Cats. And the near mortal blow taken by my once shining faith in humanity. Let me introduce you to Fluffy. (Don't @ me. I did not name him. I inherited this stunning lack of imagination.) Fluffy is 15 and he lives outside, among the rocks and mangroves beside Tampa Bay where he was dumped by someone years ago.
Yes. I'm back to feline rescue. I met up with a group who manages this colony of cats. All of them dumped. Because several of the dumped cats weren't fixed before being abandoned, there's now a generation of truly feral (and spectacularly gorgeous) cats on site. Someone dumped a seal point Himalayan queen. She produced a glorious long-hair tortie and a stunning short-hair calico with blue eyes. All three are fixed now. And once a day, one of the colony managers goes out to put out food and fresh water for the crew. We have about twenty cats and a group of 6 people who work with the colony.
This is where faith in humanity is restored. Because this is where these cats live: In elevated shelters built by one of the men who originally began feeding these cats. That's Rocky on the shelf. There are two of these shelters. These shelters and all of the cats weathered Irma without a hitch.
We run a constant TNR (trap, neuter, release) program at this colony, because just as we reach 100% fix rates, some git comes along and dumps a litter of kittens. This happened late last year. My co-managers had trapped three of the four kittens. Three of those kittens were taken into rescue and homed. They all have human slaves of their very own. But we had one wily panther (solid black coat) who for WEEKS avoided our efforts to trap him. I was lucky enough to get him with a drop trap last Sunday. He was neutered, vaccinated, and returned to the colony on Wednesday evening.
But that same Wednesday evening, not a mile up the road from where these fluffs live in the rough, I was accosted by a charming 6-7 month old, solid grey kitten. Obviously male. He is ultra-friendly and charming. I was at a beach bar and the staff told me they had a bunch of cats. I identified myself as one of the managers of the colony down the road (everybody knows it because of the excellent houses) and asked for permission to get on property and trap the cats. The general manager said, 'yes please.' I'm heart-broken that someone would dump such a love-hungry kitten when there's a perfectly good Humane Society with a robust foster program in the area. Surrendering an animal isn't a death sentence here, damn it. Abandoning them IS. So if anyone near FL wants a young, handsome gun metal blue kitten, hit me up. I have no idea how many cats are at that colony. I have no idea whether any of them are fixed or sick or . . . But I will find out.
The thing that preserves my faith in humanity is the number of people who stop when they see us taking care of the cats and telling us how much they love the cats and appreciate that we're looking after them no matter the weather. People bring us cat food. Some offer to help defray vet bill costs. It's really heartening.
The little grey guy is every bit as friendly as my sweet peach and white friend, above right. This is the one I would take home in a heartbeat were I not contractually obligated to only have two cats (on pain of losing my place to live.) He's looking for a sofa of his own, too. But here. The star of our friendly cat show is Rocky. This guy walks up to everyone who stops, shakes hands and says, "Welcome! Skritch my chin!"
If you obey his commands and rub his chin, he'll drool all over you in reward. Yes. We're actively looking for a home for him, too. He needs a human to boss around, don't you think?