Alley Animals - Newsletter

Winter 2003 Edition
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Without Warning

by Alice Arnold

In This Issue:

In the early hours of the morning we were half-way through the alley route. As I pulled out of one alley and prepared to swing into another, I saw the flashing blue lights in my rear view mirror. I stopped at the curb and waited for the officer to approach my window. Officers who know me and what I do usually don't turn on the blue lights, so I was expecting the lecture about how I shouldn't be in the area and how dangerous it is. But this officer knew me and put on the lights to be sure she didn't lose me in the web of alleys we travel with a precision that comes from years of experience. She wanted to show me two kittens she knew would be killed if they stayed in the broken-down building where they were living. I followed her in my car as she drove her cruiser to an abandoned house. We both got out of our cars and the officer poionted to a hole in the back wall of the house as the place she had seen them. She admitted that she loved cats and knew we would help these little ones. I told her she was right.

In one week I discovered the building was home not to two kittens, but to a family of five -- four kittens and their mom. Although they wouldn't let me near them, I knew I was starting to gain their trust because when I pulled up to the back of the house, all four kittens (about 6 to 8 weeks old) would jump out of the hole and run toward the car before stopping to wait for mom. All of them tiger-striped, they would gather in anticipation of the meal I put down for them. Soon I could begin working on getting this family out of harm's way.

The next night I went to their alley a little earlier than usual to give myself extra time -- I wanted to secure the whole family in carriers I brought especially for them. No one would be left behind. I turned the corner and pulled into the alley. My foot automatically jammed on the brakes when I saw the giant heap of devastation that used to be home to the little family. That quickly and without warning, the house was torn down. In its place were wood planks, broken glass, hunks of cement, and a bulldozer still sitting in the middle of it all, as if proud of its destructive accomplishment. I couldn't believe it.

I pulled to my usual place and gave my usual call, just in case anyone survived. In my mind I could hear one of the kittens -- he was a talker -- meowing loudly as he ran toward the feeding place. The others always followed him, crossing back and forth in front of each other with an eagerness that told me how hungry they were and how glad they were to hear my voice. That night all I heard was dead silence.

Ican't imagine the fear they must have felt when the crashing started, the terror of not knowing what was happening or what to do as their home came down on top of them. Even if mom could have escaped I know she wouldn't have left her babies; she always kept them in her sight and protected them as any loving mother guards the lives of her children. I can only hope the end was fast.

I still go back there and call and wait, sometimes I leave food even though I know better. I remember their tiny faces peeking out of the hole in the wall, I see them running toward me and I hear their kitten cries as they gather at the feeding spot with mom behind them, all ready to eat.

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Once Upon a Time... Heaven's Littlest Angels (Warning - very graphic)

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