High School Ag Students Caring For Cats In Need

 |  May 2nd 2011  |   3 Contributions


Karleigh Reeves examines one of 21 kittens being cared for by agri-science students at Ledyard High School. Photo by Sean D. Elliot

A couple of weeks ago, the staff at a high school agricultural department got a call for help.

Staff at Reliance House, a Norwich, Conn., nonprofit that works with people who have mental health problems, found a client living in a tent with nine cats, three of which were pregnant. Not knowing what else to do, the agency contacted the agri-science department at Ledyard, Conn., High School.

Agri-science teacher Devon O'Keefe said he would take the homeless cats, but only if they got their shots before they arrived.

Once the felines were thoroughly vetted and vaccinated, the 21 kittens and nine cats came into the care of students Karleigh Reeves and Lexy Monroe, who took on the job of raising the cats and kittens part of their senior service project.

And now the tiny kittens, their eyes barely open, squeak with joy when they realize Reeves and Monroe have come to visit.

During the 84-minute class period that the students spend with the cats each day, they take care of the cats' basic needs -- food, water, and litter box cleaning -- but more importantly, they hold and pet the tiny babies so they learn to enjoy human companionship.

"The cats were kind of skittish at first, but I try to calm them down before I try to clean their ears," Monroe said. "I try to socialize them as much as I can because we want to make sure everyone gets a nice cat when they're adopted."

As Monroe gently petted a kitten, Reeves was doing her best to make sure that Cupcake, one of the adult cats, didn't scatter her kitty litter all over the place.

"She doesn't even use it, she just gets in the box and kicks it everywhere," said Reeves.

Lexy Monroe nuzzles Mitzy May, one of nine adult cats and 21 kittens currently in the students' care. Photo by Sean D. Elliot

The problem was solved when somebody donated a covered litter box.

But the cats aren't the only residents of the agri-science department's animal lab. Their roommates are two calves, a group of newborn chinchillas, a six-day-old goat, and a troupe of ferrets.

"It's like a nursery in here," O'Keefe joked. "We've never had this influx of animals before. This is something out of the ordinary."

"Given the conditions the cats came from, they are all in good health and are disease-free," she said. They've been tested for feline AIDS, leukemia, and heartworm, and have come up negative. Those that are old enough have also been given rabies shots.

In about a month, the kittens will be old enough to live on their own and will be put up for adoption, along with eight of the adult cats.

Mitzy May, the other adult, is pregnant and expected to give birth soon. Once her kittens are weaned and all parties are spayed or neutered, those cats too will be candidates for new, safe homes.

[Source: The Day]

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