Tag Archives: TNR

Photo Friday: Puck’s Profile

Puck is a handsome cat but he is also difficult to photograph. As a result, he is a bit unrepresented on my Photo Friday posts. When I do manage to capture a good image of him, I feel like sharing.

black cat profile

On another note, the stray and her kittens that I wrote about in my last two posts may, or may not, be gone. I saw them last Sunday evening but since then the food I left out went uneaten until I noticed the bowl was empty yesterday morning, just when I was about to give up. I put more food in the bowl that morning and when I returned from work, the bowl was half eaten. Who, or what, ate it I don’t know.

My wife finally got a call from Meow Now who said they don’t catch kittens before the are old enough to be fixed, about eight weeks or so, because they are a TNVR organization and have no place to hold them. Rose said they were about three to five weeks. I think they might be older but I have little experience with young kittens Can someone help give me a better estimate. Please look at the picture on this blog post and tell me what you think.


Ferals at Our Door

About a month ago I saw a small tabby cat as I drove around the corner and onto my street. I thought she might be a stray or feral because she was somewhat skinny and had no collar. I didn’t see her again until last Tuesday or Wednesday evening.

After I arrived home from work and fed the cats, I walked out the door to put some laundry in the washer and a startled cat ran from my steps to the end of my driveway and turned to look at me. I said a few soothings words and she stayed for a few seconds but then disappeared around the corner. After I finished with the clothes I walked out of the shed and saw the cat was at my back stairs again. I again scared her and she ran away.

I put a handful of dry cat food on a plate and put it outside in case she came back. When I talked to my wife that night, who was away on business, I told her about the stray cat. “Don’t feed him,” she said. “He will spray the outside of our house.”

“I won’t,” I said without hesitation. I didn’t need to, I thought. The food was already out there. The next morning it was gone.

Yesterday morning I put our trash outside the back door. Normally I take it to the trash can but since we were planning on leaving soon I thought letting it sit out there for twenty minutes was better than fighting with the cats to get out and then back in again. Not long after that Frankie was going nuts about something he was seeing out the window. Rose looked out and saw a mother cat and two kittens outside our back door. She called to me to come and take a look.

I looked out the window and saw the same tabby cat I saw before with what looked like two Siamese kittens. “That’s strange,” I said. “It looks like she has Siamese kittens.”

“You need to put some food out for them,” Rose said. “Those kittens are probably hungry.” With that, I put some food on a paper plate and brought it outside. When I got outside the two kittens scurried under the house while the mother stayed where she was. I put the food down and picked up the trash, which now had holes in it. I wanted to throw it away but doing so required me to walk in the direction of the kittens and Mama made sure I knew, with her raised hair and hissing, that I should probably make other plans. I decided she was right and put the bag down and went inside.

I quickly grabbed my camera and slowly and quietly opened the window on the door just a crack so I could take pictures. It wasn’t quiet enough as she knew I was there.

Feral cat

It also didn’t help that Frankie grabbed on to the edge of the window and pulled himself up like a bodybuilder so he could peek out the window.

A few minutes later one of the kittens joined Mom at the plate of food but did not eat any. I tried to take pictures through the open crack in the window and at an angle through the window screen. feral tabby cat and Siamese kitten

feral tabby cat and Siamese kitten

The pictures came out better than expected. The last one even shows that the kitten does indeed look Siamese, very similar to Floki when we adopted him. Siamese offspring from a tabby must be rare for feral cats since there are not many feral Siamese cats out there. In addition, the Siamese features must be quite dominant for a kitten to look like this from a tabby mother.

Rose wanted to do something to help and we knew from past experiences that The SPCA would rent traps cheap but we didn’t know how to trap a cat and two kittens at the same time. She decided to call the community office here and left a message with them.  I thought that was a bad idea since they would probably call Animal Control.

After calling the office, Rose Called the local SPCA who told her about the traps. The woman on the phone said that the kittens often follow the mother into the trap but I didn’t believe that since I had seen the mother without the kittens at least twice.

I then called Suncoast Animal League (where I once volunteered for a short time) who gave me the number of Meow Now, A TNVR organization. I called them and left a message but have not yet heard back from them.

We were away from home for several hours on Saturday and when we returned the dry food I left out was gone. I put more food out and Rose saw the mother cat and one kitten at the food bowl that evening. I moved it closer to the house so the neighbors wouldn’t see it but that also made it more difficult for me to see when the cats were there.

