Friday, December 28, 2012

I'm Still Standing

I really have lost my grip. No concept of time anymore.

So where was I? Oh, right. Describing the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. We lost four of our beloved kitties. It's been a slow acceptance process. Find myself continuing to look around corners, by dumpsters for signs of those gone. My analysis skills kick in and I crave answers to those questions that I'll never know for sure: how did they try to save themselves, how long did they suffer.

Madea was the mama kitty. We've helped numerous kittens from her litters. The first litter we knew of we rescued in 2010. Saved 3 of 4 babies and placed them all. The 4th, Buster, had Parvo, and didn't survive. But at least we scooped him up from the hot August pavement and got him some comfort before he expired. We believe another litter was born while Madea was hiding from us (because we rescued her babies, she saw that as hunting her kittens). For a long while there was a little guy we called Lucky who ate along with her, and we assume he was a sole survivor of litter #2. Then there was litter #3, they arrived in the early spring of 2012. Those kittens stayed close to Madea, and we fed all four, plus her, plus Lucky in a lot next to my building. This August, late in the month, we discovered another litter of 6 babies. (We did want to TNR her but she was not easy to trap).

I rescued one baby immediately after Labor Day. She was stranded by herself, barely old enough to walk. I fed her and then the next day employed a neighborhood feral cat rescuer friend to help me get her. (I'm not good at the trapping and catching part of this business). She was placed within 36 hours. Adorable. That left 5 on the street with Madea, and the 4 "teenagers" as we called them.

Super Storm Sandy took Madea, Prim (a beautiful runt tuxedo from litter #3), and 2 of the baby tuxedo kittens from litter #4. It's simply heartbreaking. The body of the two babies were found, but we've never recovered Prim or Madea. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, Nat and I tried to plan for trapping everyone and placing them.

While I was in MD over Thanksgiving, she caught the three babies, with absolutely no assistance from me. This we told ourselves was a way of honoring Madea. And time was running out. The empty lot these litters called home (the same lot where some of them drowned during the storm) was set for construction to begin December 1. And right on schedule, huge cranes arrived along with fencing which would have blocked us from feeding.

Next task was trapping the three surviving teenagers. There's a whole story here too. I'll get to it some day...it involves cats scaling 20 foot walls. Never seen anything like it. We really do have the makings of a reality show here. Anyone who has a video camera and some free time, let me know. This one was again all on Nat. I'm really not sure how she made it through 6 rescues in 10 days. If I could sew, I'd make her a cape.

All three kittens have been placed. One is living with Nat as a foster, although she looks pretty well settled in. We've named her Maddie, because she looks so much like Madea. At Natalie's she is right at home. There are other kitties and Maddie has no fear. Sits with them, eats with them. Undaunted by the hissing. Just so happy to be warm and fed and loved.

The teenagers are in boarding right now. Two are not very happy but seem to be content to be together.  How do we explain, "your home is gone...and it's so cold outside you would be in pain"? How do we let them know they never have to worry about finding food, or running from mean people throwing broken glass? Or fear Mother Nature, who in all her beauty and fury can create the most wonderful of days next to the worst of nightmares?

Living through the destruction that ripped through the region is not an experience I'll soon forget. I stood in line for an hour and half one day waiting for Dunkin Donuts coffee. The swarms of people using ShopRite as a charging and warming station was overwhelming. Walking up 9 flights of stairs for 8 days while our elevators were under repair was brutal--mostly because of security concerns and the pain of lugging of groceries and goods up that many steps. I was only without power for 36 hours, so that was not really a terrible thing given that many people were without for 10 days, or for weeks. That's provided they still had a home. So many people lost houses, treasured photos, pets, and family members to the floods. I'm still standing.

Madea's last litter. Maddie is the mostly white kitten at the bottom, and she closely resembles her mama. Thanks to Nat, they are safe.

This one's for you, Madea. I am so sorry I couldn't save you. I will see you on the bricks and the warehouses and the streets of the PAD for as long as I live here. You were regal and beautiful and such a good mama kitty. Rest in peace, baby girl.


Lucky, tuxedo in the foreground and Madea, mostly white kitty in the background. Waiting for dinner to be served, May 2012.

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