Trapping is humane solution to feral cat colonies

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It's a problem for nearly every community -- feral cat colonies. NBC12 highlighted the issue this summer, working alongside the Richmond SPCA.

There's a program to humanely and effectively deal with feral cats. And now that more people know about it, more people are doing it.

More communities are now successfully completing trap, neuter, return. It's a win-win situation. People can co-exist with the cats while the animals safely live out their lives.

"We noticed we started getting cats and they were multiplying," said Caitlin Polhamus, the activities director at Beaufont Towers -- and she's now taken on another title -- feral cat caregiver.

While the residents seemed fine with the multiplying felines, something had to be done.

Caitlin and other staff members did some research and came across the trap, neuter, return program at the SPCA.

Now Caitlin sets out humane traps and then takes the feral cats to the SPCA to be spayed and neutered and vaccinated.

She then brings them back to the property -- and says so far, so good.

"I do feel like it's been going well. We've caught about six or seven so far, and I'm not sure exactly how many we have. We might have about 10 to 15," she said. "They say if you just take the cats elsewhere to try and get rid of them, more cats would just move in, so I think this is the best option."

Richmond SPCA CEO Robin Starr says Caitlin is absolutely right -- and it's that kind of education that's leading to positive progress. In just the past year, spay and neuter surgeries for feral cats have increased by 30 percent.

And thanks in part to a series that aired right here on NBC12 this summer, more than 200 people are now actively helping with TNR as cat colony caregivers.

"The understanding and the humane response to feral cat colonies is increasing enormously in our community, which is very delightful to us," Starr said. "When they give it a try, they discover that it works, it's effective, and that the feral cats do not in any way intrude on anyone's life or safety."

Starr says the SPCA will continue working toward educating the public not only about trap, neuter, return,  but also about the stigma that cats often incur.

"In application, they are often treated as second class citizens, cats in general are not afforded all the same protection as dogs, and feral cats are often treated more harshly than other sorts of cats are," Starr said.

For information about trap-neuter-return, contact the Richmond SPCA.

Be sure to tune in to NBC12 next Wednesday evening when we will have representatives from that organization here to answer any questions you have about this program.

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