by Jackie Dale
Trapping During The Holidays
The past month and a half has been like a vacation. I have not been taking many cats, and I must say, I really needed the break. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, settling my father’s estate, and the vet being on vacation, it just seemed like the right time to pull back a bit. Not to say that I didn’t stay busy! I continued to TNR right up until the vet left on December 22. A very nice couple in Clovis hired me to trap the three cats living on their large property. They liked the cats very much; they just didn’t want kittens. I captured all three, and I was paid generously for my time and effort. I wish all my TNR’s were like this! The bottom line is that those who can pay help pay for when there is no one to pay. Like the cats at the Selma post office. Betty, who I thought would never tame down, has made a complete turnaround. Betty and her brother, Pepe, have been released from their cages are now living a very nice life in my yard.
Another TNR job I had went very well. Until the caretakers called to say that the cats have started disappearing. We do not understand what is happening. The cats had returned to the feeding station post-surgery. Then they began to slowly disappear. One showed up sick, the vet felt it was poisoned and the cat was put down. I believe that a nearby drug house and homeless who frequent a park across the street may be the problem.
The TNR in Reedley continued until we determined that we had trapped all the targeted cats. The project coordinator compiled all the data and presented it to the city of Reedley. They were very impressed and have agreed to the implementation of a citywide TNR program. Of course, as I expected, the requests for help began to come. However, we still have one very important hurdle to get over. The money hurdle. Who is going to pay to get the stray cats fixed and vaccinated? Well, we are hoping to receive donations to cover these costs. We will also pursue any available grants. My part in this scenario will be to oversee the actual trapping. Eventually, I hope to recruit volunteers and train them how to trap. Traps must be set up a particular way, placed in the right spot, and monitored. If constant monitoring isn’t possible, the trap must be locked to something.Once trapped, the cat(s) must be kept in the trap until the vet appointment. This involves setting up the traps in a room or garage. I set the traps on top of pee pads so the cat can eliminate through the cage onto the pad which is then easily changed. Generally the poo can be shaken out through cage, but if not, or it is not too solid, the cat must be transferred into another cage. This means inserting a cage divider to hold the cat in while I open the cage and line it up, door to door, with a clean cage. I cover the clean cage and then pull out the divider. The cat usually will run to the covered cage. I reinsert the divider to again hold the cat in while I lower the door. I have also done this a few times when I caught two cats in the same cage. That is quite the feat if I do say so myself and involves using multiple dividers. Those same dividers are what we use to put food and water into the traps. You simply can’t take chances with an escape because cats are lightning fast and they can squeeze through a seemingly impossibly small space. This is due in part to the fact that cats have no collar bone. I have actually had smaller cats squeeze through the bars of the divider. It is no fun at all trying to catch a feral cat loose in a room. They can literally destroy a room in an attempt to elude capture. People sometimes get bit. I had one cat climb straight up a wall and then perch itself on a 1/2 inch shower rod. Sometimes it is best to just reset the trap and wait. Hunger always wins out eventually.
Friendly Strays Get a 2nd Chance!
I did spent a bit of time recruiting friendly adult cats for my rescue. Coordinating these rescue transports can be time consuming. I have to make sure multiple people show up where they are supposed to, on time, with the appropriate paperwork. I make it abundantly clear that once I submit their cat to my rescue, that cat belongs to me.
If I saw a cat posted on Facebook that looked like a good candidate, I would ask a few questions. Or sometimes people would contact me. One young lady, referred to me by an acquaintance, found a cute tortoiseshell kitten in Kingsburg that I agreed to take. Another lady in Reedley was caring for a friendly stray black male who showed up in her yard. My foster lady at the mobile home park currently had a friendly gray and a tortoiseshell. A lady in Fresno contacted me about a friendly, fixed stray that showed but she could not keep. He was a very sweet fellow! All five of these cats were accepted by my rescue, and they were very happy with the friendly group. All were quickly adopted!
Then along came a cat I named Ophelia. She was found as a stray in nearby Parlier. Turns out the cat was chipped. The owner was contacted, and she claimed the cat had been stolen by her neighbors two years previously. The owner, despite having moved to another state, said she wanted the cat back and would make the necessary arrangements. Well, we never heard from her again, so Ophelia stayed with me for a while. The first day she hid in the closet, hissed, and tried to bite me. Second day, she let me pet her, but still in the closet. Day three, she was out of the closet and let me pet her. By day four, I am her new best friend. A week later, I gave her a vaccination and back into the closet and hissing. It took her a couple days to get over the indignity and then back to normal.
Right before Christmas my only two kittens, one orange female and one black male, left for rescue, too. The New Year started out fabulously with Ophelia, two more cats from the mobile home park foster (they just keep appearing!), and three adorable, fixed kittens (from my Sanger foster), going to my rescue.
Eight days later, I sent eleven, count them, ELEVEN, cats and kittens to the rescue! I sent three unfixed kittens from my wonderful foster in Sanger, (the rescue has its own spay clinic), one senior orange fellow whose person died, a gorgeous silver, blue-eyed adult from a person ordered by her landlord to reduce the number of her cats, one white adult male being cared for by my mobile home park foster person, and also from the mobile home park, five super cute kittens from the foster’s neighbor. It was a challenge getting all those carriers into my Hyundai Sonata.
Cat dumping is a very pervasive problem for this mobile home park. I told these residents that the park needs to take some kind of action to prevent non-residents from entering the park for the purpose of dumping cats. Even a camera to record license plates could act as somewhat of a deterrent.
So if I add up the numbers, between December 8 and January 13, 24 cats and kittens to rescue!!!
My current challenge: a friend brought me a cat that was already TNRed, but was trapped by a neighbor who claimed the cat was killing birds. She said she intended to dump the cat, so I agreed to take it in. It has thus far only let me touch it once. She hides under the bed or in the closet. It has thus far peed on the bed twice. Fortunately, I keep a waterproof cover on the bed. Unless this cat has some serious change of attitude, I am going to have to figure out a plan B for this cat.
I will continue to try to get cats and kittens into rescue while I wait for the vet to resume performing spays and neuters. Until she does, I can’t really do any TNR. I will continue to enjoy this brief respite because it is only a matter of time before kitten season begins.
If you would like to make a donation, I have a PayPal account steamodale@gmail[dot]com. You can also send donations via good old snail mail to Jackie Dale, P O Box 1859, Reedley, CA, 93654. Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com.