All the calls we get are about kittens…
Well, yeah. It’s what cats do in April and May that affect conditions in July and August. We have neutered, have on hand, know about, over 100 kittens since “kitten season” began. These are kittens that would have gone on to make more, died out in the wild, or been euthanized due to lack of adoptive homes, so we are doing a fantastic job with your help! This is the most extreme foray into fostering and taming that we have done to date, but there are always more kittens out there and will be for some time until we can make sure we neuter before the kittens arrive. Usually there are more adults than kittens but at this time of year, the few are becoming the majority and part of TNR is pulling friendlies out of the colony.
We average 3 new calls each day. Almost all with kittens and the colony can be just one cat or as many as 30. How do we keep ahead of that? When we ask for people to foster, transport and trap we are expressing a very real need. I hope that we have not asked too often already, or is there another way of asking? Our caretakers have really stepped up to the plate and many have fostered their own kittens and adults and then gone on to foster others when they found how fulfilling it is. To do a good job, a foster should not take on more than 6 kittens maximum and there are some colonies where we have found 3 times that many at once, so the caretaker could not support the whole kitten load.
We’ve had school employees fostering for us – they will soon have to go back to work. We’ve had people who are unemployed fostering for us – we hope they will be able to go back to work soon! They’ve all done a fantastic job, fostering is the hardest part of Rescue. It takes a lot of time and patience, it takes seeing the big picture and knowing that they have to let these kittens go, so that the next litter can be taken from the outside and put on the path to their forever homes. It takes listening and paying attention and relaxing and knowing that all in all, kittens are durable. Fostering is feeding, socializing - kitten boot camp if you will, getting them ready to go into a cage at a PetsMart, Petco, vet’s office or shelter for adoption.
We have several adults and probably 30+ kittens right now that we could pull from the outside. But there is no where to go. If you know someone who can foster we would love the opportunity to talk to them. It is only with your help that we can make a difference!
Worse before it gets better
People who have studied TNR’d colonies have found that females left intact increase the size and frequency of their litters in order to maintain and increase the size of the colony when TNR has been incomplete or cats have been removed for relocation or euthanization. They fight very hard to maintain their numbers. In stark contrast, when an entire colony has been TNR’d, some cats may leave their current location on their own, finding another yard more attractive now that they don’t have the same concerns as before neutering, but usually more do not move in to bring the numbers back up to pre-TNR levels.
I’m wondering if that is what we are currently experiencing, not just on a colony level but in the whole County. If, some how, the cats are getting the message all over to increase production as they feel their numbers going down. That may be why we are getting so many calls about kittens. We try to work on sections at a time – coordinating neighborhoods in order to create an oasis of fully TNR’d cats and limit the arrival of new, unneutered cats. That is why it is important for neighbors to talk to each other about what they are doing. The phone calls we receive are positive signs as people SEE the cats these days and feel the need to do something about them. The litters of kittens are healthier than ever before, people are taking much better care of them. The vaccinating we do has to be impacting the total heard health – we don’t even see as many cats with fleas as we did when we first started, for example.
Things may get worse before they get better, but it doesn’t mean we will give up.
Word is getting out
Advertising what we do has presented a problem. If we advertise too much we will get too many calls without sufficient numbers of volunteers to handle those calls. We have pressed caretakers into service, once they do their own colony, we have asked that they help a neighbor or someone else in their town and that has worked wonderfully, but very slowly. Word-of-mouth is really putting the pressure on us, so I will ask once again that if you have thought of helping with trapping, transport or fostering, now is the time to contact us!
As more people know about us, the towns are taking notice and working with us, acknowledging that TNR is the best method to resolve the issue of feral cats. As caretakers talk to their village representatives, their animal control officers, they are being heard.
We are approaching our 2,000th cat neuter!
Thank you all so much for making this possible!