Monday, October 19, 2015

There could be family living under your porch

By: Madison Winters

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.— The population of stray cats that call the streets of Plattsburgh home is growing at an alarming rate. Residents are starting to take notice.

“It started out as paw prints on my car in the morning,” Jason Morrill said “and before i knew it, my wife had names for them.”

Morrill, a Plattsburgh resident, had a family of stray cats living in his garage.

Morrill noticed the first set of prints on his car at the end of August, two weeks later he found a cardboard box with blankets, water, food and a new mother with three kittens.

“After my wife saw the kittens it was a done deal,” Morrill said.

“I was looking for the garden hose and i found them lying in the corner on top on some old newspapers,” Kristen Morrill said.

Kristen Morrill found a box, some old blankets and looked online to figure out what food was “the best” for the new mother and her babies.

“She was hesitant to let me near her at first but I think after an hour or so she could tell that i was just trying to help them,” she said.

The Morrill’s took care of the family for five weeks.

“One day I came home from work and the box was empty,” she said “I just assumed that they found somewhere else.”

 The Morrill’s experience with stray cats didn’t end there. Within two weeks of finding the first liter, a second appeared.

“One family was one too many,” Morrill said. “I knew that it was time to take action.”

Morrill repaired the hole in the wall of his garage, the cats have since relocated.

Plattsburgh resident Carlene Keegan and her roommates recently took in a stray cat.

Keegan found 10 kittens under a porch of a Plattsburgh home.

“They were covered with fleas and had mud all over them,” she said.

Keegan and her roommates decided to rescue one of the kittens.

“We brought it to the shelter,” she said “they gave it medicine that would get rid of the fleas.”

Living in poor conditions and being exposed to harsh weather can have detrimental effects on the animals.

Dr. Jamie Miller is a veterinarian in upstate N.Y., knows all too well how cold winters can be in the area.

“Imagine walking across the snow in just a pair of socks,” Miller said. “Their paws are designed to withstand exposure to the elements but not for long periods of time.”

Stray cats reproduce at alarming rates, kittens born during the winter face extreme danger.

“With winter approaching this issue is a very sensitive topic for me to talk about,” Miller said.

Last winter a women came it Miller’s office with a box of kittens that she found living in her wood shed.

 According to Miller, the kittens were severely malnourished and infected with worms and fleas. The women who rescued the kittens didn’t want her cat to come in contact with the parasites, so she brought them to Miller for treatment.

“I treated all of the kittens for a two week period,” she said. “During that time is when I fell in love with Mittens.

Miller formed a strong bond with one of the kittens and decided to bring him home with her every night.

“The first few nights were a little scary, i felt like a new mother,” she said. ”I woke up probably once an hour just to make sure he was warm enough and breathing fine.”

Miller’s kitten took a turn for the worse by the end of their first week together.

“He was wheezing constantly and couldn’t handle taking nutrients,” she said “that’s the issue with these animals, because of the poor environment they are born into disease spreads like crazy.

The diseases that stray animal carry can easily be contracted by the pets of Plattsburgh residents.
John Bailey is an animal control officer in the Plattsburgh area.

“If I had a dollar for every time I’ve received a call about stray cats, i would be a millionaire”

Bailey said that he gets at least seven calls per week to report issues with stray cats.

“Usually they’re reporting cats that appear to be sick or if they appear to have an aggressive demeanor,” he said “But lately it’s been a lot of calls for removal of a cat or  litter of kittens.”

Bailey says that with the temperatures at night getting colder cats are finding their way into garages,sheds and even basements of houses.

“They’re very agile, they can squeeze through even the smallest opening,” He said, “They carry disease and toxins into your home and could spread it to your pets and family.”

Most of these animals aren’t vaccinated like a pet of a responsible pet owner would be. One scratch from one of these cats could have pretty serious side effects.

“The community just sees these cats as someone's neglected pet and by feeding them they are doing a good deed,” Bailey said. “If they knew how sick they could get from contact with these animals they would view the situation much differently.”


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