Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 2014

As of the first of October I have TNR'd over 1,600 cats in 2014...August and September were especially busy as Suzie was taking time off and there were so many caregivers needing assistance. Phoenix was not as hot this summer making it easier to trap and aftercare. This was the first year I tried morning trapping and this worked out very well in most cases. My biggest colony in September was 39 cats at the Michigan Trailer Park. I had been there in 2011 and did over 60 cats at that time. It is a shame when the caregivers do not call me for assistance when new cats show up. There are still 6-7 left there to fix...this will be a challenge!

October off to a good start! The weather has become perfect for trapping. This past week was especially busy with one 19 cat colony and another colony with 38 cats to TNR. I got nearly all of them at both locations. Thank you Mary Buck for helping with the biggest colony and doing damage control with a challenging caregiver. There are still two litters out there that wandered out of the garage after the cats were released. The first photo below is of the cats before trapping and the second photo is after the second release (Note: These came off my phone and were taken at dusk and dawn respectively so the quality not too good):

Waiting to be fixed!
Thank you for fixing us!

The AHS clinic was especially challenging this month. We ended up with 127 cats in the door but this took more effort than usual. I did not trap for the clinic but had to be sure everyone came through with cats and they did! Bob and Barb brought in 28 cats from the East Valley (thank you both!) and I ended up having to aftercare and release 15 cats. These free clinics have helped so many caregivers and cats (thank you AHS!). 

Here are a couple of highlights from the last couple of months. The first is a photo of kittens brought out from under a caregiver's bed. We did catch the Mom and about 16 other cats for a recent AHS clinic. Too bad I did not get there in time!

Six newborn kittens!
Another memorable moment was this recent trapping job near downtown Glendale. It was hot hot out and we had all the cats captured in about 30 minutes. The photo below is of the very hungry cats just after their release early the next morning.

We though we were abducted by aliens!

These kittens ended up going up for adoption. They were tame and somehow found their way into a trap. All have gone to forever homes...

Get me out of here!

Here is an photo of a place I have trapped at many times. This is a MHP on Van Buren where most of the trailers are vacant except for the few where addicts go to get their drugs. Cats make there home under this one and several others in the park. 
...Notice the trap set at the right corner of the trailer

Below is a photo of the trap covers someone made for me back in 2005. I had 28 cats at the clinic that day and a total of 38 cats in from that colony over two days of trapping and three days of work including aftercare and release.
Happy Halloween!

And finally a photo from a trapping I did at the MHP I had been to in 2011. I did not catch the rabbit but he lived there with the cats! BTW - Dr. Anderson, at the North Phoenix S/N Clinic, fixes rabbits too...Please fix all your outdoor cats now before kitten season begins in the Spring. For assistance please call me at 602-717-2287 or call the Spay Neuter Hotline @ 602-265-7719 (SPAY).
I need fix'n too!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

June/July 2014

It is now summer in Phoenix and the trapping can be brutal. However, this year, I decided to do mostly morning trapping as it is much more bearable (for me) and cooler and safer for the cats in traps. It has worked out quite well so far. I get up at 4:00 AM and usually start trapping by 5:15 AM. The good news is the cats are out at this time enjoying the cool mornings too - well until they get "abducted b an alien" (at least thus us what they think)...

I have been focusing on a couple of Mobile Home Parks (MHP's) spending many mornings there waiting with the drop-trap. While waiting I have listened to many great audio books while drinking coffee instead of sweltering in the heat in the evening - and I can be home watching Gunsmoke reruns too!

There were two big clinics in June, one at AHS and one at Dr. Kit's mobile. There was a big AHS clinic in July also. These actually required that I trap in the AM the day before and hold the cats until the next morning. The reason for this is that I have to be at the clinics early and I want to make sure we have enough cats for the clinics. Thankfully Suzie does a LOT of the AM transport for large clinics. 

We make a great team and these clinics are always full...sometimes too full and cats have to be taken to other clinics to be fixed. 

