RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After doing dozens of stories about feral cats in our community, NBC12 launched its own investigation. What we learned is that it's human beings who create the problem, but they can solve it too.
Cat colonies exist because food, water, and shelter are available. The "trap-neuter-return" program is a humane solution to the problem, since killing a cat is against the law. We found a community that put the program into action - and its working.
"They've just been running wild and free," said Jason Puffenbarger.
Jason is a resident at Addison at Swift Creek - an apartment complex in Chesterfield County. He's upset about the number of feral cats on the property but knows why they're there.
"People feeding them. You know animals go where food is easy and if food is there, why are you going to leave?" Jason said.
He is right. Jason and other residents complained to management who in turn researched solutions to feral cat colonies. Some people wanted them gone but if you remove feral cats, more will come unless you dramatically change the existing conditions. That's when management discovered "trap-neuter-return".
"After speaking with our community and everybody, it was decided that was the best way to go," said Cara Eardley, Property Manager.
Here's how it works. Volunteers safely trap the feral cats and take them to the Richmond SPCA, where they are spayed or neutered and given rabies shots at no cost to the community. They are then returned to the colony to live out the rest of their life.
At Addison at Swift Creek, Mary Cary is in charge of the feeding station up on a hill away from the residential buildings. It's a way for the cats and residents to share the property. Some cats still run wild but management is reaching out to the apartment community to help alleviate that.
"They are wild animals and in order for 'trap neuter return' to actually work, we can't have the residents feeding them because it's pulling them from the feeding station," said Cara.
"They can help them by feeding at our feeding station, we'd be more than happy to put them on the schedule," Mary said.