Categories
Uncategorized

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

As the new year is about to begin, I am pausing to reflect on the year gone by. It surely has been a year filled with mixed emotions. CCN has grown in strength as we now have more cat trapping volunteers and cover a wider area. This has resulted in an increasing number of cats being helped (see our stats). The support from our followers has also been truly amazing. They know what we do and support us accordingly. This is of course encouraging and keeps us motivated. However, the success of the organisation also has its drawbacks with an increasing number of calls coming in; no matter the time of the day or the day of the week, we are expected to be at the other end of the phone and to solve each and every problem immediately. Obviously, the fact that more people are looking for help for the cats is welcome, but the demands are often impossible to meet, which results in frustration on both parts.

Although CCN have achieved so much in the past six years, it remains a small organisation, run by a small number of very dedicated volunteers, human beings whose lives can at times be dictated by improving the welfare of cats. Yet, in the eye of the public, we are just an organisation, set up to resolve the problem of cat over-population. How we manage it is of very little concern to them. Since the inception of the organisation, we are aware of the dangers of compassion fatigue; however, we are drawn by a compulsion to help cats in need, we just cannot turn a blind eye. People who know us, be they friends or supporters, keep reminding us that we need to mind ourselves and they are right of course. Others involved in animal rescue know well what I am talking about as this is not something specific to CCN. When involved in animal welfare, you face a trojan task; it is all the more difficult that it can get emotional when witnessing on a daily basis the suffering of animals. Dealing with this and other personal problems can become dangerously challenging.

I recently met up with Maggie, co-founder of the organisation, and we were discussing those ambiguous feelings. We are truly amazed at what has been achieved, but we are also burnt out and wondering about how we can manage to cope. We decided to both take a hiatus for the rest of the year and encouraged other volunteers to also take some kind of a break, so that we could catch up with unfinished work, as well as mind ourselves and reflect about the future and how to better deal with it. I have decided to write this new year’s post in the first person because it expresses personal views, but also to remind the public that behind the name “Community Cats Network” are human beings who sometimes struggle to help animals in need and raise the funds to do so.

Behind the name “Community Cats Network” are a bunch of unpaid volunteers who will go above and beyond to help cats in need. However, for this to happen, we need to be treated with the respect that is due to any human being. What gives us the motivation is the ability to assist people who care for cats and to see the lives of these cats improved thanks to our efforts. Most who will read this post are supporters who are already aware of this, but I hope it also reaches out to others and make some understand that we can achieve a lot more by finding solutions together. We don’t see ourselves as heroes saving the lives of animals, rather we see ourselves as just regular people who are here to assist and guide communities in solving the very real problem of cat over-population, which more often than not also has its toll on the humans caring for the cats.

I don’t wish much for 2018, just that we can continue our mission peacefully and help many more cats and their people. Hopefully, we can make another little step forward to make this world a better place to live for cats.

I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate all the volunteers who keep CCN going: the cat trappers, the ones dealing with administration and fundraising and the ones who lend a helpful hand when they can and in the way they can; they all play a crucial role in helping cats in needs and it is thanks to this combination of forces that the organisation can achieve so much. The vets and vet nurses we work with also deserve a special mention for caring for the cats of course, but also as friendly ears and shoulders who help to keep our spirits uplifted. On behalf of all at CCN, I would like to thank the supporters, be they donors of funds or donors of kind words to keep us going, the organisation would not be without them. I wish you all and your furry friends a happy and healthy new year!

