About a month ago, we received a call on our hotline asking for help for some sick kittens. These kittens were part of a colony of seven that live behind the Joseph Center in East St. Louis. The Joseph Center is a transitional housing program for homeless veterans.
When we visited the center, we learned that the veterans feed the cats and kittens three times a day—after every one of their own meals. We worked with them to trap-neuter-return (TNR) the cats on the property in an effort to control the population. We’ve seen too many times how cats can multiply quickly on the streets, especially when they are fed well, and these cats are most certainly fed well. Without intervening, this colony of seven would easily double or triple within a year. The men helped with trapping coordination and some even assumed “trap duty” throughout the day, calling us when one stubborn cat finally went into the trap.
The best part was three days later when we released the cats. We watched the men’s eyes light up as, one by one, their friends returned home. One resident commented about his love for the kittens. “I’m not very good at taking care of myself, but I’m pretty good at taking care of these cats.” One of the employees at the center, after hearing our TNR plan and being told the cats would be back in a few days, commented, “They better be back, they are part of our family!” Caring for others is good for the soul, and the bond between the men at this facility and the cats on the property is evidence of that.
This Veteran’s Day, we want to thank the men that served our country, and continue to put others before themselves. To our friends at the Joseph Center, thank you for your love and commitment to these tiny creatures, and for helping them survive and thrive.
The “R” is our favorite part of TNR—returning cats to their caretakers!