Keeping feral cat population in check

Tuesday is International Feral Cat Day

Eric McCarthy newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on October 14, 2012
Krista Adams restocks the food dish and checks out the house she maintains for feral cats. There can be several feral cats seeking shelter in the house at one time, but on this day none are home. Adams’ house cat, Sam, seizes the opportunity to check out the accommodations.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer

O’LEARY – Although the cats she traps or rescues might not see it that way at the time, Krista Adams feels strongly about her volunteer job.

“I love my animals,” says the CAT Action Team member from O’Leary.

Of course, the cats aren’t hers; she just helps care for them.

Before the cats are returned, they are delivered to a veterinarian and neutered.

It’s for their own good, Adams maintains. Otherwise colonies become over overcrowded and diseases set in.

Adams and her mother, Gayle, have been assisting with CAT Action’s TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) Program for about five years. She estimates about 3,000 feral cats have been “fixed” under their watch.

CAT Action has been actively working to control and reduce the feral cat population in P.E.I. since 2001.

“I hate seeing anything thrown out and cold,” Adams said in explaining her mission.

She knows cats are sometimes abandoned, dropped off at a barn somewhere, or simply released to the wild. Some become barn cats where they might be accepted as “mousers.”

Even good mousers can become problematic, though, if the barn becomes overrun with cats. TNR helps keep the numbers under control.

This Tuesday, Oct. 16 is International Feral Cat Day, an opportunity to bring attention to the plight of feral cats.

Trapping the animals takes some planning. Adams admits the cats have little patience for the traps and carrying cases, but she has discovered they will usually calm down if a blanket is placed over their trap.

The feral cats are also tattooed before being released. That helps identify them if they are trapped again, and also helps prevent a second trip to the vet, as the casual eye does not easily identify a fixed cat. In the meantime, effort has to be exerted to trap the cat and check for a tattoo.

Helping to control the cat population is costly.

CAT Action recently obtained a PetSmart Charities of Canada grant of $19,500 to help spay or neuter feral cats in the O’Leary area. Last year PetSmart provided a grant of $10,000 to deal with the issue in West Prince.

This latest grant, Adams said, will cover the cost of getting between 200 and 220 feral cats neutered.

Adams is aware of several colonies of feral cats in the O’Leary area and several more throughout West Prince. She looks after one of the colonies, providing food and shelter and making sure the cats in her care are in good health.

There is a network of volunteers throughout the province who looks out for the feral cats, she points out.

wbureau@journalpioneer.com