Em

Categories
Animal stories Animal Welfare

More Than We Bargain for

It is a lovely Saturday afternoon in Youghal and the lady is in her garden with her children enjoying the rays of the warm sun of May when a little black and white cat walks in and meows. The lady has a humane reaction and offers this little cat some leftovers from the Saturday lunch. The following day, the little cat returns and waits outside the patio door until she gets fed. The lady is a bit concerned and takes some photos to put on social media to find out whether this cat is owned. That Monday morning, the little cat is still in her garden and the lady makes some phone calls to rescues to look for help, but the answer is the same everywhere: “sorry, we are full.” Kitten season has begun and the volunteers for all cat welfare organisations are already wondering how they are going to cope…

Then, one organisation gives a different answer: they can help to have the cat neutered and advertise her on their website for rehoming. It is not really what the lady was hoping for, but it is better than nothing. And so, that evening, the volunteer from Community Cats Network calls in with a cage. The cat is nowhere to be seen though and both caller and volunteer think she may have returned home, or… The volunteer leaves a cage with the lady and they promise to keep in touch. A few days later, the little cat shows up again hungrier than ever, and the following day again. The lady, kind and caring, feeds her and that Monday morning puts her in the cage to bring her to the volunteer. A few hours later, the little cat has been neutered but the reality they did not want to face has also been confirmed: she is just after having kittens. The area is searched, neighbours are called upon, but nobody has heard the small screams of kittens when they are hungry. Options are limited: the lady will have to keep feeding her until she brings her kittens so that all can be neutered and rehomed. That’s the plan anyway, but as we all know, nothing ever goes according to plans!

The weeks pass and the little cat calls down every day for food, but no sign of kittens. And then one evening, on the 8th week, a little head appears from the bushes, and a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 4th! The lady makes contact and trapping is promptly organised so that the kittens can be neutered and we can move onto the 2nd step: rehoming the feline family. However, the kittens are now nine weeks old and have had no human interaction so they are very skittish. Enquiries are made by both the volunteer and the lady and a rescue space is secured for 3 of the kittens so that only one is returned to the mother, making things a little bit easier for the lady who had never made the decision to take on a family of cats.

The friendly mum and her little kitten were advertised for rehoming, but nobody showed any interest. It was the height of kitten season and little balls of fluff could be found anywhere and everywhere and so the grown-up cat and her baby did not stand a chance. It is now October and the lady feels defeated. It is way more than she bargained for when she gave the first piece of chicken to that little hungry cat. All she wanted to do was to help her out, but now she realises that her whole summer has been dictated by the furry being living in her garden. She never made the decision to adopt a cat – she does not even really like cats – someone else did, but she ended up being the one buying food for that hungry mother, being the one who had to make arrangements when she would be gone for more than a day or two… All she wanted was to be kind and do the right thing for this little cat…

Now, let’s go back in time a few months, a year or two maybe. Where did this little cat come from? She was friendly and used to human interaction. A pet left behind, unneutered, when people had to move out? A cute little kitten taken off the pink pages as “free to good home” whose owner had lost interest in when she grew bigger? Or was she dumped by her owners when they realised she was pregnant and they did not want to deal with a litter of kittens? Whichever it is, she was “owned” at one stage and her owners did not take responsibility for her welfare and that of her kittens. Someone else had to pick up the pieces and do the right thing. Yet, they are not the only people responsible for this – or should we say irresponsible? Very likely, she too was rehomed as a little kitten, unneutered, to what seemed like a lovely and caring family. And so the vicious cycle goes, but the only way to break this cycle is by neutering. Everyone thinks they have found the perfect home for the little kittens they are adopting out. Of course it is a good home; it is a lovely family and they will do the right thing and they will have their new little pet neutered. Yet, the little kitten grew up and had kittens. One? Two? More litters? All the excuses in the world can be heard: “she escaped out of the window and when she came back it was too late, the damage was done”; “we decided to let her have just the one litter for the kids to see the miracle of life, but then she got pregnant again before we knew it, it was more than we could cope with”, “ we always found homes for her kittens, so it was ok”, “we didn’t know she could get pregnant at four months old”, “I really wanted to bring her to be neutered, but I didn’t have the money and my car broke down”, and on, and on… And so kittens keep being rehomed unneutered, and so the cycle goes and other are left to pick up the pieces. Meanwhile, kittens keep dying, unseen, because rescues are overloaded, because their mother did not find a kind and caring lady to look after them.

