Savannah's Paw Tracks

Autobiography of a Former Shelter Cat

Archive for the category “paw it forward”

Compassion for a Senior Feral Cat


I asked Savannah to allow me to tell a story about a senior feral cat I recently met. There is a community cat colony within walking distance of our home. Fortunately, a friend who is a skilled cat trapper has already trapped almost all the cats for spay, neuter. I will tell you more about this colony in another post.

My time with you today is to share the story of a senior feral cat from this colony as I know it. I have only known him for about two months. There are about thirty five cats in this colony which has been in this location for over fifteen years. I walked around one day by myself and I saw a cat on one of the hillsides. I got closer because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

The black cat on the hill appeared to have no ears! I moved slowly forward to try for a better look and photo. Unfortunately my photos are blurred but you can see that indeed he appeared to have no ears.

And yet what I discovered was that they were collapsed forward and inward. Once the feeder arrived I asked about this black cat, with no name. She said he was about three to four years old in 2006 when they took him to a vet about his ears being damaged. That would make him about fifteen to sixteen years old now. They were told he had cancer, but was otherwise fine. They determined to bring him back to his colony and watch his health. His ears grew worse and worse and yet here he was twelve years later, alive. But was he truly “well”.

I asked if I could trap him to get him to see a Vet at the Community Concern 4 Cats feline clinic for community cats. You see, I was finally able to view his ears up close while he was eating.

The earless black cat is behind the bench so I used the bench to lean over him, and his ears were very raw, torn, infected and yes, bleeding. The tree above the bench is the one I would often find this kitty sleeping in when I arrived to help feed or just visit. I believe that some of the other cats were beginning to sense his weakness and perhaps took advantage of it. He would always greet me with a soft “meow” then come down from his tree bed.

He loved roasted chicken so the feeder brought some on the day I would try to trap him. For some reason that day, none of the other cats arrived for feeding time—except this one. I put the cooked chicken in the set trap and placed it near him. He did not even run. He did love his chicken! He followed that chicken trail right onto the trap trigger plate and I had him!

We kept him in our garage over night for his early morning appointment next day. We knew he was at least twelve to fifteen years old. We gave him food and water but removed the food dish—which was empty—as we knew he needed to fast over night. Interestingly, he meowed to us softly a few times when we would check on him. He never hissed and only growled once when he was trapped—who wouldn’t growl at that!!

I doubt he was ever a totally feral cat as they do not typically “meow  talk” to humans.

I had already talked with the feeders to get their permission to have this senior fellow euthanized if his ears and general health could not be effectively treated. We all agreed on this.

However, talking about euthanizing a senior feral who has never bothered anyone, simply lived his life in his colony with a view, is easier than doing it.

Strider’s view from his hilltop feeding station

I knew he had lived a good long life with feeders and park visitors and maintenance crew who all treat the cats with respect and caring. His view of the Northern California Delta was pretty amazing and free!

Fog coming up the delta from San Francisco bay

Nonetheless, I was wishing I had found him when he was younger—perhaps I could have helped socialize him or at least find what his food allergies were. On and on went my self questioning.

Dad P and I could not take him to the clinic without giving him a name. Because he was wise and had not had a true home, we named him Strider. That is a character in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. We believe his name suited him very well with his coat of dark shiny black fur that allowed him to blend in with shadows just like the “Strider” in the books.

I was allowed in the exam room, after they sedated him, to join the Vet in her exam. Before the Vet began to go over what she observed about his condition and health, she asked me to keep in mind his “quality of life”.

His ears were the apparently the result of year upon year of likely food allergies, not cancer. This could be temporarily treated but he would be right back in a month —needing to be trapped again and sedated to give him more antibiotics and treatment for his ears, and this would go on month after  month. For those of you who feed large feral colonies, you know it is next to impossible to manage a cat with such a severe food allergy.