The photo at the left is of some kittens discovered under a house. I tried to trap there early one morning but the dumpster divers in the adjacent alley made too much noise. Then one "Pilgrim" came by looking for his shoes! ...was drunk of course. The dumpster divers were fighting over the stuff while others came down the alley in route to the Circle K for breakfast. I have only caught one cat there - there are now 15 more to TNR. This one might be too much of a challenge as there is no time of day or night without foot traffic...not too mention the neighborhood (21st Ave. and Van Buren)

Below are some highlights of summer trapping:
These guys are now fixed!
Got him after several attempts with the drop-trap!

Nothing about TNR is easy...A lot of people think you just go trap the cats and get them fixed Unfortunately, it is not that simple Trappers have to deal with difficult and demanding caregivers, neighbors who hate the cats, heat and cold, lifting, transporting, and aftercare in 110 degree weather. Catching the last cat(s) is also a challenge, especially after fixing 30 cats in the colony and trying to get the last illusive Tom. I have TNR'd over 100 cats in this MHP over the last three years. Almost finished but note quite...

Monday, May 12, 2014

April/May 2014

April and May 2014 have been very busy months! I do not think I have ever had to handle so many litters. I think my theory is correct - the more free-roaming cats we sterilize, the fast the remaining cats breed to keep the number in tact. Even Dr. Anderson says he believes he is seeing more fetuses in the pregnant females.

I TNR'd 149 cats in April and May is off to a good start. Last week, I TNR'd 76 cats. This was not quite a record but close. The last week of April was trying as I trapped in Maricopa, a rural town 60 miles from my home. This required three round trips to Maricopa. It would have been four trips but I got sick the day the first group had to go to the vet and the caregivers had to hold the five that they trapped the second night. Over the three nights I caught and fixed 24 cats from this location - a wonder as the wind was the worst I'd seen! Below is a photo of the release.

Release in Maricopa

In March I drove 60 miles each way to Tonopah to trap two cats. One was a full-term pregnant female and the other her "boyfriend". Had them within five minutes! The lady was in a wheelchair and really needed help. These are the special moments that make this often thankless job worthwhile. 

The first week of May was trapping "nirvana". A couple of weeks ago I had stopped by a mobile home park where I had trapped about 60 cats in 2011 and guess what - I saw LOTs more cats. I could not get this one out of my mind so I solicited Suzie to help trap. 

We were going to help one caregiver the first night then another the second night. Well, fortunately we brought extra traps and ended up at four different places and caught 23 cats! The second night we caught 25 cats which included three pet cats belonging to several of the feeders. This resulted in having to go to two vet clinics. Thank you Arizona Spay Neuter Clinic for taking the overflow without an appointment! 

When I did the release on Thursday morning I caught three more cats on the other side of the oleanders E. of the MHP. But it did not stop there! the next morning I caught 10 more cats there when releasing the three from the day before. So what started Monday night was finished the following Saturday morning. Both of us trapped at several other spots during the week as well and I ended up doing a total of 76 cats!

This photo shows what I saw when I drove up the first night to trap at this MHP. Unfortunately we did not get ALL the cats and will need to go back to finish up. Thank god for the drop-trap...                           
Waiting to be fixed

What was interesting is how few of the original cats I'd trapped in 2011 were still there. The cats we trapped were all new, young cats. In addition there were at least three litters. One litter, found behind the driver in the photo, went directly to a rescue group. Two other litters had to go back un-sterilized as there were way too young to fix. The last photo shows the mom cat at the vet with her kittens in the trap. At least mom is fixed and if the kittens survive we will go back and snag them. All liver under the trailers and conditions are not the best. All had lots of fleas! I hate putting litters back out there but we just do not have any choice when there are so many and not enough fosters and rescue groups willing to take them - especially this far in to kitten season.

If you are feeding feral cats and need help getting them fixed, please call me @: 602-717-2287 or email me @: pekalish@gmail.com

The Spay Neuter Hotline provides traps and a vet appointment for a tax-deductible donation. Trapping assistance is available for those in need.

