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Area groups addressing feral cat colony problem

Published June 21. 2011 05:00PM

A residence in Carbon County has been inundated with a feral cat colony and area organizations are looking to help solve the growing problem.

Diane Sharpless of Cats Peek Rescue and a member of the Carbon County Animal Response Team, explained the organizations were made aware of the situation earlier this month.

She said the feral cat colony in question is due to a tenant on a farm being evicted from the property. The tenant left the cats behind.

Since then, a neighbor had been trying to care for the animals, but due to lack of spay and neutering, the felines are continuing to breed.

Sharpless said that the neighbor cannot continue to take care of the animals, which are now destroying property, wildlife, and disrupting the lives of the residents in that area.

A plan has been put in place by representatives of the Amazing Grace Spay and Neuter Program; Peaceable Kingdom of Whitehall; Carbon County Friends of Animals; and professional trappers to catch the animals and spay and neuter them before returning the animals to the property.

Sharpless said the cats must be returned because they have become wild animals again.

"They are so used to living outdoors and roaming freely that to remove them and place them into shelters where they must be confined to a large room or placed in cages that these actions will cause them to go into deep depressions and the majority will stop eating all together and literally starve themselves to death," she said. "The best option they have is trap, neuter, return (TNR)."

Trap, neuter, return is the process of trapping the animals using feeding stations. Once trapped, the animals are spayed and neutered, given a rabies vaccination, and marked with an identification marker. They are then transported back to the site, where they are released.

"In this particular situation and any situation like it, TNR is the best option for healthy cats because it allows the colony to stay in a place without increasing the colony," Sharpless said.

But to accomplish this large feat, the organizations need the community's help.

Sharpless said the average cost to TNR a cat is $35 and that there are over 40 felines in this colony.

Donations are being accepted to help cover the costs of protecting these animals and the area through the TNR program.

If you would like to donate, checks can be made out to Amazing Grace Spay/Neuter Program; and sent to Amazing Grace Spay/Neuter Program, P.O. Box 382, Lehighton, PA 18235. Please note on the check that the donation is for "Feral cat fund."

For other ways to donate, call Sharpless at (570) 778-6886.

"This is not an isolated problem or situation," Sharpless said. "This same situation is all over Carbon County and every other county where people live. Feral cat colonies that are controlled by sterilization are a lot easier to maintain and accept then those that aren't. If you control the population in the colony by TNR, you control the size of the colony and you can more reasonably expect the cats will remain close to their food sources, they will not be killing wildlife, hunting for more food in trash and garbage or spreading out."

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