Natalie Hefner, free-roaming cat coordinator for Humane Ohio, sets traps for feral cats. Humane Ohio is trapping, neutering, and then releasing the cats in the ZIP codes of 43605, 43609, and 43615.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
Humane Ohio is launching a program focusing on the feral cat population in three Toledo ZIP codes.
The Cattitude Team is focusing on free-roaming cats in the 43605, 43609, and 43615 ZIP codes. An $80,055 grant from PetSmart Charities will allow the spay/neuter group to fix 1,458 cats, said Jill Borkowski, Humane Ohio’s marketing director.
Owned cats in those ZIP codes also are eligible for free spaying or neutering.
The group so far has fixed more than 600 cats in those ZIP codes, Ms. Borkowski said. The grant can be renewed in November if it is used up by then, she said.
“Whether or not we get it depends on how successful we were in year one,” she said. “Hopefully caregivers will help us by trapping and bringing in their colonies so we can reach our spay/neuter goal and get funded for year two. Our goal is to be successful and keep applying for funding and adding more ZIP codes.”
Join Cattitude Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: http://humaneohio.org/
Planned Pethood, a Toledo-area rescue group, is helping Humane Ohio get the word out by walking neighborhoods and distributing fliers. The group also takes friendly cats that are caught and don’t have owners, although currently all foster homes are filled.
“The Cattitude Team is really in the infancy stage and although we have a handful of awesome volunteers who are going out on their own and trapping, we haven’t really gone out as a team yet,” Ms. Borkowski said. “We need more volunteers.”
Humane Ohio has hired Natalie Hefner as a part-time free-roaming cat coordinator to head up the efforts of volunteers and help feral cat caregivers in taking advantage of the services.
On a recent morning, Ms. Hefner was out in the 43605 ZIP code assisting Sandy Hartford, a feral cat caregiver.
Ms. Hefner and Ms. Borkowski set up humane traps in Ms. Hartford’s backyard. Some of the cats were friendly enough to be picked up and placed in the traps. After several hours of work, the trio was able to round up 20 cats that were taken to Humane Ohio to be spayed and neutered. They were returned to the area where they were trapped after recuperating for 12 hours after the surgery.
Ms. Hartford, who spends about $200 a month feeding the neighborhood cats, said she was really appreciative of the help in getting them spayed and neutered.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” Ms. Hartford said. “If you don’t fix the ones you have now, soon you’ll have many more, and then they will start reproducing.”
A cat can get pregnant or impregnate as young as four months old, said Ms. Borkowski.
“These 20 cats would have multiplied to several hundred before you know it,” she said.
Trapping, neutering, and returning the cats to where they were found is more humane than killing the cats and also will lead to a stable population, she said. If they were killed and not returned, more cats would show up from other areas to take their place and would continue reproducing.
“The reason we chose to focus on 43605, 43609, and 43615 is because the Toledo Area Humane Society’s cat intake is highest from these three areas,” Ms. Borkowski said.
The group also is seeking donors who are interested in sponsoring a Spay Day. A $1,000 donation will fix 40 free-roaming cats and the donor will be invited for a behind the scenes tour on the day they sponsor to see firsthand how their donation made a difference. Those interested should send an email to email@example.com.
The group previously had a grant from April, 2010, to April, 2012, for the 43605 and 43609 ZIP codes and fixed 2,516 free-roaming cats and placed 260 friendly strays and kittens into Planned Pethood’s adoption program. Shelter intake decreased at the Toledo Area Humane Society by 34 percent in 43605 and by 50 percent in 43609, she said.
“It proves that TNR [trap, neuter, return] works,” Ms. Borkowski said.
No experience is necessary to sign up to volunteer with the Cattitude Team. Those interested can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Humane Ohio already has a lengthy list of caretakers who have requested help with trapping, so the Cattitude Team will be starting with that list and trying to go in order of when the requests arrived.
“Because manpower is limited and it often takes multiple days and attempts to trap an entire colony, the Cattitude Team will likely not be able to respond to every request for help,” Ms. Borkowski said. “We still need to rely heavily on people in the community to trap their colonies themselves by borrowing easy to use humane traps from Humane Ohio.”
Contact Tanya Irwin at: email@example.com or 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @TanyaIrwin.