And then the Vet informed me that her even greater concern for his quality of life was his mouth. She opened it wide so I could see all the infected gums and teeth that were the worst I have ever seen. And not many left either. The clinic did not have dental cleaning equipment and even if they did, she said he would have to go through multiple sedation procedures and then not likely that all his dental infections would resolve.

She left the decision to me, which I truly appreciated. I was alone with Strider and I stroked his pretty shiny black fur—even having lived outdoors for at least fifteen to sixteen years, his fur was in lovely condition. His feeders fed him well!

And so I stroked Strider, told him I loved him as the Vet and I helped him on his painless way to The Bridge. The loving feeders of this colony miss seeing Strider as do I. But Strider needed us to show compassion for him and his declining lack of quality of life.

I can’t say enough positive thanks to the Vet and staff at the Community Concern 4 Cats clinic. They were kind to me and ever so gentle with Strider. His body will be cremated and his ashes spread at a local kitty cemetery. That seemed a loving place for Strider, don’t you think?


Trapping for SNIP Clinic


I am one proud kitty let me tell you!! Not only did Mom L and Dad P work another SNIP (Spay Neuter Impact Program) Mom L also helped her cat trapper friend trap some of the kitties! All said, SNIP saw EIGHTY FOUR community cats come through our clinic today!! APAWS!!!

Getting traps ready to set up at apartment complex

Before Mom L and Miss Lisa put out the traps, Mom L learned who the consistent feeders were. Then Mom L asked them to NOT FEED the cats for at least twenty-four hours before the traps were to be set out.

Here are just some of the things Mom L is learning about “how to safely trap a cat” and work with the residents who are feeding them.

Cat traps come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and trigger styles. SNIP clinics see all of these types of traps and many more!

Three important things to do before setting a cat trap:

  1. Test the trap to make sure the trigger is working.
  2. Make sure the trigger plate is in the UP position.
  3. Don’t forget to put stinky goodness cat food bait in the back of the trap, after the trigger plate (the stinkier the better!).
  4. Place a cover over the trap to make it dark inside. This helps the kitties feel the inside is a safe place to go.

Now where to place that cat trap? Things to remember:

  1. Do your homework! Get an estimate of how many cats need to be S/N and ask what they look like.
  2. Ask residents not to release the cats! Make sure they know you are caring cat trappers and cats will be returned once S/N
  3. Talk to residents to learn where the cats are being fed and where they tend to enjoy sun puddles.
  4. Place the traps in the areas where the cats are seen most frequently.


  • Check the trap every three to four hours in daylight trapping.
  • In winter make sure traps are in areas protected from rain.
  • In summer be sure traps are not in direct sun.
  • When trapping at night NEVER leave a trap unchecked for more than one hour—if a raccoon, skunk, opossum, etc. is caught they can kill or lame themselves trying to get free!! 

I bet you would like to see a couple of the cats Mom L helped to trap and get S/N? Right?

I am a lilac point snowshoe Siamese kitty. I have conjunctivitis but anyone can now adopt me!

Miss Lilac Point is now safe at our municipal animal shelter and almost ready to go up for adoption. She is so sweet and very friendly. Her intake number is 909368! You can call Contra Costa Animal Services if you wanna adopt her!

Next up is this darling very young calico girl. She was spayed to day at the SNIP clinic and will be available at Contra Costa Animal Services in a few days once she has recovered from her spay.

I am so scared! And what is going on???

Dad P and Mom L transported eleven community cats from Miss Lisa’s holding area to the SNIP clinic at six AM! Even the kitties were not awake!!

Can you see the calico kitten?

There were so many wonderful cats who passed through Mom L’s intake from local rescue groups.

Mom L is watching over three sweet silver point Siamese blue eyed kittens hoping we can get them into an adoption path next week.

All in all, such a positive outcome from our first SNIP clinic of 2018!

Please let me hear from you in my comments what you think of our 2018 community cat rescue efforts so far in 2018!!





