Saving Mamma: Neighborhood rallies to help cat

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 10, 2014

Ever since Bastet, better known as “Mamma” or “Mamma Cat,” went missing several weeks ago, she has managed to unite friends, neighbors and strangers together in a common cause.

Even after Mamma returned, people came from as far as Raleigh to help Sandy Carter save her stray-turned-pet cat’s life.

“This cat brought together so many different people from so many different places,” Carter said. “When I called them, it was like there was no hesitation.”

Carter moved to Gold Hill from Florida in 2006, and Mamma Cat has been living on her porch since the fall of 2007. Now, her mate, Anubis, and daughter, Peek-a-Boo also live there.

Mamma Cat is the glue of her family unit, Carter said. “She’ll protect all three of them.”

“She’s out here every morning,” Carter said, sitting on her porch.

But on Sun., Feb. 23, Mamma Cat didn’t show up for breakfast as usual. Carter thought maybe she was out hunting, but when she didn’t show up again the next day, Carter knew something was wrong.

It’s not the first time Mamma’s disappeared. Several years ago, she got in the back of a repairman’s truck and he drove off without seeing her. A few days later, though, she found her way home.

Carter said she walked up and down the street and by the edge of some nearby woods, looking for Mamma and calling her name.

“By day seven, I knew she was either dead or in serious trouble,” Carter said.

She didn’t see Mamma again until the Tuesday of the next week, and when she did return, Carter noticed several of her paws were mangled.

Based on Mamma’s injuries, Carter and her neighbors, who also look after the cat, believe she was caught in a coyote trap.

Afraid Mamma Cat’s paws would get infected and that she’d lose her strength, Carter decided to take her to the vet — a task easier said than done.

When Carter tried to catch and crate Mamma Wednesday morning, the cat retreated under the house.

“Prior to this I was able to crate her,” Carter said, explaining that she takes Mamma, Anubis and Peek-a-Boo all to the vet each year.

Carter’s home is a beautiful old house with a big front porch and white fence that surrounds her yard, but because of its age, the house sits close to the ground.

Not too many people are small enough to get under it, Carter said.

So, she called her termite exterminator’s office, knowing he was able to fit under the house.

The exterminator was working on a job out of town, but a mother and her teenaged son in his office overheard the secretary talking to Carter about her predicament. They asked if they could help and showed up at Carter’s home 10 minutes later.

The pair, who’s names Carter still doesn’t know, spent two to three hours trying to chase Mamma out from under the house.

After they left, Carter called Homestead Farm and Garden in Rockwell to see if they sold any humane animal traps, so she could trap Mamma and take her to the veterinarian.

While the store doesn’t sell the traps, one of the workers informed Carter that they had one she could borrow.

Carter borrowed the trap, but she still couldn’t get under the house to get the trap close to Mamma Cat.

That afternoon, Carter called her neighbor, Madison Hedrick, to ask him if he could help. What she didn’t realize was that he was in Raleigh.

Hedrick is a freshman at N.C. State University studying business.

Hedrick told her he had class until 5 p.m. and that it was a two-hour drive to Gold Hill.

“I can be there by seven,” Carter recalled him saying.

Just like he said, Hedrick showed up at seven, and he didn’t come alone. He brought along his friend, Nick Skerton, also a student at N.C. State.

“It was dark when they got here,” Carter said.

Hedrick and Skerton crawled under the house, trying to flush Mamma out.

“We tried all we could to get that cat out,” Hedrick said.

Somehow, Mamma Cat got out without anyone noticing, and Carter saw her by the front steps. So, they continued to try to catch her.

Mamma Cat got scared, though, and ran into a drainpipe to the right of the house.

At that point in time, Carter’s son, Matt Tyson, and their neighbor joined the effort as well.

The group decided to try to scare Mamma Cat out of the pipe. They left a trap at the opening and began making a lot of noise, but to no avail.

They finally called it quits around 11 p.m. and Hedrick and Skerton headed back to Raleigh for a full day of classes starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.

“It was a long night, but it was worth it,” Hedrick said, even though they were unable to catch Mamma Cat.

“Pets are like family,” he said, adding, “That cat meant a lot to her, or she wouldn’t have called me.”

Tyson said it really struck him that Hedrick and Skerton were willing to travel so far to help a stray cat.

“These kids came out from Raleigh,” he said.

Carter left the trap on the opening, hoping Mamma would decide to get in it overnight on her own.

But Thursday, Carter said, she had “no such luck.”

So, she turned to Animal Control and her neighbor, Sandy Hickman. After several more hours and no success, Carter finally called the Gold Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

To her amazement, “the whole crew came out,” Carter said.

After trying to coax Mamma out, they tried to flush her out with their fire hoses.

Carter was concerned that flushing her out could hurt Mamma Cat even more, but was willing to do whatever it took to get her out and to the vet. The firefighters assured her that they could do CPR on Mamma if they needed to, so Carter heated some towels and stood by with the cage.

The firefighters flushed out the drainpipe, but Mamma didn’t come out.

They told Carter there was no way the cat was still in the drainpipe, so they packed up and left.

Once again, Friday morning, Mamma Cat didn’t show up for breakfast, and for the first time in seven years, neither did Peek-a-Boo or Anubis.

“At first I was discouraged and disappointed,” Carter said.

Carter, who self-admittedly isn’t religious, began to pray, but when Mamma Cat kept eluding capture and finally disappeared with the other two cats, Carter admits she became angry.

“All of my prayers, all of OUR prayers were a waste of time,” she wrote in a post on her Facebook page. “My prayers fell on deaf ears.”

But that night, something truly amazing happened. Mamma Cat came back, bringing Peek-a-Boo and Anubis with her. Carter also noticed, “her wounds were healing.”

Although Carter was never able to crate Mamma Cat and take her to the vet, she said Mamma Cat’s wounds are healing on their own.

Carter said she’s grateful for everyone that rallied together to try to find, then save Mamma Cat.

“They put aside their own personal plans,” she said, adding, there was “nothing in it for anyone.”