This morning I put wet food out for them in addition to dry and was disappointed that the cats didn’t show up before we left for the beach. When we returned I expected to see an empty food bowl but the only creatures to get a meal were about a hundred ants.

Now I can’t help worry that something happened to them. I hope they weren’t caught by the county animal control. That might be good for the kittens but I doubt the mom would fare well. On the other hand, there may be other people who are putting food out as well and our food is not needed as much. Who knows?


Maybe Some Cats Shouldn’t be “Rescued”

If you have ever looked for a cat to adopt on Petfinder or the website of your local shelter, you may have noticed that a fair amount of them have been ear-tipped. If you don’t know what that is, when a stray or feral cat is captured and fixed, the vet will remove the tip of one ear or put a notch in one ear to show that the cat has already been fixed.

Ear “tipping” or “notching” is usually done for the Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) programs but sometimes a well-meaning person will trap a cat that is friendly to humans and not release it but put it up for adoption. I believe that is what happened to Frankie, although we know nothing about his history. We do know he has a notch in his ear indicating he was probably captured as a feral, perhaps at a young age.

We know the history of Puck, who was a bottle-fed kitten. Puck will go outside if given the opportunity but he gets nervous easy and then wants to go back inside.

I found Chris in the shelter when he was around five months old. I know he came from another shelter but I don’t know his history before that. I do know Chris loves going outside but he also stays close to home.

Frankie is not like either one of them. He is constantly crying at the door to go out and, while he is not as good about slipping out the door as Chris is, he will get past me sometimes. When that happens, he immediately starts exploring the neighborhood. If I get close enough to catch him, he runs or he finds a car to hide under.

When I put a harness on Frankie and walk him, he tends to travel in one direction. I know most cats have a territory that is smaller than the area that Frankie takes me through. I usually have to coax him to travel in a direction toward home instead of away. The last few outings I stayed out with him a long time to see if he would eventually make his way back home. He didn’t.

cat Frankie on harness and leash

I can’t help but wonder if he would ever want to come home if he escaped and I lost track of him. He might also travel too far and get lost. Frankie has too much of a wild cat in him and I wonder if he wouldn’t have been happier if he was allowed to stay outside in a TNR colony.

Something happened Tuesday night that showed just how wild Frankie still is. We ordered take-out from a nearby Italian restaurant. When the driver arrived, I shut the slider between the house and Florida room, locking the cats in the house and allowing me to open the door without worrying about Frankie or Chris running out.

Unknown to me, Frankie was in the Florida room with me and ran outside when I opened the door. It was dark outside and I had no shoes on. Our grass is loaded with little stickers called sand spurs. They are painful to step on so I quickly paid the delivery driver and ran inside to get my shoes. When I got out, the driver had followed Frankie behind the house to our left and managed to herd him back toward me. Frankie ran right up to our door and I thought the driver scared him enough to want to go back inside but that was not the case.

He continued around to the other side of our house and ran under Rose’s car. The two of us looked for him under the car but it was too dark so I pulled my little key-chain flashlight out of my pocket and looked under our vehicles. He was not there. That is when the driver noticed him near the front door of the house to our right.

I looked over in that direction and saw him standing there with something hanging from his mouth. It took me a couple of seconds to realize what I was seeing and then said, “Oh my God! He has a rabbit!”

I tried to grab Frankie and get him to release his catch but he eluded me and ended up back under Rose’s car. The two of us worked at him from opposite sides of the car, at which point he let go of the bunny and crawled out from under the car. That was when I grabbed Frankie and picked him up while the driver grabbed the rabbit and checked out his injuries.

He seemed uninjured except for a small gash on the back of his neck but he was having trouble breathing. The driver tried to stroke his neck to stimulate breathing but it was soon too late for the rabbit.

After that incident, on Friday, Rose decided to take Frankie for a walk. I hurt my back Thanksgiving morning and was not up to the task so Rose decided that Frankie needed to get out more. She was out with him for a long time and when she returned she said “Never again!” Frankie managed to force his way out of the harness and led her on a chase around the neighborhood.

