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From The President
Written by Tammy McAuley   
Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Frosty Claws


Our biggest event of the year is coming up on January 20th! Frosty Claws is an opportunity for everyone to get together, socialize, share information and have a great time with like-minded people! We aren’t limited to being a feral cat supporting community, but everyone at this event is supporting cats in general and see that TNR plays an enormous part in that.


We have some fundraisers going on, raffles, silent auction, our boutique (shirts, hats & cat stuff) and Recycled2New will be there. We will have lots of food & beverages. If you have questions about trapping or care of cats, our people will be on hand to help.


Silent auction donations have been pouring in – we have art, crafts, gift baskets and not one but three cat trees!


Weather


We are all wondering how the weather will affect the unneutered ferals this Spring. The warmer temperatures, lack of snow...their hormones are supposed to be governed by the angle of the sun, but the temperatures seem to play a part too.


We’ve gotten several calls from caretakers saying that their ferals are pregnant, which absolutely should not be happening yet. Used to be that we could say with great certainty that the cats had just put on a lot of winter weight. We don’t want kittens born this early in the year with the possibility that Winter is still going to hit us really hard.


This is one of the reasons we work so hard to neuter as many cats as possible. Keep an eye on any new arrivals to your colony and help us get them neutered right away!


Taming Feral Kittens and Cats for Adoption Workshop


I recently attended a workshop presented by the NYC Feral Cat Initiative and Urban Cat League, hosted by The Anti-Cruelty Society and Tree House Humane Society at Anti-Cruelty in Chicago.


One of the most interesting parts of the workshop was the information on how age and hormones affect 'tameability'. You can get the same information at http://www.nycferalcat.org/info-kittenssoc.htm, you will find links to the videos we have on our home page and links to other resources – most of the information at the workshop came from Urban Cat League.


What impacts the possibility of taming? Age – beyond 5 – 8 weeks it is increasingly difficult to tame. Sex – Fight or Flight instinct develops quickly in females. Nature and Nurture – Genetics and Mom’s opinion of humans (how recently in their bloodline did their ancestors interact positively with humans? does Mom tense up and run whenever humans appear). These are all reasons that we might tell a caretaker that it is “too late” for the kittens in their colony to be tame. The reasons that the females may never tame. The reasons that whole litters may never tame.


I had never seen the reasons for and against taming spelt out so clearly.

FOR: Reduce size of colony, improving community relations and making care more affordable for caretaker. There are available tamers/fosters/adopters for the cats and kittens.

AGAINST: Current location is safe, cats are well cared for. Tamers/fosters/adopters are non-existant or extremely limited. Big picture – every feral adopted takes a home, does that equal more euthanasia at animal control?


We get calls “I heard you guys take cats, can you come get this one?” “No, I’ve never touched it, but I’m sure it’s friendly.” “It's a kitten, it can’t be more than 8 months old.”


There are also some excellent tips on taming kittens and cats by letting the cats decide to approach you by limiting their access to food – it truly is the best and only way to change a kitten’s behavior without using some level of force. It can take time and if you have to move more quickly in the taming process, there are other methods, but this way will result in happy, confident kittens.


Trapping Kittens


Caretakers (and Feral Fixers volunteers) are often on the fence as to whether to trap the mom first or the kittens first, should we trap the first kittens that show up? so many questions!


http://www.socialferals.blogspot.com/2011/03/always-trap-feral-kittens-dont-chase.html


Urban Cat League’s stance is to trap the mom first. She will disappear with the remaining kittens, otherwise. And we have seen that happen time after time. What is really novel is their advice to not take the first kittens that show up. Wait until all of the kittens are in the trap OR for the last ones to show up are in the trap. The last ones to show up are the most shy, hardest to trap, guaranteed to produce the next litters when they are old enough. The blog details using the “bottle on a string” idea to get multiple kittens in the same trap, in order to get the most cautious. I will be passing this on everywhere there are kittens from now on. It can take more patience but pay off big time in the long run, I think.


More To Feral Fixers Than TNR


I’ve said before that we are a shelter for the outside cats. This has been demonstrated this past year by the almost 400 kittens and friendlies that were placed in shelters or adopted from fosters. This has been shown by the number of calls we received about ferals who had upper respiratory or clearly had worms and we helped with their care. People have a dying feral and have nowhere to turn and call us. We helped with eye removals, wound care, leg amputations. What TNR organization does that as an automatic response to a need? We thank all of our donors for their help in making DuPage County a more humane, caring place to live that has more and more respect for the cats, not just the ferals, that live among us.

 

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