Reporting on National Feral Cats Awareness Week (15-22 Oct 2011)

To mark this most important week, a few volunteers at the ACS took time off and dedicated themselves to the welfare of feral cats.  The aim was to raise awareness, but also to trap-neuter-return as many ferals as possible.  A significant number of vets offered a discounted rate for spaying and neutering during the week to the public and we made ourselves available to help trapping.

Our week actually started one day early as we were called in a pub for an urgent matter.  The staff at the pub wanted to get a female spayed, but most urgently, her kittens needed to be looked after as it had been reported that their eyes were gluey.  If untreated, they could rapidly become blind.

The pub kittens: the setting

In fact, there were two litters of kittens and two females.  The females were easily trapped (and spayed), but it took four days to catch all the kittens.  Unfortunately, we were too late for one of them.  we are not sure how she died, but we assume that Rapunzel might have been attacked.  The other five kittens were brought in emergency to the Cloyne Veterinary practice.  Indeed, their eyes were in a terrible state.  Two of the kittens, the last ones we managed to catch (not by trapping them, but by simply scooping them up from a box of glasses where they were hiding) were very weak and their future was most uncertain.  Sinead and Tammy at the Cloyne Vet Clinic fought for the whole week and did all they could by providing the best care for them, but the weakest one had just given up on life and on the Friday, we had to let him go (RIP little fellow, you died loved and I often think of you).

Mummy and her kitten trapped together

The girls trapped on the Friday

The boys, finally found on the Monday

While these little guys were fighting for their lives, we kept working on our mission: neutering as many ferals as we could.

On Monday, before going to our pub rescue, we stopped in Midleton where someone was worried for a cat in a colony and wanted her checked and spayed.  We spent a little while trying to trap the cat in question until someone arrived and told us that she had taken care of neutering and spaying all the cats from the colony.  This is an example of why ear-tipping is important as it might saved not only time, but the discomfort of a second, unecessary operation for the cat.

Little did we know that all the cats from this colony were already neutered

Tuesday was a very productive day.  Our first stop was in Douglas where Jennifer’s cats were waiting for us in the kitchen (what an easy trapping!).  You might remember Jennifer?  She is a thirteen year old girl who recently contacted me to ask if the ACS could help with her feral.  Even at her young age, she was aware that spaying was the only humane solution to prevent what could rapidly become a problematic situation.  I was so impressed by Jennifer’s maturity that I organised an appeal to raise the funds to get her ferals neutered.  We raised enough money to get mummy cat and her two younger kittens neutered.  Her one-year old kitten was nowhere in sight though, so we decided to use the money raised for the ones who were there, and the mum was our priority.  They were returned to their shed safely the same evening after their operation at The Cat Hospital.

Jennifer's cats: the mummy

Jennifer's cats: Ben & Bob after their operation

After that, we headed to Ballycotton where a few colonies of feral cats live.  This is a project that has taken a little while to put together and to bring to life, but at last we were ready to start.  We had already trapped four cats there previously, but we were even more successful that day and trapped five cats whom we brought to the Cloyne Veterinary Practice.


Our last stop for the day was in Mahon.  A lady there had contacted us regarding a mother and her kittens.  She was trying to rehome the kittens, and after talking to us realised how important it would be to get the mother spayed as soon as possible.  It did not take us much effort to trap mammy cat who had not had her dinner and could not resist the smell coming from the sardines.  Trish had only planned to get the mother spayed as she thought that the kittens could be rehomed.  However, the kittens were a little older than we thought and we think that three out of the four were female.  We explained to Trish that it would not take long before they became sexually active and we recommended that she should consider getting them spayed as well; maybe one every two weeks.  When I rang Trish to check on how the mummy was doing after her operation, Trish told me she was ready to have one of the kittens spayed, so we will be back to her very soon…

"Look! They have sardines!"

She's next!

We had offered to our supporters the opportunity to accompany us on TNR excursions and on Wednesday, Wendy came with us to Ballycotton.  We returned cats trapped the previous days and trapped three more.  Wendy found it a really rewarding experience.  With TNR, you do not see the fruits of your work, but you know that thanks to it many kittens won’t be born and raised in difficult conditions.  It prevents the suffering of these kittens, but it is not something you see.  It was thus pleasing to hear that Wendy found it rewarding.

Free again!

But that was not it!  When outside, Maggie could hear some screaming and was unsure if it was a seagull or a kitten crying fo help.  After looking around and listening for a while, we located where the sound came from and saw a kitten on a roof.  Maggie and I jumped in the car and went to the house.  We knocked on a door, but were told that there were no kittens there.  But we could hear the kitten and had seen him.  We borrowed a ladder and had a look above the wall and saw this little furry ball in the yard.

How are we going to get there?

