By Lynn Kyle SUMMER is over and the nights are cooling down and drawing in. Darkness is descending early and this is when the street cats come out to forage and procreate. Anybody living near the bins on an urbanisation will know all about this. You see them, hear them, smell them and see the results of their nightly activities. To some they are a nuisance; for others they are poor little creatures who you put out food for.
They have a positive effect in keeping down the rats. However if you feel the need to feed them too well they are not going to go hunting rats; they would rather be at the local restaurant. Less hassle. So what to do with the extra time at night? Aha! Sex!
The adult male will wear himself out getting his leg over, travelling relatively large distances and fighting to achieve his aim. Obviously this means the stronger genes will survive, which is beneficial for the species but not for the weaker cats.
So now we have a burgeoning population of kittens and mothers and fathers, all happily living near cat heaven of wellstocked bins with food on the side. They know where to call for the extra special treats. You know who you are.
What I didn’t realise until I met one of the very special lady volunteers is the amount of illness there is in this environment. Cats have some very specific problems which include Aids (feline aids), leukaemia, kidney disease, dental problems, toxoplasmosis, etc.
So how can something be done to give them a healthier happier life and get them to work for our benefit and still allow the softer-hearted to enjoy them?
Local councils run schemes for neutering these feral cats, whereby they allocate a sum of money to pay for the operations at veterinary practices participating in the scheme. However, Catch 22: somebody has to trap the cats to assist the council in spending the money.
Well, last week I joined one of these special ladies to try to trap some cats. We had already sussed out some locations in urbanisation, behind supermarkets and in underground car parks, which could give us some rich pickings. The only way you can trap cats is by seducing them into the trap by food – this requires the cats to be hungry. No way, they are still at the restaurants or bins and loving people feeding them.
I realised that the locals were not aware of the initiative and we looked highly suspicious lurking with our trap cage trying to entice a cat into the bowels of the cage using best-quality Royal Canine and sardines. We had some success, but for each cat we required +1 hour. The following day we took them to the vets to be neutered, then one day of recuperation with us followed by release back to the location we picked them up. A time-consuming activity to help these cats and the community.
Unfortunately, the council does not advertise what they are doing to help on the feral cat front, so we were not always welcome – more like the press gang for cats. Good news is that both male and females are neutered, so the males live more peacefully and the females have a chance at a healthy life so the community will eventually have fewer cats but healthier and productive rat catchers. So we all win!
Thanks to the efforts of the La Nucía town hall – vets – and the Cat-nappers.