We 'did' 8 more cats today, bringing them to the PAWS Chicago spay/neuter clinic we use. Only 3 of them were ferals (the other 5 were 'friendly ferals'), but this percentage will rise in the very near future. Still, 8 more cats spay/neutered are now 8 more cats that will not contribute to the cat overpopulation problem.
During most of 2008, I did the great bulk of transport work; picking the cats up from Tammy's and taking them to PAWS-Chicago in the morning and then going back in the afternoon to pick the cats up after their surgeries and bringing them back to Tammy's for recovery and eventual return to their colonies. I'm certainly not complaining; it's just the way it worked out. But near the end of last year, we recruited a couple of new volunteers who began to take up some of the transport load. Today was a good example of that; I brought the cats in to PAWS in the morning, while Jennifer was able to pick them up from PAWS in the afternoon and take them back to Tammy's. Dividing the transport load this way allows us to process more cats, a necessity if we ever hope to get ahead of the problem of cat overpopulation.
But this causes us (and PAWS) some complications too.
When the cats are checked in, PAWS issues paperwork indicating what procedures are supposed to happen to the cats, and then, when the cats are picked up, PAWS provides additional paperwork, indicating what procedures were actually performed on the cats (not always the same). Both sets of paperwork need to go back to Tammy for our records and also distribution to the colony caretakers. If the same person is both dropping off the cats and then picking them up, then that person just brings both sets of paperwork to Tammy, along with the cats. However, if different people are doing the drop-off and pick-up then other arrangements need to be made. What we've done is place a "Feral Fixers Folder" at PAWS; the person dropping off the cats at PAWS has the PAWS personnel leave the check-in paperwork in this folder. The person picking up the cats then takes this paperwork back to Tammy's, along with the check-out paperwork. A bit more cumbersome (and more to remember for both PAWS and Feral Fixers personnel), but it seems to work well enough.
In addition, PAWS recently changed their procedure on how they handle the towels that we cover the traps with. Cats in traps are spooked enough as it is; covering the traps with a towel gives the cats a better sense of security and helps keep them calm. Last year when we took the cats to PAWS, they would keep the towels with the traps and, after surgery, would re-cover them with the same towels. PAWS no longer wants to keep the towels with the traps, preferring instead to give the towels back to us when we check the cats in and covering the traps with sheets instead. This is not a problem if the same person drops off the cats and picks them up; that person just keeps the towels in their possession and replaces the sheets on the traps with the towels when they pick them up. But if different people are dropping off and picking up the cats, then it gets a bit more complicated. What we have done to address this problem is similar to how we handled the paperwork problem; we now have a 'folder' (a laundry bag) that we keep at PAWS that the towels can be put into. The person dropping off the cats (in this case, me) put the towels in this laundry bag and the person picking up the cats (in this case, Jennifer), retrieved the towels when she picked up the cats. It worked well enough today and hopefully will continue to be a solution in the future.