This is the story of Littlefoot, a big, black-and-white, three-legged feral town cat that was found stuck in a fence in a Rawlins backyard about a year ago, and how he got another chance.
Littlefoot's prospects weren't good when he was found by a local Realtor. He had a badly injured and infected foot and was severely dehydrated, said Margaret Quintrall, president of Pet Partners of Carbon County.
"He had chewed off his toes trying to free himself from the fence," Quintrall told Cowboy State Daily. "Our local shelter (Rawlins Animal Shelter) called us and asked for help. They didn't have enough money for the vet bills, so we took him in."
Had To Amputate
Initially, the veterinarian removed the dead skin around the wound on Littlefoot's leg but he wasn't healing, so they decided to amputate the back leg.
Once the leg was gone, the infection went away and Littlefoot's temperament got better, she said.
The amputation of Littlefoot's leg cost about $700, Quintrall said.
He's still a bit skittish and prefers women to men, said Joie Merendino, who has cared for Littlefoot since the surgery. Merendino is the trap and release director for Pet Partners.
She said Littlefoot's mousing abilities are uncertain. She has 11 cats in her house, and mice don't seem to like those odds.
"I want to make sure he goes to a good home," Merendino said. "We've been through so much together and he's special to me."
She added that trap-and-release of feral cats has been in effect for about 10 years in Rawlins. The city takes in about 250 strays each year, and after they are neutered or spayed and vaccinated, many go to Carbon County ranches.
They also cooperate with the Rawlins Rochelle Animal Shelter, which handles stray dogs and tame cats.
"Our main goal is to lower the population of unwanted cats and dogs, feral or not," Merendino said.
Pet Partners of Carbon County has taken in nearly 200 feral cats so far this year and have 57 socialized kittens that will be offered for adoption soon.
Pet Partners is a trap-and-release facility. Trap-and-release shelters have proven effective for cities with burdensome feral cat populations.
When feral cats are captured, they get neutered, vaccinated and released. This method is believed to be a better way to reduce feral cat populations because it interrupts breeding cycles and reduces the population over time.
Trap-and-release programs are in use in several Wyoming towns. Casper city officials recently authorized a trap-and-release feral cat program. Jackson, Cheyenne, Riverton and Guernsey all run similar programs.
The volunteer shelter serves all of Carbon County, runs on mostly donations and a $10,000 yearly payout from the city of Rawlins. The shelter has nine volunteers who clean and help socialize the kittens for adoption. It has seven foster homes that take in stray cats.
Quintrall said they put on gloves, catch the kittens, wrap them in a blanket so they can't scratch and then treat their eyes and respiratory systems for infections.
They pet and talk to the kittens until they quit hissing and trying to bite. Once they become gentle they can be adopted out.
Pet Partners of Carbon County can be reached at 307-321-4024.