Pet Tales

Patience, dedication pay off in rescue effort

’Caroline Franco of Atascadero sent me an amazing story of her family’s patience and dedication to help a large group of abandoned neighborhood cats find new lives.

“Within three years of moving to our house, an abandoned calico cat across the street had produced more than a dozen semi-feral felines.

By December 2007, our neighborhood was overrun with cats; my husband, Nick, and I decided to do something.

“We borrowed a humane trap from the North County Humane Society, got the blessings of our neighbors, and began trapping kitties.

Our daughters, Julia and Camille, did most of the trapping.

“At first we trapped raccoons, neighbors’ cats, possums and a skunk.

But once the nightly process really got underway we discovered a sad fact: half the cats could be caught by hand because they were young and starved for affection.

“Soon all were making the nightly journey to our property for the free food, and the brave ventured into the strange metal cave where the ‘good stuff’ was.

After their trip to the vet, to be spayed or neutered, they were brought back to our property and kept either in the cage in our garage (if they were still looking murderous) or in our garage bonus room overnight.

“Once released, the free food was still available every night at six, but there was a catch: my daughters sat at the feeding station, allowing the cats to see that they weren’t going to hurt them.

“Throughout 2008 we caught 16 cats; most were eventually adopted.

Some had their ears tipped, as a signal to others that they were fixed feral cats, and re-released.

“One of them, Lupin, was the most whirling of dervishes when he went in to the vet…but now, two years later, he is sleeping next to me as I write this.“Aja was just too smart for the trap, but our daughter, Julia, was patient and finally, hand caught her.

After surgery and recovering with us for two days we tried to release her, but she wouldn’t leave.

Then Julia heard mewing behind our garage —- unbeknownst to us, Aja had four two-week-old kittens hidden under our shed.

“After all the work that our daughters did for all of these cats, we decided they deserved a reward and gave them Nasuada, a gray shorthair, as their own.

“The last in the trap was Bela, a very large, longhaired, gray and white tom.

He was sullen and dirty for his hospital visit, but now, 18 months later, he is beautiful and healthy.

He comes in every night to sleep in our bonus room.

“What is the moral of this story? With lots of patience, a bowl of food, a slow-moving hand and a few sprigs of fresh catnip, even Tasmanian Devils can turn out to be sweet soul mates for two legged friends.

Plus, cats multiply almost as fast as bunnies. Please spay or neuter your cats, before you leave your burden on someone else’s front door step.”

If you have a story or photos of your furry, feathered or scaly friend, pleasee-mail me at or mail to Pet Tales, c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.