Tuesday, September 13, 2011
UNT group works to reduce number of feral cats
The cats are rounded up, spayed or neutered, and then released again.
Dallas Newell catches cats. In 35 years of volunteering for animal rescue, she’s wrangled more than 500 felines in her attempt to improve the health and reduce the number of feral cats in the area.
Once called, Newell dispatches with a live-trap to capture the cats, day or night. Salmon or sardines are used as bait, and as a cat walks in the cage, it steps on a pedal that triggers a trap door to swing shut behind it.
The cats Newell catches are spayed or neutered and released back where they were found.
Feral cats are not stray cats, according to the Humane Society of the United States website. Feral cats are the offspring of domestic cats. Unlike strays, ferals have never had homes and band together in colonies.
The number of these colonies is increasing, said Newell, co-founder of the UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group. For 13 years, the group has assisted in humanely reducing and fostering feral cats on campus.
“Little by little, rescue groups are trying to be more active in trapping and neutering them,” Newell said.
The city of Denton approved a feral cat ordinance in 2008 that legalized the maintaining of a feral cat colony as long as they are spayed and neutered.
“They’re not wildlife, but they’re not tamed either,” said Nancy Kelly, director of the UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group. “They don’t survive like wildlife like people think they do.”
Twenty-one food and sleep shelters are discreetly placed on campus for the feral cats so they are well fed and undisturbed. Newell said they have had trouble in the past with vandalism of the shelters.
By neutering the cats, Newell said, the number of health risks to them and their offspring is reduced significantly.
If the cats are neutered and well kept in shelters, it creates a much cleaner environment where the cats are living and poses less of a problem for residents, Newell said.
A flat cut is made on the left ear of feral cats to indicate if they’re being maintained or not.
For more information on how to maintain feral cats, visit alleycat.org.
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