To all of you trying to help kittens, trying to help cats, or just trying to be humane, do the right thing: NEUTER! More and more vets practice early neutering (from as young as 8 weeks old for the most experienced vets), and so kittens can be neutered before being rehomed. This is the only way to break this vicious cycle! If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Read more about early neutering here: https://communitycatsnetwork.wordpress.com/information/neutering/

Categories
In memory of

To the Unnamed Kittens, Killed on the Roads

P1170692 web
Finding dead kittens on the road is unfortunately a too familiar sight. Each time though, my throat tightens.
This little man wasn’t dead though. The woman who found him said he was trying to crawl, but could not use his back legs. How many people passed and saw him without stopping?
She picked him up and brought him to her shed before ringing Breda, who rushed to him despite being expected at work. Annie and Breda found the kitten where the woman had told them he would be. He was cold, so they wrapped him in a towel and Annie held him close to her on the way to my house. Annie may only be 6 years old, but she knows the realities of life. She handed me the kitten with a serene dignity.
I held him and touched his back legs. There was no response; he didn’t seem to feel anything on the rump either. I didn’t have any hope for him and just wanted to stop his pain. His breathing started to become worse and I guessed I wouldn’t even have time to bring him to the vet on-call in Youghal to end his suffering kindly. I believe this is the most distressing, feeling helpless. His breathing slowed down and then he gave a final, very soft sigh. I was holding him in my arms, close to my heart. This is probably the only consolation, that he didn’t die alone, on the side of the road.
I wrapped him up in a white sheet and buried him in the garden, next to the fern plant. I don’t believe in heaven, don’t believe in the rainbow bridge, but I believe in giving them some dignity when they live this planet we all share.
Sleep tight little man x

Categories
Rescue

Hello? I’ve Rescued a Kitten…

“Hello? I’ve rescued a kitten…”

We usually dread these calls as they end by asking us to take in the kitten as they cannot keep it in for a reason or another (kids, work, dog, cats, and so on). Since we are not a rescue and that most rescues are full, there is usually very little we can do.
P1150874 webBut this time, we were wrong! We were talking to a real rescuer, someone willing to take responsibility and to do what was best for the kitten. All she wanted was some advice. Well, when people are willing to make an effort, we are even more eager to help them. We explained the importance of neutering before rehoming, of doing a homecheck, of asking for an adoption donation to make the adopter responsible and so on, and offered to help with these as best as we could and to provide some supplies too.

P1150871 webTwo days later, we were picking up the kitten to have him neutered and microchipped. To our surprise, the little kitten was in the living room, when the house dog had been confined to the yard! We brought back the kitten after recovery, with a few goodies that she could give to the adopter. He has since been adopted by a nice family, whom the rescuer is confident will look after him well.

If there were more people like this lady, Ireland would definitely be a better place for cats….

If you too have rescued a kitten, please visit our private rehoming page for tips and to advertise.

Categories
Animal Welfare Feral Cats

Our Offsprings are the Ferals of Tomorrow

"Our offsprings are the ferals of tomorrow"
“Our offsprings are the ferals of tomorrow”

Phone rings… “Hi, last winter, a stray cat came to my garden.  It was cold and I felt sorry for her, so I started feeding her.  You know, I would hate to see an animal suffer.  Then, in March, she had a litter of kittens, but it was fine, the farmer down the road took all four of them!  But, at the beginning of the summer, she had another litter of kittens.  7 of them! And now, I think she is pregnant again and I can’t find homes for the kittens.  I don’t mind feeding her as she keeps the mice away, but I can’t possibly keep all of them.  I don’t know what to do, can you please help?”

Sounds familiar?

This is a very common type of call received by animal welfare organisations and our answer is simply to have the cat and her kittens neutered straight away before the situation gets completely out of hand.  We discuss with the carer a way to finance the project and proceed to have the whole family neutered.  Then, maybe a couple of kittens may find a home, but at least they won’t be having kittens.  The problem is solved, but is it really?

Let’s rewind a little, back to spring time: “it was fine, the farmer down the road took all four of them!”  The alarm bell in my head is ringing!  Now, were those kittens neutered before going to the farm?  Did the farmer get them neutered?  The answer is more than likely no.

