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I never thought I would have the ability to put “cat napper” on my resume. But, desperate times call for drastic measures! Let me walk you through the last month of my life and how people like me, who also have oceanside puppies, get suckered into big things.
It all began the 2nd week of school. My kids got into my car from car rider line and begged me to drive over to the playground. I had no idea why, but I obeyed, you know, like any good mom. When we got over there they said they had seen a cat at recess. Truth be told in that very moment of finding out why I was wasting our time, I said “what?!?! are you kidding me? who cares?!?!? that thing won’t still be there!” and backed out of our parking space and left.
Well, the very next day they got into the car and said there were kittens! This time, I asked a few more questions and learned that they were down in the drainage pipe on the playground. So I retraced our tracks from the day before but this time actually got out of the car. Low and behold, there, down in the drain pipe was the mommy cat. She was really timid but in no way shape or form aggressive. I figured she must have been protecting her kittens, hence why I did not see them.
The next day we again went back to the playground after pick up and I really got a good look at how skinny the mommy was. I figured she must have been nursing and had to be starving. Truthfully I didn’t know if she was stuck in there or if she could get out. So, as any animal crazy family does, we went to Walmart and bought cat food. We came back later that evening and fed her.
Over the next several days we did the same thing, fed the cat after school. We met a couple of staff members who were also doing the same. The concern for these cats were growing, and not just from my family.
On August 28th we finally saw a kitten! Then days later the 2nd kitten! And then finally the paw of a 3rd kitten a couple days before the rescue in mid September.
My kids had growing concern about these kittens because, well, lets just be honest, who wouldn’t? I mean, there are kittens living in the pipes on the playground at school! The entire school became obsessed with talking about the cats. We always came after school hours and/or on the weekends to check on them to make sure they were ok. Truth be told, they honestly started warming up to us. They weren’t as timid with coming out of the pipes to the main drain area (we could only see them through the grates) and would spend a decent amount of time out there with us all huddled around watching them.
The Epic Cat Napping Adventure
Finally the week of September 11th, with the upcoming Hurricane Florence, the need to get these kittens and mommy cat out became increasingly urgent. They had recently started eating the food we were bringing which indicated that they weren’t fully nursing anymore. The kittens had obviously gotten bigger, possibly too big for the mommy to lift out of the drain pipe in the parking lot (which would have been their only way out), but absolutely way too young to climb out themselves. Unfortunately the school was unable to help (and no, that’s not a dig at my kid’s school, if you know me, you know how much I love my kid’s school). However, a few of the staff members who had spotted me out on the playground looking down the grates many days, reached out to me asking if I would help in getting the kittens out. I agreed and my husband, kids and I met them in the evening one night to try to rescue the cats.
When we got to the school we learned that the people who had asked us to help had also contacted HATS, a local organization of volunteers that helps animals in need. My husband and Dana, who had driven 45 minutes to come help, got to work and were scoping out the drain pipes. Dana had brought traps with her, which we set up at night baited with King Mackerel fish (she says the smellier the better!) to lure them out. We left at 8pm to finally head home and then at 9pm I went back to check the traps. Unfortunately we hadn’t caught anything. So my husband went back at 5am the next morning to remove the traps, properly close up the drainage systems and obviously check to see if we caught anything. To our luck, we caught the mommy cat, who we named Midnight. He brought her home and spent the morning at our house until I took her to our local no-kill animal shelter and surrendered her to be spayed and found a forever home.
On September 12th Dana drove back out and we attempted several ways to trap the kittens. They were so sneaky and scared so we ended up having to leave again with the traps set out and go back during the night and early morning to check.
We were so excited when we trapped the first kitten, Moon!! A handsomely blue gray boy with a tiny white blaze on his chest weighing in at exactly 2 pounds! He reminds me so much of our old man angel doggy, Harley who just passed away at the ripe old age of 13.5 a few days before Christmas. He had a white blaze on his chest exactly where Moon does. If only Moon had blue eyes…I’d think Harley came back as a cat!
On September 13th another woman, Valerie, who was contacted by another parent, called the fire department and asked for help. I was called to come out and help because I now had the traps from the HATS organization. Despite the efforts of “flushing them out the drain” with the fire hose and causing an unintended fiasco for the school, the rescue attempt was unsuccessful, sadly.
That evening Dana drove 45 minutes again and met us to try and trap the kittens the same way we had caught the last 2. We also had help from Valerie who had grown very worried for the kitties. My family and I ran to Tractor Supply to purchase a smaller trap that we could physically put inside of the drain pipe.
Late that night we were so excited to have trapped this little shy beauty that had only shown her paw once before letting us know that there were 3! Mittens, a gorgeously striped colored girl weighing in at 1.8 pounds!
The evening of September 13th, with the threat of Hurricane Florence growing exponentially, school was cancelled for the 14th (which so happens to be my daughter’s birthday!) This was good news in the sense that we could stay out there literally all night if we needed to. By now the 3rd kitten had to be starving so we knew that it would have to come out. We finally left school at 11pm and my husband and kids went back at 12:30am to check the traps. We were so sad to have not caught the last kitten.
On the morning of September 14th my husband went back to school, as he had every other day to pick up the traps, close the drainage system and cross his fingers that we had caught the kittens. To our total relief, we finally caught the 3rd kitten!! The cutest, multi colored calico kitty ever, Pumpkin! She weighed in at a whopping 1.4 pounds!
When my hubby got home, the kids had just woken up and were so anxious to find out if we caught the last kitty. With it being my daughter’s 10th birthday, we decided to make it a surprise and utilize a little white lie! But it was worth it!
Our hearts were so full knowing that these sweet little kittens, who had been denied so much help because they were thought to be feral, were all rescued, and completely safe and sound and out of all danger from Hurricane Florence.
They are all living the life of Riley at my house as we are fostering them until they are old enough to be adopted. We are taking them in to be spayed and neutered and to get all of their vaccinations. Once they are old enough, they will be able to be adopted. Of course, and of course, my 3 kids are praying that we let them keep all 3! At the current moment, we have promised they can keep 1 and have already lined up other adoption families.
In all honesty, I was never a cat fan. I had never even held a cat before sweet little Moon, whom I’ve completely fallen head over heels for. It’s funny, when something or someone is in need and you dedicate yourself to saving them, you gain such an attachment that turns fully into love.
These little kittens have adapted beyond our wildest dreams and are honestly amazing. Instantly, they trained themselves to use the litter box (umm, if I had known about this before, I may not have always been a dog person!) They are having so much fun snuggling, walking on leashes (hahaha, yes!), playing with toys, being carried everywhere and being loved on by our dogs. They have fit right into our family as if they were always meant to be.
A Huge Thank You
I want to personally thank the staff members, Lori and Wendy, who reached out to me asking for help as they contacted the HATS program which in turn led us to the most important person responsible for catching all of the little stinkers, Dana! Without her and her knowledge and love for animals, I’m really not so sure we would have caught them all before the hurricane. Thank you to Valerie for helping and caring so deeply that we catch them. And a huge thank you to my hubby and kids for doing everything they could to save these cats and for loving them without measure now that they are safe and sound at our home.
Find A Rescue Near You
If you find yourself in a situation similar to ours, where there is an animal in need, check with your local humane society or shelter and ask about the programs they have to help rescue the animal(s) or about fostering and adopting. You never know, you may just fall in love with your very own oceanside puppy or drain pipe kittens!
Watch Our Videos
We love these kittens so much that we’ve started a YouTube playlist with videos we record of these little stinkers!