Some of the kittens rescued from an uninhabited Bowdoin home will be made available for adoption from the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick on Thursday.
Since May 10, more than 15 cats and kittens have been caught at the seemingly ransacked home strewn with garbage, feces and parasites on West Burrough Road, and placed in the shelter’s care, Coastal Humane Society Executive Director Karen Stimpson said. Three of those kittens, just a week and a half old, according to Stimpson, were found mysteriously placed in a washing machine. One has since died, having been away from its mother and uncared for for too long, she said.
“But here’s the good news,” Stimpson said, an 8-week-old, “very friendly” kitten named Onyx will be ready to adopt on Thursday, as well as another, slightly less personable kitten.
Dozens of people have called the Coastal Humane Society to put their names on a list of potential adoptive families, Stimpson said, and the shelter has received about $250 in donations since the cats were rescued and their story first made public a week ago.
Five other kittens rescued from the home have been placed with temporary foster families and will be ready to adopt in the coming weeks, although the foster families will have the option to adopt the kittens themselves, Stimpson said. If the foster families do not claim them, the two surviving washing machine kittens will be ready for adoption in about six weeks; another three kittens will be ready in three weeks.
However, not all the rescued cats will make for great house pets, she said. The older cats taken from the home are at “varying degrees of feralness,” Stimpson said. “The ones that came in last week, it’s hard to tell if they’re feral, semi-feral, or just scared domestic cats. They’re very skittish.”
Staff at the shelter need more time to observe the cats before deciding what kind of home is appropriate for them. Stimpson guessed that many of the cats knew the Bowdoin home’s former resident, an ill, elderly man who was placed in hospice care in late April, as a food source rather than as a friend, and probably did not get close enough to touch.
Experts now recommend that feral and semi-feral cats not suited for life as house pets be trapped, spayed or neutered and treated for other medical conditions, and released back where they were found, Stimpson said.
“That’s the most humane way,” Stimpson said.
Life in an animal shelter is stressful for the wildest ones, which don’t get along well with people or each other, she said, and the longer ferals are kept in a cage, the more likely they are to become ill.
“Many of these cats will probably fall into that category. In an ideal world, we would try to work with the community to identify a person to become a cat caretaker,” who would feed and watch over the re-released feral cat colony, Stimpson said. The shelter may not be able to follow that ideal-world procedure, she said, due in part to the attention the rescued cats have received. Releasing them back into the wild “probably wouldn’t fly with the public,” she said.
Instead, the shelter will probably try to find the older cats barnyard homes, Stimpson said. When things calm down at the shelter, which is currently also caring for 46 puppies sent by inundated animal shelters in storm-wracked communities down South, they will begin to promote the older cats more heavily, she said. If anyone is interested in “really great mousers” for their barns, there will likely be some available from the group, Stimpson said.