Cat Napping in the Neighborhood

Sorry, this is a long post, but it is a story I want to tell fairly completely.

Our family cat Sammie is about 10 years old, on the small size, and pretty skittish. She has always been a bit aloof, as she sometimes does not let even Sherie and I approach her easily. But she has survived well for 10 years; the first few in Benicia at Sherie’s house, and then in Albany when we moved in together. She goes outside in the morning to roam the back yards of our house and some neighbors, seldom going to the street. And she comes in when called in the evening to eat and to sleep indoors.

Anyway, the past couple months she and our other cat had been acting strange when called in at evening feeding time: they were shy to come in, and did not act hungry. Then, on May 10, Sammie did not come home at night at all. No answer to our calls; Sherie and I looked around, and Sherie stayed up all night watching and listening. Sherie made some Lost Cat signs and posted them in the neighborhood. But still no Sammie the next morning.

On the afternoon of the next day (a Monday) Sherie knocked on some doors in the neighboring houses. Sure enough, the tenant two doors down (where Sammie likes to hang out in the sunny backyard) said that her landlady (Brigitte Kershaw) traps feral cats, and the tenant thought that Sammie might have been trapped in her backyard. When Sherie contacted the landlady’s husband (Tony Kershaw). You bet, Sammie had been trapped. They had been baiting the cats with food for weeks, and they caught Sammie when they had an appointment at a vet to have her fixed and inoculated.  (Of course, she was already fixed and innoculated!)

Although we cannot keep a collar on her as she always wrestles one off within hours, Sammie does not look feral. She is clean, has healthy eyes and coat, and is an athletic healthy weight. And most folks who live in the neighborhood know her by sight. But the do-gooder landlady did not talk to the neighbors before trying to catch the cat. In fact, she did not heed the lost cat sign on the tree in front of her house when she took the cat from the garage of that house to the car for the trip to the vet.

Even worse, because she is a regular feral cat trapper, her veterinary partner (Dr Lee Prutton, D.V.M at Abbey Pet Hospital) did not scan the cat for a microchip. Now Sammie is chipped; any vet could have her name and address within minutes of seeing her in the office (see this link.) But to save time and money, he did not scan her, but “trusted” his partner in crime to vouch that the cat was feral. He anesthized the cat, trimmed off the top of her ear, gave her shots, and was getting ready to neuter her when he saw her existing abdominal scar.

Sammie was delivered home that evening, thanks to our neighbor getting her landlord’s contact info to us. But not without lots of grief, and some lessons learned:

  • ALL vets should scan ALL cats suspected of being strays EVERY time they see them.
  • ALL volunteers should not trap cats in neighborhoods unless invited by residents.
  • ALL volunteers should talk to neighbors within reasonable distances of trapped cats EVERY time they trap one.

If Dr Prutton had been more understanding to Sherie when confronted that he violated a basic procedure when he did not scan Sammie, she and I might feel differently. But he has ignored a basic procedure with our cat, and does not plan to change his ways when handling “ferals.” We recommend that you find other vets to support.

I have asked the people at the Feral Cat Foundation to modify their website to instruct all volunteers about the points taken above. I hope they do; I also hope they talk sense into the Kershaws to no longer trap cats in neighborhoods without the express invitation of the residents. And the Fix Our Ferals organization, for which the Kershaws are volunteers, already instucts members to talk to neighbors before trapping cats in neighborhoods.

By the way, now that the Kershaws no longer feed our cats in the backyard of their tenants house (and who knows how many rodents, racoons, strays, etc.), our cats are much happier and less skittish in the evening when they come in.


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