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The Drama of Project Treadstone, My 1000th Post!

Well, I didn’t see this one coming.

First, note to self, make sure the kind women who love the kitties don’t feed them 20 minutes prior to the arrival of yours truly and Trapper Man. We trapped one successfully in the first five minutes. I named him Tres. You know, because he’s the third cat of Project Treadstone.That’s his handsome self above.

But 90 minutes later all we were able to do was provide the cats a place on which to rest while they bathed. No joke. There was stinky mackerel in the trap and one cat was on top of it taking a bath, another was at the front, just lying there, and a couple more were lounging nearby. Not a care in the world, and entirely uninterested in the free food.

We relocated the trap twice with similar results and called it a day. The upside is I did get to meet the kitten the women are socializing and hope to catch soon. They already have a home for the fluffy little guy. S/he will eat from a spoon that you’re holding but is very quick to not allow you to get much closer. None of the other cats will let anyone feed them with a spoon. The women from the site handed me checks and cash and one would like to buy a trap. Three stayed to learn how to trap, which is great. The more people who step up, the better.

Tres wasn’t at all happy to be in the trap. I quickly returned home and put him in the garage with his camouflage cover, checked on him a couple of times, and went to bed. I brought him to the vet and while with a client at 3pm I received a call from the vet–who’s the traditional vet (as opposed to the homeopath) I send my creatures to. He said that Tres was FeLV negative but FIV positive. He wanted to know what my thoughts were.

I told him I had recently spoken with Dr. Julie Levy, and luckily one of his staff vets worked with her for years. Tres is an asymptomatic, shiny, solid, heavy, healthy cat. He’s gorgeous and athletic and quick. The vets agree that “putting him down” wouldn’t be right. (And I did make sure to use the word “kill” as much as possible.) Fine. Tres lives.

This is important, though, because other vets in the area who do this work test for both FIV and FeLV and will kill healthy animals just because they test positive once. As I’ve written previously, the only no-kill shelter in the area routinely kills healthy cats who test positive.

This current vet is creating a protocol, as this is the first time he’s done this kind of work. And now the protocol includes testing for both and not killing for FIV. However, he does think killing FeLV positive cats might be a good idea.

Vet: FeLuke positive cats will get horribly sick and die at some point.

Me: And you and I might get horribly sick and we’re definitely gonna die at some point.

Vet: Good point. But FeLuke is far easily transmittable. A FeLuke positive cat’s gonna infect everyone in no time.

Is that true? Because he’s creating his protocol in real time with Project Treadstone, I want to get him as much information as possible. It’s easier to create a protocol than change one (the vet who sterilized the first two cats received my package of information and told me that people have been trying to change their mind for years about killing positive cats and they’ve received information just like mine, over and over again, and they’re not budging).

The vet recommended releasing Tres today, and I agree as he’s stressed in the trap and getting him into a cage presents a slew of other problems, and he might be just as stressed in there, anyway. His surgery went fine and the faster he can be free with his colony, the better. Fortunately, I have some time this afternoon to return him. I just returned from releasing him and he’s fine.

I’m glad we’re progressing on this issue and educating the locals and getting buy-in. It’s one thing to swoop in under the cover of darkness and work on the problem yourself, and it’s quite another to alert, educate and involve the community. It might take a little longer, but now a bunch of people know how to solve a problem, and perhaps one day they will take the initiative and start their own TNR project or help someone else start one.

Oh, and this is my 1,000th post! Shocking, isn’t it? I’ve posted daily, and sometimes twice a day, since mid-2006! I’ve lost a lot of readers since then, mostly due to my increasingly “extreme” views, but at least I’m being honest with myself and you, and honoring my beliefs.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. B Erickson #

    You may have lost readers through the years, but you've definitely picked up a bunch… including me.

    I'm a vegan, drawn into the fold after my husband's heart attack. We remain vegan because of the education we've received from people like you.

    I faithfully read your blog, have adopted two rescue dogs, and am becoming a more effective advocate for all sentient beings. I appreciate how you deconstruct language. Because I've observed how you do it so many times, I can regularly use your linguistic stylings, spot cognitive dissonance, and more effectively communicate with others concerning this important issue.

    Thanks for all you do. Your writing touches more lives than you could ever imagine.



    December 5, 2008
  2. I'm a lifetime reader here too. It's very important for me to get a no-nosense perspective on animal concerns, and other points of issue. Animal Person is my link with sanity, if you will…

    So happy for your posts and for Tres.

    December 5, 2008
  3. Connie Graham #

    I was involved with TNR for over 8 years. Through my work with ferals, I've been privileged to get to know Dr. Levy personally and greatly respect and admire her. She's done extensive research and advocates not testing, primarily because most TNR programs operate with very tight budgets and the goal is to prevent more births. Her conclusions are that more cats can be fixed if money isn't spent on testing. If more cats are fixed, transmission of either FeLV or FIV will lessen. She has said that FeLV cats separated from other cats by just a screen can prevent transmission. Unfortunately, a free roaming cat will have contact, share food and water bowls with other cats, and risk infecting them. FIV on the other hand is primarily transmitted through bite wounds. The virus has to get into the blood stream, much like rabies.

