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.

Trapped!

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 http://feralcatsireland.org/Feral_Cats/Feral_cat_crisis.html.

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.

RIP x

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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.

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 (emilie@animalcaresociety.ie).

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?

 

 

The week in pictures

On Monday, a queen and her five kittens were rescued from near a busy road.

The mother:

Queenie

One of her kittens:

They found a safe place to stay at Maggie’s:

Adam Ant, Stripe, Tear, Red and Charlie

On Tuesday, this little ginger kitten was rescued in Midleton.  He is now with a fosterer.

Leo

On Wednesday, Inko the budgie was reunited with his owner.

Inko

On Thursday, Mr Pickles, the last kitten rescued by Anne (RIP), fell ill.  He is now getting better.

A sick Mr Pickles

On Friday, a kitten was rescued from outside an office where he had spent the whole week.

Shan, the office kitten

Meanwhile, Brambles made some new friends at the sanctuary.

Brambles having fun

As you can see, it was a busy week!  You might get a better idea of why we say that we do not have any space left.  We have many animals looking for their forever home; you can see some of them on our Facebook page.

Maggie and her husband were also very busy doing some trapping/neutering/releasing (TNR) of feral cats in their area.  Such programme helps controlling the cat population in Ireland.  However, it also cost a lot of money as spaying/neutering is not free.  If you would like to help by making a donation, please visit our website.