Many people have interesting hobbies, and mine is becoming increasingly popular. I work with Project Spay Neuter in New Orleans, trapping feral cats, getting them spayed or neutered — what most people call “fixed” — and releasing them back into the community to live out their lives. Last year, eight volunteers were responsible for spaying or neutering 1,436 cats.
“What y’all doin’?” people holler when they see us loaded down with traps, trudging down the street, smelling of tuna and sardines.
“Getting these cats fixed,” we call out. High fives, thank yous, thumbs up and “y’all are doing the work of the Lord” is what we get back.
“Fixed” is universally understood as good, very good. Cat-trapping, called Trap, Neuter Release or TNR, helps address the overpopulation of feral cats by getting them spayed or neutered.
The vets who give us low-cost services also give the cats a rabies vaccination and cut off the tip of their ear, which identifies them as being TNRed. The cats are released back into the neighborhood, where they keep the rodent and roach populations down and keep other cats in surrounding areas from moving in.
My cat-trapping partner and I recently TNRed 16 cats at one house. The neighbors were very appreciative.
They will happily point you in the direction of people who have cat-producing factories in or around their homes. “Mr. Henry down the street has lots of litters, and they get run over in the street. Can you go talk to him?” they will ask.
Every once in a while, you’ll meet someone with lots of cats who gets upset, but you just keep on doing your thing.
Cat trapping is more than a community service.
Think of it as a workout. Some cats are quite hefty, so hauling cats and traps will build your muscles as you load them in and out of your car, to the vet and back for release. You might need to crawl under a house to set a trap, so you get some bending and stretching in your exercise regimen, too!
Overall, this really is a great hobby. You get to know your way around many different neighborhoods, you meet lots of interesting people, you save taxpayers money, you learn the art of self-control and you help your community and the animals.
This is also a much better approach that the “round up and euthanize” practice that animal control has done for years.
Neighbors are happy. And the cats are happy — how would you like to be pregnant three times a year?
There are too many feral cats, and way too many end up in shelters and don’t get adopted.
Nothing to do on a Wednesday night? Are you bored or depressed? Go out trapping. Join a group, start a group or just get out there and get started. It can be dirty, hard work, but you will know that you have directly helped an animal, and you will feel great.
Your calendar will be full, and people will love you. You will be a hero!
Nita Hemeter lives in New Orleans.
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