Animal Welfare Feral Cats Information TNR projects

How do we carry out a Trap-Neuter-Return project.

The first contact comes from a multi-faceted approach ranging from telephone calls, emails, website, Facebook or direct contact from vets.

Oral contact with the carer:

  • We telephone the carer to establish what physical condition the colony is in.
  • Establish if any cat or kitten needs emergency care and arrange it immediately.
  • Estimate how many cats and kittens are there.
  • Estimate how old are the kittens
  • Establish how often and what time the cats are being fed and if there are other feeders .
  • If the colony is in good health we post or email you an assessment form


Arranging the colony assessment:


  • The carer fills the assessment form on site or has sent it back to us.
  • We arrive on site at feeding time to visually assess the colony.
  • We discuss the financial cost of the neutering with the carer.
  • We explain the trapping procedure.
  • We arrange a trapping date with the carer.


farms cats photo


Arranging the neutering and veterinary care:

  • The CCN welfare officer makes contact with the nearest  partner vet to the colony to arrange a time and date for the neutering.
  • The physical health of the colony is discussed with the vet or the veterinary nurse.
  • Extra treatment will be discussed when the vet has assessed the cats in surgery.


The trapping:


  • Depending on the number of cats to be trapped the Community Cats Network welfare officer decides what traps and cages to bring.
  • The CCN welfare officer arrives 30 minutes before feeding time to set up the traps.
  • The cats are trapped humanely and transferred into feral cat handling cages.
  • The carer signs the Community Cats Network consent form.
  • Depending on the time when trapped and availability of vets, the cats are either taken straight to the vets or held overnight to be taken to the vets the following morning.
  • If the cats are held overnight they are transferred into humane comfortable cages with food water and litter for the cats’ comfort and welfare.

hospital cage completed

          Hospitalisation cage in the opened position to show the                   bedding & feeding area.



Veterinary treatment and neutering:

  • The CCN welfare officer transfers the cats back into the transport cages and bring them to the allocated vets.
  • The transport cages have information on each cage pertaining to that specific cat. The veterinary nurse or vet will complete the forms once the surgery  has been completed.
  • In the veterinary surgery the feral cats are transferred into a cat restrainer cage to make it safer for the veterinary practice to sedate the cat and cause less stress on the cat.
  • Once the sedative has taken effect the cat is taken out of the cage and given a full health check. The cat’s mouth, ears, teeth, eyes, legs, pads and body are checked for any anomalies or abnormalities.
  • If any abnormalities are found the CCN welfare officer is contacted immediately by the vet to discuss further actions.
  • If everything is normal the surgery continues
  • Female cats will be spayed on the left flank – this is always the left hand side of the body. It provides faster access to the organs being removed. The female will have her uterus and ovaries removed to fully ensure that procreation can never take place. Spaying also removes the possibilities of life threatening uterine infections. Additionally, it also greatly reduces the risk of developing potentially fatal mammary tumors later in life.
  • Male cats will be castrated. Both testicles will be removed. This will remove their ability and want to mate with females of the species. Neutered male cats become less likely to fight after neutering and are less likely to become involved in fights, resulting in bite injuries and the risk of contracting viral infections. Sexual contact in cats can also lead to transmission of deadly viruses.
  • Both female and male cats are left ear-tipped. This is a universal  method indicating the neutered status of a cat.
  • All cats in our care receive a flea and a worm treatment.


Eartipped cat                                                     Eartipped cat.


Post-operative care:

  • The CCN welfare officer collects the cats from the vets after surgery.
  • The cats are put back into the hospitalisation cages with clean bedding, water and food.
  • The males are kept for a minimum of 16 hours after surgery and females 24 hours.
  • The cats are checked post-op on an average of every 2 to 3 hours to make sure the bedding is clean and they are recovering well.
  • The carer is contacted to make arrangement to return the cats.

Returning the cats:

  • The cats are transferred back into the transport cages and returned to the carer.
  • The carer receives a quantity of food, CCN’s feral cat aftercare handbook and a photographic and health journal of their cats.


Sterilisation of the equipment:

  • After the return of the cats the CCN welfare office has to clean and sterilise all the equipment: traps, transport cages, hospitalisation cages and holding area used for the specific colony to avoid contaminating the next colony or transferring infection.

