Friday, October 14, 2016

Feral Cat Fixathon

Nano, the mascot of the Feral Fixathon
To mark Feral Cat Day this weekend, Tiny Kittens, a cat rescue in Canada, will be holding a Fixathon at a feral cat colony. The aim is to trap all the cats on a rural property, spay and neuter them, treat any medical conditions they may have, and later either return them to the farm or, if they show potential, keep them for socialization and eventual adoption.

Tiny Kittens has had remarkable success in TNR (trap, neuter, return) with the previous feral colony in the Happy Forest, with over 90% of the 200+ cats spayed and neutered, and many of them adopted. This colony continues to receive daily feeding visits from volunteers and neighbours.

So far, since Tiny Kittens was granted access to the new rural property, the cats there have been identified and named, and a few have been brought into Tiny Kittens HQ for medical care.

The first group were three 5 week old kittens who were found living in a hayloft. Amelia fell from the hayloft, but fortunately was not seriously hurt by the fall, and her two brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were also rescued. You can watch the Hayloft Flyers on TK's livestream channel.

Next a family of tabby cats was rescued. The mother, Zetta, had done very well at keeping her five kittens healthy for 5 weeks. Unfortunately, one of them, Nano, was only a quarter of the size of his brothers. This was due to an internal deformity that made it difficult for him to breathe, especially after eating. He enjoyed a few happy days with his family at Tiny Kittens HQ before his situation worsened. Surgery was attempted despite the low chance of success, and sadly he died, leading to a massive outpouring of grief among the kitten cam viewers. His spirit will be remembered, and he has become the mascot of the Fixathon efforts. The rest of the Metric family can be viewed on the VIP livestream (for a monthly or yearly subscription).

A few days later, two 8 week old sisters were brought in with serious eye infections leading to complete or partial blindness, and one has a nasty upper respiratory infection too. At the moment it is not certain whether the treatment they are receiving will help restore their vision. Faith has little or no vision in both eyes, but has adapted well to being blind and plays happily with the Hayloft siblings. Hope has one eye that probably has some vision, but she's still recovering from her cold and is not yet very playful.

As often happens with feral cats, at least one of the Hayloft kittens and both the blind kittens have ringworm, which is why they are now sharing a room, while the Metric family seem to be clear and are kept apart. Ringworm treatment means they will have to remain in Tiny Kittens' care for a few weeks longer than the minimum stay before adoption, which gives them more time for socialization and for treatment of their other medical conditions.

These stories show the importance of TNR. Cats can survive in the wild, but it is not the ideal life for them. The lives of feral cats are full of risks: predators, disease, starvation, extreme weather conditions, and cars are among the main causes of death or injury. Unfixed cats are driven by instinct to mate and reproduce, and this leads to toms being injured in cat fights and the queens having to care for litter after litter of kittens, which takes a toll on their bodies. Not all the kittens born survive. Some estimates say that only one in four kittens born in the wild survives to reach its first birthday. Those few kittens that live may have diseases and parasites that cause constant suffering.

Humans are collectively responsible for domesticating cats, and so I believe we all share the responsibility of caring for as many cats as possible, whether they are loving pets or skittish cats living out of doors. One way of caring for cats is to reduce the number of unwanted kittens born to a life of probable suffering. TNR both helps the cats who are spayed and neutered to have better lives, and also prevents the suffering of the kittens who would otherwise have been born in the wild.

When feral cats are fixed, they can return to their original outdoor home and have much better lives. Spayed and neutered cats are healthier and happier, and some of the ferals gradually learn to like human company and can eventually be adopted and become happy indoor pets.

To help this weekend's Fixathon, you can donate to Tiny Kittens, or else spread awareness of this event to others who may be interested in helping in some way. Watch live broadcasts and updates from the Fixathon this weekend.

You could also mark Feral Cat Day by finding events in your local area. Even if your local area is not doing anything special, it is worth finding out which local rescue organizations are helping feral cats.

There are many ways people can help feral cats, depending on their situation and ability.
  • Adopt a formerly feral cat, whether one you rescue yourself, or from a shelter or foster home.
  • Donate money to a rescue organization or shelter that helps feral cats.
  • Volunteer to help feed a feral colony or become involved in TNR.
  • Volunteer at a shelter that rescues feral cats.
  • Sponsor a rescued cat living at a shelter.
  • Buy or make items to sell at fundraisers for a rescue organization or shelter.
  • Raise awareness of the importance of caring for feral cats.
If this blog post has inspired you to help feral cats, feel free to share it with others.


1 comment:

Karen Hoekstra said...

G.;CC. ]

Great blog; hoping for a huge success on Saturday
(The first line was typed by my Muis; I wanted to delete it but on second thought: maybe she was just typing her support, who knows :) )