By Elke Neubauer
For The Sentinel 

Local group works to control feral cat numbers


January 9, 2019


HAPPIER KITTENS: Top, a feral cat before rescue.

Cats in the wild are continual problems, and one group of people-specifically focused on Goldendale-is ramped up to do something about it.

Nationwide more than 1.5 million adoptable shelter animals were euthanized in the US in 2017 (ASPCA statistics). The euthanization rate of feral cats in shelters is even higher. People also attempt to eradicate feral cat communities by using inhumane methods to kill them. Besides being cruel, it does not work to control the population-more cats will come to fill the void. It is time for a change.

Cats are mammals like us; they feel pain, hunger, and cold. The more cats and kittens that are left unmanaged in the wild, the more they suffer due to lack of food, shelter, and illness. Feral cats require different care because they are unsocialized to people and are not candidates for adoption. One of the most commonly practiced humane solutions is a program called Trap Neuter Return (TNR). Through TNR, cats are humanely trapped, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. Stray cats (cats socialized to humans) and kittens are adopted into homes, while healthy adult feral cats are returned to their outdoor homes where their lives are greatly improved without the strains of mating behaviors and pregnancy.

This program is beneficial to both the cats and to the communities where they live. Female cats live healthier lives when they are not pregnant with litters up to three times per year. When female cats do not go into heat, they do not attract male cats to the area, which reduces fighting. This also reduces nuisance behaviors such as caterwauling, spraying, and roaming. TNR stabilizes community cat populations by reducing the risk of disease and over time reducing the population.

Unfortunately, kitten season comes every year. Luckily, there are caring volunteers who donate their time by fostering kittens in their homes; feeding and nurturing them back to health. Once they are socialized and healthy, the kittens are vaccinated and fixed before being adopted into homes. Spaying and neutering kittens before they are adopted insures that the cycle of reproduction is broken. And winter is a good time for trapping. Food sources are scarce, and hungry cats will go into the traps faster.

What can you do to help with stray and feral cats in Goldendale? There are some good organizations out there that work feral cat programs, but it's often hard to get them to work in Goldendale. That's why a group of people-Elke Neubauer, Stina Larsen, their friends, and veterinarian Dr. Jean Cypher from Rowena Wildlife-have stepped up to help. When you contact them, a volunteer will come to your place, bring traps and discuss how to trap the cats. Trapping of the cats depends on the availability of the vets to do the surgeries. Once the team has a confirmed appointment with one of the vets, they will set the traps up or ask your assistance setting them. When the cats are trapped, they will pick them up, take them to surgery, and return them once they are ready. Every cat will have a small ear tip which identifies cats that have already been trapped. Once the cats are returned to the community, feeding them is a great way to help out and in return for the favor; they will help keep the rodent population down. Yes, a fixed cat is still a great mouser!

The group says they have worked with some wonderful people in Goldendale already and greatly appreciate their efforts. "We are always in need of folks who can transport cats, help with trapping or foster kittens-please contact us if you are interested in volunteering," Neubauer says. "If you have humane traps that are no longer in use, please let us know. Additionally, we are always looking for good barn homes."

You can make an appointment to get your pet cats fixed at your local veterinarian and help stop overpopulation. For help with feral cats, you can text or call at 261-0689, or e-mail

Above, the same cat among other kittens after rescue. A local group is focused on humanely controlling feral cat


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