Now, let’s fast-forward to the following spring.  The farmer is happy, his little cats (3 females and a male) are doing a good job on the farm.  In April though, all three females give birth to a litter of kittens each.  It is their first litter and they only have two kittens each.  “Sure,” the farmer thinks, “a few more cats might come in handy; I have a big farm!  And maybe Jo will take a couple for his own farm.”  It’s still all fine, isn’t it?  Yes, except that during the summer, they give birth to more kittens, and again at the beginning of winter, except that those mostly die because of the severe weather.

13 11 26 a

Two years later, the farmer is looking at all the cats on his farm.  There are so many of them that he cannot feed them properly anymore.  His three little female cats have become useless at killing the rats and mice as they are so exhausted from giving birth, as for the tom, he is constantly chasing the females and has been seen at all the neighbouring farms.  Their offsprings are no good either, they have also started giving birth constantly, and now the younger generations are all sickly because they are inbred.  The farmer is looking at all the cats (he can’t even count how many there are) and is scratching his head “what to do?”.  He must admit that he did try to drown the kittens like his father and his grand-father used to do, but the females are very good at hiding the kittens in the hay, and to be honest, he likes the cats and does not want to harm them.  Maybe he should bring them to the vet to have them euthanised?  But, he cannot even catch the cats; they have gone completely wild!  He’ll talk to the vet though and see what he thinks…

14 02 06 c webThe vet is not too keen on having animals euthanised like that and if the farmer can’t catch the cats, how could he?  He’s heard of organisations doing Trap-Neuter-Return though, maybe they could help?  So the farmer gets in touch with such an organisation.  At first, he has a fit when he hears what it will cost, but it has to stop, and he needs his cats to be healthy so that they can do their job on the farm.  All the cats and kittens get trapped, most of them are neutered, but a few have to be euthanised as they are too sick.  They come back to the farm and a few weeks later, they look a lot healthier and the farm is once more clear of rats.  The farmer is still giving out at the vet bill, but he is glad that things have now gone back to normal.  Next time, he’ll make sure that the cats are neutered beforehand.  “Now, if only Jo could do the same thing on his farm, because how many does he have now?  A good 30 for sure!”

Can you remember what the caller said initially?  “I would hate to see an animal suffer.”  Of course, she hadn’t realised what would happen as the farmer is a good guy and wouldn’t harm an animal, but by rehoming unneutered kittens, she has unknowingly been responsible for a great deal of suffering.  Or maybe she thought that it wasn’t her problem?  How about when the cats start to wander away from the farm because there isn’t any food and start to come to her garden where she is still feeding the little stray, the mother of them all?  Does it become her problem then?

Free ads
Websites are full of “Kittens Free to Good Home” ads, but what does it really mean?

I think that in the work we do, convincing people to have kittens neutered before rehoming is actually the biggest challenge.  Sometimes, it’s just because they don’t know that kittens can be neutered at such an early age (see info here), but most of the time, they don’t see the point since they are going to find “good homes” for the kittens.  Why should it be their responsibility?  Times and times again, we explain that if these are actually good homes, then the adopter will not mind giving a donation to cover for the cost of neutering.  In fact, they are quite happy to do so since it saves them the bother of having to bring the kittens.  In other cases, they think that it is not their problem since the cat isn’t actually theirs.  Maybe so, but we all need to start taking responsibility if we want to put a stop to the problem of cat over-population.  It is not one individual’s problem, it actually has become a society’s problem and we all need to start taking responsibility.

Disclaimer: the story above is fictional, although it is based on real experiences.  It wasn’t written with the intention of criticising anyone, but rather with the intention of educating.  Take responsibility too: educate those around you and spread the word about the importance of neutering!

Spay that Stray

Categories
Lost and Found Cats Rescue

Miss Marple, the Old Lady Surrounded by Mystery

P1160213

Last Tuesday, we received a call about a sick cat in Midleton. She was very thin and dehydrated. We brought her to Sinead at the Cloyne Veterinary Clinic and an examination revealed that she was already neutered and very old. Ads were posted on the internet, posters were placed, leaflets were distributed, and Miss Marple, as I named her because she was an old lady surrounded by so much mystery, took up residence in my study.