Mom and Kittens

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bengal Cats

Most of my friends and colleagues know I am interested in purebred cats. I go to cat shows and love seeing the different breeds, especially Singapuras, Abyssinians, and American Short-haired Classic Tabby's.  Some day, once I solve the cat overpopulation problem, I will get one of these gorgeous cats but for now I would feel somewhat guilty.

What amazes me is those I meet in the field tell me they "just got" or "are feeding" a Bengal cat. a Russian Blue or a big Main Coon cat. I have to refrain from telling them that these cats, in fact, are not what they think they are.

The photo below is of a Bengal cat, a cross between a domestic feline and an Asian Leopard cat. I saw one at my vet's office this morning and he indicated that they can have health problems - possibly related to inbreeding.

 Purebred Bengal Cat

These caregivers are confusing he cats they have with a Classic tabby. Classic tabby's are a variety of tabby cat with an open or closed bull's eye pattern on its sides, a "butterfly pattern" on the back of the neck, and an "M" above the eyes. More distinct patterns also have a two dot pattern on both sides of the butterfly pattern and two distinct stripes down the back.  This classic pattern is not nearly as common as the "mackerel" variety of tabby whose stripes often look like a fish scale pattern. Some stripes are spotted making some of these cats resemble Bengals as well.

Below is a photo of a classic tabby often confused with a "Bengal" cat

American Short Haired classic Tabby

Similar mistakes are mad with Russian Blue cats and Main Coon's...However, most Persian cats are pretty distinct. I have trapped what appear to be Persian cats that were de-clawed. Clearly these "pets" had either been abandoned or escaped and joined feral colonies.

Below is a photo of a Singapura! So let's get busy spaying and neutering so I can get one of these beautiful cats.

Singapura Cat with Kittens

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cat Sense

I love books about cat behavior and recently came across an excellent one called "Cat Sense" by John Bradshaw. What I liked about this book is his take on the evolution of domestic cats. It is essentially the archaeology of domestic cats. His premise is that humans are gradually eliminating tame behavior, the very behavior humans cultivated, from the domestic cat population. Great read, especially if you are interested in cat genetics.

51Iic4oaiXL._SL300_.jpg (300×300)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 2014

"Hello is this Pam? I need to talk to you about the cats I am feeding. I need your help. There are about 30 cats and the neighbors are complaining. Cats are pooping in their yard. You need to do something". This is a typical call I receive on a daily basis. Yes, everyone seems to have too many cats! Why? Because they did not fix the cat that showed up on their doorstep before one cat became 30 cats...No one seems to realize the time, money, and effort required to fix 30 cats as opposed to one cat. And, these calls become even more urgent when it is kitten season - then, of course, it costs even more $$$ to fix pregnant cats. Why did they not call in December?

OK I have to complain once in a while but spaying and neutering cats is not always advised, especially when veterinarians tell clients to wait until the female cat is six months old before spaying her. Cats can go in to heat as early as six months of age...Or, the caregiver had heard it was good to let "mama have one litter" before spaying or, my favorite, the kittens need to be weaned before spaying mom. I have direct evidence of a cat having gotten pregnant the day after she gave birth! My motto is "spay the cat when you can". This is because the worst thing that can happen to a cat is not being fixed.

Now for the good news! I TNR'd 222 cats in February 2014. Was a very busy month as February's always are! Had a couple of big colonies including two with 27 cats each and a 34 cat colony for the Dr. Kit's mobile on 2/20. Below are some highlights of these adventures. Thank you Dr. Kit for these wonderful free clinics so we can help caregivers in need.

The following photos are some highlights of these successful trappings. 

Why are there so many Tortie's out there?

Too many cats!
Waiting to be trapped!

Let's see who can get in that trap first!

All of the cats shown above are now fixed...

