BY SHANNON WENTWORTH
As I stood at the operating table, holding a feral cat’s uterus in clamps, I thought, “I have the best job ever!”
On our recent Isla Mujeres resort vacation, we did our most ambitious project yet. We trapped, sterilized and released feral cats. It was a three-part, three-day project.
Before we left, Sweeties, two nurses and one super awesome veterinarian teamed up to rustle up the supplies and the cash. Once we got there, we joined with four of the island’s most fierce defenders of cats, Lupita, Josefina, Paloma and Mildred, to capture these wild felines. While they look all cute and fuzzy, they are not like the housecats we’re used to in the United States. As soon as the trap closes on them, they are all hisses and teeth and claws. Blessedly, they calm down if you cover them with a towel.
About 20 of us went out to set and bait the traps. Cats love lesbians as much as lesbians love cats, so we caught them pretty quickly. We took them back to the vet’s office where we marked them by the location where we found them and let them rest for the night.
The next morning, a crew of about eight went back to the hospital to begin sterilizing the cats. Even though I planned this project, I never imagined I’d actually operate on the cats. And yet, there I was, elbow deep in cat guts.
My teacher is Dr. Delphino, a man with a huge heart who speaks little English. Because of cultural supersitions, nobody adopts the black cats. Dr. Delphino’s office was crawling with black, black and white and tortoise shell calico cats. Sweet comedian Jennie McNulty and her partner Sheila took one home (brava, ladies).
Dr. Delphino asked if I wanted to help, I said, “yes.” I thought I’d be changing newspaper or mopping floors or even his brow, but next thing I know I’m tying a cat to an operating table as his assistant puts scrubs and sterile gloves on me.
I speak very little Spanish, “cerveza,” “pico de gallo,” “donde esta la bano?” Dr. Delphino speaks little English (though it’s better than my Spanish). As it turns out, veterinary medicine is the universal language. Dressed like an extra in “Grey’s Anatomy,” I looked into his big brown eyes and it felt like he was telling me what to do without words. We proceeded to sterilize two female and three male cats together.
On the first cat we sterilized, a female, I noticed that while she wasn’t moving, her heart was beating a mile a minute. Our second patient, another female, I could barely feel her heartbeat. Dr. Delphino showed me that she was lactating, which meant she had babies to feed somewhere. She was also dehydrated. A few minutes into the surgery, I realized I hadn’t felt a heartbeat in a while and I told Dr. Delphino who grabbed this miracle drug a vet in the United States had sent me the day before I left. It’s called Respiram and it brought this mama cat back to life.
After the cats were sterilized, we notched their ears so we wouldn’t trap them again as well as vaccinating them, giving them a strong antibiotic and removing their fleas and ear mites. We gave them lots of love and affection while they were sleeping, too. The next day, we released them back into the wild.
In all, Sweeties sterilized 21 feral cats while we were in Isla Mujeres. When I started Sweet, I wanted to do small projects to show people how easy, fun and empowering it feels to give back. Thanks to Sweet guests Marta and Cecilia and Sweet staffer Natalie Garcia, Sweet was able to connect with this amazing team of cat rescuers and make a huge difference in a short amount of time. Thank you Marta, Cecilia, Natalie and everyone who opens their hearts and pushes us to do more. Huge thanks to Dr. Leah and Paula Sweetglew who sent us a ton of supplies. Together, we are changing the world for the better.
P.S. Dr. Leah, please call or email me.