Written by Sarah Loeb of Pennsylvania
I feel like I have experienced a truly blessed event. A member of my feral colony, usually one of the friendlier cats, got a plastic jar stuck on his head. His entire head enveloped in hard plastic, he was completely unable to eat or drink. I first saw him this way on a Saturday night. I spent hours trying to get him to trust me to get close enough so that I could remove the jar. But, completely vulnerable and positively panicked, the cat was far too skittish to permit me to get near.
The next evening, I tried throwing a towel, then a heavy blanket over him in order to disorient him, hoping that might allow me to get a solid grasp, but the cat proved too fast and sly for such tricks. My boyfriend even came out late that night with a large basket and together we tried to capture the frightened feline until, finally, he ran off completely, nowhere to be found.
We decided to leave out a Havahart trap overnight, but that too, fell short of success (although it did gain me access to a fertile female, whom I was then able to bring to the clinic for spay and vaccination; so not a loss entirely). I searched every hour on the hour from the time I got home from work, around 7:00 pm until 5:00 am. He never showed. I figured he must have died in one of the worst ways I can imagine. I was beside myself, knowing I had failed this cat who had once snuggled against my legs, awaiting his dinner. I couldn’t let it go, couldn’t sleep, wondering if he could possibly still be out there, stuck inside that awful jar.
A Middle-of-the-Night Visitor Arrives to Help
Well, tonight, as usual, at nearly 1:00 a.m., I prepared a dinner platter and carried it outside, where my colony patiently waited. I walked with the cats in tow to our regular spot (a fair distance from the building), served the meal, and had begun walking back when a woman, who seemed to appear out of nowhere, approached me. I’ve been reprimanded multiple times for feeding my kitties, so I braced myself for another neighborly tongue lashing. She asked me, flat out, if I had just fed the feral cats. Reluctantly, I admitted I had, and she immediately began gushing about how happy she was to meet me, and how grateful she was to know that someone in the complex, aside from herself, appreciated the cats and was willing to help see to their well-being. I was, of course, very relieved, and every bit as ecstatic to meet her; finally…a fellow feral cat ally!
She told me her name was Rose, and throughout our lively, late night meet-and-greet, Rose and I exchanged stories of our experiences with aiding the local cats. I learned that she had lived in the complex for several years (I am relatively new to the property), and despite the transparency of her efforts toward maintaining a vaccinated, spayed and neutered colony, she too had been harassed by various neighboring tenants, and had even received threats of eviction from building management for feeding the cats. Needless to say, Rose and I became fast friends.
So, there we were, chattering away, when the jar-headed cat appeared! Rose informed me the cat had been stuck in the jar since at least Thursday (nearly six days)! She had also spent hours trying to save him, and had gotten mauled by him in her efforts. She said she didn’t even want to try anymore, that she had cried all weekend over her failed attempts. I completely understood her grief. Capturing the cat, at this point, seemed impossible, and I knew another failed attempt would be even more devastating to us both, but I also knew neither of us would be able to walk away without making yet another attempt.
Without any planning, I simply sat on the ground and began jingling my keys (a.k.a. the feral cat dinner bell) and because one of my regular male cats is a bit of a snob who insists on eating apart from the crowd, inside my sweater pocket I still held a small bag of food (which I had intended on serving to “Catty Aloof” beneath a nearby tree as usual). I pulled the bag of food from my pocket, opened it and began shaking it along with my keys. The jar-headed cat seemed almost hypnotized by it — the sound and smell together. I desperately hoped for him to approach and let me help him. After a minute or so, I noticed Rose creeping up behind the now helplessly transfixed, starving cat. I shook the keys and food to make the sound louder and louder so he wouldn’t look away or take note of Rose’s creeping. Finally, like a wild cat herself, Rose sprung at him and grabbed him from behind.
The cat went wild, slashing at Rose’s bare arms. To my amazement, Rose held her grasp. I jumped up, shouting, “DON’T LET HIM GO!” But just as I was about to grab hold of the jar, the cat shot out of her arms and darted away. Exasperated, Rose and I, almost in unison, uttered a few choice expletives, and the two of us began to slump in misery when we suddenly realized she was holding the jar!
Oh My God, I Have It!
Somehow, during the violent scuffle, Rose had actually managed to remove the jar! Rose stared at the filthy container in her hands, repeating in disbelief, “Oh, my God, I have it. I have the jar!”
I threw my arms around her. This woman, only minutes before a stranger…my new friend and partner in cat rescue “crime,” and now my hero! We stood there in the parking lot of our apartment complex at 1:00 in the morning in a tight embrace, blood trickling from the fresh battle wounds on her forearms. I can still hardly believe it. The whole event seems almost impossible; the timing, the luck of it all, almost too good to be true. I felt like I had won the lottery. The rush was better than Broadway. And Jarhead is jar free!
Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase. This article was reprinted here with permission from the author. More about Laura Simpson, founder of The Great Animal Rescue Chase, and story contributor Sarah Loeb.
I totally understand saving those precious little souls. Attached is Sister Chic. She was found by my daughter and her friend after being mauled by a dog. It bit her tail off and messed up her back and ears pretty bad. She has six toes on all four feet and is rather unique looking. She has such a personality! In the beginning I told my daughter we'd keep her until we could find her a home. Well, guess what? She found a home alright, with me. We've had her 5 years now and I can't imagine life without her. She is my little soul mate. Guess it was in the cards. We are meant to be together, Sister Chic and I!
