Homeless Cat Management Team Clinic May 20

stray black cat

Stray black cat.

A no-charge clinic date for stray and feral cats in managed colonies is right around the corner on May 20, 2012, sponsored by the  Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT. If you are a colony manager, get your traps ready and make your appointment. If you’re not yet registered as a colony manager, call now to register.

Register as a colony caretaker, then register for the clinic.

First, you need to register as a colony caretaker in order to be able to have cats spayed and neutered by HCMT. Call 412-321-4060 and leave a message; someone will return your call and complete your registration as a caretaker.

Second, you need to pre-register for the clinic you want to attend, and you will receive a confirming phone call to be included in the clinic. Cats MUST arrive in a standard humane box trap (Havahart, Safe-guard, Tomahawk, Tru-Catch, etc.) for the safety of all involved, with the exception of rescue cats.

All clinics are held at the Animal Rescue League of Western PA, 6620 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.

As part of the clinic feral cats will receive:

  • spay/neuter
  • rabies vaccination
  • penicillin shot
  • analgesic
  • treatment for fleas, ticks and ear mites
  • mandatory ear-tipping

homeless cat management team logoAbout the clinics

Homeless Cat offers both no-charge and Fast Track clinics where feral cats receive all the above care and a mandatory ear-tipping, the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been “trapped-neutered-released”. The no-charge clinic is just that—neuter, vaccinations and care at no charge for feral cats. They advise that the no-charge clinics fill up quickly, so they also offer the Fast Track clinic which offers the same service for $45 if the cat in question can’t wait.

Rescue cats

HCMT clinics are generally reserved for cats who are part of a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program and who will be returned to their colony, not taken into a home as a pet or entered into a shelter, rescue or other animal adoption program. This helps the organization and individuals spay and neuter as many homeless outdoor cats at the least cost possible for the person managing the cats, reducing future populations with each surgery.

However, they’ve recently begun to offer services to “rescue” cats on FastTrack clinic days, because it’s sometimes not possible to put a cat back outside because of health or circumstances. Also, the person who rescued the cat has often been feeding and caring for it for some time, a bond grows between them and instead of putting the cat back outside, the rescuer will take them in, an even better solution for the cat, and also the person.

FasTrack clinics are usually $45 per cat, but for rescues the pricing is a little different:

  • $60 for females
  • $35 for males
  • Rabies shots are an additional $8

Also, rescue cats do not have to be in humane traps, which is a requirement of strays and ferals, they can come in carriers.

City of Pittsburgh Spay and Neuter Program

At the end of February Pittsburgh’s City Council approved a program sponsored by Council President Darlene Harris that will provide a voucher for up to five pets per household to City of Pittsburgh residents. The bill allocates $170,000 toward the program, yet the city spends much more than that in combined animal control costs. Council decided that spaying and neutering pets of city residents will result in reduced costs immediately and into the future. Read more about it here, and if you are a City of Pittsburgh resident you can also download a form here: City of Pittsburgh’s free spay and neuter program.

The Homeless Cat Management Team is participating in this but is not yet on the form. Simply write them in when you choose your “preference” of where to get surgery performed, on the application.

Upcoming clinic dates

  • 5/20  no charge
  • 6/10  Fast Track

Keep those dates in mind, and read below about how HCMT works.

About HCMT

If you are near Pittsburgh and manage a colony of stray and feral cats or are feeding stray or feral cats anywhere outdoors, you need to know about the Homeless Cat Management Team and how they can help you care for your colony, especially with their spay and neuter clinics.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh, read on and see if there may be an organization that can help you do the same for strays and ferals near you. I’ve also included links to information about caring for strays and ferals in winter and how you can help stray and feral cats in general.

This is especially important now, as later summer and autumn kittens will begin going into their first heat as soon as the lengthening days turn their little biological clocks to “on” along with their mothers. Cats can go into heat as young as four months and can reproduce with parents and siblings.

HCMT is working toward a new permanent clinic

A permanent clinic would allow HCMT to spay and neuter 7,000 cats every year which will save the lives of tens of thousands of cats in the Pittsburgh area. Donations can be sent to HCMT, P.O. Box 100203, Pittsburgh, PA 15233-0203 or through JustGive at the HCMT website www.homelesscat.org. If you donate, include a note on the memo line about “permanent clinic” or “capital campaign”.

You can also help HCMT both generally with day to day fundraising and with outreach and fundraising for the new clinic with your volunteer efforts such as public relations, coordinating pro-bono services for printing and media, outreach, grant writing and even researching potential salary and benefit packages for clinic employees. Check Our Future on the HCMT website.

Visit their website to read more about the permanent clinic.

gray and white cat nursing two gray kittens outdoors

A Stray Cat with Her Kittens

The issue of feline overpopulation

Cats left in colonies will produce as many kittens as their bodies will allow if left unaltered, leading to disease and suffering and way too many kittens who then go on to produce more kittens.

It’s not likely, but a cat can have up to five litters in a year, bearing 6 or more kittens per litter over the course of as many as ten years, which adds up to about 300 kittens from one female cat in the course of her lifetime, not to mention the kittens her kittens produce.

More realistically, say she only has three litters of four kittens per year as Mimi did, that’s still a dozen new kittens, and even with an average 50% survival rate, that’s 60 kittens born over five years. Now add in all the kittens that those surviving kittens produce in addition to their mother, and it’s just out of control.

Ever-expanding colonies are also often the targets of abuse and “extermination”. Shelters are already full of cats who need homes, so rescue is unlikely.