Feral cats colony information:

  • The CCN welfare officer inputs all the information that they have gathered about the colony into our computerised database.
  • Photos and descriptions are then uploaded to our Facebook page.
  • CCN welfare officers are always available for contact with the carer at any stage.
Lost and Found Cats Rescue

Miss Marple, the Old Lady Surrounded by Mystery


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

Animal Welfare In memory of

When we grieve for a Loved Animal

If you are reading this because your beloved pet has died, I offer my heartfelt sympathy. To lose someone you love is very stressful, especially if it was unexpected. Only you know how deep your connection is to your Loved Animal and, the deeper the connection, the more profound your grief. That connection is not gone though. It is possible to maintain it in a different form, throughout the rest of your life, if you want. First, let’s look at what you might experience and what might help you deal with it.

What you can expect

Grief is our reaction to the physical separation from someone we love. It is a normal reaction that is experienced uniquely by everyone. So there is no right or wrong way to grieve (though it is possible to get stuck). Because grief is not really talked about, many people are surprised by the intensity of the pain, for example, and don’t know what to do to grieve. But everyone has grieving instincts that gently nudge them to express their grief. For example, one person might feel the urge to put away everything that reminds them of their pet (for now). While another person might want to keep everything close, as a tangible connection, until their pet’s absence is less of a shock. If you can, lean into your grieving instincts. They will guide you.

It is very natural to experience disruptions in more than one area of functioning because of grief. Your physical body may experience any of a wide variety of temporary changes, from early waking, to increased or decreased appetite, from headaches and digestive upset to numbness or tingling, even fatigue. Your social self might want different things, e.g., you might want to withdraw from others, for a while. Your mind might have some difficulty with standard tasks, such as concentrating or remembering. And depending on what you believe, your spiritual self might struggle with the fact that a loving God or Creator would allow this to happen.

These are all reactions to the shock your whole system has had. Each person will experience a different mix of these grief reactions. And there is no schedule for when they should end. The best thing to do is to be patient with this process and to be gentle with yourself. (It will also help you deal with the stress if you can eat nutritious food, get any kind of exercise and rest as needed. Your motivation to do these things might be low, but they actually help. Trust me.)

Grieving requires actions

Every time we do something to express our grief we inch forward on what is known as our grief journey. Crying and telling your story to others are two of the most obvious, and probably, involuntary ways we grieve. But there are as many grieving actions as there are creative people in the world. Here are some ways that others have found meaningful:

  • Plant a tree or flower in honour of your cat.
  • Keep a journal to allow you to express your thoughts and feelings and to also track the course of your grief journey.
  • While they are still fresh, write down all the good memories you have of your pet, anecdotes and favourite traits in a nice blank book. These memories fade with time so it can be comforting to turn through the pages of such a book.
  • Put some of his or her hair in a precious box or locket.
  • Light a candle.
  • Frame photographs of him or her.
  • Make a donation to an organisation that works on behalf of animals.
  • Volunteer for an animal organisation.
  • Foster an animal who needs a temporary home.


There are many other ways to do something that is either comforting or meaningful. Just let yourself do the things that feel appropriate for you. We are all different. This is good to remember when people are giving you advice on how to deal with this big change in your life. What worked for your friend, might not work for you.

Finding support

It is vital to talk to people who can be sensitive to your loss. Even if there is just one person who seems to understand, make use of them. And the online community might offer a resource of support if there is nobody in your immediate circle. As human beings, we have a need to tell our story, usually multiple times. We need others to know what we are dealing with. It is part of the process of making it real. For at first, the shock usually numbs us and we just feel stunned. This is a protective response that gives us time to get used to this change.

Unfortunately, not everyone has experienced a strong connection with an animal and so, cannot understand that it is possible. This may result in insensitive remarks that make things harder for you, at a time when you are least able to deal with them. So, try to be selective about who you talk to about this very personal loss. Don’t feel obliged to tell anyone who asks why you seem to be different. This is not a grief that is universally appreciated as significant, but I can tell you, as a professional and as an animal lover, that loss is loss and grief is grief. We need support when we lose someone we love, no matter whether they had two legs or four. And we need to protect our grieving hearts from the possibility of thoughtless words from people who cannot understand.


