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Basic TNR Class video

I haven’t had much time for trapping cats in this last year but I have continued to teach our regular Basic TNR class for the Community Cat Coalition. This past class, a professional videographer volunteered his time and put together a nice video of the class.

If you want to learn how to TNR but don’t have access to a class, then check out this video. It’s about an hour and 43 minutes in length. You’ll recognize pictures of my Oliver and his family!

Marvin

I haven’t posted much in a while because I haven’t done much TNR in quite some time. After I TNR’ed Bert last year, I pretty much just spent time on him and teaching my monthly TNR class.

And then the other day I got an email requesting help with a skinny cat that had showed up outside someone’s place. I popped over with my trap.

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They started feeding it but could tell it needed more help than they could provide, so they reached out for help. So, I stopped over, set a trap and about five minutes later, had my boy.

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He’s friendly, a non-microchipped Siamese neutered boy, who’s scared and way to skinny. I’ve started feeding him and working on getting him to trust me more. Soon he’ll be getting looked over by the vet and vaccinated.

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I love his gorgeous brown color!

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For now, I’m calling him Marvin! Let’s hope he’s virus free and doesn’t have any major health issues!

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remember Bert?

It’s been nearly 8 months since the last update on Bert. Wow! Where does the time go?!

Bert is now living inside the main house with the other indoor cats! He’s completely healthy and LOVES being inside and loved. He really seems to appreciate being given a second chance at the good kitty-life.

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Bert is a bit different than the other cats. He lives in his own little world and refuses to leave that world. He’s an all or nothing kitty – he’s either fully interested or invested or not at all. He does nothing half-way. Cuddle time is cuddle time and play time is for play. He’s a joy and he’s still in need of his forever home!

I’ve not posted much on TNR lately because I haven’t been doing TNR! Since I trapped Bert, I’ve been pretty swamped with work, so my TNR time these days just involves teaching the monthly Basic TNR class to those in the community wanting to learn the art. It’s been awesome to see more and more people interested in TNR and not just learning, but then going and helping others learn too!

Bert update

Bert has been hanging out in my garage and doing amazing! He no longer swats at me or tries to bite, he’s super friendly and very lovey. He adores affection.

I’ve been letting him wander around the garage when I’m out there with him, he’s very easy going about everything.

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I tried playing with him with a wand toy and it took him a little bit to remember how to play, but he finally did and now he loves it!

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And of course he still loves having his belly rubbed!

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Bert is very personable, very fun.

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He’s had some odd medical issues that I’ve wanted to get checked out, so today he went to see the rescue’s vet. She thinks he’s about 5-7 years old and looks generally good. The odd soft lump on his belly is an umbilical hernia, not really a big deal. But the part that was most concerning is that his tummy feels hard, kind of solid, even when he hasn’t eaten. The vet thinks it’s a solid mass, most likely a tumor about the size of a golf ball, or bigger. She thinks it’s in his intestinal tract which might account for the diarrhea. She recommended exploratory surgery.

Now comes some tough decisions. What to do, what to do…

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Bert

Remember the Collared Boy from the recent TNR site I helped with? I told you about him a few weeks ago, he had settled into my garage space. I had hopes of him being adopted into a cushy forever home.

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I’ve been working with him in hopes he can be re-homed, although he’s not making that easy. The first day he was lovely, wanted his tummy rubbed and such. Well, that was only the first day, after that he showed me how fast he is with his swat.

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You can still see where the collar was, the fur is slowly growing back.

There have been many times where I was about to give up on him being socialized. The option of returning him to the site was an option, although the idea of it broke my heart. After being swatted and getting the sense he wanted me to leave him alone, I was finally convinced myself to just bring him back. It was killing me to think about doing it, but he just wasn’t coming around.

I stuck the carrier in his space and he became sweet again. Lovely, purrs, wanting to be petted. How can I bring him back if he’s so sweet?!?! We did this little dance several times!

Then I started petting him again and I discovered something that changed everything.

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I was petting his head and he was about to swat me as he does (claws extended) and I slide my finger behind his ear and  rubbed the base of his ear. His paw was in the air, mid-way into his swat motion when it suddenly stopped and slowly went back down. He was feeling too good to go through with the swat – I had found his secret feral-off switch just in the nick of time!

