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Spaying/neutering of the free-living cats
Why to spay/neuter the free-living cats?
First of all, in order to reduce their population. Aversion to cats living in basements of the majority of locators is usually justified with an argument "there are too many of them and they stink." The spaying treatment of female cats will prevent their reproduction while neutering of male cats will reduce the odour. Spaying the free-living cats prevents the birth of the kittens and their death due to the cat flu, feline panleukopenia virus, malnutrition, falling under cars or even in the teeth of dogs ... Very few kittens manage to survive till their adulthood. Anyone who saw the kittens dying with mouth and eyes ulcers, has no doubt.
In addition, spaying/neutering treatments have a good effect on the cat's health. The female cats are not exhausted by estrus, pregnancies, bearing and rearing dozens of kittens. They are not threatened with pyometra. They become stronger and healthier. The male cats are less likely to get involved in fights and stop searching for females to fertilize.
Where to start the action of spaying/neutering the cats from the yard?
First, it is necessary to gather information - if there is any possibility of funding the spaying/neutering treatment, in which clinic can that be performed, who and how can help. Neutering/spaying treatments of the cats are expensive. In case of the free-living cats, "special" lower prices usually apply, however, those amounts are still significant, especially if there are many cats out there.
In Warsaw, every year tenders are held. In every municipality, a chosen clinic takes care of the free living cats on a basis of the signed agreements. In those places the treatments is entirely covered by the City Hall, but first the cat carer must register with the appropriate department of the Environmental Protection Bureau, to get a referral. Help can be also sought in foundations, many of them have a budget for castration of "wild furry-balls" (they finance it completely or provide discount vouchers). In 2009, the Koteria center has been set up. The Centre spays/neuters the free living cats free of charge.
How to choose a clinic?
We select a clinic, where the staff has experience in dealing with wild cats. They are difficult patients, and the staff can not be afraid to give them a shot, de-flea and clean the cage. After surgery, the female cats can not be immediately sent outdoor. They should remain under the supervision for at least three days - in the clinic or at home (for example: in an exhibition cage). If possible, it is advisory to extend their recovery time up to one week or even ten days, but only if they eat well. Many free-living female cats are stressed and refuse to eat, in such cases they must be returned to the yard - there, they regain their appetite immediately. Male cats can be released the day after the neutering treatment took place, when the impact of anaesthesia will be over. The free-living neutered/spayed cats must be marked by scarification of the ear (under anaesthesia during surgery). This is very important - in this way it is obvious which cats will not reproduce any more and do not have to be caught again.
How to catch the free-living cats?
The action of catching the cat must always be carried out in consultation with cat caregivers. If the carer have doubts about these treatments, fear about the cat's health - we first have to convince them. Usually cats are fed by women, mostly older. Encouraging them to cooperate with us is already half of the success. And then we have to catch the cats ... Catching "wild furries" is not that difficult, but we must remember a few tricks and have the appropriate equipment.
The easiest moment of catching them is when the cats approaches the carer and allows for being stroked or just during feeding time. The carer snaps them and holds them at the scruff of the neck (like a mother-cat carries her kittens) and quickly put it into the transporter (note - an open transporter which we place vertically with the hole on top) and we quickly close the door - in this way the chance for escaping is reduced. The most common way for catching the animal is through using a cat-trap cage. This cage can be rented from foundations and the municipal Environmental Protection Offices. A trap cage is constructed in a way that it automatically closes when the cat comes in and steps on the trigger. And what can be done in order to encourage the cat to enter it? Attract them with food. The bait must be very aromatic (food sachets, tuna, sprats) and the cat should be hungry (and for this reason the cooperation with caregivers is essential - the most common cause of failure is that the cats have already eaten). The tasty food we put close to the end of the cage. In this way the cat must step on the latch in order to reach it. In addition, we prepare a path of food which will bring the cat to the cage. There can not be too much food on this path because otherwise the cat would satisfy its hunger before approaching the cage. Do not move the cat from the cage to the transporter because this often result in the escape of the cat. No child's play: catching the cat in the landing net. The landing net must be strong, because the cat is a big and strong "fish". Once you manage to throw the landing net on the cat, put your foot on the handle in order to prevent the cat from escaping. On an aggressive and thrashing-around cat you can put a towel or a blanket to calm it down, and only then place the cat in the transporter. In the next type of action, an additional pair of hands would be helpful- one person holds the cat on the neck (through the towel and net), the second disentangles its paws from the net and puts the cat into the transporter. In fact, the most difficult part is the moment of taking the cat from the cage or net and placing it in the transporter ... If the landing net is fold up, then it is always possible to leave the cat in the net, and put them together in the transporter and bring the pet to the clinic in this way.
Caution! When catching wild cats, remember about very thick and strong gloves (and just in case - hydrogen peroxide and plaster). The caught wild cat is frightened and by all means will try to get out and get away. In order to calm the panicked animal, cover the transporter or cage with a large towel.
>Won't the other cats reject the spayed cat? Won't the other cats fight with the neutered mate?
From my experience, it's a myth. After spaying/neutering treatments the cats return to their environment without any problems (sometimes they feel offended for a day or two). Often, I witnessed emotional greetings from the backyard companions - rubbing, touching noses. Most of the female cats after spaying gain a strong position in the herd, they become brave and confident. The neutered male cat for some time still has hormones in the blood, so no cat notices any significant change. Amongst older males the habit of marking its territory remains (however, the smell is much softer). If we are afraid that those treatments change the status of the cat in its herd, then let's begin with neutering the strongest males, the "leaders", who will not be threatened by any youngster, regardless of what they have (or not) under the tail.
Love for cats should not be limited to one... MY cat only. If I love cats, I want them to have the good life. The free-living cats constitute an important part of our world, but their life is extremely difficult. Caring for "wild furries" should not mean only providing them with food and defending them against people who do not wish them in their basement. We must ensure that they are healthy and have the good life they deserve.
Suppose that in one yard there are five female cats. Each of them has kittens twice a year. Suppose that, in every litter there are four babies. Annually, the number of the cats living on this yard should grow by 48 individuals! And how is it in reality? 2-3 manage to survive ... Sometimes even none. You may ask yourself: so why neuter/spay wild cats if "the natural selection" limits their population? Here's my answer - in order to avoid the suffering and the painful death of unwanted kittens. To provide every cat with a good life. To ensure that at some point every cat, no matter domesticated or wild, will have a responsible owner. That one day the shelter will be empty, and the cat's life is valuable. That there will not be so many cats any longer.
ARGOS Foundation for Animals, 04-886 Warszawa, Garncarska 37A st., KRS: 0000286138
+48 22 615 52 82 | e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.argos.org.pl
bank account: SWIFT: PKOPPLPW PL 47 1240 6133 1111 0000 4808 5915
The KOTERIA neutering clinic for feral cats in Warsaw, Chrzanowskiego 13 st., Warszawa, +48 535 870 225
Manager of KOTERIA Anna Wypych: tel. 603 651 044 | Chief vet Iwona Kłucińska-Petschl tel. + 48 502 642 932