If you are feeding cats in the Phoenix area and need assistance 
getting them fixed - please call or email me: C 602-717-2287; 

The last two photos were from cats in the 85051 zip code. 
Funding is available from the AHS to help cats in 85051 as 
well as other zip codes in that area of Phoenix and Glendale.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week of 10 February 2014

Caregivers have have been feeding cats at this defunct poultry processing facility since 1954 according to owner's relative. There have not been chickens there for at least 15 years, but the cats remained, breeding out of control...And NONE of them had been fixed. They are now - or at least 43 of them are! 

Cats go in, out and under this house

The photo at the right is of the
original main house on the property.

The cats go in and out and several cats were trapped near where the trap is set in the photo. Suzie and I trapped 29 cats the first night and 14 cats the second night for a total of 43 cats. 

This place has been there a long time. The caregivers indicated that the property was originally occupied around the turn of the century. The outbuildings suggested that there was a lot of history here...The following photos show some of the place where more than 43 free-roaming cats reside. 

I returned to the location yesterday and saw at least four more cats that were not ear tipped. I do this by taking photos with my digital camera then blowing them up on the screen. Works superbly for seeing those smaller eartips. A drop-trap is in order - will be a real challenge with so many fixed cats. But we do not give up finishing colonies. Here is a photo of two - one not eartipped.

You need fixing!

The photo below is the truck used to bring chickens to the processing facility.

 Old poultry truck

Cats are fed under this truck and at other places on the property. We also
trapped at two houses of the same vintage across the street where cats are also fed by the resident caregiver/caretaker. I cannot wait to bet back and snag the stragglers. This is when "the going gets tough, the tough get going"!

Stay tuned for week of 10 February - Part II!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 2014 - Drop-Trapping Adventure

The following is from my Facebook page from last week:

"Finally snagged this little breeding slut yesterday morning! Caregiver was after her for two years. She managed to bypass the drop-trap and get tasty chicken scraps out of the closed dumpster several times before going for the Friskies under the dropper. She is headed to the vet this AM...Photo shows her diving out of the dumpster before heading under the dropper...took two days and a lot of patience to trap her..."

Drop-Trapping the last cat!

This was one of the longest trapping jobs I have attempted in years. After trapping 43 cats with Suzie at a defunct chicken processing facility earlier in the week more on that in another blog, this job started on Wednesday night and continue until the last release on Wednesday of the following week. Four were trapped from this location in a mobile home park (MHP) and another nine were trapped at another location in the park for a total of 13 cats TNR'd in this MHP. I cannot remember how many traps were made to this place but I trapped morning and evening including all that weekend. However getting this last female (pregnant, of course) was the highlight of this endeavor. 

Note that this is an older drop-trap and my first one! It was built by my boyfriend (thank you Bill) and refurbished multiple times over the years. Bill build and refurbishes drop-traps. They do wear out over time because of the weight put on them while trying to transfer cats from the dropper into the trap. However, drop-traps are an invaluable resources when in the field trying to catch those difficult to trap cats. 

Thank you everyone who as read by new blog and for you supportive comments. If you need assistance with TNR in the Phoenix metro area please call me at: 602-717-2287

Friday, January 31, 2014

Pam's TNR Blog - January 2014 Part II

Off to a great start in 2014 with 184 cats TNR'd this month. Finished several audio books while running and driving and driving and driving....from one end of the valley to the other. Sometimes I feel like I am in a "holding pattern" on the 51 freeway!

These photos are of a trapping job I did this week in zip code 85051. Only 14 cats but I got them all...well, all that she knew of. There could be many free-roaming Tom's out there causing a lot of damage. More on this later...This photo below shows them ALL trying to get in the first trap set.

Darn it! He got in first...
This next photo was taken before the trap was set. These guys were hungry. The caregiver followed my instructions and did not feed the cats - the key to successful trapping. 

