To mark our 7th birthday, we have asked our volunteers to share a few thoughts about their experience with CCN.
Mary, our TNR coordinator in North Cork remembers how she started volunteering with the organisation in 2016.
“My journey with CCN began back in 2016. The first day of a new job, I was brought out the back by staff and introduced to mama cat and her kittens. It didn’t take much time before I realised there were quite a few other cats around too! I contacted a few organisations for help but it was CCN that came to our aid. I had done quite a bit of rescue work up to that point and was eager to continue, so our trapping session of work cats turned into a training session and I have been trapping for CCN in the Clonmel area ever since.
I had never worked solely with feral cats before, I had fed them, knew to be very careful with them and give them a wide berth but that was about it! My first solo trapping was a baptism of fire when a small colony of cats in the centre of town gave me the run around in freezing temperatures for a solid week. I got them, eventually, and learned that feral cats are some of the cleverest, quickest and most admirable of creatures I had ever come across. Over 200 cats later and I’m still learning!
Helping feral cats is different from any of the previous work I’ve done with rescue animals before. These animals are invisible to most, they hide in dark corners, they keep their suffering to themselves, they trust very few and have known nothing but hardship. For each single cat I trap I know I’ve just changed that cat’s life forever. For every cat I release I know its chances of a healthier life have increased immeasurably because someone cared enough to pick up the phone and ask for help. Of course, sometimes the call comes too late and the only kindness I can give is a merciful sleep. I’ve had my heart broken and cried as many tears over ferals as I have smiled and felt a rush of pride at releasing cats over the past 3 years. TNR is not easy on a personal level, it’s emotional, frustrating and physically draining at times but it’s not done for personal gain, it’s done for the cats. It’s done because these cats have been failed by people and deserve for someone to give up their time freely try make amends, and if a bit of time is all it takes to change a cats life forever then my time is truly well spent.”
Don’t forget to support our Birthday Raffle to raise fund to help even more cats.
To mark our 7th birthday, we have asked our volunteers to share a few thoughts about their experience with CCN.
Jackie, our TNR coordinator in North Cork remembers how she started volunteering with the organisation in 2016.
“The first day I came across CCN was a day of chaos, panic and desperation. For years I had been trying to help cats who found their way to me. I had recently started feeding the most frightened cat he would run and hide, but when I left food and watched from a distance he would come for it. Then, one day my mother in law, who lived next door, said that there was a cat running around with insides coming out. After looking out and finding that blood had dripped everywhere, the panic set in. I was convinced it was a female having complications giving birth. I sought advice on a rescue page; Emilie answered and told me calmly she would send help. We managed to catch the cat and put him in a box, and CCN brought him to the vet. That cat changed my life completely – his name is Sam and he is still here. That day he had a ruptured testicle, which was instantly fixed by having him neutered.
I was in awe, and asked if I fundraised would they come and help in Mitchelstown. They agreed, so off I went!
Then I got the chance to go on the first trapping in Mitchelstown and I was hooked. It was that incredible feeling you get when you release cats that got me. The rest is hard work, but that moment when you open the door is magic – the hope and love lights up your soul.
My next few projects were all close to home and work, in places where I had loved these cats. So I brought home my first foster cat, I failed miserably at rehoming him. I knew tnr was the way to go for me, but have since managed to rehome all the foster cats I have taken in, so that’s an improvement! As some of you already know, Baylor -my failed foster- has a tendency to bring home stray cats he finds. It’s as if he felt it earned him his keep! Only this morning, I heard a foreign meow and on investigation discovered Baylor with a new cat, so trap is out and ready! And after 3 yrs and over 350 cats, my heart will still pound like a bass drum in my chest when I am about to trap the cat.”
Don’t forget to support our Birthday Raffle to raise fund to help even more cats.
On April 27th, Community Cats Network will celebrate 7 years of helping cats! We invite you all to join us on our Facebook page for the celebrations from April 20th to 29th.
There will be some fun & free competitions organised by our cat trappers with lovely prizes to be won. We will also share memories from these past 7 years and remember some of the 6,000 cats we have helped.
And don’t forget to support our birthday appeal raffle to raise funds to help more cats! Ticket are €2 each, €5 for 3 lines or €10 for 8 lines and can be bought here.
Over the past couple of months, these cats in a supermarket carpark have been brought to our attention by a lot of concerned people in Clonmel looking for help for them. We recently gained permission to proceed with a Trap-Neuter-Return project in the carpark and have made contact with some of the people feeding them. We’ve counted approximately 10 cats, some with injuries, but we expect some were hiding at time of assessment. To read the fully story and see the updates, click here.