When your beloved pet passed away, there were other things going on in your life. Your ability to deal with this real loss is affected by whatever else you must deal with. You could be facing exams or dealing with caring for an elderly parent. You might have a health issue or be worried about money. As human beings, we can only deal with so much. I think of it as a battery that is charged that then runs down. Certain things recharge our batteries. You know what boosts yours. And stressful life events run them down. It’s important to know this as you deal with your loss and figure out how much charge is left in your batteries. Self-care is important all the time, but especially at a time like this. If you make time for the things that feel nurturing to you, it will ease your stress.

Staying connected

It is a common myth that we must forget those we have lost. To grieve someone we must remember them. You might remember your Loved Animal by thinking about him or her each morning as you start your day. You might just say their name from time to time. You might sit by the tree you planted in honour of this tender creature who gave you unconditional love. And though it might sound strange, you could try writing a letter or several, over the years, to express your thoughts and feelings directly to him or her. This can provide relief and there is no reason not to do it. If it feels healthy to you, listen to your grieving instincts. If you are concerned that you are not making progress or you are unsure about whether things are moving in the right direction, I welcome a call or e-mail.

Finally, one of the best ways to remember and stay connected to your pet is to think about the traits they displayed and incorporate one trait into your personality. For example, your pet may have been patient, and you find yourself lacking it. She may have been very loving, and you find it difficult to show your affection easily. Or he may have been compassionate, sitting quietly by those who were distressed, calming them by his presence. You know your pet like nobody else. So you will know of at least one trait that you admired. To adopt that trait for the rest of your life would be an enduring legacy for your Loved Pet.

For more information on grief counselling please contact us.


Animal stories TNR projects

Captain Jack

Captain Jack

We received a call from a lady in Timoleague that had a feral cat with a sore eyes. We when we got there we say a number of cats and kittens. The carers said one of them had a sore eye. We waited for the cat to show up but in the mean time we spotted a grey tabby with some mucus in his eyes. Assuming this was the cat the lady spoke about, we trapped the cat. We called the carer to ask her and she said ‘no it not that one’ it’s ‘the white one’ so we continued to trap. Eventually we saw the cat with the ‘sore eye’ our first reaction was oh **** the cat’s eye had completely burst. We trapped the cat and contacted the vet.


He was immediately brought to the vet and the operation to remove the eye immediate ensued. The entire eye had exploded through the membrane leaving the cat blind in one eye and constantly exposed to infection.


The vet had to remove the remainder of the eye and stitch the eye closed. Without this operation the cat would have died a slow and painful death due to constant infection.


We decided to name him Captain Jack after his ordeal and is now back with is feral family.



After talking with the carer we decided that it would be a good idea to start another village project.

Timoleague is a small but vibrant village in West Cork. Like most other villages in Ireland it also has feral cat population. Because of our work in other villages in West Cork the word has spread. Timoleague residents want to neuter the cats in their area. With the help of local residents we are establishing a census of the village of the domestic and feral population and documenting all cats. We can only estimate at the moment of how many cats are they but the estimates are coming back at about 30 plus cats. 15 of these cats have already been privately funded and we hope to raise the money locally to neuter the rest of the cats. If you would like to contribute to the neutering fund and help Captain Jack fellow ferals you can click the paypal link and donate.

Animal stories Rescue

Ike & Tina

We stood in the old barn in a state of shock. Cats. More cats. And yet more cats and kittens, everywhere. The farmer had assured us he had two white cats. We counted eight while standing there in the middle of this huge colony. At the rear of the barn was a wall of giant, circular, hay bales. Climbing down this vertical wall of hay was a black and white cat. As he descended we could see heads sticking out of gaps in the bales. There was adults and yet more kittens hiding in there. This wasn’t a colony but a megacity of cats and kittens.

It was the first TNR for Community Cats Network in West Cork. We possessed the grand total of one, spring operated, trap, and a collection of kitten and Queen cages in which to hold captured cats. This job was going to require considerably more equipment than we possessed. It was the sheer number of cats and kittens that shocked us. Every evening when milking was over the farmer carried two pails of milk down from the milking shed and poured the warm,frothy liquid, into a pair of giant tins. Then he threw a couple of handfuls of cat kibble into a few bowls that lay scattered around the floor of the barn. The cats erupted from everywhere, anxious to get a share of the meager nourishment before their companions ate it all. The adults, unencumbered by young, were the first to reach the bowls. The nursing mothers who had made nests for themselves and their young in the hay were the next to reach the food. Finally, the younger kittens arrived, fighting amongst the melee of older cats to snatch a morsel for themselves.

