Today has been a big, exhausting day for me.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been helping some Northside neighbors who have a small feral colony made up of Papa, Mama, and two kittens. They’ve provided a heated shelter and regular food, they wanted to try to find homes for the kittens and TNR the adults.
The thing about trapping cats, something that I’m very inexperienced with, is that there is no one-size fits all low-cost veterinary clinic that can take walk-ins or work out payment plans or even handle multiple pets. This is why it is imperative that you have a plan when you trap cats – there is nowhere you can just take them without a fistful of money and good luck.
So the original plan here was to take all four to the Spay and Neuter Clinic on Route 8, then bring the kittens back to our house for a 2 week quarantine and release Mama and Papa. Then we learned that one kitten had labored breathing and saw some photos of Papa suggesting he had been coping with a respiratory virus. This meant both of them needed to be seen clinically before the spay/neuter surgery – you can’t just anesthetize a cat with respiratory issues.
That created some complications. We had a few plans and backup plans.
But fast forward to this morning. The traps are at the colony, tied up so they don’t spring and filled with good food to keep them coming around. When the caretaker arrived, she was able to get one cat into a carrier and the other trapped in ten minutes. These are the kittens. Now that we had them both, the plan was to focus on them and then the others.
I rushed over. We loaded them into my car and I drove up to the Spay and Neuter Clinic first. That’s when I had a pang of intuition – my gut was practically screaming at me. So I parked and started a group chat on Facebook Messenger with some of the cat ladies. The overall recommendation was that I take them both to Big Easy Clinic in Lawrenceville which does take walk-ins and will examine feral cats in traps. We need an exam and for them to be tested for FIV and FVlP before them came into our home. Once they had a few days to settle down and recover from whatever the breathing is, we could schedule a spay/neuter appointment for each of them.
Big Easy was fine. I only waited 10 minutes. They determined that these kittens were both males, about 5 months in age, and 6 pounds in weight. They do have some respiratory stuff, but nothing that warrants immediate attention. They gave them a round of vaccines and flea treatment. They commented the kittens were both in good shape for living outside their entire lives.
This is a testament to the power of supporting a colony. Warm, dry bedding and regular food can work wonders.
I got them home and installed them in their new digs – a 3 foot vertical crate in our second bedroom – to recuperate from this mess of a day. The great news is that they tested negative and basically have a good chance of adapting to inside life. They are a little scared, but not super hissy or mean at all. Just chilling together.
The caretaker reported to me that Mama has been stretched out in the warm house all day; it was a little close for three and these kittens were old enough to leave the nest. Papa was there this morning to eat.
So I’m pleased with how things have worked out so far, but I’m really tired. I was so anxious about this trapping process that I got sick last night. If things go wrong, what do you do?
Today’s vet visit was close to $400 and we’ve raised $600. So we will need to raise more for the neuters, rabies, and other kitten care. Then we need to pay for the adults being altered and Papa going to a vet, too. Then what do I do with Papa between the vet visit and the neuter appointment? Another rescuer will take Mama and Papa in during their recovery, meaning I’ll transport to the clinic then pick up at the clinic and take to Mt. Oliver for two days, then go pick them up and bring back to be released at their colony site. I’m so grateful to her because we simply have no more rooms.
But now we’ve made it possible for these two sweet kittens to stop reproducing and have a good shot at a nice indoor life. We’ll also stop Mama and Papa from reproducing again, meaning they have a nice colony life with food and warm shelter and fewer risky behaviors.
This is a big deal for these few blocks on the Northside, for the cats and the humans as well.
But I’m so tired. I have two appointments this week, two plays to review, and an afternoon volunteering for the Pgh CAT group at Biscuit Bingo with Laura. That’s a lot for me. It consumes my energy and resources. I’m in the midst of launching 2 projects and reviving a third.
Driving around feeling sick all morning was not fun. But we made a commitment to these critters. And I’m glad I could do it. I just wish I could do it better.
If you’d like to donate to their vet care, here’s the link.
And here are our temporary guests
Meet Stefano DiMera (DiMeowa) a five month old male black cat with a medium to longish coat. He’s very affectionate and sweet.
Meet Spencer Cassadine (Cattsadine), a five month old male black cat with a short coat and one little white spot under his chin. Spencer Cassadine is bashful, but not aggressive.
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