Volunteers act to control city’s feral cats
Cats were rubbing against Sam Gwin's leg soon after she arrived Saturday evening at Jim's Garage in De Soto,.
Volunteers for No More Homeless Pets of Kansas City, the Olathe woman and her husband, Terry Gwin, were in De Soto to trap the feral cats living near the garage and De Soto Feed and Garden across the street.
Taking note of the cats' friendliness toward his wife, Terry made a quick assessment of the work ahead of the couple and fellow volunteer Gail Bennett of De Soto.
"This is going to be easy," he said.
Maybe not that easy, Bennett said. The four friendliest cats were pets Jim Boney kept at his garage. The leery and hard to approach cats were the ones that needed to be caught.
As a customer at the garage, Bennett noticed a "colony" of an estimated 20 feral cats living around the garage and feed store north of De Soto's Miller Park.
"I have four spayed and neutered cats at the garage," Boney said. "I got a reputation as a cat lover, and I think people started dumping them here. Then two or three of them started having kittens.
"It's really gotten out of hand."
The three volunteers Saturday in De Soto were part of a weekend metropolitan cat round up, Bennett said. Their goal was to trap as many cats as possible in the 20 cages they brought to De Soto so they could be spayed and neutered.
The idea isn't to find new homes for the newly sterilized cats but to release them back were they were caught, Bennett said.
"They're feral cats," she said. "They really wouldn't make good pets."
That will help bring the population in check because the newly spayed and neutered cats are very territorial and will chase off cats attempting to invade their territory, Bennett said.
"That's what people say -- that other cats will come in and breed," she said. "But cats are very territorial. They have their colony they will stay with, and they will chase off other cats not in their colony.
"This has proved very successful elsewhere."
To entice cats into traps, the Gwins baited the cages with two healthy spoonfuls of tuna. They then placed the 10-inch-wide and two-foot-long traps around the feed store's outbuildings.
Cats would enter the traps to eat the tuna, trip the spring to the front and settle in for a catnap.
"If it's not covered they go crazy," Sam said as she spread a towel over a trap. "When it's covered, they stay quiet."
Ten cats were caught in the cages. They and the three Bennett collected earlier were taken to the Greater Kansas City, Mo., Humane Society Shelter, where Sunday they were spayed or neutered, given distemper and rabies shots and wormed with cats collected at other sites around the metropolitan area, Bennett said.
"They had five veterinarians there volunteering and 118 cats," Bennett said. "That's about 20 surgeries for each veterinarian. They were doing a surgery once about every 20 minutes.
"It was the largest clinic yet for No More Homeless Pets."
It may be the last clinic the organization does outside its own clinic because No More Homeless Pets is about to get a new home, Bennett said. The organization is remodeling a building in Merriam into a "high-volume, low-cost" spay and neutering clinic.
The clinic will serve shelters and rescue groups, low-income pet owners and free-roaming cats.
According to the organization's Web site, the goal is to spay or neuter 6,000 animals next year, 10,000 in 2009 and then sustain 16,000 surgeries a year.
"We are confident this program will dramatically drive down the number of homeless animals entering our area shelters, which in turn will significantly lower the number of animals killed each year."
To learn more about No More Homeless Pets or make a donation, visit the organization's Web site at nmhpkc.org or call (816) 333-PETS.
As for the local effort, Bennett said she would like the city to help the organization control the feral cat population near the park and one in Clearview City.
That there is more work to do was brought home to Bennett as she brought back the cats from this weekend's catch and release.
"When I dropped them off, I looked across the street and what did I see? Two little baby kittens."