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I try to spend some time each day hanging out with him. He’s getting more comfortable with me for sure. I wish I had an extra room in my house he could hang out in, so he could run and play more and I could hang out with him easier. I’ll have to make do with what I have and meanwhile, I posted Bert on Petfinder, hoping his new humans will come along soon!

You deserve a new cushy home Bert, where you will be spoiled and loved on endlessly!

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opossum rule #26

Opossums, the bane of TNR!
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Surprises

Thankfully, I’m pleased to report that this large, seemingly never-ending, TNR project is finally wrapping up!

When we started we walked around the neighborhood and knocked on doors to gather information and teach people about TNR. We met a wide variety of people from many different socioeconomic classes. One big dude in particular was very gruff and intimidating. He wanted to know what the hell we were doing on his porch. As we tried to explain he got more angry and impatient, telling us he’s a busy man who doesn’t have time to sit and watch the happenings of the community cats. We explained a little more, hoping that he might soften.

It worked. We explained that we were going door to door to learn about the cats so we didn’t inadvertently trap someone’s already altered pet cat. This tidbit of information changed everything. Suddenly we were friends, working on the same team. He told us about his two tabby boys who he had rescued as kittens and had altered at the same spay/neuter clinic we use. He went on to tell us how much he loves that clinic and the service they provide for the community. He especially loves their newsletter, which is filled with hopeful and encouraging stories. He was thrilled to know we were helping the community cats in his neighborhood and he went on to provide information about some of his neighbors and their cats. Hearing his experience of his neighbors certainly helped me understand his distrusting attitude toward people.

When we drew up our plan for trapping, we decided to focus on different parts of the community one at a time. The time had finally come to start trapping near this guy. Needless to say, I was nervous.

When I checked the traps early this morning, I found one non-eartipped tabby, who seemed friendly. Hmmmm. I decided to do a thorough inspection of his or her backside and determined confidently this was a girl; a large girl, but definitely a girl. I didn’t know if she was spayed already or not, so that would be something the clinic would have to determine for me.

And wouldn’t you know it, the cat was a neutered boy. Can you guess the expletive that raced through my mind?! Could this be one of the gruff dude’s cats? Oh my. Since the cat had been sedated at the clinic, I couldn’t release him until the next morning, which meant that if this was this guy’s cat, he most likely would be missing him. As I was driving to the site to check traps, it occurred to me that I had to ask the gruff dude if this was his cat. But how would he respond? I figured he would either rip me a new orifice or maybe, just maybe, he would be understanding. I called one of my trapping partners and we discussed how best to approach him.

I was a bit nervous as I walked up to his door. And sure enough he greeted me with the “What the hell are you doing on my porch?” intimidating attitude. I quickly tried to remind him who I was, that we had already met, and he had already determined we were on the same team. Thankfully, he remembered me.

I explained the entire situation to him, that I had trapped this cat, mistakenly thought it was a girl and only found out post-clinic that it was a neutered boy, and thus wanted to find out if by chance it was his. He said one of his cats had been missing all day and he was really worried about his unusual disappearance. He was worried enough to call his family and share his grief with them. He took one look in the carrier and identified him as his beloved kitty. Then came the moment I was most worried about – how would he respond after hearing that his beloved cat was taken to the clinic and given a rabies and FVRCP vaccination and was treated for fleas, mites, and tapeworms, all without his consent? Can you guess his response? A knuckle sandwich? Irate attitude? Understanding?

He was way beyond understanding, he was grateful. Grateful enough to shed tears and insist that I accept a financial donation in appreciation for all we are doing to help the community cats. Feeling bad for having taken his cat and causing him so much worry, I tried hard to refuse the donation, but he insisted. He invited me inside and showed me pictures of his cats as kittens and told me the story of how he rescued them (or they rescued him). He said he was so very grateful that I donationwas willing to approach him about his cat and that some people might really be angry for having their cat worked on without their approval, but that wasn’t him.

Wow! I couldn’t believe it! I left feeling like Tiger-Bob had really given me a beautiful gift – not the money, the gift was that he shared his soft, compassionate heart for animals. A gift that gives me hope for humanity. Thank you Tiger-Bob!

