As Cyclone Gabrielle slowly moves away from New Zealand, many in this country are counting the cost. And the cost is high.

Families have lost loved ones. Homes have been washed away or toppled in landslides. Businesses and vital infrastructure have been destroyed. Many are still without water, power and communications.

It has also been an extremely hard time for many animals, including wildlife, livestock and pets.

The photo above shows part of a litter of kittens taken in by Franklin Cat Rescue. The text that accompanied the photo on their Facebook page is disturbing:

“These little dots with their umbilical cords still attached were saved from drowning in a flooding paddock; sadly, two of their siblings weren’t so lucky. Thanks to ‘Z’ for saving, drying and warming them and getting them to us. Our hearts are broken for those little angels & their mumma, whom we hope will reappear so we can help her.”

This was just one of many social media posts from pet rescue groups related to cats that had been abandoned during the cyclone, but found and rescued (luckily) by a kind person who happened to see them. And all of this was happening on top of another busy “kitten season” for our cat rescues, as a result of roaming cats who have not been desexed.

We are indeed fortunate that there are so many dedicated people – mostly unpaid – doing everything they can to care for these little creatures. A huge thank-you to all of them.

And good luck to all of you who are cleaning up and facing the daunting task of rebuilding after Gabrielle.