The Homeless Cat Management Team offers the “Trap-Neuter-Return”, or TNR, service for feral cats which is an internationally-recognized method of helping to solve these problems by stopping the cycle of kittens and overpopulation. They just can’t produce any more kittens—and they don’t engage in the most annoying feline behaviors, such as spraying, calling for mates, caterwauling and fighting, noisy and odorous activities that often turn people against cats and colonies of strays and ferals.

tabby cat living at abandoned house

Tabby Cat Living at Abandoned House

This service is not available for household pets or even cats simply kept outdoors if they are owned by a person. This is intended to reduce stray and feral populations in colonies, cats who aren’t owned by anyone, so before registering for the clinic you must first register as a colony caretaker. For more details on the process of registering yourself as a colony caretaker and registering for a clinic, please visit the Homeless Cat Management Team’s website at www.homelesscat.org. You can also find other clinic dates and information on how you can help feral cats in many other ways.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh and you’d like to find out if there is a TNR organization near you, visit the Feral Cat Organizations listing on the Humane Society of the United States’ website. You can also find information on the Alley Cat Allies’ website under Make Connections. You can find yet more resources on the ASPCA website under TNR and Colony Management.

You don’t need to manage a colony top help feral cats. You can donate to, assist or even start a local TNR program in your area. The HSUS’s article What You Can Do to Help Feral Cats covers finding local organizations, listing options and how to pursue helping or starting a local organization, and they also have a Program Fund that you can donate to in order to assist them in helping local organizations form and operate.

Alley Cat Allies is all about assisting colony managers, and you can also donate to this organization in order to help the larger effort of local organizations.

And Alley Cat Allies has what I think is the most comprehensive information on just what feral cats are and how to care for them, including several articles on winter care, outdoor shelters, feeding and providing water in winter and avoiding hazards from chemicals like road salt and anti-freeze.

In addition to the articles, they also have a Video Library that demonstrates how to trap ferals, how to care for them, the clinic procedures and even how to speak to the public about feral cats.

You’ll also find information on other topics, such as feeding strays and ferals, letting your cat mix with strays and ferals and legislation around the country and in Canada regarding their treatment.

Here are the quick links to the sites above:

Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Rescue
HSUS Feral Cat downloadable handbook 

It’s difficult for we who love cats not to think of each of them as potential companions for us, but true feral cats were never pet cats and while they can be tamed they are a few generations removed from human contact and they’ve adapted to life without the assistance of humans. The TNR program stops the cycle of reproduction and provides them with vaccinations and care that help to protect the larger society of all cats, but the intent is not to provide them with ongoing veterinary care as we do our indoor cats, or to find them permanent homes.

That’s not to say that feral cats can’t come in. I’ve seen some feral cats who’ve been brought in to shelters for various reasons, usually because a colony was threatened by abuse or extermination, and I even rescued a single cat from a feral colony years ago, my little Moses who was near death from starvation, literally laying down and not moving she was so far gone. She was young and learned to live in the house, and she and I enjoyed nineteen years of a close and loving relationship, but I could never pick her up, she was terrified of other people though she was timid and never acted out.

A friend adopted a rescued feral from a shelter where she volunteered, and MacKenzie mingles with the other cats but has her rules, especially the one about not being put in a carrier or she’ll offer to slice open your hand, and other clever cat tricks.

Find a low-cost clinic near you

Spaying and neutering surgery can be done for as little as $25.00. 

LOW COST SPAY/NEUTER INFORMATION FOR THE PITTSBURGH AREA AND BEYOND.

Also look in the menu on this blog under “Assistance” for links to local shelters and spay/neuter clinics plus a searchable database to find the clinic nearest you anywhere in the United States and parts of Canada.

—————————————

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.



Help Homeless Cat Management Team This Weekend

homeless cat management team logoStop littering! A novel way to celebrate Earth Day by helping the Homeless Cat Management Team trap as many cats as possible from a colony near Sharpsburg, PA for spay and neuter this weekend.

They are trying to set 25 to 30 traps. They can use a few more traps and trappers for Saturday as well as transporters early Sunday morning from Sharpsburg to East Liberty for surgery.

If you can help, contact Michelle Miller at 412.420.0759 or e-mail homelesscat@live.com.

Visit the Homeless Cat Management Team website to read about the organization which is helping to manage stray and feral populations around Pittsburgh.

Also read about them here on The Creative Cat.

________________________

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.

 


Homeless Cat Management Team Clinic Dates

bedraggled long-haired orange cat outdoors

Neighborhood Stray

The Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT) is ready to start spaying and neutering even more cats in Pittsburgh. In addition to their regular no-cost and FasTrack clinic dates for strays and ferals in managed colonies, they are now accepting rescued cats into their FasTrack clinics, and are also participating in the City of Pittsburgh’s free spay and neuter program.

Rescue cats

HCMT clinics are generally reserved for cats who are part of a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program and who will be returned to their colony, not taken into a home as a pet or entered into a shelter, rescue or other animal adoption program. This helps the organization and individuals spay and neuter as many homeless outdoor cats at the least cost possible for the person managing the cats, reducing future populations with each surgery.

However, they’ve recently begun to offer services to “rescue” cats on FastTrack clinic days, because it’s sometimes not possible to put a cat back outside because of health or circumstances. Also, the person who rescued the cat has often been feeding and caring for it for some time, a bond grows between them and instead of putting the cat back outside, the rescuer will take them in, an even better solution for the cat, and also the person.

