|Managing The Cat Population in the High Country|
|Written by Steve Frank|
|Wednesday, 25 June 2014 13:01|
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’s help to manage the outdoor and feral cat population. WHS has been told to expect to receive as many as 60 cats from
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. The best way to get euthanasia rates down is to control the population.
Through July 13, Watauga Humane Society is offering a special adoption fee of $25 for kittens, and is waiving the adoption fee altogether on adult cats, to help find homes for more of these incoming cats. Dogs are also available at this great $25 price. The adoption fee includes spay/neuter, a microchip, vaccinations to date, and more! This is a great time to find a new best friend for little or nothing.
WHS is also seeking the help of landowners who are willing to adopt one or more spayed/neutered and immunized outside cats as barn cats, to provide a home for some of the 60 to 85 additional cats expected in coming weeks. Finally, interested landowners are also asked to call the Adoption Center for more information on allowing spayed/neutered, immunized and ear tipped feral cats that have nowhere to go, to live on your property.
Individuals and businesses can also help by donating funds to help us spay/neuter these additional 85 or so cats that are not within our normal budget. Make any checks payable to Watauga Humane Society and put the words Feral Spay/Neuter Project in the memo line. Mail your check to PO Box 1835, Boone, NC 28607. Or donate through our website at www.wataugahumanesociety.org. Time is of the essence. The sooner we can spay/neuter these cats and get them back out in the community, the less they will multiply.
For more information on Watauga Humane Society, please visit our website at www.wataugahumanesociety.org. For more information on feeding outdoor and feral cats, please visit www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cats/tips/what_you_can_do_for_ferals.htmlWHS thanks the community for its help and its caring for the animals in our community!
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