P1160305 web
Although the caller thought the cat had been dumped, I was convinced someone was looking for her and decided to keep looking….
Well, Miss Marple’s real name is in fact Lucky (very appropriate) and she is 19 years old. She had been missing for a month and her owners thought she had gone away to die, until today, when their son saw one of my posters. Twenty minutes later, the tears were rolling and Lucky was in the arms of her mammy While in our care, Lucky was microchipped, so if she ever goes missing again, she can be quickly reunited with her family.

Moral of the story? Don’t give up looking for your missing cat and never assume too much when you have found a cat. So many cats are not reunited with their owners because people assume they have been dumped…

P1160318 web

Categories
Animal Welfare

Rescuing Feral Cats

Feral cat keeping her distance from humans
Feral cat keeping her distance from humans

Very often we receive enquiries from the public asking us help to “rescue some feral cats”.  This is also a phrase quite often used by animal welfare organisations.  What do they mean by “rescuing feral cats”?  Most of the time, what prompts their demand is the fact that the cats do not live according to their standards.  They are concerned because the cats do not have the same comfortable lives as their own pet cats.  However, we are talking here about feral cats, not domestic cats.  Feral cats do not need rescuing, they need their lives to be improved and this can be done by having them neutered and offering them care (a better diet, suitable shelter and medical treatment when needed).

Feral cats are different from domestic cats.  The majority of them are born outside and may be the descendants of many generations of feral cats who have learnt to survive in their environment.  Cats are clever and know where they can be safe, find food and shelter.  They have learnt to avoid the daily dangers their environment throws at them.  For instance, urban feral cats will tend to hide during the day or find safe gardens where they feel protected; rarely will they run in the middle of the traffic.  Farm cats will find a safe place to hide their kittens from the fox or the resident dog.  In fact feral cats have more chances of survival in their own environment than elsewhere.  Their lives can be greatly improved by having them neutered and by making small changes in their environment, for instance by placing warm shelters in a safe location.

Mother and surrogate mother protecting the kittens while they are eating.
Mother and surrogate mother protecting the kittens while they are eating.

However, rescuing feral cats may be more detrimental to the cats than beneficial.  What happens once the cat has been “rescued”.  More than likely, it will be placed in foster care in a cage or room with the aim of socialising them.  A cat who has lived free in an outdoor environment will obviously be extremely distressed by such a situation.  To increase their stress, they will be forced to interact with a human they have never seen before, so that they can become tame.  Feral cats have learnt to be wary of humans in order to protect themselves.  Although they may trust their carer, as this is the person giving them food, other humans will be seen as potential danger.  Attempting to tame a feral cat is therefore seen by the cat as a form of aggression.  You will often hear from “rescuer” that the cat is doing fine but that s/he is nervous, in fact the cat is probably terrified by the interaction forced upon them.  I am not claiming that a feral cat can never become tame, or at least friendlier, what I am saying is that this is not usually achieved by removing them from their environment and forcing them to become socialised.  Many people involved in animal welfare would be opposed to keeping wild animals behind bars in zoo, so why do the same to feral cats?  What may happened then is that the cat starts to lose its spirit.  It is as if they have lost their will to live.  Some may interpret the fact that a feral cat stops hissing as a sign of becoming tame.  In fact, hissing is a healthy reaction in a feral cat as it shows that the cat is protecting himself.

13 08 27
Feral cat crouched down after a few days in confinement.

What happens when people try to rescue feral cats is that they are trying to fulfil their aptitude at taming them, but often ignore the welfare of the cat in the equation.  Of course, their intentions are good, but this is not necessarily the best route to take.  With kitten season being in full swing, appeals for foster homes for pregnant feral mothers or mothers and their kittens are not a rare occurrence.  These appeals come out of a genuine desire to raise the kittens in a safer place; a desire which is in itself quite understandable.  However, the mother is often forgotten about.  The kittens may be socialised, but what about the stress the mother has to endure during this long period of time?  First of all, she may reject her kittens because of the stress of confinement.  Then, what happens to her once her kittens have been rehomed?  It is impossible to return her to her colony after this length of time as she will not belong to it anymore.  Her nervousness will make her unrehomable as who would want to adopt a nervous cat when there are already so many friendly cats not able to find homes.  Instead of trying to rescue this feral mother, would it not be better to spay her or try to improve the conditions in which she has had her kittens by assisting and educating the carer?

