Monday, December 30, 2019

Rescue Stories - East Harlem Cats

Today is the last post on the blog for 2019, and the last of our Rescue Stories series for the year. This is also one of the posts that means the most to me and is near and dear to my heart, and one that I was proud to be a part of. 

Today I bring you the rescue story of the East Harlem Cats. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories

Around late summer/early fall, a friend of mine who works for a utility company contacted me about a stray female hanging around the yard in East Harlem with her kittens. My first response was "Oh God, what am I going to do about this?"  I asked for photos, and when I saw how unsafe the conditions were for them, I knew I had to try to get them out of there. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories


east harlem cats|rescue stories

Although many people have the idea that I'm active in rescue, that's actually a misconception. I write frequently about rescue, but I do not participate in it (for various reasons), and although I do have very few contacts, most rescuers are overwhelmed and cannot help everyone. 

My friend, a cat person, started feeding the cats and the momma would run over to him every time she saw him because she knew he had food for her. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories
Look at her tail curled around her paws!

When I tell you it takes a village to save a cat, it really takes an entire village. And it's no easy feat, either. I reached out to a couple of friends for help and advice, and they put their feelers out to the rescue community to see if they could get me some help. In the meantime, I went onto Instagram and started contacting rescuers I follow there. The first I contacted was willing to do TNR, but these cats needed to be relocated, and fast. I then contacted someone else, who suggested I contact  a woman named Miriam who traps in East Harlem (in Manhattan). I contacted Miriam but unfortunately, she was overwhelmed. She gave me the number of a woman named Jenni, who also traps in East Harlem. 

I also contacted The Artemis Project. They were absolutely wonderful and more than willing to try to get me the help we needed. The Artemis Project does not do TNR, but they told me if the cats were not feral and I could get them trapped they would take them! They suggested I contact East Harlem Cats. It turned out that Jenni is East Harlem Cats! I learned that basically there are only two people who trap in East Harlem - Jenni and Miriam (who know each other.) I wondered "How can that be?! In a city as large as New York, there are only two trappers in East Harlem?!" Not only do they trap, but they feed community cat colonies. This really saddens me. 

As the situation progressed and colder weather was approaching, I put my friend in touch with both Miriam and Jenni while I was messaging with Jenni (who also happens to be a writer) on Facebook. I was also emailing with The Artemis Project. Meanwhile, Miriam was able to get some food to the cats through the fence in the yard when my friend wasn't at work.

east harlem cats|rescue stories

Jenni's first attempt at trapping was unsuccessful because the cats were nowhere to be found. The second attempt, however, was not only successful but relatively easy. Miriam had gone over to bring an additional trap and help out.

east harlem cats|rescue stories

east harlem cats|rescue stories

I wasn't there, but Miriam and my friend were giving me updates via text. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories

east harlem cats|rescue stories

I was so relieved that these cats were off the streets! Jenni took the cats back to her house where they would wait to be spayed/neutered at the ASPCA. 

Jenni named the momma cat Electra, and the babies Debbie and Gibson. It turned out that Debbie was actually a boy, so his name is now Donnie. 

Unfortunately, Electra was not as friendly as we all had hoped she'd be. She was really just scared and stressed,  but Jenni did not give up. She was determined to make progress with her. 


If you can't see the video, you can view it on Facebook

This was a breakthrough moment for her. Here's what Jenni wrote about this: 

"YES! THIS. is what I call a BREAKTHROUGH. (Please excuse the mess, this was crucial and I didn’t want to stress her out more before trying some touch.) This is why I give them time and why I’m persistent but slowwww. Mama - I’ve named her Electra! ⚡️- has been doing an incredible job of caring for and defending her kittens outside. She loves them fiercely. She is stressed. There have been spits and hisses and she’s right up in my face about it. But under that exterior is a sweet gal who’s been forced to put up her defenses and for good reason. They needed to survive, but now it’s time to show her she’s safe again. I’m sharing this video because I want to show a part of the process. It’s slow. It takes time, but this is the first try with this with the stick (it’s the end of a wand toy #hightech) and she stopped her growling, and you’ll see after a few tries she actually lays down! Things have gotten even better from here. I moved on to petting her neck with the stick which she loves — I got some chirps! And this graduated to pets while she’s eating...oh and licking treats off my finger! (Will post that video next.) I’m telling you, if given only two days to assess, it might be easy to deem her feral. After what I’ve seen, with her progress in just 24 hrs, you can’t convince me she is. Electra will be going for spay soon and she’ll have even more time to relax." 

Electra has continued to make progress. Here she is about a month ago with Jenni's comments. 



If you can't see the video, you can view it on Facebook.


"A new amazing step in mama Electra’s transformation πŸ™Œ Look how sweet she is even while her kitto Gibson is hopping around all over the place πŸ™„ I think we’ve moved onto a whole new phase. She’s not only allowing pets, she’s walking up and asking for them! It’s slow, it’s all slow, but it’s amazing and it’s steady every day. She’s come SO far from her defensive growly days right after I rescued her and her babies. She was spitting and stomping at me and that has all gone away. I still have her in a crate and that’s not going to last much longer. She’s been dying to get out and it’s not fair to keep her in there. I’m still trying to find a foster for Electra and her sweet kittens Donnie and Gibson. There was promise of help when I first rescued these guys and it was only supposed to be temporary but all of that has fallen through and now I have to figure out what to do with all three of them. It’s a lot to take care of them with so many other cats."


