Make way for kittens!


MUCH-LOVED FAMILY MEMBER Penny and Louis with Summer, who was rescued when she was just a few weeks old.

Sandra Jordan

This is a message to the person who tried to drown some kittens in a Ballyhaunis river last May.
You mainly succeeded. Most of them died. But at the last minute, a woman passed by and managed to save one of them, a black-and-white female cat, probably about two weeks old. The rescuer fished out the half-dead kitten and brought her to Mayo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Mayo SPCA), a shelter for cats and dogs run by Ballyhaunis woman, Marian Biesty. There, Marion takes care of dozens – sometimes hundreds – of stray cats.
By sheer luck, at the shelter there was a rescued mother cat; she had given birth to three kittens, but one of them had died. Marian gave her the dying river kitten, and the foster mummy rose to the task, accepting the foundling as one of her own. Marian and her team called the rescued kitten Orphan Annie. Her survival was touch and go.
We heard about Annie on Marian’s Facebook feed. Our kind nephew, Matthew, used to work there as a volunteer, that’s how we’d heard of the place.
About a year ago – nothing to do with the shelter, by total chance – myself and my children found a dying kitten, also in Ballyhaunis, abandoned outside a pet farm. It was a Saturday, we bought kitten milk and fed him with a syringe around the clock. We called him Puskin.
On Sunday morning he was a death’s door. Tom Fabby, the vet, kindly came into his surgery to give the kitten a steroid injection. By Sunday evening the dying kitten had rallied and turfed our very fat Labrador, Molly, out of her basket. We loved Puskin so much. At nine months old, Puskin sadly died of a fatal cat virus. There was nothing the vet could do. The children, Penny, then eight, and Louis, three, were devastated. Weeks later, we saw Marian’s Facebook announcement about Orphan Annie,  contacted her with baited breath and asked if we could adopt the kitten. She said ‘Yes’!
We went to the shelter twice to meet Annie before we got her – a tiny scrap, lovingly brought up by the wonderful foster mummy. We spent ages looking for a name. Penny’s good friend, Seafra, suggested ‘Summer’, and that’s who she is now. Summer Wumkins, even.  
To the kitten drowner – it might irk you to know this, but that kitten has since been treated like royalty. The children insisted on getting her the softest, most luxurious cave basket – but she prefers to sleep on their beds. She’s fed the best. If we make a cheese sandwich with mayonaise (her very favourite thing) she gets at least a quarter. She adores fresh tuna!
We decided her birthday should be April 23 (we’ve had to guess) and we made her a wet cat food cake.  She’s been vaccinated and spayed. She spends most of her days playing, sleeping, eating the best food and purring.
She thoughtfully brings in the occasional rodent gift – sigh. She climbs trees in the garden and uses the good couch as a scratching post. When she glares at the dogs, they dutifully step out of their baskets to let her in. When we went to Kerry on holiday, the kids refused to go without Summer. She had a ball.
Kitten killer, why do people try to drown kittens and puppies when there are animal shelters  and people willing to take them?
If you have wild cats on your land, you can contact Marian or other animal-welfare groups and they will catch, spay and release the creatures. No more kittens.
Is that more hassle than drowning them? So do not kill kittens or puppies.

This article was written with the help of Penny, who is now nine. For more information on the wonderful work done by the Mayo SPCA, or to donate to the organisation, visit