I’m working on a big TNR this weekend involving 10 to 12 cats, and the R is “remove”, not “return.” I’ll be trapping over three days for clinic appointments both Saturday and Sunday, then Monday I drive them out to my friend Birgitta’s farm in Meyersdale where we set them up for their new home in a barn in the country.
I’ve been planning this since January, but the caretaker’s wife developed Covid before the February clinic and they were all quarantined, then in March we had a polar vortex, and in April the caretaker had Covid, though vaccinated. It started out as a regular TNR, but in the meantime it was clear caring for the cats had been becoming more difficult for him, older with COPD and heart disease, and then the property owner who lived next door complained about them and demanded they be removed. Once the cats have been removed, his family will not permit him to start feeding again.
The sad thing is he’s been feeding cats there for 20 years, never spayed or neutered any of them, and there are only 12 cats. There should be hundreds, but how many died from disease, how many from predators, we’ll never know. I learned about them from a neighbor who I’m also helping TNR ferals they know came from that colony. Coyotes have been in the area for years, and owls in the woods. It might also be that other people trapped them. He would see kittens and try to keep their eyes and noses clean when they were small enough to handle, and then they’d disappear. He saw a litter of kittens earlier this spring, though it’s not really clear when, but hasn’t seen them recently. So much suffering.
The cats live in a detached garage and breezeway. I have eight clinic appointments on Saturday and four on Sunday. I tried to plan for keeping their routine as close as possible to normal, and keeping me out of it as much as possible to keep from spooking them.
I asked him to feed the cats breakfast Thursday, then shoo them out of the garage and close it up, and not feed on Thursday night. I went over late Thursday night to set up eight traps in the garage so that he can open the garage door for breakfast Friday morning and though the traps will be weird for the cats, hopefully some cats will go into them because it’s a familiar routine and they are very hungry. He can cover the traps as they go in. When they seem to slow down in appearing I’ll go over and stash the ones trapped in the garage and close that up again, then I’ll set traps in the breezeway that he can watch through the day, and reset at sunset, hoping to catch eight for my Saturday Homeless Cat Management Team clinic appointments. Then I’ll drive them out to the clinic Saturday and come back to set four more traps for my Sunday appointments and take those to a shelter clinic HCMT works with between our own appointments. We’ll care for them all overnight in his garage, then I’ll drive them to Meyersdale on Monday. If I don’t trap them all I’ll go back for the others next month.
The scene in my back seat and the way back in my car. It’s another reason I got the car I did—lots of space for cats in traps as well as my vendor show display and my handmade merchandise.
I’ve always appreciated others’ generosity in the past when I was trapping. He will be helping me with gas money, but if you’d like to contribute money for gas or materials, you can do that by visiting www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net and purchasing one of the things I make. Also, my Paypal address is email@example.com and my Venmo is @Bernadette-Kazmarski. The money we are collecting for Cubbage Hill Cats does not go for this TNR because these cats live in another community. And thank you!
And thanks to Margo for scheduling the surgeries and dropping off some traps! I’m so grateful to be able to turn to her for this support, and grateful that HCMT provides the framework we can all rely on for rescuing cats.
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