FasTrack clinics are usually $45 per cat, but for rescues the pricing is a little different:

  • $60 for females
  • $35 for males
  • Rabies shots are an additional $8

Also, rescue cats do not have to be in humane traps, which is a requirement of strays and ferals, they can come in carriers.

City of Pittsburgh Spay and Neuter Program

At the end of February Pittsburgh’s City Council approved a program sponsored by Council President Darlene Harris that will provide a voucher for up to five pets per household to City of Pittsburgh residents. The bill allocates $170,000 toward the program, yet the city spends much more than that in combined animal control costs. Council decided that spaying and neutering pets of city residents will result in reduced costs immediately and into the future. Read more about it here, and if you are a City of Pittsburgh resident you can also download a form here: City of Pittsburgh’s free spay and neuter program.

The Homeless Cat Management Team is participating in this but is not yet on the form. Simply write them in when you choose your “preference” of where to get surgery performed, on the application.

Upcoming clinic dates

  • 4/1  Fast Track
  • 4/22  Fast Track
  • 5/20  no charge
  • 6/10  Fast Track

Keep those dates in mind, and read below about how HCMT works.

About HCMT

If you are near Pittsburgh and manage a colony of stray and feral cats or are feeding stray or feral cats anywhere outdoors, you need to know about the Homeless Cat Management Team and how they can help you care for your colony, especially with their spay and neuter clinics.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh, read on and see if there may be an organization that can help you do the same for strays and ferals near you. I’ve also included links to information about caring for strays and ferals in winter and how you can help stray and feral cats in general.

This is especially important now, as later summer and autumn kittens will begin going into their first heat as soon as the lengthening days turn their little biological clocks to “on” along with their mothers. Cats can go into heat as young as four months and can reproduce with parents and siblings.

Register as a colony caretaker, then register for the clinic.

First, you need to register as a colony caretaker in order to be able to have cats spayed and neutered by HCMT. Call 412-321-4060 and leave a message; someone will return your call and complete your registration as a caretaker.

Second, you need to pre-register for the clinic you want to attend, and you will receive a confirming phone call to be included in the clinic. Cats MUST arrive in a standard humane box trap (Havahart, Safe-guard, Tomahawk, Tru-Catch, etc.) for the safety of all involved, with the exception of rescue cats.

All clinics are held at the Animal Rescue League of Western PA, 6620 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.

As part of the clinic feral cats will receive:

  • spay/neuter
  • rabies vaccination
  • penicillin shot
  • analgesic
  • treatment for fleas, ticks and ear mites
  • mandatory ear-tipping

About the clinics

Homeless Cat offers both no-charge and Fast Track clinics where feral cats receive all the above care and a mandatory ear-tipping, the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been “trapped-neutered-released”. The no-charge clinic is just that—neuter, vaccinations and care at no charge for feral cats. They advise that the no-charge clinics fill up quickly, so they also offer the Fast Track clinic which offers the same service for $45 if the cat in question can’t wait.

HCMT is working toward a new permanent clinic

A permanent clinic would allow HCMT to spay and neuter 7,000 cats every year which will save the lives of tens of thousands of cats in the Pittsburgh area. Donations can be sent to HCMT, P.O. Box 100203, Pittsburgh, PA 15233-0203 or through JustGive at the HCMT website www.homelesscat.org. If you donate, include a note on the memo line about “permanent clinic” or “capital campaign”.

You can also help HCMT both generally with day to day fundraising and with outreach and fundraising for the new clinic with your volunteer efforts such as public relations, coordinating pro-bono services for printing and media, outreach, grant writing and even researching potential salary and benefit packages for clinic employees. Check Our Future on the HCMT website.

Visit their website to read more about the permanent clinic.

gray and white cat nursing two gray kittens outdoors

A Stray Cat with Her Kittens

The issue of feline overpopulation

Cats left in colonies will produce as many kittens as their bodies will allow if left unaltered, leading to disease and suffering and way too many kittens who then go on to produce more kittens.

It’s not likely, but a cat can have up to five litters in a year, bearing 6 or more kittens per litter over the course of as many as ten years, which adds up to about 300 kittens from one female cat in the course of her lifetime, not to mention the kittens her kittens produce.

More realistically, say she only has three litters of four kittens per year as Mimi did, that’s still a dozen new kittens, and even with an average 50% survival rate, that’s 60 kittens born over five years. Now add in all the kittens that those surviving kittens produce in addition to their mother, and it’s just out of control.

Ever-expanding colonies are also often the targets of abuse and “extermination”. Shelters are already full of cats who need homes, so rescue is unlikely.

The Homeless Cat Management Team offers the “Trap-Neuter-Return”, or TNR, service for feral cats which is an internationally-recognized method of helping to solve these problems by stopping the cycle of kittens and overpopulation. They just can’t produce any more kittens—and they don’t engage in the most annoying feline behaviors, such as spraying, calling for mates, caterwauling and fighting, noisy and odorous activities that often turn people against cats and colonies of strays and ferals.

tabby cat living at abandoned house

Tabby Cat Living at Abandoned House

This service is not available for household pets or even cats simply kept outdoors if they are owned by a person. This is intended to reduce stray and feral populations in colonies, cats who aren’t owned by anyone, so before registering for the clinic you must first register as a colony caretaker. For more details on the process of registering yourself as a colony caretaker and registering for a clinic, please visit the Homeless Cat Management Team’s website at www.homelesscat.org. You can also find other clinic dates and information on how you can help feral cats in many other ways.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh and you’d like to find out if there is a TNR organization near you, visit the Feral Cat Organizations listing on the Humane Society of the United States’ website. You can also find information on the Alley Cat Allies’ website under Make Connections. You can find yet more resources on the ASPCA website under TNR and Colony Management.

