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Bronx Tails Cat Rescue. by Gianna Papantoniou

December 02, 2021

During the summer of 2021, I was given the opportunity to intern at a cat rescue in my area called Bronx Tails Cat Rescue. They are a non-profit organization that mainly works with the donations they are given. They help get medical treatment for sick cats and find homes for adoptable cats in the Bronx and Harlem. They also do trap-neuter-release on feral cats as well. I was able to work in person and hands on with cats, both feral and non-feral, and observe their behaviors. In my time there I was also taught about the health of cats and proper ways to take care of them and trap them.

In my first few days there, I learned the basics of how to care of the cats. There was a lot that went into it like the specific amount of food to give them and which medications each cat got. I would clean out cages, feed the cats, and help to distribute the medications to them. Originally, I was just helping with these tasks, but eventually I was able to do them myself. I was actually able to work hands on and give a cat his medication directly. He was a really good sport about it considering I had never worked with him before.

I was also able to help with more intricate things like hydrating a few severely dehydrated cats using an IV. I usually held the bag while someone else more experienced actually put the IV into the cat, but nevertheless I learned a lot during these moments. I even got to experience a feral mother and her kittens. They were brought in one morning and needed some of the general medications like deworming and flea medicines. I was able to observe the entire ordeal and watch the behaviors of the kittens and the mother.

I learned a lot about the disease FIV, or feline immunodeficiency virus, and how it can be contracted. I also got to work with a kitten who tested positive for the virus when she first came to the rescue. Kittens can get false positives on their FIV tests so they can get tested again later on to see if they’re actually positive. It turns out that she wasn’t positive when she was tested again and was able to be put up for adoption.

I even got the opportunity to work on training a cat! I was training him to give me his paw for a treat. In my short time there, he was really getting the hang of it. I would hold the treat up with one hand with the clicker and hold the other hand out for him. He would try to reach up for the treat immediately, but eventually he started to understand the idea of what was happening. He would put his paw in my hand, and I would give him the treat and click the clicker. I would do this a few times, but not too many because I didn’t want him getting sick.

This was an amazing and educational experience that I know will help me as I go farther into my environmental science path. Being someone who is extremely interested in animal behavior, and animals in general, this really set in stone that I want to work with them in the future.