LCHS Community Cats Program
–Working to end feline overpopulation in our county
The purpose of this program is to facilitate spay and neuter of free-roaming cats in our county. We also strive to help caregivers of these cats with resources to maintain a high level of care for community cat colonies.
What is a “community cat”?
A cat that is free-roaming; stray or feral, living outdoors and is unowned. We believe that when cats are not the property of any individual they belong to the community, which has the collective responsibility for their care.
The Problem: Thousands of free-roaming cats live in the backyards, alleyways, vacant lots, and other outdoor spaces throughout Licking County. Some of the cats are strays – former “house cats” that have become lost or were abandoned. But the vast majority of the free-roaming cats in our county are wild, or “feral” – not socialized to humans. Feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats. Born outdoors and having lived with little or no human contact, they are very wary of people and have learned to survive in whatever place they call home – whether it’s your backyard or a restaurant parking lot. Two unneutered stray or feral cats can quickly reproduce at an alarming rate. A large “colony” of cats can quickly grow where only the first two cats originally made their home. From as early as six months old, each new female born into the expanding colony will give birth to two or more litters of kittens each year. Spaying just one female community cat can prevent the births of more than 57 kittens over the next two years.
While the tame and friendly strays can often be successfully adopted back into a home, for the thousands of their feral offspring, adoption, rescue, or relocation is well beyond any realistic expectation. Even young feral kittens need to be carefully tamed with much time and patience before they can be safely handled by a prospective adopter.
How can we solve the feline overpopulation problem?
Through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)
TNR is the only humane and proven-effective method to control and eventually reduce the stray and feral cat overpopulation crisis.
During a TNR project, cats are:
- Humanely trapped
- Spayed (females) or neutered (males)
- Vaccinated against rabies
- Surgically ear-tipped on the left ear for identification
- Treated for medical needs if necessary
- Returned to their territory
- Monitored and cared for by a caretaker (given food, water & shelter)
- Kittens and friendly cats may be taken in for adoption
TNR is effective and humane, unlike traditional trap-and-kill or trap-and-remove. Both trap-and-kill and trap-and-remove result in the “vacuum effect”– when new, unaltered and unvaccinated cats move into the emptied area and breed with no caretaker to monitor the cats over the long term. A TNR’d colony defends its food source, keeping unneutered and unvaccinated cats out of its territory and preventing any new births in that “managed” colony.
When TNR is performed consistently in an area the result is:
- Drastically reduces unwanted births.
- Increases the health of the cats and decreases the spread of disease like FIV and leukemia.
- Eliminates annoying behavioral problems, making the colony more tolerable among the neighbors.
- Altered cats roam less because they won’t be in search of a mate.
- Neutered male cats fight less because there is no competition for mating.
- Neutered male cats are less likely to spray urine.
- Spayed female cats don’t howl because they no longer go into heat.
What we hope to provide to the Licking County community:
- Provide no-cost spay and neuter for free-roaming cats
- Provide a food pantry for Community Cat Caretakers
- Provide traps for loan
- Provide trainings and workshops to learn how to effectively preform TNR and monitor and care for Community Cat colonies
- Provide winter shelters for Community Cats
Our short term goal is to spay and neuter 260 Community Cats per year over the next 5 years. Assuming that at least 50% of those cats are female, with each having 3 litters per year, each containing 4 kittens, we will have prevented 7800 unwanted homeless kittens from being born! We can’t reach this goal without you!
How can you help?
- Donate…monetary funding is desperately needed to get this program off the ground…it will take the efforts of our entire community to get this program up and running sustainably!
- Donations of:
- Large bags of cat food
- Canned cat food
- Totes and large Styrofoam coolers to make winter shelters
- Straw for shelters
- “Safeguard” or “Tomahawk” humane traps
Get Involved!!! Do you have free-roaming cats in your area..let us help you! We can instruct you on how to effectively perform TNR! Talk to your neighbors, landlords, bosses and others about the benefits of TNR and living peacefully with the Community Cats around you!