Note: Photo courtesy of Molly Wald of Best Friends
There were no clinics on Sunday and Monday due to the Labor Day holiday. I hate holidays! No vets are open and that means no trapping. Suzie and I planned to make up for lost time by trapping on Labor Day night (Monday 9/6) at a restaurant we'd trapped at before. Not my favorite venue but still we'd be out trapping. It was a slow night and we ended up with only two cats. But it was to be a busy week...
Donna, an acquaintance of mine had contacted me about a neighborhood that had at least 50 cats. She had seen the cats while driving through the neighborhood and decided to be proactive. This was in central Phoenix and was a relatively "upscale" neighborhood in comparison to those we normally frequent. She agreed to find the feeders and fund raise in the neighborhood and Barbara agreed to set up the trapping. Suzie and I would show up with a full arsenal of traps. One always doubts the large number of cats but it has been my experience there is always more than estimated. There were three main feeders and all fortunately had withheld food. Barbara and Suzie started on the biggest colony while I tackled a smaller one behind on the next street. These three caregivers had been feeding these cats for years (while they were breeding out of control) and none of them knew each other or knew that they were also feeding cats - despite the fact that they all lived practically next door to each other. The roaming males must of thought this was nirvana! It is sad but this is often the case in most neighborhoods. We were in the "meet your neighbors mode that night.
After catching quite a few cats we set more traps at each location and all met three doors down from the biggest colony. Here we found at least 10 more cats waiting to eat. This was trapping heaven. All told that night and over night we trapped 47 cats! We be back two more nights to finish the job which would eventually yield 56 cats. Donna spent the night going door-to-door soliciting donations.
...I might mentioned that after a busy night trapping Suzie went back to the restaurant for a second night's trapping. It yielded only one cat. I went home to aftercare the two cats from the night before.
I picked up stragglers and the one cat caught overnight at the restaurant and dropping off eight cats at the first vet I met up with Suzie at the second vet to drop off 40 more cats (one fortunately agreed to take 40 cats). I'd have those to pick up and aftercare and but before this I went down to set traps at the three locations later that evening.
I checked traps at the three location early in the AM and released the one restaurant cat. We had caught seven more overnight. I left traps for the one caregiver to set that night to catch a few more. I dropped the seven off at the vet before meeting Suzie at my house to pick up the 47 cats for release at the three locations. Sometimes I wish I had that Ford Transit Connect instead of my Element. It would save a LOT of driving. I'd be going home to wash traps to trap that night (after picking up the seven cats at the vet) to trap way out in the W. Valley. The caregiver said she had about 8-12 cats but I'd go prepared for more. Well, 10-12 turned in to 20 over two night of trapping.
Early in the AM I set off to pick up the stragglers at the W. Valley location, then pick up two from the third night trapping in central Phoenix. Seven cats still had to be released there also. As I picked up the two cats I discovered one of the cats was giving birth in the trap! This is always a shock but with all the trapping I do it is rather common. The kittens rarely survive as they are usually born early due to the mother's stress. Despite our efforts the kittens did not make it. Fortunately we were able to fix the mother cat. No more litters would be born to this cat that had been breeding out of control for years. I try to remember that "the most painful thing a feral cat will experience is NOT being fixed". I remind caregivers of this when they say "I just cannot stand the thought of the cat being in a trap". I'd be at the vet that day with 18 more cats. What a week so far!
The one caregiver set traps Friday night and I picked up four more (for a total of 20) when I released the 16 in the AM. I had the one cat to release at the Phoenix location (the mother cat was still trying to care for the one surviving kitten although to no avail). She'd be released in a day or so). Another caregiver trapped without a plan and caught the last cat which I picked up on the way to the vet. Both caregivers would be picking up at my house on Sunday as the next day, 9/12, was our monthly high-volume spay day in N. Phoenix. I'd be getting ready for the clinic on Saturday. Suzie was trapping at three locations that night for the Sunday clinic.
There will always be free-roaming cats in the valley. Our goal is to stabilized colonies of cats being fed by caregivers. to do this ALL the cat must be captured and spayed and neutered. It can be a lot of work, especially for larger colonies. A word of advise, if you start feeding a colony of feral cats, be prepared to spend the time, effort and money to fix them. This is huge responsibility on the part of the feeder. You can see from my blogs what can happen if cats are fed - they will breed even more...to a number the food source will sustain. When a colony gets too large inbreeding and disease often take their toll. I rarely see colonies large than 25-30 cats.
Thank you for reading my TNR blog and I hope this one encourages everyone to go out and spread the word about TNR and the importance of spay and neuter. To sign up for our TNR program please call us at: 602-265-2229 (SPAY) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We service the metro Phoenix area in Arizona.