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Managing the High Country Cat Population

June 26, 2014. Watauga Humane Society (WHS) has been receiving more feral and outdoor cats than it can care for and place in homes or barns and is seeking the community’s help to manage the outdoor and feral cat population. WHS has been told to expect to receive as many as 60 cats from one property and 25 from another property in the coming weeks, over and above the usual number of strays and surrendered cats, and is in need of spay/neuter funds and caregivers who are willing to let these cats live out their lives in a barn or on a farm or other large acreage.

Watauga Humane Society LogoIn an effort to help homeless cats, many caring citizens take the responsibility of providing food, water and shelter for these felines. Although WHS applauds these acts of compassion, there are several precautions to take to ensure the safety of the cats and the health of the greater community.

First, do not feed more than necessary or leave food out for extended periods of time. Left out food attracts any animals in the area looking for a meal. If you are feeding wild animals close to your home or business, it can increase the risk of spreading disease if someone or another animal is bitten or scratched by a sick animal. Left out food also attracts cats from a large area which, during mating season, can cause the population of cats in that area to escalate quickly out of control.

Second, consider the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) technique for the outdoor cats for which you are providing care. This involves humanely trapping the cats, taking them to be spayed/neutered and immunized (there are low cost spay/neuter programs available in Watauga and surrounding counties), and returning them to your property so that they can live out their lives in greater health and without multiplying. Be sure to schedule your spay/neuter before you trap, so you are not keeping the cat crated for too long. Spay/neuter is available through Watauga Humane Society on Thursday of each week. Watauga Humane Society loans out humane cat traps, free of charge, for this purpose.

Third, set up your feeding station away from heavily trafficked areas to keep the cats from becoming spooked or scratching or biting a passerby and to keep them safe.

Female cats can become pregnant as early as five months old. There are approximately 40 million stray and feral cats in the United States, and only 2 percent have been spayed or neutered. Each year, these cats account for about 80 percent of kitten births. Overpopulation has put a strain on shelters like WHS which has limited space to house kittens as well as the financial burden of paying for spay/neuter surgeries and other essential care. The best way to get euthanasia rates down is to control the population.

Through July 13, Watauga Humane Society is offering a special adoption fee of $25 for kittens and is waiving the adoption fee altogether on adult cats to help find home for more of these incoming felines. Dogs are also available at this great $25 price. The adoption fee includes spay/neuter, a microchip, vaccinations to date and more! This is a great time to find a new best friend for little or nothing.

WHS is also seeking the help of landowners who are willing to adopt one or more spayed/neutered and immunized outside cats as barn cats to provide a home for some of the 60-85 cats expected in coming weeks. Finally, interested landowners are also asked to call the Adoption Center for more information on allowing spayed/neutered, immunized and ear tipped feral cats that have nowhere to go live on their property.

Individuals and businesses can also help by donating funds to help spay/neuter these additional 85 or so cats that are not within the normal budget. Make any checks payable to Watauga Humane Society and put the worlds Feral Spay/Neuter Project in the memo line. Mail checks to PO Box 1835 Boone NC 28607. Or donate through the website at www.WataugaHumaneSociety.org. Time is of the essence. The sooner we can spay/neuter these cats and get them back out in the community, the less they will multiply.

For more information about the Watauga Humane Society please visit www.WataugaHumaneSociety.org. WHS thanks the community for its help and its caring for the animals in the community.