Wat Doi Tam has about 40 cats and kittens and the numbers are growing. There are at least 5 pregnant females, and although many kittens don’t survive, the cat population will continue to grow if we don’t do something about it. Because the cats aren’t vaccinated they often get sick and die, causing terrible unnecessary suffering.
The monks at the quiet temple 12km south of Chiang Mai city love their cats and contacted Santisook for help..
This means most of the cats are friendly and easy to catch! We’d visited the Temple a few days earlier to make a plan, so we arrived with enough vaccine and worming tablets.
With us for the day was Esther from Holland who is travelling through Australasia seeking out some of the smaller charities to volunteer with in the hope that the charities activities will get some much needed world wide exposure in her popular charitynomad Blog.
Getting most the cats to the treatment table is pretty easy.. just open the cans of food and out they come! They get a combination vaccine and are wormed. Each one is assessed and we keep a track of the numbers of males and females, the pregnant ones and the rough ages of kittens so we can plan the sterilisation timetable. As always we will start with the females.
A mother cat and kitten were bought out to us, the mother looked very sick. They went straight into a cage to be dropped off at the vets later. Update* after a week’s care and medication for a viral infection mother canned kitten made a full recovery and were returned to the temple, the mother cat will be sterilised after a further week of recovery time.
In this hot climate it’s common for cats to have 4 litters of kittens each year. They can get pregnant when they are as young as 5 months old and they are ready to mate again once their kittens are just 4 to 6 weeks old. This leaves no time for the cat to return to full health before she’s pregnant again. So many young cats are just worn out by this viscous circle and many die when they are just a few years old from malnutrition and disease (often contracted during mating).
Through our sterilisation program we hope to end this exhausting cycle for as many cats as we can and reduce overpopulation.
While there, we were startled by a horrible scream and saw a dog had come out of the woods and attacked one of the cats, holding her by the neck and shaking her. The monks ran at the dog who thankfully dropped the cat and ran off. The cat had a deep bite wound on her neck and looked dazed but with Fon and Ben Noy on hand with the medical kit her wound was cleaned up and she was given an antibiotic shot. She actually settled surprisingly quickly and tucked into some tinned food while the clean up process went on, this cats got her priorities right, but she’s definitely used up one of her 9 lives!
We will go back and get the mothers for sterilisation when the kittens are about 6 weeks old. The shy one’s will have to be trapped. It’s our policy to keep the mothers and kittens at our shelter for 7 days after the operation before removing the stitches and returning them to their temple. Males, with no stiches to worry about are returned with 24-48 hours.
Days like this are busy and we often need help, if you would like to volunteer to help out with cats, dogs or both, just contact us.
We will be visiting this temple regularly and in time, as we’ve experienced at other temples, the cat population will stabilise and the cats will have the chance to live longer more peaceful lives in this beautiful temple on the mountain.
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