2 replies: Idbeiyin, Cecilia | Post Your Reply
Love this story. And thank you to the commenter below who cautions people about their discarded containers, which are indeed a hazard to wildlife. There is a young deer living behind my property who has a length of PVC pipe stuck on this leg. He must have stepped on it and it went right over his hoof. Now he's stuck with it for life. Poor guy. There is no way to catch this wild deer and I am hoping that he will be able to adapt to the plastic pipe and that it won't get infected.
I too rescued a feral with a plastic jar on her head. She would frequent my deck late in the night for a meal, Always Frightened and would scurry off quickly if she noticed me looking. One evening as i peeked out, I spotted her under my car with the jar on her head. I didn't think too much of it other than a small chuckle. To my dismay, she was on my deck still the next morning with the jar still on her head. Fearing the worst for her at that point i proceeded to sneak up on her and try to grab the jar. Didn't work. She ran away , the plastic jar clunking as she frantically ran . Each day I would see her on the property somewhere during my search. Day three, I was alerted by the neighbor's Jack Russel to their barn. I approached thinking that she must be there as the dog was very insistent on entering. Oh what a surprise, I found her stash. Three orange tigers, one silver tiger and a calico, all about three maybe four weeks old and very hungry. Day four and five, no luck, didn't even see her. I though she had perished. Day six came. With some help in the search we located her in the overgrowth and of course she got away. Later that same day, I went back to the area where she had been spotted earlier and to my surprise she was there. I called for help again from my family and one of my "crazy cat lady" friends, Carrie Bartz of Shadow Cat Advocates. Together we surrounded the area. Being cornered little miss ran down in a groundhog hole. Nothing left to do but dig now. After an hour of digging we were able to open the small cavern and force her into a trap. Thank God Carrie was there with her unrelenting grip and guidance. We took her to the clinic where they were finally able to free her from the plastic prison. Friends flocked in to see the cute kittens and they have all been adopted to wonderful homes. Being a feral, momma was very stand offish. While feeding the babies in the other room she heard them and started calling out and after two times before, and against advice, I took the three remaining kitties to her. Instantaneously she loved on them and is now allowing me to hold her and pet her. I think I made the right decision. She has been tested and vaccinated and is now joining our home. Oh and btw Her name is now Mayo.[Hide Full Comment]
God Bless you two, from another rescuer and TNR'. How is Jarhead now?
Sarah and Rose: Congratulations for helping this poor cat and thank you on my behalf, and of my small zoo of abandoned dogs and cats for being an animal lover, that is a great story keep up the good work.
What a wonderful story--and thank you for being so persistent in your rescue efforts. "Jar Head" kitty has one heck of a will to live! Nonetheless, he must have been scared out of his mind not being able to see where he was going, eat, or drink. Thank goodness he didn't suffocate!
I think there is also a lesson in here about why we can do with less plastic bottles and jars in the world and why the thoughtful thing to do is either reuse the containers or (as a last resort) recycle them. Please don't toss plastic bottles and containers onto landfills or vacant lots--they are harmful to feral kitties.
wonderful story! thanks to people like you these cats have a chance..
1 reply: Mony | Post Your Reply
Thank you for your kindness and your bravery. You are heroes.
1 reply: Mony | Post Your Reply
Beautiful, Hui Pono Holoholona understands your love. Mahalo for all you do.
How kind of you and Rose to save this kitty, and know you'll be right back at it. I once knew two old lady cat and dog lovers. One of them was quite wealthy, and they would both hop in her Cadillac and drive around saving neglected and abandoned animals, even going so far as to steal chained up dogs in yards that had no food, water, shade or warmth. She said she didn't care if she was arrested because she had plenty of money and plenty of lawyers. All the evacuees were taken first to the vet, then to the groomers, and home to the best any of us could wish for, until perfect permanent homes could be found. I always thought that if my ship ever came in, it would be a great way to spend my life. I"m 71 now, still without money, but still rescuing.
Wow, thanks for the tears. And thanks for the bravery on both the rescue and the long term endeavor. I too would be a feral cat feeder if I could brave the hatred from the others.
1 reply: Mony | Post Your Reply
Sarah and Rose... lots of love to your and your cat tribe... what you are doing to serve the animals is a big part of saving the humans and the world...
What a beautiful, heartwarming story Laura! :)
1 reply: Mony | Post Your Reply
That is such a touching story! It does my heart so much good to know there are others out there who care about animals enough to really try to help them.
Thank you both for not giving up!! You are angels. :)
1 reply: Rob | Post Your Reply
Great story! Thanks for being such a kind, compassionate soul! :)
He looks like my very first, much beloved cat Wallace! Gorgeous boy!
Thank you for your kindness and care. It does my heart good to know that both you and Rose found the help you needed and were successful. Meeting a kindred spirit is such a huge blessing too!
What a great story of love and blessed "timing".
The love, caring and knowing that kitty is free made my morning!
Thank you both!
What a wonderful story of caring & friendship- human & feline together!
OMG, this reminds me of my own cat who I originally thought was feral. One terribly hot summer he got his head stuck in a plastic bag. Lucky for him it had a hole that he could breath through but otherwise he was encased. We tried in vain to help him, but he finally managed to get out of it. He turned out to be a traumatized abandoned cat and I slowly befriended him - he's our beloved pet today. Sooo, glad you were able to free that poor cat from the jar!!
Thank you for the tears of happiness :)
1 reply: Gretchen | Post Your Reply
On Aug 20, 2013 Di wrote:
I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. What a wonderful story!! Thank you!
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