Our rescue story is a bit different from most because it's about a special kitty who spent much of his life saving other cats.
We were Oreo's 3rd home. His first owners didn't have him neutered until he had started spraying in their home. He continued to spray after the surgery, so they put him outside and didn't allow him back in. Oreo later received a serious injury to his tail, and they didn't want to spend money on a veterinarian to treat it. So they gave him away, injury and all.
His second home had another cat which had always been maintained as an indoor cat. Oreo had been outside for so long that he objected, very hazardously, to staying inside. His second owner relented and allowed him to go in and out at will. This owner eventually moved and, although her landlord told her she was allowed cats, she was told, 2 months later, that there was a limit of one cat only. She would either have to sacrifice 1 cat or move.
She called us, knowing that we loved this big beautiful boy and asked if we would want to take him. We said yes and that is where the real story of Oreo begins.
Oreo was approximately 4 years old when we got him. We, too, tried to keep him as an indoor cat, but 2 weeks, 3 mini-blinds and many curtains later, we knew if we didn't let him out, he would eventually seriously hurt himself.
Much against our own practice with our other cat, Shadow, who was also an indoor cat, Oreo was again allowed in and out during the day. We kept him in at night.
We had Oreo for about 2 years when he began to bring home another cat 'friend' who he allowed to eat out of his bowl. Very odd, because while inside, Oreo and Shadow each had their own food dishes and did not share. Then he had 2 friends coming to our house. Then there were 3. I was filling his outside bowl quite often throughout the day.
It took some time, and about 15 cats, but we finally realized that Oreo was bringing home the abandoned animals that people were leaving behind as our country was in the midst of the economic downturn. Oreo practiced this 'rescue' behavior for the next 7 years.
He also taught them rules: No fighting, No killing birds, No killing squirrels. You follow those rules, you get to eat and there will be shelter.
There was even a time when he cried at me loudly and started to walk away, then cried again and walked away. Each time I got within 3 feet of him, he'd cry and walk further away. I finally realized he was trying to lead me somewhere, and I began to follow behind him.
He'd found a cat drowning in a neighbor's pool, unable to get out on his own. I ran to grab a 2x4 we had in the garage. The cat was able to claw into the wood, and I pulled him to the edge of the pool to get him out. Had Oreo not come to get me, the cat would not have lived much longer. The poor thing was so exhausted that it just laid down as soon as him got off the pool deck and onto the grass.
In all of those years, there were only 2 cats that Oreo would "yowl" out of our yard. He never fought with either of them, but he sure made it very clear that they were not welcome here. Both had homes and I knew where they lived.
As our feral cat population grew, in our fence enclosed back yard, we began to build shelters for them. We, or Oreo, had actually built a colony, although we didn't know that was what it was called at the time.
During a trip to Florida in 2013, I first learned of monitored colonies, TNR and ear tipping, but remained unaware of availability in my own municipality until a conversation with my local animal control officer in April of 2014. We
attempted to capture a seriously injured cat that had come into our yard for the first time. She told me of a TNR organization for our state, PawsWatch.org, and how to contact them.
The very next day, I did contact them and now I'm not only a volunteer, but I practice TNR with the help of PawsWatch.org. I also continue to feed, shelter and monitor the community cats in our back yard.
Oreo left us December 1, 2014, but his legacy lives on in the community he built here over his years as a true feline rescue worker. No, that wasn't a misprint or mistake. Oreo was a feline that spent his life rescuing felines.
Now I'd like to take the time to thank PetSmartCharities.org for their grants and support of TNR, especially the "Community TNR" download which I have read and learned so much from. I've also advised others to download it for their own use. I'm continuing to add to my knowledge with other PetSmartCharities.org information on a daily basis with the hopes of being able to better inform others when asked any questions related to cats and what TNR, practiced correctly, can achieve.