The wild cats of Ireland
At a Cork farm she visited recently, there were 53 feral cats in the colony and once they were neutered, wormed and checked for disease they were returned to the farm.
There are many other places around Cork where Maggie traps feral cats.
“Cats are very specific – they will go where they can sleep and find food safely. These can be housing estates, businesses, restaurants, hotels and hotels that are happy to accommodate them. keep to keep rats away.
“We could trap between one and 50 weird cats,” Maggie explains.
Community Cats Network works with the Riverview Veterinary Group which covers Cork.
“The vets give us a discount. So the cats come in, they’re in cages, they’re sedated and given a full head and body exam and then an external or internal operation for neutering. It takes about 20 minutes. per cat and the vet subsidizes it heavily and we pay around €45 each,” says Maggie.
The cats are then notified and returned to their original environment and the network remains in contact with the person who feeds them. The ear flip, which helps identify a neutered cat, also allows farmers to register them as a working farm animal, Maggie explains.
She thinks there needs to be a lot more education in the community about cat fertility and the amount of disease that feral cats can transmit.
“From April to October they are in heat, until that time changes. Most of the time a wild female gets pregnant – then she can get pregnant again after 21 days after giving birth. She can have three litters per year and from 14. weeks later, the female kittens are fertile.
“With a dog, people will lock them up while they’re in heat. You can’t do that with a cat,” she says.
Disease and population control is the biggest problem she sees.
“The biggest problem is that they are constantly reproducing and constantly getting sick and dying, so it’s all about welfare and control,” says Maggie.
And although she catches more than 1,000 feral cats a year in Bandon and Kinsale alone, she knows it is a “national problem”.
“In 2019 we trapped 1,136 cats and last year it was 934 but that was because of Covid and we weren’t sure if we were allowed to work for a while. But it’s definitely not only in Cork is it a national problem. I know of smaller groups that practice trapping and neutering in Ireland,” says Maggie.