    When cats get sick, they have a tendency to isolate themselves. A free roaming cat with leukemia is likely to find a place to hide and runs a high risk of dying a slow, miserable death. With their surpressed immune system, they are susceptible to secondary infections that their weakened condition can't easily fight off. So, IMHO, a free roaming cat with leukemia poses a serious hazard to other cats as well as to themselves. Additionally, leukemia positive females have about a 99% chance of infecting their fetuses, who rarely live month than 8 weeks after birth. On the other hand, FIV positive females rarely pass the disease on to their offspring. Here's a link to ACA regarding FIV:

    Hope some of this helps.

    December 5, 2008
  4. rich #

    As you know and mentioned in today's post I rescued a sweet little girl who was very tamable and who then tested positive for FeLV. My vet is an alternative medicine vet and was not quick to have her put to sleep. She gave me some options and I drove home alone with her and did a ton of research on FeLV. The problem is there is so much info out their and it is all contradictory and so much is anecdotal.
    My opinions gathered from my research is that FeLV is highly contagious and will spread throughout a colony pretty quickly if it hasn't already spread. Sadly I might agree with your new vets protocol as hard as that is for me to type.

    December 6, 2008
  5. Mary Martin #

    Thanks everyone!

    There does seem to be a significant difference between FIV and FeLV. I just spoke to a woman who connected me with Trapper Man and she agrees and says that if she's particularly attached to a feral kitty who is FeLV+ she will pay the $300. But she's also practical and knows that that $300 could sterilize and vaccinate a bunch of animals. I see no reason for the protocol to go any other way right now (kill FeLV, don't kill FIV). My question now is: Do I get to choose? Do I technically "own" the cat? Will they return the cat to me? (Probably with some kind of contract.) I'll find out.

    December 6, 2008
  6. Like Connie, I read up on Ally Cat Allies' position. Their position, which makes a TON of sense to me, is:
    "Alley Cat Allies does not support testing feral cats for FeLV. Besides the reasons previously stated— low rate of disease, low likelihood of transmission between adult cats, and poor viability of the virus— the cost of testing is substantial. We believe that funds are more effectively invested in providing neuter services."
    I highly recommend reading their page on FeLV.

    December 7, 2008
  7. More:
    "Alley Cat Allies does not support the euthanasia of healthy cats who test positive for FeLV and FIV. The American Association of Feline Practitioners agrees, recommending against routine euthanasia of healthy FeLV- and FIV-positive cats." from:

    December 7, 2008
  8. Mary Martin #

    I have read Alley Cats' position (and printed it out to bring to the two vets I'm working with), and I also spoke with Dr. Levy when she was here two weeks ago about this topic and we have far from an ideal situation. First, the vets are going to test and they're not budging on that. Now, Animal Care and Control is a different story, but as I've mentioned, their Spay Shuttle is not running right now and I don't want to wait for it. Once it's running, my problems will be solved (or at least these problems). Next, this is a colony of perhaps 50 cats living in close proximity, which is where the vets see a potential problem. I'll ask Dr. Levy myself and be more specific (I didn't have the info I have now when I spoke with her), but I don't know if her answer is going to help.

    And the other vet isn't budging on anything. They are no-kill otherwise, but will test ferals and kill those who test positive. I did the best I could and printed out material they are sure to have seen a dozen times given to them by those before me, but to no avail.

    If this were a project funded by the city, town or state, it would likely be structured differently (case in point: Animal Care and Control follows the Alley Cat Allies protocol) largely because public funds are involved. But when it comes to private ventures, they're not interested in cost-saving measures such as refraining from doing expensive tests, because I'm paying for it. There's no reason for them not to test. Also, there's an element of reluctance here. The vets don't want to deal with feral cats and they don't make it easy. If it's cost prohibitive, they don't mind that at all as they don't want that kind of business.

    December 7, 2008
  9. Pamela #

    I'm a new reader of your blog. Those readers you have lost who think you are too "extreme" suffer from a total lack of imagination and critical thinking. Keep up the good work!

    December 12, 2008
  10. Julia #

    Tres looks just like my rescue kitty! She's black, except for a white patch on her chest, and one on her belly.

    I'm actually commenting because I have a feral issue of my own. I'm located in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, and am wonderinf if you know of anyone who could help me. I have a family of feral cats living in my backyard. It's 2 adults and 2 kittens. I'd like to TNR the adults, and try to socialize and find good homes for the kittens. Unfortunately, my attempts at trapping them in the humane animal trap has been fruitless. I have contacted numerous organizations (Lifeline Animal Clinic, Georgia Humane Society, Dekalb county animal control, Friends of Animals, my local vet, etc), and other than renting me a humane animal trap, no one is willing to lend me a hand.

    I do not have much, but I would be willing to bake someone delicious vegan baked goods in exchange for helping me trap the cats. I know of some places that will neuter low cats for ferals, I just need someone more experienced than me to help out!

    Thank you in advance for any resources you know of.

    Take care,

    February 18, 2009

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