Note: This article is part of the Spring/Summer 2018 Springdale Newsletter. To check out the full newsletter, please click here.
Tips for dealing with feral cats
Feral or community cats are felines that are not owned, live outside, and are typically not social with humans.
These cats have adapted to living on their own and are capable of finding food and shelter and are also able to live full lives with their colony. Unfortunately, community cats can be a nuisance for some of our residents.
We are always looking for innovative ways to help manage these colonies and decrease the overall population of nuisance animals in the city.
The previous method of control for our organization, and many like us, was to trap and euthanize these animals. This method has proven to be ineffective in controlling the overall feline population. Springdale Animal Services began a trap, neuter, and return program on a small scale in areas of town that we know are particularly problematic.
Our program is still new and we look for how we can improve upon our current methods. In areas of the city that colonies are managed by caregivers, we have had great success in completely eliminating unwanted litters coming into the world during the spring and summer months.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs have been effective in many communities like ours. By sterilizing the cats that inhabit an area, unwanted litters are no longer being produced and a lot of behaviors that human residents find irritating (such as fighting/yowling) cease. Additionally, these newly "fixed" cats will run off other felines that may compete for resources.
Removing the cats, however, causes a vacuum effect. When the colonized cats are taken from their habitat, this opens up an opportunity for cats from other areas to gain that territory. The cycle of kittens and fighting will continue.
There are resources to help convince community cats to stay away from your gardens, too! Motion-activated sprinklers and ultrasonic sound boxes have shown to be effective in keeping cats and other critters out.
Our animal control officers respond to calls for animals at large. Cats, however, pose a particular challenge for them to be able to successfully pick up in the field. Even friendly house cats are able to evade attempts at capture much more easily than dogs due to their small size and agility. Our officers will pick up contained cats that are very young, sick, or injured. If you have healthy adult cats in your area, it is likely that they have a family close by.
Springdale does have a free roaming cat condition to our ordinances that allows for residents to have indoor/outdoor cats. However, these cats are required to be sterilized, current on vaccinations, and microchipped. Unfortunately, cats that enter the shelter are not often reclaimed by their owners. We have great success with adoptions, but we don't want to accidentally "catnap" your pet!
The shelter also has traps available for public use. We do collect a $75 deposit for the traps, but residents will get that back when the trap returns to the shelter.
If you or someone you know in Springdale is having issues with cats, please call the shelter or Animal Control at 751-4542 to see what we can do to help.