The Story of Manhattan and the birth of PAD Paws
It all started with the just-in-time rescue of a black and white kitten, about 7 months of age, found starving and badly injured in February of 2010.
Natalie had been feeding her since she was a baby. Two of her siblings were rescued, a third died. And then Nat trapped the mama cat in September of 2009. I came into the picture because I saw that mama cat, a beautiful silver grey and white kitty, scurrying against my building one morning as I was leaving for work. My superintendent said that he knew how to get in touch with the woman who was feeding her. I said I wanted to do something to help. Little did I know that help would cascade into rescuing and re-homing cats numbering in the double digits.
I met Natalie just after she had trapped Mabel (the silver grey and white kitty). She brought me to meet the rest of the gang she was feeding one early October evening. These cats sought shelter in the underbelly of my warehouse apartment building . As she shined the flashlight into a grated window, up popped a little 3 month old tuxedo kitten and my heart melted. Immediately. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her little muddy white paws. I decided to call her Manhattan.
We set a schedule of feeding, and traded messages about who we saw and how many cans we put down. Turns out this tuxedo kitty had captured many hearts, since she would come out to chase the sunbeams and play during the day. She was an adorable little spirit, and you couldn't help but want to save her from a terrible life on the streets.
Fall rapidly turned cold and we had several snowfalls before the year closed. I would wake up every morning, with Coco and Valentina on my bed, wondering how the little outdoor kitten was doing. Each day, my heart was so happy when she'd come out to get her breakfast. When it snowed, I dutifully went to clear it from the window so she and her buddy, Black Jack, could come out to eat.
Natalie and I continued to trade messages, and one day in January I wrote to say I couldn't find Manhattan. She too was worried. Each day we reported in to each other: No Manhattan. Eight days later, she re-appeared. Happiness.
About a week after her re-appearance she went missing again and we both agreed that was not a good sign. We counted the days. I saw my building Superintendent and asked if he had seen her; no, he reported. The following day he stopped me to share that he heard a lot of howling under the building the day prior, but he thought for sure it was cats mating. I said, "no, that's Manhattan. I know it." I called Natalie. She agreed.
We planned to meet Jerome and gain access under the building. Sound so easy, but given that this is a historic structure, built in the early part of the 1900's, and that it's old, wet, flea infested, and dank under the building--really not so easy. Natalie left work early. Jerome called as I was on my way home, and said, "We found her. She's hurt." I arrived to find Natalie trying to negotiate her into a box. Although Manhattan was over a week without food and had a big wound on her side, she refused to go in the box. She talked and tried to tell us of her plight. Slowly, the entire feral colony surrounded us--watching us with our flashlights and our cans of tuna try to persuade the youngest member of their team to go into a box. We needed a new plan.
Natalie picked up a trap and anchovies and we changed into our official Cat Trapping Clothes. We went under the building. 45 minutes later, after crawling on our bellies to access parts of the basement where Manhattan made us go to get her, we convinced her to eat the anchovies set on the very edge of the trap (this was a delicate dance...). Natalie had to flip the trap to get her all the way in and force it to close. It worked. We had her.
The rest of the story is equally long but to get to the end I'll say two vets, 14 days and two surgeries later, she came home. Turns out she had a bite wound that went all the way through her body. It quite literally should have snapped her in half. By the grace of St. Francis she survived long enough for us to capture and vet her. The doctors said she was one-three days away from dying, and thanked me for saving her. There was no other option in my heart. She knows I saved her, and she thanks me every day.
Manhattan recovering from her life saving surgery, February 2010
Flash Forward to the Present
We formed PAD Paws, and in 2015 obtained 5013c status. While our collective work with ferals and strays began long ago, the collective brand of PAD Paws started with Manhattan's rescue. Since then, we have continued to rescue kittens and adult cats from the mean streets of Jersey City. We've either adopted them ourselves or placed them in good homes. Each rescue has a great story and some lessons for the next round.
We have much more work to accomplish--both in rescue and in addressing the confounding questions facing us. A place to harbor the rescued cat without compromising our own kitties. Affordable vet care. Furever families who will commit to the lifespan of the cat, not to the color scheme of their living room furniture. The list goes on....
Here are three of our early kitten rescues. The mama who had this litter had multiple litters. We lost her during Super Storm Sandy. Rest in peace, our dear Madea. Your babies are all happy and healthy, all 10 that we were able to rescue and place.
PAD Paws accepts donations, and are always looking for happy and loving foster and full time homes. Please visit our website to donate or adopt today!