The vaccinations have arrived and the collars and ID tags have been made. With preparations in place, RescuePaws gets started on the cats living at the makeshift cattery at DogChance. The work is difficult, demanding, and full of poop. The team spent two long days chasing and catching the cats, then examining, collaring and vaccinating amidst a volley of hisses, bites and scratches. The typical clinic sterility is replaced with guerilla style vaccinations, climbing around the shelter huts and pushing cats off the beams.
The cats are each given a quick physical examination. The healthy, non-pregnant cats which are old enough all get a vaccination to protect against viral respiratory tract diseases, panleukopaenia, and rabies. Several of the cats have already started to show signs of respiratory tract infections AKA ‘catflu’, with sneezing, teary eyes and suffly sinuses. The use of modified live vaccines will mean that we can achieve better protection in the face of an outbreak. Hopefully our first vaccination doses have come just in the nick of time to contain the disease as much as possible.
There were also cats that did not get their vaccinations. Some of those examined had their shots withheld as vaccines have a much higher risk in pregnant animals, very young animals and in sick animals. Others just simply could not be caught. We hope that these get some degree of protection through herd immunity, where non-vaccinated animals are buffered against contagious disease by having sufficient healthy immunized animals within the population to prevent infections from spreading.
Each vaccinated cat is identified through a collar with a numbered washer tag attached, and a photograph taken to match each cat with their numbers for the database. The cat collar prototype is a ribbon with an elastic band sewn in the middle. The ribbon portion is used to tie the washer with the ID number down and adjust the collar size to fit the cat. The elastic portion allows the cat to stretch the collar for a getaway if it does get caught on anything. The cats seem to take to the collars quite readily.
With the first set of ID tags to go out, we now wait and see how practical our system is in identifying the stray animals. The ID tags correspond to the animal’s records on the database so that we can identify when it was last seen, treated or vaccinated. It remains to be seen how long these collars will stay on the cats.
After their examinations and vaccinations, the Queens and Toms are placed into different rooms as a temporary form of birth control. As the queens get red collars and toms get blue collars, we can quickly assess from a distance if if any cat has managed to sneak into the other room.
If funds, facilities and cat health are permitting, we move on to the next part of the plan to sterilize the toms. In the meanwhile the sick cats get their medications, everyone gets fed and fingers crossed we get on top of the flea and tick problems.