Animal's Voice Article
Cats In Need Trust
Cats, Cat, Kittens
When she agreed to take in a cat named Xena and try to find the black-and-white "warrior princess"; a home, Yvonne Brown never dreamed it would be the start of something that would take over a large part of her life.
Five years later, the Mangere care worker has had hundreds of abandoned cats pass through her South Auckland cattery. She's cared for kitten and nursed cruelty cases back to health. She's tamed the wildest of felines and found homes for many of them.
Cats'n'Jammas, Yvonne's backyard cattery, has cats and kittens presently waiting for owners. The paying guests, some of them aristocratic birmans or ocicats, wander happily among the less fortunate, but no less beautiful homeless tabbies and moggies.
They all seem to get on surprisingly well, considering that 50 or so usually territorial animals are living in quite a small space.
When Yvonne goes into the cattery, she's instantly surrounded by furry bodies, all looking for a pat or a cuddle. "There are some lovely affectionate cats here," she says, "and they all want a home of their own."
Yvonne has something of a reputation for taming the wild ones, spending whatever time it takes - days, weeks, or months - to help them trust her. She starts by just talking quietly to new arrivals for the two weeks they're kept in quarantine cages.
I'll say things like, "Hello, aren't you a lovely fellow. You don't have to worry, you're OK here with me, and eventually they'll come to associate your voice with their dinner. It becomes a good sound." Yvonne's voice is a popular sound in the cattery.
Although most are very friendly, a few of the cats are quite timid, even fearful, of humans they don't know. These are usually the ones that have never lived with people or those that have suffered at human hands.
Yvonne introduces Sammy, a huge fluffy fellow with only one eye. "He came in with an ulcerated eye and no one was prepared to pay his vet bill. This one," she says, pointing to a young ginger tabby, "someone had tried to hang."
Yvonne indicated a 13-week-old kitten called Michael who,
along with his brother Ishmael, was found half-drowned in a culvert.
The two waifs were just one week old when rescued, freezing cold and
near death. “Michael was the worst. It took me 72 hours just to get his
body temperature up to normal. He felt like he’d been in a chiller.
Even his tongue was blue.”
“The vet said not to be surprised if he didn’t make it through
the night.,” Yvonne says. “But when we got back home, I looked Michael
in the eye and said, ‘Look here, young fella, I didn’t put all that
effort into keeping you alive so you give up on me now’. He understood.”
Sharing Yvonne’s bed (along with nine other kittens and three
cats) helped keep him warm and Michael survived. He’s now cute, playful and full of beans, if a little small for his age. Ishmael is equally bouncy and a little larger. Unwanted kittens such as Michael and Ishmael are one of the few subjects that can disrupt Yvonne's usual laconic calm.
"People can't afford to desex their cats," she exclaims, "but they can afford pay TV or a dozen bottles of beer, which is all it takes to get a cat vaccinated."
As a part-time aged care worker, Yvonne knows what she's talking about when it comes to managing on a minimal budget. She runs her rescue operation on a shoestring and is constantly short of both energy and funds. She shreds newspaper in the garage to use instead of kitty litter and cooks her own cat food from chicken carcasses. But she can cut corners only so far. The vet, medication and butcher bills are her biggest expenses.
Like other people around the country who care for our abandoned animals, Yvonne is something of an unsung heroine. She works seven days a week, 365 days a year, looking after her charges. "The cat's don't know it's Christmas," she says. "They just know they're hungry or sick."
Despite the hard work and her constant struggle to keep everybody fed and free of pests, Yvonne says her cat charity is one of the most rewarding things she's done. "Nothing makes me happier than seeing a cat I've tamed or nursed get plump and healthy, then find a loving home."
, Cat Adoption
, Cat Shelter
, Kitten Adoption