|3/6/2018 1:45:00 PM|
rescues feral cats
|In honor of Rex, the semi-feral cat who passed away due to an upper respiratory infection.|
photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
By Jodi Schneider McNameeDayton Lanphear, a landscaper and longtime resident of Sisters, opened his heart and home to 20 young feral cats.
The story unfolded last December when Lanphear noticed an abundance of young cats hanging around the property he was employed to clean up near Fryrear Road.
"An elderly woman lived in a single-wide mobile home, and her son was moving her to another home and also moving the mobile home away from the area," Lanphear said.
Lanphear has been around animals his whole life and noticed that most of cats were feral.
"Most of the cats wouldn't let you near them but I think they were all related. They knew each other and were content around each other," he said.
Feral cats are quite sociable within their colony, forming close friendships with others while rearing their young.
"The days went by and I would show up and work for a few hours. I brought treats for the cats that I would leave in the back of my truck with my tailgate down. And some of the cats would climb in and eat the treats as I was working," Lanphear said.
Lanphear came to the realization that the elderly lady wasn't the only one going to lose her home; these cats were also losing theirs.
"I just couldn't look the other way," Lanphear said. "So, I brought them home. Those cats' lives were threatened since their food source was being taken away."
Lanphear gave them all a ride to his home in his truck full of treats, but he didn't want them all inside, so he gave them another option.
"I went back to the thrift shop and bought a big old tent trailer," he said. "I took it home and parked it where I thought would be a good place for them. I covered it with heavy tarp and put a layer of insulation on it. And since they took part in building it by being curious and hanging around, they had no trouble adapting to it."
Lanphear had the patience needed for the feral cats to understand he wasn't a threat.
"Two of the kitties were friendly and looked like twins, so I named them Rex and Misty and allowed them into my home," Lanphear said. "After being around them for a while I believe they knew I was trying to help them," Lanphear said. "But I began wondering how I was going to get the cats spayed or neutered. I realized I needed help.
"The next time I went to the local thrift store in Sisters one of the volunteers mentioned to contact Elaine Gilbert, a volunteer for the Community Cat Program."
The Community Cat Program has been providing free spay/neuter and vaccinations for outdoor and stray cats throughout Central Oregon for over 10 years
When Gilbert arrived, she began the process of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).
"We trapped over a two-day period and managed to trap all of the cats," Gilbert told The Nugget. "But on the day of their surgeries, after their examination by the vet at Bend Spay Neuter Project (BSNP), it was determined that both Rex and his sister, Misty, had upper respiratory infections. Upper respiratory infections are very common in community feral cats, particularly in a large colony such as this group of cats."
They were both spayed, neutered and vaccinated and sent home with Gilbert for a 10-day course of antibiotics. Misty thrived and improved quickly, but sadly, Rex took a turn for the worst, and had to be euthanized several days later as he struggled to breathe.
"Dayton is a wonderful man with a huge heart," Gilbert said. "If Dayton had not rescued these 20 cats, they most likely would not have survived much longer. They are now fixed, vaccinated, and all sport a very fashionable left 'ear tip.' This ear tip shows that this is a fixed community feral cat. Dayton loves these cats and takes great care of them. The cats, in turn, provide companionship in their own way, and keep the mouse and other rodent population in control. Feral community cats thrive outdoors as long as they are fixed, vaccinated, have access to food and fresh, unfrozen water at all times, and shelter from the elements."
Community cats face many challenges. They must endure weather extremes such as cold and snow, heat and rain. Community cats face starvation, infection and attacks by other animals. Unfortunately, almost half of the kittens born outdoors die from disease, exposure, or parasites before their first year. But, community cats who live in a managed colony - a colony with a dedicated caretaker, like Lanphear, who provides regular feedings and proper shelter - can live a quite content life.
"Before she left, Elaine gave me a few resources, so I could have help providing food for my 20 cats."
Lanphear called Furry Friends Foundation and received the help he needed.
Furry Friends helps families keep their pets in their homes by operating a pet-food bank and providing spay/neuter sponsorships and assistance with emergency medical needs to families in financial hardship.
Seven months have passed since the cats were spayed and neutered and Lanphear knows what he's doing is right.
"Helping animals in need is its own reward," said Lanphear.
BSNP provides assistance with trapping the feral community cats in Sisters Country as part of the Community Cat TNR program.
Please contact BSNP at 541-617-1010 for information and assistance.
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