It was the white mother that attracted my attention as she descended the wall of hay bales. In her mouth, swinging from side to side, was a tiny, white kitten, maybe six or seven days old. The mother was obviously frantic to reach the food before it was gone and quickly clambered down the bales and ran across the barn with the kitten still dangling from her mouth. As she approached the food she spotted us standing there and hesitated. She dropped her kitten into a nearby pile of hay and approached the food on the side away from us. When the food was gone and it only took a few minutes for every last drop of milk, every morsel of kibble, to vanish, the mass of felines disappeared back into the shadows of the barn. Only one or two hopefuls still nosed around the empty bowls and dishes seeking an overlooked scrap of food. And there, atop the pile of hay, was the little white kitten. We went over to investigate.

It was obvious that the little one was is some serious trouble. The white fur around its eyes was yellow with discharge from cat flu. It appeared undernourished and weak as it lay there on the hay, mewling and crying for its mother who was nowhere to be seen. We had to make a decision and make it fast. There were many kittens in this colony. There were also many cats, a considerable number of which appeared to need some serious veterinary assistance. CCN was a new organization, so new that we hadn’t existed the previous week. We had, to put it euphemistically, limited resources. And that’s a nice way of saying ‘broke’. What to do?

We went for the kittens first; running around the barn, chasing the little furry bodies into piles of hay and then dragging the hissing, spitting, bundles of fury, back out, and placing them into our ragtag collection of cages. Within the space of a few minutes we had 10-11 little ones rounded up and on their way off the farm. In the car with us, wrapped up in a Puffa Jacket for warmth, was the little white kitten. Upon our arrival home we dispersed the kittens into our various cat houses where they immediately made themselves at home. The piled up bowls of cat food were a considerable help in settling the little guys down. The white kitten, however, was an entirely different problem. We quickly established the fact that she was a female and we called her ‘Murray’.  But Murray was too young for solid food and needed to be bottle fed. This in itself presented further problems. Bottle fed kittens are difficult to feed. Murray needed to be stimulated in order to urinate and defecate following each feed. She had to fed every three hours. Her weight needed to be recorded to ensure she was gaining weight. Her cat flu presented us with a quandary because she was too young for heavy medication. Any medication would only be a symptomatic treatment anyway as cat flu is viral. In short, we urgently needed a foster mother.

Help came from the most unlikely quarter. In the middle of the farm TNR, Maggie began another one in the back garden of a house in Macroom. Thus the beautiful but psychotic ‘Lily’ and her babies came into our lives. Maggie had just trapped Lily when ‘Little Miss Psycho’ decided that now was a good time to give birth. Lily promptly delivered 9 babies in the cage and had to be rushed straight to our specialist, ‘Mother and Baby’ compound, a large, plushly furnished house, enclosed within a huge cage that came complete with an outdoor, feline activity centre. Four of Lily’s brood died the first night. A litter of nine kittens was too much for her. But it was a silver linings moment for Murray whom we tentatively introduced to Lily. For a few, horror frozen, seconds, we watched as Murray nuzzled and grizzled her way along Lily’s flank, seeking a teet. Then Lily raised her head and pushed Murray into position. Murray latched on and began to suckle. Lily shot us a malevolent look and settled back down to feed her, now, six kittens.

That first summer,the summer CCN began,was notable for two things. The absolutely lousy weather and kittens. We had seventeen fosterers….and Lily. Lily was the most loving cat, or so her carer assured us. She was a pet. A doll. Wouldn’t hurt a fly. We would stand outside the Mother and Baby cage watching this paragon of love and gentleness hanging upside down from the cage roof, hissing ,snarling, and spitting at us and we would draw lots as to who would bring the food in to her. Lily hated us with a passion, but she was a superb mother to all her kittens, including the little orphan, Murray.

Lily’s own five kittens were named after ‘Soul’ singers from the 1960’s. Thus we had Ike (Turner), Muddy (Waters), etc. And Murray. When Lily’s brood had been weaned, we neutered Lily and returned her to her carer. Lily spat, hissed, snarled, bit the bars of her cage, and tried to swipe us on her way home. We carried Lily’s cage into her carer’s house on the end of a forty foot pole and deposited ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ on the kitchen floor. We then retreated to a safe position behind the dresser. Lily’s carer opened the cage and this sweet, doting, loving creature, emerged, and twined herself around her carer’s legs. We emerged from our safe zone to examine this miraculous transformation and were met with hissing, spitting, snarling, etc.