I trapped out West at a place I had been at least twice previously. The last time the mom cat I was after escaped out of the top of the drop-trap that had split open where the mesh attaches to the frame. What a nightmare! I got bitten and scratches and was bleeding and no bandaids - just paper towels to stop the bleeding. This time I got the little slut - and in a regular trap. While I was there I visited another place around the corner where Suzie and I had trapped about 25 cats. I found out they had more cats - and had not called me of course. Got one there and six at the other spot. I went back last night and caught five more with the drop-trap and one in a regular trap at the first location. I was able to get all six cats in to the Arizona S/N Clinic today - thank you Treva. There are still about seven more to catch there but I will have to go back later...so many places to go and not enough time...

We're hungry!
If you have questions about the TNR process or you live in the Phoenix area and need TNR assistance, please call me @: 602-717-2287. You can also email me @: pekalish@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pam's TNR Blog - January 2014

It's kitten season! Yes, cats are already pregnant and soon kittens will be everywhere. Indeed, kittens are really cute - but darn it, there are just too many of them. Where to begin? I am trying to prioritize my trapping but everyday there are more calls from desperate caregivers, many who did nothing before they saw mama cat "getting bigger". This photo taken in 2010 illustrates without words what I mean. It is January 24th and I have already 
Cute but too many of us!
TNR'd 152 cats in 2014. I am off to a good start. Have a job for seven cats this coming Sunday night and a 15 cat job on Monday night to round off the month. The latter may turn in to 20+ cats. Often caregivers underestimate the number of cats they are feeding. A 24 cat job I did earlier in the month turned in to 45 cats. 

We had a lot of free clinics in January and all stacked on top of each other. There were two free mobiles and the AHS clinic. The AHS clinic was the day after the second 
Mobile resulting in 201 cats being fixed over a two day period. Mobiles are a lot of work requiring Suzie and I to be there all day. We had 25 cats too many (oops!) and ended up at the N. Phoenix Spay Neuter Clinic with those 25 cats. Dr. Kit did 98 cats at the mobile the previous week making it 299 cats fixed for free. The following photo is of the mobile. Thank you Dr. Kit and staff for the wonderful work you do to help caregivers and cats in need. The Arizona 
Dr. Kit's Mobile

Humane Society has been free monthly clinics for 100 cats for several years now. This is always a big worry for me as I fear either too many or not enough cats. I usually lay awake all night worrying... however, we usually come in with too many so at least all 100 spaces are filled. There were 91 cats fixed there on 9 January...The following photo shows the cats I saw when I arrived at the business about 5:00 PM. 

This cats are ALL fixed now!
This place was trapping nirvana! I worked with the owner and a friend to catch 36 cats in less than an hour and a half. My friend went for more traps and we ended up with 39 cats but there were still more to trap...Three more were trapped for the AHS clinic the following day and three more the next week. Some small kittens went to rescue but all got fixed first. 

Today is 25 January and I drop-trapped the last cat at a place I trapped on 14/15 January. What a great feeling. Perseverance and patience are what is required to finish these big colonies. That makes 29 cats fixed thee in 2014. Twelve were fixed there previously but new ones surfaced or were born because not ALL the cats were fixed. Also, I found the neighbor was also feeding and had been fixing some of the cats but not all - bad idea! So I finished fixing her colony too.

Most of these cats were fixed thanks to the Priscilla Fund (PF) - a fund set up with the Foundation for Homeless Cats (FFHC). The PF helps cats and caregivers in need who are unable to afford to fix the cats they are feeding. For more information visit the: www.thefoundationforhomelesscats.org 

If you are feeding free-roaming cats and need information on colony management, the FFHC and Phoenix Feral Friends (PFF) are good sources. The most important thing is to get those cats spayed and neutered before the colony gets as big as the ones I am charged with fixing. It costs a lot more to fix and to feed these large colonies...and many more kittens are born that will not survive.

Stay tuned for my next blog on "Cat Sense", a new book by John Bradshaw I am currently reading. His research supports many of my ideas about cat behavior and reproduction...

f you live in the Phoenix metropolitan area and need help with free-roaming cat spay and neuter call the Spay Neuter Hotline @: 602-265-SPAY

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pam's TNR Blog - 2013 In Review

These cats are now fixed!
Welcome to Pam's new TNR blog! I am off to a great start in 2014 trying to get ahead of kitten season. Cats are already in-heat and we are seeing a few pregnant ones in the clinics...The photo to the right is of a caregiver we helped this week with 20 cats. She is elderly and feeds at about six locations in her apartment complex. The cats follow her around and even climb in her shopping cart she pushes around with the food and water for the cats.

