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Kittens break in to prison, overpower staff with cuteness

2014-01-14T15:00:00Z 2014-04-01T12:29:13Z Kittens break in to prison, overpower staff with cutenessMeg Hagerty -- mhagerty@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
January 14, 2014 3:00 pm  • 

FORT ANN -- Great Meadow Correctional Facility has become home to four unlikely inmates. Some might call them cute and cuddly.

A litter of tan kittens found its way into the bowels of the prison a few months ago and since then, into the hearts of some of the staff and inmates.

Employees have chipped in for food and the Granville Veterinary Clinic has offered medical services at low cost. The state has helped provide food and flea and tick medicine when the kitten funds fall short, according to Jeffrey Lindstrand, deputy superintendent of administration.

The kittens were in tough shape when they were discovered. They had to be bathed in Ivory soap to get rid of “hundreds” of fleas, and dewormed. They were fed milk through baby bottles.

Their primary caretaker, head electrician Bruce Porter, comes in about an hour before his shift begins each day to tend to them.

“I’ve got a soft heart for any sort of animal. I don’t mind helping them out a bit,” he said.

The kittens are named for the prison and the surrounding area. There is Doc (for the Dept. of Correctional Services), Comstock (for the location of the prison), Annie (for Fort Ann) and Meadow (for Great Meadow).

They live in the building maintenance area on the bottom floor in a “kitty condo” an inmate fashioned from scrap wood and chicken wire. The 12-foot by 3-foot cage has adjoining living and bathroom quarters, comfy spots to curl up in and toys to while away the hours.

At night, the “condo” door is left open for the kittens to roam freely around the huge room.

Porter has gotten to know their personalities and talks about them like they’re children. He seems partial to Meadow, who took an instant liking to him when she wrapped herself around his legs.

On weekends when many employees are off, an inmate nicknamed the “cat whisperer” helps care for them. He speaks Spanish and gets them to follow directions, according to Porter.

“He loves them to death,” he said.

This is not the first time stray cats have made Great Meadow their home. Lindstrand said over the years many had wandered in from a nearby farm outside the prison walls.

Fewer felines meander about since the farm closed but Great Meadow now follows the guidelines of the Trap, Neuter and Release program, promoted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to help stabilize the cat population.

TNR has been used successfully at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, among others, to help with the feral cat problem.

“You try and catch the cats, then you take them to a vet and have them treated and make sure everything’s OK with them and return them back to their area, with the exception of the kittens, where if you can get a suitable adoption we then adopt them out,” Lindstrand said. “There’s no extermination of them, no getting rid of them. If one were so sick that the vet said they had to be put down, that would be done, but we haven’t run into that at all.”

About 10 cats have been adopted in the past couple of years by employees and members of their extended families. Max, the first adoptee, went to the father of a corrections officer. He was pictured on the front of the family’s Christmas card in December, holed up in a dryer.

The current group of kittens won’t be released outdoors until spring, but Lindstrand is hoping they’ll all find good homes among the staff before then. Porter is doing what he can to talk up adoption among his co-workers, especially women.

Lindstrand said if someone not associated with the prison wishes to adopt, the person could call his office in the spring to inquire if there are any kittens left.

Be advised, though, Meadow will probably not be available. Porter would like very much to take her home with him.

“I’ll break down and do it,” he said with a chuckle.

In the meantime, Lindstrand said the kittens are providing some necessary TLC to those staff members who come down for a visit, including a few who are going through their own “highs and lows.”

“Some of the people tend to go over and pet the cats a little longer to help them get through it,” he said. “A kitten’s tough to ignore.”

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. Loves All Animals
    Report Abuse
    Loves All Animals - January 31, 2014 5:44 am
    Please do not "release" these kittens! They are tame, used to being taken care of, and would not do well if you just abandon them to whatever fate might befall them, and it would not be a good fate. It would be cruel to just "turn them loose" and let them starve, get parasites, and lack loving care.
  2. Feral Advocate
    Report Abuse
    Feral Advocate - January 28, 2014 10:28 pm
    if you want to bring humanity back to a human this is a great path to take. I believe all prisons should engage in programs with local rescues allowing inmates to work and care for animals in the prisons. There are many programs like this and I understand they are very successful......win win you know
  3. Polar Sun
    Report Abuse
    Polar Sun - January 17, 2014 2:02 am
    Thank you for such a wonderful, uplifting article. I am so impressed with the humanity of the staff and prisoners at this correctional facility when it came to caring for these helpless kittens. I can just visualize them full of fleas, worm ridden, and gaunt from hunger, being nursed back to health by these caring men. My husband and I adopted two feral kittens who had been trapped and neutered, but were not able to be returned to the wild as they were just tiny infants when they were trapped. They had been abandoned by their mothers and their siblings were dead (from two different litters), so they had no social skills. We have had them for over a year now. The male kitten has adapted well to humans, but the female is taking a little longer. It sounds like your little kittens are doing just fine. I'm sure it's due to all the love and attention they have had. Thanks everyone who has worked toward a happy ending for these kitties. A big thank you to the veterinarian too!
  4. Polar Sun
    Report Abuse
    Polar Sun - January 17, 2014 1:58 am
    Thank you for such a wonderful, uplifting article. I am so impressed with the humanity of the staff and prisoners at this correctional facility when it came to caring for these helpless kittens. I can just visualize them full of fleas, worm ridden, and gaunt from hunger, being nursed back to health by these caring men. My husband and I adopted two feral kittens who had been trapped and neutered, but were not able to be returned to the wild as they were just tiny infants when they were trapped. They had been abandoned by their mothers and their siblings were dead (from two different litters), so they had no social skills. We have had them for over a year now. The male kitten has adapted well to humans, but the female is taking a little longer. It sounds like your little kittens are doing just fine. I'm sure it's due to all the love and attention they have had. Thanks everyone who has worked toward a happy ending for these kitties. A big thank you to the veterinarian too!
  5. someone in glens falls
    Report Abuse
    someone in glens falls - January 15, 2014 11:52 pm
    What a great story. Really great people at the Great Meadow correctional. Showing such kindness. I hope the kitties find homes. But for now, it must be so nice to play with the kittens on break huh?
  6. imasiberian
    Report Abuse
    imasiberian - January 15, 2014 9:17 am
    I am so glad the cats and kittens are being taken care of. TNR is the best way to control the population of feral cats. I have a number of feral cats that I take care of and a number of their kittens. Bless you for your compassion and care.
  7. local433girl
    Report Abuse
    local433girl - January 14, 2014 7:45 pm
    This story put a smile on my face and warmed my heart!

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