We began to rehome the ‘Soul’ family. Otis went. Martha went. Poor Muddy was killed on the road. And Ike and Murray went to live in Cork city with Sarah. CCN moved on. More TNR’s were conducted. We moved along through various farms in West Cork and began to experience cases of cruelty and neglect. There were many cats and kittens to deal with. Each TNR made different demands on us. The workload grew exponentially as CCN became more professional in its approach. The human cost of dealing with sick and dying cats, indifferent or unpleasant humans, began to take its toll on us. The optimism and idealism of the early days began to be replaced with a certain weariness. Trapping cats was just the beginning. Then came the transportation. The feeding. The aftercare. The systems of care. Getting bedding for the ferals. Providing  safe and hygienic bedding. Getting cat food. Kitty litter. Fundrasing. Keeping accurate records. Providing flea and worm treatments. Chasing people for payment. Getting ripped off by members of the public who equated  ‘Animal Charity’ with ‘Idiots’. Dealing with vets. Trying to provide the most humane and efficient system for dealing with feral cats. 16-18 hour days became the norm while we operated in all weather conditions. Riding the ferry home from Cape Clear in a force 10 gale while trying to keep our caged ferals dry and safe. Fighting between ourselves as we attempted to formulate a code of ethics, and policies and procedures, that placed the welfare of ferals first.

In the midst of all this we would occasionally see posts on Facebook from Sarah. She had renamed Murray as Tina and now was Mom to Ike and Tina, as well as her family of neutered ferals. Sarah kept us updated as to the progress of her cats. When they were sick. When Ike was tormenting Tina. When the two cats were stretched out luxuriously on chairs in front of the fire. The FB posts were little vignettes of cared for, cats lives. Ike and Tina were living the good life. Sarah is a compassionate and responsible cat carer. It is inconceivable for Sarah to be anything else but kind and caring.

We TNR’d a farm down in west cork once upon a time. It was a little hill farm tucked away up a Boreen, away from public gaze. What we immediately noticed upon our arrival was a little, Ginger and White, Kitten, crouched by his mother’s side ,both eyes eaten out by untreated cat flu. The little kitten was slowly starving to death as he was both blind and unable to smell his food due to the build-up of muscus in his nasal passages. He was the first of ten such kittens we collected that night. We brought the kittens home and placed them in two hospital cages. We placed food bowls in front of each kitten and then positioned each kitten in front of the bowls. The kittens could neither see nor smell the food. The little creatures ravished the food and when they finished eating, they began to purr and groom one another. The following morning we took the ten kittens into the vet and held each one as the vet euthanized them.

So you see, Sarah. Those little posts about Ike and Tina are soul food for us. They reassure us that there are humans who care enough to reach out to change lives and make the world a better place. That there are human beings who prove that mankind is not all doomed by indifference and selfishness.  We will leave you with the old Jewish proverb:

‘Save a life and you save the world entire’

Click the link to view the kittens.     (Ike is scratching one)

Animal stories

Inspirational Stories Competition – February 2014

This February, we want to hear about your stories!

Have you ever rescued a kitten?   Have you helped some stray and feral cats?  Did you save the life of an injured cat?

Then, we want to hear from you!  Tell us all about your story.

All stories will be published on our Facebook page during the month of February and the public will be able to vote for them by “liking” them.  The three stories with the most likes will be published on our website and win our 2014 calendar (which features our own stories of the cats we have helped); the winning story will also get you a goody bag for you and your feline friend.

To enter the competition, email a photo and the story to  There is no minimum or maximum length for the story, but you can only submit one photo per story.  You are however allowed to submit more than one story.  The competition will close on the 28th of February.

To read all your inspirational stories, click here.

And to get you started, we have a story from one of our volunteers…

Gypsy, the kitten who changed the lives of so many cats


When I started working in Ballycotton a few years ago, I was delighted to find a family of cats living at the back of the restaurant.  I loved cats and was actually looking to adopt a third one to join my family.  I started to help feeding this feline family in the hope of taming them.  Although I was able to touch them, I was never able to pick one up.  At the time, I knew very little about feral cats.

The following summer, the kittens had grown up and one of them brought her own kittens to the back of the restaurant.  The kittens were a bit friendlier this time, but one kept being bullied and looked quite underweight, so I found him a home where he would be well looked after.  Only a few months later, another tiny kitten was found in the yard, abandoned by her mother.  Another home was found for her.

