A new trap, neuter and release program offered for feral cats

September 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Posted in News | Comments Off on A new trap, neuter and release program offered for feral cats

Shelter worker Tina Maxwell tries to contain an armful of sweet, friendly kittens available for adoption at the Madera County animal shelter. Sadly, there are too many kittens being born and not enough local homes to adopt them. Only 15 cats and kittens out of around 500, were adopted from the shelter for the entire month of June.Shelter worker Tina Maxwell tries to contain an armful of sweet, friendly kittens available for adoption at the Madera County animal shelter. Sadly, there are too many kittens being born and not enough local homes to adopt them. Only 15 cats and kittens out of around 500, were adopted from the shelter for the entire month of June.

By DJ Becker/ NewsMadera.com
Colonies of feral or wild cats are growing in Madera County. To reduce the ever increasing number of feral cats that are being destroyed, a new trial program to help residents trap, alter and return wild cats to their habitat is being offered.

Funded by donations and the volunteer group The Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter, the program is called the CRV program ( Cat Redemption Value). It pays $10 per feral cat to residents willing to sign up, follow guidelines and assist with the capture, transportation and re release of the altered cats. Live traps are available on loan.
The program is a limited time offer and available for the first 300 feral cats.

Kirsten Gross, director of the Madera County Animal Shelter said the new program was a way to encourage and reimburse caring people to make an additional effort to help alter the animals and prevent the feral colonies of cats from multiplying.

The method, called trap, neuter and return is widely used by humane societies across the country and has proven to be successful in reducing feral populations. By stabilizing the existing population the wild cats live out the rest of their lives without adding to their numbers. By altering them there is also a reduction in fighting, urine marking and spraying, and other unwanted behaviors, according to Gross.
“The idea is to humanely trap, spay or neuter them, vaccinate them for Rabies and then return the feral cats safely to their point of origin. People feel sorry for the feral cats and often feed them. That’s OK,  but it’s better to go one step further and alter them so they can live out their lives without reproducing,” Gross said.
Feral colonies of cats can spring up when just a few unaltered domestic cats are abandoned, neglected or escape from their owners. Outdoor cats often have greatly reduced life spans due to disease, malnutrition or injuries.

Gross said just a couple of wild, unaltered cats when fed  by humans can quickly multiply into large colonies, posing a nuisance in a neighborhood, and the colony’s expand until eventually starvation or disease weakens or kills large numbers of the colony. The wild cats can also spread debilitating respiratory, and other fatal feline diseases such as feline leukemia to outdoor domestic cats that are not vaccinated. Feral cats are also potentially carriers of Rabies and can spread the fatal disease to humans, through saliva in a bite or scratch, said Gross. The Madera County Animal Shelter currently destroys all feral cats impounded, surrendered, or trapped by residents. Due to over crowding and the lack of adoptive homes even the majority of nice, friendly domestic cats and kittens are also euthanized according to Gross.

“For June the shelter had at least 500 cats come in, and about 300 of those were feral or wild. A lot of those were wild kittens, that people had been able to catch and were brought in from feral cat colonies. Sadly, we had only a total of 15 (friendly, domestic) cats and kittens adopted in the entire month of June. Like with dogs, there are way too many being born and not enough homes locally that want to adopt them,” Gross said.
The wild cats are only doing what comes naturally – surviving, and are very efficient at reproduction Gross said.

“Feral cats can produce kittens at incredible rates. Cats come into breeding heat several times each year and can be pregnant with their next litter even while nursing a current one. One female cat can have 30 kittens in a year. In less than a year, those kittens start having kittens,” Gross said outdoor cats are beneficial when they help reduce rodent populations, but they also can decimate the more fragile wild bird populations equally as well.

“When well meaning humans introduce an artificial food source – by feeding a colony of feral cats, the cats are no longer wild but dependent on people. Without spaying or neutering the increased nutrition allows the population to expand rapidly, often causing problems in their neighborhoods,. It also saves the taxpayer money, by preventing the thousands of unwanted and homeless litters of kittens from pouring into the shelter,” said Gross.

In order to qualify for the $10 per cat reimbursement program, residents must meet specific guidelines and sign up, prior to trapping cats. Cats must not belong to anyone and be wild, and not able to be handled. The trial program is open to Madera County residents only, is subject to change without notice, and other conditions apply.

For seniors and qualifying low income residents, friendly domestic cats can be altered for a $15 co pay, and dogs can be altered for a $20 co pay, through the ongoing FMAS spay and neuter programs. Applications can be picked up at the Madera County animal shelter at 14269 Road 28. For information on this and other programs please call 674-8667,  visit The Friends of Madera Animal Shelter web site at  http://www.gofmas.com or E-mail carrietut@att.net.   To help with the feral cat program or other programs that help sick, injured or homeless shelter animals donations can be sent to FMAS PO Box 923, Madera, 93639

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