One sweet cat was happily rescued from a life on the streets and subjection to a continuous cycle of giving birth to more homeless kittens. She was part of a TNR initiative carried out by Chalky’s Cat Crusade in Tampa, Florida. It was early August 2019 when founder Nicolle Azar Thompson caught the gorgeous grey and white feline. It was obvious to see the little heart shape on her nose coloring, truly reflected her inner nature. Nicolle had been trapping at an Assisted Living Facility for permanently disabled adults where the cat was fed. The mama cat wasn’t alone though. She was accompanied by the sole surviving kitten from another litter she’d had only months before.
And now, the mama cat with the cute heart nose was just days away from giving birth again!
During Nicolle’s first attempts trapping at the home, she was able to catch the kitten, but mama wisely avoided the traps. Still a huge success, the kitten was about 5 months old and female. Nicolle named her “Kibbles”. So it was very surprising that she wasn’t already pregnant too. That also meant though, that the poor mother cat must have gotten pregnant very soon after giving birth the first time. IF that was even the first time!
Never one to give up, the next day, Nicolle set her goal to get the full-bellied feline. She will do whatever it takes to reach her goals. And she did just that, safely wrapping mama cat, who she named Charlotte, in her arms.
I went over my first time on August 5th and got Kibbles, but Charlotte wasn’t there. The second trip the next day, I was able to get Charlotte. She would not go near the trap though so I changed techniques. I was able to bribe her with food and surprisingly simply picked her up! That is when I knew she would not be going back on the streets ever again.
Sadly, Charlotte’s sweet demeanor wasn’t as prominent in young Kibbles, who refused to become an indoor only cat. Nicolle had her spayed, vaccinated and she now resides back at the living facility. On a promising note, Kibbles has decided living as an indoor/outdoor cat is acceptable now. She even spends her nights sleeping cuddles with one of the residents! Fingers and paws crossed someday she converts completely.
And she began her new life by giving birth to 5 perfect kittens the very next day!
Nicolle knew that Charlotte had needed the least amount of stress as possible, so she made the decision to foster her herself. That, and with year-round kitten season in Florida, most foster homes were already very full. But for lucky Charlotte, she would be fawned over and treated to anything she need to make her labor a success.
It was around 10:00PM EST on August 6th, when the babies began arriving. Seemingly needing some female support, Charlotte meowed until Nicolle came and held her paw! So she sat with Charlotte while five perfect babies were born over the next 2 hours.
Their stories will come, but for now, we focus on one of the most loving mama cats I’ve ever seen. Charlotte deserves to have her story told.
Sadly, giving birth to a litter of 5 babes wasn’t going to be the most challenging thing about Charlotte’s journey to a better life.
As her babies grew and were being weaned off of nursing, it was time for Charlotte to be spayed herself. Never again would she take the risks of giving birth. With Nicolle’s years of experience in the cat world, she knew Charlotte required something different though.
She requested that during her spay surgery on October 4th, Charlotte be flank spayed.
Flank Spay. A flank spay is when a kitten has an incision made on her flank, half-way down the side from the spine after receiving general anesthesia. This type of spay procedure is usually done on cats that are lactating since the incision is out of the way of mammary glands.
The message was not communicated and Charlotte received the common abdominal spay incision on her belly. And her body was not happy about it. Believe me, either was Nicolle. But again, she will never give up on saving cats, even when it’s difficult.
Charlotte is having a rough weekend, so she has decided to take the day off and watch TV. After her spay she became engorged with milk causing massive swelling and pain. She is medicated and having fancy spa treatments of cabbage wraps to help her body reabsorb the fluids. Please keep this sweet lady in your thoughts. Being a cat mom is not easy which is why we must be diligent about spay and neuter!
Cabbage wraps aside, when Charlotte began urinating blood, straining to urinate and got a fever, Nicolle knew more was wrong than just the incorrect type of spay incision.
They booked an ultrasound after Charlotte passed a chunk of flesh in her urine. I’m so disturbed that I ever had to write that sentence but more so that a feline was experiencing that! And I met Charlotte in person. During every single one of her cabbage treatments, painful bathroom trips and fever induced naps, she was as sweet as could be.
She never once snapped at anyone coming near to visit or check on her kittens. I should know, I had to pill them all and she just casually watched over us, purring her apurroval.
All her kittens moved onto their forever homes quickly, which left her with some quiet down time to recover. She was put on medication to stop her continued swelling, and went in for an ultrasound on October 20th.
But then, on October 29th, she was rushed to the emergency vet after she began vomiting profusely. Thankfully, it was a reaction to the medications so she was taken off them. By the next day, Nicolle was happy to share a sweet, silly cat again with her now growing fan base.
Charlotte spent the next month at home with Nicolle, her husband Collin and clowder of other felines in their home.
And as much as they have tried to slowly introduce her to their 4 resident felines, Charlotte may need to be the solo queen in her castle for a bit. Especially since she just learned that life can be fun and began to play.
Nicolle took her for another vet visit just before Thanksgiving. Although her initial swelling decreased and she has “washboard abs” as we jealously refer to them, her issues did not disappear completely.
Charlotte’s abdominal lymph node swelling had spread. Happily, there no cancer cells found in cytology. But there is an area of her bladder wall that has thickened and she has high white and red blood cells counts.
Once Nicolle can be sure Charlotte’s medical issues are identified and a treatment plan is created, she will be looking for the perfect family to celebrate life with the loving cat. Please be sure to follow Chalky’s Cat Crusade on Facebook and Instagram to see her progress and all the other amazing rescues! I can’t wait to write her adoption update! <3
If you would like to donate to Chalky’s Cat Crusade for #GivingTuesday, you can be sure that any amount will go to saving the lives of Tampa’s street cats.
All photos courtesy of Nicolle Azar Thompson / Chalky’s Cat Crusade