The TNR Stories: Heartbreak and Cuteness Overload

This may have been one of our most difficult TNR weeks in a long time. We were soooo excited to capture a large colony with nine kittens. I wasn’t doing the trapping, but those who were did it in 90+ degree heat – very hard work. We really wanted to be able to place them into the foster/adoption system, and we had a commitment from a local rescue group to do just that. Some of you saw the stories about June, one of the kittens, last week.

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June turned out to be Jake, and recovered nicely. All of the kittens needed antibiotics and eye drops, but that’s not unusual for the outdoor kitties. What was less usual, and absolutely heartbreaking, was the presence of FeLV, feline leukemia, in the group.

Of all the icky diseases, this is the most devastating, and its presence makes adoption a no-go. It would be six months before we could know if those who are negative now are actually free of the disease, and by then, they’re no longer cute, adoptable kittens that get homes quickly. Besides that, they would have to be completely isolated from each other and other cats for that time period, a sentence akin to hell. So the FeLV-negative ones went back to their colony. And fortunately, a sanctuary for positive cats took the sick one.

That was so not what we hoped for with this group. But better that they live out their  lives in a place they know, and with each other, than to be sentenced to solitary confinement for months on end only to be deemed too old for the adoption process anyway. They have been spayed and neutered, and had their vaccines, which will provide some protection for those who are truly negative right now. Still, more than a few tears were shed this week.

Delicate stomachs are not permitted in the kind of work we do, and if you happen to have one, you might not want to read the next bit. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

We trapped another kitten this week, about 8 weeks old, with a fractured jaw. The injury was not new, and the pain he was in is unimaginable. To make matters so much worse, he was covered with fly eggs, preparing to break out into maggots. Not only was he covered outside (here is the really gross part) but he had them in his mouth as well. Our first clue was a bunch of gooey green stuff coming out of the side of his mouth.

Off to the vet he – Skyler – went. He had a temp of 104.9, which is well past crisis point. Our amazing vet clinic cared for him for two days. Got his temp down, bathed all the fly eggs off of him, cleaned all the awful stuff out of the inside of his cheek, dewormed him, got rid of other parasites, tested him for FIV/FeLV (he is negative), put him on antibiotics, and for all of that they charged us a ridiculously small amount of money, about what an annual checkup would cost for one of our cats,  and we are so grateful. Skyler is doing well at the moment, eating like a little pig, and getting better. Once he’s run the course of antibiotics they will be able to determine better what is going on with his jaw. Surgery may be in his future…time will tell.

In the meantime, Skyler is getting great care from one of our best cat people and her wonderful girls. And he is, to put it bluntly, so stinking cute! We don’t know how long it will be before he is ready to adopt, but given how adorable he is, and his sad story, I don’t think there will be any shortage of offers! Here he is…and I dare you not to say “awwwwwwwwww!!”

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It was such a hard week in so many ways. We are more than a little grateful that it ended with this little cutie doing well. We’ll take our victories where we can find ’em.

TNR Stories…and it is still July.

Let me tell you that trapping and caring for cats in 90 degree plus heat is not much fun. Some of the folks in our crew have been out there in the heat of the day in order to trap a large colony we’ve been wanting to get for years. Ten cats, eight of them kittens, have been trapped so far. There’s one more mamma that we know about…hoping we can get her tomorrow.

This is the colony that the little grey kitten we think of as June came from. We’ll have to find out on Wednesday if June is actually a girl kitten, but for now, that’s the gender she’s been assigned, and I hope it doesn’t cause him or her confusion later on.

June’s recovering very nicely, and so I moved her out to the surgery center tonight to hang with her litter mates and pals. She has been DESPERATE for friends, and for a little tiny thing, has an incredibly commanding Meow. Especially at 2 am. So for our own sanity, it was time to let her rejoin her gang.

I put her into a dog crate with two other kittens from her colony. One was just caught today, and the poor guy had an eye that was so swollen shut that the vet had trouble seeing the eyeball under all that red swollen misery. That’s gotta hurt. He got a steroid shot to help reduce the swelling, and lots of eye drops and antibiotics. The other kitten came in Sunday and is the cutest orange and white guy – a real sweetie.

June, however, started trying to play with the sick kitty, wrestling and annoying the daylights out of the poor guy. I watched for about two minutes, and decided sick kitty was getting a private room. Well, a private trap, but still private. He didn’t need June wailing on him, even in the guise of play.

Orange and white kitty, however, was gonna give as good as he got, and he and June were having an absolute blast this evening. I’m sure their dog crate will be completely trashed by morning, and everyone in the place is going to be meowing at them at 2 in the morning to go to bed already.

