NEW FAMILY: Belinda Beckett got more than she bargained for when she became auntie to a stray cat colony

LAST New Year when I resolved to do more to help others I never imagined there would be nine of them, all with tails and sharp claws… But no longer with their courting equipment (sorry guys) since I signed up with my walking pal Gillian to become ‘auntie’ to a stray cat colony in Los Barrios.

It’s all part of a drive by the town hall to stem an explosion of pussies galore in the village in the most humane way possible. One adult female can have four kittens a litter and three litters a year – a purr-tentially catastrophic statistic.

STREETWISE: Stray pussies can be feral and dangerous

Trap-Neuter-Return is exactly what it sounds like but first, catch your cat. While some are domestic ‘strays’ others are ferociously feral and it only takes one failed attempt for some of the more streetwise moggies to have the town hall traps sussed.  

But with luck and ‘pussistence’, you finally take your captive to the vet, beating a hasty retreat before she asks you to assist with the tranquiliser shot; you return to collect post-op (funded by the town hall); then, if male, release back into the bushes/street once the anaesthetic has worn off (four or five hours), basking in the glow of that ‘Born Free Moment’ (cue mewsic). Females need to rest up for a few days first so you may need to volunteer your garden shed.

TRAPPED: The cats are wise to the town halls’ tricks to catch them

But the whole idea of being a colony auntie or uncle is that you have gained the cats’ trust, probably by feeding them. Which is how Gillian and I came to strike up a relationship with the bunch of furry ‘pussonalities’ living in the woods where we take our morning walk. Being big softies, we started bringing biscuits … thereby increasing the females’ chances of breeding.  WRONG! You can now get fined if you’re not a registered colony feeder.

But we’re atoning. Two black dudes, a trio of multicoloured females and two out of three ginger toms have all had the chop without too much fuss and ‘cattitude’. Gingernuts, who still has his, is next. We’re working up to Whitey, a fur-midable ‘tigre de Bengal’ – Aranxa the vet’s description of some of the cats that have been brought to her operating table at Troylos. These cats have balls – or used to have… And, along with a handful of other village volunteers – more needed – we’re making a tiny difference.

It does mean we can’t ditch the walk when it’s tanking with rain – there are hungry mouths to feed and our colony has to be monitored and medicated for ear mites and ticks. (Does that make us purramedics?)

But they’re worth it. Why not lobby your own town hall to start a TNR scheme? It could be the start of a mewtiful relationship and you’ll be rewarded with a warm fuzzy feline – no kitten!

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