Since my last writing on this matter we've managed to get 3 more colony kitties successfully neutered and returned to their outdoor home. Which is awesome, of course -- it's definitely at the point where whenever I visit the colony, I'm liable to see unaltered cats way outnumbered by their TNRed cohorts.
So, that's the good news.
There is a bit of sad news to report as well, though: we actually brought in a total of 4 cats following the last round of trapping. While three came through the surgery fine, one of them (Tami, a little tabby girl who couldn't have been more than six months old) apparently had either an undiagnosed heart condition or sensitivity to the anesthesia because the clinic reported that her heart just randomly stopped on the operating table.
I hate reporting bad news like that, but I don't think Tami's memory would be well served by pretending this sort of thing never happens. It's rare, but it does happen, and whenever one gets involved in any type of cat rescue, one runs the risk of getting up close and personal with the occasional freak tragedy. I don't blame myself, I'm just really sorry that Tami never got to finish growing up and living a life spent running, playing, and climbing trees with her colony-mates.
What this sort of thing really drives home for me is the extreme need for more support for TNR clinics. It's great that the local Humane Society has a low-cost spay/neuter program at all, but over the long term I'd really like to see a bit more pre-op health screening become standard. If Tami did have a heart condition she might still be around if someone had been able to diagnose and treat it, and if she had a problem with one type of anesthesia, perhaps a different one might have been used.
Obviously it doesn't help anything to sit here dwelling on what could have been, but I'm not the sort of person who can just go "oh well, these things happen!' in response to this sort of thing. So I'm at least trying to look at what I can learn from the situation to help avoid it in the future. For one thing, I want to make sure that next time we bring in any cats that we at least REMIND the clinic of what happened to Tami. If nothing else that might prompt them to take a bit more care during surgery prep and watch more closely for signs of something being wrong, given that I know some heart conditions are familial and lots of cats in that colony are "cousins" of some degree.
…and on that note I will end this entry (and I promise the next one will be less sad!).