The Cat-nap­pers

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - News Feature -

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.

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