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collared boy

I’ve had a few days off from the TNR action, which I’ve needed to catch up on sleep! But we are still needing to trap more cats and the clinics start again on Sunday, so Saturday we’ll be trapping once again.

Meanwhile, remember the collared boy? Well, he’s neutered now and so friendly. No one has claimed him, so it’s time to find him a new home! He’s now free from the ancient flea collar he was wearing, poor guy, the collar has worn off all the furs around his neck. I bet he was wearing that thing for too long – but no more!

He has a strong appetite for Friskies shreds!

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He’s a little thinner than I would like.

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It didn’t take him long at all to ask for tummy rubs!

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As I scratched his tummy, I wondered how long it had been since his last tummy rub.

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I got him some toys, which he promptly gathered up and cuddled with! How sweet!

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Now it’s time for a name. Anyone have suggestions?

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roller coaster

Thank you everyone for leaving such kind and supportive comments. I consider each one a gift.

The emotional roller coaster continued today. I had three cats to take to the clinic. One I knew was sick, so when I got the dreaded call from the clinic I knew it was going to be bad news. And it was, pretty much the same situation as one of the cats from Monday – two year old boy only weighed 5 pounds, rotten teeth, ulcerated paw pads, ulcer on tongue, and more. The outcome was the same as Monday, best to euthanize. Three very sickly cats from this site euthanized in two days. Makes me so sad. I’m going to start fearing receiving calls from the clinic.

The highlight of my day was getting a call from the day-shift trapper that she had gotten the collared boy! This guy seems quite friendly, so if no one claims him, he’s finding a new home! His flea collar looks very old to me, so I’m guessing he was abandoned some time ago.

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This boy would repeatedly rub against the traps but wouldn’t go in! Ack! I was starting to think that a drop trap was going to be required to get this guy, but thankfully he finally went in! Yah!!

This picture of a cat staring into the camera cracks me up! It’s good to have some good news and some humor to lighten the emotional load a bit.

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hard choices

I stopped by the TNR site this morning to check traps and review the pictures, just as I have been in the routine of doing. Non-eartipped trapped cats go right to the spay/neuter clinic and eartipped cats get released. The camera had been pointing at the kitten nest for the past 24-hours, so I was eager to see what the pictures revealed about a possible mama.

The pictures taken throughout Sunday clearly show that the eartipped black kitty is mama! Now, we can rest easy knowing we got the mama of those kittens. Mama spent all day Sunday with her remaining baby. Her other kittens were near her in the carrier.

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Not sure who this guy is, maybe papa?!

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In the traps this morning was the other small black cat (non-eartipped) that had come by to check out the nest the night before.

There are many decisions that are made with TNR, some easier than others. This morning we brought three cats to the clinic from this site. The little young black boy, an older brown tabby who moved slow and looked like he was in a lot of pain, and a multicolored cat we had never seen before.

I met up with one of the trapping partners at the clinic and we dropped off the cats and started planning the next phase of trapping. As we talked in the clinic lobby, the clinic staff came out and told us the multicolored cat was in rough shape. He was very thin, had major teeth problems, and severe pillow-pad. The vet thought he might have some other stuff going on too.

I’ve been doing TNR now for a little over two years and this was the first time I ran into this decision. It was not hard to make, the cat was suffering and prognosis was very poor, especially considering he is feral with no responsible caretaker. The emotional aftermath of our decision is hard.

We went in and said our goodbyes to this precious boy and retreated back to the lobby to get out of the way of the busy clinic so we could talk and cry. A few minutes later, the vet popped out again and said the old feral boy we brought in had cancer and was not well. This one didn’t surprise us as he looked like he was in pain. Again we made the choice to end his suffering and for us to take on that suffering in the form of broken hearts. We both cried even more.

My friend said she wishes she didn’t always cry when faced with this situation. I’m glad we cry, our tears honor the lives of these homeless, nameless, forgotten feral cats. These cats matter, our tears reflect that truth.

My heart still hurts for these two precious souls and yet I feel comforted knowing they are no longer suffering. As they go on to kitty heaven, may they forever know they are loved by two trappers and the staff of the spay/neuter clinic who cared enough to take action to try to better their lives.

The old brown tabby

The old brown tabby, RIP

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