~~In a quiet neighborhood in the west side of Pittsfield, Animal DREAMS volunteers Amber and her husband Prashad, were visiting Amber’s family home. Looking out the window, they saw a kitten pop its head out from under a trailer in the overgrown lawn next door. That moment set off a series of events that changed the lives of a whole colony of cats who lived in the neighborhood.
It only takes a few unfixed cats roaming the streets to create a crisis-level cat problem in an area, and that’s what had happened here. But thanks to several donors who chipped in the $70 it takes to fix each cat, Animal Dreams trappers Amber and Prashad were able to work to solve the problem.
They discovered that one person had been feeding the cats but had recently stopped because others in the neighborhood were pressuring them to not encourage their presence. It’s not uncommon for the stress level in a community to rise when there’s a cat overpopulation problem that sees no end. Amber and Prashad knocked on doors, and explained TNR (Trap Neuter Return) as a solution to their problem. The caretaker agreed to continue caring for the cats, and over a series of about 5 days, the volunteers trapped four adults and five kittens.
Two kittens were young but eating on their own. Three of the kittens were already on their way to being feral but were still young enough to be socialized. This meant that all of the kittens could be brought to a shelter to be neutered and adopted. The four adults , one male and three female, were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, treated for parasites, and ear-tipped (the universal sign that a community cat has been fixed). Those cats were feral and happy to be returned to the area they know as home. Soon we will bring a cat shelter to the area so they’ll have a warm place to be in the winter.
TNR, the mission of Animal DREAMS, is an important one for Berkshire County’s most challenged and impoverished felines and the communities they live in. There are ways you can help: Feed, water and shelter cats who show up in your yard; Fund the spay or neuter of feral or un-owned cats in your area even though they don’t belong to you; Become an Animal DREAMS volunteer; Donate to Animal DREAMS so that more feral cats can be spayed and neutered. You’d be doing a great service to the cats and also to the people in our community.
Photos Outdoor photo: This feral mother cat, less than a year old herself, was raising her kittens outside
Black kitten: Young feral kittens try their best to look ferocious, but it takes a very short time for them to enjoy the company of people
Black and white kitten: With intensive socialization, this seven-week old kitten became very friendly