Those incidents made me wonder whether Frankie’s cushy lifestyle in our home is really what’s best for him. Don’t worry. I’m not going to release Frankie into the wild. In fact, I am watching him now lying upside-down on a soft blanket on the sofa.

cats Chris and Frankie

He seems to enjoy the good life as much as the wild life but I can’t help wonder how many other cats have been “rescued” that may have been better off left alone. I also wonder how many cats were never adopted because a “wild” cat was adopted in their place. What do you think? Is it wrong to leave a feral outside even if it is friendly towards humans?

Feral Cats at Work

We have feral cats that hang out behind where I work. I don’t see them very often and when I do it is from a distance. There is a large fenced in area that has been abandoned for about a year now, although the cats have been there much longer. Because seeing the cats is rare, I thought there was no colony of cats, just a few loners who’s territories intersect near my work. If there was a colony, I thought, my work is at the outside of their territory.

About a month ago I saw a cat walking the perimeter of the fence behind my work and I thought maybe the cat has a routine. As an experiment, I brought some food to work and put a handful near the fence, on a plastic Verizon cover. By the end of the day the food was gone so I decided to continue to put food out.

I don’t want to feel responsible for these cats because I only work four days a week, but I thought a handful of food three times a week would be more like a treat for them. I have been doing that for a month now, never seeing the cat, or cats, that have been eating it.

Yesterday morning, to my surprise, I went out with the food and surprised a beautiful feral cat that was walking across our parking lot. I don’t remember if it was the same cat I saw last month, but it could be. It immediately ran to the tall grass to take cover. I said some friendly words to it and then set down the food and went back inside, but I peeked out the door and watched the cat walk toward the food. I then quietly walked back outside and saw the cat eating the food I put out.

Feral cat

Later I went out again to empty the trash and saw the cat not far from the dumpster, watching me. He made no attempt to run away as a dumped the trash inside. 20150706_Feral cat_1809I went back inside and about ten minutes later I decided to bring out another handful of food. My hope was that the cat would see me as a friend, but when I got outside, a man on a riding lawn mower was outside and, of course, the cat was gone.

As I edited these pictures, I noticed the cat had its ear tipped, which means he is probably part of a TNR program. If that is the case, perhaps there is a colony nearby and perhaps someone is looking after them. I hope so.

Feral Cat Ear Notching

We know nothing about Frankie’s back story. We adopted him at Petsmart from The Pinellas County Animal Services. The person at Petsmart did not know anything about him so we just didn’t think much about it, although I did send a Facebook message to the animal services with his reference number but, even though they have an active Facebook page, I got no response.

Our cat Frankie

I couldn’t help being perplexed, though, by the ear notch on his right ear. I have heard about ear notching before. It is the method of cutting a notch in a cat’s ear after spaying or Neutering. Sometimes it is called ear tipping when they remove about a centimeter off the tip of the ear.

Ear notched cat

Ear tipped cat

Ear notching or tipping is mostly done to feral cats involved in a Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program. It identifies that they have been fixed so they are not trapped again and put under the knife a second time. I prefer the notch because it is less disfiguring but a ear-tipped cat is easier to identify from a distance. It is also more likely that a notch could be mistaken for an injury or vice versa.

The notch got me thinking. If he was a feral cat, why is he so friendly? Of course, not all notched cats are feral, some are strays, but if Frankie was caught as a stray with the intention of fixing him for adoption, why would they notch his ear? Perhaps it isn’t a notch. After all, it looks more like a slit than a triangular notch.

Our cat Frankie's ear notch

Frankie’s ear notch

I did a little research and found that ear tipping on the left ear is most common but there is no universal standard. Frankie’s quasi notch is on his right ear. That led me to believe it was more likely the result of a fight and didn’t think about it again until we visited my mother-in-law.

She has two cats. One of them is a gold cat named pumpkin that has the same slit on his right ear. Coincidence? Possibly. It is also possible that in this area, a small sliver of a notch in the right ear is how some vets do it.

Pumpkin the cat


I tried to do a Google search to see what the standard is where I live on the west coast of Tampa Bay, Florida, but I found nothing concrete. I searched Petfinder for cats in my area and found four or five with a tipped ear but none with a notch. So the mystery remains. It doesn’t really matter where Frankie comes from and if I never find out, I won’t care. I just can’t help loving a good mystery.

Do you have a cat that has been notched or tipped? Do you know what is common where you live? I’d like to hear about it.