Tag Archives: Trap-Neuter-Return

5th National Feral Cat Awareness Week, 9th to 16th of August 2014

The aim of this week is to raise the awareness about feral cats and the importance of neutering.

During the week, we will be posting information on this website and on our Facebook pag about feral cats.  You can also visit the Feral Cats Ireland website and Facebook page for more information.

Why not help us raise awareness by printing the following posters and placing them in your local shop, community centre, co-op, etc?

Feral Cat 2014_general posterDownload the PDF file here: Feral Cat 2014_general poster.

Feral Cat Week poster_TNR 2014


Download the PDF file here: Feral Cat Week poster_TNR 2014.

Information leaflets created by Feral Cats Ireland can also be obtained to distribute in your local vets, pet shops, etc, by emailing feralcatsireland@gmail.com.

Feral Cat Week leaflets

Monday Smiles #2

A photo, a comment, a thought, a story that we have come across during our TNRs to brighten your Monday 🙂

Heard from a farmer talking about the feral cats he feeds…

“I may be just a farmer, but I don’t like to see them suffer.”

Monday Smiles #1

A photo, a comment, a thought, a story that we have come across during our TNRs to brighten your Monday 🙂

As we’re dealing with feral cats, we rarely get to interact with them.  They usually run away as fast and as far from us as possible when they are released.  However, every so often, one will stop and turn around as if to say “Thank you!”

Seafield, pausing on his way to a new happier life

On the way to freedom and to a new happier life

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.

“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.

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.

The Cape Clear Kittens

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.

Tiny tortie

Tiny tortie

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.

The little tabby who passed away.

The little tabby who passed away.

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…

Back home!

Back 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.

The Challenge of Cape Clear

Cape Clear, an island difficult to access

Cape Clear, an island difficult to access

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?

The vet team: Charlotte Whitty, Sinead Falvey, Hazel Kirby and Lorna Cashman

The vet team: Charlotte Whitty, Sinead Falvey, Hazel Kirby and Lorna Cashman

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.

The ferry that was to bring our equipment on the island

The ferry that was to bring our equipment on the island

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.

So many tabbies and blacks...

So many tabbies and blacks…

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.

The surgery

The surgery

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.

Ciaran Danny Mike's, who have supported us from the start

Ciaran Danny Mike’s, who have supported us from the start

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.

12 08 28 s_web

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.

The trailer carrying our equipment being lifted onto the ferry.

The trailer carrying our equipment being lifted onto the ferry.

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.

Sorting out and labelling the cages

Sorting out and labelling the cages

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….

Sharing is caring...

Sharing is caring…

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. 

8 cats were trapped with the drop trap!

8 cats were trapped with the drop trap!

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.

All cats, even The Monster, were trapped on the 1st day...

All cats, even The Monster, were trapped on the 1st day…

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!

Vets at work

Vets at work

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.

All cats were closely monitored after surgery, especially the kittens, who needed to be kept really warm.

All cats were closely monitored after surgery, especially the kittens, who needed to be kept really warm.

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!

Session at Club Cleire

Session at Club Cleire

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.

The males have been released and are enjoying a good meal!

The males have been released and are enjoying a good meal!

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!

To view the full photo album, click here.

Tables to Raise Awareness about Feral Cats

To mark the beginning of National Feral Cat Awareness Week, Community Cats Network held information tables over the last two days.  We wanted to meet the public and explain the importance of caring and neutering feral and stray cats.  Cats do not have the best profile in Ireland and it was thus a difficult task to get our message heard.  We were received by a mix of reactions ranging from “I hate cats and I don’t want to have anything to do with them” to curiosity to real interest to total approval.

Information table at Hosford’s garden centre

We had brought traps with us and they certainly attracted attention.  A few people asked about them and we were glad to show them how they work.  Some people engaged in longer conversations and left with the information leaflets designed by Mayo Cat Rescue and Feral Cats Ireland, who are at the origin of this great initiative.  Although not everyone stopped, it was still exposure as many people looked and read the posters.  We have realised that quite often people do not know how to deal with feral cats simply because they are not aware that there is a humane way to trap them, but the few 100s of customers passing our stalls today and yesterday will at least know that there is a solution out there…

Information table at Hanley’s garden centre

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Trish and her staff at Pet Stop, Jim and his staff at Hanley’s and John and his staff at Hosford’s for having us there and being so helpful.

Marika and Eva holding the stall in Pet Stop

Also, thank you to all the volunteers who gave a bit of their time during those two days to help us raise awareness: Marika, Eva, Cormac, Brian, Sara, Pauline, Karen and Colette.

Colette and Karen speaking for the cats in Hosford’s garden centre

Finally, thanks to all the customers who stopped by for a chat and gave a few euros to help the cause.

Brian waiting to show how to operate the cat trap in Hanley’s garden centre

This initiative is supported by near to 20 vet practices in Cork; they will be offering a discounted rate to the public for the neutering of stray and feral cats (you can check the list of participating vets here).  This discount only applies to genuine stray and feral cats and all cats will be ear-tipped (this is a universal method to recognise stray and feral cats that have already been neutered, thus preventing them from being trapped again).  And if you do not manage to catch the cat, don’t hesitate to contact your local TNR group, they will be more than happy to help you.

Next week, we will keep spreading the word by distributing leaflets and placing posters in shops, especially farmer’s co-ops.  You too can help us to raise awareness by printing the poster below and bringing it to your local shop or work place.

3rd National Feral Cat Awareness Week; 11-18th of August 2012

National Feral Cat Awareness Week, an initiative from Feral Cats Ireland, is taking place from the 11th to the 18th of August.  The theme this year is “caring for a feral colony”.  The purpose of this event is to raise awareness for the plight of feral cats in Ireland, and, of course, to encourage the neutering of feral cats. 

Every year, many kittens are born in terrible conditions.  Most of them die at a young age; the ones that survive start reproducing very early in life (a female cat can become active at 16 weeks old).  It is a myth that all these kittens can be rehomed as too many are born for the number of homes available.  Too often, people do not realise at what rapid pace cats can reproduce.  They begin feeding one or two cats and quickly end up with a whole colony.  To prevent the situation to get out of control, there is only one solution: neuter.  Neutering may cost money, but it certainly costs less to neuter one or two cats than to feed an entire colony.  It is also the only humane solution to the problem of over-population.  Putting the cats to sleep is not only inhumane, but it also does not solve the problem.  It was shown that the culling of a colony creates a vacuum effect: the cats are soon replaced by other cats.  It is thus more effective to keep a colony under control by having all the cats neutered.  Moreover, neutering also prevents the suffering of many kittens and the spread of disease.  Cats become healthier and the risk of spreading infectious diseases such as FIV (feline AIDS) and FeLV (feline Leukemia) are much lower since these diseases are transmitted through deep bite, which occurs during mating and fighting.

In order to support this campaign, a number of vets in county Cork have agreed to offer a discounted rate to the public for the neutering of feral cats (see list below).  Local groups are available to help you to humanely trap the cat if you cannot catch it yourself.  Please contact us or Cork Cat Action Trust, Mallow Animal Rescue, RAWR (Bantry) and Animal Rescue Cobh for more information.

Community Cats Network will be holding a few information tables to mark the beginning of Feral Cat Awareness Week.  You can come to visit us at the following stores if you would like more information:

Please, help us to spread the word in Cork by printing the poster below and placing it in shops, work places, etc.

You can also show your support to feral cats by signing the petition asking to have all cats included in the new Animal Welfare bill.

List of participating vets in county Cork (please, call to enquire about the rates available):