2013 In Review

The Hotline statistics show just over 15,000 cats TNR'd in 2013. I personally TNR'd close to 1,700 cats last year. This was down from my record of over 2,200 cats in 2012. Priscilla Fund, my Charitable Foundation, helped fix 1,502 cats in 2013. Since 1999, when AzCATs began doing TNR in the Phoenix area, almost 115,000 free-roaming cats have been sterilized. I started compiling my yearly trapping statistics in 2008 and since then I have TNR'd 11,887 cats! These numbers, of course, do not include the kittens that were never born thanks to the efforts of all those involved in making TNR so successful over the years. There have been a lot of changes since 1999, some improvements and some setbacks, but despite the challenges we have managed to keep fixing more cats ever year. My hope is one day all cats will have homes, there will be no need for rescue groups to exist, and I can spend more time hiking and doing volunteer archeology...and of course reading more history and science books. Maybe even do some traveling - perhaps to Caye Caulker Island in Belize where they desperately need TNR.

The following are some highlights of 2013:

May 2013

Photo of Suzie drop-trapping next to the junk at Don's "compound" in South Phoenix We fixed close to 100 ferals there in May 2013 and we also helped fix several tame cats and close to 10 dogs for those who lived on Don's property. These people desperately needed our help. Many cats were done on Dr. Kit's mobile (thank you Dr. Kit!) and at the free AHS clinic in Sunnyslope.

This cat at Don's was reluctant to go under the drop-trap. Drop-trapping takes a lot of patience. Waiting for cats to cooperate is a good time to listen to audio books of talk on the phone.t at Don's was reluctant to go under the drop-trap. Drop-trapping takes a lot of patience. Waiting for cats to cooperate is a good time to listen to audio books of talk on the phone.

Waiting and waiting and waiting....
There are still more cats there to TNR. Don called last week and there are about six more needing to be fixed. It is important to follow up on new cats which can be difficult when one is feeding close to 100 cats!

June 2013

Newborn kittens in June 2013. These were too young to fix and when we called about fixing them 6-weeks later they had not survived. Kitten survival rate is very low...which is why cats
breed fast to make up for the low survival rate of their offspring.
What to do with kittens too small to fix?

Still not fixed!
September 2013

...and more kittens! This stunning calico mom and her kittens were found lying outside an apartment entrance in a complex I have been working in for years - yes, trying to fix all the residents free-roaming cats and their tame pets cats. The feeder would not cooperate and now the mom and kittens are still out there and have not been caught. 

I encourage caregivers to fix pregnant and lactating mother cats when they can as they may not get the opportunity. Now it is too late. 
The amount of time, energy and
money that goes in to trying to get the cats and kittens later is reason enough to fix them when one can. These kittens could also been used as bait. And, I even had a foster lined up!

December 2013

There were so many memorable   caregivers, clinics, situations and 
I am fixed!
photo in Cocoa Beach at the local beach hangout.
I was so excited when I saw he was ear-tipped. He seemed like the quintessential male cat just enjoying a day by the beach. There were so many memorable situations and challenges in 2013 - too many to include in this blog. 

If you need help with TNR of free-roaming cats in the Phoenix area, please call Pam @: 602-717-2287. 
You can also reach me by email @: pekalish@gmail.com.

