Street tales: Group works to res­cue for­got­ten cats

The News-Times - - NEWS - By An­gela Carella

A lit­tle group is in a big fight to re­duce suf­fer­ing among crea­tures of the ur­ban wild.

Af­ter more than eight years on the task, progress is tough to quan­tify, said Cora Martino, founder of Pit­ter Pat­ter Fe­line Res­cue, one of sev­eral vol­un­teer agen­cies that work to re­duce the pop­u­la­tion of home­less and semi-wild cats liv­ing on streets of Stam­ford.

The feral cats are the de­scen­dants of pets that were aban­doned or al­lowed to roam un-neutered.

“I’m go­ing to say that the pop­u­la­tion is a lit­tle less,” said Martino, who, with a hand­ful of other vol­un­teers, vis­its al­leys, fields, yards, garages and other places where cats col­o­nize, traps them, treats, vac­ci­nates and neuters them, and re­turns them to their habi­tats.

So far this year, Pit­ter Pat­ter has treated 162 feral cats, Martino said.

“I think we might be mak­ing a dent,” she said. “But there are still a lot of cats out there.”

There are hun­dreds, per­haps thou­sands, no one knows. The group finds them starv­ing, sick, in­jured, with­out limbs, poi­soned, doused in gaso­line or wounded by BB guns.

Then there are the kit­tens. They are car­ried away by rats, rac­coons, hawks, weasels or coy­otes, killed in traf­fic or drowned in rain­storms. Each year a feral fe­male can have three lit­ters of four to six kit­tens. About half die.

Pit­ter Pat­ter vol­un­teers take in the kit­tens they find — about 1,200 to date.

The state does not reg­u­late cats as it does dogs, but two years ago, the Board of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­vised the city’s an­i­mal wel­fare or­di­nance to pro­hibit own­ers from al­low­ing their cats to roam un­less they are spayed or neutered, vac­ci­nated, and mi­cro-chipped. Aban­don­ment is il­le­gal, and so is keep­ing strays with­out no­ti­fy­ing Stam­ford An­i­mal Con­trol. Of­fi­cers may in­ves­ti­gate any prop­erty with a feral cat colony when it ap­pears an­i­mals are in dan­ger.

The or­di­nance in­cor­po­rates the work of groups such as Pit­ter Pat­ter, and re­quires that they keep records of the cats they treat.

Martino said grass­roots groups step in when the city is not able.

“An­i­mal Con­trol can’t bot­tle-feed kit­tens, so we take the ba­bies they find,” she said. “We also take the ones that need overnight care, and the ones that need so­cial­iza­tion.”

Pit­ter Pat­ter works with a net­work of foster fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing Tues­day Tam­burri, of Darien, and her daugh­ters, Syd­ney, 14, a stu­dent at AITE in Stam­ford, and Meisha, 11, who at­tends Mid­dle­sex Mid­dle School in Darien.

The Tam­bur­ris and their fam­ily cat, Pro­sciutto, have wel­comed 10 res­cued kit­tens. The idea came from Syd­ney, an an­i­mal lover who is re­quired to do com­mu­nity ser­vice as part of the AITE cur­ricu­lum, Tues­day Tam­burri said.

“Our goal is to make them as adopt­able as pos­si­ble. We re­ally love it,” she said. “My daugh­ters are do­ing all the so­cial­iza­tion. When Meisha falls asleep, the kit­tens all fall asleep on her and around her. They go from su­per-skit­tish to su­per so­cial­ized.”

Matthew Brown / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Syd­ney But­ler, 14, plays with some of the kit­tens her fam­ily is fos­ter­ing at their Darien home on Thurs­day. The kit­tens were saved by Pit­ter Pat­ter Fe­line Res­cue, a Stam­ford group that traps, treats and neuters feral cats.

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