When Jenny Giegler moved into a house on Mt. Pleasant’s Pine Street several years ago, the place came with something probably not in the listing… a tabby cat that at the time might have been named Hoagie. Today, she goes by Momma. Or Mama.
She’s also currently nursing what might now be her 15th litter of kittens, which will be her last. After years of trying, Giegler’s neighbors finally trapped Momma and got her fixed.
Denise Fanning and Peggy Funnell, which run an unofficial Trap, Neuter, Release program for the Pine Street community cat colony, which numbers between 12 and 15 animals, were finally able to coax Momma, who could be as old as 10 years, into a live trap last Wednesday. The cat was taken to the Humane Animal Treatment Society, where it was fixed and got its shots.
During the four-ish years that Giegler and her partner Grant had lived in the Pine Street house, they’ve cared for maybe 40 of Momma’s kittens. One escaped at the vet, never to be seen again.
Three of the kittens stayed at Gielger’s house as official pets. The first one, Tabby, helped turn Grant into a cat lover.
They’re fostering two more and will soon look for homes for Momma’s last litter. Over the years, they’ve found homes for the other cats through family and friends.
It’s been expensive. Fixing a male cat through HATS costs $50, for a female it’s $70. Giegler said she doesn’t want to think about how much money they’ve spent over the years.
“We have to buy food weekly just for the outside cats,” she said.
They’ve gotten a little help. Fanning has given them some money, and HATS covered Momma’s costs.
Momma was previously identified as part of the community cat problem. It’s not her demeanor. While she’s skittish around people, she doesn’t cause problems. But, unfixed female cats can get pregnant almost immediately after giving birth to a litter.
Right around the time she gave birth to one litter, one of the neighborhood unfixed male cats would show up and stick around for maybe a week before impregnating her again. She’d carry the litter to term, and as soon as it was born the tom cat would return.
In the beginning, it was a black male cat. He doesn’t come around anymore, and Giegler suspects he died. In his place was an orange cat with a sour demeanor.
He’s stopped coming around. Giegler said there’s a nearby yard with unfixed calicoes. She suspects that’s where you can find him now.
But there’s a new cat. The people who lived in a green house down Pine Street recently moved and abandoned an unfixed male in doing so. The cat appears friendly enough to people, and the hope is to trap him, fix him and find a new home for him.
Momma’s kittens acclimate to people pretty quickly, but she doesn’t. For the first few years of living in the house, she’d avoid Giegler. Through patience, she formed something of a bond with the cat, who will now allow her to get close enough to sniff a finger before putting distance between them.
It’s enough for Giegler to consider her an unofficial, outdoor pet. If they move, they hope to bring her along with them.