A new county group is taking on the old problem of stray cats, attempting to raise money to spay or neuter them in an effort to reduce the population that can sometimes swell and cause problems in neighborhoods.
Hancock Community Kitties was formed to do something about the growing number of stray cats, but the group says its success and longevity will be determined largely by support from the community.
“We’re just getting our feet under us right now,” said Veronica Taylor, one of the handful of volunteers who helped form the group. “Right now there are like four people.”
The group has begun setting out humane traps to capture stray cats, beginning in Hancock Park, where those cats are then taken to clinics in the region to be fixed, before they’re returned where they were found.
The process is called TNR, or trap, neuter, release, and it’s widely used to control cat populations across the country. But fixing a cat isn’t cheap, even at the reduced rates that the group gets at special clinics offered only at certain times.
“It’s $50 to spay a cat and $35 to neuter a cat,” she said.
And that doesn’t include the expense of taking the cats to Vanderburgh County, Ind. or Bowling Green, Ky., and then picking them up again the next day.
One clinic only does the TNR cats two days a week and can only take two cats at a time.
“In a place like Hancock Park where it’s estimated that there are 20 to 30 community cats it will take a while to make a dent,” Taylor said.
Residents there and elsewhere, who don’t own the cats, aren’t willing to go through the effort to try to catch them and then pay to fix them, so they’re free to roam and reproduce.
Hancock Community Kitties is being funded by a few volunteers, but being a new organization they’re partnering with Shelter Supporters of Hancock County, a group that fundraises for the county’s animal shelter, to handle the funding.
“Right now our money’s going through Shelter Supporters,” she said.
Donations can be made to the Shelter Supporters and earmarked for the spay and neuter fund, which will help offset the cost of the project.
The end goal of the group isn’t to eliminate cats, or even move them to new areas, and in fact they return the fixed cats to the place they were caught since that’s the area they know and the one that will be safest for them in the long run.
“It’s not getting rid of the cats in the neighborhood. It’s preventing the cats in the neighborhood from having more cats,” Taylor said. “And the population of cats will go down fairly quickly if you prevent them from reproducing.”
Although they’ve just begun, the group is hopeful that it can at least make a difference in the current cat population, and if the community supports them with time and funds, it could continue and even grow.
“We are optimistic and if we can stick to it – and I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge, having funding and volunteers to stick with it – then it will become something and it could become permanent,” she said. “But it will take effort and will take support from the community.”
For more information about the group email firstname.lastname@example.org or donations can be made through the Shelter Supporters via PayPal at email@example.com or by mail at PO Box 108, Lewisport, Ky. but must be designated as being for the spay and neuter fund.
By Dave Taylor