They may be the most popular companion animal in New Zealand, but cats are not that popular in the wild.
Stray and feral cats are a common problem across the country. The number is estimated at millions. On this scale, they not only face hunger and poor health, but also wreak havoc on our native bird, skink, and geck populations.
And it’s a problem that is difficult to contain, as a single unpaid female cat and her offspring can produce more than 400,000 cats in her lifetime.
A local charity is working to change that by rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehabilitating real strays and feral kittens across Tauranga.
Wild Whiskers was founded in 2018 by Tauranga Vet Nurse Sharna Asplin. While working in the clinic, she noticed strays and wild cats falling through the cracks.
Sharna says the volunteer-led group has two focuses.
“The summer months are kitten season so we take in wild kittens eight weeks and younger as this is the crucial time of socialization. We have an average of 20 carers across Tauranga who will take in the kittens once we are . ” We are sure they will make great pets. We desex, vaccinate, microchip, fled and worm and put them up for adoption.
“During the winter months we shift our focus to TNR – Trap, Neuter, Return. When someone contacts us about a stray, we first make sure they are not in possession by posting on social media, looking for a microchip or one ‘. found cat collar’ if possible and contacted the local veterinary clinic and we neutered the cat before releasing it.
“We will only do TNR when someone is willing to assume guardianship, there is a regular source of food and there is no threat to native wildlife. That regular source of food ensures that cats are less likely to hunt to satisfy their hunger.
“But of course there are circumstances when the cats cannot return to where they came from, or when they are sick and injured, euthanasia is usually the best option for them.”
Wild Whiskers rescued, rehabilitated, and rehabilitated over 100 kittens in the past kitten season from October to April. They also captured, neutered, and returned another 52 adult cats.
Sharna says her work is community focused and people can support her work through a few simple steps.
“Very often I get a message that there is a cat hanging around my house and I want it to be gone, but there is a process we have to go through. As a charity and as a volunteer, we work with the community. They are Community cats, and they are a community problem, so we love to work with our community to find the best solution for them.
“The best way to find a stray is to take pictures, write a description, and post it online. You can also ask neighbors and put down a mailbox flyer. It gets the ball rolling and helps us determine if The Cat is actually owned.
“Just because a cat is thin, has a dirty coat, or takes off as soon as it sees you, doesn’t automatically assume that it is stray or feral. It could be its own cat, old, or having a health problem is not fond of strangers.
“And if you see a cat that has taken a notch off its ear, most likely the left ear, please leave it that way as it is a wildie who is already desexual.”
Wild Whiskers Tauranga received TECT funding for the first time this year to cover their operating costs. Sharna said the $ 4,000 scholarship went a long way toward helping more cats and kittens in our area.
“It made a huge difference to us, especially after last year with Covid and the lockdown. There have been a lot of fundraisers that we couldn’t do so it has had a huge impact on having those funds, especially for vet fees, who can. ” be expensive.
“It is also a great tribute to the work we are doing to be supported by a donor as large as TECT.
“We are also very grateful for all of those who donate and for the support we receive from community groups like Good Neighbor and companies like Pak n Save Tauranga and animal hospitals that donate shares throughout the year. It all helps us out Help the environment and stop. ” the cycle of unwanted litters and the associated health problems. “
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