The following year, as I was coming back from a week holidays, the lads called me to have a look at something in the yard.  They had a big grin on their face.  There was another mother and two very small kittens.  It was a bad winter and I was quite worried for the two little ones.  I called a rescue group for some advice and was told to make sure that the mother could get shelter and had plenty of food.  If the kittens did not cry and seemed fine, then I should leave them with the mother.  The lady added that the mother and her kittens should be trapped and neutered.  This was the first time I ever heard about a cat trap…

When I went back to work the following evening, I first checked on the little feline family, but could only see one of the kittens.  I heard the 2nd one crying all evening.  At the end of my shift, I decided to act.  There was something wrong with the kitten.  One of the patrons helped me and found the kitten in the brambles.  She was covered with dirt; it seemed that her mother had given up on her.

I took the little one home with me.  I cleaned her and kept her warm against my body, trying to give her a bit of mushed up kibbles every so often.  She was barely eating for me and I was not sure she would survive.  As soon as the vet was open, I went over to buy some kitten formula.  Gypsy soon regained her strength.  After a week of bottle-feeding, Gypsy decided she could eat on her own.

Gypsy grew into a beautiful and healthy cat living a happy life in my house.  Life took me a bit away from Ballycotton; however, I could still remember the words I had been told about neutering those cats.  I would love to help them, but how?  I already had to look after my own four cats and, surely, nobody would be willing to pay for the neutering of these cats. Yet, I knew I had to find a way to get it down.  I would regularly discuss this subject with a friend who was a native of Ballycotton and we were thinking that maybe we could organise something to raise the money needed.

It took time, but I eventually started to organise something.  In the mid-time, I had met people who could help me with the trapping and a fantastic vet, Sinead, who was willing to support the project by offering discounted rates in order to help her local feral cats.  I had also discovered by then that there were many more cats in Ballycotton than the few living at the back of the restaurant.  My idea to raise the funds was to appeal to the community.  I thus prepared some documentation and donation sheets that I went to distribute around the pubs and the shop in Ballycotton.

When I walked into the shop and asked the woman behind the counter if she could help me, her face lightened up and I thought she was going to hug me.  I had heard of Breda, who was often rehoming kittens.  In fact, Breda had been doing the same thing as I had, but for many more years; she had been helping the kittens of Ballycotton by finding them homes.  When I came to her with my idea, she was really enthusiastic and gave a new impetus to the project by organising a coffee morning, which was a great success.  Enough funds were raised to carry this project out.

I had never used a trap before, but I had the best cat trapper with me: Maggie, and her husband Jim, taught me all the tricks of cat trapping.  In one week, we made a significant start to our project by trapping and neutering over 20 cats; the community was really supportive and even the kids helped us with the trapping.  Breda kept getting information about where the cats were and the project kept going.  It is still going now as the cats in the village are closely monitored and any newcomer is immediately neutered.

The TNR project of Ballycotton is the inspiration behind Community Cats Network.  If we could do it in Ballycotton, we could do it elsewhere.  Thanks to little Gypsy, hundreds of cats have been helped by being neutered.  Thank you Gypsy for opening my eyes and changing the lives of so many cats!


Cape Clear TNR Project

The kittens never live long…

“The kittens never live long down here by the lake. When the Atlantic sweeps in it would put a chill down the spine of a grown man, never mind a little kitten…”

This is just a snippet of a conversation I had with an islander about his cats.  Michael is the kind of man who likes to let the world get on with what it has to do.  He does not believe in such things as computers, Facebook or even television.  His life, to those who live in the outside world, is lonely and difficult; for he lives on an island on his own and with none of the modern technologies we have at our fingertips. 

Michael’s Love

The slow burning range in his sparsely furnished kitchen radiates with heat as from a smouldering volcano.  He has a comfortable fireside chair and his table is piled high with books. He is an avid reader of detective novels and spends most of his time reading . He is accompanied in his kitchen by the love of his life. She’s pretty and slender with startling green eyes. She arrived at his door many years ago on a cold winter’s night. He invited her in to warm herself to the fire… She fell in love and never left Michael’s side. They spent many a happy day and night together. Michael had someone to share his hopes, his dreams and his disappointments with, and she never judged him or asked him for anything.

