Feral Cat Rescue at Ripples
A brief update: we’re still trying to go off-grid, and will update y’all with information as soon as we have it. We’ve been living at the Historic Johnson Farm on Kessler Mountain since October 2015, which is protected by a conservation easement held by the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust since January 2017. Our online educational center (with tips, tutorials, resources…) is still a work in progress, but instead of using our future house as a nature center, we’re directing that energy towards the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom and Nature Center located at 1725 S. Smokehouse Trail in Fayetteville. Free public open houses started in June and occur every 3rd Saturday monthly, so go check it out!
Success and Sadness with Feral Cat Rescue
Last month, Ryan & I were super busy with a “TNR” program in collaboration with Washington County Animal Shelter. Get informed about the science and the controversy of this program here.
We socialize and locate adoptive homes for feral kittens & cats so they won’t have to be exposed to deadly diseases and daily suffering on the farm. Preferably, these adopted kittens and cats would be indoor-only, vaccinated, and tested for things like Feline Leukemia by their new owners (we strongly encourage this). We Trap-Neuter (or Spay) -Return (TNR) feral cats that aren’t adoptable due to being too wild or unsocialized to humans. These ferals are vaccinated and screened for deadly diseases before their release. This helps the ecology here on Kessler Mountain by reducing domestic-cat-to-wildlife disease spread as well as cat-to-cat disease spread, and reduces “for fun” killing of birds, chipmunks, woodpeckers and more (we witness and photograph this if you’re in doubt about whether cats kill wildlife, and rehabilitate any caught wildlife when possible).
A careful observer can witness outdoor cats (without any medical care) suffering in dozens of ways, from being hit by cars to dying from preventable diseases. Deeply loving cats means thinking about what’s best for the cat instead of what’s convenient for people. And indoor-cat boredom is much more easily prevented than death by Bobcat Fever from a tick bite, which we’ve witnessed 3 times this spring.
Ideally, this would be a feral-cat-free conservation area with 100% of the cats adopted into loving homes, but our compromise with the owner is every feral cat either being adopted or vaccinated and fixed, to live out the remainder of its life here until this is a feral-cat-free conservation area. Until that day, the owner asked us to feed her feral cats when she’s not home. So what results do we have thus far?
Since last year, we’ve found adoptive homes for 1 cat and 2 kittens, socialized a total of 6 kittens and 3 cats, were unable to stop the deaths of 3 kittens, and successfully trapped two adult semi-socialized females. One kitten from last year never found a home although he’s highly socialized, and this spring he disappeared. With his great personality, it’s possible someone picked him up. Just as likely he’s dead, though. That leaves one feral male who doesn’t even eat cat food at the farmhouse, and one feral female who is fixed, vaccinated, and healthy. In total, we’ve worked with 9 cats or kittens and the farm is down to 2. We’ll try to keep it that way.
We had a successful kitten adoption last month thanks to a wonderful rescuer! The other 3 kittens in the litter died of Bobcat Fever, spread through a tick bite. Rescue work is hard work, physically and emotionally. Harder work is doing nothing and seeing both wildlife and cats needlessly suffer horrible deaths, then cleaning up their remains or burying them. It’s all a part of Ripples: making a difference with our choices. We choose to love cats and wildlife and give them the best lives they can have, in collaboration with area non-profits.
Washington County Animal Shelter
Humane Society of the Ozarks TNR