TWO organisations in Bantry came together recently to trap and treat feral cats.
Lions Clubs throughout the world were tasked with joining another local group for a community event and in Bantry the Lions chose to work with Rural Animal Welfare Resources (RAWR).
Thirteen cats were caught on the day and were given a health check, neutered and treated for parasites.
After each trap, neuter and return (TNR) session, healthy cats are returned to the colony they came from, but sick cats may have to be euthanised.
‘This,’ according to Susy Greaves, who is a founder member of RAWR, ‘is a lot kinder than leaving them to die a cold lonely death in the countryside.’
Each year, RAWR deals with approximately 500 cats. ‘We are now in our 12th year as a charity, so that’s a lot of cats,’ she said.
Susy’s husband Francis is secretary of Bantry Bay Lions Club and he and the other members agreed to work with RAWR as part of the initiative.
‘The Lions Club members were there to find out what cat trapping is all about. Now they know what is going on in their community, and new links have been forged between the two organisations.’
According to Susy, there is no such thing as a wild cat in Ireland, they all originate from human habitation and have been dumped as unwanted pets.
Sometimes the cats can be rehomed as ‘barn cats’, and live outdoors, helping to kill rats and mice and keeping rodent problems under control.
Kittens, too, can sometimes be paired up and given new homes as barn cats, which helps to limit the numbers having to go back to the colony. Over time, Susy, said this helps to gradually reduce the numbers of feral cats in the colony.
The success of their programme can be measured in the terms of the distance they now cover.
‘Our original idea was to cover from Skibbereen to Dunmanway and Castletownbere, but now we are going where we are called and we just recently TNR’d 100 cats in Macroom,’ she said.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of feral cats. ‘Vet closures during lockdown, financial difficulties, and the housing crisis, particularly where landlords won’t allow pets, have all played a part in the numbers creeping up,’ she added.
Susy pointed out that cats need more food than just the local vermin to survive, and thankfully there are amazing people in the community who feed them and keep track of the situation, in co-operation with RAWR.
RAWR have food donation boxes in a number of locations including SuperValu in Bantry, Cronin’s in Ballylickey, Ryan’s in Durrus, and the veterinary centre in Bantry.
‘The vets who do all the neutering for RAWR are also very kind,’ said Susy, ‘they give us an extremely good price and work with us to get the job done quickly and efficiently.’
Every few months RAWR also runs a scheme for members of the public to bring their pet cats for neutering for just a tenner.