The Long Wait
by Demetria Patras
My son, Marvin, called me at 2:45 PM Saturday afternoon to tell me there are kittens under the back door steps of a house where he is doing repair work. Marvin works on houses for people he knows and for an agency that rents homes. Last winter he picked up a freezing dog during a snow storm, and he has found several homeless cats, too. Marvin knows how I feel about animals, especially those who need help, so he always calls me when he comes across animals in bad circumstances.
The people living in the house had no idea that a cat was using their backyard as a safe haven for her kittens, so Marvin didnt know he would be intruding on the little family when he began tearing apart the wooden steps. The loud sounds from his tools terrified the mother cat who jumped out and ran. This put Marvin on the alert; he took a closer look behind the steps, saw a kitten, and called me. I asked him to stay put until I could get to his location. When I got there Marvin completed removing the steps (as quietly as possible) and we found five live kittens approximately two weeks old. One kitten had died. I placed the babies on a towel in a carrier and asked Marvin to replace the steps before he left. I knew I couldnt leave without the mom, so I set a humane trap and prepared to wait for her return.
I parked my car where I could watch the yard, and I waited. I knew I might be there a while, cats are patient -- this mother would not return to her hiding place until she determined that the threat of human activity had subsided. Still, I didnt think it would be hours before she came back. It was getting late, the street people were beginning to take notice of my car since I had been sitting there for over three hours. The rain, at first a drizzle, turned into steady showers and I worried the trap would become too wet even though it was under cover. I admit I was getting weary.
Finally a male cat came strolling down the alley. A few minutes later I saw the mother cat jump up and sit on a privacy fence as she watched the surroundings for a while. I am waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally she jumped down into the yard with the male cat following her. She took note of the trap with food inside and bumped the male cat out of the way. It took forever for her to start into the humane trap. My heart stopped beating when someone inside the house made a noise startling both cats. The male cat ran off but mom remained (I knew she had to be very hungry, nursing mothers are always hungry and thirsty because they spend most of their time and energy caring for their infants). The ordeal took nearly five hours, and I was greatly relieved when the traps door closed and I had safely secured the whole family before heading home.
Dee deserves high credit for her efforts on behalf of the feline family. I donít know anyone else who would have demonstrated her level of dedication to give up an entire afternoon and evening for the betterment of an animal. Dee knew the mother cat would return and she set aside her own interests on her day off in favor of helping an animal who needed her. Deeís son, Marvin, showed his true colors when he stopped his work in order to get help for the little family. This is extraordinary behavior for a home repairman. We are blessed to have Dee on our team; she regards her work in the streets as more than a job -- she does it with her heart as well as her skills.
We placed the mother and her babies in the capable hands of our friend, Jeanie, who oversees foster care and adoption of the cats and kittens we rescue from the streets.