Feral Cats: The Sun Rose Again on Maui

So many Feral Cats on Maui. I Felt Inept.

A few months ago, I wrote an article entitled, "Feral Cats of Maui: Look 'Em In the Eye." There were so many cats and kittens in my midst for which I felt responsible. But I didn't have the right situation in place to be able to take them home at night in a trap, fast them, and then take them in for spaying or neutering. Prior to that, I wrote an article called Feral Cats and Strawberry Skies in which I was a little more hopeful, but I explained that I felt like a failure. It's so important to 'fast' a cat before spay/neuter surgery. This means no food and no water from midnight, if, for instance, the spay/neuter appointment is at 8:00 a.m. the next day. If you don't help the cat in this way, it could choke on the operating table and die while it's under the influence of the anesthesia.

Most feral cat colony caretakers trap the cat, take it home and let it sit in the backyard in the trap under a towel all night. Well, I can't do that. That's way too hard. Who can sleep when a cat is out there in your backyard -- uncomfortable and scared? I don't have a problem with the feral cat fasting if it is sitting in a pretty little enclosure called a cat motel up in the rolling hills of Haiku, safe and protected, with a litter box by its side. I can be fifteen miles away and sleep very well. And in the morning I can drive up to Haiku, pick up the cat or cats in the trap or traps, set them in the backseat of my car and glide on down to the veterinary appointment.

Until August of this year -- and during the few years here on Maui while being aware of the feral cat problem -- I've assisted others in trapping some cats. If I'm just assisting, the other person takes the cat home to their own backyard instead of me taking the cat to my backyard. I had attempted taking the cat home to fast for the night. That's how I learned I lose sleep if I try to keep a cat in the backyard.

I have been able to scruff seven kittens -- about the age of 12 weeks each. They were friendly enough that the Maui Humane Society took them in to be adopted -- except for two of them. I tracked them carefully so I knew they were adopted out after their spay or neuter operation and they had tested negative for HIV. Two of them had their operations and I had to take them back to their awful home in the industrial park where they reside. However, it was their home.

We can't take all the cats home to our own houses -- although I do know one lady who has successfully taken 34 of them to reside in her house. Each time she took a cat to her house to live, she first let it live outside in a large enclosed area for a month. All her other cats came around and sniffed the newcomer. Cats consider their locale to be their home, so after 30 days they figure this is their home.

Alleycat.org is an excellent website to learn more about how to help feral cats.


Spay Neuter Assistance Program on Maui

It was either on my blogspot this past summer or in one of the two above-cited articles on here that I said I will pray for some help with this problem because I feel so inept and useless when it came to really helping these feral cats on Maui. I felt so down about it as I was writing that I said I know the sun will come up tomorrow, but I will need to pray for some hope and help so that I can become more useful in the cat efforts on Maui. I'm here to tell you that the sun did come up and I feel very blessed. I feel so thankful to be able to do a little bit towards helping these beautiful, loving and helpless cats.

I now have a friend, Leona, who helps me trap the cats after I make an appointment with the Maui Humane Society for the surgeries. Leona is of very small stature, but very brave for her size.

I book the appointments for two cats at a time. This makes all the driving back and forth even more worthwhile. Tim of the Cat Hotel up in Haiku is such a good man. He started his non-profit for the protection and spay/neutering of feral cats when he saw the great need here on Maui. He works amicably with 9th Life, the Feline Foundation and The Maui Humane Society.

More Maui Feral Cats

Leona to the Rescue and Tim, too.

The Maui Humane Society (MHS) does have a program which they call SNARPS which assists in providing low cost spay/neuter services. SNARPS is the acronym for Spay/Neuter Assistance Referral Program.

So, Leona and I trap two cats at a time. Leona helps me place the trapped cats in the backseat of my car covered in towels so they are not terrified. They don't make a sound as I drive the 20 miles as long as they are covered up. I drive the two trapped cats up to Tim's Cat Hotel where he very kindly helps me unload them from the car. He puts one cat at a time into the cat hotel reserved for him or her. If the cats are pretty good friends, they each go into the same hotel room. They have food and water and a cat box until midnight. Before midnight, Tim goes out to visit the new arrivals. He takes out the food and water from their large enclosed area -- their cat motel room.