You don’t need to manage a colony top help feral cats. You can donate to, assist or even start a local TNR program in your area. The HSUS’s article What You Can Do to Help Feral Cats covers finding local organizations, listing options and how to pursue helping or starting a local organization, and they also have a Program Fund that you can donate to in order to assist them in helping local organizations form and operate.

Alley Cat Allies is all about assisting colony managers, and you can also donate to this organization in order to help the larger effort of local organizations.

And Alley Cat Allies has what I think is the most comprehensive information on just what feral cats are and how to care for them, including several articles on winter care, outdoor shelters, feeding and providing water in winter and avoiding hazards from chemicals like road salt and anti-freeze.

In addition to the articles, they also have a Video Library that demonstrates how to trap ferals, how to care for them, the clinic procedures and even how to speak to the public about feral cats.

You’ll also find information on other topics, such as feeding strays and ferals, letting your cat mix with strays and ferals and legislation around the country and in Canada regarding their treatment.

Here are the quick links to the sites above:

Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Rescue
HSUS Feral Cat downloadable handbook 

It’s difficult for we who love cats not to think of each of them as potential companions for us, but true feral cats were never pet cats and while they can be tamed they are a few generations removed from human contact and they’ve adapted to life without the assistance of humans. The TNR program stops the cycle of reproduction and provides them with vaccinations and care that help to protect the larger society of all cats, but the intent is not to provide them with ongoing veterinary care as we do our indoor cats, or to find them permanent homes.

That’s not to say that feral cats can’t come in. I’ve seen some feral cats who’ve been brought in to shelters for various reasons, usually because a colony was threatened by abuse or extermination, and I even rescued a single cat from a feral colony years ago, my little Moses who was near death from starvation, literally laying down and not moving she was so far gone. She was young and learned to live in the house, and she and I enjoyed nineteen years of a close and loving relationship, but I could never pick her up, she was terrified of other people though she was timid and never acted out.

A friend adopted a rescued feral from a shelter where she volunteered, and MacKenzie mingles with the other cats but has her rules, especially the one about not being put in a carrier or she’ll offer to slice open your hand, and other clever cat tricks.

Find a low-cost clinic near you

Spaying and neutering surgery can be done for as little as $25.00. 

LOW COST SPAY/NEUTER INFORMATION FOR THE PITTSBURGH AREA AND BEYOND.

Also look in the menu on this blog under “Assistance” for links to local shelters and spay/neuter clinics plus a searchable database to find the clinic nearest you anywhere in the United States and parts of Canada.

—————————————

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.



Mimi says, “There is No Shame.”

black cat with plastic collar

Mimi wears her collar and hides her spay sutures.

If looks could kill, I’d be splattered against the wall.

But she is glad to have been spayed, though I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten the experience yet.

I had Mimi and all of four her babies spayed and neutered in two successive weeks, on Tuesdays, the girls the first week, the boys the next, using the same low-cost voucher program. The Four were just about six months old and normally I’d get it done before that but with five at once, even with vouchers, I had to save up after all the kitten stuff—exams, shots, lots and lots of food.

Luckily no one had gone into heat yet, except Mimi whose biological clock rang loudly beginning about six weeks after the kittens were born and she started calling and prancing around and was out of heat for about 15 total minutes from then until I had her spayed. No wonder she’d had six litters of kittens. I’m not sure the lady wants you to know that about her past; this is certainly not the Mimi everyone knows today.

She was to be spayed much earlier. Because her kittens were there, even though I tried to keep them physically separate, she kept producing milk, and it’s okay to spay when they are in heat and producing milk, but if you can wait a while and hope one situation or the other will resolve you reduce possible risks. So she ended up being spayed with the rest of them.

black cat with collar

Mimi with the collar balancing on the sink.

And because one of Mimi’s kittens from a prior litter, Lucy, had died of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which first surfaced when she was spayed, I wanted to be as careful as possible. Also because of that history of FIP my veterinarian, and the veterinarian who would do the spays and neuters, agreed to do a little extra exploratory when they spayed Mimi, looking for any possible lesions on internal organs typical of some cats with FIP and checking into some of the lumps in her mammary glands. Mimi was probably about four by then and her body had been through a lot in that time living largely outdoors and bearing six litters of kittens. Her incision would be larger and instead of stitches she would get staples.

Did you know that staples are easier than stitches for a cat to get her teeth around and pull out? I observed Mimi and Mewsette the evening I brought them home and neither showed any interest in their incisions and acted completely normal, good appetite, litterbox use, social, affectionate, but still I put a soft collar on each of them at one point in the evening.

The next morning they were both wearing their soft collars turned backward around their armpits like blue tutus—I think they had worked on each others’ collars and loosened them, but not managed to get them off.

A section of Mimi’s staples were missing, and her incision was open. I ran her back to the vet, who sedated her, cleaned the incision and replaced the staples. She also gave me the hard plastic collar.

black cat with plastic collar

Mimi shows me how dirty her collar has gotten.

I don’t care how the cat feels about the collar, I want the cat to heal. Mimi really didn’t complain either. She’s very tiny, though, and even though I placed her food bowl on an upended water bowl the collar still bumped into the floor when she tried to eat. And you can see by the speckles on the collar that an awful lot of stuff ended up inside.

Mimi is a good girl. When I took it off of her and gave her food, she ate breakfast. I put it back on her. Same for dinner. The next day I fed them breakfast, Mewsette’s incision looked great, Mimi’s was no longer inflamed after having replace the staples. The phone rang. I ran downstairs. I didn’t come back up for hours. I hadn’t replaced Mimi’s collar. Half her staples were gone again.

