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Students rescue strays

Rachel Riback saved a stray kitten after its mother abandoned it.

Rachel Riback saved a stray kitten after its mother abandoned it.

Rachel Riback rushed home from campus every five hours when she adopted an abandoned kitten seven months ago. She held the little black kitten, named Tux for her markings, in her hands and fed her with an eyedropper.

Tux was one of a litter left by her mother when she was young. Riback’s co-worker found the litter and asked Riback if she wanted to take in one of the abandoned kittens. Riback, a senior elementary and special education major, agreed.

“Every cat I’ve ever had was a stray,” Riback said.

Tux was only three weeks old when Riback took her in. The vet told Riback that, although Tux was healthy when Riback adopted her, kittens that young usually do not survive away from their mothers.
“She was the smallest cat I had ever seen,” Riback recalled.

Riback had to take special care of the little green-eyed, black-nosed kitten, feeding her on a strict schedule and making sure her bowels were working properly.

Now, seven months later, Tux is still alive and well – and causing plenty of mischief.

“She’s my favorite cat ever. She has so much personality,” Riback said of the “tuxedo” cat, all black with a white chest, paws and trail of white fur down her stomach.

Jillian Turner, a senior risk management major and Riback’s former roommate, also has a soft spot for stray cats.

“I’ve taken in two stray cats,” Turner said, explaining that she took in her first cat as a child. She and her mother would leave cans of food out for a calico that lived in the alley near her house, and eventually, they brought it in. Turner and her mom took the cat to the vet, who said it was healthy, and named it Lucky.

At Temple, Turner accidentally took in her neighbor’s cat. She was watching television in her living room, she said, when she heard loud meowing from outside.

“I heard it over the TV and the microwave,” Turner said. Outside her window, Turner found a large black cat hanging on the window screen. She fed and pet the cat, who made itself at home in her apartment, she said. Soon, though, she realized it belonged to the neighbor and brought it back in a day or so.

Riback explained that Tux has some peculiar behaviors: If she or any of her roommates leaves a drawer open, Tux will mischievously rummage through her underwear – just one of the cat’s quirky habits. Among her other curiosities, Tux eats vegetables and would rather drink from a glass, the toilet or the bottom of the bathtub than from a bowl, Riback said.

“She’s a lover. She likes coming to you,” Riback said, but added that Tux won’t always stay for very long.

“She’s such a tease,” Riback added.

Despite her cheerful demeanor, Tux kneads blankets, a behavior that likely comes from being abandoned at such a young age.

Riback has owned more than 20 cats in her life and still feeds strays when she sees them going hungry.
Turner still keeps an eye out on the strays in the neighborhood by making sure they are fed and safe.
“We always feed the strays that are around,” Turner said.

Rebecca Hale can be reached at rebecca.hale@temple.edu.

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