Up in Haiku, there is a problem with unleashed pit bulls roaming the hills and killing the feral cats. Tim has quite an operation going on to help those feral cats at one particular designation -- besides the help he gives people like me. Additionally, Tim and his wife board domestic cats while their owners go away on vacation. You can read more about Tim's Cat Hotel at his website. (See link below.)

I was reflecting upon all these things on Saturday when I was driving back from Haiku where I had left the two recuperating cats at the Cat Hotel. Before becoming reflective, I was feeling a little disgusted at the awful smell in the car. One of the cats had had an accident and missed the plastic bags and sheets of newspaper I had spread beneath the cages. What a mess! I had used water, paper towels and Simply Green on the stains, but somehow didn't get it all during the first attempt. For just one moment, the thought crossed my mind that this should be the last time I do this. Then I remembered the short series of events and the people that had come together to help in this effort -- none of which or of whom I had been able to bring together myself. Only through prayer did everything come together.

I am thankful for prayer.

My prayers are spontaneous for each blessing or when I pray with thankful heart simply to say thank you. But still, this old standby, this recited prayer, often gives me solace too.

May God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The Courage to change the things I can

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

Sometimes in life we can experience discouragement, fatigue, and loss of hope in reaching goals. The sun always does come up tomorrow, so we need to have fresh energy and courage for the little things that we want to do and can do. Prayer gets us there.

It is as Mother Teresa said: We can do no great things, but small things with great love.

On his way to get his operation.
On his way to get his operation.

© 2010 Pamela Kinnaird W

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Comments 20 comments

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 2 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Yes, feral cats and the rights of birds over the cats, etc., is often a hot topic on the Hawaiian Islands. Thanks for reading and commenting, Vickiw.

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Vickiw 2 years ago

Well, this shows what a caring person you are! That is quite a project. I have never really thought about feral cats in Hawaii. That is an awful problem, especially for the ecology - thinking about birds, etc.

I enjoyed your hub, and found it very enlightening.

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Bedbugabscond, yes, I too wish businesses would get involved. I had really hoped that would be the case when I first got involved in trying to help the feral cats on Maui. I don't know about elsewhere, but the businesses on Maui do not see it as beneficial. I would have thought they would have liked the good public relations from helping the feral cats. As it turns out, at least half the people on Maui who have an opinion, yeah or nay, hate the feral cats because they believe they are contributing to higher bird deaths.

I am so happy to read that in your corner of the world there business owners or directors on a board who individually have consciences and hearts. Thanks for sharing that.

Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

I think you are very brave and caring to do this kind of work. We have a feral cat problem, and the industrial area near us finally realized the issue wouldn't go away. If you can trap a cat and bring it to them, they will pay to get it fixed, then it can live there. Not the safest place in the world, but they provide shelter and some food, but also encourage the cats to kill the rodents. Since they started this, more and more cats are fixed and less are born to become feral. I wonder if there are any business there who would participate with the feral cat issues.

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

You lucky lady -- having four cats. I only have one and a husband who thinks that's too many. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this hub.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

You have my utmost admiration for what you are doing to help the feral cats. I have always had cats. right now I have four and two of them are feral ats I rescued from the college where I work. It took a long time, but eventually they adjusted and now are sweet loving cats (spayed of course). May God bless you and your work.

Knightheart profile image

Knightheart 5 years ago from MIssouri, USA

Thank you, Pamela. I have always had an interest in knights and the Dark/Middle ages.

The kitties I saw near the dumpsters had been there a long time from taking to some of the college folks who worked there. The lids were always open since they were really huge and very heavy. At least someone was giving them decent food and some water instead of just leaving the cats to eat garbage and who knows what! At least they were safer from the elements and other predators.

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Knightheart, I like your avatar. Thank you for all your comments.

Kitties are always attracted to dumpsters and that's kind of scary, but they are very hard to rehome to a new location unless you have the facilities to keep them in one area for about 30 days. Then they call that place home. Dumpsters aren't so bad if they don't close tightly on top. I'm glad for the kitties you met that it was a safe place for them.

Knightheart profile image

Knightheart 5 years ago from MIssouri, USA

It is so sad to see feral cats. So much disease and death happen to them and most seem to be abandoned pets that were forced to survive on their own.

I recall a colony of feral cats living on the campus of a nearby university. A loading dock was at the end of this long tunnel so the drivers could unload and not get wet from the rain. There were 2 huge dumpsters in there and a fairly large group of cats was living under them. I rarely saw them since they would just vanish under the dumpster if anyone came on the dock or drove in. Someone was feeding them since there were a couple of pet bowls on the platform with food and water.

