Popped up to Glengarriff for RAWR (Rural Animal Welfare Resources) yesterday to do a bit of trapping and check out the caregiver situation. RAWR have neutered most of the cats in the area I was checking out. But a few more need to be done. And they’ve been proving elusive!
So here’s some pics – including the three youngsters that obligingly trapped themselves, some pointers for setting traps (these pics will be useful for the TNR Training workshops coming up this autumn/winter) AND a gorgeous nature hideaway that Caseys have been keeping secret – a complete sidetrack from TNR but so lush, had to be included!
I’ll be taking the gang back on Friday, and timing so that I’m there for another trapping session with the Black Cat cafe crew when they put out food for the felines. They’ve about twelve that turn up, including their own Black Cat. I’ll know the ones already neutered by their ear tip, and can use a manual trap to catch the rest. We reckon there’s probably only three or four – another young tabby, two tatty looking black males and an elusive white and black female. Fingers crossed!!!
First we have the wonderful Caseys Hotel – lovely outdoor patio, great hidden nature trail and swim spot, and terrific help with the TNR. They’ve been fab (and gave a very welcome unsolicited donation and capperchino!!!). As have the Black Cat Cafe – great people, great help. Looking forward to going back there on Friday. As well as food, ice cream(!) and refreshments, they also do internet, fax and copying.
I can’t stress enough how important the feline caregivers are to trappers – they know the cats they feed, they can set a feeding schedule so cats will reliably turn up (to be trapped – MWAHAHAHAAAAA!) when it suits us, they keep an eye on the cats when they’re returned and can report any problems sooner than later – and they usually provide lovely cups of tea or, in this case – when it’s proper restaurants and cafes – capperchino! *licks lips*
Note: Both Caseys and Black Cat feed the felines well away from their food preparation and guest areas – hygiene is good, no worries.
The Disgruntled Gang
Next, the disgruntled gang. Fachtna Collins, Bantry Veterinary Clinic, neutered, dewormed, defleaed and health checked this lot today. They’ll be returned on Friday, depending recovery, but they’re looking good to go on schedule. One white girl, fairly healthy; one tabby male, again, fairly healthy; one black female, in season (so got her just in time!), undernourished, but should improve now neutered. If anyone had been lactating we’d have got them back sharpish today, but no kittens are looking for any of them so we’re giving them a couple of days to recover fully before returning.
The wee white girl was first in the trap – at the feeding station – same place the black girl turned up last. The tabby trapped himself at a cat sun spot, pointed out to me by helpful locals. In one of the pictures of the black girl, you can see the brown colour that indicates lack of condition and/or illness – lack of condition in this case. After neutering there will be less fighting and roaming all round, and all the cats ought to put on condition and health. Everyone I spoke to commented on how much healthier the cats have looked since the TNR was started several years ago.
Next a few trap pics. I spoke to several very helpful locals, who told me various places cats sun themselves, take shade and particular tracks they use. So that’s where I set the traps. No sun yesterday, but I tried the sun spots anyway.
Usually I wouldn’t leave a trap unattended, but I’d them set all over the place, so checked them all regularly. Usually when a cat is trapped they’ll panic, and they can do themselves an injury, trying to get out. So we cover the cage as soon as they’re in there – covered they tend to calm down quickly. Since I had to leave cages unattended, I half covered them, hoping this would give any trapped cats a safe place to sulk. Next time I’ll bring a helper!!!
- Pic 4: The ground for this trap was pretty solid. I couldn’t get the cage settled without a wobble (and a wobble would frighten off a cat before they reached the door trigger mechanism). So I put small stones at one edge – firmly so they wouldn’t be dislodged – to make the cage sit firmly. Worked. Caught tabby in this one.
- Pic 9: Needless to say, the best place for the trap was at one of the feeding stations. Even though it wasn’t feeding time (I was really just doing a recky, didn’t think my timing would get me much), the white and black girls trapped themselves here. Note the back of the trap is hard up against a convenient step. This prevents too much movement – especially once a cat is trapped.
- Pic 10: Fresh turned earth is great for a solid trap base – just rub the trap back and forth over the soil till it’s secure.
- Pics 13 & 14: You wouldn’t think this would be a good spot – right beside a car park and the traffic that entails. But these cats live in a holiday village, and are ‘humanised‘ rather than feral. This means they’re used to humans. Doesn’t mean they like them though. There’s a few reported to hang around this area. So in goes a trap. Hard up against the wall also helped prevent wobble. And it’s also not visible to human passersby.
- Several Pics:
- Undergrowth and branches can interfere with the door closing – make sure anything that might interfere is cleared away.
- Ask caretakers about places cats congregate and paths they regularly use (not necessarily human paths!). Set traps there. Feeding places are the best, but for a large colony you want to use every spot possible to catch the elusive, invisible, feral felines. Cat passageways are great, and paths in bushes etc.
Caseys’ Secret Hideaway
And finally – this lovely secret hideaway swim spot behind Caseys. You go through their outside patio and garden and you’ll find a path at the back sloping down through the woodland. You’ll need decent shoes as it’s a bit slippy in places. But it’s worth it!