NEW ORLEANS — For years people who rescue unwanted animals see the problems of overpopulation from the lack of spaying and neutering.
But the COVID-19 crisis is making the problem worse.
And after I had some personal encounters with abandoned animals I found out why.
Two years ago, I heard the cries of an abandoned kitten. He was in one of the drainage holes in the sound wall along I-10. After a call to the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter and Michelle Ingram Director of Zeus’ Rescue on Napoleon Avenue. Toby was saved.
But Thursday it happened again. Cries of a tuxedo kitten that had crawled from the interstate into a sound wall hole to get away from the traffic. I turned to Ingram again.
"We see an increase at the beginning of kitten season every year of people tossing unwanted kittens on the interstate, and really the only way out is through these little bitty drainage holes," Ingram said.
But Michelle says there’s a bigger story than these two kitten rescues because of the coronavirus.
"The American Veterinary Association cancelled all elective surgeries and spay, neuter of cats and dogs being one, during the beginning of the COVID crisis. So all of these feral cats have just been out there not being trapped, neutered, and released and making babies," said Ingram.
Her shelters are inundated with cats and kittens, while a couple of dozen are in temporary foster homes being socialized.
"We are getting them by the box full. People saying, 'Oh, I found this cat in my garage. Just gave birth to these kittens. Can you please help?' We’re getting them dumped in our yard overnight. People calling, begging," she said.
The tuxedo kitten is now named Mac since he was found near a billboard for the Womac law firm. He was hissing in fear, filthy with fleas, hungry and severely dehydrated. He got a bath, vaccines, dewormed, microchipped, and he ate and drank until his heart was content. Then he spent the night snuggled in the hoodie of Michelle’s daughter.
Friday, the very friendly, four-month-old was ready for adoption.
"He cuddled up with my dog and my cats. He’s a great, all-around cat. Just amazing."
Oh, and whatever happened to Toby? Well, he’s a happy and healthy two-year-old, in a forever home, proving the adage that one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure.
And little Mac hopes he’ll have that same chance.
If you’d like to adopt any of the cats from Zeus' Rescue, fill out the application at
Or call 504-309-2144
And both the Louisiana SPCA and Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter are again doing spay and neuter procedures. They can help you find free or low-cost options.