Watauga Humane Society (WHS) has been receiving more feral and outdoor cats than it can care for and place in homes or barns and is seeking the community one property and 25 from another property in coming weeks, over and above the usual number of strays and surrendered cats, and is in need of spay/neuter funds and caregivers who are willing to let these cats live out their lives in a barn or on a farm or other large acreage.
In an effort to help homeless cats, many caring citizens take the responsibility of providing food, water, and shelter for these felines. Although WHS applauds these acts of compassion, there are several precautions to take to ensure the safety of the cats and the health of the greater community.
First, do not feed more than necessary or leave food out for extended periods of time. Left-out food attracts any animal in the area looking for a meal. If you are feeding wild animals close to your home or business, it can increase the risk of spread of disease if someone or another animal is bitten or scratched by a sick animal. Left-out food also attracts cats from a large area which, during mating season, can cause the population of cats in that area to escalate quickly out of control.
Second, consider the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) technique for the outdoor cats for which you are providing care. This involves humanely trapping the cats, taking them to be spayed/neutered and immunized (there are low-cost spay/neuter services available in Watauga and surrounding counties), and returning them to your property so that they can live out their lives in greater health and without multiplying. Be sure to schedule your spay/neuter before you trap, so you are not keeping the cat crated for too long.
Spay/Neuter is available through Watauga Humane Society on Thursday of each week. Watauga Humane Society loans out humane cat traps, free of charge, for this purpose. Third, set up your feeding station away from heavily trafficked areas to keep the cats from becoming spooked and scratching or biting a passerby and to keep them safe.
Female cats can become pregnant as early as five months old. There are approximately 40 million stray and feral cats in the United States, and only 2% have been spayed or neutered. Each year, these cats account for about 80% of kitten births. Overpopulation puts a strain on shelters like WHS, which has limited space to house these kittens, as well as the financial burden of paying for spay/neuter surgeries and other essential care.