The cat-crazy Brooklyn couple were already playing host to half a dozen felines, but their hearts broke when they saw the kitten. The poor little thing was a stray on the cold streets of their neighborhood. The baby was so weak, and there was no-one to care for her apart from her equally struggling brother and sister. So the animal-loving couple made up their minds – they would try and save all three cats.
The couple was Will and Divya, and together they work at Flatbush Cats – a not-for-profit rescue group based in the heart of Brooklyn in New York City. Apparently, stray moggies are a massive problem on the streets of the Big Apple, and Flatbush Cats is dedicated to helping feral felines in the borough area it is named for. The organization achieves this through a policy of TNR – trap, neuter, and release.
This TNR tactic helps to keep the homeless kitty population from spreading, but Flatbush Cats goes a step further. It hopes to improve upon the “release” element – by releasing their foundling felines to good homes. The charity aims to source fur-ever homes for as many of its moggies as it can. Consequently, the strays don’t have to be returned to the streets from where they were rescued, and an animal lover gains a new furbaby.
Flatbush Cats has been working with the local community to help struggling strays in its neighborhood since January 2011. And it was approaching the organization’s seventh anniversary, when its volunteers Will and Divya made their discovery. They spotted a sick stray kitten in distress on a Flatbush street. It was not in their nature to just walk on by, but unfortunately it was not in the kitten’s capabilities to try and flee when the couple approached.
In fact, the girl cat they found on the sidewalk – who Will and Divya later named Mani – was in no condition to move, much less run for escape. Little Mani had somehow injured her eye, and her whole body was suffering from the debilitating effects of a resulting infection. But to the couple’s consternation, Mani was not the only kitten on the sidewalk in a sorry state.
Will and Divya saw that Mani had two siblings with her. Sadly, her brother was also in the grips of a similar infection, and a thick crust covered his eyes. The couple were homing six foster felines already, and as a result, they faced a difficult decision. Nevertheless, there was no way the animal lovers could do nothing with the kittens’ lives in danger.
The couple later recounted the events on the Flatbush Cats Instagram account on December 29, 2017. “It’s easy to find a reason to say we can’t take them in from a distance,” they wrote about the incident. “But when injured kittens are just sitting on the sidewalk all of that goes out the window.”
Since all the moggie carriers available to Flatbush Cats were already in use, the couple had little choice. Someone would have to carry the sickly Mani to a safe haven. According to a report from January 2018 on the feline fansite Love Meow, Will scooped up Mani in his arms, and he rushed her off the streets.
But he wasn’t in too much of a hurry to offer some words of comfort to the poorly pussy. “I whispered, ‘It’s going to be okay,’ into her ear over and over again as we walked,” Will told Love Meow. “Though I was terrified that she would get scared, and jump away.” Thankfully, she didn’t, but was happy to stay in his embrace for the whole trip.
However, Will and Divya were not content with just rescuing one cat; they wanted to keep the family together. As soon as Mani was happy somewhere safe and warm, they went back for her brother and sister, who they had already named Fetty and Storm. When the couple had observed their behavior before, Storm was being very protective of Fetty who was blinded due to the crusting over of his eyes. But when Will and Divya returned to the sidewalk, they could not see them anywhere.
Will explained the situation to Love Meow. “Storm was protecting her brother, Fetty, as he’d temporarily lost his vision from a really bad infection,” he said. “The morning I went to trap Fetty, I couldn’t find him.” The cat man hunted high and low in the Flatbush street. And his persistence paid off when he saw a clue to the pussy’s whereabouts. Will said, “I saw his guardian angel, Storm, tucked under a windowsill.”
“[Storm was] trying to stay dry from the rain,” he continued. “I knew [Fetty] must be close by, and sure enough he was hidden in the grass right below her.” Now that he had been located, Will and Divya knew they had to get Fetty off the street and get him some medical attention fast. The couple set up a humane capture trap for Fetty, but it appeared that sister Storm wasn’t going to take any chances in being left behind.
“Once I set up the trap, [Storm] marched in right alongside [Fetty], hitching a ride to the VIP life,” Will joked to Love Meow. Consequently, the Flatbush Cats volunteers’ register of moggie guests grew by two. But Will and Divya were determined to ensure that their temporary tenants were in tip-top condition. The first step towards this would have to be getting the kittens medical treatment.
Sadly, Mani and Fetty’s infections proved to be so serious that they required surgery and both kittens lost an eye each. In addition to this trauma, due to their life on the streets, the malnourished moggies were all in need of building up. Will and Divya provided the trio with kitten milk replacer and cat baby food, alongside plenty of love.
Because it wasn’t just that they needed building up in a physical sense, they needed help emotionally too. As the kittens were shown more affection, their personalities started to shine through. Mani became quite the purr machine whenever she was with her human rescuers, and treated life as an adventure. Meanwhile, Fetty was playful and loved to romp around with Storm, but still enjoyed having his tummy rubbed.
But it was never the Flatbush Cats plan to keep the kittens. Once the trio were fighting fit, two of the siblings were adopted into a fur-ever home together. “Storm and Fetty will never go back to the streets,” Will told Love Meow. “[We’re] so relieved they won’t be looking for warmth outside at night.”
But saying goodbye to the first of the feline family they found was more difficult for Will and Divya. Consequently, Mani remained with her rescuers. Since they first found her on the unforgiving streets of Flatbush, her cat-loving foster parents have not only helped Mani heal her physical injuries, but also the ones to her psyche.
“Mani is strong, sweet, wild and adventurous,” Will told Love Meow about the pussycat’s spirit. “Her earliest days on the streets will soon be a distant memory. [They will be] replaced by love, warmth, and all the luxuries a queen could ever want.” But despite the radical changes in Mani’s little life, Will revealed one thing that has stayed the same since she was first found in the street.
“I still hold her close, and whisper in her ear every day; we both find it quite calming,” Will confessed on Instagram. Flatbush Cats has worked hard over the last seven years to improve the lot of stray cats in Brooklyn. But the charity is not finished yet, and recognizes that there is still much more work to be done.
Nonetheless, Flatbush Cats attributes a lot of its success so far to the generous support it recieves from cat lovers. And Mani, Fetty and Storm also benefitted from this financial good will. “Just when we needed it most, caring strangers from around the world stepped in and saved these guys,” Will wrote gratefully on the charity’s Instagram account. “I will never, ever forget that. Thank you.”