We need help to raise funds to neuter & treat these cats. We appreciate any amount donated; big or small, it all helps!
You can donate on IDonate or by using Paypal. Thank you for your kindness and generosity!
We have asked our volunteers to tell us a bit about their experience of volunteering with CCN: what motivates them, what they do and whether they find it rewarding.
Here is what Anna has to say…
I first heard about CCN last September through another animal rescue I was volunteering with. I had mentioned to someone there that a cat was having kittens behind my garden wall and leaving them to die, and she suggested I ask CCN to trap and neuter her. I contacted Em for advice and she came to trap the cat in my garden and took her away to be safely neutered. She returned with her the next day and we set her free again. I was so impressed with CCN that I offered to volunteer and have since helped at an information stall in Maxi Zoo and have sold tickets for the new year draw. I have spoken with people in my neighbourhood about the extent of the feral cat problem and we are planning a bingo fundraiser in Pat Shortt’s (26th February 2015) to raise money and tackle the neutering of feral cats in Castlemartyr.
CCN is a fantastic charity and is buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm of its volunteers and advocates, as well as the support of local people in looking after the cat colonies in their area.
As we explained in our latest post on Cape Clear, the 1st part of our project was not totally over when we left. We had to go back to pick up the three kittens that were too small to be neutered during our September expedition.
Although many of the cats looked a lot better than in September, our three kittens and Cassiopeia, the tabby kitten spayed in September, all had cat flu. The four of them were brought back to the main land and driven straight to Glasslyn Vets, where they received medication. It was decided that we should wait a few days before doing surgery on them, so that they would get stronger.
Sadly, the smaller tabby kitten, who hadn’t put on an ounce of weight since our last visit, did not improve and passed away three days later. However, Ebony and Ivy overcame their illness and were spayed at the end of the week. They stayed in the care of our volunteers for another week to regain total strength before being returned with Cassopeia to their home…
With these last kittens neutered, the first part of the project came to an end and we could begin focusing on the next part…
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.
You can view the full album of the 1st part of the project here.
At the beginning of August, we received a phone call from an elderly lady who is feeding 17 cats and some kittens on Cape Clear. She was very eager to have them neutered, but did not know how to go about it since there are no vets on the island. After a bit of thinking, we decided to take on the challenge and help out. All very well, but how to go about it?
After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that the easiest way would be to spend a few days on the island and bring a vet on site. Sinead Falvey at the Cloyne Veterinary Clinic kindly accepted to donate some of her time and to come on board with two of her vet nurses, Hazel and Lorna, and another vet, Charlotte Whitty. Other people offered to give us a hand: Muriel Lumb from Animal Advocacy, Jenni from RAWR (Rural Animal Welfare Resources) and Karen. The wonderful Kiana also helped us by partially sponsoring this project.
That was a good start, but there were still so many technicalities to organise and the distance did not help. Thus, we decided to go there for an assessment and see for ourselves what we were facing.
Arriving on Baltimore harbour, we realised that bringing our equipment on site would be the first difficulty. We thought it would be possible to use the barge, but it was more complicated that it seemed. We approached a few people to enquire how often was the barge going and it did not sound promising. Once on the island, however, we met Duncan and discovered he owned a trailer that he could lend us, as well as a car. Our first problem was sorted: the trailer would be brought on the mainland the day before we would be due and we would pack our equipment on it.
We then headed to meet Mary Francis and her cats. There were many of them and we tried to get an accurate list of them. According to the list, we would have to trap and hold 23 cats and kittens. Some of the cats looked well, but others were a bit thin and had dermatitis; a problem that we hoped would be solved by neutering.
Our next issue was to find a suitable area for surgery. When walking to Mary Francis’s, we had notice that small house just next door and enquired if it were in use. The place was owned by her neighbour and we received authorisation to go and have a look. It was perfect for our purposes. There was electricity and water, the kitchen could serve as a surgery, the small room off it as a holding area for the females and kittens, and the barn downstairs was suitable for holding the males. It would require a fair amount of cleaning, but nothing insurmountable.
Next, we needed to find an affordable place to stay as there would be about eight of us going there and staying for a few nights. We thus stopped to Ciaran Danny Mike’s where we met Marianne. Marianne told us she would talked to the owner and see what could be done. She also told us that she was feeding 18 cats and that she didn’t know what to do about it as every year she would see more kittens being sick and dying. We told Marianne that we might not be able to help this time, but would get in touch with her. Mary, owner of Cape Clear Holiday Cottages got back to us and accepted to let us use one of the cottages at a very friendly price.