Actually, that place was a pretty safe place for them. They never got wet or really cold from the weather. Nobody could really get to them easily since they hid so far under the dumpsters. I am sure at night, when the dock closed, they were out and about. There were a few kittens from time to time that I saw a glimpse of, but they were completely wild. They never would budge an inch when I got over there trying to coax them out with a sardine.

I wonder what happened to them. God Bless you for caring for these poor kitties!

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, BJBenson. Yes, we were fine. Had to pack up and move to higher ground for quite a few hours -- is all. The heartache and misery going on in Japan is so....beyond words. Take care.

BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 5 years ago from USA

I hope you are safe ,was thinking of you this weekend.

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Mulberry1, thanks for reading this story of mine. That certainly isn't good that there are no spay/neuter programs in the area where you live. By the way, your titles are very diverse (as you mention in your profile page) and I'm looking forward to reading many of your hubs.

mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 5 years ago

The resources you provide for more information are great. Feral cats are a big problem in many places, including the rural area where I live. People like to dump unwanted pets here. I'm glad you have programs for affordable spay/neutering. I'm not so lucky here...

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, Lucky Cats. I will be in touch with you.

Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Hi Pamela. I found you while reading other hubs about cats, rescuing cats and ferals. I share your love and admiration for these beautiful creatures. My friend Al and I have been capturing, spay/neutering, vaccinating ferals for a long time here in SE Kansas and formerly in Napa, California. We continue to do so; just a week ago, we took 17 kittens to a great low cost/no cost spay/neuter clinic near us. We have acreage where we have built indoor/outdoor catteries for all the kitties. Eventually, even the most shy feral cats learn, at least, to trust us and talk to us. We also have 2 Feline Aids kitties and 5 leukemia kitties...they have separate quarters where they live w/the others who share their deseases. Leukemia kitties in one area, Aids cats in another and then there is the "general population." I look forward to reading more of your hubs. Voted UP, Useful and Awesome.

oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Pamela, we need be aware of these things. Thank you for sharing your heart and information with us all. Welcome back!

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thanks, Quill. You have some good titles and I'll be reading some of your hubs for sure.

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"Quill" 6 years ago

Hi Pamela... what a wonderful gift you have and a heart for the lost and forgotten pets all about you. It is a special gift you have. The Father sees your heart as we all do.

Welcome back to Hub Pages... good to see you here again.

Blessings and Hugs

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, Anaya. What a blessing for your little dog that he found you. He must have been suffering so much. You're a brave lady.

There really is an increase in sad things happening to the animals around us, isn't there. And I think it's a sign of the times how many vans are parked in odd places with signs that say, Puppies for Sale. I've even seen dog owners here on Maui standing outside of Walmart with pit bulls in a shopping cart, trying to sell them there as people go in and out of the store. But the saddest sights are the little animals out there on their own, hungry and thirsty, like you've described.

Thank you for reading the hub.

Anaya M. Baker profile image

Anaya M. Baker 6 years ago from North Carolina

Glad I found your hub. The work you are doing is amazing. It can be so discouraging to be one of the few that seems to care for these animals. No matter how hard you try it only seems like a drop in the bucket, but have faith, and know you are doing good work! I firmly believe that one of the true measures of goodness in the world is how we treat animals.

It breaks my heart to see so many animals abandoned, starving, and uncared for. I live in a rural area, and sadly the attitude taken by many of the people around here is that its okay to let animals wander free, or just leave them somewhere if you don't want them. There are constantly dead dogs in the road. It's sickening.

I did take in a stray beagle that was left near my house- they are used for hunting here, but mine had short legs so was likely a bad hunter, and was covered in hundreds of ticks. It was the saddest thing I'd ever seen. Even his ticks had ticks. It took 12 straight hours to remove them all. He is the sweetest thing I ever could have asked for, its hard to believe that such a great dog was unwanted.

I've tried to catch two kittens in the past week, not to keep but just to get them off the street. I wasn't able to get either of them, but one showed up dead in the road the next night. So sad, but reading the story of what you are doing really makes me feel good, that there ARE people out there working to do something about all these unwanted cats and dogs.

Keep up the great work, and thank you!

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