Stay tuned for more TNR adventures in 2014! Please spread the word...TNR is the most humane and effective method of stabilizing free-roaming cat populations. For more information on colony manage to the Foundation for Homeless Cats website @: www.thefoundationforhomelesscats.org

Thank you for your support.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pam's TNR Blog - March/April 2013

One highlight of recent trapping jobs was a colony I trapped along with my faithful trapping partner. It started with the free Az Humane Society clinic in early April where we met Don. He brought in 14 cats and indicated he had a LOT more to fix - an understatement. To top it off, while checking in at the clinic, one of the cats was giving birth in the trap! BTW this happens often as cats become stressed in the traps while waiting to be fixed. Often the kittens are born prematurely and do do not survive. Those kittens were lucky and went to foster with the mom cat and we began to make a plan to get the rest of the cats. Mom was later fixed and returned.

We went back the next night and caught eight more female cats with the drop-trap and made plans to do more as soon as possible. This was a desperate situation and needs help. With so many wanting assistance (because they waited too long to call and all the cats were now pregnant), we could not go back right away resulting in more kittens being born. We did another 36 cats on Dr. Kit's mobile and at N. Phoenix S/N Clinic on 4/22. After a long day at the clinic (not to mention having to aftercare 36 cats), I managed to go back to Don's that night and trapped another 16 cats for the next day. I was there after dark navigating the overwhelming hazards on the property. We got six more the next morning with the dropper and other one the following morning when releasing the second days crowd. This was a male requiring yet another round trip to S. Phoenix to release one male cat. With these seven more total of 82 cats were TNR'd at this colony.  We also rescued a total of 19 kittens for a total of 101 cats from this one colony. There are still about 10 cats left to fix so we will be back soon with the trusty drop-trap. It will be a challenged with 82 cats already fixed. 

This job clearly demonstrated that there are challenges to trapping a big colony to make sure ALL the cats are fixed. This was clearly an example of someone who waited too long to do TNR. I might mention we also fixed seven dogs belonging to residents living on property and an additional two pet cats. 

The following photos are highlights of this trapping job.

Drop-trapping at Don's

Waiting to be trapped and fixed

Great place for cats to breed and live...

It amazes me how young kittens such as this do so well and recover so quickly. These three went right to the food bowl upon release. 

This guys were hungry but are now fixed...

The importance of TNR cannot he emphasized enough. The example above is just one many more similar situations we deal with routinely. In March I did 175 cats and in April, 152 cats. This does not include the pickup,transport, release and aftercare for numerous other caregivers. The 2013 kitten season is nearly over (it is now June), and as I say every year; "it was the worst kitten season ever". Perhaps it is because we had some alternatives for rescue not available in years past. As Summer begins we are now fixing kittens and soon it will be the teenagers - ALL whose births could have been prevented if action had been taken sooner...Now the voice mails say; "I have a mother cat and kittens in my shed". 

I wish I had time to share the many other experiences and perhaps one day I will. I would like to share the experiences with the caregivers, not just the cats. Many are grateful and appreciative...others are demanding and think i am their personal slave. Yet somehow I keep going...It will be 10 years in November.

That know me know that I am focused on the problem and the solution. Having worked as an engineer for 26 years and solving difficult problems, I have spent a lot of time looking at the problem of "too many cats" and not enough homes for them. Recently I have concluded that stabilizing colonies is the solution, not fixing all the cats. So this is what I advocate and work on. Focusing on what I call "pods" of cats and preventing more "pods" from developing is what is needed. Preventing kittens from being born is important but it is even more important, when this cannot be prevented, to prevent new "pods" from forming. This happens when caregivers give away kittens without fixing them first. Followup is also important and a lot of time is spent on this task (i.e. making sure any new cats are fixed). It is also important to find these pods early to minimize the time and energy needed to stabilize that pod.

So what can you do? Get involved in your neighborhood working to keep your "pod under control. Think of  this concept of overlapping circles on a grid. There will always be truly feral cats out there but fed cats will ALL be spayed and neutered. It takes a serious commitment but is doable - I know because I have done it. I will close with my favorite quote about commitment and motivation: "Do or do not, there is no try" - Yoda from Star Wars

So go out there and make a difference in the lives of free-roaming cats...

Pam's TNR Blog - February 2013

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 feralcats@adlaz.com

Feel free to email me with questions about cat management or trapping: pekalish@gmail.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". 