And today Electra is just loving her catnip toys! She sure has come a long way. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories


Donnie and Gibson are now a bonded pair and need to be adopted together. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories


And they certainly have no problem letting Jenni know it's dinner time! 

If you can't see the video, you can view it on Facebook

All three have certainly come a long way from living in a utility yard. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories


east harlem cats|rescue stories

Jenni is in desperate need of fosters. Electra, Donnie, and Gibson are still in her care and are not the only cats she has in her apartment. And she has done other rescues after them as well. I've made it my mission to help Jenni get fosters for Electra, Donnie, and Gibson, and to share them on social media to help them find their forever homes. 

Thank you, Jenni and Miriam, from the bottom of my heart for stepping up and helping these cats. I can't express how much it means to me to know they are off the streets. 

Jenni and Miriam are independent rescuers who struggle to take care of the cats they rescue. They make sure they are spayed/neutered before being returned, and they care for colony cats as well. And in Jenni's case, she has many houseguests looking for forever homes. 

east harlem cats|rescue stories


You can follow Jenni on Facebook at Caturdays - East Harlem Cats TNR Rescue and on Instagram at @eastharlemcats. If you'd like to help her in her mission, you can purchase items from her Amazon Wishlist and her Winter Shelter Wishlist, or buy items from her Tee spring store.  You can view her adoptable kitties here.

You can follow Miriam on Instagram at @miriam7581.  To help her keep feeding the community cats in East Harlem, you can donate here

Those of you who have been following us on Facebook or on this blog for a while probably know that Lola came from the streets of East Harlem. I'm so glad the cats of that community have generous, selfless people with nothing but love in their hearts like Jenni and Miriam. I only wish there were more people in the world like them. 



east harlem cats|rescue stories


I'm hoping you will please share this information all over social media to help get these cats adopted, to help Jenni find fosters, and to help Jenni and Miriam so they can continue to do the work they do. 

Do you have a favorite rescue story? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Dawn
All photos and videos are by Jenni and Miriam. 

If you've missed any of our other rescue stories you can catch up on them here

18 comments:

  1. What a story, and of course I'll share it!

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  2. What a beautiful story! You are all Superheroes, you do know that, right? There are too few rescue organizations for ferals everywhere in this country. I hope and pray more folks get involved in TNR and Feral Caretaking this year and that soon there will be NO MORE HOMELESS PETS!

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  3. That is a lovely story, not just for Christmas but any time of the year. I hope a foster can be found for them until they are ready to be adopted.

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  4. The people who volunteer in TNR are overworked saints! I hope Electra, Donnie, and Gibson have foster homes soon.
    At PAWS we use very long handled brushes that are made to clean vents. They work well with cats who need to learn trust.
    Thank you for sharing this story.

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    Replies
    1. Oh Kevin and Tracey, you are so right. That was about what I was going to write as my comment! Overworked saints. Loving, giving and filled with kindness overflowing.
      Thank you Lola and Mommy for this article.

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  5. What a pawsome rescue story! We are so happy these kitties were trapped and are now safe. Paws up to Jenni and Miriam...and you too...for helping them.

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  6. Such a beautiful kitty family. God bless Jenni for saving these kitties and socializing them. I will share this. XO

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  7. That truly is a wonderful story and a purrfect way to end the year. They are all sweeties and the trapper is a true Angel. I'll share too.

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  8. You make a difference in so many cats' lives because of your writing! This story is absolutely incredible and we send loads of love to those precious babies...and you!

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  9. What an amazing story! I'm so glad this family was rescued and given the attention they needed (especially Electra).

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  10. Well seeing them in the utility yard certainly got my heart racing to save them! It's always gratifying to bring cats in from an unsafe place to foster them and give them a chance at a forever home, no matter what role you play. So glad to see them safe with everyone's help.

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  11. Please see my comment as a reply to Shelter Cats.

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  12. I love rescue stories. It is amazing to see how far Electra has come in such a short amount of time!

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  13. Oh my goodies, I'm so happy these cats were rescued and that you helped accomplish that! What a wonderful post to end the year with.

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  14. That is a wonderful story and we thank you for sharing it with us. It is so hard to get some cats socialized to see it happen makes us so excited
    Have a Very Happy Mew Year

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  15. And Lola, your mom writes so well. It never fails to evoke a strong response in me. I was right there with the rescuers and I felt the same sense of urgency your mom did in helping.

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  16. What an amazing rescue to be part of! We hope Electra, Debbie, and Donnie know nothing but love and security for the rest of their lives!

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  17. What a wonderful story and videos too, paws up for all the rescuers. So heartwarming to see how Electra is dealing with the new situation by accepting the lovesπŸ’—
    Extra Joyful Pawkisses for a Happy, Healthy and Joyful New Year to you all :) <3

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