Some pictures of the two, taken with my camera. Shot quality is poor, but thought you’d enjoy them anyway.

"Hey, can't a guy get some dinner without being disturbed?"

“Hey, can’t a guy get some dinner without being disturbed?”

 

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Does a heart good to see these guys having a great time, and knowing that we’re going to find them great homes to go to, instead of returning them outside. Little by little we make a difference.

The TNR Stories: July 2015…still

The life of a community cat can be tough, especially if a colony starts sharing a virus around. It spreads quickly, and depending on the overall health of the cats, some will weather it, and others won’t. Kittens get hit hard by a shared virus or bacteria, and the colony we’re working on now, has upper respiratory and eye problems in spades.

We grabbed one of the kittens a couple weeks ago. He wasn’t going to make it otherwise. Named Benny by his foster mom, he is doing great. Tons of roundworms were making their home inside him, and we’ve sent them packing. He’s had antibiotics and eye drops, and he’s recovering well.

We started trapping the rest of the colony today, and we nabbed Benny’s playmate, another small kitten, who doesn’t look very well either. We don’t yet know if the kitten is a boy or girl, but the foster mom is hoping for a girl she can call June, so I’ll go with that for now.  Benny and June are both too small for their surgeries right now, so we will be reuniting them to hang out in a shared dog crate until they are large enough.

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June is pretty scared right now, but she can be handled, and I’m hopeful that she’ll make someone a wonderful companion down the road. She let me de-worm her today, and give her antibiotics and eye drops, along with a hot compress to the eyes, and I think she’ll start feeling and looking better soon. At the moment, she is snuffling endlessly, and because she can’t smell much, she’s not eating either. After watching her not eat for 6-7 hours I put some canned food on my hand, and she finally ate a couple teaspoons that way. A few more hand feedings, and she started eating from her dish – thankfully!!

This evening, after being here about 9 hours or so, she even jumped up on the shelf in her dog crate, so I know she’s feeling better and less stressed. That’s a good thing, ’cause it looks like she’ll need her ears cleaned tomorrow, as well as her meds. But the best part is that after her day and evening with me here, she is now leaning into my hand to be pet. She’s going to make someone a wonderful companion.

She’s a pretty little one, but then I’ve always been partial to the solid grey cats. She’ll be reunited with Benny later this week when she’s had a chance to recover a bit and won’t reinfect him with their shared virus.

 

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Four kittens out of the eight captured so far, and we hope that we can foster all of them and adopt them out and they won’t have to go back outside. That’s not always an option in TNR programs, and it isn’t our focus either. But a group as young as this deserves a chance. Working with our rescue group partners, paws crossed that they all can be socialized and given to loving furever homes.

The TNR Stories: July 2015

Our TNR (trap/neuter/return) team worked very hard this spring, but summers are usually quiet times for us. Not because there aren’t kittens everywhere, but we find that lots of caretakers are going on vacation or whatever, and not so interested in catching the cats in the summertime. Come September our numbers of cats TNR’d swell.

So I was planning to take a little bit of time off this month. My pet sitting schedule is at its peak for the year, and that keeps me plenty busy. But the cats, and a few very good caretakers, had other plans. Our quiet July turned into July-on-steroids, and we’re going to get a lot of cats through those clinics this month.

One colony of kittens is scheduled for their surgeries later this month, but this little guy couldn’t wait.

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His eyes were crusty with goop (technical term) and eyes are never something to fool with. At his young age, a good infection could cause blindness, so we scooped him up early, and he spent the night with us before heading off to the vet today, and as soon as he is well, his surgery.

The poor guy came in with poop all over his hind end and legs, stinking up the place. Some grooming wipes made a huge difference. Hot compresses for the eyes helped clear away some of the green mucus covering his eyes, and he started to look a bit happier. Best of all, after he got over being really scared – he was, after all, yanked away from his siblings and mom and taken to a strange place – he decided he was hungry, a huge relief to me. A cat that wants to eat is not in complete crisis, and we like it that way.

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He looked a lot better this morning, after a night of rest in a clean place and more food. His eyes even look better, though there’s not much question that he’ll need some meds to clear up whatever infection he’s harboring there. He’s very young, and maybe too young to TNR, and if so, we’ll care for him until he’s old enough. Aside from being scared, he shows signs of accepting people, and even purred when I pet him last night. He didn’t even struggle while I held him and cleaned him off with the grooming wipes. Paws crossed that there will be a spot for him in the adoption queue. He’s a little sweetie, and it would be really lovely if he could get himself a good inside home.