When animal rescuers received a call about some tiny kittens and their mom that had been left out in the street, they rushed to the animals’ aid. And when they got there, they found the momma cat keeping her babies warm. However, the rescue team later realized that they’d made a big mistake.
The Homeless Animal Adoption League (HAAL) is a pet rehoming organization based in Clifton, New Jersey. The league was founded in 1989 by some East Orange, New Jersey, residents after they grew worried about their local pound’s conditions.
And after the East Orange pound closed in 1995, HAAL began finding homes for the shelter’s leftover cats. The organization subsequently began taking in abused, homeless and abandoned felines from its base in Bloomfield, NJ.
Since then, HAAL has spent more than 20 years finding countless cats their forever families. On top of rehoming animals, the organization also vaccinates, spays and neuters the creatures in its care and additionally tests them for feline AIDS.
But while HAAL’s work is undoubtedly rewarding, it can be testing too. And the rescue organization attended to a particularly worrying call in December 2016 when it learned of a group of kittens that had been abandoned by the side of the road.
Relaying the details of the rescue, a December 2016 post on HAAL’s Facebook page revealed, “When you get a call saying that kittens are in a laundry basket on a curb, your heart sinks. The call sounded legit and the caller seemed truly concerned.”
But because the good Samaritan who’d reported the kittens didn’t drive, he was in a bit of a panic. The man in question had been on his way home when he had spotted the fur babies and had felt compelled to help. And that’s why he had called HAAL.
According to the caller, it appeared the kittens had been dumped. Luckily, though, their mom was present, which meant they could keep warm. Without her there, there was a risk that the young animals could die of hypothermia as temperatures started to drop.
To make matters worse, it had just begun to rain. And since the stranger who alerted HAAL to the kittens’ plight felt uncomfortable lifting them up and moving them, time was of the essence. As a result, HAAL staff rushed to the scene so that they could assist.
Revealing what happened next, the HAAL Facebook post read, “So off we went to see if we could find these frightened babies. With GPS in hand, we quickly found the street. Once we parked, we started walking, and in seconds, we saw a recycling container on the curb.”
Inside the container, staff found four kittens no older than five weeks old, all cuddled close to their mom for warmth. And according to the social media post, momma cat appeared to be glad to see the rescuers. “Mom was quiet and looked up as if to say, ‘Thank God you found us,’” it explained.
HAAL personnel then covered the cats’ container with a blanket and ferried them away to the rehoming center. Upon the animals’ arrival at the facility, however, a closer inspection of the basket revealed that staff members had miscounted before. And fortunately every one of them was well, despite their ordeal.
Recalling the state the little kittens were in, the HAAL Facebook post read, “They looked good; [they had] clear eyes and noses and were eating on their own. We moved some cats around and squeezed them in – seven more to add to our family.”
The next day, staff at HAAL turned their attention to checking over the kittens’ mom. And it was then that they got a big surprise. You see, it turned out that she wasn’t a mother at all; rather, the animal was actually a male.
Writing on Facebook, HAAL later explained, “He could have been the dad or a big brother from another litter, but to those little kittens he was their protector and surrogate mom. He groomed them and gently played with each one.”
The staff at HAAL therefore decided the cat needed a name fitting of his surrogate status. As a result, they called him Mrs. Doubtfire after the famous nanny from the 1993 film of the same name. Now all they had to do was find names for the six kittens in his care.
However, that wasn’t the end of Mrs. Doubtfire’s story. Indeed, soon after he arrived at the center, HAAL staff noticed that his breathing was irregular. He was later diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia, meaning his intestines and stomach had shifted into his chest cavity.
This condition usually occurs in cats that have suffered major traumas such as being hit by a car or physical abuse; it seemed likely, then, that Mrs. Doubtfire had suffered considerably in the past. And the cat now needed up to $8,000 worth of surgery to put his organs right. The operation was itself immensely risky, however.
As a result, those caring for Mrs. Doubtfire at HAAL decided against putting the cat under the knife. That’s due to the fact that a vet gave the cat a 65 percent chance of surviving the procedure. And his carers felt the odds weren’t good enough; since the feline father figure was comfortable and could still have a long life, they decided to leave him be.
And, thankfully, HAAL’s risk paid off. After looking after his six kittens, Mrs. Doubtfire finally found a forever family to care for the deserving daddy. His hernia is under control for now as well – and judging by images from his new home, he appears even happier than ever.