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cats on a spit

I had the pleasure to once again teach the Basic TNR class today, with my Community Cat Coalition colleague and friend, Vicki. We traveled to a remote part of the state, an area with many fewer TNR resources available than what I get to enjoy. Several local and nearby animal rescue groups came together to promote the class with the hopes more in the community would be interested in learning TNR.

We had 18 people from the community attend! Many had never trapped cats before but wanted to learn so they could get more involved with TNR. Others had feral cats they were taking care of but were not sure how to trap them or where to take them for spay/neuter. And a few were experienced from recently having started TNR’ing a large local feral colony that is well known in their community. It was a great group of enthusiastic people who care a lot about helping homeless cats. They asked great questions and were very engaged with the class – it was an awesome class!

After class we traveled down to visit the site where the large feral colony were living. Seeing the location was mind-boggling and sad. It’s a less than ideal location for a feral cat colony (crazy understatement). There is very little protection from the elements and no decent cover. These cats arrived at this location most likely from being dumped. Technically, it’s probably more correct to say there are numerous colonies living at this site, as the cats live all up and down this spit of land that juts out to form a safe harbor for ships..  The spit is a little over 3 miles (4.8 km) long but very narrow.

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Image courtesy of Google maps

I’m intentionally not naming the community to protect the location of the colony, and thus the cats. The local newspaper did an article on the feral colony and the large TNR project that is currently underway and sadly, some cruel people came out and harassed the cats and vandalized their shelters and feeding stations. If you recognize the location of this site, please refrain from sharing revealing details in the comments.

There’s not a lot happening on the spit, mostly a road and nice scenic pull-overs. At the tip of the spit is an active US Coast Guard Station and at the other end is a massive lumber mill operation. It’s certainly scenic.

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I met this man out at the site and he quickly became one of my favorite people on the planet. Fred is feeding the ferals, as he does every day.

Fred and his friend Ron are two retired guys who caretake all the cats on the spit. They estimate there are about 30 to 40 or so cats but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are actually more. These guys spend a lot of their time and money bettering the lives of these cats. Seeing how much these guys love and care for these cats, fills my heart with joy.

We were fortunate enough to get a tour of the site from both of these generous men. They both gushed with stories of the all the cats and kittens – they know them all very well. When one goes missing, they grieve. After the newspaper article published the story about the colony, they found the feeding stations destroyed and they found one of the cats dead. They don’t know how he died, but it was clear the pain of the loss was still fresh. Some kind soul placed a flower and a little flag on this log in memory of the deceased cat, which used to eat at the feeding station near this spot.

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We were only there a few minutes before we started seeing the cats – they were everywhere.

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Ron and Fred have been very creative in trying to create shelters for the cats. There is next to nothing available for shelter from the wind and elements, basically, large rocks and driftwood, so they use the driftwood logs to create little sheltered spots for the cats to eat or sleep. The sticks leaning up against the rocks work to keep the abundant seagull population from eating all the cat food.

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As we toured the site, we discussed TNR strategies. This site certainly poses the greatest TNR challenge I have ever seen. It’s so vast, and so wide open – traps can’t be left because they could easily be stolen or vandalized. I believe they said they have TNR’ed 25 already after several days of trapping.

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 These cats are all so beautiful.es21

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A creative feeding station, covered by drift logs. A small log covers the food bowl so it’s out of sight of the humans passing by, but the cats can get to it.

 

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Can you spot the feral cat in this photo?

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He’s hanging out in this little covered feeding space.

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makeshift feral shelter

In one area, there are a few portable shelters made from plastic tubs that the cats love, hidden away behind some large logs. Sadly, the site doesn’t have many such spots where such shelters can safely exist without getting vandalized.

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There are many ferals that live beyond this fence, which is the secured Coast Guard station.

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ferals hanging out in clearing of the Coast Guard station

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peek-a-boo!

All the feral cats we saw looked to be healthy. They are getting good care from Ron and Fred and it shows. Even with such great care, how they survive the cold winters out on this spit, I have no idea. We were told there are some storms that come in where the waves crash over the big rocks, which would destroy their homes, food and water.

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non-eartip feral still needing to be TNR’ed

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Another non-eartipped feral needing to be TNR’ed

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The rainbow ends where the ferals live

Seeing the conditions these cats live in was heart-breaking. Meeting Ron and Fred and hearing how much they look after these cats was heart-warming. Meeting the people who organized the Basic TNR class and the other attendees who want to make a difference in the lives of homeless cats was energizing. One person can make such a  huge difference in the life of a homeless cat. My heart is filled with much gratitude that there are caring people out there who are willing to put the care into action. You all are my heros.

8 Responses to “cats on a spit”

  1. Katie Isabella says:

    This is heartbreaking to me and if I had been there in person, I would be devastated at what the cats go through and at the always always always cruelty of cat hating people.

    Those two gentleman you told us about are two of the best folks I know of. I don’t have to have met them to realize that. Bless their hearts and efforts. I wish the newspaper would stay out of situations like this. There are horrible people out there (as is evidenced by the blog here) waiting to take advantage of helpless spirits.

  2. Marg says:

    Well you did the best you could to help those people and cats. At least they are all getting something to eat and a little shelter. That is very sad though. We are just thankful that those two guys are feeding all those cats. They all do look healthy.

  3. May much good Karma visit Ron and Fred. They are blessed people.

  4. CathleenPowell says:

    Just to share…there is a similar situation at Gold Beach in Oregon (as well as Westport, WA. However, the cat colony in Oregon are known as The Jetty Cats and their living environment has become well-known, in fact, practically creating tourism.

    Like the work being initiated in Port Angeles, existing kitties were TNR’d, any tames that are dumped are rescued and rehomed, and new ferals are fixed. Some years ago there was a fundraiser to provide shelter/kitty condos. Photos in the link below or Google “Jetty Cats Gold Beach.” Perhaps someone in the PA community would like to take on a project similar to this.

    http://www.catnipchronicles.com/sept2010/jetty.htm

    Kudos to everyone involved in this project in PA.

  5. Jan says:

    Is there a way we could send Ron or Fred gift cards to Petsmart or Wal-Mart to help with the supplies for the cats?

  6. Falkosmom says:

    Always great to hear about two more true heroes in the world!

  7. greg1948 says:

    Cat Spit is where they live. Very interesting story and photographs.

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