Back to the vet, apologizing for this, saying I really do know how to take care of a cat who’s been spayed! We had to start her on antibiotics and pain medication and the collar had to stay on even if I was sitting right there, but I could test her as time went on. Veterinarians know wily cats, and Mimi was, and is, nothing if not wise. The staples stayed in for ten days, though she didn’t have to wear her collar that whole time.  For the next five days I did take the collar off for a few minutes and washed it while she ate her meals and nothing could make me leave her. Then I tested her for longer periods of time and the combination of the healing itself, the pain medication and the antibiotic helped to reduce the irritation so she quit pulling on the staples.

The veterinarian found nothing unusual in there. Mimi has healed fine. And now she wonders what all the fuss was about before she was spayed, but at least she has these four lovely children to show for it.

Mimi still says, “Happy Spay Day!”

________________________________

To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Pittsburgh implements free animal spay, neuter program

bedraggled long-haired orange cat outdoors

Orange cat who needs to be neutered.

What a great way to celebrate Spay Day!

“Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and City Council President Darlene Harris today kicked off a free spay and neuter program that’s intended to reach 3,000 dogs and cats this year.”

READ THE ARTICLE IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE:

Pittsburgh implements free animal spay, neuter program.

DOWNLOAD AN APPLICATION:

This includes a choice of places where you’d prefer to go for your spay or neuter. The Homeless Cat Management Team is participating in this but is not yet on the form. Simply write them in when you choose your “preference” of where to get surgery performed, on the application.

CityOfPghSpayNeuterApp


The Boys Don’t Get Off the Hook on Spay Day

black cat on sidewalk

One of Mimi's suitors who followed her over here from her former residence.

“Boys don’t have kittens, so you don’t have to get them fixed.”

Interesting concept, and taken farther than issues with unspayed and unneutered cats, boys do have babies, they just don’t give birth to them. But that doesn’t leave them off the hook for issues of animal overpopulation, not to mention the nasty behaviors unneutered cats indulge in.

gray and white cat nursing two gray kittens outdoors

A Stray Cat with Her Kittens

Even before Mimi, the house where she lived before she came to me had many cats, few of them “fixed”. It wasn’t that the humans didn’t believe in it or were uninformed, they just never got around to it, though they kept adopting cats and keeping kittens from their litters. At least one other female cat who lived there was also producing a litter or two per year, in the neighbors’ yards no less, and several males were strutting their stuff around the neighborhood.

“But they’re mother and son—isn’t that incest?!”

I kept on their back about getting their cats fixed and helped them find homes for the kittens, usually easing them into shelters, knowing these kittens were likely destined not to be spayed or neutered wherever they ended up. Eventually, a cat or two disappeared, they found homes for several of the ones they had, and they had all but Mimi spayed or neutered. And, eventually, we know Mimi ended up over here.

tabby cat on sidewalk

Just one of the guys.

But a neighbor one street over had, I found it hard to believe, four unneutered male cats in one house. They all went outdoors, of course, and at least two of them regularly found their ways to Mimi. I can’t imagine living in a house with four unneutered male cats who had roaming privileges; I know that people who breed and show cats will have a stud or two and they are usually pretty well-behaved. The owner of these cats, however, though it was really cool that his cats were the studs of the neighborhood and beat the crap out of all the other cats and the occasional dog or raccoon. He had no intention to get them fixed because they didn’t have kittens so he didn’t have to worry about it. I pity the walls of his house.

“I just can’t bring myself to do that to another guy.”

Not to mention anything up to 18 inches off the ground anywhere in their territory, including my storm doors, eliciting responses from some of my cats and from other outdoor cats, and so the pis–ng contest went on for years.

black cat on sidewalk

He has one thing on his mind.

This black cat was one of Mimi’s suitors. I’ll agree with her that he’s a fine specimen of a cat, and I can see where her kittens inherited their size. He went looking for her and pretty quickly realized she’d moved and found her here. She was still nursing the kittens but was in heat again, spaying was risky but I was absolutely certain that the two of them would rip a hole in one of my screens to get at each other. They didn’t, though even after she was spayed he still came around, looking sullen out on the sidewalk and mooning about her over in the neighbor’s driveway where they used to meet.

Several years ago, a friend of mine adopted a male cat and decided that, since she lived way far out and there probably weren’t any cats near, she really didn’t need to get her cat neutered. I did tell her that was a mistake for various reasons, not only because her cat would wander pretty far to find what he wanted, often to his own detriment, but that she’d be in one way or another contributing to feline overpopulation, something she was actually concerned about. But she didn’t believe me.

To her surprise, she found a cat nursing a litter of kittens in her barn. So her guy didn’t have to go anywhere, but apparently had room service—an unspayed female finding him and moving in.

She spent the better part of the next two years trying to catch all the half-wild and feral kittens on her property and working with the Homeless Cat Management Team in Pittsburgh to spay and neuter them all.

Neuter and spay, it’s the kindest way.

And neutering surgery is much less complicated than a spay, so it costs less, sometimes as little as $25.00! There’s very little recovery and little chance for infection or other aftereffects.

Find a low-cost clinic near you, have your cat spayed, encourage someone else to, spay and neuter a few stray or feral cats, or support a local clinic

Also look in the menu on this blog under “Assistance” for links to local shelters and spay/neuter clinics plus a searchable database to find the clinic nearest you anywhere in the United States and parts of Canada.

