Left to right: Ayla, Tigger and Sterling
Written by Sonia Büttgen, Foster Mom for Capetonians Against Animal Abuse
Professional photography by elysian
The three feral kittens were in a very bad state – starving hungry, sick, and incredibly weak. Shortly after being trapped, one of the kittens vomited up a whole cockroach, which shows how desperately hungry they must’ve been.
It was early March 2021. Due to lockdown, I, as their foster mom, had the time to spend with them and give them around-the-clock attention.
They wobbled and fell over
The kittens’ immune systems were seriously compromised. They were incredibly weak and couldn’t walk; they wobbled and fell over when they tried. We just don’t know what was wrong with them. The vet thought it could have been neurological, as their little bodies shook constantly, and when they tried to move, they had absolutely no coordination.
They’d caught a tummy bug and snuffles. It was heart-breaking to see how they struggled to breathe. All three kittens were close to death.
I had to force-feed them and give them water through a syringe as they refused to eat or drink on their own. When they got a bit stronger, they tried to drag themselves to their litter box, sometimes never making it in time before relieving themselves; I had to constantly assist them and clean them up. And all this while they were feral kittens – they were petrified of human contact.
Better every day
Slowly they got better and tamer. They still had their wobbly walk. The cutest thing was when they started to play and groom themselves and each other. It was the best feeling ever to see them getting healthy and strong – they were happy and never had a care in the world.
All three kittens found the most wonderful homes – special homes, where their bodies continued to get stronger and where they felt loved and safe to be playful little kittens. Sterling was adopted by Alison Cagni, Tigger was adopted by Carla Robin, and Ayla was adopted by Monique Grobler.
Ally, Sterling’s new owner, shares…
I adopted Sterling a few months ago, and he was a shy cat that could barely walk and crawled instead. He was so shy and would run and hide whenever anyone came near him.
After a few weeks, he drastically improved. The more we played with him, the better he started walking and the more confident he became.
Now, a few months later, he’s walking and running like a normal cat. He’s so loving and clingy. He sleeps right against me every night and follows me everywhere I go. I couldn’t ask for a more affectionate cat. And what a bonus that he’s so beautiful and gentle!
I encourage anyone who’s looking to adopt a cat or kitten to consider giving an adult cat a home or adopting a special needs cat. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching them grow and improve and become beautiful, loving cats.
Carla, Tigger’s new owner, shares…
I read about the three feral kittens on Facebook and saw their pictures, and my partner and I were instantly elated and eager to meet them. We set up an appointment with Sonia that very weekend and instantly fell in love with our Tigger, as he’s now named.
When we got him, the poor thing was extremely frightened of us and the new home. In the very beginning, he’d shiver out of fear when we picked him up or hide in a corner and hiss at us when we went near him.
Out of the three kittens, Tigger was definitely the shyest of them all. Going to a new home with no other cats and with his siblings no longer around was a big adjustment for him. We went through a lengthy process to get him used to us and build up his confidence through showing him that we wouldn’t hurt him. With time, he adapted to his surroundings, his walking and running improved, and slowly but surely, he became less scared of us.
Today, Tigger is a happy, confident little boy who loves to explore the garden and chase after birds, no longer hampered by his previous disability. He’s become best friends with one of our dogs, and more so with me. Tigger always finds a spot to lie down and nap close to where I’m working. The once-timid quiet kitty is now a very vocal boy, always letting you know what he wants. Whenever I come back from a day away and Tigger hears me downstairs, I can hear him running to the steps on his way to come greet me. He’s an entirely new cat.
We’re very grateful that we got to go on this journey with him – it’s been so rewarding.
Monique, Ayla’s new owner, shares…
Ayla, initially named Silver, was about six months old when I adopted her. When I first brought her home, she was extremely shy and just hid away under the bed. Every day I spent a lot of time just sitting on the ground with her, talking, giving treats, and playing.
After a month, she started crawling out and sat staring at me from a distance, wanting to know what I was doing. Then she started coming out to play and, of course, for her food.
Fast forward a few months later and Ayla’s completely blossomed into the most loving attention-seeking kitten. She’s always right by me, whether it’s sleeping stretched out on the bed beside me or curled up in front of my laptop (while I try to work around her) or running to me and falling on my feet to say “hi” after I’ve been out. She’s also extremely vocal, letting you know she wants to play, cuddle or when it’s snack time, and she gets extreme “zoomies” – that’s just the cutest thing ever as she’s so comfortable in her own space. She’s a very curious kitten and is always in the mood for a treat.
People are often scared to adopt feral cats, but in all honesty, it was the BEST choice I could ever make. Ayla is my little shadow and loves me as much as I love her. The thing about adopting a cat is that they know you saved them and just want the best for them; with time, they’ll trust you. You won’t believe how beautiful their personality becomes.
A note from Sura Baird of Capetonians Against Animal Abuse…
We were thrilled for the homing of these three little kittens and hope it will encourage readers to adopt. However, please do think carefully before adopting a pet; they’re a lifetime of commitment.
And if, for some reason, you’re no longer able to take care of your pet, please surrender them to a reputable welfare or ask for help for responsible rehoming.