Happy trapping!

Pam's TNR Blog - December 2012

December is ticking away and I am still trying to meet or exceed my 2,200 cat goal for 2012. As of last week the number cats TNR'd by me in 2012 was 2,087 in 2012 (9,910 cats from 2008 on). This coming week I'll be trapping every night to try to reach my goal. With the holidays coming, it becomes more difficult to keep up the pace. And, Suzie has been out of commission as her truck has been in the shop for nearly a month being fixed. So I am pretty much on my own. Audio books really help since it seems I am driving ALL the time trapping and going too and from the vet.

There have been so many rewarding trapping experiences this past year. It is difficult to chose the most memorable. However, one from November stands out as exceptional. It was a colony of 58 cats in the 85051 target zip code. This is one of the zip codes the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) is funding to help reduce the number of cat turn-ins at their shelter. There were 27 males and 26 females in this colony. This means 26 female cats will not be having kittens next year. All the cats were trapped over a two night period.

The setting for this colony was idyllic. It was a several acre historic property nestled within the city and surrounded by housing developments. The historic house and garage were adobe and the grounds were perfectly suited for a colony of feral cats. I'd driven by this place many times thinking "there must be feral cats there". I had hesitated driving is as there was a long tree-lined driveway leading up to the house and I had no idea what might be waiting for me at the end of the driveway!

Since 58 cats was too big for my Element, I had the help of two ace trappers, Sheri and Andrea. Actually it was Sheri who had discovered this colony thanks to Toni at Citizen's for North Phoenix Strays (CNPS). Toni often gets calls from caregivers looking for help finding homes for cats and kittens. Since many are feral cats that are not adoptable, she refers caregivers to me if they are in need of TNR and these folks desperately needed out help. So many do not know about TNR and become frustrated wondering just what to do. Of course when I hear there may be 60 cats to be fixed, I immediately become anxious to get there and fix 'em. These caregivers' prayers were answered when we showed up to help them. This photo, taken as the first two traps were set, says it all:

We trapped for a Sunday clinic at the North Phoenix Spay Neuter Clinic. This was carefully planned as we were not sure how many the kind Dr. would do. We trapped 50 cats the first night and five more showed up from other caregivers. And, thanks to the Dr. and his wonderful hard working staff, they managed to fix all 55 cats that day in additional to their regular appointments! So I had 50 cats in the garage for aftercare that night and Sheri and I also went back with the trusty drop-trap to finish the job. Not only did we have to cats to trap and get to the clinic the next day but we'd have 50 cats to aftercare and to release the next morning. We had eight more cats in the next day including the ones trapped over night. Sheri was at my place before six AM to pick up cats to release. The photo below shows traps being lined up as we trapped the first night:

The photo below is of Sheri releasing one of the first 50 cats the next morning. As you can see it was still dark out.

The next photo shows some eight, happy, fixed kittens that were released the following day. Notice that great looking ear-tip.

After picking up the last eight cats that night I had another trapping job for 12 cats that turned in to 26 cats over the next two nights. That next Saturday I trapped 21 more cats making the total for the week of 105 cats. What made this more remarkable was that all of these cats were trapped the week of Thanksgiving...As most of my fellow trappers know, the holidays do not stop my trapping. Cats know nothing about holidays and continue to breed. Although November is not kitten season, it arrives in March of the next year. Thankfully, these 105 cats in the metro Phoenix area will no longer be part of the breeding cycle.  

Thanks go out to ADLA and the AHS for making it possible to continue and expand TNR in our community. TNR has proven to be the most humane and effective method of stabilizing free-roaming cat populations. When I became involved with TNR in 2003, I had no idea 10 years later there would be such awareness and and interest in TNR. It truly has made a difference in my life and in the lives of free-roaming, primarily feral, cats in the metro Phoenix area. Please spread the word - help is available. Call the Hotline for information and assistance with TNR: 602-265-7729 (SPAY)

Happy holidays and happy trapping!