Winter means lots of spay/neuter. In the "old days" the common belief was that one did not "do TNR" in the winter because trapping was inhumane. At that time, however, I was trapping cats for removal and taming, and it would be inhumane to just leave a lost cat wandering around until spring until it was "warm enough" to trap, so I trapped in winter. It meant wrapping traps, monitoring traps, and often doing lots of late night driving, but it worked, and the cats weren't worse for wear.
Now it is generally understood that if you don't want kittens in the spring, you need to fix cats in the winter, too. Cats are usually held for longer periods for healing in the winter, and may need to be held longer yet if nasty weather arrives just as you wish to release the cat back to their home. Usually (not always) kittens are not involved, however, and it's just a matter of spay/neuter and return...spay/neuter and return...spay/neuter and return.
The problem with the extra holding time is that you then need space and cages, which we have a bit more of that other individuals who do TNR. So this week we are hosting three kitties from Tamarack Farm. Susan (yes, her name is Susan, too) is spay/neutering an entire small trailer park (possibly up to 28 cats!). Some cats she is keeping to find homes for, some very friendly ones she is taking to that county's S.P.C.A. for adoption, and some are being returned, where a resident is feeding them.
She arrived with two huge bruisers and a little torti in tow a few days ago. My job was the simple part (compared to trapping, and paying for the s/n). Drive the cats to the vet, pick them up at the end of the day, and take care of them for 3-7 days (depending on the sex of the cat). Since we use the same vet, it was no problem. AND she insisted on giving me three bags of Science Diet. Since I was down to one bag of food, this was happy news indeed.
So here they are. This first gentleman is actually shy but not feral, and weighs in at 16 pounds. These photos do not do justice as to how huge he and his buddy Blackie (below) are. Notice they are enjoying the nice new beds that just arrived?
This little torti didn't like the ride home in her trap and rubbed her nose raw. This is one reason why traps need to be totally covered, and is the reason I never call cage traps "humane traps." That term leads people to believe that an animal can't be hurt or killed in a cage trap, when in fact they can. I am pretty much alone in this campaign. Every large organization I've contacted says "We see your point and agree with you, but we are going to continue to call them humane traps."
And then there is Blackie. Oh my goodness, what a huge (16 pounds!)sweet baby!
Big, big, big. And very black. And very sweet. Really sweet, not feral at all. If anyone wants to adopt this big fellow, you'd better email fast, because otherwise he must be returned to his trailer park until there is room somewhere to foster him.
These guys are all downstairs in the quarantine area of the barn (not up in the cat facility) and with our present cold snap, I had to get the heat cranking for them.
Because the two boys are friendly, I did not bother with feral cat dens after the first day and gave them beds instead. Tame cats are less like to use the dens, in which case they just take up space in the cage. And given how big these guys are, the last thing they need is something else taking up space in their cages!
16 pounds! For your comparison, the average weight of outdoor cats (based on my records for the cats I have caught over the year) is 6 pounds, with a "healthy" tom usually weighing in at 10, at the most.