Remember when you were a kid and there was that one mom (it might have been yours) who fed and looked after all the kids in the neighborhood?
In the cat world, in Avondale Estates, that super-mom is a homeless 2-year-old Tortoiseshell named Patra.
Patra was living on the streets trying to keep her own four kittens safe when she was rescued by LifeLine Animal Project. Due to the rigors of street life and the vulnerability of kittens who are born homeless, only two of her babies, named Rita and Beanie by rescuers, survived.
Some mother cats will shun kittens that are not their own, some will welcome and adopt them.
Soon after losing two of her own, Patra adopted three very needy weeks-old kittens that came into LifeLine abandoned and hungry.
At such a tender young age and having already been through so much it's hard to tell if these kittens will survive. LifeLine staff and vets are hoping for the best and Patra appears to be doing her darnedest to make sure they do.
First she adopted 3-week old Mona. She allowed Mona to nurse and protected her as she slept.
Then she adopted Echo, who is 4 weeks old and was born without eyes. Patra gently looks after the tiny blind kitten and allows her to nurse right along with Beanie, Rita and Mona.
But she wasn't done. Later she welcomed Jamaica, another month-old kitten into her feline family.
Although kittens, by nature, can be unruly, Patra's patience never wavers.
"She feeds them and cleans them," says Mickie Blair, who serves as LifeLine's Cat Rehabilitation Director. "She's a very good momma."
Kittens can be bottle-fed, and when they found alone, abandoned or are sick or injured, this is often necessary. However, mother's milk offers them their best chance for survival.
Patra is a very sweet and easygoing cat, despite the difficulties of her former life as a stray and being shot at by someone with a BB gun. When she was rescued LifeLine vets found a BB embedded behind one ear. It poses no health problems for her but speaks to her time on the mean streets.
Although some people will say a mother's work is never done, Patra's soon will be. As soon as the kittens are big enough and healthy enough to be on their own they will be up for adoption and she will be too.
If you want to make one or more of the cats from this remarkable feline family part of your own family, please contact mblair@LifeLineAnimal.org.
All pets in LifeLine's no-kill Dog House and Kitty Motel are current on vaccinations, and will be spayed or neutered and microchipped prior to adoption.
LifeLine currently cares for more than 60 homeless cats and they are always looking for volunteers willing to give a few hours of their time to help the cats and kittens they've rescued. If you want to volunteer, please contact volunteer@LifeLineAnimal.org.