On March 13th, 2020, as the world shuttered its doors to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on quiet cat paws crept Luna and her beautiful babies into my life. I didn’t know at that moment, but Luna changed me, my life, and my future forever.
My family stood in our yard, discussing our shock and dismay with our neighbors, as New York City shut down along with the rest of the world. We had no idea what was next, and we were full of anxiety, fear, and concern. Another neighbor called over the fence, asking me if “I knew about cats”. He had just found a mama cat and her brand new babies living in his car. We immediately sprung into action, went to the car, and found the babies alone. We called vets and animal rescues and tried to decide what to do. We tried to capture the mama and the babies, but kept failing. We decided to feed them in-place, but otherwise leave them alone, hoping to eventually gain her trust, so that they could later be moved to a safer place.
I spent days going back and forth to the car, to get mama to eat and feel safe with me. Hoping to be able to move the family to safety as soon as possible, we prepped a big cat cage in our garage, with nesting areas, food, water, and litter. One night, out of fear, Luna fled in the pouring rain, and hid her litter somewhere else in the neighborhood. We searched the neighborhood for her, we rang doorbells, we put up signs, we walked and called and searched FOR HOURS…
Three days later, in the late afternoon, we found them in a shed in a neighbor’s yard. When we tried to approach them, Luna split again. We took the babies home immediately, cleaned them, checked them, and bottle-fed them formula. That night, a neighbor called to tell me Luna was in her yard crying. I borrowed a live-animal trap from another neighbor, and slowly lured Luna back to our yard, all the while going back and forth to bottle feed her babies. Around 1 am, I was finally able to trap her, and by 2 am I had her set up with her kittens in a safe, warm, fully cat-equipped cage. SUCCESS!
Luna and her tiny babies came to live with us, and for weeks we took care of all of them. Eventually the babies moved inside, got vetted, socialized, and found forever homes. Ms. Luna got spayed, vaccinated, microchipped, and had her ear tipped. In June, after many long months together, we returned Luna to her colony at the beach, to live her life free from a cage, sleeping in the sunny sandy dunes. She and I never became friends; she would have much preferred to scratch my face off rather than to let me touch her. But we shared a common goal: the welfare of her babies. And I know she knew it.
Three months after Luna went back to live her life of freedom, in September, Animal Control called to let me know they had found Luna, far from her colony and badly hurt. As I was the contact on her microchip, I had to authorize putting her down. I was shocked. Why did she stray? What had happened? I gave permission, waited for a pause, and then got confirmation. My heart sank. I felt guilty that Luna spent way too long in a cage with us, guilty that she got so lost, and guilty that I wasn’t there with her. But I remembered her beautiful kittens, living full and happy lives in amazing homes, and that Luna DID get one last summer sleeping in the dunes.
I’m thankful to Luna. She gave me the gift of finding a passion, and perhaps a calling. Since Luna wandered into my life and my heart, dozens of other kittens, both orphans and kittens with mamas, have passed through my doors, each one teaching me more, each rescue making me want to help more, do more, give more. Workshops, seminars, training, vet care…. MORE MORE MORE. And so it begins….
Luna’s Legacy will live on with me and with all the kittens in my care. Itty Bitty City Kitties is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit benefiting the tiniest of champions, the most fragile felines, and the feral community. Itty Kitties is dedicated to saving orphaned kittens, and giving the most fragile of felines a chance at forever. We specialize in orphan kitten care, providing round-the-clock nursing and wellness. We do in-house vaccinations, de-worming, and whole-kitten care, as well as provide all first feline vet care, thanks to our growing partnership with local veterinarians.
We sub-specialize in working with and caring for feral feline mamas who need a safe space to raise their brood. We provide supplemental feeding care for the babies (so sick mamas can recover), weaning support, socialization, vet care, and adoption. We support mama with full wellness support during her nursing weeks, followed by spay, ear tip, vaccines and microchipping, so that she can return to her colony.
I never would have thought that one hissy missy could have carved such a space into my heart, or my life. This is for you, Ms. Luna. Rest easy, pretty girl. You may have hated me, but I sure loved you.