Friday, August 17, 2018

Operation Slim Pickens

This week, I have begun the operation to spay and neuter the cats in the feral colony behind my work-place. This was attempted once before by another person, and some cats were missed, which is easily done, but which of course largely negates the efforts expended. There is no reason to believe that I won’t miss some of the cats, leaving them to reproduce, nothing except that there are fewer cats to fix this time.

Initially, I tried to interest the city’s new animal welfare committee in helping me. Managing feral colonies is one of its purposes. Delays in its operational approval led me to look to another group for help. This organisation will pay for the spaying and neutering of several cats. Traps have been provided, and arrangements made with a local veterinary hospital for surgeries. One of my biggest worries was obviated when I was told that the hospital did not want the cat removed from the trap. I was anxious about how to transfer it from the cage-like trap to a carrier. It is, I gather, standard practice to anaesthetise the cat in the cage, then return him to it when the surgery is done. As far as the feline will know, he will have never left it.

Time for the surgeries is reserved for next Monday. I will set the traps Sunday. Ideally, I will catch two cats, take them to my place, where they will remain in the bathroom, covered with blankets, floored with soaker-pads, provided with water but no food for the twelve hours prior to their operations. I will then take a little time off from work Monday morning, go with them to the hospital, and collect them later in the day. They will then be returned to the colony.

There are several factors that could complicate the process. One is a mother-skunk who has been hanging about, eating the food put out for the cats. The latter seem not too troubled by this interloper. They may think she is simply a foreign cat; perhaps with a thick accent. I would prefer not to trap her, or any of her little skunklings. Secondly, there may be a few wasted trips, for, though some of the colony needs to be fixed, others have already been; I won't really have a way of knowing which is which. However, these are problems up with which I will have to put, if need be.

This flurry of activity to spay or neuter was occasioned by the birth of five kittens just as I was going on holiday at the beginning of June. I had been trying less enthusiastically than I should have to see something done at the colony previously, but when Beulah (as I have named her) produced kittens, I figured something needed to be accomplished. (Beulah is not, in case you were wondering, Adah’s mother; the timing is not right.) The little mama is very young herself - though an excellent parent - too young to keep going through this. A bonus, though, has been the reaction of a charity housed next door: the volunteers there want to adopt all of Beulah’s kittens. One has already been captured, taken to the veterinary and given a new home. The other four will have homes as soon as they are captured. The volunteers are working from their location on seizing the kittens when they can: half-socialised, the little ones come within reach, but, until I loaned them a cat-carrier, the volunteers had no way to imprison them. Now, they do.

As you can see, there are several groups and people allied in this effort. All depends on trapping the adults, of course. I call this operation ‘Slim Pickens’ because I want there to be slim pickin’s if choosing among the colony’s cats in the future, but I hope I am not riding the biggest bomb in my cat-rescue career.


  1. Our fingers and paws are crossed for you, and for all involved. We hope for a positive update next week!

  2. YAY! And you'll do fine! This is why they eartip; so you can tell who has been neutered, and whom hasn't. Here's hoping the skunks stay away!

  3. God bless you, John, for doing TNR. It takes time and patience, but eventually your efforts will pay off. Even if you don't catch any cats this time, just keep trying, and in the future, you will. Please let us know how things go, and good luck!!

  4. all the best in this endeavor and I hope operation slim pickens goes smooth as butter as boomer would have said ~~~~~~ a happy week end to the crew ☺☺☺♥♥

  5. Good luck John! It's a good thing you and the others are doing. I suspect it won't be the easiest task you'll undertake but definitely rewarding.

    I learned a new word today obviate - had to look it up though the meaning was clear from the context. Thanks!

  6. I wish you all the best on Sunday. It sounds like you have this planned out in great detail so I hope that all goes well and mother skunk stays away from you and the traps. Thank you for taking care of the cats.

  7. Oh I am going to be hoping all day for the best things to happen today regarding the cats! And you have my personal thanks for all you do on their behalf. It's not easy! A labor of love if there ever was one.

  8. you said no way to know who is fixed or they not ear tip in your area?

    1. Not here. The veterinary hospital helping in this operation tattoos the right ear; it looks more like dye. You can see it in the last picture of my entry entitled "A Future for Raleigh". But it fades, and may not be visible at night. and not all veterinaries do it here.