I’ve written about my lake cats in the past, but since my monthly donation will be going to these guys this month, I thought I’d give a little more detail.
First, a little backstory on the city’s TNR program. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter, Release. Any resident can trap stray or feral cats and take them into the Humane Society’s clinic. If you don’t have your own trap they will provide one or in some cases send someone out to help you. They are very helpful over the phone or through email. Once the cat is in the clinic, it is spayed or neutered and given the rabies vaccine. Then the cat is released in the same area where it was trapped.
These cats are generally not adoptable. Usually they don’t like people at all. If you come across one who seems more friendly, the Humane Society also has a Barn Buddies program which adopts cats out to be barn kitties. They keep rodent populations down on farms. I love these programs because they recognize the fact that these animals are not living the best lives on their own in the wild and can sometimes become a nuisance to people. Instead of taking them to shelters to be euthanized, they sterilize them and control any further population. Since this program started the population of the Lake Hefner cats has drastically reduced. Here is a video from a few years ago explaining some other problems these kitties face.
Unfortunately I have not found a way to get in contact with the volunteers who initially set up the shelters and feed the bigger colonies. ***UPDATE: I have found an organization called Kitty Wranglers Cat Rescue! I am waiting to hear back and will update as soon as I do!*** The largest colonies are on the east side of the lake and are very well fed and taken care of. You may have seen them while eating at one of the restaurants. I’m sure there are more in other areas that I am unaware of, but for now I have enough responsibility.
My guys are on the south and southwest sides of the lake closer to the golf course. Pictured below are Salem and Arthur. I share responsibility with two other volunteers feeding these guys a few days a week. We all have our own names for them. Since it is hard to tell the sex of spayed/neutered cats, we kind of just have to guess. Arthur had tapeworms in the early spring, so they both got some medicine to clear that up. They are super sweet and let me pet them (kind of unusual for ferals.) If anyone is interested in having two new kitties, please get in touch with me. They definitely need a home where they can be outside most of the time. But Arthur would absolutely love a lap to cuddle on.
The other group started with five cats. I’m down to four now. One of the harsh realities of taking care of these ferals is the fact that they are exposed to the elements 24/7. I have to prepare myself for the worst. Even though they can hunt and generally take care of themselves in the warmer months, the winters are hard. There are also predators and other animals living at the lake. I’ve seen coyotes and raccoons, and even geese that are very aggressive. I try to herd the geese away with oats when I see them encroaching on the cats’ area.
Meet Xena Warrior Princess (below). I called her that because she was clearly the boss of the group even though she was the smallest. She was a victim of the harsh winter. It started with a wound on her neck. I’m guessing it was from a goose, but could have been from anything really. I kept an eye on it for a couple of weeks and noticed it looked like it was getting infected. I tried to trap her twice with no luck. None of the cats in this group are friendly to humans. They will come close when I have food, but not too close. They are most definitely wild ferals. Anyway, I was not able to trap Xena to take her in for treatment. It was cold and very rainy. She went missing a few days later and I later found a crazy amount of blood in one of the structures. I never found her, but it was pretty clear that she was gone.
The rest of the group carried on, although I think one of them mourned for a while. Lone Star took over the leadership role. He is always the first to the bowls and calls to the others that it is dinner time. I haven’t been able to get a picture of all of them together. Below are three of the four. Lone Star (big gray), Missy (medium gray with white nose), Scooter (black). Not pictured is Mister another medium gray.
I take care of this larger group by myself. Occasionally it looks like someone has left some dry food, but it’s very sporadic and I haven’t run into this person. I’m always searching online for information that will lead me to the other volunteers. I haven’t found anything yet. If you’re local and know of any leads, please share! I buy a large bag of dry food and a 40 pack of canned food about once a month. I’ve had people donate food recently and this helps SO much, but I also need monetary donations for things like worm medicine and winter supplies such as hay for bedding and hot hands for water bowls. I’ll add some links below to food.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring about these kitties! Just reading this far means so much to me. Not everyone understands, and that’s ok. But buy some art and you’re not only supporting local business, but also my efforts to give back. I feel like as a human being with an open heart that I have a responsibility to care for any living being who is less fortunate than me. Thank you for supporting that.