This summer completely got away from me. I had such big plans to write all the time, keep everyone up to date with our current bottle-fed foster babies, and regale you with tales of the wonderful world of rescue. However, real life got in the way and here we are, in November already!! I may have some posts that are out of order from here on out- in an effort to catch up and get my five or six faithful readers up to date- but I’ll try to make it fun, at least!
In mid-July, we received a phone call from a family that lives in Platteville, a small, rural town surrounded by corn fields and blue skies in eastern Colorado. They have lived there for decades, and over the years have seen a lot of animals dumped off by un-concerned folks, hoping that their once-loved cats would catch food in the fields and survive. However, this is not what ended up happening.
In my initial conversation with the owner’s daughter “C”, she explained that they have tried for more than a year to get some help with catching these cats. They had called every rescue group they could locate. They called animal control. They got in touch with the closest shelters. Over and over again, they were told no, that it wasn’t their problem, and that there were no resources to help. What probably started out as a handful or ten cats had exploded into a cat population of more than 65 cats.
“C”, had brought two kittens that the family wanted to keep to a local shelter for a low-cost vaccination clinic, and ran into my mom, a volunteer at the clinic. When she explained the situation to my mother, she told her to call me and see what CAWL could do to help (thanks for that, Mom! just kidding). She called three days later on a Wednesday, and explained that they were looking for help with spay/neuter and vaccinations, rehoming some of the cats, and getting them healthy as possible since there were some with upper respiratories. We had a spay/neuter clinic planned with our friend Holly Aubart from DFL’s Meow Mobile for that Friday, so I agreed to come trap a few cats and get started- figuring I’d take what I could to that clinic and get them fixed a few at a time. ”C” said that was great, so I planned to come up and meet them the next day.
I got there pretty early, when it was still cool enough for the kitties to be out and about. When I first pulled up, there were close to 20 cats visible, hanging out in the front yard, on the porch, and hanging in the shade of the cars parked on the property. I was greeted by the great granddaughter of the owner, “A”, who immediately helped me grab as many of the cats as we could and put them in crates. They were friendly!! Lots of them were totally friendly, happy, adoptable cats. I was so excited! In the first 20 minutes, I think we caught about 25 cats and kittens and placed them in crates. Two other volunteers came up to help, and we spent the next two hours setting traps, netting cats, and continuing to pick up the ones that would allow it.
By 1:00 p.m., we had 43 cats total. We had to quit- we were out of traps and crates, and couldn’t fit a single extra being in any of our cars. What started as a plan for four or five kitties quickly escalated- but what could we do? We knew the chances of being able to take that many in one trip again were really slim. I had to take the chance and jump on it- especially since I knew there were at least another 15-20 cats on the property.
On that hour long drive home, I called Holly from DFL. This girl has always done everything that she could to help those of us in rescue- squeezing us in during her regular clinics, helping us set up an extra clinic here and there so we could do a bunch of CAWL cats at once, giving us advice on testing and medical issues. I can’t say enough good about her. We physically could not do what we do, in any capacity, without Holly. (She also doesn’t like this kind of recognition, but she sure deserves it. We love you, Holly!) I explained that I had 43 cats coming back to my house and asked what, if anything, we could do to get them all taken care of. I knew we had some other low cost options, but it was so last minute I wasn’t sure how we could make it all happen!
Holly somehow talked her vet friend Dr. Jason Cordeiro (http://www.1lastgiftsite.com/) who had already volunteered to spay and neuter the CAWL cats into doing a much longer project- vetting all of my 43 cats in a day (or two, as it ended up). So for two days, I had the privilege of hosting the Meow Mobile in all its glory in front of my house! My neighbors thought it was awesome. (Seriously!) Dr. Cordeiro and Holly managed to get all of the kitties fixed, vaccinated, tested… you name it, they got it done. Meanwhile, Lisa Petri and I ran recovery in my garage, cleaning cages, feeding and watering… 43 cats is a LOT to handle, even if only for a day or two!!
Afterwards, we were able to place about 25 cats in foster homes so they could be adopted. Since then, we have trapped an additional 20 cats and taken another 13 in to be adopted out. The colony is now manageable! It’s been really amazing to see how healthy the cats have become; many of those that are still on the property were those that hid out and were pretty darn skinny. It seemed the friendly ones would get more to eat, as they didn’t mind hanging with the family when they fed them! Now, though, most of those super friendly kitties are gone- and the rest of the colony can truly thrive. All in all, we were able to trap, spay and neuter 65 cats here.
TNR is hard, and sometimes feels like a never-ending cycle. However, this project (though still on-going as we have a couple cats left to trap!) has been so incredibly rewarding, thanks to huge cooperation between groups!! Big thanks to Cathy from Duncan’s Place in Loveland, Colorado, for donating a pallet of wet food to these kitties; to Holly Aubart and Dumb Friends League for allowing us to utilize the Meow Mobile the way that we did, and for all the dry cat food; to Dr. Cordeiro for volunteering his time to help us out, on the truck and afterwards for follow up medical care; to Ariella and her Brownie Girl’s group for building the feral cat houses for this property; to The Giving Paw for donating the supplies for these cat houses; and anyone else that I’m forgetting!! We could not have made this happen without you guys.
The picture below is a before-and-after of Big Blue, who was formerly the meanest guy on the property (and had facial wounds to prove it). Look how amazing he looks now!! Fixed cats are happy cats. :)