and see what their response was. I really didn't plan to leave her with them, because I didn't think that would help her (I had promised her I would help her), however I wanted them to see her (and my) plight, and it was an opportunity to make my point about the many kindnesses of spaying and neutering, and the unkindnesses of NOT doing so. Nobody was home.

So I took the kitten (my estimate of no more than 6 months old) to the veterinarian to have her spayed if possible. On the way over, she meowed only a few times, and I assured her that she would be taken care of somehow. The name ‘Trudy' popped into my mind as I looked at her in the carrier, so that was what I called her.

It was decided that Trudy would be spayed even though she looked well into her pregnancy. I agreed because I promised HER (not necessarily her kittens) that I would help her. We had 7 cats, and all my friends and acquaintances had at least that many, so finding good homes for the kittens would be difficult. We would, however, be happy to provide a good home for Trudy.

Trudy had other plans though - upon the initial sedative, she went into labor and soon started producing her first kitten. Surprise, surprise! She had four tiny kittens that day, and just in the nick of time.

The vet told me of a local no-kill shelter that would possibly have a foster home for her, and that the rules of adoption were such that the kittens' new homes would spay and neuter, and not declaw. She also told me of a few other low-cost spay and neuter clinics for situations such as this where people find strays and want to help minimize the homeless pet problems in their communities. With a little information and cooperation, a lot of homeless pets can be helped. (There are now several people in our neighborhood who have agreed to help with this problem in our community.)

If this is a problem in your area, there are many places listed on the internet that can help. There are also many different approaches to solving the problem, depending on your community's situation.

Your vet is one source of information, as is your local Humane Society. There are also public education programs, and subsidized sterilization services. Working together can help reduce the number of strays - and the number of people who are uninformed or irresponsible about their animals.

For more information:

Here is a short list of some organizations that can provide help and guidance in various ways. As always, volunteers are needed. Please consider getting involved with one of them.

Alley Cat Allies
1801 Belmont Road NW, Suite 201
Washington , DC 20009-5147

Friends of Animals
777 Post Road, Suite 205
Darien, CT 06820

North Shore Animal League Intl.
14 Vanderventer Ave., Suite L-1
Port Washington, NY 10050

Operation SPOT
PO Box 29563
St. Louis, MO 63127

The Center for the Study of Community Animal Management
PO Box 450715
Atlanta, GA 31145

The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St., NW
Washington, DC 20037
(provides a state-by-state list of low cost or free spay/ neuter programs in the United States)