I have been feeding stray cats ever since my mum took pity on a cat which eventually became a part of the family. Twenty years have passed and I am still as tolerant to strays as I was on that fateful day; the only difference being the number of feline mouths I have to feed now as compared to only one, two decades ago. Over the years I have learnt a lot about cats and one very prominent one is that they multiply at a tremendous rate once they have enough to eat and this is the crux of my problem!
There is only one registered vet in the Kota Setar district and I am fortunate because his clinic is at Pumpong which is about 15 minutes drive from my place. It is through him that I seek help every time a cat falls ill. I know that one of the ways to prevent stray cat population explosion is to have the females spayed but this particular vet is not in favour of this procedure on the grounds that it is very invasive. The other alternative is to give them contraceptives and there are two ways of administering them, either orally or via injection. Both are equally troublesome for me but after some deliberation I opted for the former, oral contraceptives, solely because I am able to do it at home. The other method would require me to ferry them to the vet every three months and we are not talking one cat here but 8 at the time I decided to curb the population about 3 years ago, and still counting if no measures were taken. Now there are only 5 left and hopefully not counting.
But, there are risks involved and the risks are more with oral contraceptives. Once swallowed, they will have to remain inside the the body for at least 4 hours to ensure that they are completely digested and fully ingested or simply put, the cat must not vomit for the duration of at least 4 hours after swallowing it. This is the trickiest part for me. These strays just come for the food. If I try to go near them, they will just back off. There is no way I can touch them, let alone caress and fondle them even after so many years of knowing each other!!! After they have had their fill, they just disappear. One of the reasons for this very uncatly behaviour is their fear for Tuah, my 12 year old male cat. Tuah has no qualms about chasing them away if they try to hang around. So, the strays know their routine which is to make their appearance once in the morning and once in the evening and then making their hasty exit. So, how in heaven's name do I keep tabs on them after giving them the pill? An impossible feat obviously but one which I have to gamble for the sake of keeping my sanity. Simple as it may sound, the task of giving them the pills entails a lot of both patience and passion. Over the years I have perfected the art of administering the pills to them without having to touch them at all.
To be continued