Getting Active for Cats
A recent study conducted by the National Pet Alliance reveals the sad truth about the exponential expansion of feral cat colonies. (Feral cats are the ones who live outside and cannot be brought into a clinic without first being trapped.) The six-year study suggests that a single unspayed cat who is lucky enough to live 12 years could have 3,200 babies – if we count the kittens of those offspring who, in turn, survive to reproductive age. 
Friends of Animals is no stranger to this reality. We have advocated low-cost sterilization resources since our inception in 1957, and our certificates are used both for cats in homes and by feral cat caregivers (supporting the vital feral-cat support offered by New Jersey’s Lawyers in Defense of Animals). In order to better understand the process involved in community-wide Trap-Neuter-Return efforts, I recently volunteered at a clinic on the other coast – this one organized by Tri-Valley Fix Our Ferals of Danville, California.
Tri-Valley Fix Our Ferals, started by Kim Shaefer, is in its fifth year, and has sterilized nearly 1,700 feral cats. Kim has worked at multiple animal hospitals through college and beyond, but quit her paid positions in 2002 to volunteer full time for the original Fix Our Ferals of Alameda and Contra Costa County. Although efforts to humanely monitor and care for feral cats were improving, Kim noticed many Bay Area communities lacking resources and information, and thus incorporated her own non-profit feral cat organization in 2005, based on the model set forth by the original group.
The vast majority of trap-neuter-return efforts are volunteer-run, and Tri-Valley Fix Our Ferals is no exception. When an emergency call came out from the volunteer coordinator of the Hayward animal shelter, I responded. On April 25 th I arrived, coffee in hand, at the clinic graciously made available by the East Bay SPCA. I assumed I’d be assigned some mundane task…
But a volunteer guided me to a pre-prep table where I would administer antibiotics and pain medication to aid post-surgery healing. Handling these cats, already under anesthesia, was surreal; under any other circumstances these cats wouldn’t let me within 30 yards of them, as evidenced by many filthy coats and scars. My coffee went cold amidst the bustle.
Kim and Doretta, the main volunteer outreach coordinators, could not have done a better job of bringing together volunteer veterinarians and people who care, people from all walks of life willing to contribute to this important cause. Together they efficiently sterilized and vaccinated each cat, and treated them all for fleas and minor ailments, such as abscesses and gum disease.
You can help the Tri-Valley Fix Our Feral program. Go to http://tri-valleyfixourferals.org/ to see how.
The plight of feral cats is the unfortunate result of failure to spay and neuter. Individuals in every community are responsible for the well-being of domesticated animals. Please get involved in your community and be part of the effort to vastly reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the fear, suffering, and deaths of abandoned cats and their offspring.
To find a low-cost neuter clinic near you, visit our website at http://friendsofanimals.org and use our convenient zip code feature under the “Programs: Spaying and Neutering Certificate Information” link (or phone us at 1-800-321-PETS for guidance on the vets’ locations).
- Cheryl Cornacchia, “ One Unspayed Cat: 3,200 Kittens” – Montreal Gazette (2 May 2010).