By Janet McAfee
Homeless kittens sometimes end up in unusual places, but the February 11th call to Loving All Animals from “Rick” stunned everyone. A construction worker at a Coachella housing subdivision, Rick found two tiny kittens inside a concrete container on his job site. The containers were piled up ready for underground installation to hold water meters.
The concrete containers were manufactured at a Riverside plant. They were sealed early that morning with plastic before being trucked into Coachella. They were lifted by forklift into stacks at the construction site awaiting underground placement. The container came very close to becoming a coffin for the hapless creatures. Miraculously, the lid tipped, allowing the worker to see something moving inside.
Could he bring the kittens to the Loving All Animal? The worker sounded busy, replying there was no way he could leave his shift. He rattled off his location with vague directions, no specific address on Shady Lane.
Sensing that the kittens’ situation was urgent, Jeanette sprung to the rescue. It sounded like the kittens were newborns and in need of a bottle feeding foster home. She called Jamie Sue Stout, experienced kitten foster mom, before heading to the worksite. In a fortunate coincidence, Jamie Sue was nearby about to enjoy a picnic lunch with her husband John in a Coachella park. John overheard the conversation, packed up their meal saying, “Let’s go!” In a race against time, both groups of rescuers found themselves lost on rural roads, and Rick at the construction site was not answering his cell phone. They located the vast construction site with dozens of workers, but no one knew anything about “Rick” or any kittens. Finally, they found Rick near a large black pickup truck surrounded by stacks of concrete containers.
They were tiny precious creatures, a male orange tabby and a female tortoise shell. Jamie Sue noted their eyes were already open, estimated they were about two weeks old, and dehydrated but otherwise appearing healthy. She thinks it is most likely their mother was in the process of moving them either into or out of the container when it was suddenly sealed and forklifted onto a truck. Always equipped with kitten formula, the couple gingerly transported the tiny animals home for immediate feeding.
This amazing animal lover grew up with many pets and participated in 4H animal activities. While on duty as a dispatcher for the Escalon Police Department in 2000, she received a call from a panicked animal control officer seeking help with feeding some abandoned newborn kittens. This cat lover had no formal training, but quickly did some research. She was soon feeding them during her lunch break and they went home with her until they were old enough to be vetted and adopted. Hundreds of litters later, saving these tiny creatures is a “love affair of the heart”. Jamie Sue has fostered close to a thousand cats and kittens of all ages, and tells us, “The neonatal bottle feeding kittens are the most work, but I love caring for them, they are the most rewarding as we watch them grow.”
Jamie Sue named the male and female kittens Rufus and Gypsy, “traveling hippy” names reflecting their journey from Riverside to the Coachella Valley. Initially they required bottle feeding every 2-3 hours, but that is now reduced to every 4 hours. The pair are thriving thanks to the love and skilled care provided by Jamie Sue. Rufus and Gypsy wrestle and play joyfully together. They are now almost five weeks old and being litter box trained.
Jeanette will soon arrange for the series of vaccinations and spay and neutering. She has a list of potential adopters seeking kittens. Jeanette tells us, “Kitten and cat rescue is a lot of work. It was an adventure just to find these two kittens! For a rescue with limited personnel to go out and find and pick up kittens when the finder is unable to transport shows how much work there is before they come into our care. If you come across a litter of kittens, please determine if there is a mother cat nearby before you seize kittens to rescue them. Taking them away from their nursing mother can endanger baby animals. Thankfully, we were able to help with Rufus and Gypsy.”
Kitten season has arrived. Feral cats, also known as community cats, give birth to hundreds of litters in Coachella Valley fields, in backyards, and sometimes in enclosed areas for protection. Many will not survive, perishing from disease, predators, and the elements. Others will survive to join large colonies of unsocialized community cats.
Loving All Animals, www.lovingallanimals.org, seeks to be part of the solution, participating in efforts to Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) community cats in our Valley. The organization is blessed to have a handful of kitten foster homes that will surely be busy this season. If you would like more information on the plight of neonatal kittens, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has an excellent resource, network.bestfriends.org/lifesaving-library/cat-resources/neonatal-kitten-toolkit.
Here is a partial list of Inland Empire shelters and rescue groups where you can adopt a cat or dog. Please check their websites in advance for updates on adoption procedures during the quarantine.
COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS – The county shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. You can view the animals at all four Riverside county shelters at www.rcdas.org, and get the ID number of the animal you want to adopt. Email them the animal’s ID number at firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a virtual adoption appointment at www.rcdas.org, 72050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms, (760) 343-3644. (Public)
PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. They schedule appointments Wednesday through Monday. View their animals online at www.psanimalsshelter.org, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs, (760) 416-5718. (Public)
ANIMAL SAMARITANS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. View their animals at www.animalsamaritans.org. Email email@example.com to foster. Located at 72307 Ramon Rd, Thousand Palms, (760) 601-3918. (Private)
CALIFORNIA PAWS RESCUE – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 73650 Dinah Shore, Palm Desert. View their animals at www.californiapawsrescue.com, (760) 656-8833. (Private)
HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE COACHELLA VALLEY – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt a dog or cat. This shelter has lots of big dogs in addition to small dogs and cats. View some of their animals at www.orphanpet.com. Located at 17825 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, (760) 329-0203. (Private)
KITTYLAND – The shelter is closed so call for an appointment to adopt a cat. Located at 67600 18th Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, www.kittylandrescue.org, (760) 251-2700. (Private)
FOREVER MEOW – Foster based rescue for cats located in Rancho Mirage. Contact them at www.ForeverMeow.org, (760) 335-6767. (Private)
PRETTY GOOD CAT – Foster based rescue for cats located in La Quinta. Contact them at www.prettygoodcat.com, (760) 660-3414 (Private)
BFF4pets – Foster based rescue for dogs and cats located in La Quinta. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, (310) 431-7818 (Private)
LOVING ALL ANIMALS – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 83496 Avenue 51, Coachella, www.lovingallanimals.org, (760) 834-7000. (Private)
LIVING FREE ANIMAL SANCTUARY – Large outdoor shelter for dogs and cats up Hwy 74, view animals at www.living-free.org, (951) 659-4687 (Private)
MORONGO BASIN HUMANE SOCIETY – Located at 4646 Sun View Rd, Joshua Tree, www.mbhumanesociety.com, call between 11am-4pm for updates (760) 366-3786 (Private)
CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO ANIMAL SHELTER – The shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Hours for adoption 10am – 4pm Tuesday thru Sat. Google “City of San Bernardino Animal Shelter” for website to view animals and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet. Located at 333 Chandler Place, San Bernardino, (909) 384-1304 or (909) 384-7272. (Public)
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER AT DEVORE – Shelter is now open for walk ins 7 days a week. Call (909) 386-9280. View animals at www.sbcounty.gov/acc and get the ID number of animal you want to meet. Located at 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino (Public).
DREAM TEAM ANGELS RESCUE – Foster based rescue located in Grand Terrace/San Bernardino area. Contact them through website www.DreamTeamangelsrescue.com, (360) 688-8884. (Private)