Sunday, January 29, 2017

How to Save Every Cat

Photo by Karen Marie Hansen

Park Plaza Feral Cat TNR Program

Watch the Video Below:

Is there a way to keep the stray cat population under control? The Fantom Penguin visited a TNR colony managed by Karen Hart.

TNR stands for?”

“Trap Neuter Return.”

Trap Neuter Return, okay. So, we're talking about keeping the cat population under control.”


And it gets out of control very easily and then you end up with sick cats.”

“You end up with sick cats and what we do is we . . . These are feral cats. A lot of cats are born . . . 'Feral' means they're born in the wild and have never had any human contact, so you must trap them. And what we do is we trap them. We bring them to the vet. We have them rabies tested, three-way tested for feline leukemia, feline AIDS and heart worm disease. They'll also have a rabies test and we have an ear tip. And what they do is the take a notch under anesthesia, so we know if we trap that cat again then it's already been fixed.”

So you don't take them in for a second surgery. They've been marked. They've been . . .”

“A couple of months ago, everybody was sick. We had dying cats. We had sick cats. They were emaciated, starving and it was pretty bad. Upper respiratory really affects their immune system. But if you have a colony that is well-fed, altered, you're going to eliminate stress, fighting, infection. You're going to see a lot of healthy cats. They're getting fed on a daily basis. They're getting maintained. If they need veterinary care, we can re-trap. We can re-trap if we see an abscess or something, bring them to the vet and that part helps.”

So, when they're returned, they're not just dropped off and abandoned. There's someone who monitors . . .”

“It's a lifetime thing. It's lifetime. You have to either die or pass it on to somebody else. You have to not only come and feed every day, but you have to maintain for . . . A female gets dropped off, it could set you back a year and a half. You can start all over. So every single cat that you know, if there's another one you swoop that one up as fast as you can. You get it fixed and you can maintain that. So, this colony is not yet maintained. The colony (and I can say this) at Turtle Bay I started in 2002, we had 150 – 200 cats and now we are down to eight.”

And this got some coverage in the mainstream news.”

“It did.”

People talked about this and this is an example of a successful Trap, Neuter, Return program at Turtle Bay . . .”


. . . and one that people can sort of see the results of because it's . . .”

“And that's what we're trying to prove because there's a lot of opposition with TNR. People hate it. They say, 'Why are you feeding these cats?' They don't understand. We're not just feeding. We're feeding and altering.”

So, I guess the thing that maybe people don't get is that if you just leave a colony alone, it's going to continue to grow and grow and get out of control. But if you spay and neuter the animals and return them to the same place, then that colony is stabilized. The numbers are more or less going to remain static. Is that the idea?”

“Not necessarily. Like I said, we had 150 – 200 cats in 2002. We trapped all the cats. Cats can get killed by predation there, get hit by a car. They can simply die. We have a cat there now, one of the eight, and we trapped in it 2002 and it's still there, you know? It's its home. And the idea is: You take all these cats. You get them fixed. The numbers are going to eventually go down – for whatever reason. But they do not remain the same because a feral cat has a really tough life. Even though it has everything that we offer them, they still are not going to live the full length of a house cat.”

Right, right.”

“You know, something's going to happen. But we can reduce fighting, stress. Stress is a big . . . Stress, in itself, causes immune disorders. So, you've got a lot of stress – these cats are all going to be sick. They're going to be sick. They're going to get upper respiratory infections. They're not going to be able to fight it off. And a lot of the mother cats that give birth, pass it on to their kittens and it's just an ongoing thing.”

There's a kitty-cat right over here! I keep looking at him!”

“There are a lot of kitties around here!”

So, of course there's going to be some attrition. Some cats aren't going to make it. Like you say, they lead a hard life. But the numbers, the population numbers aren't going to continue to skyrocket . . .”


. . . upwards like they would do . . .”

“No, they won't. Our idea is to get it down. And with this, it may take a few years but you're going to see a difference. And also, you're going to see a difference in the entire demeanor of the colony. I've got photographs of when I first started here in April, 2016. Every single cat was a skeleton walking. Every single cat had upper respiratory infection. They were ill. They were stressed. They were fighting. There was competition. There were litters, literally twenty feet away. We'd have five, six, seven one week old kittens, eyes glued shut from upper respiratory infections, blind to the world. A lot of the litters didn't have even have mothers. The mothers were so young. They have them extremely young. They don't know what to do, so the kittens are abandoned and you'll find a pile of dead kittens.”

Oh, my goodness.”

“So the first thing we did is we rounded up all the kittens. We established a foster program. It's not working too well. It's really hard to find a foster person, who's willing not only to take it . . .”

That's YOU, viewers!”

“Not only willing to take it but be willing to have it until it's adopted.”

I know there's a Facebook page. What's the best way for people to get in touch with you?”

“The best way is to go on . . . I created a Go Fund Me account and if you go to Go Fund Me, it's under Park Plaza Feral Cat TNR Project. And that's how I've been getting some of the donations. When I did Turtle Bay, I funded it all myself. This was way back when. There was no Go Fund Me or anything like that back then. And so now I am getting a little bit of help, otherwise . . . I mean, our food bill is $400 a month. People want to donate food. That's even a help. We love donations of food, you know, and that's another thing. So it's a lot of money to feed 150 cats.”


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