We are feral cat colony caretakers. I like the sound of that, don’t you? This means several things. We take responsibility to TNR all of our cats.
First, this means we TRAP cats that come into our yard and take them to the vet to NEUTER or spay them. By the way, Clyde tells me that he and his fellow male cats are not too keen about the “N” part of TNR, but that he intellectually understands the rationale.
It’s interesting to note that the reason why so many human males refuse to have their dogs or cats neutered is that they believe it reflects on their “manhood.” Yeah, sure it does.
In addition, our vet examines each cat and notes any other health concerns. They always call me if there is a concern and I have that care provided when necessary. Our TNR cats always receive Rabies and FVRCP vaccinations, and always have their ears checked for problems. I have never liked an itchy ear and Clyde tells me that cats like an itchy ear even less. Of course, we left eartip all ferals.
When it’s time for pickup, we bring the cats home to recover. They are placed inside in a quiet, temperature regulated, isolated room, either Nancy’s study or my study. Recovery is the most neglected aspect of TNR.
First, we give time for recovery because it takes a proper amount of time to allow the sedation and its effects to completely wear off and for the cat to begin to function normally. Please note – cats cannot regulate their body temperatures when sedated. The larger the cat, the more heavily sedated she is. Secondly, we keep TNR cats in our home long enough for healing to have a good start, and for the cat to begin eating and drinking. Then, we RETURN the cat to where it was originally trapped. This is standard protocol. Please note that the word is RETURN, not release.
Once back outside in their original colony location, the colony remains stable and no more kittens are born. The neutered male cats no longer have to fight or roam. Of course, we continue to provide food and fresh water for them as well as shelter. In Northern Illinois, it does get cold.
As many of you know, feral cats are a marginalized population. An uninformed public regards ferals as inconvenient and worthless at best. At worse, that same public regards them as better off dead. Some even believe it’s the cats’ fault for being born – go figure. In addition, neighborhood cats are certainly an easy target for those of an evil mind. The incidence of maiming and torture is too high to ignore.
I greatly admire and respect one particular feral cat specialist. She is Gesine Lohr. Gesine is an expert in TNR, taming, and rescue ethics. Gesine is experienced, intelligent, articulate, and she perseverates with her TNR work and clear teaching. Gesine is one of the very few who is clearly a goddess! She is a foremost proponent of TNR and knows that TNR is the conditio sine qua non to solving issues involving feral cats.
Gesine is also a proponent of “Yes, you can tame/sanctuary hard stray cats, even though many rescue advocates say you can’t.” Both Nancy and I know Gesine is correct and we, too, have experienced the same good results. Of course, it isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone.
Feral cats are called by a variety of names – take your pick. American cats, community cats, feral cats, feral friends, free-roaming cats, hard strays, neighborhood cats, our cats, stray cats, and street cats are names I most often hear. Of course, those who do not like cats in any form have a list of other names – none of which is suitable for the family fare of these pages.
We need to remind ourselves: “Cats nap. Humans kill.” There is no reason to kill a cat unless there are severe neurological problems. Brain injury or brain tumor comes to mind.
We are here and reading this because of our love for cats and maybe our love for cats on the fringe, those we call feral cats or neighborhood cats. I prefer to think of them as “our cats.” We have the privilege of being their caretakers if we desire to do so.
We express gratitude for those people who work tirelessly to make this a better world for cats. In the midst of it all, we need to remember to be thankful for those feral felines and domestic felines are have become part of us. We think of the kitties who benefit from our care, knowledge, and resources. We keep them close in our thoughts. They are in our hearts and never leave.
The following ran through my mind as I was thinking about our kibs. You may recall the last verse of the Sesame Street counting song, “Two Little Dolls.” Caution: if you are a male, under no circumstances should you tell your guy friends you even know this!
What’s that? Small pitter-pats
One, two, two kitty cats
Two kitty cats went on a spree
Then sat down and had some tea.
That is all I remember from the song. Maybe, that’s all I need to remember. Well, at least Clyde and Snowball said they enjoyed my singing. They are such diplomats, aren’t they?
Head butts, love bites, and kitty kisses to all!