Welcome to our review of 2022, with me, Nick May, Director of NPO CATNIP.
2022 in numbers:
› We worked with local people to TNR 62 cats at 7 main TNR sites, mostly in Fukuoka city.
› The furthest site from our base was Genkai, in Saga, where we TNR'd 8 cats.
› We took in, or rescued 35 cats in total. Most of these were kittens or juveniles.
› We rehomed, or found long term homes for 18 cats.
› We rescued 5 adult street cats from areas that were unsafe.
› 3 kittens were born at the shelter to a TNR cat waiting to go to the vet.
› We currently have 10 people fostering cats for us.
› Cats are being fostered as far away as Beppu and Kumamoto.
› We rescued cats from as far away as Kitakyushu.
› We rehomed cats to as far away as Nakatsu, in Oita Prefecture, Tokyo, and will shortly rehome a cat in Shimonoseki.
As 2023 starts... CATNIP is responsible for 50 cats, including 2 TNR cats who will be released soon.
A quick word about what we mean by cats we are "responsible for". We do not have 50 cats on site.
... are with our excellent foster families - who may be fostering more than one;
... are in long term placements but they are still legally the responsibility of CATNIP;
... are on home-stays - we are responsible for them until they are rehomed;
... are being TNR'd - female TNR and street cats are with us for a week or so usually;
... are street cats with us for a few weeks or months to recover from injury.
We track all these cats and people with bespoke shelter management software.
Someone gets his ears cleaned at the vet...
Our TNR year We TNR'd 62 cats in total, up from 37 last year. We worked with local people in projects in Chayama, Tomooka 2 Chome, Tomooka/Kaneyama danchi, Takamiya, Daimyo and Ijiri [all in and around Fukuoka] and Genkai [Saga prefecture].
You can see the cats we did at these projects by following the links here: TNR Projects
An inquisitive crow at a TNR site
TNR is done mostly in 8 or 9 months of the year. January, February and August tend to be our off months as the cats are either in hiding, or sitting on young kittens. 62 cats means lots and lots (and lots... ) of cleaning. Cats have to be identified, trapped, held until the next vet appointment, taken to and from the vet, held until they have recovered (4 days for females, 1 day for male) then released back in their area. TNR cats are usually very healthy, but it is best to take precautions - so cages, water bowls and toilets and so on have to be cleaned and disinfected between cats.
Some cats ready to release after spaying...
About half of the cats we did this year - mostly female - were TNR'd with the help of tickets from Doubutsu Kikin [Literally "Animal Fund"]. This covers the basic cost of spaying, but not reasonable additional costs charged by the vet for antibiotics and so on. We have a notice on the relevant page for the cat on our website.
We prioritize females and any cat that is injured. This male recovered and is well.
A home-made trap for difficult cats. It is triggered from an iPhone over bluetooth via a Switchbot switch
One street cat gave birth at the shelter while waiting for her vet appointment. Another was brought in with 2 day old kittens. Such cats socialise quickly as they come to trust you with their kittens: they are both available for rehoming.
A street cat and her kittens in someone's garden.
When their eyes opened we transferred them to a cage. There are 7.
Brief respite for a rapidly socialising feral mum ...
Not all releases go to plan. His paw wasn't stuck, he was just confused!
Rehoming Rehoming has been slow this year - we think because of the economy. We currently have a lot of "mostly socialized" 6 month old cats with us, who need to spend time with foster families to become properly socialised. We managed to put 18 cats into permanent homes, or, in the case of 2, long term placements.
A couple of young rescues from a TNR site waiting for a home
Fostering We have got some great new fosterers this year, but are always looking for more. If you think you can foster for us and are not too far away, please have a look here, on our website, for details of what we can offer and how you can help.
Highlights of the year We deal with lots of cats over the course of the year - here are some of the ones that stick in our memory.
Taking feral or semi-feral street cats off the street and trying to find homes for them is fraught with difficulty. Not every cat can be socialised or is suited to an indoor life. They take a huge amount of time and effort. So it is something we do only after a long and detailed assessment of the situation. We really need to be persuaded that it is in the cat's best interest.
In 2022 we took in 3 separate cats from the "Shotengai" area in Tenjin, here in Fukuoka. This is right in the heart of the city and has many high-end restaurants. This makes it an unsafe area for cats as restaurant owners are terrified of being on the receiving end of "guidance" - from the authorities and ultimately being closed down if there is evidence of cats on site. Even restaurant owners who like cats and are sympathetic to their plight have to be very, very careful.
Ta-kun's story. Back in March 2022 Ta-kun - a street cat - got himself trapped in a disused ventilation shaft for 10 days. It was about 15 metres deep - too far for him to get out unaided and tricky to get to. A small team of us managed to extract him, with the help of the building owner. He was terrified and slightly injured.
He had had a pretty scrappy, marginal life in a very unsafe area, so with some misgivings we took him in to have him neutered, blood-tested and vaccinated. He wasn't completely feral as he had had some human contact from a cat feeder, but he was unsocialised, frightened and aggressive and quite hard to deal with.
Nine months later, as the year turns, he is like a different cat: he is friendly and responsive and can be stroked. Long term, we hope to be able to find a good home for him.
He spent the summer snarling at us, but can now be stroked.
Non-kun and Fuku-chan's story. In October and November it became clear that 2 other cats were in a difficult situation in the same area. It took 8 or 9 attempts, over 10 weeks, to catch them both. They are now with us - a male and a female. We are not sure how old they are - between 8 years and 13 years old, we think. Both had to have dental operations recently. Free of pain, they are now slowly socialising. [They are both asleep under my chair as I write.] Thank you very much to the person who is supporting these three cats financially.