LOW COST SPAY/NEUTER INFORMATION FOR THE PITTSBURGH AREA AND BEYOND.

Referenced in various articles that encourage spay and neuter for pets, includes the lowest-cost spay and neuter in the city, a link to stray/feral cat clinics and searchable databases of spay/neuter clinics all over the country.

You can also do a search on “Spay Day USA” or any topic in this list and find plenty of information on the internet.

________________________

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Mimi Says, “I Love Being Spayed.”

close up photo of a black cat

Mimi tells her story

Mimi, supermom of at least six litters, is now a happy housecat extolling the virtues of spayed bliss.

“I used to love my assignations in the neighbor’s driveway, then feeling my kittens grow and giving birth and nurturing them, it was all so easy,” Mimi says. “But when I realized I wasn’t the only one giving birth to a dozen kittens each year, and what happened to many of them and their mothers…I’m embarrassed at my behavior and sad for cats who lost their lives because of me.”

“You know, I was totally powerless against my hormones, and I needed a human to get me spayed or I’d still be out there producing kittens,” she continues.

If you won’t listen to a person about spaying your cat, listen to the cat herself. Mimi gives us 30 good reasons to spay your cat and hopes that you’ll celebrate Spay Day USA on February 28 by either getting your cat spayed or convincing someone else to get their cat spayed.

Mimi’s 30 Reasons to Spay Your Cat

1. Eventually, she will outsmart you and get out the door.

2. Your kittens are no cuter than any other kittens in the world.

3. About 3,000 kittens and puppies are born every hour in the United States.

4. If you want your kids to see the miracle of life, have your own babies.

5. It’s not good for a cat to have a litter before she’s spayed, in fact, it’s bad for her health.

[You may already know these things.]

6. Having your cat spayed after she is one year or after having kittens puts her at highest risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

7. Having  a cat spayed before her first heat reduces her chances of developing breast cancer later in life to almost nothing.

8. Nearly every city has a low-cost spay/neuter clinic or program that works on a sliding fee scale.

9. An unspayed female cat is more likely to do two of the things humans don’t like cats to do—scratch furniture and spray, and, yes, females do spray.

10. A spayed female outlives an unspayed female for an average of two years, and without the health problems associated with reproductive cancers.

[Apparently, many people do not.]

11. An unspayed cat can have an average of three litters per year.

12. Cats have litters of four to six kittens.

13. Kittens can go into their first heat as young as 4 months.

14. No, it’s not incest when brother and sister cats or mother and son cats have sex.

15. In two years, I produced 24 kittens, and have no idea what my children did once they were out of my care.

[Find some of these people and give them this list.]

16. At least 70% of all cats entering shelters in the United States are euthanized because there are no homes for them.

17. It costs a city more in taxpayer dollars to round up, house, euthanize and dispose of a homeless cat than it does to spay it.

18. Every shelter in the United States is overrun with kittens every summer necessitating the euthanasia of otherwise healthy cats—and dogs—to care for and place the kittens.

19. At least three million animals are killed in shelters every year because there are no homes for them and no space in shelters.

20. Someone has to decide who dies, and someone has to kill them, letting your cat have a litter of kittens forces a person to make this decision.

[All of this information is available from your local shelter and on the internet.]

21. A cat is “polyestrous” and can go into heat—and conceive—the day after giving birth to a litter of kittens; nursing does not prevent or delay her heat cycle.

22. All kittens are cute, and the world already has enough of them.

23. Cats respond hormonally to day length and can go into heat as early as Valentine’s Day.

24. Momcats and kittens don’t get along well on their own outside, so don’t dump them in the woods instead of taking them to a shelter.

25. Spaying your cat will not make her fat. Feeding her too much will make her fat.

[Let’s make 2012 the year we eliminate “kitten season”.]

26. Cats don’t have heat “cycles”, so once they go into heat, unless they find a male and mate, they can be in heat constantly, forever (or so it seems), in the least it is pretty unpredictable.

27. Spayed cats have absolutely no chance of developing uterine or ovarian cancer because those parts are removed.

28. Spayed cats can’t develop pyometra, a critical and common uterine infection, because they have no uterus.

29. You can safely spay a cat who is pregnant up to a certain point rather than contribute to overpopulation.

30. The male cats coming to court your unspayed female will seriously mess up your storm door, and probably each other fighting for dominance.

photo of black cat in the sun on a wooden floor

Time for a nap in the sun.

[I only stopped at 30 because…*yawn*…I need to take a nap.]

Also read “Help to Avoid Feline Breast Cancer by Spaying Early“, inspired by and featuring me for more information on feline breast cancer and other reproductive illnesses plus links to spay/neuter clinics in Pittsburgh and around the country. And, featuring one of my former suitors, I also remind you that The Boys Don’t Get Off the Hook.

Find a low-cost clinic near you, have your cat spayed, encourage someone else to, spay and neuter a few stray or feral cats, or support a local clinic

Also look in the menu on this blog under “Assistance” for links to local shelters and spay/neuter clinics plus a searchable database to find the clinic nearest you anywhere in the United States and parts of Canada.

LOW COST SPAY/NEUTER INFORMATION FOR THE PITTSBURGH AREA AND BEYOND.

Referenced in various articles that encourage spay and neuter for pets, includes the lowest-cost spay and neuter in the city, a link to stray/feral cat clinics and searchable databases of spay/neuter clinics all over the country.

You can also do a search on “Spay Day USA” or any topic in this list and find plenty of information on the internet.

________________________

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Don’t Wait to Spread the News

feral cat

A friend's feral cat.