We all have our own experiences when it comes to cats and each of them is different because each cat is different.  However, it is not because feral cats can occasionally be socialised that the lives of so many feral cats should be jeopardised in the expectancy that another socialisation might be successful.  More successes would be achieved if people adopted a more rational approach to dealing with feral cats and took into consideration the actual welfare of the cat instead of their emotional instinct of saving cats according to their own standards rather than those of the cats.

Colony of feral cats living happily.  The cat at the front was only 3 months old when she was neutered.
Colony of feral cats living happily. The cat at the front was only 3 months old when she was neutered.
Categories
In memory of

Mr Ginger, victim of indifference

It is never easy to have a cat euthanised, but sometimes, it is even harder than at others.  There may be many reasons for that, our own emotions or lives may affect the way we react.  However, we should live our emotions aside when making the decision of euthanising a cat.  It is not about us, it is about the welfare of the cat and the quality of life we have to offer.  Furthermore, in the short span of time we spend with the cat, we may somehow create a relationship with that cat, create some ties or bond with the cat in a way that is difficult to explain.  This tie will make euthanasia more difficult.

When we received the call about Mr Ginger, I knew exactly which cat was being talked about.  I had trapped a mother and her kittens in that area before and had seen the ginger cat crossing the road a few times.  The description of Mr Ginger’s condition rang the alarm bell and I had a fair idea of what would be the outcome of this call-out.  What I hadn’t anticipated is that the cat would come to me – I could nearly touch him – and look at me in a way that made my heart sink.  Yet, it took a little while to trap Mr Ginger.  He was wary of the drop cage and would move away each time I would pick it up in an attempt to place it over him.  He would not go in the trap either.  He would  be attracted by the tin of food, but could not eat any of the food I put out for him.  Finally, the milk got him into the trap and I just had to release the door gently while standing next to the trap.

What made it worse was that Mr Ginger still wore his collar, the collar he was wearing when he was a loved pet and his owner passed away a year or two ago.  I thought of Mr Ginger and what had happened in his life.  From being fed and petted regularly to becoming just a wandering stray that nobody cared enough about to offer him a loving home.  Mr Ginger must have had to learn to scavenge for food and fight to defend his territory against other toms.  In the process, he must have contracted a disease that affected his immune system.  This disease made him more prone to the severe cat flu he suffered from when he was noticed by the caller, who found him hiding in his mother’s shed and so miserable that he deemed necessary to call for help since he could not catch the cat himself.

As I drove to the vet, I was thinking about Mr Ginger’s life for the past couple of years, about the indifference he had been confronted to since his owner had passed away.  It is that indifference that is the most unbearable…

We could say that he was lucky as he would have otherwise died of dehydration.  He had symptoms of cat flu and veterinary examination revealed that his kidneys were abnormally big.  We did not test him, but Sinead, the vet, suspected that it could have been caused by one of the two dreaded infectious diseases, FIV or FeLV.  How long would it have been before Mr Ginger actually met peace?  For how long would he have been suffering before being relieved by death?  Luckily, he was noticed and was saved from more suffering, but many are not.  Many just keep meeting indifference.

People involved in animal welfare often ask themselves the question “why do we do it?”  We all have a different answer to this question, a very personal answer.  We get motivated by all kind of reasons, which are sometimes difficult to pinpoint.  Yesterday, I found it particularly difficult to do what I had to do with Mr Ginger.  I knew it was the right decision; for his own welfare, but also for the welfare of other cats.  Looking back on the day, I realise that I felt painfully revolted by the indifference he had been victim of until then.  Yet, it is probably because of this indifference that I’ll keep going and, maybe, improve this world in a little way.

