RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the past we've done dozens of stories about people who are upset about cats running wild in their neighborhoods. Right now, from Chesterfield to Mechanicsville, from the city of Richmond to Short Pump - there are more than 150 cat colonies existing in our area.
A lot of people believe that feral cats are a dangerous nuisance. That they run rampant, reproduce and carry disease. Animal advocates would disagree.
Feral cats exist where there is food, water and shelter. And unless those conditions are dramatically changed in some way they will continue to live in such areas. That's why animal advocates say killing or moving feral cats is not the answer... "trap, neuter, return" is.
"We hear that said all the time as a rationale for treating them in a lethal matter, and there's no validity to that so long as that a properly conducted trap, neuter, return program is going on," said Robin Starr, President and CEO of Richmond SPCA.
"Trap, neuter, return" is exactly what it sounds like and is conducted by many animal welfare agencies like the Richmond SPCA. The first step is for a volunteer to humanely trap the animal. The cats are then brought to the SPCA where they are spayed or neutered for free.
They also receive any shots they need, like rabies, and get their ears clipped so volunteers can tell which ones have already been cared for. They are then returned to the colony where they can live out their life. Robin Starr says it's the only humane answer to an issue that's not going away.
"The situation with feral cat colonies here in this community and all over this country is a perpetual problem. It's one that we can expect to continue as long as human nature is what it is, in fact, as times get harder and people are more prone to sadly abandon animals, it means that there are more cats outdoors that have to learn to fend for themselves," said Robin.
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