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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.
Tim's Cat Hotel on Maui. Have a look.
- The Cat Hotel - Maui, Hawaii
This is a non-profit company with good solid goals and resources to help the cats of Maui, both domestic and feral. Do have a look at this page and contact Tim if you have any questions.
© 2010 Pamela Kinnaird W