To Mr Ginger, 24/11/12
Categories
In memory of

To Leo

This post is dedicated to  Leo, who wasn’t a Community Cat per se, but could have been one.  Leo came to live with me over a year ago, after he was found in some bushes, and never left.  Yes, I was a failed fosterer….  I had promised myself I would be strong, but on the day Leo was supposed to go to his new home, I just couldn’t let him go…

Leo took his place in my house, amongst the other cats.  Weirdly enough, all accepted him.  Leo was a quiet fellow, going about his business; he liked to go out wandering and come back home for a comfy sleep.  It took him ages to figure out hos to operate the cat flap, but once he had found out, it became the door to new adventures.

Leo was killed on the road last Wednesday.  This is the fate of so many cats, many of which will not even be missed.

There wasn’t much more I could have offered Leo.  He got love, he got food, he got a warm bed to sleep in.  Like all my other cats, Leo was free to live.  I’d like to think that he died happy.  

At least,  I know that Leo is gone now, that he is not struggling somewhere.  A kind person removed him from the road, thus preventing many cars from driving over him over, and over again.

Tonight, I am sad.  I miss Leo.  I know he is gone, which is better than not knowing, but the pain is there.  And then, I look at all the little ones who are here until they find a new home and I know I did the right thing with Leo.  I offered him a better life.  I don’t know why we do it; it’s our way to contribute to some better good – or I’d like to think so….  I could have kept him indoors, but Leo was free to come and go as he pleased.  There is always a risk, and unfortunately, Leo happened to be on that road at the wrong moment. 

At the moment, I feel the pain, but I know it will fade away.  This post is very selfish, it is a way to help me to bring some kind of closure, to help me to grieve.  There are so many other cats and kittens like Leo out there, waiting for someone to notice and love them.  I know many will not understand, but our cats are part of our families and we give them, and all the other cats out there, the same respect we would give a human being.

Tonight, I want to say goodbye to Leo. 

So, goodbye Leo.  You were very much loved, by me and by all who met you.  You will always have a place in my heart, but I must keep going on, even if it hurts.  Sleep tight Leo xx

Categories
Cloyne TNR Project

Cloyne TNR Project, Part 1: The trigger

Cloyne is like many other villages and towns in Ireland, inhabited by a sometimes invisible population of feral cats.  I had rarely came across any feral cats in Cloyne, although I knew there were some, hiding in gardens and probably coming out at night.  Of course, this was something that was at the back of my mind and I had discussed it a few times with Sinead Falvey, our local vet.  However, the fact that I could not see the cats made it a bit less of a reality.

Last winter though, I encountered one of these invisible cats, Little Tom.  Little Tom and I only met for a very short time, but his memory will stay forever with me.  I remember holding his sick body against me; it bear the marks of human indifference.  No cat who would have been a little cared for would have ended in such a state.  He was put to sleep the very same day he was found as it was too late for him.  On that day, I also decided that I would do something for the Cloyne Community Cats.

Little Tom

At the time, I was working on the Ballycotton Feral Project.  This project proved to be very successful.  It was entirely funded by the community and we neutered 40 cats.  I knew it would take time before I would get around to organise a similar project in Cloyne, but I also knew it would eventually happen.

We often hear from people that these are not their cats and, therefore, nobody wants to take responsibility for them.  In fact, these cats are part of the community, they provide a service in keeping the rats and mice away in exchange of a bit of food and shelter, and should thus be everybody’s responsibility.  Being responsible means that we have to get these cats neutered because there is such a problem of cat over-population in Ireland and every year too many kittens are born and die in suffering.  Others might manage to grow older, but will eventually end up like Little Tom, dying alone on a car park.  By having the cats neutered, we can prevent the births of many unwanted kittens, but also the spread of disease amongst feral, as well as our own domestic cats.

The Cloyne TNR Project was born on the day Little Tom was picked up on the car park.  A few months later it is finally becoming concrete and I hope the community of Cloyne will be receptive to this project.

Make a donation to support the Cloyne TNR Project.