Community Cats program spays/neuters 700th cat.

September 12, 2017

Community Cats program spays/neuters 700th cat.

Community Cats TNR, a local, non-profit group of volunteers, in partnership with Country Veterinary Clinic, P.C. and Animal Hospital of Ludington, has Trap-Neuter-Returned (TNRd) the 700th “community cat.”

The cat, a young soft brown tortishell female, was spayed by Dr. Laura Waldo of the Country Veterinary Clinic P.C. on September 1, 2017.  It is believed she once had a family, but was left behind when they moved.  She had survived a cold winter then rewarded her new caregivers with six kittens in the spring.  Her remaining three kittens have also been TNRd, but continue to be afraid of people.

Since October, 2012, volunteers for the Community Cats TNR program have been working with caregivers to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) homeless cats, primarily in urban locations, throughout Mason County.  Trap-Neuter-Return, commonly referred to as “TNR,” is the only method proven to be humane and effective at controlling feral cat population growth.  

Caregivers who regularly provide food, water and shelter for homeless cats are providing a valuable service in their neighborhoods.  Besides caring about the humane treatment of homeless animals, they make it possible for Community Cats TNR to help control the population growth in and around the neighborhood.  By establishing a regular feeding schedule, they can determine which cats are homeless and can make it possible to humanely trap the cats.  

Community Cats TNR volunteers will trap and transport the cats to a veterinary clinic where they are given a health check, rabies and distemper vaccines, parasite treatment, and are spayed or neutered.  The left ear of each cat will be tipped for identification purposes.  After surgery, volunteers will care for the cats in a quiet, temperature controlled environment for one to four days before returning them to their colony and caregiver for continued monitoring.  

Set traps are watched at all times to assure that trapped cats are not injured or subjected to heat, cold or rain.  As soon as the trap is triggered, volunteers or caregivers immediately cover the trap with a sheet or blanket to calm the cat and reduce stress, then remove the trap to a quiet location to await surgery.  

After TNR, cats are healthier, there is less fighting, and less spraying.  Cats in a managed colony tend to be more docile, and generally do not welcome unneutered cats into their colony.  Their quality of life is improved and the distressing signs of domestic animals suffering from neglect are curtailed.  Best of all, there are no new kittens.

The organization focuses on homeless cats that need to be trapped for safe handling and transport to the veterinary clinic.  People who are caring for friendly strays are encouraged to arrange for surgery with their own veterinarian and to contact www.fixingfurryfriends.org to secure a spay/neuter certificate to pay for a portion of the cost.  Another community service is the low-cost male neutering clinic, “Last Tango for Tom” provided by Animal Hospital of Ludington each spring.    Those who have free-roaming, feral, unsocialized cats that need to be trapped may call 845-7888 or 843-9312 for more information.  Community Cats TNR does not assist with surgery costs for pet cats and is not equipped to handle rescue situations.

The University of Washington’s Math Department calculated that one female cat and her offspring could produce between 100 and 400 cats by the end of seven years.  The calculation is very conservative compared to others and seems to be based upon the birth of one litter per year and takes only females into the equation.  Two or three litters are more common.  

Of the 700 cats spayed or neutered through the Community Cats TNR program, 388 cats were female.  We estimate that the Community Cats TNR program has prevented the birth of at least 98,000 kittens so far.  Further, Trap-Neuter-Return has an immediate effect by reducing the neighborhood birth rate and potentially reducing the annual intake by Mason County Animal Control.  

Kitten season is at a peak from April through September.  The offspring of homeless cats face a very uncertain future and are at the mercy of cold weather, predators, and starvation.  For information about what to do if you find kittens, visit www.communitycatstnr.org and click on the Kitten Care tab for a link to the Alley Cat website.  The site provides a comprehensive guide for caring for kittens, and an excellent progression link illustrating their age and growth.

Now, as winter approaches, it is vital that caregivers make sure the homeless cats have food, fresh water and shelter.  

Community Cats TNR relies on support from the community in the form of direct and memorial donations and fundraisers to continue its goal to achieve population decline of the free-roaming, feral, and/or abandoned cats in our area.  Thanks to the generosity of a caring community, this goal has become measurable and real.

Volunteers are needed to help with trapping, transporting, and caring for cats after surgery, helping with fundraising and publicity, and building winter cat shelters.  

Donations of ½ inch plywood, luan or paneling, ¾ inch insulation, sheets, towels and blankets are also needed.  Donations of cat food may be made at the drop off bin in the lobby of Shop N Save.  Canisters for monetary donations are available at a number of local businesses, and donations may be made to Community Cats TNR and sent to P.O. Box 384, Ludington, MI  49431.  

Pet owners are encouraged to get their pets, especially cats, spayed or neutered.  If they are allowed outside or get lost, they are the ultimate cause of the feral cat population!  Be a responsible pet owner!

For more information on the success of TNR, deterring stray cats from your garden, building winter cat shelters, providing fresh water, and facts and studies about homeless cats, visit these websites:  www.communitycatstnr.org; www.alleycat.org; and www.neighborhoodcats.org.

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