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Operation Catnip

Frank Overstreet's had these kitties spayed, neutered, vaccinated and earmarked courtesy of NC State University and Operation CatNip
Frank Overstreet's feral kitties not long after being taken care of by Operation CatNip and the NC State college of veterinary medicine
Click image to enlarge.

One day, a black adult cat showed up at my house looking as if it may have been abandoned but was otherwise in good condition. I put some food out and it began hanging around the house. It was quite skittish and prefered to eat alone. After a few weeks, it became apparent that the cat was pregnant. She had her litter beneath the steps of the deck and someone recommended that I take all of them to Operation CatNip and have the entire family fixed.

I contacted the organization and it just so happened that the college of veterinary medicine at NC State University in Raleigh was about to conduct a free spay/neuter/vaccinate/ear clip program in conjunction with Operation CatNip. The way the program works is that in return for a promise to care for the feral cat, Operation CatNip will provide spay/neuter/vaccination and clip a piece off the left ear to designate it as being under someones care. The ear clipping does no harm to the cat but does identify it as being under someones care. As long as the cat appears to be in good condition, animal control officers upon seeing the clipped left ear will leave it alone even though it is uncollared. I do not recall being charged any fee but I don't know if that's the rule or an exception.

I arranged to borrow enough traps via an Operation Catnip volunteer to catch each cat. I was told to bait each trap with a can of tuna fish in oil.

Frank Overstreet's adopted feral cats.
Frank Overstreet's adopted cats spayed, neutered, vaccinated and earmarked courtesy of Operation Catnip in Raleigh and the College of Veterinary Medicine at NC State University.
Click image to enlarge.

The spay/neuter program was on a Saturday and I was advised to set the traps out Thursday because if I missed any of the cats Thursday, I'd still have a chance to trap the remaining ones between Friday and Saturday morning. So, I set the traps out Thursday morning before I left for work and when I got home, there was a cat in each trap.

Saturday morning, I took them down to the school of veterinary medicine at NC State University and dropped them off. I was told to come back late in the afternoon for them.

When I came to pick them up, each was in it's trap. They all looked woozy and weren't too sure about what just happened.

None of them showed any ill effects of the spay/neuter. Before leaving for work, I would put some food out and when I came home at night, I'd put more food out, count them and spend a little time with them.

In the wild, litter mortality is high. Week by week, I noticed fewer showing up in the evening. After about a week of not seeing a particular kitten, I'd assume some sort of predator got it. Before too long, none of them were showing up but I did notice one of them across the street from time to time and assumed the neighbors kids took it in. Eventually, I never saw that one anymore. A couple of years later, I was talking to the lady directly across the street from me and she was telling me about a cat that lives behind her house which she puts food out for. She said it's grey, has white paws, a white spot on its chest and a nip out of an ear at which point I recognized it as the one I occasionally saw across the street and assumed another neighbors kids had adopted. So, one kitten apparently survived out of the litter and went on to live many years under the adoptive care of the lady across the street from me.

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