It's now 2013 is a new year brings more trapping adventures! January was a busy month, trying to prevent all the kittens being born this Spring. Already, we are seeing pregnant cats and I just hope this year no kittens will be born in my vehicle while rushing to the vet to prevent the mom from giving birth. What made this January challenging was the record freezing temperatures in Arizona. Still, this did not stop me. I donned my down jacket, ear muffs and gloves and trapped nearly 150 cats last month. The largest colony was 20 cats, not counting the 35 cat colony I helped with transport and aftercare. This one required managing to trap and release several colonies I trapped and an early morning release of 28 cats!
Early morning release of 28 cats
People often ask me "how do you keep from burning out" or "how to you keep this up day after day without compensation". Well, those that know me well know that I am on a mission to solve the problem of too many homeless cats and kittens in the Phoenix area. Problems get solved by action and dedicated individuals committing 100% to the problem. I learned this having worked as an engineer for 29 years, trying to solve difficult problems, often ones that seemed unsolvable. And it works. It just takes dedicated, motivated and committed people to make a difference. I also am fortunate to have Carla Jewell of the Foundation for Homeless Cats as my friend. She and I often commiserate when one or both of us feels like giving up in frustration. Then we march forward with even more energy and devotion to the cause...Thanks you Carla for your support.
I sometimes take the time to visit colonies I have TNR'd and visiting caregivers to see how the cats are doing. This also gives me motivation to keep going. Most tell me they have fewer cats now and have had no kittens. So we are making a difference, one cat at a time. The photo below if of some cats in a colony I TNR'd several years ago behind a business I frequent. They hid in the business next door and come out at night to eat.
These cats are fixed!!
So far I have TNR'd 58 cats in February. Tomorrow morning I'll be out trapping 12 cats behind a community clinic in the hood. Tomorrow night I'll be out trapping 20 cats in a colony in or AHS targeted zip code. Both will be challenging as they are not residences but open areas behind businesses. I might mention we fixed 120 cats at the AHS free clinic last Thursday. Thank you AHS for your commitment to TNR. These monthly clinics have helped so many cats and caregivers in need.
And, we have fixed 100,000 free-roaming cats since the beginning of AzCATs in 1999! Over 15,000 of these cats were done through ADLA's Spay Neuter Hotline in 2012...Thank you SNH for keeping the TNR program going in Maricopa County!
So what do I do when not trapping cats. Below are some examples. I spend a lot of time with my cat Priscilla. Priscilla is the reason I started doing TNR. She was a rescued "feral" in 2003 who inspired me to prevent more of her (although I privately wish I had a dozen of her!). She also inspired me to start the Priscilla Fund, a charitable foundation I use to help spay and neuter feral cats for those in need. I also do volunteer archeology for the Tonto National Forest love books, especially audio books (I can trap and read at the same time). So when people tell me you need to "get a life", I say "I already have one". Volunteering really makes a difference so if trapping feral cats is not your thing, there are plenty of other rewarding opportunities.
The lovely Priscilla on her perch
If you are thinking of volunteering to trap cats, be prepared to spend a lot of money, especially on gas and car maintenance. Be prepared to do a lot of driving and making multiple trips to the vet. Your vehicle will stink and you will have to apologize to your car mechanic for the smell. Mine knows to expect it... although I no longer smell it. My 2005 Honda Element has 160,000 miles on it and I just purchased new tires (again) and new engine mounts installed (too many alleys and apartment parking lots). The back seats have never been installed. This year I plan on purchasing an even bigger vehicle as the Element only holds 28 traps. Chose the largest you can afford that is fuel efficient. Logistical and problem solving skills are helpful as anything can happen while trapping cats...Patience if helpful.
If you are feeding a colony of feral cats, please spay and neuter them. You can call or email the Hotline @: 602-265-7729 (SPAY) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to email me with questions about cat management or trapping: email@example.com
We CAN prevent homeless cats and kittens and it is not too late to begin being part of the solution. Spread the word - help is available and you can help. It "all starts with you".