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A week in the land of Cats

Wednesday 30 March 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Pet Talk

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A week in the land of Cats
Te Are Manu Veterinary Clinic services vet Dr Michael Baer. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS 21092206

Staff from Te Are Manu, working closely with Aitutaki Community Animal Rescue and Aitutaki Community Cat Program provided a week-long vet clinic for pet and livestock owners in Aitutaki.

For someone like me, a trip to Aitutaki is always a surprise, and a pleasure. 

Why?  Cats.  Cats, but no dogs.  I am surprised, even if I know that for many islands in the country this “surprise” is in fact the norm.  Cat paradise has its own great attraction, and its own problem.

The attraction is the freedom cats have when there are no dogs.  You see cats walking around, openly, in a way that is not possible where dogs will chase them.  This is also the problem. Cats are great animals, and of all the domestic species they show by far the most variation in personality and behaviour, especially when free of dogs.

Cats are seasonal breeders; they breed over summer when the daylight hours increase.  And the kittens they have in October can be breeding by March.  There are lots of cats, producing as many new cats as they can.

To help with this problem a team of vets, nurses, and volunteers from TAM and Aitutaki Community Animal Rescue spent last week (and the 3 weeks prior for Steph) working hard in Aitutaki, desexing and treating cats, goats and pigs. 

Thanks to Steph Joseph (Aitutaki Community Animal Rescue), the Mayor and Island Council of Aitutaki, and the families and community of Aitutaki the clinic was a great success.

The week started for the team on Saturday, we boarded the flight to the land of cats, provided to us by the generosity of Air Rarotonga.  Once there, we received more gifts, a vehicle provided by Popoara Rentals.  We were then treated to a lagoon cruise provided by Bishops.  What a day!  Lunch at One Foot Island is a great thing.

We set up at the “vet house’ provided for our use by Robbie and Keri Fenton and which was also our home for the week.  Taia, our main man for trapping, collected his traps to set up for the week, and we arranged the drugs and equipment given by Te Are Manu and the Aitutaki Community Cat Program. 

On Monday morning the animals began to arrive.  Brought in by their owners, by Taia, and by the ladies from Aitutaki Village; Taviria, Ally, Ramona, Ake, Maitia and Tau. They were checked in by our reception volunteers, Yvonne, Winnie, and Vicky.  These three ladies managed to keep track of animals and cages and traps all week; and provided the most wonderful refreshments.  Other lunches were brought by Mango Trading ,Petirini Frank and Ru Cecil.  We were inundated with fruit and food, thank you everyone!

Cats, pigs, and goats were desexed, defleaed, and treated for an assortment of diseases. Coordinated from start to finish by Steph Joseph (Aitutaki Community Animal Rescue) the workflow was great.  Volunteer vets Caroline and Allan operated from early until late, assisted by volunteer nurse Pip and Te Are Manu nurse Sarah.

And after a long day dealing with pet and wild cats, dinner was always an event, thanks to Etu Moana, The Boatshed, and the island night at Tamanu Resort.  A great show and a weeks’ worth of meals every night!  And lunch at a café courtesy of Petirini!

I cannot say how thankful we are to everyone who helped with the clinic, the flights, the entertainment, food and transport, accommodation and transport.  We were overwhelmed by the generosity.  Meitaki Maata or as they say in Aitutaki meitaki Atupaka.

The success of this clinic shows what can be accomplished in a short time, with a wide array of people and groups cooperating.  Te Are Manu hope to offer clinics in the rest of the Pa Enua in future.

Next up is our Puna desexing day at Murienua, on Wednesday the 6th of April.  Contact Te Are Manu on 27719 for details, or the SPCA on 73362 for transport.