Special Report to Blowing Rock News. January 31, 2017. BOONE, NC — Since Watauga Humane Society, Watauga County Animal Control, and the Airport Kitties feral cat group partnered to participate in the Million Cat Challenge in May of 2016, no healthy “Community Cats” have been euthanized at Watauga Humane Society.
The Million Cat Challenge is a shelter-based campaign to save the lives of one million cats in North America over the next five years. The Community Cat initiative is based on the idea that it is not humane to round up healthy community cats, that are living happily in our community to bring them to a shelter where they cannot be adopted as house pets and will more than likely take up space needed by pet cats and ultimately need to be euthanized.
The term “Community Cat” is an umbrella term emcompassing both feral (non-friendly, unsocialized) cats and stray (lost or abandoned) pet cats. These cats live in the community and while they may not be owned, some may be considered loosely owned by residents that feed or even shelter them, but do not recognize these cats as personal pets. They are generally not suitable for life inside a home. And since they are not “owned,” they truly do belong to our community which has collective responsibility for their care.
Watauga Humane Society helps Community Cats in two ways:
- Trap-Neuter-Return: Working with local residents, Watauga Humane Society is able to assist with trapping cats, ensure that they are spayed or neutered, and make sure they have vaccination against rabies and FELV/FIV testing. The cat’s ears are tipped and the cat is returned back to their original home territory. TNR is the safest strategy intended to cut back the number of community cats, reduce nuisance, better the health and safety of the cats, and reduce the impact of cats on wildlife. Once cats are returned, they live out their natural lives without producing any more kittens. Instead of multiplying, cat colonies slowly reduce in population by natural attrition.
- Barn Cat Adoptions: Cats are put into the Watauga Humane Society Barn Cat program if they are unable to be returned back to their home territory and are not socialized enough to be adopted into an indoor home or young enough for successful socialization. Barn cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, ear tipped, tested for FELV/FIV and housed at the adoption center until they can be placed. Barn cats make great natural pest hunters and require very little care. Housing in the form of a barn, shed, workshop, or feral cat house, access to fresh food and water, and medical attention when needed or desirable. The adoption fee for Barn Cats is only $25 and Watauga Humane Society provides you with tips for keeping your barn cat established on your property.
The Community cat program works because cats are vaccinated against rabies and other diseases, decreasing safety concerns and public health issues. The population is reduced by removing kittens that can be socialized and friendly stray cats that can be made available for adoption. Nuisance behaviors, such as yowling, spraying and fighting are reduced by spay/neuter. The result is humane, long-term management of existing cats, reduction in population over time, and eventual elimination of the population.
The Million Cat Challenge provides every citizen with an opportunity to take an active role in the management of community cats in Watauga County and the High Country.
Cat Watch 2017: How You Can Help
- Contact Us: If you see a significant population of community cats in your area contact Watauga Humane Society at 828-264-7865 or Watauga County Animal Control at 828-2621672 for assistance trapping or for more information about Trap, Neuter, Return.
- Donate: Your donations to the Community Cat Program help cover the cost of spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations and FELV/FIV testing for community cats in need.
- Rent: Rent a trap to help us round up community cats in your area that are reproducing.
- Spread the Word: Vaccinated, altered cats can live a natural life in proximity to humans. It is not necessary to euthanize them. They generally have a shorter lifespan than pet cats. And they will not multiply.
- Socialize Community Kittens: Community kittens can be socialized. Talk to someone at WHS if you have community kittens on your property.
- Consider a Barn Cat or Two: We receive many cats and kittens in the spring and summer. Put your name on the list for adoption of a Barn Cat this year, for natural rodent control.
Watauga Humane Society is a Gold Star Marketing Partner of Blowing Rock News