That’s what we call our TNR weeks…spa week. The idea is that the cats get a warm place to be for a bit, with all the food they want, and any medical care they need. Oh, and spay and neuter surgery. Really the point of the whole thing! I’m not sure it really is a spa week for the cats, but it is a step to a better life for them, so maybe it is a spa week after all.
We have 28 cats in the house after several days of trapping. Not the 40 we were hoping for, but a good crop nonetheless. What really stuns me, however, is the quality of our volunteers. I am simply blown away by them and their commitment to what we all do together.
And to our new space. Every time I enter the building there is something new. Nightlights for the kitties, and for us when we enter after dark. Sweet smelling hand soap at the sink. Floor mats and cleaning tools. An extra trash can. Tables. A cart to take food and water around on. A microwave. And someone donated a really lovely metal bench today, a place to rest our own butts when we’re tired. A rack for drying dishes. Big things and small things just keep appearing, and the cat house is getting downright homey.
A lot of folks are working very hard this week, cleaning and feeding the cats twice a day. And the person who has been picking trapped cats up at the colonies and taking them back to the cat house has been extraordinarily busy and very cheerful about it. We have some volunteers with medical backgrounds who look like they’re going to be able to help us set some guidelines, policies, and procedures around how we manage medical issues with the cats – something we’ve needed to do for awhile. We have a couple folks who have taken on supervisory roles for the cleaning and feeding sessions, and I am not there all the time anymore. That’s kind of a shock on my system, and also kind of nice.
We are more than blessed with all these wonderful people. Last year was pretty much the year from hell in terms of the work load. With all the fabulous folks on board with us now, I think this year is going to be just the opposite. I left the cleaning and feeding crew tonight to go out and trap, and everyone was talking and working and laughing and having a good time. That’s how volunteer work should be.
And I got a nice update on one of the cats as well. I met this particular cat colony a little over two years ago, and took pictures of many of them. It is the colony that our Annie came from when she was so close to dying. Annie had a friend there, Squeaky (I think that’s the right name) and both Annie and Squeeky were kind of outcasts from the colony, but buddies to each other. Annie was days from dying when I captured her, and she was sick so long that she never went back, and I always felt badly for her bud. Well, Squeaky is in the house this week, getting updated vaccines, and he or she (not sure) looks wonderful. The caretaker tells me that she has ingratiated herself with the colony now, and is doing wonderfully. It did my heart good to hear that.
Squeaky two years ago
There was no way to get all the cats who had not been spayed and neutered except to trap everyone, so tomorrow we update the vaccines of those who have already had their surgery. That should prove to be an interesting enterprise! Our vet is coming to our building to do it, a luxury for us after carting cats around all the time. The rest of the cats went off to the surgery center this evening and will be back tomorrow.
I am – as you can tell – totally blown away by all the good things that have come with our building. Very grateful for all of it. Very blessed.
We are busy – finally – with the first trapping of the season. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it is to have a functional space in which to work and house the cats. And the best part is that the volunteers are back!! We couldn’t really use them when we were in my garage – liability and space issues. But many of those who worked with us a couple years ago are back in force, and we have some new ones who are just as amazing.
Transporting the cats – from the colonies to the housing, and to and from surgery – has always been one heck of a challenge, but we have a new volunteer who is retired and who has a HUGE van. We won the jackpot with her willingness to help us. We have a couple seasoned volunteers who are willing to be feeding/cleaning supervisors so a couple of us who have been doing most of that the last year or so don’t have to be all the house all the time. I am looking forward to stepping back a little and letting all these wonderful people claim the areas they enjoy and move us forward. Life is good.
The first trapping day was a little rocky. We are trapping two neighboring colonies who had been TNR’d in the past, but there are quite a lot of new cats now. So we’re trying to get everybody – TNR’d or not – so we can send any new cats off to surgery this week. Just as we were getting cats yesterday morning, a neighbor decided to have folks with chain saws over to chop down a tree…not really a nice, calm trapping environment!! But the evening was quieter, and we have 15 cats in the house as of midday on our second day (of 4). There may be as many as 40 to catch, so we have our work cut out for us.
