In July, Kim Tierney responded to an appeal from Angela Bettencourt to help a family with a large number of feral cats. Tierney agreed to help trap and transport these feral and stray kitties to the Feral Cat Coalition Clinic in Portland. At the Feral Cat Coalition clinic, cats and kittens are spay and neutered, vaccinated, treated for fleas, given antibiotics and pain medicine. They are transported back that same day and after they spend that night in the trap, are released back where they were trapped.
After Tierney learned about how Vernonia had a reputation for having large populations of feral and stray cats, she arranged with the Feral Cat Coalition to coordinate clinics for Vernonia cats. There is no charge for this service, but the suggested donation per cat is $30 but any donation level is welcome. Since July, Tierney with the help of many caregivers has taken in 132 cats and kittens. An additional 60 are scheduled for the next month. Since this effort began, many others in the community have stepped up to help by nursing and socializing kittens and trying to help find homes.
Many people react when they learn that cats are released after being trapped, but trap and release is considered a very effective way to reduce the cat overpopulation. Feral and stray cats have a rough life and don’t tend to live very long. However, a pregnant feral cat can have 18 kittens during a season, and it is easy to see why it is so critical to get them spayed. Intact males are more likely to spray and fight. They are more likely to spread disease like FIV through fighting and mating. Intact males will go out and find girlfriends and bring them to the food.
Kittens can be spayed as early as 2 months of age if they weigh at least 2 pounds. Kittens less than 3 months can be tamed and homed. There is now a list of community volunteers who have stepped up to either socialize feral kittens or nurse young ones that have been found. Creatures Pet Store has helped place many abandoned and feral kittens. Michal Smith, owner of Creatures, has also contributed money for veterinary care and has spent significant time nursing many kittens back to health. If you find kittens less than 3 months old, catch them or ask Tierney for help trapping them so they can be tamed and placed into homes.
In the last several months entire neighborhoods have worked together to trap and care for the stray and feral cats in their neighborhoods. Several neighborhoods have tackled their feral cat problems, fixing the adults and trapping kittens so they can be tamed and rehomed. Winter is a critical time to keep up trapping because cats don’t normally reproduce until spring.
What doesn’t work is to ignore the situation. Abandoning or dumping cats is illegal, cruel and makes the overpopulation worse. Out of the total cats in the US, 3/5 are owned and 2/5 are stray or feral. There are options in Vernonia. If you have stray and feral cats in your neighborhood, call Tierney to arrange to get them spayed and neutered. If you own a pet cat be sure to get both the males and females fixed. There are low cost options through the Oregon Humane Society Spay and Neuter fund. If you have a cat that was a stray or feral that you are feeding or caring for contact Kim Tierney at 503-429-0720 to get them fixed.
Caregivers report that their cats get noticeably healthier shortly after going into the clinic. Their behavior improves and they start to put on weight. If you have or are caring for outdoor cats, consider making low cost cat shelters to protect them from the weather and coyotes/raccoons. Creatures and both local hardware stores have directions about making insulated shelters out of Rubbermaid containers.