You just never know when a half-grown stray or feral kitten will show up.

And I never used to know when I should say something about whether or not a kitten is spayed or neutered, or whether anyone was caring for the feral cats.

I sometimes feel I’m risking being known as the “crazy cat lady”, but over the years I’ve learned to always speak up. Sometimes I’ve been embarrassed, but usually I’ve been pretty glad I did because often I can spread information about low-cost spay and neuter and managing stray and feral colonies to people who really didn’t know this existed, or that the appearance of a kitten could indicate the need for such activities.

Last summer, on their Facebook page, the Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest posted that there were kittens behind their office, then posted a photo “for those who need a Friday kitten photo.”

I know their office is in a pretty urban area in the City of Pittsburgh, and it’s likely this kitten was stray or feral. Also, by her coloring as a dilute calico, she was likely a “she”. In any case, I figured it didn’t hurt to say something, so I asked if the kitty had a home, and mentioned that they should trap and spay ASAP if someone else didn’t or they’d have some extra kittens soon. The author replied that he thought the kittens lived in the yard behind the office, and asked if I was a neighbor.

I answered that I was not, but that I was always concerned when I saw kittens or adult cats who might be stray or feral or headed that way, and I always offered a bit of information about TNR and spay/neuter deals at shelters, including the Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT).

The author replied that there may already be a feral colony there because he saw kittens and cats last year, very skittish, and that he had a friend who was involved in TNR and would enlist her help.

In the meantime another reader commented to say thanks for the information, she hadn’t known about HCMT but was glad to find out the information and encouraged me to keep spreading the word.

I had been hesitant, but I was never more glad to have spoken up. I gave information to two people who are aware and will likely use it, and pass it on as well.

In years past, I would have headed over there to assess the situation, and if no one in the vicinity was interested in taking care of the situation, either caring for the colony themselves or trapping and moving them, I would have returned with traps and tried to catch as many as I could myself, taking them home and getting veterinary care, altering, feeding and re-homing on my own. Ah, the bleak 1980s and 90s, too many cats and not enough programs, but I was glad to have found a few sympathetic vets who knew what I was doing.

Along came TNR, the Homeless Cat Management Team, early spay and neuter for shelter animals and aggressive spay/neuter programs for adult animals at shelter clinics, and a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. With more options and more awareness, I could get away with handing out handfuls of information, posting flyers in the area and making a few follow-up calls. As my household grew geriatric and I was less willing to bring in rescued cats in miscellaneous condition, I had built up a network of concerned friends and converts who were glad for the information and I could focus on my rescues here at home, knowing I’d at least spread the word.

So now instead of doing the footwork, I do the social network—though I always carry good old-fashioned flyers with me, and often have conversations with people who are totally off the network. I work with or am a member of a number of local conservation groups and visit their land, and also use local trails. I also tend to go off on painting and photo forays to uninhabited areas on the edge of town such as the now-empty steel mills and industrial areas, and along the waterways that run behind everything.

Often, I see cats, settled into these quieter areas that afford protection, but an easy run to a dumpster or someone’s back yard where they might be fed. I’ve posted HCMT and clinic information in these areas, talked to people on trails who say they always see the cats, and also handed it to people in their back yard who were sympathetic to the cats and fed them though they found it difficult to keep up with caring for them, but felt they couldn’t stop now that they’d started.

I sometimes follow up with people I’ve sent information to, and it often takes a nudge to get people to take advantage of the programs. But each time it’s accepted, and often with gratitude, it confirms that animals, and especially cats, are increasing in respect in our society, and not considered the throw-aways they once were, and that we should always speak up and offer whatever we feel is appropriate. Helping even one cat with spay and neuter helps to solve the problem of feline overpopulation.

—————————————

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


WPHS Needs You to Foster or Adopt—Today

cat adoption room at wphs

Cat Adoption Room at WPHS

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is in a critical state—FULL of animals, but NOT ENOUGH adopters. People continue surrendering animals every day, but fewer are coming in to adopt them. This is probably true at other shelters as well at this time of the year. We need to do something about it today, and for the future.

Right now, can you foster, even for just a few weeks or a month? Can you adopt just one more? You will save lives immediately if you do. Consider it, even try to do something this weekend, the situation is that desperate.

Gretchen J. Fieser, Director of PR and Business Relationships at the shelter, offered figures comparing September 1 to 19, 2010 and 2011 in surrenders and adoptions of cats, dogs and rabbits when figures are often lower with people adapting to their new fall schedules.

  • Owner Surrenders of Cats:  13.85% increase
  • Owner Surrender of Dogs: 21.92% increase
  • Owner Surrender of Rabbits: 300% increase
  • Adoptions of Cats: 26.51% DECREASE
  • Adoptions of Dogs: 17.37% DECREASE
  • Adoption of Rabbits: 50% INCREASE
orange kittens on shelf

Kittens wake up, ready for play!

To put a real number behind that surrender percentage, I visited the shelter a month ago and Gretchen noted, “We took in 48 cats on Tuesday [August 23], and we adopted out 11.”

Late summer figures for total animal surrenders often surpass 1,000 animals per month adding up to over 13,000 animals per year coming into the shelter.

And right now, surrounding no-kill shelters are full and are not accepting any other animals until their numbers are reduced by adoption.

But the WPHS doesn’t have the option of closing the door until they can accept more animals.

“As an open door shelter (we are committed to never turning an animal away in need) we must have help from the community as far as adopting, fostering animals, and spaying and neutering,” Gretchen says. As an open door shelter, they are required to take in all animals that are brought to them, but the shelter has a finite amount of space and the WPHS cannot exceed occupancy.