There was no answer at the door and, after enquiring, we learnt that nobody was living there.  Getting into that yard wasn’t easy, but it had to be done as there was no way the kitten could get out of it on his own.  We were looking for one kitten, but the first thing Maggie saw once in the yard was a little head peeping out of a mop bucket.  We got the two kittens out safely, they both had a little bit of cat flu and were brought to Sinead in Cloyne.

Bally and Cotton arriving at the vet

From what we have gathered, they were left behind by a mum who transported her kittens to a different spot.  Bally and Cotton have recovered quickly and were able to go to their foster home this week.

"What do you mean I can get out? I'm fine here!"

Thursday was another busy day.  We had been invited to give a talk about TNR in St John’s college.  The talk went well and we were delighted to see so many young people eager to learn about feral cats and TNR.

Following that, we rushed to the Plaza on Grand Parade for a demo we had organised in support of the Forgotten Felines Protest that was taking place in Dublin at the same time.  The protest had three aims: that cats should be recognised in new legislation (and not just considered as vermin), that a new legislation should be put in place (the present one dates from 1911) and that funds should be made available to carry a comprehensive neutering programme.  The protest was well-attended.  Although our event was small, we really wanted to mark our support and I believe we managed to share our message through distributing leaflets and free kitty hugs.

Then, we headed again to Ballycotton where we trapped three more cats.  We spent a long time trying to catch another one, but unsuccessfully.  We will be back!

"Forget about it; I won't go in your trap!"

Friday started very sadly with the news that one of the pub kittens had to be put to sleep because he was just too weak and would not eat.  We felt a bit down and did not have the heart to go trapping that day and I only went to return cats to Ballycotton.

Figures of the week:

  • Kittens rescued: 7 (one did not survive)
  • Cats trapped: 17
  • Females spayed: 9
  • Males neutered: 7
  • Cats trapped twice: 1
  • According to statistics, one female cat and her offsprings can be responsible of a colony of 30 cats in just one year.  We can thus assume that thanks to this one week, 270 kittens will not be born in a world that is cruel to them.

I would like to thank everybody involved in making this week such a success, but more particularly Clare and her team at The Cat Hospital and Sinead and Tammy at the Cloyne Veterinary Practice for being so helpful and accommodating.

If you would like more information about feral cats, visit

This post is dedicated to this little guy who never made it.  Hopefully, there will be less and less kittens in the same situation as him.


Sponsor a Stray

To celebrate National Feral Cat Awareness Week and all the ferals out there, we have decided to lauch a new sponsorship programme!

You might already be aware of our “Sponsor a Pet” programme, whereby you can donate one euro a week (or more) to sponsor one of our pets who are long-term residents with us?  Incidentally, this amount covers the spaying of a female cat.  So by donating a euro a week, you could get a female cat spayed every year.

Usually, with the “Sponsor a Pet” programme, you receive updates on your pet three times a year.  However, this might be difficult to do with feral cats, so we will send you updates of all the TNR projects we are doing.

One female cat and her offspring can be responsible for the birth of 420000 kittens in seven years!  Imagine the difference you could make in the animal world by donating just a euro a week.

I would also like to remind you that if you set up a standing order with us this month, you will be entered in a draw to win a Family Pass to Leahy’s Open Farm, as well as a photo shoot of your pet with Diane Cusack.  Moreover, if you refer us to your friends you could also win more prizes.  Please, find more details about the competition here.

National Feral Cat Awareness Week 2011: “Spay that Stray”

We’ve been talking about it for weeks and it has finally arrived!  Since midnight, it is officially National Feral Cat Awareness Week!  And the theme this year is “Spay that Stray”.

In order to help you to get your ferals neutered/spayed, we have asked vets all over the county to offer discounts on spaying and neutering.  Be aware that the offer is only valid for feral cats.  We are delighted by the response we received and here is a list of the vets taking part (a few more might come on board on Monday):

For more information and advice, you can contact us at  You can also contact the practice closest to you directly.  If you need help trapping, we will be happy to come and help you (note that we are already working on a few projects and that our availability might be limited); however, we are unfortunately not in a position to pay for the cost of the operation.

To celebrate this week and raise awareness, we will also be posting information on this blog on a regular basis.  Meanwhile, you can have a look at Feral Cats Ireland, a fantastic website full of interesting resources.

If you are interested in accompanying us on one of our trapping outings, you can contact me at  We will be happy to bring one or two people with us.  Note that we will limit the number of persons coming with us.  Patience is key in such interventions as trapping can take a long time and we cannot determine in advance how long it will take.

Finally, I would like to bring to your attention the Forgotten Felines Protest taking place in Dublin this Thursday from 12.30pm to 2.30pm outside Leinster House.  The aim of the protest is to ask for a change of legislation (actual legislation dates from 1911) and for more funds from the government to get cats neutered.  If you can go up, please, go and lend your voice to the felines, who are too often regarded as vermin in this country.


