P. O. Box 902, Hudson, New York 12534
The Ferals Get a New Home
(To enlarge the photos, click on the photos or links)
October 22, 2002
For more than three years, Animalkind was allowed the use of an abandoned factory to shelter unwanted feral cats that could not be returned to their original location where they were trapped after spay/neuter and vaccination. Over the course of three years, nearly 100 spay/neutered cats were taken to this “shelter”. Somewhere between 50-60 still remain without confinement, and some of these are from the original lot first taken there. Volunteers feed the cats on a daily basis, whether rain or snow and subzero temperatures. (The ferals old home)
But, as time has passed, the owners of the property not too unexpectedly were advised by their insurance company that allowing people to enter the factory presented a risk. Animalkind received an “eviction notice”, saying that cats could no longer be housed or fed at this location.
(Shannon and Katrin loading bales of hay into the new shelter)
But fate was kind, and the owners of the adjacent property stepped up to the plate and allowed Animalkind to create a winter shelter for the soon-to-be displaced residents of the old factory. The new shelter is an old trailer (freight-type, not mobile home) with insulated sides, top and bottom. But, more heat-retaining material was needed, and Animalkind volunteers obtained van, truck and trailer loads of hay bales to provide for the comfort of the new residents.
When “work” is completed, one of the rear doors will be closed, and a tarp will close off the other half, but still allow the cats easy access. Skirting will be placed around the base.
(Chip and Shannon loading more hay)
The hay was placed over the floor of the trailer, with some bales left intact. This will help the cats retain body heat in the coming winter. Fresh food and water will continue to be provided by Animalkind volunteers for the 40-50 cats that will frequent this place. Solar heat on sunny winter days will go a long way to providing warmth, but the hay and the trailer’s insulated floor, walls and roof will be needed for nighttime and for when the winter’s freeze sets in.
And…now the task of inducing 40-50 feral cats to leave their prior home for new digs …. (Katrin starts the parade)
Some of these cats have been at the prior shelter since its inception over three years ago. And with the exception of two particularly bold ones, all are as feral as the day they were originally trapped and taken to the old factory shelter.
Trapping this many cats, now quite independent and wily, was out of the question. Since the new location is but 500-600 yards away (and around a corner), the plan became to lure the cats with a trail of food. It was not known how many would venture forth at first, but a courageous few began to lead the way.
A private road separates the old factory shelter from the new truck trailer shelter, and the cats must cross it to get to their new home. Fortunately, there is little traffic, and the people who work in the area are very protective of the colony. (Katrin and Shannon lead the kitty parade)
Gradually, more cats came to join the “parade”, and soon there were more than ten following the food “trail”.
The questions became -- Would they cross the road? Would they “break” the food trail by eating sections out of the trail?
The more cautious cats began to take an interest in what the bolder cats were up to and came out from hiding to follow the “leaders” on their march to the new location. (More cats join the parade)
Sooner than even our most optimistic prediction, the “lead” cat reached the ramp to the new shelter, encouraged by the calls of the Animalkind volunteers and the food trail.
Of course, only the most fragrant and desirable of foods were selected for this journey with a “banquet” bonus at the new home where they will be fed from now on. No further food will be placed at the old location where it had been for three years. This will be a major change for the older residents.
(Animalkind volunteer, Sheffield, greets the first arrival)
In the following days and weeks, the success of the move will be decided. Many of the ferals are nocturnal and extremely timid. Food trails will continue to be left out, and hopefully in time, all but the most reluctant straggler will find its way to the new shelter before the winter freeze sets in.
And….of course, this is not a permanent solution. The trailer is merely temporary, even if the shelter relocation is successful for a few years. The next move is not likely to be so convenient and we hope we are prepared at that time with a far more appropriate shelter and means of saving the unwanted strays and ferals. In the meantime, our spay/neuter programs need all the resources and attention we can give.
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Animalkind Inc.is a not-for-profit welfare, protection, rescue, rights organization dedicated to the compassionate care and humane population control of abandoned, feral and stray cats in Hudson, New York (Columbia County) and the surrounding area. We promote non-lethal prevention of an unwanted litter or litters of kittens through trap, spay, neuter, release (return), (tnr, TNR). An altered cat or kitten is released into a managed colony. Felines living in such colonies are assured kind daily care. Adoption to homes providing love and care for cats and kittens is encouraged. We also provide low or no cost spaying and neutering assistance to low income pet owners and help increase public awareness and education through the media, special events, and publications to promote compassion, respect, and kindness towards all animals (d-10).
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