After three years of trying to capture a semi-feral cat, rescuers finally got her, and she came with a little surprise in her belly.
Josie the calico had been living on a run-down property in Virginia for a few years and evaded trapping ever since rescuers came to work on a TNR (trap-neuter-return) project. Many cats wandered to the property or were abandoned there.
A team of TNR rescuers have helped spay/neuter and rehome countless cats and kittens from the area over the years, but some of them are elusive and too smart to trap.
"Josie has evaded capture for over three years. She is the Queen Bee of all queens. She is a tough street cat and has had several litter of kittens, most of which I have taken off the property," Debbie of Animal Allies, an all-volunteer rescue group, shared Love Meow.
One of those kittens, Jojo, was adopted by Debbie.
On a freezing cold day last month, Josie took shelter in a large dog crate that had blankets in it. The property owner saw her inside and sought the opportunity to catch her. She snuck up, closed the door and contacted the rescue.
After three years of trying, they finally got Josie and placed her in a foster home. But little did they know that she didn't arrive alone.
"We didn't know she was pregnant because cats don't usually give birth in the middle of winter here in Virginia," Debbie said.
Josie was extremely scared, cowering in a litter box. Debbie gave her space so she could settle in.
10 days later, the foster family woke up to the sweetest surprise — Josie gave birth to two beautiful kittens, an orange tabby (Jonah) and a mini calico (Jordi).
"She's semi-feral and very protective - doesn't like humans, so my job has been tougher than usual. She didn't want me near her kittens. I had to use food to bond with her."
"It was a great moment when I slowly reached in to pet her head. It was when she was eating so I knew that would be my only moment. She kept eating and ignored me petting her. So I do it every time she eats and it becomes routine," Debbie added.
As Josie grew more comfortable with her foster mom, she started letting her touch the kittens.
"Mommy Josie is getting a little more used to me with each passing day. She's a great mommy and keeps the kittens clean and well fed."
Watch Josie's rescue journey in this video:
"She has shown me many moments of complete and utter relaxation. But then without warning, she reverts to being guarded and I can see her eyes change," Debbie said.
"I hope that once her kittens are weaned, she will be accepting of human company. I'm hoping to socialize her so she can be adopted too."
The kittens are receiving incredible care from their mother in the comfort of their foster home, away from the unknown elements of the outdoors.
"Weather and temperatures on the East Coast have been cold. Her kittens would most likely perish if they were born outdoors. I am so thankful that she is here, inside of my home, safe and warm.
"It is uncommon for cats in my region to give birth in the winter. So, for her to end up pregnant and to have wandered into a crate during winter is truly a miracle."
The beautiful mama cat has started to play with toys, and is making progress every day.
She has given birth to many kittens over the last few years and is more than ready to retire from motherhood. "This is her last litter, and she won't ever have to go through it again," Debbie said.
"Josie looks very proud of her beautiful babies. And, rightfully so."
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