In case you haven’t noticed, Vernonia has a problem with feral cats. Take a walk around town early in the morning, or any time of day for that matter, and you will see an excessive number of cats watching you pass by. There are probably many more that you don’t see, as well.
Some of those cats are pets and belong to local families. But many of them are feral-wild cats that do not belong to anyone or have a home where they live. Some are the remnants of the 2007 Flood-cats, and their offspring, that were left behind when families moved out of this community. It is a growing problem, looking for a solution.
Vernonia is not the only place with a feral cat problem. But help is available. The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO) is helping communities deal with this issue in a humane way.
The mission of the FCCO is to… “improve the welfare and reduce the population of feral and stray cats in Oregon through spay/neuter programs and education.” Services are specifically targeted for feral cats that have caregivers who are feeding them. The FCCO is a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program, meaning the caregivers trap the cats, bring them to a clinic, and return the cats to where they are being fed with a commitment to feed the cat(s) on a permanent basis. The goal of the program is to reduce suffering for existing feral cats and prevent the births and suffering of future generations.
Vernonia City Councilor Kim Tierney has already used the FCCO service numerous times and is hoping to spread the word to more Vernonians.
“I got involved in response to the large number of cats that were reproducing in our community,” says Tierney. “It’s a real problem.”
Tierney says the problem was brought to her attention by Vernonian Angela Bettencourt. Together Tierney and Bettencourt trapped two cats and took them to FCCO. “The experience was so good it made me a believer,” says Tierney.
According to Tierney the FCCO has live traps available for a $30 refundable deposit and will provide spay and neuter services for free at their Portland clinic. Tierney, who says she transported 13 cats in the past month, has also volunteered to transport other cats to Portland, and back, to help solve this problem. You can reach her on Facebook at Kim Harris Tierney.
To use the FCCO service you must fill out a caregiver application ahead of time and then schedule an appointment for surgery. In addition to being spayed or neutered, each cat receives an FVRCP (distemper) and rabies vaccines, flea and ear mite treatment as needed, and treatment for other minor medical conditions. Each cat will have his or her right ear tipped for future identification. The FCCO does ask for a $30 donation to help cover the expense of surgery and other care, but that donation is not a requirement.
Tierney is also encouraging local residents to help address the cat problem in Vernonia by fostering and handling stray kittens, so they can be adopted. Trapping and handling kittens before the age of twelve weeks makes it much more likely that they can be socialized and adopted says Tierney. After that very short twelve week window it is unlikely that the kittens will ever be able to find homes and be kept as pets. Adopting stray kittens and having them spayed or neutered would go a long way to helping the feral cat problem in the community.
“It is really rough for outdoor cats,” says Tierney. “We really need to get them in and taken care of.”
More information for anyone interested in using the FCCO services is available at www.feralcats.com.
FCCO is a 501c3 organization supported solely through donations. They do not receive any taxpayer support or other public funding. You can make a donation to their program and help end feral cat overpopulation in Oregon.