All over the province there are rescues doing great work to address the problem of feral cat communities.
|Barbara, Bruley & Baxter – KN/BC|
Life for feral cats is hard and usually short; prey may be scarce, predators are always at hand, and humans add to the danger with traffic, poisons and non-humane traps. Nature causes cats to mature rapidly so that the population is maintained – or increased. This was the situation near Kamloops last fall, just outside the city limits, where a colony of cats which had been almost trapped out in 2015 was found to have grown again. A private rescue team went to work to live-trap the inhabitants and get them spayed and neutered, in the hope that the numbers could be got under control permanently.
|Bruley & Arial – LBF|
When this sort of project is applied to a colony like this, various things may happen to the cats. The very youngest will be taken into fosterage (if possible) and given careful handling to get them used to humans. These kittens will often be adopted easily. The adults will be assessed, and either tamed if that is possible, or released in a controlled colony. They will still have to deal with many of the perils of living wild, but the colony caretaker will feed and check on them. The “teens” will vary; with luck, caging and handling will tip the balance to tame them. However, for a small rescue, it requires resources of materials and people that are not always accessible.
RAPS is the Regional Animal Protection Society – and this sort of situation is where we can sometimes help cats outside our own municipality. At the Sanctuary, large cages, attention from staff and volunteers, and time are all factors that may take a spitting kitten to a purring lap-cat.
|Barbara – KN|
Our first Cariboo kittens were a trio of little tabbies – Barbara, Bruley and Baxter. Barbara, in particular, caught our attention, because she has a facial similarity to our loved-and-lost Daisy – probably caused by a mild chromosomal imbalance. All three were initially very wary, but scared-wary rather than aggressive-wary, and they soon got used to handling. Beautiful Baxter – a classic-pattern tabby – did so well with contact that he was adopted by one of our volunteers, and has himself a home and much love. Bruley, who is shyer, had relocated to the back deck of the Double-Wide, and joined the crew who like to lounge around on the mattress.
|Ruff makes a big fluffy mattress for Barbara – KN|
Tiny Barbara has fearlessly ventured out all over the back area; she has joined Sara Lee as quality-control at mealtime, she visits with the tuxedo boys on the deck, and she has made herself totally at home with us. Unfortunately, she is one of those cats that often has a low-grade cold, and frequently needs to have her face cleaned. Barbara really likes other cats, and can often be found snuggling, if she can find a tolerant body to lie on – in fact, eating and sleeping are definitely her favourite things!
|Arial supervising the morning clean-up – KN|
These three were followed to Richmond by two more pretty torbies. Arial settled in fairly quickly, and like Barbara, explores the back courtyard. She is particularly fascinated by the green hosepipe used for watering the gardens; it obviously reminds her of Cariboo snakes, and gets slapped accordingly.
|Aspen – LBF|
Aspen came in about the same time, was caged rather longer than Ariel (again, for upper respiratory care) and was not happy with human attention; she’s another who’s moved to the back deck, where she can hide behind the mattress.
|Sailor – KN|
From the same colony, but obviously with different genetics, is Sailor. Not a big cat, but slim and leggy, Sailor’s tabby/white makes him look very different from the others. Very wary at the beginning, Sailor quickly decided that he likes humans – almost too much, because he gets so excited by attention that he bites. He’s learned that this is not appreciated, and it’s more of a mouthing of fingers these days, but if he were ever to be adopted, it’s a trait that would need to be monitored.
The latest from that colony are Zsa-Zsa and Ursula, two more tiny tabbies. Part of the size factor is genetic – some cats are just naturally smaller. Part of it is malnutrition in both mama and kittens; a mother that is not much more than a kitten herself will probably not have the natural nutrients to grow big healthy kittens. Zsa-Zsa and Ursula are still wary of contact; they will accept a touch, but much more than that will result in a smack – with or without claws. Like “brother” Bruley, they have gravitated to the deck colony of semi-ferals.
|Ursula & ZsaZsa – KN|
We also took in four other kittens, who were rapidly transferred to the Shelter and adopted. Other shelters around the province have also taken cats from the same colony, which has now been completely cleared. We can only hope that nobody goes dumping their unwanted cats there again, to begin the cycle over again.