A potential problem with stray and feral cats in Atlantic has resulted in some City leaders putting out a call for volunteers and donors to become involved in a trap, neuter and release program, similar to one that’s found significant success in Walnut.
Kathy Humann, center-left, addresses the City of Atlantic Community Protection Committee.
Kathy Humann, Director of the Western Iowa Feral & Homeless Cat Program, Incorporated (Wifcap), spoke about the program in front of the City of Atlantic’s Community Protection Committee, Wednesday evening. Humann said she started to realize there was a problem with stray and feral cats in her community about five-years ago, when one showed up on her property. It wasn’t long she says, before the number of stray cats began to grow exponentially. Last Summer she says, the stray cat population was very high in Walnut, so she decided to do something about it.
She says she found out about the Trap, Neuter and Release program on-line. It’s accepted by the ASPCA, Humane Society and other such organizations, and Humann says “It’s a known solution to keep your feral cat community controlled. She says there will always be stray and feral cats in any community. The problem she says, starts with pet owners not spaying or neutering their animals.)
Humann says stray and feral cats pose a risk to the community, because they get into gardens, garbage and other areas on properties. They can spread disease and fleas, as well. She says they generally come out at night. After Humann and some helpers purchased their first trap, she says they “Hit the ground running,” and immediately captured 10 cats.
She said they realized that they couldn’t fund the program on their own, so they formed a non-profit, 501-C-3 organization in February, 2012. Now, she says they’re very active on Facebook, and on the internet in general. Donations have come in from all over the country, and the program has received grants, as well. It costs about $60 for every cat they take in, to be spayed or neutered. The service is performed at a discounted rate by a local veterinarian in Walnut. The vet also notches the cats’ left ear, so that they are recognizable. Humann says they call it the “Spa Treatment.”
The cats are vaccinated against worms and rabies so they no longer pose a risk to the community, and feeding stations are set-up for them to go to once they are released. Humann says the program wouldn’t be a success in Walnut, or potentially in Atlantic, without dedicated, passionate people, who want to work with cats. She says it doesn’t take that many people to do, but the community and City Council needs to be behind the effort, in all departments. She says that means the “shoot the cat” attitude some people have needs to be replaced with one that supports the Trap and Release program, because research shows exterminating the cats doesn’t work.)
Humann says it costs the taxpayers about $150 each time an Animal Control officer tries to capture and hold a stray cat and or euthanize them. She says it costs her organization about $25 less, and the taxpayer doesn’t foot the bill. Donors to the program help to pay those costs. Councilman Steve Livengood said it’s not the Council’s job to institute such a program, but he strongly encouraged volunteers and donors to step forward, to create a similar trap, spay and release program in Atlantic, under the guidance of Wifcap.
For more information, call Steve Livengood at 243-5445. Leave a message and your phone number if he’s not available to take your call. Other information can be found at www.wifcap.org, or on Facebook at www.facebook/wifcap2.