Aran cats under the cosh

The first mass neutering of felines on Inis Mór takes place this week following an explosion in the feral cat population over the last two decades.

And it’s all in honour of a tenth birthday.

Barna and Moycullen Veterinary Clinics are celebrating their decade in existence by leading an expedition to the biggest Aran island to give male cats the ‘snip’ and female cats a ‘spay’.

Vet Leanne Evertsen is taking along a nurse and nurse assistant for the two-day mission located at a temporary surgery at the community hall.

The GSPCA are travelling ahead, sending over five volunteers to trap as many of the cats as possible that are living in colonies dotted throughout the picturesque island.

All will have their work cut out for them. Locals estimate there could be as many as 1,000 feral cats competing for food there.

“I’m not really one for parties but myself and my husband wanted to mark our ten years in the clinic and also wanted to give something back,” explains Leanne.

“I’m in contact with a couple of local ladies on Inis Mór who were always talking about the problem of the feral cat population and the issues they create. Some are fed by visitors, some people try to catch them and bring them to the mainland to be neutered but it’s not enough.

“This idea of a mass neutering is not something that’s happened before so we’ll do our best to make a start and hopefully neuter 30 to 50 of them.”

The cats will be trapped, given an anaesthetic before underdoing the procedure – much longer for the females as it involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Their ear is then clipped so they never have to be caught again in a repeat operation. They are then released back to where they were captured.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.