There are some cats with injuries in the group, but we haven’t caught any yet. Everyone who has shown up looks really healthy. It probably doesn’t hurt that there are 5 or 6 difference feeding stations in a small area, and some of these cats are definitely double (or triple or quadruple) dipping! There are some big cats in this group. No one looks hungry.
It feels so wonderful to be up and running in a building that works beautifully for us. Should be a great week to start off our year.
And in a kitty beauty contest, we’d put our cats up against the cats of any other municipality! Don’t know what it is about Derry cats, but they are a gorgeous bunch. Lots of brown tigers and black cats so far, and one humongous orange (Garfield) cat. He definitely visits all the feeding stations regularly.
Still working on getting the hang of manual focus – which I love since *I* get to choose the focal point instead of the camera – but it takes a bit of practice. Playing some more with my sister’s lens, and making a little improvement. Lenten Rose, or Hellebores, seem appropriate for this week!
My sister sent me a lens to play with, a semi-macro lens. Taking pictures of the eyes or toenails of the dogs and cats didn’t seem horribly appealing, so I went out to the very early Spring garden. Not much is up yet…things are just getting started, but there were enough volunteers for some photos. Buds, and some leftover veges that like the cold weather, and a few of the early Spring flowers posed for me. Still getting used to the lens, but it was an acceptable first outing!
I know you’ve all been sitting in the edges of your seats waiting to hear about Lucky. He’s looking a lot better these days, and I finally got you a new photo or two when I visited with him at the vet’s office today.
He’s had a tough road, and it isn’t over yet. He is a he – we finally know that with 100% certainty, though it took nearly a week to determine. He is a happy and playful little guy, getting along fine with three legs. He purrs when held, and the entire vet staff has fallen in love with him. (How could they not?)
The big problem is that he is incontinent with both urine and stool. His nerves were destroyed to the point that he simply doesn’t know when he has to pee or poop, so out it just comes. Many things are being tried to help him, and he has taken some baby steps toward improvement, but still has a long road. Whether he can heal enough is not yet known.
We received a very generous offer from our vet, however. They asked if we would sign him over to them, and they will continue to provide all of his care and do everything they can to help him with his medical issues. They absolutely adore him, and his vet has been calling me every single day with updates, even on Sundays, so I know they have his best interests at heart. If he can recover some control over his systems he can be one of their office cats for life. If not, hard decisions may have to be made. Living a life covered in pee and poop, and all the infections and problems that entails would be an awful existence. But I know this will be a last recourse for the vet staff. I can’t tell you the lengths they have gone to already to help him. We are so blessed to have such an amazing vet staff to work with.
We all have our paws crossed that he recovers enough to live the good life as an office cat. He couldn’t possibly be in a better place. If awful decisions have to be made at some point, at least Lucky will not die outside, in pain, being eaten alive by maggots in his wounds. He will have know some pain free time, lots of love and affection, and a warm comfy place to rest.
So keep your fingers and toes, eyes, and paws crossed for the little guy. He’s an absolute sweetie, and I would be so thrilled to see him around the vet offices for many years to come.
First of all, the folks who volunteer with Derry Township Community Cats rock. Lots of them showed up this morning to help us gather all of our supplies from hither and yon and within two hours we not only had everything at the new building, but it was all sorted and put away. And tables set up for the first trapping that starts next weekend. Did I mention that our volunteers rock?
Here’s a little tour of some of the highlights. All are agreed that this space is perfect and functional. Now all we need are the cats!
Some of the day’s volunteers. We actually had about double this number.
Our new sink and hot water heater, and one of our volunteers had the perfect table for next to the sink. She’d been looking for a place to donate it for years.
Do you think we have enough paper towels for awhile??
Our cat food storage area
The trap forks even have a place of their own…
And so do the traps.
The tables are all set up awaiting the first trapping group.
A dog crate, in case we need to convalesce a kitty.
Tammy cleaning up our little fridge for meds.
A few little details to attend to this week while we get ready to trap, but the largest part of the work is done. Now all there is to do is to set a lot of traps and start singing: Here kitty, kitty!