Even with a dedicated group of over 100 foster homes, breed rescue groups taking animals into their care for adoption and other options for moving animals out of the shelter to be housed other than actual adoption, the shelter still needs help with adoptions and fosters.

Read the rest of this entry »


Mimi, on “Mother’s Day”

photo of black cat in the sun

Mimi on Mother's Day

Mimi’s annual Mother’s Day address

Sì, Mi chiamano Mimì, …

That’s my famous self-introduction, “Yes, they always call me Mimi…” Or, rather, that of the character after whom my rescue mom named me, the female lead in the Puccini opera La Boheme, the day I entered her household, forever.

Note that the accent is on the second syllable, in the French way.

Ha! I knew nothing of Puccini or opera before I came to this house, though I did lead quite the Bohemian lifestyle with many boyfriends and many adventures and assignations, inspiring my name, resulting in something like 24 kittens…hence the topic of my article today. I not only celebrate my own motherhood, but my adoption by my human mom, an event that changed both of our lives as motherhood will do even without the act of giving birth.

Participating in a university study…for Mother’s Day?

photo of black cat in bed covers

Lucy Helps to Make the Bed, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

First, she and I are going to embark on a very special Mother’s Day project including myself and all my kittens we’ve kept in touch with. We’ll all be participating in a study!

My human mom wrote an article about how she came to know me and ultimately adopt me in an article, A Nice, Nice Kitty. In that article you’ll read about a kitten named Lucy* from my second or third litter of kittens who my mom ended up adopting after finding good homes for the other kittens in that litter.

I didn’t live here yet, but Lucy was the kitten who was responsible for me joining this household. Lucy unfortunately had a disease called feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, and no matter how much my mom loved her and cared for her, Lucy died at only 15 months old. My mom saw me carrying another litter of kittens in my belly—in fact, my last litter—and for many good reasons you can read about in the article mentioned above decided to take me into her house.

And for the sake of Lucy, who died so young, and for moms like my human mom, who suffer such sadness at the loss of kittens and cats of any age to this disease, we’ll be participating in a study of FIP at the University of California at Davis. We’ve just downloaded our forms and contacted the other kittens’ people, and we’ll write more about this as all of us do our cheek swabs and fill out our forms. (I’m still researching other kittens and family members before I send in the entire family tree, and discovered that the little clip of Lucy’s fur didn’t provide the right DNA for the test.~Bernadette)

I loved being a mother, but I’m such a lucky kitty now

I can’t believe I’ve gone from a loose little street cat to a happy, healthy and socially-conscious kitty participating in a university study! Unlike Mimi from La Boheme, I have gone on to live happily ever after, as should every kitty, and dog and bunny and bird and all the other animals who love to live with humans.

photo of black cat on sidewalk

Big Daddy comes for Mimi (actually coming to the door)!

But as for motherhood…I can’t deny it, I loved having kittens. I carefully chose the fathers, usually the two handsome black cats from Fifth Avenue, one tall and slender and silly and the other stockier and serious despite the little white spot on his chest, ensuring that all my children would be the same lustrous black as their parents with a mix of other physical and personality traits, and most were. Unfortunately, I loved my children so much that I also didn’t realize the world didn’t need more perfect little black kittens.

Motherhood is not for every kitty—not for most kitties!

close up photo of a black cat

Mimi tells her story

I’ve written an article listing 30 reasons why cats like me should be spayed—in fact, why all cats should be spayed except perhaps those lucky few whose people will monitor their activity and prepare for the proper adoption of the offspring.

Much as I loved being a mother I’m glad I’m spayed and can’t have any more kittens because I never realized how simply fun and enjoyable every day could be for a cat who was spayed and in a good home. Humans really recognize the royal nature of cats and enjoy indulging our every whim and we should really give them the opportunity to do that!

kittens in cat bed

The best I could do!

I’d like to tell you about the kittens I gave birth to in April 2006 including Lucy, Charlotte, Angus and Donal, and their humans, and the July 2007 litter—the Big Four, who most people who’ve been reading this blog know all too well. What mother doesn’t like to see her children become famous and successful?

Of course Lucy stayed here, and is gone but never forgotten. I see by reading mom’s e-mails that Charlotte, Angus and Donal, wish me a happy Mother’s Day, and I was so glad to see the happy photos of them come over.

She had helped to find homes for them, and she kept in touch with the people who adopted them, before she even really knew me. I like that about her, as much as I like the fact that she took me to be spayed.

blakc cat with rainbows

Lucy with rainbows in doorway.

*Bernadette says: I was very surprised, when I researched the libretto for La Boheme, that the next line in Mimi’s aria is, but my real name is Lucia.” The kitten I lost to FIP, and as Mimi tells you, the reason she came here, was named “Lucy”. As I moved Mimi and her babies from the box into the cage in the spare bedroom, I felt the strongest sense that Lucy was in the room with us, in fact turning around to look at the door, which was closed, but I had pictured it open with Lucy standing in the doorway, silhouetted by the sun on the landing. She had only been gone three weeks, it wouldn’t be unusual that I would forget she was gone in a distracted moment, but the way Mimi settled in, and the way she looked at me in that moment, I knew it wasn’t because I had forgotten. I never sensed Lucy again after that, nor felt that deep pang of loss, though those poor kittens and Mimi had to endure frequent hugs and kisses for months until I felt secure again. You’ll learn a little more about Lucy in upcoming articles, especially as we discuss FIP.