Woman takes unusual approach to rescuing kittens

Woman takes unusual approach to rescuing kittens

KOB 4 talked with local rescuers Wednesday about a week-long effort to save a group of kittens.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – KOB 4 talked with local rescuers Wednesday about a week-long effort to save a group of kittens.

The group knows every rescue is different, and they all come with their own challenges, but they didn’t quite know what they were signing up for with this one.

To Chelsea Winter, they’re all good kitties. She fosters through Albuquerque shelters and multiple organizations, and traps through another nonprofit, Street Cat Hub.

“This time of year, there’s so many trapping jobs. I’m trapping almost every night of the week and there’s so many kittens,” said Winter. 

So last week’s call from a local feral cat feeder wasn’t out of the ordinary. The feeder was behind a row of businesses on Pan American Freeway.

“She was feeding the stray cats in this area, and she heard them crying in the sewer and was like, ‘Oh no! We have to get these kittens out of here,’” said Winter.

But that was easier said than done.

“She called animal control, she called the city, she called the fire department. And everyone just kind of told her to call a different agency, and they all gave her the runaround,” Winter said.

They knew rain was in the forecast and the socialization window for the kittens was closing fast. Winter stepped in with the help of Pitties and Kitties, a local rescue. 

“We tried to lift the grate on our own. We tried to like lower traps down there or lower carriers down there for them to go in, but it wasn’t working. We were like, we need this grate off,” said Winter.

If the city wouldn’t respond for the kittens, she thought they might respond for something else. 

“So I called 311, and I told them that I dropped my wallet down the grate. And they showed up in like 20 minutes, and then I was like, just kidding, it’s not a wallet, it’s kittens,” Winter said.

The city crew lifted the sewer grate and the rescuers dropped down the trap.

“We got the first kitten almost right away. And after that it was just kind of a process of one kitten, pull them out, reset the trap. Put it back down there, get the next kitten, reset the trap, pull it out,” said Winter.

Within two nights, they trapped the mama cat and her five kittens. Winter says they were skinny, dirty, and covered in fleas.

“They’ve been on antibiotics. Now they’ve had flea baths and now they look great. They look so much better. They’re going to be fine,” Winter said. “People always think like ‘Oh I want a calico,’ or I want you know a certain kind of cat. But she came from the sewer, and she’s gorgeous.”

The kittens are in foster homes and the mama is spayed and back in her chosen home.

“It’s impossible to foster all of the kittens that need foster. And so it’s like, well, how do we stop so many kittens going into the shelter, and trap neuter return or TNR. That’s really the way to stop it at the source,” said Winter. “I wish there was better infrastructure to care for the animals, especially the stray and free-roaming animals in our city, but at least we got them.”

Pitties and Kitties will take care of the kittens’ medical care, and they’ll be fixed before going up for adoption.

All of their names are after the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or characters in the movie “It” because they literally came from the sewer.