Carolyn Niehaus: There is no reason to have another Mama Cat story |

Carolyn Niehaus: There is no reason to have another Mama Cat story

Other Voices
Carolyn Niehaus

On Saturday, I put on my grave digging hat, got the shovel, pick and rock bar. With Loshi lying respectfully to the side and Punkin irreverently searching for lizards to chase up trees, I began the all too familiar task of creating the final resting place for yet another animal that died far too young.

A few weeks ago, the priority on my task list was to finalize AnimalSave’s plan to reopen the thrift store and book store. These two critical revenue sources closed on March 21, as a result of state and county mandates to close non-essential businesses to protect the community from COVID-19.

The day quickly went sideways when I had a call from a person wanting guidance on how to get three-week old kittens to nurse from a bottle.

After some conversation, the story began to unfold. A young cat had her second litter. She was experiencing health issues, including unwillingness to eat and resulting weakness. This prevented her from being able nurse her six kittens. She apparently had experienced difficulties with the first litter. The person had gone to the effort of getting formula and a bottle, but could not get the kittens to nurse.

As those who have set the alarm for 4 a.m. to nurse bottle babies that must be fed every three to four hours know, this does not come naturally to kittens used to the warmth and comfort of their mother. The cold and unnatural nipple and the taste and texture of milk replacer, does not compare. It takes hours of patient persistence to get kittens to accept this artificial process. Some never do.

Support Local Journalism

The mama cat’s person worked, had children and did not have the time or experience to take care of the very ill mother cat and needy kittens. One kitten had already died. I offered that AnimalSave could take the kittens and put them in foster care to be bottle fed and cared for until old enough to be adopted. I also indicated my concern that the mother cat should receive immediate veterinary care. That was not an option.

That afternoon, the owner brought the mama cat and her five remaining kittens to AnimalSave, where staff and volunteers immediately went into rescue mode. The kittens were evaluated and determined to be in fairly good shape. They were given thermal support and formula while waiting for the Browns to arrive to take them into their home to provide the care they needed.

“Mama Cat” was in bad shape. She was extremely thin and had a temperature of 106.3. She could not stand and had soiled herself in the carrier. AnimalSave’s veterinary staff gave fluids and antibiotics. I took her home and was encouraged when she licked a small amount of baby food from my finger. It was my hope that she would become hydrated with the fluid therapy, her fever would break with the antibiotics, she would begin to eat, recover her strength and we would be able to return the babies to her.

Sadly, that did not happen. She continued to decline. Three days after coming into our care, while lying on my bed, wrapped in a soft blanket, listening to Pachelbel’s beautiful Canon in D Major; Mama Cat crossed the Rainbow Bridge to find beauty and peace.

Her tiny body now rests at the Stillpoint next to Kevel’s beloved Rory, near Cherie’s vibrant bamboo, alongside many other cats and dogs — some that have led happy and long lives and others that died too soon.

I did not know this cat, did not raise her; but fell in love with her sweet grace and my heart is breaking. My heart breaks for her short life, for her kittens that will grow up without her, for the generous fosters who care for them. And, for the certainty that this will not be the last Mama Cat story.

I have a hard time asking for help. But, there are two things I would like to ask of you:

1. Please take advantage of the amazing spay/neuter services we have in our community. AnimalSave’s low-cost spay/neuter clinic has continued to operate during these difficult times to make sure the progress made over the past 12 years is not set back. For those unable to afford our extremely low fees, Joanne Castles and Sammie’s Friends have provided “Cat Crises” vouchers that will cover the entire cost to spay or neuter your cat. There is no reason to have another Mama Cat story.

2. As with other nonprofit organizations, AnimalSave has suffered significant revenue losses from the closure of its thrift store and bookstore and has seen reductions in private donations as folks worry about their own financial reserves and the economy. As you are able, please consider donating to AnimalSave so we can continue to rescue mama cats and their kittens and continue to provide essential spay/neuter services that reduce the number of homeless animals in our community. AnimalSave rescues and finds homes for hundreds of animals each year and spays and neuters over 1,500 dogs, cats and rabbits each year — close to 20,000 since 2008.

AnimalSave has provided an invaluable service to this community since 1973. With your help we will continue for many years to come. For more information about AnimalSave, the low-cost spay/neuter clinic, animals available for adoption and ways to donate, visit, contact me at or call 530-271-7071, ext. 201.

AnimalSave’s Thrift and Treasures benefit store and the Book Nook has now reopened and we are currently taking donations. Thank you for all you do for the animals and take good care of yourself and your family.

Carolyn Niehaus is the executive director of AnimalSave in Grass Valley.

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Connect with needs and opportunities from

Get immediate access to organizations and people in our area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User