Cats come in all shapes and sizes–from sleek, slinky thin cats to puffy chubby ones, In this story of a courageous firefighter who took in the kitty he rescued, a newly adopted fat cat surprised her new parent by being in a family way. According to a story featured on Yahoo News, it all started last January when Tom Haluscak was doing his job as a fireman as part of the Wheeling, West Virginia Fire Fighting Squad. He and a co-worker came across two stray cats while battling a structure fire. Seeing this pair of cats abandoned all alone, Tom took one cat and his firefighter friend took the other one. So far so good–one cat couldn’t be much trouble, could it?
He did notice the female cat, whom he named Whiskey, getting chubby; however, being not much of a cat person and new to cat behavior, he had no idea that the feline he adopted was expecting. Mr. Haluscak went with the most obvious reason for the weight gain and wondered if he was feeding her too much. Imagine his surprise when he took Whiskey for her first vet visit and found out she was expecting! Six kittens later Mr. Haluscak became pet carer for a family of seven! Although he is becoming quite a cat lover, seven is a lot for a person with a busy schedule to handle, so he is going to find a loving home for five of the six kittens, and leave one home with their mom. Two is plenty for a person who never expected to even adopt one cat. He told WTRF News that it was “very overwhelming”, yet he added that he wasn’t surprised considering his luck. He’s also getting quite an education about cat behavior by watching the mama care for her kittens. Tom Haluscak is not only a brave firefighter but a true classy gentleman. It’s comforting to know that our first responder heroes are not only courageous and roll with the unexpected, but have kind hearts as well. During his interview, he also said what many other pet parents say…” she rescued me.”.
It’s not that uncommon for a pet to be secretly expecting. Cats (and dogs for that matter) can’t announce that they are having babies. The signs can be easily missed. Often when a pet is taken into a secure home and fed regular meals they put on some much-needed weight. It’s great to see a cat eat their fill and thrive in a safe environment. Most of the time when a cat is taken to a shelter and readied for adoption, a vet or vet tech will check over the animal to ascertain its overall health. With found cats, they look for not only possible pregnancy but also a scar to see if a girl cat has been spayed or signs of neutering for boys.
Twenty years ago, In a neighborhood in Austin, Texas a thin, dirty grey stray cat who hung around a “no pets allowed” apartment complex was cared for by a group of neighbors who would take turns leaving food and water out for the kitty. This cat had a strange habit of slinking around people’s feet as they went to empty the trash or check the mail. It broke the resident’s hearts not being able to take her in because the apartment management company was quite strict concerning adherence to the “no pets” policy. Eventually, that strange behavior of wrapping itself around people’s legs led to that kitty being nicknamed “Underfoot”. It must have had human contact sometime in the past because instead of showing skittish, guarded behavior like some strays do, it was quite affectionate. Although the cat was getting fed daily, it was puffing out quite a bit and its breasts seemed to be hanging low to the ground. As none of the residents could take it in, they placed a call to the local animal rescue who came to get the quite pregnant feline. Before the rescue group left with the cat, they asked if it had a name. One of the neighbors shortened her given nickname of “Underfoot” to “UFO” which she said stood for “Unidentified Feline Outstanding!” It was a great day when UFO was taken to safety where she could have her kittens in a sheltered environment.
Animal Services and Rescue Organizations can only do so much. They answer as many calls as they can, as fast as they can. This past year has seen a drop in volunteering due to quarantining and stay-at-home orders who have prevented some from coming out like they used to help. First responders, including Animal Services, are stretched thin. Operating on skeleton crews and willing volunteers, they are always on call. One thing that the general public can do is always spay and neuter your pet as soon as possible. The cat population has exploded due to too many litters of kittens born with not enough people to care for them. Pet parents who want their female cat to experience “being a mama” must take responsibility for each kitten in the litter for life.
A fertile young adult cat can have up to four litters of kittens per year. It is not difficult for unwanted pregnancies to get out of control. Outside, stray cats, or indoor cats in multi-cat households have no access to birth control and can go back into heat while still nursing a recent litter! It is our responsibility as humans to do all we can to decrease the unwanted, homeless and feral cat population. Despite education programs and free spay-neuter clinics, some cats will be unexpectedly expecting. This can come as some surprise! Like Tom Haluscak, the brave firefighter you can accidentally take on responsibility for a whole cat family when you rescue one stray; however, he is a wonderful example of how to handle the unexpected situation.