They have both had dental surgery and are slowly socialising
Poe's story. Poe was a street cat up in Kitakyushu. She wasn't in great shape, so one of our members trapped her and took her to a local vet. She tested positive for FeLV. [Feline Leukaemia Virus]. The cat was in terrible condition, very thin and with blood streaming from her mouth. The vet in Kitakyushu declined to euthanise her. The member contacted CATNIP as she didn't know what to do. We bounced up the expressway to Kitakyushu, sharpish, and took the cat for assessment to our vet. We always do a second, laboratory blood test for FeLV for confirmation before we euthanize. She was patched up, blood was taken and she was put in one our quarantine cages.
A week later, the results of the blood-test came back - negative for FeLV. We kept her for a month, in isolation and tested her again. That too was negative. So we fed her up as best we could, and she had a dental operation as her mouth wasn't healing. We tested her yet again - still negative.
We called her Poe. She is slowly socialising. [We are not going to post pics of her when she came to us as they are a bit grim...]
Dazaifu cats. Someone we had had previous dealing with approached us and asked us to help them relocate two street cats they were feeding to their apartment in Tokyo when they moved to a new job. Our first instinct was to say "no" - but we always do an assessment of the actual situation.
It turned out that the cats were a mother and daughter and very close. The mother-cat had a bladder condition and had already spent time in the person's apartment for veterinary treatment. The person clearly had a close relationship with both cats and had been feeding them for several years. The only other cat feeder at the site was getting frail and wanted to retire. So - a little doubtfully, we agreed to help - on the condition that the cats were flown up to Tokyo and met at the airport, and were vaccinated first. [They had already been spayed and would not come into contact with other cats, so we did not feel the need to blood-test them.] Catching the daughter cat was a long drawn out saga that occupied most of August. She knew all about traps.... A wild-boar would regularly gate-crash our attempts to catch her. But in the end she was caught, they were both vetted and ultimately despatched by ANA.
And: despite my initial misgivings and the amount of time it all took, it has turned out a great success. We get regular videos and photos of the cats and they seem very happy and well-adjusted in their new home.
Mother and daughter. In July, they were living as street cats...
[Please do not ask us to take a local adult street cat into the shelter - it is probably best where it is - but we will help you treat it if it is injured.]
and Kittens... We handled lots of of kittens too - some newborns with mother. One little orphan came in weighing 185g (5 days or so). She had to be hand-fed every 2 hours.
She murdered my sleep for several weeks. I called her MacBeth. You can see her at the start of the "Appeal" video below.
Shonce. Abandoned in the countryside and found by a kind lady.
Kurumi - from a TNR site.
We did several "full family" kitten rescues - in one case the kittens were 2 days old - in another case a kind person funded us rescuing a family of kittens from the Minato area.
Kitten rescue, mother TNR'd. Minato.
But somehow it is the older, not cute, smelly, aggressive and frightened cats that are the most rewarding to deal with. [MacBeth will be off to a new home, we hope, in the first week of January 2023.]
Lowlights of the year. Very occasionally, cats die. A couple of little kittens didn't make it this year - we did what we could for them, but they died on our watch... We try to learn any lessons.
... and sometimes, when things turn out badly, we just have to live with the decisions we made.
Tabitha's story. "Tabitha" turned out to be a little lad - a young adult cat at one of our TNR sites - a 75 minute drive away.
We think he may have been dumped as he had some socialisation - this gave us pause for thought. So while neutering him, a few weeks ago, we vaccinated him and did a blood-test - he was FIV+. [Cat Aids].
In itself, that is not serious - the cat is not sick and it is transmissable only by deep bites - but it did make him that bit harder to rehome, and would have required some extra precautions at the shelter to make sure he didn't get into any fights. We don't have much free space right now. Rehoming is very slow. The area he came from seemed to be very safe - he was being fed regularly, and monitored too, by people we trusted, and there would be people who would stop by to pet him.
So after a long discussion with the cat-feeder about what was possible we decided to stick with the original plan and release him back to his area, with the option of bringing him back in when we were less busy, or if he was in trouble.
Two weeks later he was dead. A freak car accident. I drove down late that evening to pick his body up - if we didn't give him his penny for the boatman - who would? The next day I took him to the little cat crematorium that is not too far from the shelter.
Then we rang our bell for him. It is an old bell, from England - it dates from about 1780.
And we move on.
Appeal We are running an appeal to raise money to rescue some kittens. We first saw them in late October 2022, when we were called in to spay mum. We decided they were too young, and best left with mum for a few more weeks, but monitored, and we would come back to them when we could.
They are safe for now, being fed by someone in a small office. At our request, that person has tried to socialise them and play with them, to make rehoming easier. We put a little shelter in the garden for them, to get them through the snow. In our appeal video, they look fine - but we have to do something for them soon, and live with the decisions we make.
One option is to TNR them, but we know the mum is FIV negative, so the kittens likely are too. We need to raise the cash to vaccinate them and ultimately blood-test them and rehome them, as they will soon be of a breeding age.
Now isn't a great time for anyone, financially - but if you can spare us a few thousand yen for them, that would be helpful.
Finally - our thank-you's! Thank you to the ladies at all the TNR Projects who work so hard and help to fund the TNR in their area. Thank you to Ng Hui Lin, who runs our Instagram account so well - do please follow us on Instagram, I am told this is very important. Thank you to all the people who support our cats by "Online fostering" them. Thank you to the people who have found abandoned kittens, and make donations to support them. Thank you to all our members. Thank you to our volunteer helpers. And finally, a big thank you to "AC" - they know who they are - for funding a kitten rescue...
And next... The first order of business of 2023 is to update the website with new cat pictures and videos.
Best wishes to you for 2023 - what exciting, fresh new hells will it bring!?