Andi the Feral Kitten: A Happy Tails Ending


first introduced you to Andi , our feral foster kitten, in late November 2017. (remember in all the gallery photos, drag your mousie after you have dedded it over each photo to view captions)

Andi was barely three months old and trapping her and her Mom cat, we named Mandi, was Mom L and Dad P’s first ever cat trap work. Mom L and I shared our news about deciding to keep Andi to foster and socialize her on December 4, 2017 . Her first week living in Mom L’s office was a shock for her. She did allow Mom L to touch her and eventually Mom L started to pick her up. Surprisingly, sweet Andi never did more than give a tiny little hiss. She never clawed, scratched, growled.

If you have followed Andi’s story, then you know that Dad P and Mom L had to release Andi’s mom cat, Mandi, back to the place where she was raising Andi. Sadly mom cat Mandi wasn’t ready just yet to be socialized. BUT—her feeder is workin’ on her as I type this Happy Tails Ending story!!

But I digressed, let me get back to Andi’s amazing story. Little Andi began to thrive and learn to trust human touch. Eventually Mom L and Dad P moved her to a larger enclosure where she could start to learn how to play. Remember, she was an only kitten and she had never played with any other kitty but her mom. And she was really too young to have begun to learn to stalk her “prey” so she didn’t know what to do with the wand toy schmousie at first.

Wait! What? You want ME to touch that schmousie???

The above pose is a classic Andi pose as she gets ready to play with anything. She always raised her right paw before she reached out to paw whap whatever she was playing with. There are other wonderful poses, special Andi poses that we all came to look for with anticipated joy and pleasure. Mom L’s camera loved working with Andi.

Finally the day arrived when we thought is was for Andi’s best interest to take her to my former kitty shelter, Kitty Corner. We knew that Miss Chrissy would make sure Andi was adopted by the bestest fit family ever—just like she did for me when Mom L and Dad P adopted me in 2012!

It was tough at first for Andi. Remember she had not grown up with any siblings and the only humans she knew were Mom L and Dad P. She spent much of her first days at Kitty Corner in a special cubby on a cat tower made cozy with a special brand new blankie Mr. Terry brought in for her. Mr. Terry is a very special man who luvluvluvs cats just like Dad P.

I’m scared…can I just go back home purrlease?

Dad P and Mom L visited Andi every day trying to help her learn how to play in such a large open space as Kitty Corner. This was the largest room she had ever been in. Besides, remember Andi didn’t ever know any other cat but her mom cat. So now she had seven to ten other cats aged seven months to over five years housed with her.

But Andi being Andi, she started to adjust with Mom L and Dad P’s help. She responded to her favorite wand toy. That schmousie!!

Oh!! My schmousie followed me here!!

And then just two days later Dad P and Mom L saw with their very own eyes our little teensy Andi climb to the tippy top of a tall cat tower and then—she jumped to another one!!! Aiiiieeee! So brave and so confident she was becoming!

And then the day arrived when our precious beloved little Andi was discovered by a young family. (human faces disguised to protect family’s privacy)

They arrived to adopt a seven month old kitten named Joey, but then through encouragement from the Kitty Corner staff, they considered adopting another kitty so Joey would have a play pal.

Now Joey and our Andi had never met, but everyone figured “heck, they are youngsters” so no problem, right? Well Andi was more willing to give their relationship a try than Joey was at first. However it seems like they are adjusting to each other.

Mom L and Dad P are relieved that the family’s son, the oldest, at age thirteen has chosen to be Andi’s champion and protector and bestest ever pal!!

They look good together, don’t ya think??

Now Andi and Joey will always be inside only cats, but just check out how much this family luvluvluvs animals of all species!

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Andi’s human, Mr. Austin, asked if his bedroom could be Andi’s special “alone time/safe zone” room and guess what? Andi agreed wholeheartedly! She started snoozing with Mr. Austin immediately and now his bed is her bed!!

Please give our precious Andi a very special round of APAWS! for finding her forever family.

Forever our special feral foster heart kitten—our Andi!



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