July 13th, 2016
By Beth Gammie, RedRover Director of Field Services
In mid-June, the RedRover Responders partnered with the Maui Humane Society (MHS) to trap-spay/neuter-return (TNR) free-roaming community cats. For the past year, MHS has provided free spay/neuter clinics to island residents to humanely reduce the population of cats. Island residents have responded, bringing in over a thousand cats. However, to truly tackle the problem of cat overpopulation, trapping is needed—and that’s where the Responders came in.
Our team transported the cats to MHS where we cared for them until they had surgery the next day—and got vaccinated, microchipped, ear-tipped (to indicate it was sterilized) and any other medical treatment that was needed. We kept them an additional night, taking good care of them and monitoring their recovery.
Each cat was released back to the exact area in which it was trapped—but now the cat is vaccinated and spayed or neutered. For the male cats, this means they will engage in less fighting, roaming and noxious spraying. For the females, this of course means they will no longer have litters of kittens.
Over the course of a week, our team trapped 100 cats in over eight targeted locations identified by MHS and local colony caretakers. The entire spay/neuter clinic treated a total of 578 cats—including the 100 we trapped. Since this project is in its second year, most of our trapping was “mop up”—returning to areas that had been trapped before with the goal of getting to 80-100% of the cats in that particular colony. It is this level (80-100%) of sterilization that really impacts cat overpopulation—below that percentage, there are still enough reproducing cats who can produce litter after litter.
Colony caretakers on the island were thrilled with our trapping help. One gentleman, who cared for cats at his recycling business, knew there were a number of cats he’d been unable to trap—and he was noticing more and more kittens. We trapped over 10 cats and kittens at his location. He and his wife met us at their release after surgery and even ended up adopting one of the kittens into their home!
At another location, we were able to trap 100% of the cats cared for by a lovely couple who were becoming overwhelmed caring for these strays.
Kelly Maguire, the Lead Vet Tech for MHS and leader of the spay/neuter clinic program, said, “The RedRover Responders are the unsung heroes. You are out working day and night, first prepping traps, mapping trap location sites, speaking to colony cat feeders and property owners, loading up the vans with traps and supplies and going to multiple locations to set trap lines. After that you still need to load up all the trapped cats, get them back to the shelter and get them set up for the night. The result was spayed and neutered feral community cats returned back to their homes, healthier, better protected, easily identified with an ear tip and microchip that could save their lives in the future. Not only that, but the data and connections made with the cat feeders and property owners are invaluable. The Maui Humane Society thanks you, the community of Maui thanks you, and if the animals could talk then they would thank you, too!”
Our Responders team was privileged to be a part of this lifesaving effort on Maui, and thank all of our volunteers and supporters who make this work possible.