Kittens rescued from sewer in NJ on road to recovery

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Leonardo and Donatella were rescued from a sewer in Paterson, N.J. (Photo Courtesy of RBARI)

Two frail, malnourished, and injured kittens found in a sewer in New Jersey a few weeks ago are doing much better now but still have a long road to full recovery.

When Paterson Animal Control pulled the kittens from a cold, damp city sewer earlier this month, they were fighting internal parasites. One cat couldn't walk properly.

Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge Inc., or RBARI, took the little cats in for treatment and care. Dubbed Leonardo and Donatella (in a cute reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), the kittens got immediate medical care and now are eating well, gaining weight, and even playing, according to RBARI's Amy Hofer. They are in a foster home for the time being. 

Leonardo, the one who struggled to walk, is doing better but still needs to be seen by a neurologist.

"We don't know what caused Leo's severe injury to his back end," RBARI said in a newsletter. "But, we do know that these helpless babies will never again feel the ache of hunger and bitter cold of the damp sewer. They will never again know the intense fear of dying alone." 

Female cats usually go into heat when winter thaws and the weather warms up. Then from spring through early fall, litters of kittens appear on the streets and in the wild, flooding animal shelters with little balls of fur, who are often in bad shape. This period of the year (March through October) is referred to as "kitten season." 

"Kitten season is a hard time of year for rescuers," Hofer told FOX 5 NY. "We will see so many cases like this sadly — kittens inside cars, in sewers, found very ill."

Oakland-based RBARI is a no-kill animal shelter that serves parts of northern New Jersey.