World Animal Week in images

This week we were celebrating World Animal Week.  We had a few events planned; however, as always with animal welfare, you cannot plan and our week took on an unexpected turn; not necessarily for the best.

On Sunday evening, Rita from the sanctuary had to be rushed to Riverview Vet where she was put on a drip.

Rita at the vet's

On Monday, after looking for an hour for two sick cats we never found, we started the Ballycotton TNR project.  We trapped four cats (one female and three males) who were neutered by Sinead at the Cloyne Veterinary Clinic and returned the following day.

Ballycotton TNR

Ballycotton TNR

On Monday evening, we tackled putting together the second issue of Furry Tales and Meowsings.  We never got a chance to tell you about it, but I have a surprise for you and will tell you more later.  Distribution has started and the booklet should be available in the usual places next week.

Facing the pile

2nd issue of Furry Tales and Meowsings

Meanwhile, we also had to find a fosterer for Carlo, a cat victim of a road traffic accident who was brought to The Cat Hospital the previous week.  We thought Carlo would become blind, but he regained his sight.  However, he has forgotten how to eat.  Fortunately, a good soul offered him love and time to reeducate him.

Carlo in the arms of Clare Meade

On Tuesday, Anne and Zdenka went to the rescue of a dog who was found in an appalling condition.  Angel has since been treated at Riverview Vet Clinic in Bandon, where she will remain for at least two weeks.


I don’t have any photo for Wednesday.  Let’s just say that it was enquiry day.  The amount of lost and found animals reported that day was alarming.  Moreover, there were a few cat enquiries.  We would love to be able to take them all in, but how can we?

On Thursday, we had a fundraising gig in Mr Bradley’s.  Although it was quieter than we had hoped, we still manage to raise €285 and we all had a good night!

Kate Kirwan

1st prize winner

Friday was devoted to the first photo shoot by Diane Cusack (Strike a Paws) for the Christmas cards.  I also worked on the Christmas party tickets and they are now on sale (more information to follow).

Leo, the poser (photo by Diane Cusack)

Saturday, we had an information table in Maxi Zoo Ballincollig.  It was a great day, but some cat issues needed to be sorted at the same time.

Some of our volunteers at the Maxi Zoo table

I came back home with Mishka, a little kitten rescued the previous day.


As I turned on the computer, I discovered an email regarding a two-week old kitten and the search for kitten formula began.   Thankfully, Facebook proved to be very helpful and the matter was resolved quickly.  Katrina, who had found Minka, also offered to foster the kitten, which was a huge relief.  You can read about her experience here and here.

Minka, now called Mika

It seems that I am missing an important photo.  I’ve been told about a new arrival at the sanctuary: a baby pot-bellied pig!

As you can see we were busy and you might understand why we sometimes sound tired and grumpy…

We don’t know what next week has in store for us, but what we’re certsin of is that we will be preparing for National Feral Cat Awareness Week, which starts next Saturday.  We will be raising awareness about the feral cat situation in \ieland, but also carry a few TNR projects.  One of our priorities are Jennifers’s cats and we would appreciate if you could show your support to this thirteen year old who has decided to make a difference in the cat world.  If you would like more information about this very special week, do not hesitate to contact us.  We might even bring a few interested people with us on our outings!

Jennifer’s Cats

Last week, on Facebook, I sent an appeal to help Jennifer and her cats.

Jennifer contacted me a little while ago about a queen who had given birth to a litter of two in her garden. This type of email is quite common and, even though we cannot take the cat and kittens, we are happy to give advice and support the person as much as possible. A conversation ensued between Jennifer and I about what could be done. Jennifer said she would do her best to rehome the kittens herself and insisted that the mum and her older kitten -now one year old- should be neutered and how could we help with that?

I was amazed when Jennifer told me she was 13 and gave me the number of her mum if I needed to contact them.  I was impressed that a 13-year old would show more maturity and have a more responsible attitude than many aldults.  I promised her we would help to raise the money to get the queen and older kitten neutered by doing an appeal.

I am hoping that this appeal will also show the attitude we should adopt towards feral cats and that many adult will follow Jennifer’s example.

So far, we have raised €73, but we need more to get the two older cats neutered.  Would you be willing to help Jennifer and contribute to the neutering of her ferals? If so, please visit her fundraising appeal on Facebook.  Alternatively, you can donate through our website, but make sure you send me an email explaining the purpose of your donation (

Jennfer, the cat community and I thank you in advance for your generosity!

