Cat advocates hold community training

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 1/24/18

FLEMING ISLAND – A Clay County organization that advocates for stray cats is now taking its street-level care and capture prowess to the community.

Community Critter Care of Clay County Inc., or …

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Cat advocates hold community training


FLEMING ISLAND – A Clay County organization that advocates for stray cats is now taking its street-level care and capture prowess to the community.

Community Critter Care of Clay County Inc., or 5C, which is soon to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is tackling the issue of feral cats in a humane and effective way they call TNR, which stands for Trap, Neuter and Return, according to director Jane Hawley,

Commonly referred to as Trap, Neuter and Release, Hawley stresses the importance of changing the R in TNR to Return rather than Release.

“You’ll often see Trap, Neuter and Release but we advocate returning the cat to the area that it was trapped at,” Hawley said. “If the cat is released in a different area from where it came, its chances of survival are greatly decreased.”

Hawley and 5C members are continually looking at ways to rein in more cat caregivers, so 5C hosted a training seminar on Feb. 20 at the Fleming Island Public Library. With nearly 20 attendees, 5C guided the attendees – who were split into three groups – through three stations detailing different methods and scenarios that might present themselves while caring for homeless cats.

At the first station, Lisa Perez-Dryden demonstrated how to use a drop trap. Essentially a box propped up by something, Perez-Dryden’s drop trap used a PVC pipe to keep the door open. A form of bait is placed under the propped-up box to lure the cat inside. When the cat is inside and fully distracted by the bait, a string attached to the PVC pipe is pulled from a distance.

When done correctly, the box will fall and cover the cat. Perez-Dryden then explained that a drop trap should have a small door that can be opened. A cage should be connected to this door so that when the door is opened, the cat will attempt to escape thus leading it into the cage.

“Drop traps are the best mechanisms for catching a cat,” said Perez-Dryden, who’s been doing this professionally for 25 years. “They’re safe, effective and easy to use.”

Perez-Dryden completed her station by detailing other types of traps available to trappers.

At the next station, Deborah Hastings explained that when trapping a cat, it’s important to not let your emotions get in the way.

“When you have the cat in the trap, they’re going to be freaking out and you’re going to want to let them free,” Hastings said. “You have to remember that you’re doing this for their own good and for all of the feral cats.”

After trapping a cat, Hastings said the nonprofit low-cost clinic Clay County will neuter feral cats, which must be in a trap, Wednesday mornings for free. It’s important to get there early, though, as Hastings said they only take in a limited number of cats for neutering. Later that afternoon, the cat will be ready for pickup at which point, Hastings recommended returning the cat where it was originally trapped.

Linda Bosford of Middleburg, continues to find more and more feral cats in her yard, often hidden within a hole in one of her trees. She attended the event to learn how best to handle this situation.

“I’ve called different agencies and spoken to plenty of people but [5C] is the real deal,” Bosford said.

Bosford doesn’t own any cats and doesn’t plan to but she does want to help.

“If we neuter these cats, they’ll stop breeding which means that there will be less feral cats,” Bosford said. “This helps prevent overpopulation and helps not only the health of cats, but all animals in the area.”

At station three, Pat Terranova explained how best to determine if a cat is feral or not.

“Feral cats are very, very quiet,” Terranova said. “I once had my entire vehicle filled with trapped cats and they didn’t make a peep.

“Put a domestic cat in a cage or a trap and it’ll sing you a song the entire trip,” Terranova continued.

The reason 5C is so staunch on TNR, rather than other methods of decreasing feral cat populations such as euthanasia, is something they refer to as the Vacuum Effect.

The Vacuum Effect is where resources are already in the area of the euthanized colony and the life sustaining force of those resources allows a new colony to repopulate. According to 5C, the life sustaining resources left behind by euthanized colonies attract feral cat colonies from neighboring areas. These new colonies begin using these resources and as a result, breed, which yields continued overpopulation of feral cats.

By neutering feral cats, you are eliminating their ability to breed and repopulate, according to Hawley. The goal of TNR is to continue neutering feral cats until the amount of non-neutered feral cats reaches zero, which in turn, eliminates the growth of feral cat communities.

Obviously, there is much work to be done but 5C believes that with continued TNR and community support, the overpopulation of cats can be resolved permanently.


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