A few of the cats
A few of the cats

Then Michael started to develop a few health problems and had to leave the island for a serious operation on the mainland. He was gone for a few months and when he returned the love of his life had given birth to a little family. Michael was devastated; his love did not recognise him anymore and was now mother to an unruly brood of her own near his house. Night after night Michael would call to her but she would not come to him. He left his door, and his heart, open for her to return… but she never came. The love of his life went on to establish a dynasty. She gathered waifs and strays, orphans and foundlings, to herself, displaying the same love as Michael showed to her. Through the years Michael saw her family grow while he maintained a lonely guardianship in the background. 

Years later, the relationship between Michael and the love of his life started to get better. She is older now and tired. She still comes into his kitchen to warm herself by the fire. All her family join her and Michael loves and cares for them all. His great love still has shiny green eyes but they are beginning to dim with the pain of the passing years and the heavy burden she has borne. Season upon season, year following year, his love has given birth to more and more kittens. Michael does not know how many cats he really has… Maybe 20. Maybe 30.  Perhaps even more than that.

Michael is now in his eighties and has only recently built a cat flap in his front door so that his children can enter at will for the food, warmth and comfort they find in this old man’s home. When I last met Michael, his Love was sitting on the fireside chair alongside him. An old man and an elderly lady entwined by the glow of a fire and the passing years of love. 

We are going to Cape Clear again for 5 days of intensive trapping. Tom Farrington, vet in Rosscarberry, and Lesley Stinson, registered vet nurse, will arrive on Friday morning’s ferry to neuter and spay the cats. As you know by now this is a very expensive operation. Tom and Lesley have kindly donated their time and expertise to come and help us to create “Ireland’s First ‘Neutered’ Island”. Please help us to raise the funds needed by donating what you can (click here to access our Paypal link designated to the Cape Clear fund or you can visit our donation page for more options). Thanks for your support!

We would like to thank once more Mary O’Driscoll for sponsoring our accommodation on the island in one of the cottages and all the other islanders who are being so helpful: Seamus and the lads from Cape Clear Ferry, Duncan for lending us a car, Fiona for lending us her shed and all the others…

To read the beginning of our adventures on Cape Clear, click here.  To view the full photo album of ths fourth part of the project, click here.

Cape Clear TNR Project News

The Cape Clear Cats make the news…

Reporter Louise Roseingrave wrote a feature on the Cape Clear project, which appeared on the Irish Examiner on the 19th of February.  It came in timely as we were just back from another trapping trip on the island. 

13 02 19_Irish Examiner_Cape Clear web

For those of you who may have missed it, you can read the article online here.

To read our posts on the Cape Clear Project, please follow this link.

Please, consider supporting this project by donating here.  Every little helps and we, and the cats, would be much grateful for whatever small amount you could give to have the Cape Clear cats neutered.

Animal stories

“It’s not my Cat” – The Story of Seafield

Seafield, a “nobody’s cat”

We received a call this week about a one year old cat that a woman has been feeding for about 6 months.  She noticed last week that he had a wound on his coat.  However, the wound hadn’t improved and she then noticed a 2nd wound.  She had also noticed that his coat did not look as well as before and that his behaviour had changed.  She was asking us for help because she could not bare to see an animal suffer.

We explained how we worked and that we would be happy to come to trap the cat and have him assessed by a vet.  However, the minute money was mentioned she became very annoyed and replied that it was not her cat and that she would not be able to afford the vet bills.  We agreed with this, but explained the concept of community cats and that there are thousands and thousands of cats like the one she feeds in her garden and that it is up to every single one of us to take responsibility for these cats.

Seafield at home
Seafield at home

We decided to go over and see how we could help this poor fellow.  The trap was set and the waiting game began.  After an hour, the cat finally made his appearance and was trapped.  It was getting dark, but we could see the wounds in his thick coat.

As we explained the process – that the cat would be brought to the vet for assessment and that he would be treated and neutered, if feasible for a feral cat, before being returned to her after recovery – she once more became agitated at the idea of having him back, claiming “But you don’t understand! It’s not my cat!”.  We once more had to clarify what feral cats were and how they lived; we highlighted that the cat would not do well in confinement, that he was at home in her estate and that all he was asking for from her was a bit of food.  She ultimately agreed for the cat to come back and we hit the road to set him up for the night.

