Rescuing Kittens

Talk about being on call.

A severe winter storm was about to hit the Cedar Valley area in Iowa in mid-January 2019. Dr. Sophi Franck (’99), a clinician with the Den Herder Veterinary Hospital in Waterloo, was on emergency call that evening and decided she and her family would stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cedar Falls.

“We decided to do that so I wouldn’t have to commute in the winter weather from our home, 20 miles away should any pet emergencies arise,” Franck said.

Little did she know that the first pet emergency that day occurred right outside the doors of her hotel.

Franck’s husband had just dropped her and her girls off at the front door to the hotel while he parked the car. While she was waiting, Franck glanced over at a window in the entryway to see her husband gesturing her to come outside.

“He showed me a small kitten he heard mewing under an ornamental grass plant,” Franck said.

Looking closer she found three more kittens in a shallow nest covered with snow.

“The kittens appeared to be approximately two weeks old with newly opened eyes and were quite healthy and plump but cold and covered in snow,” she said. “We didn’t see any new cat tracks in the snow and the gentleman at the front desk said there were feral cats in the area.”

Knowing that the weather forecast called for six to eight inches of snow and below freezing temperatures, Franck knew the kittens stood little chance of surviving the cruel Iowa winter. Franck and her family quickly loaded the kittens up into a small cat carrier and took them to her office at the Den Herder Veterinary Hospital.

Franck took care of the kittens for the next day before contacting Blackhawk Wildlife Rescue and Rehab who began seeking a rescue family.

“Even though my daughters and several of our veterinary assistants would have loved to hand rear the kittens, I knew kittens this age would fare much better if they had a foster mom cat,” Franck said.

The next morning, a foster mom cat was located who had three-week-old kittens and she readily accepted the rescued cats. At this date, all four kittens, who were named after characters from the Disney movie “Frozen,” are doing well.

Like a true “Gentle Doctor,” Franck gives all the credit to others.

“While my family and I found the kittens and brought them inside, the real heroes are the folks at Last Hope Rescue who are caring for the kittens and looking for good homes,” Franck said. “I’m appreciative of all of the resources we have in this community to give them the care and hopefully loving homes they deserve.”

Learn more about the frozen kittens in this Waterloo television report.