The Japan Cat Network, a grassroots animal welfare group in Shiga Prefecture organized and run by David Wybenga and his wife, Susan Roberts, has put out a plea for help with its Hirakata City Project.

Initially featured in The Japan Times on Jan. 26, the network was asked in March to check out a park near the city of Hirakata, located between Osaka and Kyoto.

The situation at Yamada-Ike Koen was dire, utterly shocking. Close to 100 cats, in various stages of health and disease, were found roaming the park. There were no signs of a TNR (trap, neuter, release) program such as the Japan Cat Network promotes, and none of the males appeared to be neutered. Two of the park cats were so ill that they had to be taken to a vet immediately.

As of May 1, the group has trapped 53 cats, most of them female, and had them neutered. More trapping is scheduled.

Wybenga calls the project “amazing,” one that he believes has the power “to change public perception in Kansai. Of all the projects I’ve been involved in, this is the one to get behind.”

In the meantime, five kittens, then 2 weeks old, were found abandoned in a cardboard box in a park restroom. Two were already dead. Three survived and are thriving and being fed every four hours. This past Monday, four more kittens were found abandoned. One had already died. These kittens and others were all taken in and are being cared for.

“Busy and sleepy” David and Susan have their hands full. “Once we finish one round of feeding it’s almost time for the next,” says Wybenga.

And, with presently 11 kittens on the bottle, the network is out of money and in desperate need of help, but determined to keep the project going.

The group needs experienced kitten fosterers, loving adoptive homes, money and milk replacement powder (Esbilac for cats). Also, Wybenga says, “if some one is in the area and wants to participate more directly, contact me.”

Contact Japan Cat Network by e-mail at info@japancatnet.com or check out the group’s homepage at japancatnet.com Esbilac can be sent to: David Wybenga, 173 Inae, Hikone, Shiga, 521-1125.

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