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An Angel in the Wind
In Spanish, her name, Cimeron (Cimarron) means “feral.” In Hindu, her name means “to remember God.” Regardless of how you spell it, once you meet this dynamic force, you are aware of how she does answer to a higher power. How she makes a difference.
Cimeron Morrissey is the leader of a group of dedicated volunteers in the Foster City, California area known as Project Bay Cat. A coordinated effort to save feral and stray cats that were dumped off in the wooded area near The Foster City Bay Trail; a popular destination for hikers, joggers and sightseers.
Cimeron and her husband John had been windsurfing and kite boarding the bay for a few years. She had always noticed several cats on the rocks, but never paid much attention to them. One day in 2003 while out in the bay, she was startled to see the rocks and boulders next to the bay teaming with kittens.
Cimeron cancelled her recreational plans and she followed “a small herd of tumbling fur balls to find out where they came from.” Most of the kittens headed back to their mom cat, a large black and white tuxedo cat that would be later named Miss Bibs. As Cimeron watched quietly from her vantage point, she noticed more cats and kittens coming out of the bushes. As she explained to me; “this was all new to me, I didn’t quite get it.”
One of her friends, a veterinarian explained to Cimeron about feral cats. He gave her a pillowcase and advised her to go into the area and start scooping up the cats and kittens! She had no idea he was pulling her leg, and spent the better part of two days running around after the cats and kittens while her friends in attendance enjoyed the joke at her expense.
Frustrated, she returned to her vet friend, where he admitted he had been kidding, never dreaming she would actually try to capture the cats this way. He then presented her with humane traps and told her to bring the cats to him and he would spay and neuter them at no charge! Unaware at the time of the magnitude of this offer, Cimeron began to trap the cats and kittens on the trail.
Today, this one person dynamo endeavor has grown into a large group of many volunteers. The trail is now stocked with brochures educating the public about the feral cats, warning anyone against dumping anymore in the area.
Because of the concern for the migratory birds in the area, Cimeron successfully relocated the cats away from the birds habitat, thus helping the bird population to thrive.
In the past three years Project Bay Cat has spayed and neutered 95% of the cats, rescued and rehomed over 60 kittens and older cats and reduced the population of strays and ferals to just over 30%.
Although these cats must be grateful for the steady stream of food and fresh water and vet care supplied to them, Cimeron is equally as grateful to the cats.
From her association with them she has learned;
“Kindness, compassion, patience, love and incredible trust. At first, it was emotionally challenging for me to trap them. I hated to see how they thrashed in the traps when the traps swung shut. They looked at me through the bars as if I was some sort of a monster.
I got through this emotional event by promising them that I was making their lives healthier, and happier. I asked them to trust me. I would soothe them by telling them I was taking them to the ‘kitty day spa’ my word for a vet visit. Even though this spa visit was traumatic for them, upon their release, they would come to trust me and greet me daily with their tails high in the air.”
Miss Bibs turned out to be so trap savvy that it took Cimeron two years to trap her! Within that time frame, Miss Bibs turned out over 30 more kittens.
What is Cimeron’s crowning achievement? Turns out she has several;
When the City became involved, and when the City, Homeless Cat Network and the Sequoia Audubon Society committed to working together collaboratively to find common goals and solutions. That was truly a wonderful moment.
Also, we have feeding stations off the trail so there isn't cat food or debris within sight. These two actually began HELPING me with the program when they saw it was working, if you can believe it!
About two years ago, they would tell me if they saw kittens and would point me in the right direction, and would tell me of cats they saw without ear clips. That helped a lot! They don't disturb the cats or their food anymore, and they haven't said one negative thing to the feeders.”
But her best moment was catching Miss Bibs, thus stopping the kitty factory production line. Not one kitten has been born on the trail in over a year!
Cimeron relays one story with a grin. She had recently captured a big ol tomcat and taken him to get neutered. She was returning him to the trail, when a jogger grabbed her shoulder and whirled her around. He told her it was “illegal” to dump cats on the trail, whipped out his cell phone to call the authorities. If she hadn’t had her hands full of a neutered male cat, she would have kissed the aware jogger!
This is the type of impact one person can make in the lives of cats that until that fateful day in 2003 were virtually the invisible cats of Foster City Bay Trail.