Our feral cat sterilization fund took a hit today, and here at our finca in Mallorca, we are back in animal hospital mode. After months of trying to arrange for Nibbles – one of our family of adopted feral cats – to be neutered, we finally succeeded. The patient – like his mother and siblings before him – is comfortable and enjoying a peaceful rare night indoors, recuperating in our annexe third bedroom.
All the stars were in alignment: we had no other commitments for the day, our veterinary practice was able to undertake the operation at short notice, and – most importantly – Nibbles deigned to arrive at a time that fitted within the practice surgery hours.
Littering the finca
Our adopted feral cat family (did we adopt them, or did they adopt us?) began with a dainty little black kitten we named Jetta. Shortly after becoming a regular visit to our finca (twice a day for food), I noticed that she was putting on weight. It wasn’t long before we realised that, at only around seven months old, poor little Jetta was pregnant. In March 2011, she had a litter of four kittens; three - we named them Beamer, Dusty, and Bear – are still with us, and all are now much larger than their mum.
We decided that, once Jetta had recovered from her pregnancy and had reached a stage when she was no longer nursing the kittens, we would have her sterilized. But we couldn’t act fast enough: she quickly became pregnant again and at the end of July 2011, she produced another five kittens.
Just three of the second litter remain: Nibbles, Chico, and, the only female, Sweetie. She and Chico are twice-a-day visitors, but Nibbles is what our Mallorcan neighbours call a “va y viene” cat – he goes, and then he comes back again. Recently, he’s been showing signs of testosterone overload: getting antsy with his siblings, fighting, and mistaking poor little Shorty – the little ginger kitten that has ingratiated himself into this feline family – for a willing female. I think you get my drift . . .
Someone once gave me an alarming statistic relating to the number of cats that an unneutered female can produce in her lifetime. I can’t remember the figure, but I do remember being horrified.
As much as I love cats, there are already too many ferals around – and their lives can be precarious in the countryside. They’re at risk from hunters, traffic, being poisoned,starvation (but not at our house) and being injured in encounters with other animals over territorial rights. So we took the decision to neuter those feral cats that drift into our lives. Today, it was Nibbles’ turn. Shorty will be relieved . . . until it’s his turn to go under the knife.