It all started in my rural Belgian village, which has more cows than people.  The next farm over from me has a long history, when it comes to cats and dogs, of letting nature take its course. 

Barn_cats For years, the barn cats would have their customary two litters of kittens each year, and the dogs would kill them.  It always happened that way.

Well, cats are intelligent.  One evening, I was sitting in the kitchen with my wife when we observed two dogs from the farm out in our field, throwing something into the air, and throwing it again when it landed.  I went out to investigate.  The dogs stepped back, and I found a filthy red kitten.  I expected it to be wounded, but on bringing it into the kitchen to wash it off and examine it, I found it terrified but whole.  I tested to see if it could eat, and it could.  I kept it in the kitchen.  The next morning, the mother of the kitten came to my farm for a hand out, and saw the kitten through the kitchen door.  She went back to the farm and brought, one after the other, three kittens.  They all needed the attention of a veterinarian for one or another infection.  I gave two to a friend whose cat had died at an advanced age, and kept the other two.  Well, the word got out in the cat environment, and the barn cats concluded that it was safer to have their kittens at my farm.

Two months ago, I counted the cats that appeared for supper.  There were fifteen of them.  I realised that if I let this continue, there would be a hundred by next year.  After some thought, the only good conclusion I could reach was "Operation Nip ‘n' Snip."  I made arrangements with a veterinarian, who was accustomed to handling semi-wild barn cats (not every vet here is up to the task) to help.  She made the price easier for me, as she understood what I was doing.  One after the other I caught them all in a box-trap to bring to her.  Our technique was to open the trap at the end, and put in a pillow to force the cat to the rear of the box-trap, where the vet could give her a shot to sedate her.  The vet kept the female cats in her clinic for three days to heal.  The male cats did not need this interval, and I could recover them the same day. 

My neighbour saw someone dropping cats off from his car at my little farm.  No good deed goes unpunished.  One of the cats I took in was clearly a house cat, and very friendly.  I suppose that she was a casualty to a family that did not want to move with their cat.  I have no words for such people. 

Well, it cost me probably a thousand Euros to do them all, but they are all installed at my farm, and no more kittens.  How I wish that people would be more thoughtful about their animals.  Some places have programmes to handle this, but not my village.  The attitude here is to let nature take its course. 

Jared Kline (Belgium)


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