Rescue Tails / Hanky and Panky: From Trap-Neuter-Return to Adopted

Contributed by the Florida Keys SPCA Staff

Our Florida Keys community is one that holds a deep relationship with animals. The people that live and work in the Florida Keys tend to love and respect all of nature. We love the ocean, the fish, the corals. We see the beauty in the soaring Osprey and the sticky-footed geckos. The oddly friendly roaming Key Deer. Our homes are full with furry, feathered and scaled companions such as dogs, cats, small animals and reptiles. It’s no wonder we receive so many calls from concerned residents whenever they see an animal in distress!

The concerned employees at the Tom Thumb on Big Pine Key saw a pair of community tabby kittens who by their appearance, were having a difficult time on their own on the streets. Their fur was ratty and matted, their eyes were green with infection, and boy they sure were hungry! The kind employees started feeding the kittens, in hope that they could earn their trust and capture them for their safety and health. However; despite the cats being sick they were still too fractious to safely contain. That’s when they called our Marathon Campus for help.

Luckily the two kittens were still very hungry, and easily went into the humane trap. Once at our Marathon Campus, they were very shy and timid, but not aggressive. They appeared to want help, they just were so frightened of humans. They had yet to interact with people before at such a close range.

It’s very difficult to treat feral or fractious cats. Our compassionate staff went slowly and tried their best to administer eye medications and oral antibiotics. When it came time for them to be spayed and neutered the decision had to be made: Were these cats unable to be socialized? Would they be happiest returned to the only place they’ve ever known? Could they learn to trust, both giving and receiving love and affection? Luckily one of our volunteers stepped up, willing to try to socialize the pair. So after surgery they were loaded up in a cat carrier and sent to their first, and furever home.

Beth worked tirelessly to earn the trust of the two kittens. She started with them isolated in a room in her house, in a large crate where they had room to move about. The kittens could hear, see, smell all the new and interesting things that varied drastically from street life. She sat with them, talked to them, slowly petting them, and making sure they got the medicine they needed to get better. The kittens grew stronger, and they began to relax and feel comfortable. They started to play, and soon were asking for love and attention. The day finally came to move the kittens from the crate, to free roaming in the room. Each day brought new progress, and with every win, Beth’s bond with the kittens grew stronger.

Finally the day came where the kittens were members of the household. Free to roam wherever they pleased, they lounged on the couch, scratched at their cat trees, played in tunnels and chased plastic balls around the house. The kittens were no longer fearful street cats, but instead loving, affectionate house cats. It was time for adoption! It was no surprise that when the time came, after all the love and bonding that had occurred between Beth and the kittens through the months of care, that “Hanky” and “Panky” would be Beth’s furrever cats.

Tales such as these are only made possible thanks to the dedication of our incredible volunteers and fosters. You can make a difference in the life of an animal in one of our shelters by joining the Florida Keys SPCA as a volunteer or foster parent. Learn more about how you can be a part of our lifesaving mission by visiting us at

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