On our way back to the harbour, we made a small detour to meet Ed, who promised to help us to organise a talk and music session in order to raise some funds for the project.
Satisfied with our day, we went back on the main land and started to organise the logistics. We needed to plan the equipment we would need, organise the volunteers and so on. Other veterinary practices also decided to help out by donating medicines and we would like to thank Glasslyn vets and Riverview Veterinary Group for their support.
Finally, the big day arrived and we were a bit nervous on our way to Baltimore as a little mistake and the whole project could go wrong. We all arrived on time and found the trailer waiting for us. We started loading and, to our relief, all our equipment did fit on it. The trailer was safely transported onto the island at no cost to us by Cape Clear Ferry.
After picking up the keys to the cottage, we did not waste time and headed to our destination. The four of us undertook the big task of cleaning, disinfecting and setting up all the cages, thus transforming the loft and downstairs area into a temporary cat hospital. The females and their kittens were to be kept upstairs in a warmer area, while the males were set up in the barn downstairs. All cages were labelled and equipped with feeding bowls and litter trays for maximum comfort during the cats’ stay.
After a quick lunch in the company of the cats, the trapping could begin….
We picked up all the friendly cats and transferred them into their cages. The traps needed to be set up for the other cats, who were mor feral. We had come well equipped with 2 multi-cat drop traps, which were set at the feeding spot, and a few automatic traps, which were set around the garden for the shyest cats. Maggie broke her record and trapped 8 cats in one go with her drop trap and we rapidly trapped more cats with the other traps. It happened so fast that we could barely keep count. 20… 21… 22! That was most of the colony trapped as only one cat remained to be caught.
Muriel sat in the garden all afternoon watching the traps, while the rest of us were setting all the cats in their cages for the night. All the cats were recorded and given food and water, as well as a litter tray.
It was beginning to get dark and we agreed to come back in the morning to get the last cat. We left the traps unset so that he could get used to their presence. The car that had been lent to us had a little specificity: you needed to turn the key three times in the engine in order to start it. As Maggie was doing so, Em spotted a shadow ahead of them. Maggie swiftly ran out and went to reset the drop trap while the rest of us remained quiet in the car. Not long after, the sound of the trap being dropped could be heard. The Monster, as he was named by his carer, had been caught! We had trapped the whole colony in a matter of hours!
The following morning, the vet team arrived. No time wasted; they wanted to get to work straight away. They set up the surgery and we started bringing the cats to them. They fastly worked their way through neutering all the cats and had us running! In the lapse of three hours, 19 cats were sedated, neutered, ear-tipped and treated for fleas and worms. Unfortunately, one cat had a damaged leg, which could not be operated on, and had to be euthanised. The three youngest kittens were still too small to be neutered and it was decided that since they were only semi-feral, our team would come back at a later date to pick them up and bring them back on the main land for neutering.
The vets went back to the cottage for a well-deserved relaxing time, while we stayed with student vet nurse, Lorna Cashman, to ensure that all the cats were fine after their operation. Once we were satisfied that all were ok, we fed them and let them rest for the night.
Our job for the day was not over. We had organised a fundraising night in order to help covering for the costs involved. After socialising and selling tickets for our fun cat raffle at Ciaran Danny Mike’s, we headed to Club Cleire where a session was on. There, we also gave a talk on TNR and on how we had organised this particular project. Everyone was really supportive and bought raffle tickets to help us to finance the project. We returned to Ciaran Danny Mike’s where our draw took place. Ironically, Mary Francis won the first prize: a cat that is a lot easier to look after and won’t have kittens!
Although the most difficult part of our work was over now, we still had a busy day on the Sunday with the release of the males, followed by cleaning up and beginning packing. The females were left to recover for an extra night.
Two of us remained on the island to oversee the release of the females and kittens. With all cats safely returned and all the equipment packed, it was time to leave and say goodbye to Cape Clear until our next visit.
We would like to thank all those who have supported this project, the vets, volunteers, businesses and the people of Cape Clear. We are also very thankful to all the members of the public who have contributed to this project so far and have helped us to make it possible. The project is not over yet and your support is still needed in order for us to continue neutering the cats of Cape Clear.
If you would like to support the Cape Clear TNR Project, please donate here. Thanks for your support and generosity!
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.
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.