As I write this column I’m just finishing up a trapping job at a local vineyard, the same job that netted the two white cats with skin cancer on their ears featured in my last column. To date, 27 cats and kittens have been caught and there are still two left.
I started trapping July 30th. Reportedly there were 15 kittens and 3 adults on the property and occasionally a large fluffy orange “daddy” that came cruising by. Some of them were friendly, having interacted with the people who lived there, so I was able to pull 13 out right away including 1 kitten dead from flea anemia. A second one had to be put down because, “She was so anemic her blood wasn’t even red,” according to the vet tech.
All of the cats were crawling with fleas, and I treated as many as I could on site before I took them to the waiting foster families. These nasty parasites will pick one kitten in a litter, suck it dry and abandon it when there is nothing left to feed on. Then they move on to the next kitten and repeat the gruesome process; a lingering and painful death.
By my math there should have been only 3 left to trap. That evening as I set up I saw cats and kittens dashing across the lawns in the dusk and my heart sank. This job was going to take longer than I thought.
It’s been 3 weeks now, and the last kitten and the elusive daddy are still out there. Both are trap shy, having watched the rest of the colony disappear. I witnessed the last 2 little kittens cry for their lost littermates and mothers. It was heartbreaking.
Had the people on the property called us before the situation got out of and their yards were teeming with cats and fleas, it would have been easy and quick to trap and “fix” half a dozen. Spending 3 weeks of early mornings and late evenings trying to clean up this mess has taken its toll on me physically and mentally.
Please, do not wait to call for help if there are breeding cats in your yard! A single breeding pair can turn into a dozen cats in just one season!