ASHTABULA — A stray or feral cat is a cat that lives outdoors and does not have an owner. The cat may be friendly, but in most cases not socialized with people but depend on humans for their food.
The Community Cats Coalition of Ashtabula County and a group of dedicated volunteers formed to address the problem of the ever-increasing cat population in the county.
Trap-Neuter-Return is a program by which feral cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, and then released into the environment. Rather than immediately reducing numbers through removal, TNR practitioners hope to slowly reduce populations over time.
By the end of today, the Community Cats Coalition will have fixed a total of 300 cats, said Dr. Irene Fiala, an organizer of the coalition.
“Our original goal was to fix 30-40 cats per month but we have been fixing that amount pretty much every two weeks.”
The group set a goal of TNRing 400 cats by the time it wraps up its first warm-weather season as a grass roots organization.
“They are volunteers who have noticed colonies of stray cats and are doing something about it,” said Stephen Lanham, the city’s animal control officer. “The Community Cats Coalition operates on 100-percent donations and volunteers.”
The coalition consists of the Ashtabula County Dog Warden, Ashtabula Animal Control, Animal Protection League, Animal Welfare Center of Ashtabula County, the TNR of Warren, city officials and a multitude of volunteers.
Trap-Neuter-Return, the humane approach to addressing community cat populations, saves cats’ lives and is effective, Fiala said.
TNR improves the lives of cats, addresses community concerns, reduces cat complaints, and stops the breeding cycle, she said.
Lanham said the TNRs are a big success.
Every cat the volunteers have caught, neutered/spayed and released has a surgical notch on the tip of an ear.
“If you see a cat with an ear tip, a surgical notch, you will know that cat can’t reproduce,” he said. “Each of these cats will now live a happier and healthier lifestyle.”