Are you also feeding some ferals in your back garden?  Now is the time to get them spayed/neutered.  National Feral Cat Awareness Week is beginning in six days and a few locals vets have agreed to practice discounted fees for the occasion.  If needed, we can help you with the trapping.  However, we cannot take the cats away.  This is what is called TNR (Trap/Nauter/Return).  The cats will go back where they came from and still help keeping the mice away…

Remember, a female cat can become active at four month old and produce three litters a year.  So, what are you waiting for?



Poor Tom

On Thursday, I received an email about a feral cat who was in a staircase in Cork city and needed help.  Natalie, who contacted us, explained that the cat had been there since the previous night.  He was very aggressive and looked quite poorly.  As a matter of fact, he hadn’t moved an inch since he had arrived there.

Poor Tom on the morning of his death

Her email alerted me and I immediately rang her back (thankfully, Natalie had left her number in the email).  After a quick chat to assess the situation, I called Trevor, our emergency rescuer.  I am still amazed at how fast Trevor reached the location.  Soon after, I received another call from him: “This cat is very wild and strong and seems very sick, but I’ve managed to catch him”.

Trevor rushed Poor Tom to The Cat Hospital where he was delivered into the good hands of Clare Meade.

However, sometimes, there is nothing we can do to save a life.  Even the most expensive treatment could not have saved Poor Tom’s life.  Clare rang Albert and explained the situation: Poor Tom had been tested positive to FeLV (leukemia) and FIV (feline aids), moreover, he had an enlarged spleen.  His leukemia was far too advanced to be possibly treated.  Poor Tom would have only be able to live a couple more weeks and in extreme suffering.

It is a difficult decision to take, but sometimes we do not have another choice than euthanasia.  This is part of animal welfare.  We do our best to offer animals a happy life and to put an end to their sufferings.  Although we practice a non-euthanasia policy, here, there was only one way to stop the extreme pain endured by Poor Tom.

Poor Tom at The Cat Hospital. His face expresses the tough life he has been through.

Poor Tom was sadly put to sleep on Thursday afternoon and his sufferings came to an end.  The only consolation he might have had is that he received more love and care in the last hours of his life than he must have had before.  If it had not been for Natalie, Poor Tom would probably still be suffering in his staircase waiting for a sure and painful death all alone.

Had Poor Tom been noticed and looked after a long time ago, he would have probably been able to enjoy a better life, but it was already too late when Natalie found him.  Natalie showed humanity and compassion, but these are rare qualities to find in so-called “humanity”.  Feral cats are often given the bad eye.  They are rarely offered the opportunity to live the happy life every one of them deserves.  They do carry diseases and transmit them to other cats, which is why we insist so much on having all cats, even ferals, neutered and spayed (as well as to help controlling the cat population, which is increasing every year).

There are many cats like Poor Tom.  I hope that the next time you meet one of them you will stop to give him a bit of affection and love, as well as food and veterinary treatment.  Maybe you could also offer him/her a little place in your heart and your garden shed?  The theme of this year’s National Feral Cat Awareness Week is “Spay that Stray” (15th to 22nd of October).  Think about it, think about the difference you can make.  If each of us take the responsibility to have one feral neutered and checked by a vet, this world will be a much happier place for cats.

Thank you Natalie, Trevor and Clare for being there for Poor Tom.

Sign the petition!

Lorcan when he was rescued (photo courtesy of his Facebook page)

No, this is not an ACS kitten.  This is Lorcan, the blind kitten.  If you live in Ireland, you might have heard about him already as he has his own Facebook page and also appeared in the newspaper.

Lorcan was rescued on the 21st of July with a severe eye infection, so bad that his eyes could not be saved.  There are many kittens like Lorcan who suffer from carelessness and cruelty, so many that animal welfare charities find it difficult to actually cope with the situation.  There are not enough good homes to welcome all the kittens who are born every year.  As long as people do not become more responsible regarding the neutering of cats and as long as the legislation regarding animal cruelty does not change, this situation will remain the same.

But, maybe if we decide to act together we can get things to change?

Lorcan settling in after his operation (photo courtesy of the Lorcan Facebook Page)

Lorcan was lucky, he was rescued and offered a new life, which he can enjoy despite being blind.  He has also become the symbol of a very important campaign for the right of animals to live a happy life and that concerns all animal rescues.  Many animal welfare charities, including the Cork Animal Society, have been fighting for the rights of animals, but today, the public is also given the opportunity to support this campaign by signing a petition.  The request in this petition is simple: a change of legislation (one that dates from 1911) and more funds being made available for cat welfare.

So far, only 622 people have signed the petition; a strange figure considering that 807 people have liked the link on Facebook.  This is not enough, we can do better than that.  So please, if you are even the slightest bit concerned by the welfare of animals in Ireland (whether you live here or not), sign this petition and show that together we can be stronger!