On Thursday, August 21, ECC volunteers were returning vaccinated and sterilized cats and kittens to their home territory in a small front yard in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Everything seemed fairly routine: the cats were thrilled to be back in a familiar setting, the caretaker was glad to see the cats were home unharmed, and the reduced number of breeding cats in the neighborhood would inevitably trickle down to mean less homeless companion animals and less cats killed at Animal Care & Control.
ECC volunteers decided they would check out another colony of feral cats that they had heard about, only a block away. While we didn’t see cats immediately, we did see a few cats eventually and made plans to return to start working at Trap-Neuter-Returning the cats in that colony. As we were leaving the community garden, a little kitten caught our eye. As we approached her, we were surprised when she didn’t move. We quickly realized that the kitten we would soon name Hodgepodge was exceptionally sick and possibly blinded by infection. She was so congested and starving that she looked like she was moments from dying.
We quickly scooped her up and got her the assistance she desperately needed: warm compresses to open her infected eyes, antibiotic ointment and a systemic antibiotic to help with the raging upper respiratory infection, fluids, and some kitten formula for some much needed nourishment. While she might not win the fight against her illness, we are hopeful that we can salvage this little kitten and find her a loving home eventually.
Regardless, Hodgepodge was yesterday’s reminder of the importance of spaying and neutering, especially Trap-Neuter-Return work for feral cats. If the Department of Health’s Animal Care & Control would engage in Trap-Neuter-Return (rather then enabling and participating in the antiquated capture and kill mentality of feral cat “control”) and more members of the public would join our efforts, there would be far fewer victims like Hodgepodge, and far less unnecessary suffering and premature death for cats in New York City.
Hodgepodge is just one of the many reminders why more resources need to be targeted towards spaying and neutering feral, stray and free-roaming cats.