A stray cat had been living outside, relying on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter. On a cold morning this fall, a homeowner discovered that she had a litter of three kittens under a bush in their yard.
It was not a safe place for her to raise her babies, so the finder reached out for help. The cat and her trio were then brought into a local shelter awaiting foster care.
The shelter environment was too stressful for the mother to bear. She quickly became overly protective of her kittens, and would growl and hiss at staff.
“Mama Cherry (the cat) just didn’t understand they were trying to help her. When I saw that she needed to be in a foster home, I immediately volunteered,” Ellen Richter, an animal rescuer and a foster carer based in Las Vegas, shared with Love Meow.
“I’m experienced with unsocial mama cats, and just wanted her to have a safe place to raise her babies. When I picked her up, they told me to ‘be careful’ — not the response I expected.”
During their ride home, the hissing and growling intensified when Cherry attempted to break out of the carrier. “I took a few deep breaths and tried to stay calm. I kept telling myself, ‘everything is going to be okay.'”
Ellen had set up a quiet and comfortable space for the family of four. Once they arrived, she let Cherry explore her new surroundings and gave her all the space and time she needed to decompress.
“I’d check on them by slowly opening the door, and was promptly greeted by growls and hisses.” A couple of hours later, all the growling subsided, and another several hours passed, there was no more hissing.
Ellen got the slow-blink of approval from Cherry to enter the room, and she was surprised by what ensued.
All the unhappy, defensive sounds were replaced by delightful, blissful purrs.
“She started to rub my legs and purr. This was not an aggressive cat. She was just stressed from the whole ordeal of being moved around. She’s extremely loving and only wanted to be petted,” Ellen told Love Meow.
“She’d plop down next to her babies as if to show them off.”
Knowing her kittens were safe, Cherry’s demeanor completely changed. She began to seek affection and even curled up next to Ellen for pets. She kept an eye on her babies while hanging out with her foster mom.
“She’s extremely attentive to them, if they make a noise she is right by their side. Even sitting on my lap, she’s always looking over her shoulder to make sure her babies are okay,” Ellen shared.
“Cherry just wants to be cuddled and held, but her first priority is anxiously checking on the kittens. I know once the kittens are weaned, Mama Cherry will be able to relax and enjoy being a cat herself.”
The trio (Boom Chocolatta, Americone Dream, and Chunky Monkey named after ice cream flavors) are growing by leaps and bounds.
They are thriving with undivided attention from their doting momma and starting to play and explore.
Cherry is teaching the kittens how to eat from a plate and keeping them clean with mandatory baths. She never tires of reaching for her babies to give them a little pat of encouragement.
Cherry now comes up to Ellen for attention and snuggles, soaking up all the love she can get. “I’m just so grateful I was able to help Mama Cherry and her babies when they needed help the most.”