Seafield's wounds, probably caused by fighting with other toms over the females
Seafield’s wounds, probably caused by fighting with other toms over the females

The following morning, Seafield, as I chose to name him, went to see Sinead at the Cloyne Veterinary Clinic.  After being sedated, Sinead shaved his back and a number of wounds became apparent.  Seafield must have been fighting over the females with other tom cats and had received many bites, which had created abscesses.  Sinead cleaned the wounds cautiously and gave him a long acting antibiotic, assuring me that it would heal well.  She then proceeded to neuter him, which should reduce his fighting behaviour and enable him to live a happier life.

Seafield's wounds are healing well
Seafield’s wounds are healing well

After two nights of recovery, Seafield was returned to his environment.  He was getting restless in his cage and it was an obvious relief for him to get back “home”.  When released, he followed his usual path to the fields at the back of the estate.  The woman knew exactly which trajectory he would take and she was right.  Whether she wanted it or not, Seafield was home.  This was the place where he had chosen to live.  On his way to freedom, Seafield paused for a minute and turned around to look at us as if to say thank you.  It was the right thing to do and we hope now that Seafield will live a happy life.

You can see the full photo album here.

Seafield, pausing on his way to a new happier life
Seafield, pausing on his way to a new happier life

Seafield is like thousands of other cats in Ireland, he is a nobody’s cat.  Yet, we all need to take responsibility for them if we do not want to see them suffer.  If we all turn a blind eye, kittens will keep being born, many of which dying before they reach their 1st year.  If they are lucky enough to reach that age, like Seafield, they may end up injured or ill, with nobody to watch over them.  Seafield is lucky as his wounds weren’t life-threatening and someone actually asked for help for him, thus giving him the dignity he deserves, but others will just die unnoticed.  It takes time and a lot of effort, and it requires funds, but you may agree with us that it is worth it.

If you would like to support Seafield and help us to continue neutering cats to prevent suffering, please consider making a donation, no matter how small as it all helps to offer a better life for the ferals.  You can also sponsor a feral cat and help us to care for other cats like Seafield for just €1/week (see more details here).

On behalf of all the ferals, we thank you for your help and compassion.

Cape Clear TNR Project

Flowers don’t grow in my garden – Marianne’s Story

Flowers don’t grow in my garden. Under the soil lie many stories of lost lives.

I live on Cape Clear Island; it’s Ireland’s most southerly island, located 45 minutes from the mainland by ferry. The island is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide; we have a population of 120 people. We are reasonably self sufficient on the island but all our food and necessities depend on the ferry and the ferry depends on the weather, no ferry no food. We don’t have pharmacies or doctors so we have to go to the mainland for everything.

Cape clear 055So to go back to the story of my garden… Some years ago I started to feed some stray cats that came around. I’m not a cat person, but I know how hard it is to survive on this island, so I started to bring home scraps of food from work to feed them. Soon kittens were born, some survived and grew up, but most of the little creatures that couldn’t take the bad weather succumbed to cat flu and died. This has happened year after year after year. I can’t go near any of the cats. I have fed them for years and they come to my call when it’s feeding time. I don’t know if cats have feelings or emotions, but when I see one of the mothers lying near her dead kitten in the garden it tears at my soul. I have fought many a battle to stay living on this rock in the Atlantic Ocean and thought many times about doing the same as many before me and leaving for a better life on the mainland. But what about the cats? I can’t catch them to get them neutered, I can’t transport 18 cats to the mainland for neutering and I can just about pay for their food.


 Last summer I heard sneezing in the hedge at the bottom of my garden. I went to investigate and found another kitten. Its eyes were full of puss and it had that “please don’t hurt me” look on its face,  that I have seen a thousand times, as I tried to reach into the hedge to get it out.


I couldn’t catch the little creature as it was so terrified. I spent days listening to its cries for help. As the days passed the cries got weaker and weaker until I entered the garden to the sound of silence. I found its tiny lifeless body hidden underneath the back of the hedge by the stone wall. I didn’t give the little kitten a name, because I have run out of names to give them all. They are all buried in my garden where the flowers don’t grow but under the soil lies many an untold story.


I didn’t know that people would give up their own time to travel over to Cape Clear to help us. That is until I met the members of Community Cats Network. Last summer they were over here helping one of my neighbours, Mary Francis, with her feral cats. I asked for help. They answered my call, but not just my call, the call of all the untold stories in my garden

If you’d like to help Marianne’s ferals and other cats on the island, please donate here.

You can view the full photo album here.