I wanted to make this post to vent and to advocate for our community cats and the wonderful volunteers who work tirelessly to care for these cats. I worked in and managed a low cost spay/neuter clinic for 5 years. This clinic fixed lots and lots of community/feral cats. During this time I was able to build working relationships with lots of cat trappers who made it their mission to care for these cats and help control the community cat population. While I managed this clinic I was able to witness first hand the massive amount of time energy and effort that the volunteers put into these cats and this mission. After leaving that particular job I had very little interaction with the cat trappers that I would normally see 2-4 times a week. I built such close relationships with some of the trappers that we even had each other's phone numbers. I recently bought a house and I noticed that there were about 7-9 cats in my community that hang in my yard. I started to feed these cat and knew that I had to get them fixed. I reached out to the clinic that I used to work for to request assistance with getting the cats fixed. My request was met with resistance and my effort to ask for help was pointless. I did not want the cats removed I just wanted to get them fixed. I decided to reach out to one of my cat trapper friends to ask for assistance. Meow or Never came out and trapped 8 of the 9 cats. These cats can now live and roam freely. Sometimes I feel as if the people who take on the daunting task of managing community cat colonies, feeding colonies, trapping and taking care of baby kittens do not get the credit that they deserve. Community cat people are special people and I am grateful.
Thank you, Marissa, for your post. So many do not "get" the tireless work of the cat trappers.... long hours, disappointing outcomes, push back from clinics and the public, and heartbreaking scenarios when the size of the group of cats have gotten too large and their health and welfare has been compromised. However, the rewards are always there.... happier, healthier cats, overwhelming gratitude from the cat caregivers and like-minded neighborhoods, and ultimately the positive impact on cat intake at the municipal shelter. These are the things that keep our team moving forward.
"With gratitude, optimism is sustainable" – Michael J Fox
Hi Marissa,Your post rings so true! I previously TNR'd in a different state for my uncle's neighborhood and it was so rewarding. I'm in a new neighborhood now and have my first feral. I called my vet first to ask about TNR and they said they could only scan them for a chip but that they had to go to the county for a five day hold in case they had an owner. I thought the absence of a chip and that they appear feral would indicate no owner. I then called the county and they confirmed what the vet said with the exception for if they are feral. All I want to do is make sure they are fixed and up to date on shots. It should not be this confusing to help these kitties! Best of luck with yours:)
Luckily our city has a spay/neuter ordinance so if the cat gets sterilized and returned (with the bonus we give which are vaccines and a microchip), the only thing a possible owner can complain about is the eartip. Leaving a cat unsterilized and at large begs the question as to if there is a "responsible" pet owner at all..... Therefore, if we take a friendly, healthy stray, there is a good chance that someone is caring for it as well, so we still return it. If there is a clearly displaced cat, which can be determined pretty easily by looking at it and its behavior... those are the cats that need to be on stray hold and we all should be looking for potential owners that lost the cat... and likely it is already sterilized...but not always. However, friendly displaced or abandoned cats should not be returned if they are not thriving. It is likely they do not have the skills to be outdoor free-roaming cats if they have not lived outside in the past or if they were taken from the territory that they know. Erin, I'm sure you know all of this, but it may take a while to help your community to understand it. Anecdotal information seems to work the best for me in explaining these things to people one-on-one.
That sounds like an absolute nightmare, and shows you have your work cut out for you if you plan to start trying to develop a TNR program in your community. But I'm finding people talking about TNR that knew nothing about it until they saw those two older women get arrested in Alabama for feeding and fixing the feral cats! You might find more people know about TNR than you thought. Good luck!
Marissa Reed - Yes!! This is so true - an army of people work hard, and sacrifice personal time and funds to take care of community cats. They work in the shadows, often facing resistance from community members and local business owners. I have recently begun helping a couple of women in my community - both in their late 70s. I learned that there is an underground network of feeders - they face the most backlash and some have been outright prohibited from feeding on-site by their employers. These people work hard and deal with a steady level of heartbreak - they are saints. I would love to do a study about them. It could contribute to developing a community public relations protocol. If anyone is aware of any studies already done on this topic - I'd love to hear about them.
This is an interesting study that might speak to some of your interests!"State of the Mewnion": Practices of Feral Cat Care and Advocacy Organizations in the United States
Thank you so much for posting this study - it looks really interesting.
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