This article comes from a group of friends working together to help our “next-door neighbours” – currently living under a hedge!
Many readers will be aware of the incident reported in the press last year, where four tiny, new-born kittens, were found in a council recycling collection bag. Thanks to the kindness of the South Glos collection team, the kittens were placed into care, at Rowe Veterinary Hospital
These fortunate little ones turned out to be the latest members of a rapidly growing colony of around twenty or so stray and feral cats, who were living rough under hedgerows, in our Bradley Stoke area.
Feral cats are the offspring of stray or abandoned pet cats and, as the result of pet owners’ failure to neuter their animals, it allows them to breed, uncontrolled. Unneutered female cats can become pregnant from the age of four months, while a single female can be responsible for 20,000 descendants within five years!
Within our group of female and male cats, the boys would viciously fight over fertile females, inflicting serious wounds on each other. Undernourished young females would become pregnant, at as early as three to four months, physically unable to produce healthy kittens and totally unprepared as to how to care for them. Many kittens would simply be abandoned, to die.
The colony had been of long-term concern to our neighbours. Most were generally upset by the nasty mess the cats made around their homes and gardens. Some had tried to help, by offering food, while others befriended individual cats, taking them into their homes, as pets. Meanwhile, the core colony continued to breed and multiply, at an alarming rate!
Our rescue-plan came together towards the end of 2016. With approval of near neighbours, and the invaluable support of Bristol and Wales Cat Rescue and Cats Protection Bristol, we ventured into our programme of regular night feeds and hopeful captures.
Our activities were initially conducted at night, around where the cats felt safest – between the dustbins, soggy undergrowth and parked-up cars – not a lot of fun, during those dark, wet and chilly winter evenings!
Catching our pussies proved a little easier than we had first imagined, as they were desperately hungry and would happily enter our humane trap to reach some tasty food, almost within minutes of it being set up.
Organising neutering and after care for them proved to be a much harder task, however. Both charities were inundated with cats and had little room for extra occupants. But, with a little juggling, a lot of persuasion and the great support of local people, we have nearly achieved our goal!
Most of our cats have already been adopted into loving homes. Our pregnant females were successfully gathered into safe care, and all gave birth to healthy litters.
This leaves a final five gorgeous pussies, still living out in the open. All have been neutered, they are healthy and in good condition. They have become trusting of human contact, are affectionate and enjoy petting.
With another winter fast approaching, we are urgently seeking people who are experienced with cats and can offer loving, forever homes, to Hamish, Carlos, Gemma, Saffi and Tilly.
• Group contacts: Lee 07790 050187 or Janet 07935 977738
Photos (from top): Hamish; Fergus and Arthur; Breakfast time; Chums together.
This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 26). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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