Rescuers Wait For 8 Nights To Rescue Entire Kitten Family
Four tiny kittens and their mother wandered into the garden of a family's home one night in London in November 2015. It was extremely cold that time of year and the area had a significant fox population, so the family who owned the home knew the cats wouldn't be safe there for long.
The CatCuddles Sanctuary responded to the family's call about the cat family immediately, but when they arrived they realized the rescue would be a little more difficult than they'd hoped.
"Because homeless kittens are so vulnerable and are treated as an emergency by the charity, I responded to the call right away," Rae Gellel, a volunteer with The CatCuddles Sanctuary, told The Dodo. "The four young kittens and their mother were completely unreachable; entering through an exposed air vent, they had set up residence in the foundations of the house, a deep labyrinth of dark and drafty tunnels."
In order to rescue them, each kitten and the mom would have to be lured out from underneath the house, as there was no way to go in and get them. The kittens had never had any human contact before, and trying to get them to come straight into the arms of the rescuers would be extremely difficult.
"Their mother was not much better, and if we removed the kittens before capturing her, we risked her moving on and becoming pregnant again within the month," Gellel said.
In the first two nights after discovering the family, rescuers were able to lure out and secure three of the kittens fairly easily. Gellel took the kittens home to foster them, and could see that they were dirty, flea-ridden and anemic - meaning the remaining kitten was as well, and desperately needed to be rescued.
For eight nights, the rescuers waited outside the hole the kittens had emerged from. They set up a trap with food to try and entice the mom and her kitten, but because the trap was expensive they couldn't leave it unattended.
And so, in the cold, mud and sleet, they waited.
Finally, the mother cat was caught in the trap, and rescuers feared that it might mean her remaining baby hadn't made it. The group had to make the difficult decision to take the mother cat home to be reunited with her kittens, and hope that they would be able to secure her last baby without her there.
"She took to the kittens like no time had passed at all, grooming them lovingly; it was bittersweet," Gellel said.
A day passed without any sign that the last kitten was alive, and the group was about to give up hope - when the little gal emerged, healthy and curious, before disappearing under the house once more.
Finally, as Gellel sat outside the hole alone, she saw a tiny pair of whiskers emerge. Over a period of hours the little kitten slowly inched her way forward until finally she came out of the hole, and Gellel was able to block it completely so she would be unable to go back in.
"The kitten's immediate instinct was to run back into the hole, but finding it blocked, it scuttled into the nearest corner instead and huddled in fright," Gellel said. "Then it was simply a matter of scooping the tiny cat up."
After eight long days, the entire family had finally been rescued.
Gellel brought the fourth kitten home, and after getting cleaned up she was reunited with her family. "She ran straight to her mum, and within a few hours was nursing again," Gellel said. "Her siblings examined her at length, smelling her thoroughly, and then accepted her without question."
Gellel fostered the family until New Year's, when they were adopted into three separate homes.
The kittens were named Millie and Phoebe ...
... and Sully and Boo ...
... and the mom was named Lana.
All five cats are now thriving in their new homes, all thanks to their rescuers who refused to ever give up hope.
If you're ready to adopt a cat of your own, you can check out Adopt-a-Pet.com to get started.